Over the years, their regular Thursday night dinners at Emilio's had seen many things. Celebrations of birthdays, of sporting events, announcements of promotions, the beginnings of an actual birth, and on very rare occasions, song.
What they did not often see, however, were knock-down, drag-out fights between Bonnie and Liza. Mostly that was because Bonnie was too polite to engage like that, which made the rare occasions where her claws came out all the more amusing.
And on this particular Thursday, Min was extremely amused.
"Absolutely not," Liza said, the flatness of her tone matching the expression on her face. "I didn't agree to this. Ever."
Min raised her glass of wine to her mouth to hide her smile. It wasn't that she didn't agree with Liza--on the point of thinking that group Halloween costumes were a terrible idea for anyone over the age of ten, she and Liza were in firm agreement. It was just that watching Liza run headlong into the steely determination in Bonnie's eyes was fun. She never claimed to be a saint.
"I saw that, Minnie," Cal said.
His words were a hot tease against her ear and Min shuddered. She couldn't help it. The man's pheromones were evil things.
She twisted in her seat so she could torture him back, the brush of her breasts against his arm a deliberate provocation as she leaned up to whisper in his ear. "What do you suggest I do? Liza's not going to win this argument. Not with that look on Bonnie's face."
"Agreed," Cal said. He ran a finger along the bare skin along the neckline of her blouse. "But there must be a way to minimize the damage. That's what you're good at isn't it? Calculating risk, minimizing damage."
"Bonnie is far less predictable than the odds of Joe Public getting into a car accident," Min countered.
Cal smiled at her, the slow, seductive one that would have knocked her knees out if she hadn't been sitting down. "The sooner this ends, the sooner we can go home. I wonder what we could do there. Alone."
Min swallowed heavily. He didn't play fair. But then, that was why she loved him.
He kissed the side of her throat, once. Then again. A hand slid up her thigh.
"Into the Woods!" Min blurted out, doing her best not to look like she was ridiculously turned on as all eyes turned away from Bonnie and Liza's fight and towards her. "We should be the characters from Into the Woods."
Bonnie frowned. "Min, they all die.
"Not all of them," Min offered weakly, wincing at Bonnie's glare. "Well, they don't."
Liza eyed Min suspiciously and Min tried to look innocent. From Liza's snort, it was a failed attempt.
But still, Liza said, "I get to be the Witch. If we absolutely must do this. And I am still against us doing this in any way, shape, or form."
"Done," Min said, relieved. She stood, grabbed Cal's hand and pulled him up beside her. "Let us know who we're supposed to be. We need to get home to let The Beast out before he eats Elvis. Or the couch."
"That's what we're calling it?" Tony snorted, from his spot at the other end of the table.
Diana elbowed him in the ribs, before softening the gesture with a kiss on his cheek.
"Thank you," Min said.
"I expect you to return the favor one day," Diana said. "Baby-sitters are expensive."
God, her sister had come such a long way. But Cal's hand was warm against her back and creeping lower and this was perhaps not the time to be thinking about that.
Min reached behind her back to grab Cal's hand from where it was resting on her ass and dragged him towards the door.
"Good night!" she called out as they went out the door of Emilio's restaurant.
Laughs chased them outside.
She turned back to frown at all of them, but Cal's mouth closed over hers and he pulled her tight against the hard, warm length of his body and Min decided she didn't much care what all the rest of them thought anyway.
She tore her mouth away, breathless. "Home, Morrissey."
Min fell back against the pillows, utterly boneless. "That was fantastic."
Cal flopped down next to her, patted her on the hip. "You weren't so bad yourself."
"I'd take offense to that," Min said, tipping her face towards him, "but that would take too much energy."
Cal laughed, low and deep, and Min reconsidered how tired she was. He nudged her until she turned on her side, and then he tugged her back against him, not stopping until bodies were flush against each other. His mouth at her ear, he said, "I love you, Minerva."
"I love you, too."
Min snuggled back against him, content to revel in the warmth that Cal couldn't help but generate. "You're so much better than an electric blanket," she said, not for the first time.
"I do what I can."
She reached back to pat him on the leg. "And you do it very well."
He chuckled and the sound vibrated through her. It was nice. It made her wonder if maybe she wasn't as tired as she thought and if there was anyway she could get out of that breakfast meeting she had tomorrow.
"That was a good idea you had at dinner," he said. "What made you think of Into the Woods?"
Min tried not to think about sex. "I honestly don't know," she said. "Free association, I suppose. Bonnie's thing about the fairy tale and being at Emilio's and that bread…"
A moan slipped. Just a little one.
"You still like that bread better than me, don't you?" Cal said.
"Well, I mean, it's bread. You shouldn't take it personally."
Cal laughed again, and she knew he wasn't in the least offended. "Go to sleep, Minnie."
As she fell asleep in his arms, Min thought that sometimes Cal really did have the best ideas.
"Once upon a time," Roger said. "Later."
Min opened her eyes. "I wish," she sang.
Wait. She sang?
"In that same far-off kingdom," Roger continued.
"More than anything," Min sang again.
Why was she singing? Why was Roger standing over her like that? She looked down at herself. Why was she in a gown and how did it get her breasts to look like that?
"Lived a young Princess," Roger said.
"More than life," Min sang. "Wait."
Roger looked at her and frowned. "You're going off book."
"What book?" Min asked, exasperated. "What are you doing here anyway? I was asleep with Cal. And shouldn't you be at home with Bonnie and the kids?"
"Moving on," said Roger. "The lad Jack."
"More than footmen," Min sang, the words coming out automatically. "No, this has to stop."
"I wish," sang Harry, who was suddenly next to her.
Min boggled. The kid hadn't been there five seconds ago. "Where did you come from?"
"Hi, Min!" Harry said, waving at her.
"Get it together," Roger said sternly. "And the baker and his family."
A baby cried and Min's head turned to her other side. There was Bonnie and Emilio and Bonnie was holding a blanket wrapped baby. Nothing made any sense.
"No, I miss," Harry sang.
"I wish," Min sang in unison with Emilio.
She looked at him. Emilio shrugged.
The baby cried.
"More than anything," Harry sang.
"More than the moon," they all sang together.
Min held up a hand. "Wait!"
Beyond not understanding whatever the hell was going on, all this singing was playing serious havoc with her ability to breathe. Whatever was holding her into this dress, it was not forgiving.
"We're waiting, Min," Roger said. "Did you have something to say?"
She looked at him. She looked at Bonnie and Emilio. That didn't make any sense. "Leaving aside the rest of this insanity, why aren't you over there?"
"Yes," Bonnie said. She was frowning in the way that foretold of bad things happening to whoever had displeased her. Min was woman enough to admit that look scared her. "I would like an explanation for that as well."
Roger shrugged. "It's not my subconscious. Ask Min."
Bonnie's head swiveled in Min's direction, still wearing the frown.
Min held up her hands and stepped back. "I don't know."
Cal popped up next to her, looking like he'd stepped straight out of a Disney movie.
Roger shook his head at him. "You're not on yet."
Cal ignored him, his eyes fixated on Min's breasts. "Hi, honey."
Normally she'd at least pretend to mind but--and she looked down at them herself to confirm it--they were sort of spectacular right now. "What are you doing here?"
Cal looked at her like she was slow. "I'm your prince. In fact"--he cleared his throat and sang--"I never thought I'd find perfection."
"I never thought I could be so happy!" they sang together.
Min opened her mouth to sing her next line and clasped her hands over it instead.
"Min," Roger said, her name a disappointed scold.
"No more singing!" she said. "Get the hell out of my dream and take the Sondheim soundtrack with you."
"Bye!" Harry said and then he disappeared.
"I'm disappointed in you, Min," Roger said, but he disappeared, taking Bonnie and Emilio with him.
Which left just her and Cal. Who was still dressed like a Disney prince. It was completely unfair just how much that was working for her, but if this really was her dream and all evidence pointed to that being the case, she might as well take advantage of it while she could.
"We're going to have sex now," Min said.
Cal didn't answer in words, but the yanking her against him and burying his face in her cleavage said everything that Min needed to hear just fine.
"Darling, I must go now," Cal sang.
Min sat straight up, clutching her dress to her chest. "Hell, no."
Cal looked confused. "No?"
"I've seen this show before. You are not leaving me for a comatose princess and you are not sleeping with my best friend. Do you understand me?"
"Hardly ever," Cal said, shaking his head.
Min frowned at him and went to cross her arms before remembering that if she did that, she'd be sending her dress back down around her waist. "You're not as charming as you think, you know."
Cal grinned and for just a second, it was him, not some stupid adulterous prince in his place. "So you tell me."
"It's not going to work," Min said. She pulled her sleeves up and stuffed her breasts back into the bodice of the dress before turning her back to him. "Do that up for me, won't you? If I'm sending you off into the woods to make terrible choices, I'm damned well coming with."
"Yes, dear," Cal said.
Min snorted. If she hadn't been sure she was dreaming before, she would definitely be sure of it now. Maybe obedience was transferrable out of the dream. She'd have to check and see.
After they went into the woods.
"Cal!" Tony said, skidding to a stop in front of them on the wooded path. "And Min. This is a...surprise."
"Of course," Min said, nodding her head. "I should have known that you'd be Rapunzel's prince. Where's Diana?"
Tony pointed off into the distance. "Over there somewhere. You'll hear her soon enough."
"Speaking of hearing things," Cal said. He cleared his throat. Sang, "High in a tower."
"No," Min said simply.
"No?" Cal asked.
"I've found a casket," Tony sang.
Min turned to him. "No to you, too. That's my sister you're cheating on, you ass."
Tony looked at Cal. Cal shrugged.
"She seems convinced something's going on," Cal said. "I keep humoring her."
"She is standing right here," Min said, exasperated with both of them.
"What unmistakable agony! Is the way always barred?" Tony and Cal sang together.
"I give up," Min said.
She grabbed Cal's hand. "Have fun with your dwarves, Tony."
"Dwarves are very upsetting," Tony sang.
Min started dragging Cal down the path in search of the others. "Whatever you say."
Cal looked back over his shoulder at Tony and sang, "While they lie there for years…"
"And you cry on their biers," Tony answered.
"What unbearable bliss! Agony, that can cut like a knife! Ah well, back to my wife…" they sang together.
"You're with your wife," Min pointed out, as Tony disappeared from view.
"Yes," Cal said. "That's not right, is it?"
"Neither is lusting after a woman who's comatose," Min pointed out. "Come on. We need to go see about a giant."
They found Bonnie by herself first, wandering through the woods. As soon as Cal spotted her, he broke free of Min's grasp and rushed to Bonnie's side. "Anything can happen in the woods. May I kiss you?"
"No," said Bonnie.
"No," said Min, out of breath from running to catch up with them.
"No?" Cal asked. He looked back and forth between them. "Any moment, big or small, is a moment after all. Seize the moment; skies may fall any moment."
"I have a baker," Bonnie said. "Instead of a Roger. Thanks, Min."
"Sorry," Min said, wincing. "Is he dead?"
"Yes," Bonnie said. "Thanks for that, too."
"Roger's dead?" Cal asked. "How?"
"Min's mom threw him to the giantess," Bonnie said. "Catch up."
"He hasn't figured it out yet," Min said. She patted Cal on the shoulder. "I'm pretty sure that's about to happen, though."
"Hm," Bonnie said, her lips pursed. "Yes, I can see that."
Emilio appeared in the trees. "You're supposed to be at the grave, Min."
"Sorry," Min said, not at all sorry. "I didn't trust Cal alone in the woods."
"Why?" Cal asked, sounding perplexed. He looked at Bonnie. "May I kiss you?"
"That's why," said Min.
"No," said Bonnie.
"That's my wife," Emilio said. "Well, my not-wife, anyway."
"What the hell?" said Cal.
"Hi, honey," Min said. She patted him on the shoulder again. "Feeling okay?"
"I just tried to kiss Bonnie," he said.
"I know, but it wasn't your fault," Min said.
"Speaking of which, couldn't you just wake up already?" Bonnie asked. "Put this farce to rest?"
"You just don't want to die next," Min said.
"True," Bonnie said. "But if I have to, I'd better get to do my solo first."
"We rendered the content of it pretty irrelevant," Min pointed out.
"I know, but it's such a good song," Bonnie said.
"She's right," Emilio said.
"You're dreaming this?" Cal asked, looking down at Min.
"Yes," Min said. "Sorry."
Cal looked down her dress. "I'm not."
Bonnie sighed. "Is that a no on the song?"
"Yes," Min said.
"Fine," Bonnie said. "I'll go throw myself in front of the giantess then. At least it'll move things along."
"You're the best," Min said.
"Don't I know it," Bonnie said.
She disappeared into the woods. Seconds later, there was a scream.
Min turned to Emilio. "Where'd you leave everyone else?"
They found Harry and Liza in a clearing with Min's mother, who was weeping over what Min could only assume was Diana's remains. Min went there first.
She patted her mother on the shoulder, trying to be consoling. "Cheer up, it'll be over soon," Min said.
"It's not that," her mother sobbed.
"It's not that Diana's dead?" Min asked, a little taken aback. Whatever her faults and biases against carbohydrates, her mother did love Diana. Both of her daughters. "Then what is it?"
"Just look how thin she is." Her mother burst into a fresh round of sobs.
Wordlessly, Cal produced a handkerchief from the neck of his shirt and passed it over into Min's outstretched hand.
Min handed it to her mother with a wince. "That's a little sick, Mother."
Her mother looked up accusingly. "This is your dream, Minerva."
"Touche," Min said. She turned to Liza, stifled a laugh. "Little Red, really?"
Liza grimaced. "I'll get you for this later."
"I have no doubt," Min said. She squinted at the cape around Liza's neck. "Who was the wolf anyway?"
At that, Liza grinned. "David. Well done there, Stats."
Min laughed. And laughed. And kept on laughing until she was bent at the waist, weezing from not being able to catch her breath. Because really, wasn't that the perfect culmination of the insanity?
"Min?" Harry asked, his voice tentative in the way that people used when approaching individuals having nervous breakdowns. "Are you okay?"
"No," Min managed to say between laughs. "I'm not."
"She'll be fine," Liza said. "What are you doing here, Morrissey? Shouldn't you be off boinking Bonnie?"
"I think that's why he's here," Emilio said. "Min seemed very determined to prevent that. Bonnie's still dead, though."
"Good," Liza said.
"Good?" Min repeated, straightening. She pressed a hand to her side. "God, that hurts."
"Yes, good," Liza said. "That means we're closer to ending this farce." She turned to Min's mother. "Your turn, lady."
"My turn?" Min's mother said, outraged.
"Sorry, Mom," Min said. "Sing about taking the blame and get it over with, would you?"
"You all need to argue about whose fault it is first," Min's mother said haughtily. "I'm not going to deviate from the script anymore than you all already have."
Min rolled her eyes. "Fine." She looked over at Emilio. "You first."
Emilio pointed at Harry. "It's because of you there's a giant in our midst, and my wife is dead!"
"But it isn't my fault, I was given those beans!" sang Harry. "You persuaded me to trade away my cow for beans! And without those beans, there'd have been no stalk to get up to the giant in the first place!"
"That was a lot of exclamation points, Harry," Cal said.
"Shut up," Liza said. "You're not even supposed to be here."
"It's my dream," Min said . She turned to her mother. "Satisfied?"
"I suppose it will have to do," her mother sniffed. "It's the last midnight. It's the last wish. It's the last midnight. Soon it will be boom--"
Liza pushed her over towards the giant and there was a scream and a squish.
Min looked sideways at Liza. "I don't remember that in the script either."
"I think we're past worrying about that, don't you?" Liza countered. "And I'm not singing a song about mother not being here now with you, so can you just wake up already?"
Min threw up her hands. "If I could have done that, don't you think I would have by now?"
"What have you tried?" Harry asked.
Cal looked down at her. "What have you tried?"
"Well," Min hedged. "I've been busy."
"Yes, sexing Cal and killing off your friends," Liza said dryly.
Cal frowned. "How did you know about the sex?"
Liza snorted. "Please. You haven't stopped looking down Min's dress since you got here. Not that I blame you." She looked at Min. "Nice cleavage, Stats."
"Thank you," Min said.
"Should we really be having this conversation in front of Harry?" Emilio asked.
"Right," Cal said, wincing. "Sorry, kid."
"It's fine," Harry said. "I'm learning a lot."
"That's what I was afraid of," Cal said, wincing again. "Liza, how do we end this?"
"I think we have to kill Min," Liza said.
"Hey," Min said.
Emilio nodded. "I'm in."
Cal looked down at Min. "I love you." He looked up at Liza. "Okay.
"Do we have to?" Harry asked.
Min gave him a beatific smile. "Thank you, Harry." She glared at the rest of them. "I'll remember this."
"The kid just wants more free sex ed," Liza said. "Face it. You have to go."
"Do I have to like it?"
"No," Liza said. "But it still needs to happen and I'm getting awfully tired of this cape."
"Fine," Min said, sighing heavily. "I'll just go throw myself in front of the giant, shall I?"
"That would be great," Emilio said.
"Thanks, Min," said Harry.
"You're a good woman, Stats," Liza said.
"I'll always love you," Cal said.
"Whatever," said Min.
She walked into the woods in search of the giantess. She didn't have to look hard. The giant took a menacing step towards her and Min looked up at the foot coming down on her.
"Oh shit," she said.
Min shot straight up in bed, gasping for air. She looked down at Cal, who was still asleep, snoring beside her. She shook him.
"Wha-what?" Cal stuttered. His eyes opened and he looked up at her with confusion in his eyes. "Honey, what's wrong?"
"If you ever sleep with Bonnie, I'll feed you to the giant myself," Min said.
Cal blinked. "You needed to wake me up to tell me that?"
"Yes," Min said.
"Okay," Cal said, still looking confused but obviously deciding this wasn't the time to push the issue. "Can I go back to sleep now?"
"Yes," Min answered. "I'm just going to go send Bonnie a quick text and I'll be right back."
She slid out of their big, brass bed and tugged on the silk robe that was draped over the footboard. She padded down the hall to the kitchen where her phone was plugged in to charge for the night. She typed in a text to Bonnie:
Need new group costume idea. Don't ever sleep with Cal.
Min plugged the phone back in and went back to bed.
She was throwing away all of their Sondheim albums in the morning.