2008-01-01: Trial By Ikea


Joule_icon.gif Lee_icon.gif

Summary: An unwitting Lee drops by to see Joule, only to discover she's really displeased about being blown off for New Year's Eve. Since she doesn't want to burn the building down, she uses dishes instead of trying to kill him with fire.

Promotional consideration by: Ikea

Date It Happened: January 1, 2008

Trial By Ikea

WARNING: British slang and profanity

Joule's apartment and studio, Brooklyn

Okay, so now it's hours later than the one-in-eight-million meeting with Bekah at Starbucks. And he hasn't called. She reluctantly agreed, Joule did, to go with him on Christmas to the shelter and dish glop for the homeless. Okay, and to meet his sister, who is equally daft and charming. She ended up enjoying herself, despite herself, and ended the night with a kiss and the key to her apartment.

And now? Now Joule is staring in disgust at her small television. It's dead; there's a hole in it. "Would've had to replace the thing anyway, Digital switchover or whatever the hell," she mutters, banging cabinets in the kitchen.

She's done all the dishes. She's cleaned the bathroom. She's changed the sheets because Lee and her rumpled them together Christmas night. She's swept. And mopped. The floor. And now she's run out of things to tidy, but the nervous energy is not gone yet. She's still thrumming with anger.

Lee calls, unknowing that anything is wrong. He leans on a streetlight slightly up the street, not wanting to come bopping right in if she is busy.

It takes Joule a moment to find the phone. She checks the number. Lee. "Bloody figures." She ponders dropping the phone in the toilet. But instead, she leaves it unanswered. She lets her hair down from the knot she tied it in while flurrycleaning. She pops into the shower briefly, and puts on that exotic, spicy perfume he said he liked. She does her makeup with slow, exaggerated care, right down to the lipliner and eyeshadow. Then she paints on a pair of black leather pants and a red knit halter top. If she decides to let him within a yard of her, he will be reminded of just what an awesome, desirable woman he's about to lose.

Barefoot, she picks up the phone and rings him back.

Just the once.

Lee left a clueless message - and he picks right up when she calls back.

"Hey! Happy New Year. How's it going?" he says, without guile. "I'm right nearby, can I come up?"

Joule rung him back just the once, and she didn't check the voicemail. So Lee's talking to air when he picks right up. He's going to have to work for it. Maybe he'll think she's playing coy games with him. It would fit her volatile nature well enough.

Lee says, "Hello? Hell…" He shakes his phone, hits it a few times. He goes for the dropped call rather than the coy flirtation. He's still not quite up to speed on her yet. He calls her back.

And Joule does the same thing again. No answer. One ringback, nobody there when he picks up. Isn't that cute? Not from where Joule's sitting. She honestly can't decide if she wants to see him yet. She can't be sure she's calm enough to tell him why she's upset. She can't be sure she wants to be calm enough to tell him why she's furious. She's pacing in her bare feet, staring at the phone like she caught it doing illicit things with her father.

Lee grouches at his phone a bit, tucks it away and….a few minutes later he's fumbling at the door with his key. If she's not here and is going through a tunnel in Jersey, at least he'll leave her a note he was here. Doop doop doop.

He's using the key. The bloody damn key she gave him. Joule seethes, even angrier, however irrationally, now. She walks to the blue Ikea bag on the floor at the foot of her bed and pulls out a white saucer. She tucks it behind her, though, and stands there, looking like a rock video vixen as Lee gets the door open.

Lee comes bopping in and says, "Wha…hey, did I catch you as you were going out? I tried to answer your call but it kept cutting off?"

"…Really?" Joule asks, and lets fly with the saucer with no more warning than that. And then she's reaching for another dish in the bag. She rented a car and drove all the way to Ikea, still seething the whole time. She thought the retail therapy would help; all it did was give her a creative way to point out to Lee the error of his ways in her eyes.

Lee says, "WHOA!" as the dish swerves up to shatter on the ceiling and the shards obediently shower down all around him like snow that doesn't even have the decency to settle on his stylish, thick, soft coat. "Joule, what?! What did I do? Stop! Hey!!" he yelps.

"What did you do?" There goes a tea saucer. "I saw you on the telly, you, you sodding — toerag!" And the teacup that goes with it. "I even gave you the benefit— " And a dinner plate. " —of the doubt!" Waterproof mascara proves its mettle as her eyes stream with angry tears. "You go out to Times Bloody Square with another woman?!" Nevermind Bekah doesn't want him. The affront is still affrontery. "I waited by the phone for you and you were on National! Fucking! TELEVISION!" That last word is so shrill neighbourhood dogs might begin barking. Oh, there goes a soup bowl.

Lee ducks sideways, the bowl ducks sideways in the other direction and it hits her counter. Smash! "What? No, I wasn't there with some woman, I hadn't even planned on going at all until…whaaa! A friend from the music workshop got really sick at the last minute, he had a ticket and offered it…I would have called you if there was any hope you could go! I thought you had…AAA! Plans!" he says, half-diving out of the way, unnecessarily.

"PLANS?!" Joule repeats, still screaming. Whoops, there goes another dessert dish. "Plans? Why would I have plans on the holiday when every bloody tosser in the goddamn city is with their lover? Why would I have plans other than leaving your headprint in my headboard?!" And there goes another teacup.

Lee yelps, "I don't know why I thought you had plans! I'm sorry! I should have called, I should have!" Finally he gets to that 'I'm sorry' bit. "It was kind of crap without you there anyway, my ex turned up and it was weird, and I tried to call you at least but the circuits were overloaded and I'm sorry, okay? I'm sorry!"

Joule pauses, spinning a dessert dish on her fingernail. You'd think the saber dance would be playing. "Why the bloody hell DIDN'T you call, Lee?

What is this we have?" Well, at least there's a chance they still have it if she's giving him the chance to answer the question.

Lee says, "I did try to call, and Joule, what we have, I…I." He was not expecting both an assault and a pop quiz, so he's floundering a little, trying to regain his dignity. He straightens up, watches the plate spin almost mesmerized for a moment. "I'm falling for you." he says. "I'm falling in love with you. That's what we have, and if some bonehead mistake of mine puts that in jeopardy, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." When not terrified, the puppy dog eyes return, limpid and pained. He's not kidding.

Dignity, schmignity. Anyone who knows them both and was watching Dick Clark saw him on TV just before midnight. Which makes Joule, to her mind, look like the one without dignity. "Spit it out," she seethes at him. "Before I run out of patience with you." Her free hand flexes, bracelets seeming to rattle ominously rather than jingly.

"…" That wasn't what she expected to hear. She lets the plate fall to the floor, but it doesn't hit hard enough to smash like its lost siblings. "You…you're ….you're just saying that," she stammers, trying to remain unconvinced.

Lee says, his own turn to be exasperated coming, "What, I'm making it up so that you won't throw another dish at me? Go right ahead, it's your kitchen." More firmly, less exasperated: "I am crazy about you. I am crazy about coming over here with you, I am crazy about your work, your personality, your sense of humor, your energy, I think about you all the time when you're not there, I compulsively check my text messages to see if you sent one when I wasn't paying attention." He throws up his hands and shakes his head: "…hell, I even think about your quest to find Suresh with warm feelings, and you know my background, so you know how impossibly high a bar you've vaulted over like it wasn't even there." Of course he didn't really know about the temper until now, so he may be reserving this emotional space for a footnote.

How he could have missed the temper when everything about Joule is all unbridled passion? Well, that's an exercise best left to the willing. "All right. So you're blaming this on being daft, then?" She's calling him daft again. That's probably a good sign.

Lee says, "A little worse than my usual daftness. I was a bit too excited when my friend offered me his ticket. I should have really thought of you then. Maybe we could have worked something out." He shrugs, looking slightly down, abashed: "I kinda like 'daft' as being a bit more affectionate than what I probably deserve for being as thoughtless as I was."

"Probably," Joule agrees, folding her arms. "Is there a cure for this brainlessness, or do I need to go back to Ikea and stock up?"

Lee says, "I've got a lot of new leaves in the air. Some of them are not always going to come down un-turned. Does the intentional and brutal murder of that metaphor convince you of my seriousness?" He half-takes a half-step towards her. "You might need more dishes, is what I'm saying - and you could definitely do better than me if you wanted to, I'm convinced of it. But I'm here and I want to try."

"I could," Joule agrees, tossing her hair. "So —" A pregnant pause, while she pats a foot thoughtfully on the china-strewn floor. "Where're you taking me to make up for it, then? None of your usual mad music. I don't want to listen to six hours of concertina, kazoo, and bloody Tonkori, do you hear me?"

Lee says, "…you do demand sacrifice. My indie cred. Carefully assembled over the course of years." He blows on his fingertips, waggles them gracefully as if to indicate its dispersal. "Han Bennink and Friends are playing at Tonic. It's jazz. Just jazz."

Joule considers this for a long moment. "Your sacrifice pleases your goddess," she says, deciding to play along with the metaphor. She may not have had enough groveling yet, but she can always make him grovel more later. "All right, then. I guess I'll just have to buy more dishes." She shoves the bag into a corner with her foot. Still a few tantrums worth left, yet.

Lee has no idea. He had no idea. He kinda thought he was just that sexy, not that between her passions and their expression was a soap-bubble-thin-film that could pop at any time. On reflection, he decides that was one of the stupidest ideas that he ever had about a woman, or about himself. He discards it.

Lee offers the door to her, and beyond it, the world. It's the very least he can do.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License