Rating: PG (most likely G, but... I always like to have a precaution)
Notes: This is my first attempt at a songfic and probably isn't too good, but it was inspired by the song "More I Cannot Wish You" from the musical "Guys & Dolls."
Feedback: Please!

The Strong Arms to Carry Her Away
By: Ashley


Velvet, I can wish you, for the collar of your coat

As a little girl growing up, her favorite coat was made of thick, burgundy wool, perfect for fighting the biting cold of a winter in New York. The collar was trimmed with plush, black velvet. He remembered how big her eyes had gotten as she tore open the package, a white box wrapped in cream colored paper with a silver bow. It would be the last gift he and Josephine would ever give to her together.

And fortune smiling all along your way

Luck had truly been kind to her. The move to Milwaukee had certainly been a scary one -- more frightening for him than her. To rebuild your whole life is not an easy thing, but it was what he felt compelled to do. Lying in bed nights, he often found himself reaching over to grasp her hand -- but there was no hand to hold. Moments like these were the worst, and loneliness was beginning to take its toll on him. So he packed up everything, and hauled himself and his eight year old daughter to Milwaukee. It was there that he built a business, and it was there that fortune smiled down on his daughter. "But Pop," she had said worriedly, "what if none of the kids like me?" "Muffin, you'll make friends, I promise," was all he could say. He was true to his promise -- she met Shirley, the dearest and truest friend she would ever have.

But more I cannot wish you than to wish you find your love
Your own true love this day
Mansions I can wish you, seven footmen all in red
And calling cards upon a silver tray

A cellar is what you make of it. True, it wasn't a palace, but in her own little way, she had always thought of it as her "mansion." After much deliberation, he had decided to let her live there -- to let his little girl go out into the world.

But more I cannot wish you than to wish you find your love
Your own true love this day
Standing there, gazing at you
Full of the bloom of youth
Standing there, gazing at you
With the sheep's eye, and the licorice tooth

He looked at her, pacing back and forth, biting her nails rapidly. Occasionally, she would bury her head in her hands -- presumably so he couldn't see the tears were falling down her face. Too young, he thought, to weep like that.

Music, I can wish you, merry music while you're young

She had an uncanny knack for music. A singer she was not, and an instrumentalist she was not, but she had been able to tap almost as good as Fred Astaire (in his eyes) since the day she was born. "You think that Eleanor Powell is somethin'?" he used to ask people. "You oughta see my little Laverne!" And what is a dancer without the rhythm of music? As his mother might comment in her thick Italian accent, "A lunatic moving their feet like their pants are on fire."

And wisdom when your hair has turned to gray

She had always been street smart -- something she acquired from growing up in a neighborhood where teenagers rumbled with rival motorcycle gangs. But she made a lot of mistakes. As a teenager, she had been caught smoking Lord knows how many times, gotten drunk once with Ann Marie (as Shirley would later recall, "I could have been a spokeswoman for Maxwell House with all the pots of coffee I had to make that night!") and -- let's faced it -- she liked the boys, which was apparent from the one pregnancy scare she'd ever had in her life. She wasn't bad at heart, and never truly rebellious, but she was a wild one (something he always blamed on himself). But from all the mistakes she made, she would someday learn and become wise -- he knew that.

But more I cannot wish you than to wish you find your love
Your own true love this day

The one thing he wanted for her, more than anything else, was love. The same kind of deep, profound love that he had shared with her mother. So many rocky relationships and crazy dates (Jake the Snake of the Purple Fiends was not exactly his idea of "the right man" for his Laverne)... he just wanted someone who would take care of her, and love her, and make her happy. But he wanted her to reciprocate it for that person.

With the sheep's eye and the licorice tooth
And the strong arms to carry you away

The strong arms to carry her away.

Lenny had been gone for three days. For 72 hours, no one had seen hide nor hair of Leonard Kosnowski.

"Where is he, where is he?!" Laverne said, pounding her fists against a "Hi Sailor" pillow.

"Muffin, he'll come back. How long do you think he could last without Squiggy?" Frank asked, placing a weathered, aged hand on his daughter's shoulder.

"You know Laverne, your father's right! Squiggy, what did he take with him?" Shirley asked.

"Everything," Squiggy said, deadpan.

"Oh yeah Shirl, he's really comin' back..." Laverne said, her voice drenched with sarcasm.

Suddenly each voice in discussion became blurred as Laverne drifted into a reverie.

She had heard him, the night that he had left. She had been on that very same couch, painting her nails, while Shirley was out on a date with Carmine. She could hear Lenny playing his guitar the floor above. She knew the tune, only too well -- "I'm in Love With Laverne." She'd thought nothing of it; after all, Lenny's major infatuation with her by this time had seemed to blow over, and he played that song a lot, anyway. She heard him strumming the last solid E, and headed over to the dumbwaiter.

"That sounded real good, Len!" she yelled up, being careful not to mess up the wet polish.

"Thanks, Laverne!" he yelled back.

"Play somethin' else -- I gotta paint my toenails."

"Whaddya wanna hear?"

"Uhm... ya know how to play 'All I Have to Do is Dream?'"

"The Everly Brothers song?"

"That's the one!"

"I think so..." he said, and after a few moments, his guitar was smoothly playing the melody.

Suddenly, Laverne returned from her daydream, to hear Squiggy say, "All he left is one thing!"

"What?" Laverne asked.

"Well... ya know that L ya sewed onto his jacked so's it would say 'Lone Wolf' 'stead-a 'One Wolf'?"

"Yeah...?" she said.

"It was layin' on his bed. That, and the note."

"There was a note?!" Shirley inquired in a high pitched squeal. "WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL US THERE WAS A NOTE?!" she said, grabbing the lapels of his slick leather jacket.

"Jeez woman, don't getcher pantyhose in a wad! It's in my pocket!" He reached into the denim pocket of his jeans, and removed a crumpled piece of paper.

"Let me see that," Mr. DeFazio said, taking the paper into his own hands. He began to read aloud:

"Deer Squig,
I'm sorry two leave you on such short notice. But youve always been to good for me, you no that. I don't know win or if I'll bee back. Please don't try too come find me, Squig. I don't know what knew home I will inhibit, but eye need to get away from sum one. It is not you, I promiss. But I have tryed too get over her for 14 years. It has yet to work. I don't no where we'll ever meat again, but wherever it is, I hope you'll be their too. Goodby, Squig.

Your best friend,
Leonard Kosnowski."

Laverne felt her heart sink in her chest instantly, and her face turned the color of freshly fallen snow.

"Laverne, honey, I'm SURE he wasn't talking about you..." Shirley said, attempting to console. There was no reply. "I mean, Lenny's had crushes on you before, sure, but that doesn't mean..."

"It's me," Laverne said solemnly, interrupting her best friend.

"Vernie, it can't be..."

"Shirl, it's me!" Laverne said, rising to her feet. "Who else would it be besides me?!"

Squiggy rolled his eyes. "Well la-dee-da-da-da! SOMEONE has a very high opinion of herself!"

"Shut up!" Shirley shouted.

"It's my fault! He's gonna go out somewhere and end up sleepin' in the gutter -- wherever he is he's probably cold, and tired, and hungry... and it's all on account-a me!" exclaimed Laverne, her cheeks crimson.

"Listen Laverne, you..."

And that's when Shirley paused. Ever girl Lenny'd ever introduced to the girls as his date, Laverne had something to say about her. He'd walk up with his arm around her, say something like, "Hiya girls, I'd like ya to meet my date," and after introductions, he'd walk away. And that's when Laverne would lean over to her and say something like, "Ya know Shirl, I think she's too short for him." "She ain't even smart enough for Lenny." "I don't like her. She's too shallow for Len." And even, "I don't think she's good enough for him," a comment she had made shortly after Lenny had a huge crush on her. Shirley looked over to Mr. DeFazio, who apparently understood everything Shirley wanted to say but couldn't. He nodded his head, and sat down beside Laverne on the sofa.

Lenny was a lot of things, but never smart. Kind, perhaps, and loving, but never smart.

"Laverne, why are you so worried about Lenny?"

"Because it's my fault that he's gone! That's why!"

"Laverne Marie DeFazio, I've known you for 24 years and never have you ever been so upset just because you felt sorry for someone." The silence in the room was deafening. "What's got you so worked up about this?"

She cut her eyes sharply away from her father. "I know what you're thinkin' Pop, and you can just forget it! I don't l--" she began, but something wouldn't allow her to say what she wanted to. "I couldn't lo--" She turned her head toward her father. "I gotta go look for him, Pop. I got to."

He nodded. "Get your coat, we'll drive."

"But Pop, you don't even like Lenny."

"But you do."

There was an awkward moment of silence, and then she threw her arms around her father, heaving a deep sigh of relief.

"C'mon Muffin. We'll find him."

In his head echoed the words: the strong arms to carry her away.

To "All The Way"