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Liebgott came back to Easy Company with one name on his lips, so much repeated that Skinny was about ready to shove a grenade in there (without the pin pulled, he wasn’t inhumane or anything!) to get him to shut up. It was Webster this, and Webster that and blah blah Webster. Skinny didn’t see what was so amazing about some Webster guy, only to be corrected by Liebgott with a shit-eating grin that there was no guy. 

“Nurse Webster,” said Liebgott with a lascivious grin. “She smacked me a little, but I think she liked me. Kept laughing at all my jokes and only slapped me cuz I might’ve groped her ass. Jesus, Skinny, you should see her. Big soft tits and a great ass.”

Skinny didn’t want to hear anything about that. Joe hadn’t even gotten her first name, just the looks down pat (“…and Christ, Skinny, her eyes. I’ve never seen ‘em so blue in my life”). It was clear he was infatuated, but they didn’t exactly have time for sponge-baths before it was time to move out to Bastogne. At that point, it was mostly pointless to do anything about heading back to the aid station just to meet some girl.

“Radcliffe educated, too,” Liebgott was mumbling as they weathered the heavy bumps in the back of the truck. “We gotta find her again, Skinny. When we get out of here.”

“Yeah, Lieb, sure,” Skinny distantly agreed. The words ‘when we get out of here’ had lost all meaning to him and every time it came up in conversation, he ignored it and replaced it with ‘If I’m lucky enough to make it out’. 

And what was all this ‘we’ about. It wasn’t like Skinny thought he was gonna get a crack at this hot nurse if they ever did find her. 

Those thoughts all tended to drift away when the weather took a turn for the worse and the only time Nurse Webster ever came up in conversation again was in the cold of the foxhole to the song and dance of Liebgott’s chattering teeth insisting that he was going to find her again, some day.

*

When Skinny came back to the line after being injured, he was met by Liebgott with an expectant look on his face. 

“Well?”

“Renee and some girl from the Congo,” was Skinny’s reply, already knowing how this one went. “No Webster.” And that was that for the conversation until it came time to move on out to warmer climates. But then, everything was a warmer place than Bastogne. Hell was, too. 

*

By the time the war was closing to an end, Austria seemed to be the place for all the enlisted men of the paratroops to sun themselves and have a good time. There were still physicals to go through and that meant that the medics and the nurses would swing in and out of town when it came to being on duty. Skinny was beginning to think that this Nurse of Liebgott’s didn’t really exist or maybe he was too doped up on morphine at the time to remember properly.

That changed the day Skinny was due for an exam and got a sharp elbow to the ribs as he was mingling in the line. Liebgott, skinny little Liebgott who was supposed to be out playing baseball was standing right behind him.

“You got checked out yesterday,” Skinny complained, pulling a face.

“Yeah, well, she doesn’t know it,” Liebgott replied, eyes straight ahead on the nurse calling out yet another name. He nudged Skinny heavily in the back. “Come on, you’re getting checked out by her, tell her you need a buddy to hold your hand.” And really, Skinny should have known better because by the time he was at the front of the line and gazing into those deep blue eyes for the first time, Liebgott was already taking care to announce that very fact for him.

“You two must be close,” Nurse Webster said with cool bemusement, closing the tent flap after gesturing the both in. 

“Yeah. Close enough to be an abductee,” Skinny muttered, prying off his shirt and keeping a keen eye on her goods. The eyes were the same as Liebgott described, the legs looked endless and man, but that definitely was one helluva rack.

In short form, Joe Liebgott didn’t stand a chance.

Not that he seemed to be taking no for an answer. While Skinny was getting his heart-rate checked out and while his blood pressure statistics were being written down, Liebgott was nearly draping himself all over Webster; grinning, brushing stray pieces of her hair to the side and earning little smacks every time he did. “Jesus, Joe, I’m trying to get healthy, here,” Skinny bemoaned, flashing his best sheepish grin at her. “Well? Am I gonna live?”

“I think you’ll be just fine,” she promised him, scribbling notes on the clipboard and never really taking her eyes off of him. There were some moments, though, when Liebgott drifted in just a little too close without meaning to and Skinny could see the way it caught her off guard, made her pause and stand there with closed-eyes and an open-mouth.

Shit, Skinny thought to himself. Did Liebgott actually have a chance with a woman like that? If that was the case, Skinny deserved himself goddamn Rita Hayworth.

And then every time Skinny thought that, she would lean in closer to him and do something racy and lascivious like take his pulse and ignore Liebgott’s presence all-together, so maybe there was hope in the world after all.

“So uh, when are you leaving for home? I mean, we’re shipping to the Pacific, but maybe you and I could go on the town in London,” Liebgott piped up, digging through his combats to get out a couple of cigarettes and light them while looking all-the-world like a nonchalant prince with his eye on the treasure. “There’s a real nice place for dancing and I don’t think it’ll ever be as beautiful as it could be with you there. Maybe in a real nice dress.”

“Why, you don’t like my nurse duds?” Webster deadpanned, handing Skinny back his shirt and tweaking her collar lightly. 

Liebgott leaned in, extending one of the two cigarettes to Webster. “I clean up real good,” he assured, eyes flickering over her face. “And we could have a good time.”

Webster turned to offer a sweet smile, digging up the paperwork and signing off on it, stamping it before handing it to Skinny. “You’re fit for the Pacific,” she promised, taking one more drag of her cigarette before crushing it beneath a sensible shoe and ignoring Liebgott’s offer. “Out you go and next!” she called loudly.

Skinny noticed the fact that she didn’t take her eyes off Liebgott as they exited, though.

“Jesus!” Skinny exhaled with a laugh as they crossed valleys and hills to get back to their hotel. “Swear to god, Lieb, I thought you were pulling my leg, but she’s real as anything alright! Shutting you down real good, too, but hell, she’s too good for you. Way, way out of your league. Face like that, she deserves…well, someone like Pat.”

“Fuck Christenson, he can’t have her,” Liebgott insisted sharply. “She’ll come around. She ain’t dating anyone else, either, and I know I’ve heard guys giving her offers. Luz won’t shut up about it and if she ain’t saying yes to guys like Tab and Grant, then she’s not just looking for a face.”

“So you figure you got a shot,” Skinny said dubiously. “I mean, because if not, I’d like to take a swing.”

"I'm not striking out."

"Never said you were, but...I mean..." Skinny had to pause and gesture with his hands, making the vague and yet timeless gesture to imply the hourglass shape they had both just been looking at. "Come on, Lieb. You and her?"

"We jump out of airplanes. Weirder things happen," was his determined argument in this case, which Skinny had to concede wasn't the worst argument in the world. If they all took flying leaps out of the doors of planes and lived to fight another day, why couldn't Liebgott somehow managed to secure himself a cozy little date with one of the most beautiful women Skinny had seen in a long time (which wasn't much to say considering the prettiest thing about had been Shifty, but she was still a looker past that little fact). “Come on, let’s get back before Buck starts giving away our spots.”

*

Skinny Sisk didn’t think the world got better than it did. The war was over. Hot damn, hot dog, but every time he said it, it sounded just a bit goddamn sweeter. The war was over and Japan had surrendered and they were going home soon as the ships came in to take them away. 

London was about as dense and foggy as Skinny recalled, but the girls were as pretty as ever and the food was warm and there was civilization all around.

For Liebgott, his glory came in the form of the dance hall that he had told Webster to meet him at, sometime soon. They’d last run into each other in Austria when they were shipping out and she’d been perched against a truck, smoking idly. Skinny hadn’t heard much more than an argument that ended with Liebgott getting turned down again, but it didn’t seem to affect his friend in the least.

“C’mon,” Joe insisted, cuffing Skinny on the shoulder. “Told her we’d be here.”

It wasn’t Liebgott getting corralled by a feminine hand, either. No, it was Skinny himself who suddenly found himself in a woman’s arms that he knew…not intimately, but he’d met her before, at least. And taking a look at her, maybe she did clean up just as well as they did (both of them in decent suits, indulging in the lack of someone to report to for the first time in years). She had a pencil skirt on with a thin belt and a man’s green dress shirt tucked in, showing off quite a bit. And the stockings, dear god…

Skinny found himself back in heaven and heaven danced to the Glenn Miller Band.

“Liebgott’s gonna be real pissed off that he didn’t get to ask you to dance first,” Skinny felt he had to point out in his best Boy Scout voice, even as he set his hands in hers to start dancing, pulling Webster closer (Neither of them had bothered asking the first name just yet, but considering the body parts that were pressing up against him, Skinny figured he had a good excuse not to). 

“He’s not dancing with me tonight,” she promised, lips painted red with thick lipstick and black hair pinned up in perfect curls as she swayed with him. 

Skinny felt like he owed Liebgott some groundwork here, as a friend, and maybe it was because of guilt that he figured he ought to do that. “Are you just stringing him along? I mean, does he even have a shot?”

She bowed her head low and Skinny watched her eyelashes flutter against her cheek.

The lights dimmed and in the distance, Liebgott watched the both of them with a bottle of beer in his hands. The song changed. They parted and he lost her somewhere in the crowd, but he would catch her silhouette throughout the night.

Liebgott never did get his dance. 

*

Skinny wanted to know how it came to this.

“Shh, it’s okay. You’ll be okay. I’m here.”

Really, they had boarded the ship and found actual quarters (which had something to do with Webster smuggling them into the stateroom her family had paid for in order to make it a decent trip back) and two beds had turned into Liebgott and Skinny sharing to give her a little bit of privacy. Except that Liebgott still had nightmares from everything they had seen, from Carentan to Landsberg and Skinny didn’t blame him one bit, even when he wound up on the floor because all the thrashing Liebgott did while he was asleep really cut down on the whole sharing deal.

And then they came to this moment. Skinny on the floor and Webster in nothing more than a cream-colored negligee slipping to stand over Joe in the bed. 

The moment between them on the dance floor came back to Skinny like a bullet, fast and without being asked for. She kept looking at Joe in that bed and slowly entwined herself between Liebgott and his blankets, wrapping her arms around his midsection and touching him for the first time since they’d met. Or so, that was how the story went when Webster told it years later.

Skinny got her bed to himself that night, but he didn’t sleep very much. 

The next morning, he found himself tracking down Webster on the top level, watching the way the wind caught her dark hair and made her dress stick to her skin. He leaned with his back against the railing, no fear to fall to the ocean below. After jumping out of an airplane, there wasn’t much fear to go around, anyway. 

“The answer is yes. Months late, but it’s a yes,” Skinny started the conversation, turning to catch a long look at her. “You like him.”

“So?”

“So, why don’t you let him woo you?” Skinny asked, completely lost. “I mean, you clearly like him and he’s drooling at the bit to get to ask you out on a date. Say yes, already.”

That made Webster laugh, low and without much humor at all. She turned, levelling Skinny with a displeased look. “I’ve met men like Joe Liebgott before. I say yes, he gets to sleep with me and then what? I don’t want to go back to Cambridge with a broken heart, I’m so sorry,” she unleashed, condescending and sarcastic to the core. “Just go away, Skinny,” she directed. “Joe doesn’t need someone else to advocate for him just so he can get up my skirt.”

It’s not like that was what he wanted to say, but the real God’s honest truth was that he didn’t actually know how it was. He was lost.

When he turned, he saw Liebgott watching the both of them and took his leave of Webster, crossing the stairs to corral his friend and pull him aside into more private halls, not before Joe could start unleashing a wicked, “So what, I have to fucking compete with you, too, now?”

“She thinks all you want is sex and so long as that’s true, you’re never touching her,” Skinny said, simple and almost sad. “So, maybe you ought to start looking elsewhere.” Skinny didn’t even notice that Liebgott had gotten a good fist’s worth of his collar in the process of their forced moving, but now that Skinny had said the words, he let go. “Unless you don’t just want to sleep with her, you’re out of luck.”

There was nothing but silence and Jesus, but Skinny felt bad for crushing a man like that.

“She thinks I’m only looking to get into her panties?” Liebgott said, gaze turned to the door that led outside. 

“Well…aren’t you?”

There was another long pause and by the time Skinny looked at Joe, he had composed himself. “I’m not blind, jackass, of course I do.” He drifted away from Skinny and yanked hard on the nearest door that led deeper into the bowels of the ship. “Jesus Christ, when the hell am I gonna get off this boat.”

Skinny turned to find Webster standing there and watching him from the other way. Both of his exits were effectively blocked off. She didn’t look very happy, either, casting her head aside.

“Look, Webster, I…”

“Dee,” she corrected him. “Dana, but it’s Dee.”

“Webster,” Skinny continued, because it was habit, by now. “I’m sure he didn’t mean it.”

She just lit up, her face bright as anything as she approached him and leaned in to kiss his cheek. “Don’t be an idiot, Skinny,” she whispered against his ear, pressing another kiss to his cheek with a hand on his chest to follow the path that Liebgott had gone down, down into the depths of the ship that all of them couldn’t manage to find their way off. 

He watched her go and wondered just what he was getting himself into. Figuring he ought to give Webster and Liebgott a while to argue, he avoided the room and played shuffleboard until an hour had passed, then two. Even champion bickerers like the both of them, Skinny figured that they would be out of the desire to argue after that kind of time had passed.

He knocked, still, not wanting a lamp or a cushion or a Liebgott thrown at him when he entered the room. 

Of course, he also didn’t expect to find Webster in Liebgott’s lap and laying gentle kisses to his lips in the midst of a quiet conversation with words too hushed for Skinny to hear anything of it. Liebgott’s hand rested possessively on Webster’s thigh and her arms were draped around his neck.

“I wasn’t gone that long, was I?”

“We talked, Skinny,” Webster promised, affectionately ruffling the hair at the nape of Joe’s neck. “Miraculously…”

“Watch it,” Liebgott teased, swatting at her leg while nuzzling his face against her neck.

“…we discovered that we do share some common ground after all.”

Skinny was still gaping and wondering when he had stepped out of the real world and managed to find himself in some parallel reality. Also, he wondered when Rita Hayworth was going to come knocking at his door and tell him that she really was in love with him and had been all along. 

He gaped some more while they took the opportunity to quietly speak between light kisses.

“You let him do you?”

“I’m not just in it for the sex,” Liebgott said, scowling at Skinny. “I like her. A lot.”

“Could’ve fooled me, what with all the arguing you do with me,” Webster pointed out, arching her thick brows upwards. His hand on her back seemed to silence that line of thought, though and Skinny finally managed to shut his mouth. “I’m coming with you boys to California for a while to give Joe a shot. If he manages to prove himself, well…” She turned to look at him, fondness mixed with wariness in her expression. “Well, he’ll get his chance to get me to stay.”

“And I haven’t done her,” Liebgott scowled. 

“It’s provisional on him earning my staying,” Webster said sweetly, kissing him one more time before taking the first step out of his lap, shooting him a fond look as she went. She gave Skinny a long look. “He was lying to you. To save face. Men do that.”

She pressed another kiss to his cheek before taking her leave of the room, giving Joe one last long look before she went, closing the door as she did. “I’m going to California?” Skinny echoed in confusion. Not that he didn’t think that the sunny state was so bad to be in, but he’d planned on going home.

“Just until I can propose,” Liebgott insisted when he was sure that the door was really shut and no one was lurking outside. “I need some backup.”

“How’d we go from getting into her panties to proposing? Joe, I think you’re mixing up your P’s.”

“Yeah, well.” He leaned over to dig through his bag, finding a small velvet pouch and letting a diamond ring fall out of it. “Picked it up in London the day we got back. Day of the dance hall. Was planning on asking after we had a good night of it, but someone occupied her time the whole night. Now she thinks I’m some fucking tomcat who just wants a notch on my bedpost.”

Skinny stepped closer to take hold of the ring. It wasn’t much, but it was still better than he’d considered a guy could make on a paratrooper salary. Of course, Liebgott was fairly financially minded and pocketed extra dough when it came to cutting hair. And it wasn’t as if he’d ever be wanting for anything if he married Web. Her family had some pretty secure funds if she could afford a stateroom like this for her way back.

He whistled, long and low. “Well? What’s the plan?”

“We get off this ship, get West, and she falls in love with me,” Liebgott relayed, snatching back the ring. “I propose and she and I get to making a bunch of little Liebgotts after she says yes,” he finished with a cocky grin. 

Skinny shook his head. “Then you stop kidnapping me?”

“When she pops the first kid out, you can abandon us.”

“You actually think she’s ever going to say yes,” Skinny said, all forms pitiful. “Poor, poor Liebgott.”

He earned a smack on the back of the head for that, but it was worth it.

*

Skinny decided very, very quickly that California was more than worth it the second day in. Of course, that’d been the day Webster had put on a swimsuit and dragged Skinny along to meet some single friends of the family that were out there and also wearing swimsuits. 

Praise to you, oh Lord, Skinny thanked his lucky stars, surrounded by blondes and redheads and brunettes and all of them wearing some of the skimpiest things he’d ever seen. 

“Dee, you surfing?” one of them was asking Webster.

“Not today,” she declined, gesturing behind her to Liebgott, waiting with a bottle of sunscreen. “Or, not yet. We’ll see after I get him lathered up. But why don’t you take Skinny?” she suggested brightly. “I’m sure he could appreciate some hands-on lessons.”

Praise to you, God, and also Nurse Webster, Skinny amended his prayer. He waved her away and watched Liebgott reclaim his own bathing beauty while he was surrounded by three of them all eager to show him the intricate ways of surfing. 

He’d been wrong back in Bastogne.

This was heaven.

They were all over him. Every time he crashed on the board, they would get him right back up and smooth his hair back to check for bumps and generally coddle him every inch of what he thought he deserved to be coddled. And by the time sunset was rolling around, he even got each and every one of their numbers.

The view of them departing wasn’t half-bad, either.

Webster had only joined them for about twenty minutes of the day because Liebgott refused to surf any. Something about not needing to look like that much of a jackass when he had no cause to. So that kept him out of the throng of beautiful women that had been positively throwing themselves at Skinny. 

He towelled off, shooting Webster a broad grin. “I love your friends,” he announced blissfully. “Certain parts of them more than others, but goddamn, Webster, they’re beautiful.” He was still grinning like a maniac while Liebgott helped to dress Webster from behind in her loose-flowing robe. “Think I could convince three of ‘em to wait on me hand and foot like a harem?”

“I think I’ve got a better shot at that,” Liebgott cracked from behind Webster, earning a smack to the wrist (which somehow turned into Liebgott kissing that palm). “You want to come to dinner with my folks, tonight? Dee’s meeting the family.”

“Pretty serious, Joe,” Skinny said, as if he hadn’t already seen the way the light reflected off the ring.

“And I’m not even Jewish, so it’ll be a delightful evening,” Webster agreed sarcastically. “I’m sure it’ll be entertaining for anyone in the first few rows,” she finished with a sardonic look on her face. “You should come!” she brightly added. “Then when I don’t meet his mother’s expectations, I can use you as my shoulder to cry on.”

“I can also be a good lap to sit in,” Skinny agreed helpfully. 

“Fine, you can both come, but if my Ma thinks I’m wooing you, Skinny, I ain’t kissing you to prove it,” Liebgott said with a wicked little smirk on his face, pulling Webster in with an arm around her waist to bring her in for a kiss on the cheek.

Skinny simply feigned heavy disappointment. “There goes all my prospects. But I am pretty. Maybe even prettier than you, Web.”

“I so don’t think so,” Webster commented, arching a condescending brow over her shoulder as she led Liebgott off.

Well, yeah. Skinny knew it too, but he didn’t have to admit it out loud.

*

Skinny woke up from his rest on the couch of the Liebgott residence by a slam of a nearby door and the hissed bickering of a woman and a man’s voice, no doubt belonging to Webster and Liebgott. Skinny had drank just a smidgen much red wine with dinner and had crashed early while they had stayed up to do the dishes and now there was arguing.

“I can’t believe you’re fucking serious,” she was snapping.

“Jesus, can you watch the language? My sisters are upstairs!”

“You were doing the dishes, you weren’t even looking at me, that’s the kind of respect you have for me?” she kept going. Footsteps became heavier towards Skinny and he sat up, pulling his blanket higher over his tank-top-covered chest just in time for Webster to storm into the room, Liebgott in tow.

Skinny glanced between them. “What the hell?”

“Nothing,” Webster muttered, sinking into a sit beside him. “Joe found fit to propose.”

“…that’s good, isn’t it?”

“He said ‘hey, maybe we oughta get hitched’ in the middle of doing the dishes without even looking at me,” Webster said, nostrils flaring with disgust as she glared at Liebgott. “I knew you were a piece of work, I didn’t know…”

“Hey, would you watch the fucking insults…”

“…that you really had such a low esteem for me…”

“…I was getting to the part with the ring and down on bended knee and all that, but you kept flicking soap bubbles at me, so what was I supposed to…”

“…and I can’t believe you think I want to spend my whole life with you!” she kept going, using her arms to gesture emphatically, glaring at Liebgott and hardly even acknowledging that Skinny existed. She pushed to her feet, standing scant inches from Liebgott and lifting her chin defiantly at him. “Well?”

Liebgott was just laughing, an incredulous sound out of him. “Jesus, Webster, you aren’t like any woman I’ve ever met.”

“Now’s not the time for flattery,” she insisted, arms crossed over her chest.

They stayed in their little standoff long enough for Skinny to yawn and betray how tired he actually was, whining quietly as he flopped over on the couch.

“This couldn’t wait until you got upstairs to your bedroom?” he protested, peeking one eye open just in time to watch Joe Liebgott get down to one knee and dig out a velvet box from his pocket, presenting that shining ring to Webster. Skinny sat up a little straighter and watched that silence stretch a good while. 

Skinny rolled his eyes and pushed himself to his feet, yanking the ring and pushing it onto Webster’s finger. “You say yes, he says he loves you, you say it back, you kiss, then you ask me to be your best man,” he said pointedly to the both of them, “and then I go back to sleep and you both try and shut up when you have sex for the first time.”

God help Skinny, he didn’t even want to be in the five-mile radius when they went at it for the first time. He feared they’d either have entirely too much fun or possibly destroy everyone with their same-level annoyance at things.

“Well? Is Skinny right or do I gotta find him a new family to stalk?” Liebgott asked hopefully, shifting to the other knee. 

“How’d you afford this?” Webster was asking, voice hushed.

“I just did. You needed the best if you were ever going to think I was serious.”

“Oh, fuck you,” she accused, showing off that sharp tongue that Skinny hadn’t really seen on many women. “I don’t need you to give me baubles. I just want you.”

“So, yes?” Skinny prodded her along.

“Jesus, Skinny, do you wanna marry him or something?” Webster muttered, grabbing hold of Joe’s hands and yanking him to his feet. “Yes, Joe,” she agreed, pressing a long kiss to his lips, laughing all the while as Joe snuck his hands around her to get a grab of her behind. “Yes,” she agreed, leaning against his body, turning to look over her shoulder at Skinny. “And you’re my maid of honor. Joe can find someone else if he really wants to get laid tonight.”

“She can have you,” Joe dutifully said. 

Skinny tried to think that he would have been a far more fought-over commodity if Liebgott’s brain probably wasn’t already on the image of Dee Webster naked and in his bed, all her clothes off.

“Alright, but I don’t do taffeta,” Skinny said, very seriously.

“We wouldn’t dream of making ya’,” Liebgott promised, still kissing Webster and already trying to tug her upstairs. “Buddy, we’ll see you in a week, okay? Bring food.”

“Will do,” Skinny agreed with a salute.

He watched them go and the moment the door shut, he collapsed with a weary grunt against his pillow. He definitely needed to make good on his promise to call a couple of Web’s friends. He doubted they’d make him wake up for anything that wasn’t a friendly request for a good backrub or something else enticing.

Skinny fell asleep with a warm grin on his face.

Yeah. That’d be nice, he thought to himself.

*

It wasn’t much later after the wedding (wherein Skinny did not wear taffeta, thank you), that he came back to the Liebgott residence to discover a suitcase packed and waiting for him in the front hall. He’d just gotten himself in from a night spent over at Audrey’s place (the tallest of Web’s friends with those long, long legs and her chest like comfortable pillows). 

“Joe? Web?” he called out, confused. “…I swear to god, I didn’t break that vase on purpose.”

It was Webster he found first, towelling off wet hands as she brushed back wisps of stray hair from her face, offering him a smile. They were in the grand process of moving out from the family house to their own, five weeks after the honeymoon enough time for them to officially start their own house.

“Joe packed it for you, said you’d understand.”

Skinny gaped slightly, not getting what was happening exactly. “What, I’m getting booted?”

“I don’t know,” Webster admitted, her mouth hanging open in confusion. “He just said you’d understand. I thought it was some joke between the two of you…”

Skinny was starting to feel genuinely wounded. How could anyone in the world not appreciate him for the joyful presence he was? How could they ignore the way he lit up lives! How could they take him away when he still had a couple of surfer-bunnies to have sex with? How could…

He gaped at Webster for a long and suspicious moment. “You look pale,” he accused.

“Thank you, Skinny, you look good too,” she sarcastically noted.

And suddenly, he got it.

Without a single word, he nearly tackled Webster with a close hug, arms wrapped firmly around her body, refusing to let go as he clung harder than ever before. He was kissing at her cheeks and her forehead and everywhere he could, every bit the proudest pseudo-brother for her that he could be. “Jesus,” he said with giddy amazement, easing back and gaping at her, Webster’s hands still in his own.

Webster was still gaping at him with confusion. “…Skinny?”

“He really didn’t waste any time, huh.”

“Joe told you?” Webster hissed, that pretty face of hers suddenly contorting into anger and disbelief.

Skinny’s eyes widened and he let out a panicked yelp before he realized his misstep. “No! Fuck! Web, no, oh god, don’t kill me,” he pleaded, seeing that weird angry look in her eyes. “Joe just said the day I got to leave California was the day you guys had your first kid. I sort of just…assumed.”

There was a very, very long silence.

“I assumed wrong, didn’t I?”

“No, you’re right, I just wanted to watch you squirm,” Webster admitted, tugging him back in for a hug. “I was thinking if it was a boy,” she admitted, chin on his shoulder. “That he could be Wayne Joseph Liebgott and that you could come back to visit your godchild, no matter whether he’s named for you or not?”

“Wayne is a beautiful name for little girls!” he protested defensively. “But yeah. Yeah, I think I could make do.”

“Good,” Webster said with a broad grin, lighting up her face. “I’ll tell Joe he doesn’t have to kidnap you, then.”

Keeping her as close as he could, Skinny refused to let his smile fall away. “…so does this mean you’ll let me call up your friends while you’re nursing the kid? They’ll need someone to entertain them while you’re out of commission and you’ll be making all sorts of new friends with the kid in the community…”

“Skinny, Audrey loves you, so shut up and ask her out again,” Webster insisted in a firm voice. “She also asked me to give you something, but the naughty panties are upstairs where Joe’s family won’t find them.”

Skinny’s eyes lit up at the thought of ‘panties’ and he grinned even wider. “I really do love you. Possibly because you introduced me to gorgeous women, but there are other things in consideration.”

“We love you too, Skinny,” Webster allowed with a soft laugh, shooting him a dubious look and prying away from the hug. “Now come on, I think they’re black. Lacy. Someone might swallow them if they aren’t careful they’re so small.”

“Goddamn do I love California,” Skinny said once more, utterly in love with the whole wide world. Mostly for inventing women named Audrey with legs like she had and a predilection for wearing tiny little things.