Title: Johnny Bravo and the Nagel Woman
Author: Vesper (Regina)
Category: I have no idea. It's a little bit funny and a little bit sad. Look, ma, a dramedy!
Keywords: Jimmy Bond, Yves Adele Harlow
Spoilers: Falls in between "Diagnosis: Jimmy" and "Tango de los Pistoleros"
Summary: The Cartoon Network, a popcorn fight, and something a little more serious. Set in my "Chasing Shadows" universe.
Disclaimer: "The Lone Gunmen" belongs to Twentieth Century Fox. Archival: Permission to Archive Central. All others, if you wish to archive, please link to my website. Please keep all my headers intact.
A/N: Did anyone notice the subtle shift in the relationship between Jimmy and Yves after "Diagnosis: Jimmy"? It got me thinking.
He was watching the television and barely noticed I was standing behind him. He gave me a short wave, without taking his eyes from the screen, and said "Hey, Yves."
I smiled and waited. Men are so easy to predict. Sure enough, a second later he jumped to his feet and exclaimed, "How did you get in?"
I walked a little further into what, I assumed, passed for the den. I hadn't visited this part of their headquarters before and I was impressed at the open nature of their living quarters.
"The door was unlocked, Jimmy."
He nodded and then a look of horror crossed his face. He said, "Aw, man, the guys would kill me if they knew I left the door open."
I made my way around the couch. "No harm done. I locked it behind me when I came in. So where are they?"
"Uh, they went to interview someone."
"So, why aren't you with them?"
He has such a mobile face, capable of expressing a myriad of emotions. Some may say they wear their hearts on their sleeves, but Jimmy wears his on his face. The particular expression he's wearing now is pained embarrassment.
"I kinda...set...the stove on fire."
I'm curious how, because contrary to popular belief, most foods don't really, unless of course you're cooking with oil, on second thought, I really didn't want to know. Instead I asked, "So they...grounded you?"
He nodded, then qualified, "Not really, 'cause I can still leave, considering I still have my..." he finally took in the look of disinterest I was sporting and finished weakly, "car."
He sat back down, pulled a bag of microwave popcorn toward him, grabbed a few kernels and held it up to me.
I looked at it for a second and then shook my head. "No thanks."
He looked vaguely disappointed for a moment.
"So what's up, Yves?"
I hardly wanted to say that I was just wondering how he was doing. Since his skiing accident, which I know wasn't really my fault, I'd had the niggling feeling of something I eventually recognized as responsibility and maybe just a little concern....
I didn't say any of that, just shrugged.
He asked, "Are you just going to stand there or sit down?"
I looked at the sofa, a decrepit burgundy monstrosity, and wondered if it was possible to contract disease from upholstery. He moved over a little, making room for me and I looked around, hoping there was another seat, anything really, but, of course, there wasn't.
I sat down gingerly on the edge. The couch, against my expectations, didn't attack me in any way, so I settled back a little further. Much further. The couch, for lack of a better word, swallowed me.
Jimmy said, "Oops, forgot to tell you, it's pretty sprung."
I glared at him from behind the wall of my knees and said, "No kidding."
He stood up and graciously pulled me up enough so I was no longer impersonating the letter v. Once I'd found a somewhat stable position on the quicksand landscape of the couch, he sat back down again.
And I promptly sank against him. He laughed and I frowned at him.
He said, "Oh, come on, Yves, it's funny."
I acquiesed and smiled half-heartedly back at him. I said, "Could you please?"
He gave me a little push and I clutched the back of the couch and maneuvered myself securely into a corner. He chuckled and ate another handful of popcorn.
He held the bag out to me again and said, "Are you sure you don't want some?"
"Oh, all right," I answered and dug out a handful.
I asked, as casually as I could, "So how's your leg?"
"Mending," he answered absently.
His attention had been captured by the television again. The Cartoon Network, according to the little insignia in the corner.
"So, what's the show?"
I echoed, somewhat dubious of his answer, "Johnny Bravo?"
Despite my better intentions I became reluctantly involved in the doomed character's attempts to snare a woman. It was completely chauvinistic and utterly imbecile, but oddly amusing. There was something very familiar about Johnny and when I realized what it was I laughed.
Jimmy gave me a strange look and I said, "He looks like you."
"Come now, Jimmy, surely you see the resemblance?"
"Nope, can't say I do." He stuffed a few more pieces of popcorn in his mouth.
"The hair, for one."
He touched his hair, pressing it down a little. It bounced right back.
"What's wrong with my hair?"
I smiled, unable to resist saying, "Nothing, it's just...spiky."
"I like it," he said, in that wounded puppy dog way only men can carry off.
"Oh, it suits you," I said, barely keeping my amusement in check. What had possessed me? Here I was smiling and laughing, having fun, feeling like I belonged...and I could feel the happiness ebb away. I turned my eyes back to the television screen.
A few seconds went by, in which Jimmy kept shooting quick glances at me, as if he was trying to puzzle me out. I ignored it and kept watching the show.
The reedy little fellow was piping madly at Johnny about something or other when Jimmy finally gave in and asked, "So, okay, is that all there is?"
"Well, that and his remarkable lack of wits," I remarked, before I could think better of it.
He said, quietly, "You know, I don't much care when the guys make fun of me, but coming from you, Yves, it really hurts."
He looked away from me to the television and we sat in uncomfortable silence, looking at the television, but not really watching it.
I said, "Jimmy?" but he still wouldn't look at me and I began to feel the first sting of regret. I suspected a simple apology would not be enough.
I blame what happened next on having no other choice.
I pelted him with a piece of popcorn.
He didn't seem to notice.
Another piece of popcorn.
Absolutely no reaction.
So I gave up and contemplated apologizing.
Then a piece of popcorn bounced off my nose and I snapped my head over to look at him. I caught him turning his head back to the television just as quickly.
I waited, watching the telly, and presently tossed another kernel.
The next one landed on my cheekbone.
I think I saw a smile.
The last volley had left me with five pieces of popcorn and I fired two of them simultaneously. I glanced sideways to see where they landed. One hit his ear while the other one lodged in his hair.
A short space of peace and then a white rain of popcorn inundated me. I looked up just in time to see him grinning at me and reaching for another handful of popcorn.
"Oh, no you don't!" I exclaimed and lunged for the bag. Mistake. The deathtrap of a couch grabbed a hold of me and he took the opportunity to hoist the bag higher than I could reach.
"Apologize, Yves," he demanded.
"I'm truly stuck, Jimmy. Help, please?"
"Not until you say you're sorry."
I was sorry. "I'm sorry, now please help me?"
He nodded, stood, and pulled me out. He misjudged his force and hauled me out so quickly I almost ended up crashing into him. He steadied me with a hand on my shoulder.
I cleared my throat and asked, "Happy we declared pax?"
He gave me a confused expression.
I explained, "Pax. Means peace."
"Oh, okay." he said. He smiled, pointed at my head, and said, "You have popcorn in your hair."
"So do you," I said and reached up to pick out the only one that got stuck there and learned that, although his hair looked stiff, it was actually quite soft.
He reached over and started picking popcorn out of my hair and for some reason I just stood there and let him do it. At one point he leaned in close and I suddenly lost the ability to breathe. I hadn't really noticed before that he has blue eyes.
He said, "All gone." He stepped back and I shivered.
We looked at each other for a moment and then he said, "You surprise me sometimes, Yves."
"What do you mean?"
"You threw popcorn at me," he pointed out obligingly. "It's out of character for you. You're always so serious. Why is that?"
I could tell he really wanted to know and things I'd kept to myself, quiet and buried, suddenly started to clamor, until all I wanted to do was tell him, tell him everything, but what came out was, "Because I'm rarely happy."
I sat back down on the couch, where he'd been previously, and wonder of wonders, didn't fall into a black hole.
He asked, "Why not?"
He had no idea how much crap that one simple question could dig up.
"It's too complicated, Jimmy. I can't tell you."
He sat down beside me, somehow avoiding the gone spring. "Can't means won't."
How right he is. "No, I won't. You and the others aren't ready to hear about my past."
"Whatever it is, you know I wouldn't care, right?" he said.
"I think, of all of them, you would be the only one to understand. Melvin," I corrected myself, "Frohike, has an idea, but he really doesn't know."
I don't know how he does it, but Jimmy has an uncanny way of going straight to the essential. He instinctually understands exactly what makes people tick, something that, in the hands of a more manipulative man, would be a weapon.
He said, "I think...I think you're not happy because you're lonely."
Sometimes I wish he weren't quite so observant.
"I have to be." I stood up, anxious to end the conversation. "I need to be getting along."
He saw me to the door, and just as I started to walk out he asked, "Hey, Yves, if I'm Johnny Bravo, what does that make you?"
"I have no idea, Jimmy. You know, Johnny Bravo's a stereotype anyway."
He looked at me, examined me, rather. I'm used to men staring at me, but his frank appraisal made me grow restless. I found myself asking, "What do you think I am?" just to break the tension.
"You're like a Nagel woman."
I raised an eyebrow. A Nagel, as in Patrick Nagel? Of all the things he could have said, I certainly did not expect that. But why should I be surprised? He is a man, after all.
He went on, "Beautiful, mysterious, and just a little untouchable."
They were all words I'd heard before, many times, but for once, they didn't cause me to scoff. He was saying all the words I'd heard before, but what I saw in his eyes told me something other. He said, "Of course, that's a stereotype, too." And I knew, I knew he saw past all that. He saw me as I am, not what I pretended to be.
Somehow I found the voice to say, "Of course."
He said, "You never did tell me why you stopped by."
"Just wanted to know how you were," I said, "with the leg and everything."
"Just fine, Yves. Thanks for asking." He smiled that luminous grin at me and I couldn't help but smile back.
"See you later, Jimmy."
He shut the door and I stood on the outside for a second, listening to the door locks.