Title: The Casual Observer
Archives: Spookies, Gossamer, Ephemeral are okay. Others, please ask.
Spoilers: Not a one. Can you believe it?
Rating: G. Vignette.
Classification: ScullySlash. 3rd Person POV
Disclaimer: They're not mine. CC, 1013 and Fox have the sole rights to their existence. Dammit!
Summary: Scully and her friend are being watched.
Note: This is set in the Beach Blanket Bingo Universe. It is not necessary for you to have read Beach Blanket Bingo first; this can easily stand-alone. If you want to read it to get caught up, go here: http://scullyfu.populli.net/
My second Bloody Mary is just being set on the fresh, dry cocktail napkin when I see them walk into the airport bar. I glance at them briefly; they look like two close friends, leaning into each other and laughing over some private joke. I am putting the finishing touches on my latest story and hoping my laptop battery doesn't give out before I'm ready to send the copy to my editor.
Some people may think that working for the high and mighty Conde Nast Travel magazine for the dripping-dollars wealthy would be a great way to live. And, for the most part, it is. I get paid handsomely to fly around the world checking out luxury vacation spots that the normal, everyday working person will never visit. Only the best for the old money crowd; but I think that's even truer for the nouveau riche. God, how they love to have people fawn over them and wait on them hand and foot. I sometimes think that's the reason why loafers are so popular in that set, they wear them just so they don't have to tie their own damn shoes. I stop to give some more thought to how I want to end the write-up, how many stars this place will receive, and realize that the two women have been seated at the booth across from and two up from mine. Although I can only see the back of the head of the dark-haired woman, I have a perfect view of the small redhead. She is stunning. Her hair is a shade that I have never seen. It's neither too red, nor too brown. It has a certain hue about it that neither Crayola or L'Oreal has yet to capture. It's curly, not tight like those popular Afros from the seventies, more like a soft body wave. But, it's obviously natural. Collar length in the back, she has the front pushed back off her face with a thin beaded headband. Her eyes are as blue and clear as the water of a pristine lake in Switzerland. They are warm and gentle with just a touch of sadness behind them. But now she is laughing softly at something the other woman has said, and they are sparkling and dancing with glee, much like a child's on Christmas morning.
She reaches across and takes the other woman's hand, briefly. Her smile is luminous and I see the other woman dip her head, as though needing to break from the spell the redhead has cast on her. I wonder how long they have been here on the island. The dark-haired woman is tanned beyond belief; but not that fake tan from a salon or a bottle. This is natural. God, I hate people who have large amounts of melanin in their system. It's not fair!
But the red-head, she looks like she either just arrived here, which is not likely, or that she spent the entire time under an umbrella with lots of sunblock slathered all over her. That's possible. With her fair complexion, she's probably used to avoiding the direct sunlight, at least in a sunbathing context. Nope, you'll never see her with a wrinkle from too much time spent in the sun that's for sure.
She obviously takes care of herself. She is tiny. If I had to guess from the brief glimpse I caught of her when they walked in, I'd have to say maybe five two or three. Even sitting down, she appears to be a few inches shorter than the other woman. And she looks to weigh all of maybe a hundred and five pounds dripping wet. Her silk tank top frames arms that look well toned, like she lifts weights. Her shorts show off thighs and calves which exhibit the musculature of a runner or someone who does regular aerobic workouts. I wonder what she does to afford this place? This nearly deserted island that caters to the rich and famous. Computer whiz kid? Plastic surgeon? Corporate lawyer? She looks smart. I can see that in her eyes, even from across the room. There is a certain air of intellectual superiority about her. It's not that she looks like she's snobby or anything, just that she has a sense of her own self and her abilities. She looks like a calm kind of person. Centered.
A slow smile is forming on her lips. God, how did I miss those lips? They are so full. And she seems to have this nervous habit of licking them, sometimes slowly sweeping her tongue across the entire breadth of either the upper or lower lip, and other times just darting the end out to moisten one of the sides of her mouth. She projects sensuality. Nothing about her is overtly sexy. I doubt she even thinks of herself in those terms anyway. Nothing about her gives the appearance of any vanity. No, sensuous is the best word to describe her.
Her friend leans across the small table and whispers something to her. She turns her head slightly, meets her eyes, and kisses her companion directly on the lips. There's no hesitation, no darting of her eyes around to see if anyone is watching. So, it seems they are more than friends or just traveling partners. Yes, that makes sense. After all, this resort is billed as a lover's getaway, with very few guests and bungalows a good distance from each other. Lots of privacy with few distractions. Lots of wait staffs who are rarely seen and who are trained to see even less. There's no boardwalk with rides or carney games, no one spinning cotton candy. Hell, there's only one nightclub. It you're looking for a lot of action, you have to go to the other side of the island with all the budget travelers.
To the casual observer they would seem to be nothing more than friends. But I used to be a real journalist; schooled in the art of observation. I could put the pieces of the puzzle together with the best of them. But somewhere along the line the five double-u's got sidetracked. The who, what, where, when, and why of a hard news story instead became about how much and the different levels of luxury that money could buy. So, now I have my answer. They have come here to escape from prying eyes in their every day life. I wonder if they live together or put up the front of being "just friends" back home. Do they share a home or keep up separate residences for appearance sake? Do they share the same profession? They are intriguing.
The waiter brings me another Bloody Mary. Is that number three or four? Ooh, this is fun watching these two women, much more so than writing this stupid travelogue piece. Oh, hell, I've got to get this sent off now. Okay, Mister Editor, here it comes. There, that's done. Another piece of copy completed. One more hidden place for the hoity-toity and high-falutin to get away from it all. But I've done my duty, so now back to my reward.
They have ordered another drink while I was busy spell checking, attaching, and sending. I check my watch to find that my flight off this tropical isle will be leaving in about forty-five minutes, but I'll need to get to the gate to load in about fifteen minutes. First class has its privileges.
I see the redhead take a quick peek at her watch; she appears to be advising her friend of their time schedule. I check my ticket and itinerary. After I get back home I'll have close to a week off before jetting off to the South Pacific. Time enough to do the laundry, tidy up around the apartment, see a few friends, and then take off again. Just this past half-year alone I've added seventy-five thousand frequent flyer miles to my coffer. Funny really, all those damned redeemable miles sitting there and all I want to do on my vacation is stay home. Oh, well, looks like I'll be giving out trips to my family and friends again this Christmas; but they seem to enjoy the trips more than any box of macadamia nuts or exotic souvenirs I could give them.
Oops, time to go. I wave for the waiter to bring me the tally of damages. I sign the slip, rip off my copy for the old expense report, and leave a big tip. That's a nice advantage of having everything paid for, I can afford to be very generous with my gratuities. No doubt service workers worldwide love me.
While slipping my ticket into my jacket pocket, I notice that the two women are gathering up their belongings. I postpone my departure to watch them. The redhead is signing her credit card slip while the dark-haired woman stands and waits.
When the redhead rises from the booth, she takes her friend's hand and gives it a squeeze. It is such an intimate gesture, I feel I should look away, but don't. The taller woman leans over slightly and they kiss briefly. Nothing passionate, but at the same time the emotion it conveys is astounding. I envy them. They exchange smiles and then head toward the terminal hand in hand.
I wonder if they are on my flight. Probably not, this is a big island and there are lots of simultaneous boardings. People heading all directions, back home to L.A. and New York and Dallas. Besides, what would be the odds that we'd be on the same flight back to D.C.? Oh, well, it was a fun little diversion while it lasted.
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On to part 3, Fear of Flying