"I didn't get enough sleep last night," I said, stifling a yawn with my hand.
"You didn't get in until so late."
"Well, that and Muse waking me up at the ass crack of dawn."
"Honey," Miranda said, "you went to bed at the ass crack of dawn. You got up somewhere about the lower back of it, I think."
"Details. All I know is that I want about ten more hours of sleep."
"Go snag one of the beds for a while. Muse is swimming, and I won't bug you if you want to snooze a bit."
I rubbed my palm over her upper arm. "No, that's cool. I'll sleep tonight, provided we tie the Muse up so she can't come wake me again. I have to get some time with you while I can, you know?"
"You should move to Chicago with me," she said. "We could get an apartment, share the expense."
"Gonna snug on the sofa with me in Chicago?"
"Of course. I'm not crazy, you know. You're comfy."
I patted my belly. "It's all the years of deliciously greasy food. I've turned into a love seat all on my own."
She added a couple of pats to my stomach. "Not so bad. Just soft enough for maximum comfort. We could maybe rent you out to my friends, five bucks an hour."
"Sorry. If people want to nap on my belly, they're going to have to at least pay it minimum wage."
"I want a discount at least," Miranda said.
"You're putting me up in your apartment here. You can have anything you want from me."
"Anything?" she chuckled.
"Anything that won't get my throat slit by the Muse. She's in a mood right now."
She patted my knee. "That's my fault, I know. Couldn't help myself. I'm not really that bad."
"Oh, I know that. You're the sweet one. Besides, not to be too indelicate, but there's plenty of opportunity for the Muse to get some tail on this trip. I don't think Belle would put out for her, but Mali... well, there's another story altogether. She's already laid claim to the Muse when we get in town, although I haven't told her yet. We'll see how that goes."
"Are you actually visiting any guys on this trip, or just women?"
"Well, as has been pointed out to me," I said, "I've got something of a harem as far as my friends go. It works out for me, since I get along with women much better than I do men. It also works out for the Muse, because she's got a soft spot in her heart for macking on chicks. All in all, a fairly good deal, I think."
"I don't know why you two don't just hook up. You already spend pretty much every minute together as it is."
"We have more of a Will and Grace sort of situation."
"What, you're gay?" Miranda asked.
"Okay," I said. "It's not totally a Will and Grace. We're just friends."
"Who sleep in the same bed."
"And you keep each other company when you're showering."
"Doesn't everyone?" I asked.
"No," she said. "Most members of the civilized world don't shower together unless they're having sex."
"We don't shower together," I said. "One of us is outside the curtain."
She shifted against me in order to be able to look at me. "Let me ask you this, though. If you had to identify the Muse in the dark only by touch, could you do it?"
I thought a moment. "I'm not sure if I should answer that question or not."
She nodded. "That's what I thought. You two are a married couple who don't have sex." She furrowed her brow. "You don't have sex, do you?"
"Of course not," I said. "We don't do that sort of thing."
"And yet you have the most intimate relationship of any two people I know. And I only know about the things you write or talk about. I'm sure it's even more intimate than you let on."
"Look, Miranda," I said. "Eliot's got an expression for people that you love more than some people would understand. She says that they're Fambly. You, her, Belle, Sonja, a handful of other people... Fambly."
"There's love," she said, "and then there's love. If the Muse is your Fambly, then you guys are one step away from incest."
"We just get along. We understand each other."
"I'm totally making you uncomfortable with this line of conversation, aren't I?"
"Completely," I said.
"You two would make a very interesting couple. That's all I'm saying."
I sighed heavily. "The Muse and I... what we do in relationships is fuck them up. We're both exceptional at that. We have uncanny abilities to find the weakest support and to pick away at it until the whole thing comes down. She knows this, I know this. I've been in two very long term relationships, and they've both gone spiraling out of control into the sun. The Muse... well, Charlotte was her breaking point. She's had a lot of little romances, but once the Charlotte thing imploded, that was pretty much it. We don't really think of ourselves as damaged goods so much as romantic time-bombs waiting to blow. We aren't a couple because, honestly, we know that we'd fuck it all up somehow, and then where we would be? Without each other."
Miranda regarded me. "And you're totally in love with her."
"Of course I'm in love with her."
She nodded and turned away from me, nestling against my side. "I'm not going to lecture you."
"But you're not the only one who went on a spontaneous road trip," she said. "You're on a vision quest, you said? Looking for something? Maybe the Muse is looking for something, too. You didn't think of that, did you?"
I didn't say anything.
Miranda ran her fingers over my knee. "You're sort of dumb sometimes," she said, "but I do love you."