Title: "I Get No Kick From Champagne"
Fandom: "The Westing Game" by Ellen Raskin.
Rating/Classification: SAC, ficlet, Theo/Turtle, vaguely physical, filler.
Disclaimer:I have no claim on Ellen Raskin's characters except lots of love
Summary: How did Turtle Wexler and Theo Theodorakis wind up married?
Her mother shooed him towards her with the eagle eye of a practiced matchmaker rather than an accomplished caterer. "Go, go on, Theo, catch up."
He really needed no encouragement. At some point during Doug's victory party, he was going to stumble over his feet and make his way over. This was just sooner than he anticipated.
When he found himself in front of her, he had sweaty palms the likes of
which he couldn't remember having before. He blinked and swallowed the knot in his throat. He was seventeen again. He was seventeen but this wasn't Angela, some golden girl crush, this was someone brighter and infinitely more
intimidating. "H-hello," he mumbled, trying for a charming grin. Trying
and failing even as she took his hand. He was fascinated by the contrast
of her pale fingers against his Greek olive tan.
"Hi," she said, eyes twinkling. Whether that was because she'd noticed his damp palms or because she was flirting, he didn't even know. And he was
astounded by the thought of Turtle Wexler *flirting*. Her idea of male-to-female contact had always consisted of a sharp kick to the shins. "I'm not Turtle anymore," she said, as if she could read his thoughts...and the way she glanced at his legs cemented that suspicion. "I go by 'T.R' now."
"I know." Two words he managed to eke out without stammering like an
idiot. Funny how he was a whiz when it came to writing them down, but not
when it came to making them heard. "Your mom told me."
"How've you been, Theo?" The twinkle moved down from her eyes and infected her mouth. She was grinning, keeping hold of his fingers as if she
was totally aware of how badly he wanted to rub at the ghost-bruises of years
"I'm good," he said, ridiculously tongue-tied. And as he stared at her, eighteen and all grown up...attractive...even gorgeous...he slowly shook his head. "Better," he corrected, turning on the reporter's charm that he had a reserve of...mainly because he had little cause to use it. "Much better."
She cocked her head, her humor becoming a full-on shrewd Westing
glimmer. "Have dinner with me tonight." It wasn't a request, but an order. "Tell me how much better."
And he found himself liking that.
Entirely too much.
The T.R. equivalent to a Turtle shin-kicking.
In an oddly gallant gesture that he didn't even plan, he raised her hand
to his mouth and kissed her knuckles lightly. "I'd love to."
He took his time picking the perfect place for their fourth date, chose a little Greek bistro near the lakeshore that was cheerfully decorated in blue and white. Over ouzo and moussaka, they talked about family...their parents, the restaurant business ...
"I think Angela's falling for Dr. Darling Deere again," she confided.
"I think Chris and Shirley are going to conquer the world," he admitted.
She told him about her gains on the stock market and her dreams of business degrees and law school and he talked about the perpetual grief of being a starving cub reporter who did nothing but sharpen pencils for the big boys when all he wanted to do was write.
"Starving, hmmm?" Her mouth was wide and glossy and luscious and he felt stupidly lucky when she let him kiss her goodnight at the passenger side
door of his rental car. Even luckier when they kissed again in the Sunset Towers lobby. And in the elevator. And at the door to her apartment.
"Tomorrow," she sighed against his lips as she fumbled for her key,
"tomorrow, we'll do breakfast."
He was suddenly a dumb high school kid again, wanting to ask if he should call her or nudge her...but he didn't have to. Once again with that sharp intuition, she saw right through him...and tugged him inside...
He gasped "Turtle...oh God...Turtle..." over the rustle and rip of a
foil package and she didn't seem to mind because she chanted "TheoTheoTheo"
as she tugged him inside, much much farther inside, a second time.
Later, as he skated his fingertips across her cheek in the darkness, he
blurted out, "Marry me." Writer, not speaker. Stupidstupidstupid.
"A little soon for that, don't you think?" she wondered, sleepily, drawing
gentle circles on his shin with her toes, soothing the injuries of yesteryear.
"No," he whispered into her hair, "not soon enough. I should've asked you that first morning at the Hoo's."
Her chuckle vibrated across the surface of his skin like skipping stones
on the lake. "In that case...I'd love to."
A year to the day they met again, he's trying to knot the tie he's wearing to the courthouse and knows his little brother is going to have to help. These days, it is he who needs Chris, not the other way around.
It is the morning of his and T.R.'s civil ceremony. They'd agreed to wait till she finished college and, as if she couldn't wait any longer, his genius love zipped through her requirements in half the allotted time. She's all ready applying to a number of prestigious MBA programs in the Midwest and he's all ready prepared to go wherever she goes. It'll be a quiet family affair with no superstitions, no big hoopla...no "boom!" He's seen her in her simple pale blue wedding dress and out of it and, privately, he much prefers the latter.
As he shrugs on his coat, she is moving around in the next room, 'searching for her shoes'...code for calling Julian Eastman, he knows. Her low phone voice carries although she doesn't realize it..."He's a good man, Sandy. This is going to work. Yeah...yeah...I wish you could be here, too..."
Julian Eastman. Sandy. Sandy McSouthers.
He doesn't question the fact that she's talking to a man everyone thinks dead. He never has. Not even when she disappears once a week and comes back crowing of chess successes with an unseen partner. He even lets her believe he's never overheard her. He knows enough not to ask, knows that, when she's ready, she'll do the telling.
It may take years, but he'll give Turtle...T.R...Tabitha Ruth "Alice" Wexler her secrets.
Because, yes, this is going to work.
When he kisses his wife...his *wife*...it is most definitely more pleasing
than a vintage Turtle shin kicking...and no less memorable.
And he knows that *he's* the true winner of the Westing Game... six years after the fact...because he's got the prize in his arms. And in his heart.
September 16, 2002.