The BFF Seal of Approval


joey_icon.gif merlyn_icon.gif

Scene Title The BFF Seal of Approval
Synopsis Merlyn comes to tell her best friend about her good fortune, and winds up spilling a bigger secret.
Date June 15, 2021

Sheepshead Bay
Joey Stark's Apartment

It's not that Merlyn couldn't come in the front door of the apartment, but the window is her thing at this point. Ascending the fire escape with a creak of metal and prying open the window with a loud screech, the blonde crawls in the window of Joey's apartment. If the window didn't announce her arrival like some sort of unattractive doorbell, her voice as she enters certainly does.

"Hey! How are you on the rent? I wasn't sure if the wine covered all of it so I thought I'd double check. You aren't behind, are you? I forgot to ask."

She is, of course, assuming Joey's there.

“Hey, Merl,” Joey responds without looking away from her easel, speaking around a paintbrush held by her teeth. Today’s subject is a pastoral scene and she’s dotting a field with colorful flowers. She takes a moment to extract the brush and set it on the dropcloth draped over her end table.

“Rent’s, uh, mooooostly covered.” There’s a hint of sheepishness, but she shrugs it off. She must have struck some kind of deal with the landlord, because she hasn’t been booted for late rent yet. “I had to buy more supplies. Gotta have ‘em to keep working, you know?” After one more dot, she turns to her friend. “How’s tricks?”

"Work's work," Merlyn agrees, the usual red backpack on her shoulder unceremoniously tossed in the direction of the couch. It misses, sliding down the back of it and resting on the floor. She shrugs a shoulder, unconcerned about its contents. "I've got more that'll cover rent and I've got that job that'll finish in a couple of days, so I'll have more. Probably cover at least the month, I'd say."

The light fabric of her shirt is adjusted, settling where the strap had tugged her shoulder and her sleeve as she makes her way towards Joey and stops near her. "Things are good, I can't complain honestly. Other than nerves for that job… that Kain fellow reeked of d'Sarthe thug energy. It's not something I can really back out of easily, though, so I'm going to do it but the second things inch out of the agreement, I'm out of there. Who the fuck wastes my silver tongue on a b&e by name?"

She shakes her head, reaching up to re-tie her ponytail when she realizes half of the strands are ending up in her face. The sleeve of her shirt slips a bit as she does, just enough to flash a hint of gold on her wrist before she's finished with her hair and the fabric is dropped back into place. "Got any ideas for anything other than the wine labels? You did fantastic with those and I'm wondering how we can expand from that. Obviously we can pass a few more bottles off, but I'm sure we can go bigger."

“Can’t saturate the market,” Joey observes glumly. “Won’t be able to manage something as in demand as wine for a while.” She could keep churning the labels out, but the more opportunities to scrutinize, the more likely their fraud will be caught out.

“I can do some digging in the art history archives and see if there are any former local artist’s works I can unearth for you to sell off.” The artist sighs and slumps forward in her seat. “It’s tough work keeping the hustle consistent. Gramps makes money hand over fist, but I just keep scratching for pieces of the dream. Must be nice to have monetizable superpowers, huh?”

Perking up again, she pulls up the sleeve of her smock briefly, nodding for Merlyn to do the same. “How are you going to help me with rent when you’ve got new flash, lady?”


Having realized the bracelet had been discovered, Merlyn tugs up the sleeve of her shirt sheepishly. The bracelet is simple, the gold plate held by the chains blank and without design. She offers Joey a smile. “It was a gift, so it really doesn’t make a difference in my income.”

“Monetizable superpowers sounds like a band name,” she follows up, continuing the prior thread of conversation smoothly. “You’re an amazing artist, art is just something kinda hard to break into, especially now. Besides, you could be like me and not have any marketable skills other than talking myself back out of the trouble I talk myself into. Anyway, I can find a few more jobs that don’t entirely require you to have your nose to the grindstone, give you a little bit of wiggle room.”

Joey folds her hands together, her mouth pressed against her first knuckle as she watches Merlyn the entire time with an are you finished? sort of expression that conveys the fact that she is not buying her best friend’s shit.

“Thank you,” she responds to the compliment like someone might just say oh-kay. Dismissive. “Who gave you the bracelet?”

“A gentleman caller,” Merlyn replies almost automatically. “Don’t worry, not someone I’m trying to con or anything, simple present of affection.” She glances back over to Joey to mimic the are you finished look, tucking her sleeve carefully around the bracelet again.

With how well Joey knows Merlyn, she’s having a hard time playing it cool—especially when the sight of the bracelet alone tugs a fond smile onto her lips.

“A.” Joey narrows her eyes. Then she leans forward. “What?

Merlyn rubs the back of her neck, scrunching up her nose. "It's not a bad thing, I've just been seeing someone. For a while now. Sorry I didn't say anything. I just didn't want you to worry too much. I'm really bad at keeping secrets from the people I trust–" She cuts herself off, then just rubs her face with both her hands. "I wanted to wait to say something because I know you're gonna give me that disappointed puppy dog eye thing and I'm gonna feel like shit."

“You’ve been seeing someone?” Joey asks with incredulity, now leaning back just as far as she leaned in. “And you didn’t tell me?!” A hand comes up to clutch at her metaphorical pearls. “Love is over,” she informs her best friend in suitably dramatic fashion.

Now she folds her arms under her chest and squints again. “Who is he? Have I met him? How can you start seeing someone without getting the BFF seal of approval?! This is serious business, Merl.”

“Yeah, actually,” Merlyn says, very slowly. “I’m pretty sure you’d remember Elliot.” Given that Joey was the one seeing the full aftermath of Elliot’s abandonment, it would be hard for her to forget the name. The blonde certainly isn’t going to refer to him as her ex. She’s trying to avoid the ‘I got back with my ex’ statement.

She clears her throat a little. “I didn’t say anything because I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have your seal of approval currently.”

First there’s shock, then there’s affront, disgust, indignancy, and finally a hurt that tries to dress itself up as annoyance verging on anger. “What the hell! Merl! He made you completely miserable!” Joey turns her gaze up to the ceiling, her hands balling into fists in front of her for lack of anything to punch or grab and shake. “We talked about this! You were gonna say fuck off if you ever saw him again, maybe flip him the bird, preferably kick him in the junk, then tell him to fuck off again!”

“I mean, I actually did tell him to fuck off, that’s how the whole thing started. I told him to fuck off and he… actually apologized. For everything. Like everything,” Merlyn glances down at her bracelet for a moment, as if to use it as a source of strength. “So we chatted, because we missed it and all of those feelings were still there.”

She winces. “I know it’s not the plan, but he’s working hard on not being that asshole. He admits fault and just wants to perpetually regain my trust. I’m not going to deny that it hurt like hell and that he was an asshole. He’s just… I mean, if he hadn’t chosen that moment to apologize, I would have left and never seen him again.”

“Oh my god,” Joey whispers as Merlyn begins to recount the reunion and justify not doing all the other things she listed off. “No,” she insists, now speaking at a conversational level again, “he just wants to perpetually get into your pants.

Brows slanting, the face of Merlyn’s friend is marked with a genuine concern now. “C’mon, you can’t set yourself up for that kind of disappointment. He’s an asshole.

Merlyn takes a moment to rub her face a bit, bracelet slipping down slightly into her sleeve to hide it for a moment before she continues. “He's not just trying to get into my pants," she says, letting out a slow breath of air as if the whole idea of trying to explain exhausted her. "That's the last thing he even seemed to be going for with this. If I thought it was all just something to get my hopes up and dash it, I wouldn't have even talked to him again after I left that kitchen."

She looks back over at Joey, almost pleadingly as she continues. "Joey, I know there's not a lot I can say to convince you. It's not like I went and jumped his bones and he gave me jewelry. That's not what this is. I agree, he was an asshole. He would agree with you on that and he continually knows he fucked up and that he has a hair of a chance. Two years is plenty of time for a person to change. Fuck, I know I've changed in basically two months. It's just a chance. He fucks up, I'm sure we can round up a gang to beat the shit out of him for breaking my heart again."

She sure remembers how hard that was the first time.

“Oh, believe me,” Joey begins with a lift of her brows and a very serious look directly into Merlyn’s eyes, “if and when he fucks up, I will kick his ass myself.” No gang required.

Her lips purse and pull off to one side while she mulls over what to say next, but eventually, Joey’s annoyance deflates. Merlyn isn’t the one she’s angry with. (Well, sort of, but not really.) “I know you know what you’re doing, but I hope you know what you’re doing. I don’t like this.” She turns to her easel, grumbling, “I don’t like him.

"There'll probably be a line to kick his ass, so you can rest assured that ass will be fully kicked," Merlyn assures her. "You should take the chance to see him with me sometime. He's already fully aware that you wouldn't be too happy about this chance to try again. I know what I'm doing this time. Either that or he's gotten a hell of a lot better at lying enough to seem sincere about continually trying to improve. He knows he can't make it right, but he wants to do the right thing and… stop being the asshole he used to be."

She cracks a smile at Joey. "He's away on a job right now anyway, so you don't have to worry about him breaking my heart sometime in the near future." She lets out a deep breath. "I'm being careful, I promise. I hated what happened years ago, but I've always wished that he would have tried to make it better. Something decent is still in the world, regardless of anything. An asshole apologized, that's worth celebrating. Doesn't happen every day."

“Yeah, but if his ass isn’t kicked by me, then it’s not good enough,” Joey insists. Her eyes narrow at the notion of seeing her friend with her former-ex-now-current man, then roll as Merlyn continues making her argument. It isn’t that she doesn’t see it, but it’s that she’s stubbornly holding on to this grudge she has against Elliot.

Joey frowns. “Away. On a job.” Her tongue clicks off the back of her teeth. Tch! “Probably visiting his secret wife and family.”

Merlyn nearly chokes, coughing loudly as she swallows wrong in reaction to the suggestion of Elliot's 'secret wife'. It takes her almost a full minute to both correct her lungs and come up with how, exactly, she's supposed to tell Joey the truth. So she just does.

"Uh, about that. Yeah. So I'm the secret wife."

Joey’s mouth goes slack slowly as she processes that information. “I’m sorry. What the fuck did you just say?” She leans in suddenly, brows furrowed with confusion that’s got a little bit of anger mixed with it. “I’m pretty sure you just told me you married that asshole, but that can’t be right, because you would never marry a dickbag like that! And you sure wouldn’t do it without me there!”

"So we kind of went for non-traditional for the rings, I've got a bracelet and he's got a locket…" Merlyn clears her throat. "It wasn't like we went off to some church and had a big fancy wedding, it was just sort of a paper signing more than anything." She slightly leans back away from Joey. "Look, I get his insurance and benefits in case he dies, he gets to go off and do some sort of thing that'll probably get him killed, I'm sure you'll be happy it happened in the long run."

She heaves a sigh and looks down. "I know it sounds insane. I would've thought that too, had you asked me anytime last year. Or even before that, I would have called you batshit. When I met up with him again, he sort of let the bomb drop that he had a limited time frame. He didn't want me jumping into anything without having a clear picture of the situation. He was going to be deployed somewhere for something, he didn't know exactly when, that it'd just be in a couple of months and he had no idea if he'd make it back alive. So… in a way, I guess we just made our romance what we could while we could. He wanted to tell you in some nice way after he returned alive, because he will return alive, but I sort of underestimated the best friend bond. Keeping secrets from you is hard as fuck, Joey. I don't like it."

Joey leans back with an indignant huff. “I’m mad you kept that a secret from me, Merl! You should have told me. We should have talked about this. I should have been able to tell him to his fucking face that if he hurts you, that—”

She cuts herself off, folds her arms and stares hard at the wall to avoid glaring at her best friend. “Jesus fuck, Merl. That hurts.”

Merlyn reaches out a hand, then decides better of it and drops it as she looks over at Joey. Best not to stir things up more than she already has. "I know. I expected you'd be mad. Elliot expected you'd be mad. I had a whole conversation with him about how pissed you were going to be that I didn't have you come be a witness or something. It's only been like… three weeks, I think? May 24th. We basically got engaged on a Thursday, got a license on Friday, and then married that Monday. It really, really happened kind of overnight almost literally."

She ends up casting her gaze to the floor. "Honestly, you're the only person I would have wanted to be there. Who else do I actually give a fuck about? I'm kinda hoping that maybe when he gets back we can have an actual party of some sort. I don't know that I would've been much of a big church marriage kind of person, but I do know that a party would be something up my alley."

Merlyn swallows hard. "Please don't hate me, Jo. I know I've hurt you here, but we didn't have the time to convince you it was a good idea, and I know you would've put up a fight."

“You know I would have caved,” Joey says softly, the hurt not fading, but at least the anger is starting to abate. “I’d have supported you.” She amends herself. “I do support you.”

She scratches at her brow with paint-stained fingers. “Three flippin’ weeks is a long time not to let me in on this.”

"You would have caved eventually, yeah," Merlyn cracks a smile at the thought, "but we had no idea how much time we had. For all we knew, he could have had to leave the day after the wedding. I know it was stupid not to include you, but don't think you weren't a factor in this. Trust me, there were so many times after we first got back together that I mentioned just how pissed you were going to be when you found out. Elliot told me he'd take the blame every time. He didn't want bad blood between you and I."

“You’re still partly to blame,” Joey replies, but without any teeth. “He doesn’t get to take all of that. You still made the choice.” Merlyn’s made it very clear that she wasn’t forced into any of this. “That doesn’t mean I’m going to hate you or anything, but he doesn’t just get to play martyr. And you don’t get to wriggle out of your share.”

With a deep sigh, Joey starts to pull open the snaps on her smock, setting it aside on the newspaper covered coffee table. Then she climbs to her feet and opens her arms. “Get in here, married lady.”

Merlyn laughs in relief before she moves in to give her friend a hug. She knows she fucked up, but having Joey not seriously mad at her is the place she's hoping to be in. "Trust me, I take the blame, I just want you to know he was trying to be sweet as fuck to try and make me feel better about the fact that I didn't tell you. He's much less of an asshole now, I can assure you of that. I'd still love to see you kick his ass when he comes back, though."

Joey grins and squeezes Merlyn tighter. “I will gladly kick that man’s ass if it’ll make you happy.” Pulling back, she leaves her hands on her shoulders. “I am throwing you one fuck of a party when he gets back. No best friend of mine gets married and has it be lame.”

"Oh yeah, I kinda figured you'd be the one planning the party," Merlyn says with a grin, the grin fading to a genuinely warm smile a moment later. "In fact, consider this me formally asking you to be in charge of the festivities. It would be nice when he comes back to feel less of a 'secret wife' and more like 'Hey this is my wife, look at her!'"

“Oh, god,” Joey pulls a face, “don’t make me think about that. Not yet. I can fool myself into the party just being a party for now. I can’t handle the whole… him being sweet and shit thing until I get a chance to assess him. Thinking about it now just makes me want to punch him in the nose.”

She slants a grin to the blonde. “Baby steps, ‘kay?”

"Okay, okay," Merlyn laughs, "but I hate to tell you this but eventually you're going to have to come face to face with the fact that he is fucking adorable now. Feel free to pretend you hate him even when you do end up liking him just to keep him on his toes. I feel like he needs that challenge."

“I am never going to find him fucking adorable,” Joey insists flatly. “He’s always going to be a potential threat to your happiness, and I need to exercise constant vigilance to spot the warning signs. That way I can strike preemptively.” She shrugs her shoulders. “But he might be okay.

"Okay is something I can accept," Merlyn offers in reply. "You don't have to like him. I'm pretty sure whatever he was planning on doing to tell you had something to do with him cooking, though. Fuck, I'd forgotten he was so good at that. You know… we could probably just not tell him you know and you could milk it for all its worth."

“Oh,” Joey assures, “I am going to.” She grins again and finally lets her hands drop to her sides. “Speaking of food, I think I painted through lunch.” A beat. “And breakfast before that. I’m fucking starving.” Nudging Merlyn’s shoulder as she walks past, headed to her closet, she informs her, “We’re going out, and you’re buying, Mrs. Moneybags.”

"If a girl can't treat her best friend to a meal, what else is she supposed to do with bags of money?" Merlyn replies, content to be the one buying – it's a small price to pay for her best friend being slightly less mad at her.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License