Lilly was sitting on her bed, pillows against the headboard, Snowflake on her lap, Rex, Cleo and Bitsy toward the bottom of the bed.
“No, you can’t play with the hamster,” she said. He’s not a toy, he’s a living breathing person.”
“He’s not a person,” said Cleo. “Not even close.”
“She’s right, you know,” agreed Bitsy. “A hamster is not a person.”
“I saw Tommy yesterday,” said Lilly.
“Ooooh,” said Cleo, arching her back. “He was such a pretty one. I really liked him. I let him pick me up and…”
“Get over yourself, Cleo,” hissed Bitsy. “We know you loved him.”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” said Cleo. “He liked me better than he liked you, so you’re still mad about that and besides, you liked the mailperson.”
“I don’t know why she’s like this,” sighed Bitsy. “Normally, she’s a reasonable cat. I never liked the mailperson and I’m not the jealous type.”
“She had a kitten crush on Tommy and never outgrew it, right, Cleo,” said Lilly.
“No. Yes. Maybe a little, but how could I not? He’s was so adorable. Those dark eyes, that black hair, those bulging muscles that made me feel that he’d never drop me,” she sighed. “How does he look now?”
“Still gorgeous, but you can see him yourself, since he’s about to climb through the window.”
“Hey,” he said. “We need to talk.”
“You could have used the front door, you know.” said Lilly. Cleo was kneading the blanket. hoping to be noticed.
“Is that my fluffy little kitten,” he said, grinning at the cat, who was rolling onto her back. “Come here,” he said, and she launched herself into his arms, purring loudly.
“Am I the only one who is disgusted by this horrible show of…of…I don’t know what it is, but it’s disgusting,” said Bitsy.
“You’re grossing out Bitsy,” laughed Lilly.
“Aw Bits, don’t be mad at me, you know I love you too,” he crooned, picking her up with his other hand then kissing her neck.
He was holding two purring cats and Rex was sitting in front of him wagging his tail. He put the cats down and petted the dog.
“The hamster’s good,” chuckled Lilly.
“Why won’t you marry me, Lilly. You don’t want to be with that weakling, do you?”
“You know that you’re just a normal guy, don’t you. I know who you are, remember? Snake? Really? You’ll always be Tommy to me.”
“Tommy doesn’t scare anyone Lil, but Snake does.”
“You don’t have to scare people. You didn’t have to join a gang.”
“I think I did,” he said, shoving her over and laying down next to her.
“It’s not,” he said, watching the cats, settling themselves on his body. “It just seemed right, somehow.”
“Okay, but it’s not a life I would want for myself.”
“I know that,” he sighed. “But I won’t stop asking.”
“You know I love you.”
“I know,” he said. “And I love you.”
“We just decided to walk different paths,” she said.
“Don’t you think the paths choose us?” he asked, looking at her.
‘Maybe. I don’t know.”
“I mean, what if the paths in front of us were different from the very beginning? What if we never even saw the same paths?”
“That’s a good point.”
“I’ve been think about you a lot, since you brought that James kid to us. He’s not for you, you know that don’t you?”
“I do. It was our being dead together that made me think there was more to us than there was.”
“That makes sense. Could have happened to any two dead people.”
Heather slammed the bedroom door open. “I thought I heard your voice Tommy. What are you doing here?”
“I’m talking to Lilly, what does it look like I’m doing.”
“I hate you Lilly. You get all the good stuff,” she said, and slammed the door closed.
“NICE TO SEE YOU AGAIN HEATHER,” he yelled, trying not to laugh. “Doesn’t she know how awful she is? I’d be surprised if anyone ever liked her.”
“She not that bad,” said Lilly, petting the hamster’s ears.
“I think she is.”
“Why are you here, Tommy?”
“Wanted to see if you changed your mind and wanted to marry me, and I wanted to ask you more about the upcoming battle. And before you say no to the first thing, what if I leave the gang and come back?”
“You love your gang. I’d never ask you to do that.”
“I’m offering. You never asked me to do anything.”
“The guys would be devastated.”
“I have someone picked out who could take my place.”
“I can’t believe you’d do that for me.”
“I’d do anything for you. Seeing you again, just reminded me of that. Besides, you can fight as well as any of them. You took a beating, time after time, but you always came back and the guys respect you for that.”
“I’m really not old enough to get married right now. People used to get married right out of high school but they don’t do that anymore. They want to do other things first, before they settle down. You’re two years older than I am, but I promise that if I decide to get married soon, you’re the love of my life. So give me time to think about things, okay?”
“Okay,” he said, kissing her hand. “What about the battle?”
“I told you everything I know. James really is the champion. I don’t know why, or how he’s going to do anything, but he’s the one.”
“Whatever he’s going to do, it won’t be fighting.”
“I know, right?” she laughed. “I don’t know why he’s so afraid of everything, but he is, and he really hates me for leaving him with you.”
“I know that,” he laughed. “He kept his eyes closed almost the entire time.”
“Oh, tell me you’re kidding.”
Lilly, scooted down on the bed and stared at the ceiling. “Not everyone is cut out for the arena, Tommy.”
“No. Not everyone is, Lilly.”
The hamster, ran down Lilly’s arm and up Tommy’s body, where he burrowed into his shirt pocket.
“I think Snowflake likes you.”
“Don’t tell the guys, okay?”
“Promise,” she laughed, as their fingers entwined.