Chapter Three: The Cheeky Monkey Boy
My daily routine kept going for the rest of the week before they were put to a halt. I had woken up the one morning before Billy had risen as was usual but was stopped short when I saw there was a note on the door.
Gone to airport to gather Dom. Do me a favour and stay home so I know where you are. Thanks, it's greatly appreciated.
So I was to stay cooped up then until he got back. After wandering around the apartment and discovering there was nothing for me to do, I sat down in Billy's precious recliner to watch some television. This didn't keep me entertained for long though, and in no time I found myself drifting off to sleep. Fearing I'd get in trouble if Billy came back to discover me in his chair, I got up, turned off the television and retreated into my room. All my early mornings seemed to have finally caught up with me and, despite wanting to stay up to see if the Dom person was really who I thought he was, I changed back into my pyjamas and fell back asleep.
The smell of coffee and bacon woke me up some time later. Yawning, but feeling refreshed all the same, I stumbled out of bed into the kitchen.
"Well, good morning," Billy greeted me.
I mumbled a "hello" and rubbed my eyes. There was a man seated at the table but it wasn't Billy. Billy stood at the stovetop, cooking up some eggs and bacon. My eyes grew wide as I took in the man who was seated in the kitchen. Dimpled chin, cheeky smile, blonde highlights, broad arms... I was in the presence of the Dominic Monaghan! Then it hit me. I wasn't dressed! I was still in my pyjamas! My face flushed crimson as he said hello. He extended his arm for a handshake but I had fled into my room by then.
I grabbed my pillow and screamed into it. I finally get to meet Dominic Monaghan and it's in my bed clothes?! I could have died right then and there from embarrassment. Of course there wasn't much I could do about it now. I quickly got dressed and returned to the kitchen.
Great, I'll bet he thinks I'm a total weirdo, I thought. But since when did I feel ashamed of being that?
Still blushing, I took a seat and properly shook Dom's hand. "Hello, Mr. Monaghan."
Billy set a plate of food down in front of me, snickering. I shot him a look which clearly said, "Shut up!" and received a "watch it" glance in return.
"Mr. Monaghan?" Dom arched an eyebrow. "Geez, you make me sound old. Please, use my first name!"
I stared at my food. I bet he was getting a real kick out of this. Let's see just how many shades of red Billy's cousin can turn. Curse him and his cheekiness. Thankfully, Billy came to my rescue and offered Dom more coffee. As the two men started up a conversation, I had the chance to quickly down my food, stealing glances at Dom every so often.
I finished my breakfast and stood up to deposit my dishes in the sink and leave. Billy looked up at me.
"Where are you off to?" he asked. "Running away?"
"Uh..." Think fast, Melis! You need an excuse! "Shopping!" I exclaimed. "Yeah, that's it, I have some shopping to do! I need a proper raincoat. I'll catch the bus and see you later!"
"Mmmm... the mall," mused Dom.
"You don't know where the mall is," pointed out Billy. Details, details...
"Well then why don't we all go?" suggested Dom, smiling wryly. Oh no... no, no, no! Go home, Dom! Stop antagonizing me! "Think about it, Billy. Quality time with your niece and best mate!"
Billy grinned. "Sure! Come on, let's go!"
"I'm his cousin, not niece," I hissed at Dom on my way out. For someone who I had always admired he sure was haggaring me more than making me laugh. And either Billy didn't notice or he didn't seem to care.
With Dom's arrival I was shunted from shot gun to the back seat of Billy's car. I shot withering glances at the two of them whenever I was sure they weren't looking. Dom knew he was grinding my nerves and seemed to be enjoying it. So much for an amusing clown; from the moment we laid eyes on each other something must have clicked inside his head and told him his purpose in life was to bother me. I didn't care how good looking he was, he was annoying! Maybe I was just sour about the circumstances of our first meeting but still!
Oh well, two could play at this game. As Billy and Dom chatted away as the car made its way through the streets to the mall, I decided I'd just have to take my place as that titanium splinter in his foot. I smiled devilishly in spite of myself and found myself in a much better mood as Billy parked the car and we got out.
"You two are absolutely sure you want to go out in public?" I asked. They stared at me, confused. "Well, think of the attention you'd bring to yourselves. Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd, Merry and Pippin spotted at mall in Edinburgh. Just think about all those crazy fans out there!"
Dom looked at me for a moment then whispered something to Billy. I couldn't read the reaction on his face.
"You underestimate the good nature of people, Melissa," Billy told me, sterring me through the car park. "People don't swarm us in public so you're in no danger of being crushed in a stampede of fans."
"Yeah," agreed Dom, "Elijah and Orlando aren't here. No danger at all."
I would have laughed if I hadn't made up my mind to be horrible to Dom. So I said nothing as we entered the mall. Billy had chuckled but Dom looked rather deflated when I didn't say a word or even smile a little bit.
Billy sighed and inhaled deeply as we passed by a Starbucks. "I need a coffee."
"I think you have an addiction, man," said Dom.
"Oh shut up," retorted Billy. "Just hang on while I get my drink." I sighed and rolled my eyes as he walked by me. He noticed my look. "What?"
"See why I was going to come alone?" I tapped my foot impatiently. "All these hold ups when I'm here to specificly get something!"
"All right then, fine," said Billy, a twinge of growing annoyance in his voice. "So where were you planning to shop?"
"Uh... the Gap?" I suggested.
"Fine, go along then," Billy said, "we'll catch you up once I get my coffee."
"I'll go with her," volunteered Dom. "Keep an eye on your niece... er, cousin," he corrected, looking at me. "Make sure she's all right. We'll see you at the Gap, Billy!"
With my fortunes and everything that had ever happened to me in my life, I had come to one conclusion. I had rotten luck. Now, most people would consider shopping at the Gap with Dominic Monaghan a blessing, an abnormal turn of good fortune. I would have too normally if Dom didn't happen to be the last person I wanted to be around at the moment.
I'm a very quirky person. At times I can be overly self conscious, at other times I have no shame. Around Billy I felt fine and could act myself. Around Dom, such as was the instance in the morning, I was as self conscious as ever and thus at the moment I wasn't ready to be around him. But it appeared no matter what I tried, I wouldn't be able to shake him off. If I dodged away from him in the crowd and he lost me, Billy would get mad at him. Surprisingly, I didn't want that. My personal feelings were no insentives to ruin the friendship between mondern day's dynamic duo.
"Melissa? Mel?" I snapped back to reality and glared at Dom. He looked taken aback.
"What did you just call me?" I demanded icily.
"Don't ever call me that!" I hissed. If looks could kill, Dom would have been six feet under at that moment. I could tolerate being called a lot of things but "Mel" wasn't one of them. To me, "Mel" was a shorter version of "Melanie" and that was not my name and therefore I was not to be called "Mel".
"It's a lot shorter than 'Melissa,'" Dom insisted. His facial expression told me that in all honesty he did not understand why I was upset. I suppose I could let it go... it wasn't like he had done it on purpose.
"Look, Dominic," I sighed, trying to look less hostile, "everyone has their pet peeves. And being called 'Mel' is one of mine. Now, I'll tolerate being called anything else but please, don't use 'Mel' or 'Meli'..."
"You like to make things complicated, don't you?" Dom remarked, trailing me around the store. "So what am I allowed to call you? Or are you only ever known as 'Melissa'?"
"You can call me 'Melis' if you want," I said, pausing at a display of jackets.
"That's a nickname?!" I turned to see Dom staring at me in disbelief. "That's only one less letter!"
"Two less," I corrected, smirking. "There's only one 's' in 'Melis'."
Dom snorted in mild amusement as I went back to my jackets. I came to the conclusion that the Gap wasn't the best store to go looking for a good quality raincoat. Billy hadn't found us yet either; just how long did it take a person to get a cup of coffee? Dom didn't seem to care; he was admiring a certain female at the checkout counter and a certain male employee was admiring Dom.
"Oh well, nothing here," I said, shaking Dom's arm to get his attention. A while later the tought would dawn on me that I had just touched Dominic Monaghan's oh so muscular arm. Any girl would have loved to be able to say that! "We should go find Billy."
With one last sly look at the woman running the register, Dom led me out of the store and back into the crowds of the mall. There, sitting on a bench with his cup of java was Billy.
"And so the valiant pair return empty handed," he mused.
"They didn't have what I was looking for," I replied. "Although I suppose that wasn't the best place to look."
Billy got up off the bench and tossed his empty cup in the nearby trash bin. "You can say that again. So you need a jacket? I know where you can find a good one."
Billy led Dom and I through the mall to one of the department stores. I should have known to look here. Just like Sears and the Bay at home, I'd find pretty much anything I needed here. Dom lingered for a while by the women's lingerie department before we managed to drag him towards the less revealing items. I spent a good hour or more searching for the perfect jacket. I'm not an easy person to shop for and am very picky with what I'll wear. Finally, just when Billy and Dom looked like they were about ready to die of boredom, I held up my selected jacket in triumph. Sleek and black with a warm inner lining, this looked like the perfect jacket to keep myself warm and dry whilst walking in the rain.
"Wonderful, Melissa," yawned Billy, "now let's pay for it and we can all go get some lunch."
"Good, I'm starved," said Dom, "although..." His eyes wandered over towards the lingerie department again. "Are you absolutely sure you don't need any panties? Not even a bra?"
Billy shot Dom a surprisingly menacing glare of warning. Dom's mind had caused him to stumble into Billy-guareded area. His ears went pink in embarrassment. I rolled my eyes.
"Even if I did need new undergarments," I said as I passed Dom and fell into step beside Billy, "I wouldn't be shopping for them with you. So keep dreaming."
"I plan to," Dom replied, but quickly passed it off as a joke. Billy was looking dangerous; his lip was curling.
I paid for the jacket and the three of us headed to the food court. Billy set me in charge of saving our table while he and Dom went to get the food. I suspected Billy wanted to have a private little chat with Dom and knew I was right when I saw them arguing in line for the MacDonald's stand. I figured that I was the topic of the argument. I sighed and rested my head in my palm. If Billy had just let me come to the mall alone I could be away from Dom and the two of them wouldn't be fighting. Trust me to screw things up.
Lunch was very tense and strained when the two got back. Conversation was light and forced. Dom had come back to the table silently and wouldn't make eye contact with Billy for a little while. Billy looked frustrated and kept shifting his gaze from me to Dom. Both of them needed to lighten up but I knew now was one of those times when it's always best to be quiet.
With my shopping done, there wasn't anything else immediate to do at the mall. Dom meekly suggested to Billy that we hit the music store before going home. I agreed; music was what the two of them could use right about now to unwind. An uptight Billy Boyd and a feeble Dominic Monaghan were not things I wanted to be around.
I decided the only way to help the two men get back to their proper level of openess and friendship was to stay out of their way. So I did. I walked a couple paces behind them, went looking around in a different part of the record shop, and remained silent in the backseat on the way home. Once home, I remained in my room, only appearing for dinner.
Today hadn't been the greatest but, just as I thought, leaving Billy and Dom alone to each other would set things in a better mood in time.