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A Pause to Renovate

 
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 10:13 pm    Post subject: A Pause to Renovate Reply with quote

From: mariagraziano42@aol.com (Maria Graziano42)
Date: 15 Jan 2004 18:37:40 EST

Bode shoved the front door open with his hip, juggling the bags in his arms as he stepped through the doorway. He dropped the luggage off to the side as a hand fumbled for the light switch. However, when he flipped it into the "on" position, he found that the house looked much better in the dark.

Maria stepped in cautiously behind him, her dark eyes skeptically taking in the cobwebs that seemed to have taken over the house in the absence of any human inhabitants. "You bought this place?" Maria asked, failing to hide much of her distaste from her tone. Bode stepped behind her, pushing the stubborn door back shut.

"Yeah. Ain't it great?" Bode stepped back with a bright, proud grin. Obviously seeing a different house than Maria. She only nodded absently in response to his question.

A motel-esqe painting of a sailboat on placid waters which hung above a small end table suddenly fell from the wall, crashing onto the end table. Maria jumped at the noise and Bode's grin gave way to a brief frown. "Maybe it needs a bit o' work," Bode allowed. Maria moved the painting aside and brought her index finger across the table in a sweeping motion, collecting a layer of dust along the tip of her finger. "And some elbow grease," Bode added as Maria held up her finger to him.

Despite her foul mood, Maria couldn't help fight off a laugh at Bode's enthusiasm over his recently purchased beach front property. Bode's grin quickly returned at the sound of Maria's laugh. He grabbed her up in a quick squeeze, placing a quick peck on her forehead. "I've gotta go get supplies," Bode said, one arm releasing her to motion around to the surrounding mess.

"And food," Maria added.

"Of course. Can't forget about your endless pit there, Spanky." Bode released her, giving her a wink before disappearing out the door.

The silence after Bode left would have been overwhelming if it hadn't been for the rough waves crashing against the sandy shore behind the house. Releasing a heavy sigh, Maria padded towards the back of the house, brushing the dusty hand off on her jeans. She threw back the curtains of the windows that she passed, allowed the muted winter rays to shine in.

The screen door snapped shut violently as Maria stepped out the back door. Another piece of the house for Bode to fix. She hoped he knew what he was getting into. Maria banished the heavy thoughts from her mind as she waked down the wooden stairs that led from the back of the house, over the dunes, and to the private beach below. She slipped out of her shoes at the second to last step, having a seat on the step as she allowed her feet to dig into the sand. The winter wind whipped her hair as she pulled her sweater around her tightly.

Bode felt helpless, she was sure. He couldn't fix up Maria so he bought a house he could fix. At least that's what she believed a psychologist would say. Maria closed her eyes, taking a deep breath and holding it a moment before releasing it. The ocean was supposed to have great mystic healing powers. It was too late for the baby that Maria had miscarried so soon into her pregnancy. Her own stupidity, she was sure. Yet she hadn't yet found an exact behavior to blame it on.

They would try again, of course. However, Maria had sunk into a moody despair as she attempted to figure out exactly what she had done wrong in the last pregnancy. Typically, she took her problems to the Crew. However, they were all busy with their own problems and this one seemed far too personal to share with even them.

Maria opened her eyes, frowning at the ocean as she dug her toes in a bit deeper. "Heal away."

* * *

The days faded in and out. One right after the other. It was hard to even keep track of them. At first Maria spent them in a beach chair covered by a warm blanket with a book in her lap, staring at the ocean. Bode would check on her from time-to-time but spent most of his time trying to put the house in living condition. Occasionally, he'd drag Maria inside to show her how the bathroom light actually turned on now without shocking them or how the weather strip he'd placed on the back door kept the draft out. She'd listen patiently, cracking a smile at his accomplishments.

* * *

"What's wrong with his hair?" Maria frowned, whispering a bit too loud.

Bode twisted his neck to catch sight of the hair in question. "It's red." A teenage boy with a reddish mop of hair was kneeling down on the floor of the Bellflower Animal Shelter gently petting a white kitten. The kitten was obviously a gift to his young brunette girlfriend who was kneeling beside him, whispering baby talk to the overwhelmed kitten.

"It's definitely more orange than red," Maria replied, still scrutinizing the boy's hair.

"Can I help you?" a plump middle-aged woman interrupted the pair, appearing behind the desk before them. Her dark graying hair was pulled back in a pleasant bun, a warm, inviting smile lighting up her face. The name plaque pinned to her blouse proclaimed her name to be Nancy Morril.

"We wanna 'dopt a puppy," Bode spoke up.

"Maria and Bode, right?" Ms. Morril asked without even looking at the paperwork that they had carefully filled out (spending a great deal of time scrutinizing the wording so that they would appear to be the perfect pet owners) and now lay on the desk before her.

"Crew fans?" Maria asked. While most of the time she was no longer startled running into fans, even she had to admit that coming face-to-face with someone wearing a T-shirt plastered with her face was a bit awkward.

"My son is a huge fan. I find the sport far too violent for my taste," she said politely. "Now..." she picked up the paperwork with one hand, the other placing the glasses that hung around her neck back on the bridge of her sharp nose. "You two want a high energy puppy with a good dash of smarts and a low-maintenance coat?"

"That's it," Bode nodded to confirm their request.

A knowing smile spread across Ms. Morril's face, motioning them to follow her through the door and into the kennels where they were greeted by the sound of a great multitude of barking dogs. She ushered the duo into a quiet side room, assuring them that she knew of the perfect puppy.

A moment later Ms. Morril appeared carrying a squirming little dog against her. The husky lab puppy bounced around the small room as soon as it was put down. Maria squeezed Bode's arm briefly before scooping the puppy up. She grinned brightly at the puppy who almost seemed to have a permanent grin of his own. Bode knew there would be no looking at any other dogs that day. Maria had instantly fallen in love with the hyper bundle of fur.

* * *

The days that followed gradually led to more laughter. Bode and the new puppy had forced Maria out of her chair for good. Bode was constantly shoving a paint brush in her hand and directing her to a room that needed a solid coat or the puppy was dashing off down the beach, barking at her to give chase. The smiles became less forced, the sadness harder to find.

* * *

"Bode?"

"What?"

"Bode?"

"What?"

"Booode!"

Women. Well, Crew women to be more precise. They were all hot but awfully demanding and high-strung. Bode rolled his eyes, deciding to ignore the whining from the other room. He'd only left her ten seconds before to head for the kitchen. She could wait another ten seconds. Bode swung the refrigerator door open, frowning slightly at the rate that his supply of beer was disappearing. He reached in and snagged another of the cool bottles, pursing his lips in displeasure at the thought of a trip into town for beer.

It had been almost a month since they'd snuck away in mid-December. Maria was back to her old self and the beach house had really come together. Bode gave himself a mental pat on the back for his handy work. If he ever wanted some extra money, reselling this house would definitely make a profit.

He swung the door back closed and then leaned over the kitchen counter to push away the white linen curtains on the window to peek out the window to get a gage on the time. By the light and the location of the breaking waves, Bode gauged it to be midmorning. Plenty of time for a beer run and whatever else Maria was planning for today.

His bare feet padded on the hardwood floors, retracing his steps back through the kitchen, hallway, and bedroom. "Bode?" Maria repeated, pulling a fluffy down blanket over her darkly tanned bare shoulders as she sat up in the bed. She had a bright, glowing smile. The puppy, Rocky, lay asleep in a ball beside her. Bode had tried to put his foot down regarding the dog sleeping in the bed. It hadn't gotten him very far, though.

Bode plopped down on the edge of bed, taking a deep sip of the beer after freeing it of its top. "I ain't gonna get Chinese, Spanky. I'm all Chinese-ed out. How 'bout pizza?"

"Nooo, I want to dooo something," Maria whined, setting her chin on his shoulder and batting her eyelashes at him.

"You're just a freak. Ain't you satisfied yet?" Bode gave her a teasing wink, throwing an arm around her.

"No," Maria grumbled, rolling her eyes good-naturedly. "I want to go out and do something."

"Hm," Bode rubbed the scruff starting to build on his cheek with the neck of the bottle. "Got any ideas?"

She placed soft kisses over his bare shoulders, slinging her arms around him from behind as she allowed the blanket covering her to fall back to the bed unnoticed. "We could go to the gym and workout," Maria whispered between kisses which were starting to trail up his neck.

"Nope. Vacations don't include workin' out. Got anythin' else in mind?" Bode grinned, sipping from the bottle once more.

Maria paused in thought, pressing her cheek against the side of his head. "We should go elope."

Bode chuckled, patting her knee. "Funny, Spanky. Your family would love that."

"That's why it's a perfect idea! If we get engaged, then we're just taking away from Tical and Kaj but if we wait for them to get married, we may wait until we're too old to consummate it. There won't be any annoying drama. Just us... and some minister... on the beach around sunset," Maria grinned, beginning to bounce with excitement as the idea blossomed.

"One problem," Bode stated calmly, downing the last of his beer.

"What's that?" Maria asked, her grin fading.

"You'd finally have to get dressed," Bode replied hiding a grin as Maria squealed with delight, tugging him into a tighter hug.

* * *

"Maria, it's time to go," Bode grumbled, leaning his back against the opened front door to displace some of the weight of Maria's luggage. She always seemed to come home from a vacation with twice as much stuff as she had left with.

Maria emerged from the back bedroom followed by Rocky. Rocky never really walked anywhere. He bounded. He usually bounded right into something Bode was working on or a hard piece of furniture but he never seemed particularly hurt nor did he learn that if he slowed his pace, he would be able to control his direction a bit better.

"Do we have to leave?" Maria whined, her gaze sweeping over the living room. The motel-esque painting had been replaced with a piece of artwork of Maria's own making. The end table had been cleaned and refinished by Bode. A lot of time, energy, and elbow grease had been sunk into the beach house and it shined thanks to the effort.

"Yep, if ya wanna to be back in time for the Finals," Bode replied, struggling with the bags as he attempted to clip a leash on Rocky's collar.

There was that. She had gotten the team through the first round without ever leaving the house but the Finals were another matter completely. There, of course, was the Crew to think about as well. Ria hadn't been there for the Crew much lately. Chris was popping pills right and left for an injury that should have healed ages ago had she forced him to rest. If nothing else, she was sure Chris could use a bit of help with her nephew. Then there was Kaja and Tical. When she had left, Kaja had been spending a good deal with Gnort. Maria liked the man well enough but was wary of his motives.

The glittering white gold band on her left ring finger caught her attention. She smiled softly, twisting the wedding band around her finger. She was taking that little memento with her. It was time to get back to the practices, family debates, and stress. Oddly enough, she was looking forward to that. They'd been away from the Crew long enough.

"Come on, Spanky," Bode said as Rocky pulled him and the luggage out the front door.

Maria laughed softly, flipping the light switch back off and stepping out the door as the melodic sound of the waves gently crashing against the breakers filled her ears.

((Written with help from the marvelous player of Bode. ;-) ))
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