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Nov. 29th, 2016 05:37 pm
smackenzie: (faye)
[personal profile] smackenzie
Sadie turned twenty a few weeks after Rose's wedding, and she felt as if she should be older. She should be twenty-three, at least. Gigi threw her a party, because she could never resist the opportunity to make people happy, and guests spilled in and out of the apartment for hours, eating and drinking and talking and dancing if there was room. The party started in the late afternoon, with drinks and light refreshments, moving on to real food around dinnertime. Addy and Marianna brought down a pot of spaghetti and meatballs in tomato sauce, like they had for Sadie's welcome-to-the-neighborhood party, Carroll appeared with his arms full of French baguettes and cheese, and Victor and his nice young man brought strawberries and chocolates and tiny pastries packed in a white baker's box. Frederika, to Sadie's great surprise, baked a cake, and Alistair brought a pineapple upside-down cake. Sadie took one look at it and almost fell over laughing, then threw her arms around him, kissed him on the mouth, and told him she loved him.

At seven, half the guests (and the hostess) vanished for the evening's performance at the Winter Theater, and after a while, almost everyone who was left followed to watch. Victor's nice young man had to bow out, and Marianna wanted to work, but everyone else trooped down the street in a cheerful crowd to the theater.

Sadie had invited Leo for as much of the festivities as he wanted to attend, and he showed up at her house just as everyone was putting on their hats and wraps and getting ready to leave for the play. He apologized profusely for missing dinner, but the trolley had gone off the tracks before it even managed to leave Flatbush, and he'd had to find another way across the river.

"You didn't walk, did you?" Layla demanded. She'd been across the Brooklyn Bridge a week ago, on the advice of a girl she was interested in, and had come to the conclusion that there was no reason to walk that far when one could take the subway and sit for the entire trip.

"I thought about it," he admitted, then lifted a foot so he could point to his newly-polished shoe. "These are very comfortable but I didn't want them to get dusty."

"It doesn't matter," Sadie said. "You're here now."

At the theater, she sat sandwiched between Leo (who watched with minimal commentary and seemingly total absorption) and Victor (who offered occasional gossip about the actors, the crew, and Roman, who was directing). Leo took her hand halfway through the performance, and after the show, while he slipped off to the toilet and everyone else waited for the rest of the party to appear, she told Victor that she thought he was a keeper.

"Has he even kissed you yet?" Victor asked, and looked disappointed and disapproving when Sadie said no.

"He did tell his parents not to wait up," she said. "He didn't want them to stay up."

"He's not the kind of man who will stay the night."

"I know. But I appreciate the thought all the same. Maybe he'll sleep on the couch, and I can make him breakfast in the morning."

They hailed cabs and rode uptown to the Cotton Club, where Gigi and Sadie had first met what felt like a lifetime ago, to drink the overpriced drinks and watch the floor show and maybe even dance. Leo danced like a man who didn't have a lot of opportunity to practice, but he let Sadie and Gigi show him the steps, and even though he clearly didn't know what he was doing, he was game to try.

Eventually it was back downtown again, to the Pepper Pot, which was packed with people, to Lucy's, which was likewise, and to a new club Roman had heard about, which accepted his whispered password and let them in. It was also crowded, but tolerable, and the band was energetic and the dance floor an acceptable size, and whoever was left of the party (they'd gained and lost people all night - Addy had gone home but they'd collected Roman's most recent lady friend, and Lyman Peralta, and Frederika's new squeeze) danced and drank and laughed and drunkenly helped stop a fight when one particularly lubricated young man took offense to another particularly lubricated young man hitting on his equally lubricated girlfriend.

"What is happening here!" Leo asked Sadie, after all three confrontational parties had been unceremoniously thrown out. He sounded delighted more than anything else. His cheeks were flushed, his curly hair damp against his forehead, and he'd taken off his jacket which meant he might have lost it for good. He was clearly enjoying himself, and Sadie was so pleased that he hadn't run from her crazy friends or her wild social life that she couldn't contain herself.

"Welcome to the modern age!" was her answer. She grabbed his face with both hands and kissed him hard on the lips. She could just feel him freeze, surprised, and then he pushed her face away, grinned wildly at her, and kissed her back.

He wasn't a great kisser, but she didn't care. She wondered abstractly if he was any better of a kisser when he was sober, or when she was. She wanted to find out.

But later. Tomorrow. Right now was for dancing, and laughing, and not caring when he got dragged into a conversation with Alistair and Gigi and Roman about art and theater and films. Five minutes later Carroll buttonholed her to talk about food, of all things, and by the time he wound down she was hungry and Leo had disappeared. But no matter. She knew he hadn't gone far.

Some time later she was unsurprised to find herself kicking off her shoes and jumping into the fountain in Washington Square Park, Carroll right behind her and Layla complaining about ruining her dress. Gigi grabbed Layla's hand and threatened to yank her over the lip of the fountain and into the water, and Carroll splashed out onto the pavement, grabbed Layla's other arm, called for help, and with Alistair and Roman's assistance, picked her up and threw her in. She yelled at them and called them disreputable bastards, which just made everyone laugh.

Sadie waved at Leo, who hadn't left and by this point wasn't going to, and he toed off his shoes, rolled up the bottoms of his pants, carefully climbed over the edge of the fountain, and joined her.

"I've never had so much fun," he told her. "Not in all my life."

She just beamed.

Either someone in a neighboring apartment collared a policeman, or there happened to be one walking his beat right about then, because there was a shout of "Hey! You! Out of the fountain!" and the sound of footsteps coming towards them. They hurried out, laughing, grabbing their shoes and (in the ladies' case) tiny handbags and running and slipping out of the park and back to Sadie and Gigi's place.

But the party was winding down, and as much as some of them wanted to keep going - Carroll invited everyone over to his studio, and Frederika said no, they could come to hers, and Layla announced she wasn't going anywhere with anyone after they threw her in the fountain - the festivities had clearly come to an end. Eventually it was just Sadie and Gigi and Victor and Leo in the apartment, Leo picking at the remains of dinner and Victor sprawling on the couch. Gigi pushed his feet off the cushions and sat next to him. She gestured to Sadie to sit, so Sadie wedged herself into the end of the couch and Gigi leaned into her.

"Happy birthday, my beautiful roommate," Gigi said, eyes half-closed, words slurring together. She smiled tiredly. "I love you."

"I love you too," Sadie said, hearing her own words blur in her ears. She was going to be so hungover in the morning. "Leo," she said, holding out her hands to him. "I'm sorry. There isn't room on the couch. You'll have to sleep with me. Next to me. Next to me."

She wasn't sure, but she thought he might be blushing. How cute he was.

"You need to be in your own bed," Victor said from Gigi's other side, and as if it was directed towards him, Leo took Sadie's hands and pulled her to her feet. She stumbled into him, drunk and tired and profoundly content and not caring that she was going to wake up fully clothed and half-sick from all the drinks she'd had.

She kissed Leo's neck, murmured "Let's go to bed," and led him out of the parlor and into her room. She toed off her shoes, sat on the bed to unroll her stockings, and lay down. She was impressed with herself that she managed to stay conscious until Leo was lying next to her, pressing his lips to her temple, wishing her a happy birthday, and telling her that his mother would die of shock if she could see how inappropriate he was being. And then she was asleep.

She was a little surprised to discover that when she woke up, she woke up alone. She was so used to sleeping with Alistair who slept in, that it was a bit of a shock to wake second. She didn't think Leo would have left, though, so she got out of bed - slowly, fully aware that she had (as expected) a raging hangover - changed out of her crushed party dress into pajamas and a dressing-gown, and shuffled into the kitchen.

Where Victor was making breakfast for Gigi and Leo.

"Good morning, sunshine," Victor said, scraping eggs out of the frying pan and onto a plate. Sadie's stomach, predictably, protested. But the eggs were for Gigi. Victor waved at the coffeepot, still sitting on the stove. "Coffee's hot."

"No, thank you," Sadie said, falling into a chair. Leo looked brushed, if not washed, and pale but awake. But she remembered that he was a teacher, so he must be used to getting up early. Even after the night he'd had.

"How did you sleep?" Gigi asked, grinning, an entirely different question behind her words.

"Like the dead." She turned to Leo. "How are you? Was the bed ok?"

"The bed was fine," he said. He was trying not to smile, although Sadie couldn't guess why, and then he gave up and gave her the brightest grin imaginable. "Did I tell you I had a really good time last night? Your friends are a different bunch."

"They are, aren't they?" She could tell he didn't mean it as an insult. "I'm glad you liked them."

"You could tell us if you didn't," Victor volunteered. "Don't hold back. Tell us what you really think."

"I did," Leo protested.

"Leave him alone," Sadie said.

"I'm imagining my parents' reactions when I share the details of my night." He was still smiling. "I'll have to tell them it was too late to come home such a distance, so I slept on a friend's sofa."

"You would be... entirely wrong," Victor commented.

"Except for the friend," Gigi added.

"And speaking of parents," Leo said, getting up, "I should go."

Sadie stood as well and followed him back to the bedroom, where he retrieved his jacket and hat, and then walked him to the front door.

"I hope you don't mind that your friends showed me your birthday presents," he said. "You got some... interesting art. But the poem I liked."

Alistair had written her a poem and gotten Addy to write it out in a decorative hand and then illustrate the page. It was, like all his poetry, excessively metaphorical and image-heavy, and Sadie wasn't entirely sure, but was mostly convinced it was about sex. She couldn't tell if it referenced a specific instance or just sex between them in general, and now she wondered if Leo had guessed how autobiographical it might be. She still wasn't sure she wanted him to know about her and Alistair.

But if he guessed, he didn't seem to mind.

I'm so sorry I showed up empty-handed," he went on. "But I couldn't find the right gift. Let me take you out for dinner on Tuesday to make up for it. I'll pick you up after work. Is that ok?"

"That would be fine." She had a terrible headache and her stomach was still protesting the fact that there was food cooking anywhere in the house, and her eyeballs hurt and she just wanted to go back to bed, but she didn't want him to leave.

He leaned in and kissed her on the lips, whispered "Happy birthday, my shayna maidel," and left.

Sadie practically floated back into the kitchen, where Gigi and Victor stopped talking the second she walked in.

"You said he wouldn't stay the night," Sadie said to Victor. He shrugged.

"So I was wrong," he said. "Sometimes I'm wrong."

"He kissed me."

"Of course he did."

Victor poured himself some coffee and sat at the kitchen table. He took Sadie's hand.

"You never wanted a boy like him, did you," he said. "He's what you wanted to leave behind. I know, Sadie, because he's what I wanted to leave too."

"He liked you," she said. "He liked Alistair's poem. You didn't explain it to him, did you?"

"What do you take us for?" Victor pretended to be offended.

"I wanted to," Gigi admitted, and pointed across the table at Victor. "But he kicked me." Now Victor looked innocent.

"There are some things a girl's boyfriend doesn't need to know right away."

It was a little startling to hear someone else refer to Leo as her boyfriend, but Sadie guessed that's what he was. She was ok with it.

She was more than ok with it.

He wasn't what she thought she wanted, when she came to the city to make clothes and be a modern girl. He was too much like the boys she knew from home. But he was also from Brooklyn, not some nothing town upstate, and she'd introduced him to her friends and her life, and he still wanted to see her. She hadn't scared him off. Her friends hadn't scared him off. She thought he might even let her be the person she wanted to be, and do the things she wanted to do.

His parents were very traditional, but so were hers. And look how she turned out. So there was hope for him, and for her relationship with him.

She realized Gigi and Victor were both looking at her. "What?" she asked.

"You're beaming," Gigi said. "You have an afterglow, and you didn't even fuck him!" She sounded triumphant.

"I really like him. I'm still not ready to get married, so I hope that's not what he's expecting, but I really like him."

"He'll come around. You'll get him into bed."

"I don't think so," Victor said. "He seemed very traditional that way."

"I don't care," Sadie told them. "Not right now. He is the last person I ever expected to want, and yet... I want him. But I can wait for him."

"Keep him," Gigi said. "He's forever."

Sadie hoped he was. Later she could think about what it meant that she was going to end up with the kind of person she'd tried to escape - that a nice Jewish teacher who kept kosher and still lived with his parents would be the person she'd give up an arty, bohemian lover to have. And yet here she was, excited to see him again, and not sorry for any of the choices that got her here.

She hadn't given up her life for him. She wasn't going to change for Leo, and she wasn't going to expect him to change either. There was no telling if their relationship could last like that, but she was prepared to work for it. It was an exciting thing, to have this new challenge in front of her. She couldn't wait to meet it.

words: 2696
total words: 55,685


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