Demeaning You
By Missy

TITLE: Demeaning You
PART: 1 of 1
PART OF: An AU/lookinglass Universe based on the notions behind "Even More" and "Three Kisses"
RATING: PG-13 (mild language, sexual content)
DISTRIBUTION: To LW, Kai, Myself and FG so far; any other archives are welcome to ask, but disclaimers must be included, my email left intact. send a URL, and provide full disclaimers as well as credit me fully. Please inform me if you are going to submit my work to any sort of search engine. Please do not submit my work to a search engine that picks out random sets of words and uses them as key words, such as "Google"
Please contact me in order for this story to be placed on an archive, or if you want know of a friend who would enjoy my works, please email me their address and I will mail them the stories, expressly for the purpose of link trading. MiSTiers are welcomed! Please do inform me that you'd like to do the MiSTing, however, and send me a copy of the finished product. I'd also love to archive any MiSTings that are made of my work!
SPOILLERS: For Shotzette's "Three Kisses", "Even More"; the canon eps "One Heckuva Note" and "Not Quite New York". Takes place a month after Shotzette's "Even More", but in a much darker place.
SUMMARY: Shirley makes a decision.
NOTES:.Lyrics from Ani DiFranco.


i'm not saying that i'm a saint....i just don't want to live that way
-Ani DiFranco,
32 Flavors
(And Then Some)


"You got everything you need?"

Shirley nodded her head, while checking her makeup in the mirror; flawless lips and long lashes blinked back at her, showing no sign of the exhaustion she felt.

Lenny let out an airless sound of discomfort; holding his back, he sat down on the stoop beside her. "Boy, Shirl, I didn't know you owned this much stuff!"

"Yes, I didn't know myself, until I started to pack," she explained. The compact glittered against the sun as she shoved it into her purse. "Did you hurt your back, Leonard? Oh, I wish you'd have let me help you.."

"Nah," he smiled. "It's from workin' overtime at the plant. Turns out you gotta put in overtime ta get out of yer contract early. Union rule."

"You're lucky to have that option, to not have been fired," she said pertly, then regretted it. "Oh, Lenny, I'm sorry."

"I understand, Shirl. Yer upset." His glare was meaningfully fixed upon the building behind them.

"You're more upset than I am," she noted, with humor.


When she returned home that proving day two months before, it was easy to see that something was wrong. Laverne was incredibly uneasy in her presence; Carmine hadn't been able to kiss her hello when they met on the doorstep. A lot of things had been wrong, poking her emotionally. Finally, that evening, Carmine and Laverne sat her down at the kitchen table and explained that something had happened while she was gone.

The words had been an initial blow to her very soul. She had cried bitterly for an hour or so, feeling with incredible keenness the loss of her high school romance. A long, hot bubble bath cleared her mind and her soul. A week of prayer cleared her path more evenly.

And she decided that if her best friend wanted Carmine, she would release him, as, while she liked Carmine, she loved Laverne.

Bizarrely, and to Laverne's relief, she couldn't conjure up anger toward her best friend. What hurt her most was the idea that Carmine would cheat on her; Carmine, whom she had lain on a pedestal slightly lower than Fabian, whom she had worshipped, idolized. Well, not only was the emperor naked, but he had a constant erection and was fond of wanking.

She knew that Laverne had worried about a catfight; viciousness, but Shirley wouldn't sink so low. Instead, she turned to the meaning stocked within her favorite sayings and rose higher. And made plans. That had led her to researching new jobs, trying new things, and finally booking herself on a trip toward the ocean.

That had led her to California.


The ice cream truck was old, leaky, but serviceable. And, it turned out, she trusted the drivers more than she had previously imagined.

Shirley wondered to herself if Lenny and Squiggy's motives had been one hundred per cent altruistic when they offered to help her move to California. It had become clear to her, rapidly, that Lenny was on her side, and that Squiggy would do whatever Lenny wanted him to. They had ostracized Laverne, to Shirley's guilt, focusing their attentions on Shirley.

"I don't know how you can be nice to her, Shirl."

"She's my best friend."

"She's a slut, Shirley."

Shirley gaped at him. "That's the crudest thing I've ever heard you say, Leonard."

"Sorry. It's the truth."

"Laverne isn't a jezebel. She's in love."

Lenny smirked. "You call that love?"

Shirley bit her lower lip. "But she has to be in love, Lenny. She wouldn't do this to me if she weren't."

The words hung between them, pregnant with meaning.

Lenny shuffled his feet against the pavement as he listed to the side; she shoved against him, helping him to his feet. It seemed as though some part of Lenny's innocence had been washed away by this entire affair. As had her own.

"Well, this truck ain't gonna drive itself; I'm gonna go see if Squig's done sayin' goodbye to his moths."

Shirley smiled. "Thank you, Leonard."

"Yeah," he lifted his chin, smiling crookedly to her as he walked back up Knapp Street.

Shirley tucked her skirt closely around her knees, rocking slightly against the hot cement. She wondered absently how hot the cement would be in California.


Shirley smiled as Laverne climbed down the stairs. At first, her best friend appeared to be a radiant portrait of a woman in love; as she descended the stairs, the sunlight blasted through her foundation; large wrinkles showed up beneath her eyes, and a large purple thumbprint showed up at the top of each underarm.

Laverne winced as Shirley embraced her. "I made ya these..."

Shirley took the Tupperware from her best friend, opening it. Tears bloomed in her eyes.

It was filled to the brim with wax-paper-wrapped Scooter Pies.

"Oh, Vernie, you didn't have to!"

Laverne tried to intimate something, with a brave smile that became more and more crooked. Finally, she gave up, her entire face crumpling as she pushed herself into Shirley's arms, releasing a deep sob.

"What's wrong?"

Laverne cried ardently, her tears dripping down Shirley's peter pan collar in great floods.

"Nice tears, faker!"

"Leonard, please!"

"Don't back her up, Shirl; what you got to cry about, Laverne? Carmine put it in the wrong hole?"

Laverne was, suddenly, out of Shirley's arms. At least she wasn't crying any more.

But that red mark on Lenny's chin would last awhile.

"SHUT UP! SHUT UP!" Laverne bellowed.

"WHY? The whole neighborhood knows you and Carmine is together 'cause of one thing. And one of us is too nice to say it out loud, even though the other one ain't nice enough not to do it."

"You callin' me a whore?"

"Nah. You ain't a whore Laverne. You love Carmine, don't ya?"

Laverne closed her eyes.

"That's the trouble with fuckin' someone like Carmine, Laverne. After you do it a little while, ya don't wanna do it anymore. Whatta they call that? Oh yeah; wearin' out the welcome mat..."

"Leonard, that's enough! Everyone can hear you!"

"Like everyone don't know," Lenny said flatly, with bitter finality.

"Please, go to the car," Shirley begged him.

"Only cause you asked so nice." He said, walking back to the truck.

"Geez, Len, what's wrong with you?" Shirley dimly heard Squiggy say, as he entered the ice cream truck.

Bereft, Laverne held onto Shirley, her skin pale beneath its normal olive tones.

"It's going to be okay."

"No it ain't," the girl whimpered.

"You'll see; I'll call you every week; I'll write twice that many times..."

"You'll forget me."

"Vernie, please don't be silly. We met when we were six years old, and we've known each other all our lives..."

"But it's different now!"

"No it's not. If you're still worried about...well, that...I've forgiven you, and I can certainly tolerate Carmine..."

"How can you forgive me; I ain't even forgiven myself!"

The words were so powerfully stated that they made Shirley's arms tighten around her best friend. "Because I love you, Vernie."

Gradually, the tears subsided; all that remained were limpness and bruised lips.

"I love ya, Shirl."

Shirley gave Laverne an extra squeeze; a tender spot on her shoulder sent her L-clad friend wincing away. Shirley retrieved her purse and Scooter Pies, squeezing between Lenny and Squiggy's bucket seats. Laverne moved into the street to wave her good-byes. Lenny refused to turn around, but Shirley waved from the back of the truck for the entire distance up Knapp Street.

"She wasn't worth all this grief." Lenny snapped.

"You're only upset because she's with Carmine. And not you." Shirley said pragmatically.

Lenny's eyes gravitated to the roadway, not offering Shirley an answer.

Oh bother; well, he would get over his bad mood. Shirley herself had more right to be upset than either of them, but even she had lost the dark cloud that had been hanging over her head. The sun was shining, and on Squiggy and Lenny's tinny radio, Buddy Holly was singing.

"...We'll say we're through and you won't matter anymore..."



Laverne stood in the middle of Knapp Street, watching the ice cream truck disappear. She overcame the desperate urge within herself to chase it; she was an adult, not a kid. Gut check time. Time to learn to live with her choices.

"Hey," Carmine kissed the back of her neck. "What's wrong?"

She craned her neck out from beneath his lips. "Where were you? Shirley's been gone for an hour."

"Got caught at the studio. Lenny and Squiggy'd probably just call me names or something." He laughed, expressing without words his disdain for the notion that the two of them could EVER hurt him.

"You couldn't break off teaching tap to say goodbye? Carmine, that's mean. She was your girlfriend, and...stop trying to kiss me. I'm talkin' to you."

"Laverne, I ain't with you 'cause I like to listen to you talk."

A shiver ran up her spine, but it wasn't of the pleasant, erotic variety.

"I gave everything up for you," Laverne said.

"Yeah? So did I."

"And where'd it get us? I got no friends, except for Shirl, and now she's gone...I do nothing but go to work and go to bed with you..."

Her tone annoyed Carmine; it sounded like she was coming to some great revelation about a relationship that didn't exist. "Yeah. So, you wanna go to the movies before we make out?"

"This ain't a life, Carmine."

"Yes it is. We're breathin', aint' we?"

"That isn't what I mean, and you know it."

"So what! I make you feel good, don't I?"

"That ain't the point." The point was that she couldn't say that that was the only useful thing he could do for her nowadays, but she couldn't say it out loud.

"I didn't promise you nothin'." He proclaimed. "We said we'd see if there's something more, right? It ain't even been two months."

She remembered. what if we crash and burn in two weeks?

In her mind, the plane was on fire; the engine was shot; they were over the Pacific...

"I don't want ya to be hurt, Laverne."

...and he had the means to bail without her...

"Laverne? You okay?"

....As shattered wings and unspent fuel rained down on her head, she smiled like a brave soldier...

"I ain't hurt, Carmine."

And she wasn't, because simple pain and the agony of these death throes were not comparable.

Doomed for the moment, she followed him back into Knapp Street and her cold, loveless basement apartment.



Ani DiFranco-32 Flavors (and Then Some)
Doris Day-Que Sera Sera
Bangles-Doll Revolution
Barenaked Ladies-The Old Apartment
Bells and Roses-Roseanne Cash