"Dude, she's just a nutcase!" Eric growled again as he and David dug into their plate of nachos late that afternoon at T.G.I. Friday's.

He was still trying to prod his friend out of the melancholy mood he'd been in ever since they'd left Madam What's-Her-Face's office. He couldn't believe David actually shelled out fifty bucks for that load of horse shit! The pink gown comment had unnerved him but he decided he must have muttered something while they were waiting. She had to have that waiting room bugged, too. All so-called "psychics" have their various tricks.

"I don't know," David murmured, fingering the cheese and salsa-laden tortilla chip thoughtfully. "She sure seemed certain to me."

Eric decided to approach this with an aim at levity. "So, then you're harboring hidden feelings for me, pal?"

David paled and dropped his chip, looking around furtively. "I … I."

Eric's eyes widened as he watched the smaller man's reaction carefully. It wasn't quite what he'd been expecting. Could David be hiding something, too? But he'd always seemed so open and honest … and completely oblivious to Eric's leers.

"Of-of course n-not," David finally sputtered.

"Okay," Eric nodded, though without much conviction. And the answer kind of depressed him, too, for some reason he refused to search for.

"And … and you don't dream of me in a bright pink gown … r-right?" David asked.

Eric shook his head but refused to actually voice the lie. He did dream of David that way and now suspected the fantasies would only increase. Damn that crazy phony, anyway!

"Why don't we just forget about that psycho …"


"Nope, I meant what I said the first time," Eric grinned. "Why don't we just forget about that psycho and go back to our usual routine?"

"Usual?" David smiled for the first time in a couple of hours. "And what would that be?"

"That's right, I forgot to tell you!" Eric forced his grin wider but inside his stomach was bottoming out. How the hell could he forget his plans for the evening? He hadn't been seeing Annie that long, so there was no reason why he should be so complacent. Must be that psycho bitch that threw me.

"Another blind date," David groaned theatrically. "Can't you just see these girls on your own? Why do you always have to drag me along on them?"

Eric frowned. That was a pretty good question. Why did he have to drag David along all the time? Well, for one thing, if left to his own devices, David would prefer to lose himself in a science book than ever try finding a girl. And for another, if David did eventually find someone suitable for a serious relationship, Eric had no doubt his little fascination would dissolve, and he'd be free to build a real relationship of his own. At least that was his working theory. But he couldn't tell his best friend that.

"Because you need to get laid," Eric insisted. "A lot."

"Thank you very much, Dr. Ruth," David sneered. "You could probably use the action more than I can, though."

"If you date Annie's friend, you could help me reach that goal."

David snorted and threw a tortilla chip at him.

The bar was pretty loud when they got there, but that was nothing new. Eric liked the noise, and began to bob his head to the beat. David crossed his eyes and touched the bridge of his nose with his thumb and index finger, apparently attempting some kind of deep breathing, calming exercise. It made Eric smile as he ordered a couple of beers from the bartender.

"We're not staying here long, are we?" David asked, gingerly accepting his pint glass from Eric's large hand.

"Just meeting them here, I think," Eric replied.

He looked around the crowded, smoky bar for Annie's brassy, dyed-blonde head, hoping she and Charlene showed up soon. David had worn a white polo shirt tonight, but in the dark flashing lights it looked disturbingly pink to the larger man, and he was currently trying to tamp down a hard on. Damn that psycho bitch for putting the image in my mind! But, as much as he wanted to blame her, he knew it wasn't the Madam's doing. Those dreams had existed long before he'd darkened her door.

"Hey, baby," a breathy female voice purred at him.

Eric turned and gave Annie a wide and leering smile. She reached up and pulled him down for a short kiss in greeting and he returned it … fairly enthusiastically. She giggled as she pulled away and he looked up to meet David's gaze. The smaller man was frowning deeply until he noticed his friend looking at him. And then Eric could swear David masked his features, morphing them into a vague and bored expression.

"Annie," Eric said quickly, turning her around towards the smaller man. "This is my friend David that I was telling you about."

David managed a wan smile and a small wave.

"Nice to meet you," the brassy and well-endowed blonde purred at the redhead. She gestured to the skinny and scowling brunette behind her. "This is my friend, Charlene."

"Hi," Charlene grunted out sharply.

David nodded a greeting to her but Eric could see the redhead was wary of her already. He didn't blame the guy. Charlene looked like she'd spent the day sucking on lemons … and spitting the pits at bull's eyes. She eyed David dubiously as he sipped at his beer.

"You ladies want a drink before we head on out?" Eric asked.

"Ooo, yeah!" Annie squealed. "I'll take a banana daiquiri."

"And for you, Charlene?" Eric asked, smiling at her.

"Scotch," she commanded. "Neat."

"Sure," Eric said, nearly choking on his disbelief. He wandered back over to the bar to put the order in, wondering how such a tiny thing could possess such a deep voice.

When he returned and handed the ladies their drinks he noticed the stricken look on his best friend's face. Annie had coaxed Charlene over to the darts area to watch someone she knew play, so Eric took the opportunity to sidle over to David and find out what was wrong.

"She's a barracuda," David muttered without preamble.

"Okay, so she's no delicate flower," Eric replied, regretting his own choice of words ... because to him, David was just that. "But she seems okay."

"I trust my instincts, and they're telling me that she wants to eat me," David said nervously.

"That's not really a bad thing."

"Yes … it … is!" David rounded on him. "She looked at me like I was dinner! Promise me you won't leave me alone with her tonight!"



"Okay!" Eric put his hands up, palms out. "I promise I won't leave you alone with her tonight."

"Thank you."

Eric watched as David suddenly downed the rest of his beer like it was water. It looked to him like the smaller man was trying to get up some courage to face his date for the night. Before he could comment on it, Charlene stalked back over to them with the empty glass that had recently contained her scotch. She was towing Annie behind her, who was still sipping delicately at her daiquiri.

"We're ready to go," Charlene announced.

"But I'm still drinking," Annie whined.

Charlene gave her a stern look and the blonde reluctantly set her mostly full drink glass down on the counter with a long-suffering sigh.

"Atta girl," Charlene said with a nod, before returning her gaze back to David … hungrily.

Eric wanted to slap that triumphant and predatory look off her face. Who the hell did she think she was, anyway? She didn't know David. She'd never met him before tonight. Eric knew she didn't or he would have known. They never kept stuff like that from each other, and it was rare that David went anywhere without him anyway. Inseparable. That psycho psychic's voice cut through his thoughts like a machete. Damned bitch!

"Maybe we should hang out here … for a while longer," David suggested.

"Why?" Charlene demanded.

"Because he and I like to play darts," Eric offered, not knowing what else to say. Damned if this bitch was going to walk all over him though. "Besides, the music's good tonight."

"It sounds like shit."

And you look like you just ate a pile of shit, Eric mentally countered. But instead of voicing it, he just shrugged.

"Well, I like it here!" Annie announced, hoisting her daiquiri once again. "I don't mind if we stay for a while."

Charlene gave her a scathing glance but, outnumbered, apparently decided to step off … for now. Eric was under no delusions that she would remain cooperative though. At least they'd bought a little time. He and David went over to the darts area to see if they could get a board. But out of the corner of his eye, Eric could see that Charlene was watching David's every move.