Debbie has always had a talent for anger.
She can summon a cold sort of fury, and hammer it into a shield, or a sword, or full underground bunker, if that’s what she needs.
She doesn’t know where it comes from, but Debbie has always found that it is easier to be angry than upset. It’s a more useful emotion, for a start.
So she doesn’t follow Ruth from the bathroom immediately, because she needs to coalesce her emotions into something practical. Something other than stinging rejection and lust, because that’s not a combination that would ever work out well.
Camera Guy’s emotions are more important than Debbie’s? Even if that isn’t what Ruth’s intended take home message was, that’s what Debbie is left with, as she leans against the wall and tries to get her breathing under control.
She feels cheap. And this feels… seedy. And… not good. Now that the energy has drained from the situation Debbie realises that they were two grown woman fumbling about with each other in a bathroom cubical.
The memory of the way she’d shoved Ruth’s hand beneath her clothes rattles at her, and Debbie colors as she does up her zips. God, why always so weak Debbie? Why can’t she ever have any sense of restraint around Ruth?
She waits. She waits until the song has changed three times, because she absolutely cannot watch Ruth leave with Russell, Debbie doesn’t know what she would do.
And honestly, the temptation to just march out there and yell at Sam? Almost overwhelming. Blame it all on him, even though it isn’t his fault, and Ruth isn’t even leaving with him, but…. Debbie pinches at the bridge of her nose, tries to flatten the inner anger into something smooth, and exits the bathroom.
Ruth has left. Debbie can tell by the way Sam is looking disconsolate, almost profoundly unhappy.
Oddly, she feels a pang of sympathy for him. He isn’t exactly having an easy time of it either, which is probably why he’s walking around like a powder keg smoking a cigarette.
God, if someone had told Debbie a year ago that Ruth would have three people in bits over her, and one of those three people would have been her…
She isn’t sure for how long she has felt like this. But, Debbie concedes, maybe for longer than she has allowed herself to notice. Maybe that’s why every normal interaction with Ruth always used to feel stilted, and the only time Debbie felt normal was when she was in a heightened state of emotion, yelling at Ruth or tossing her bodily onto the floor.
Debbie feels watched. In fact, she’s pretty sure all of the girls are looking at her, despite no one actually making eye contact with her. And… jesus, do they all know?
Probably, she decides. There’s only so many ways to interpret her relationship with Ruth before people might start to settle on the pretty fucking obvious conclusion.
Fuck it, she thinks.
Bash smiles at her cautiously, and then rubs a hand to the back of his head.
“Ahh, hi Debs, uh, I think Ruth left a couple of minutes ago-”
Debbie waves a hand at him, confirming that she already knew this.
“Yeah, listen, let’s go and find a gay bar? There must be one in this town…”
Bash stares at her, and then shrugs.
“Sure. Uh. How do we do that?”
This is not entirely to plan, but Debbie increasingly finds that she does not give a shit.
It’s Yolanda and Artie who lead them to a gay bar.
“It’s cool, it’s chill, it’s mainly boys obviously, but there are some girls. And the bar area is pretty tame. I’d avoid the dance floor, though, just a tip. ”
All of this rolls off Yolanda’s tongue with fluid ease, as though there is nothing out of the ordinary about seeking out a gay bar to spend the evening in… which, Debbie supposes, is true for Yolanda.
Artie seems more curious, and raises her eyebrows at Debbie as they pay for entry.
Debbie shrugs. “I didn’t want to spend an evening hanging around with Sam. But I also didn’t want to just sit in my hotel room.”
Artie smiles, and then says “But… this type of venue…?”
Debbie looks away.
“The fewer heterosexual men the better, I don’t enjoy repeatedly having to convince men I don’t want to sleep with them.”
Artie nods understandingly at that, and then they’ve paid, and then they’re inside.
Bash looks out of sorts, and Debbie tucks her arm through his, and squeezes his arm a little with her elbow.
“We don’t have to stay, if you don’t want to?”
Bash gulps, and then nods a couple of times. “No, I’m good, I’m good… let’s get a drink, shall we?”
Yolanda, somehow, already seems to know a lot of people here, and she and Artie disappear into the crowd. Artie gives a little apologetic wave to Debbie over her shoulder as they go, and Debbie snorts.
“How did Artie figure out a way to be so comfortable so quickly? How come… how come she isn’t dragging around all the emotions that I have to deal with?”
Bash shrugs. “She doesn’t have backstory with Yolanda. Easy. You and Ruth… backstory for days. Your dynamic is a knot to be unravelled.”
Debbie grunts in agreement, and then says “Let me buy these. As a thank you for letting me take you here.”
“Oh come on, you know that I like hanging out with you far more than anyone else…”
“So- you know when…” Bash pauses, and trails off, blinks several times at his drink, and then waggles his hand expressively at Debbie. Debbie waits, uncomprehending.
“When the ‘you and Ruth’ drama is all…finished… you’ll be in the market for a new best friend.”
What do you mean ‘when it is all finished’?”
“When, you know, it’s settled. You’ll either be lovers or you’ll never speak to each other again. Either way you’ll need a new best friend.” Bash taps himself on the chest. “That should be me. Oh. Or Sheila, god I forgot Sheila. Both! We can take it in turns. Job share.”
Debbie feels herself smile unwillingly, even as something inside her drops.
“Why… wouldn’t I be friends with Ruth any more? Pretty sure that you are supposed to be best friends with the person you love?”
Bash doesn’t notice the way Debbie’s eyes widen after that announcement. Love? And she said it aloud? Bash leans forward, speaking loudly over the music.
“No but, we can be the best friends that you don’t also sleep with. Because, turns out you are really not my type. Too much…” and here Bash gestures at Debbie’s chest “Too much tit- oh god that was so disrespectful I’m sorry I hadn’t even noticed you had tits- breasts, you know. Frontage.”
Bash is drunk, Debbie realises, as she laughs at him. But he’s happy as well, as he laughs to himself and then moves the drinks menu so that he cannot make direct eye contact with her tits anymore.
“Oh god now I can’t stop looking at them.”
Debbie snorts, and then laughs easily. “No, I know, they do follow you around the room a bit, don’t they?”
“Christ, they’re everywhere- oh.”
Debbie looks up as well, and there’s a young man who is maybe five years younger than Debbie standing in front of them. He shifts his weight onto one leg like he’s posing in a photo shoot.
“Hiya, listen, my friends think you’re a couple but I said no way! He is way too beautiful to be straight and you guys are having way too much fun together to be a heterosexual couple so… who’s right?”
Bash half chokes on his drink, and then looks to Debbie for help. Debbie shrugs. Bash shrugs too, after a second.
“Oh, um. Not straight, I don’t think. But uh, not looking, right now. Um. But thank you.”
The man, who is slender and tall with a pretty impressive moustache tips his head to one side.
“Not a problem honey… But you are new here, huh? We’ve not seen you before. But…” and here the young man trails off, before frowning and glancing at Debbie. “Wait, have you been here before? Why do I… do I know you from somewhere?”
Debbie shakes her head, because she’s never seen him before in her life, before remembering that she used to get that question sometimes.
“Oh, um. I used to be on television - Laura Morgan from Paradise Cove?”
The young man pulls a face.
“Never watched that. But I guess that must be it…” He keeps frowning at her, his eyes roving over her face. Bash clears his throat after a second.
“Debbie here is also in a wrestling show, there were posters up a few weeks ago, maybe-”
The man’s mouth drops open and he clutches at his chest.
“Oh my god oh my god you’re Liberty Belle! You’re… oh my god you’re Liberty Belle, I’m obsessed, I’m obsessed, oh my god- oh my god and you’re the announcer! Oh my god- Kenneth! Mitchell! Get over here, you will not believe-”
This has taken a turn, Debbie thinks to herself, as yet another gay man tries to buy her a drink.
She’s used to convincing men she doesn’t want to sleep with them. She’s never had to convince men that she doesn’t want to put them in a choke hold.
Fans, she identifies distantly. These are fans.
She’s surrounded by about a dozen men, all of whom are excited and all of whom seem to be talking at once.
“I’ve been to every show except the first one, and my friend ordered some tapes of the television show, which he says should be arriving in a couple of weeks so I will be able to watch them forever-”
“Oh my god you are the dream, honestly I might be in love, what product do you use in your hair?”
“I screamed when you first came out, I screamed and screamed, did you hear me, my throat was destroyed”
“How would you feel about a drag version of Liberty Belle? I’ve been looking for a new character forever-”
“Iconic, literally iconic, the way you threw her over your shoulder like she was nothing’
“Do you think you could sign my t-shirt?”
Debbie fields as many of their questions as she can, and Bash takes the questions that she can’t find the conversational space to answer. And then Artie and Yolanda find them, and they are greeted with cries of surprise and joy as they get recognised.
The young man who first approached them is called Simon, and he holds up a hand, and then slaps the table a couple of times.
“Hey, hey, ladies, can we all just shut up, we’re going to scare them all with our love… control yourself, can you…. ugh, Mitchell, what is it?”
A young man who is probably closer to a boy has meekly raised his hand. He clasps his hands under his chin in supplication.
“Can you do the voice? Can you do the pies thing?”
Debbie bites her lip, confused, and then remembers. She shrugs.
“Uh, sure… I’ve been baking pies at home-”
“Pies of raaaggge!” they collectively shriek, and Debbie laughs in astonishment as the men around collapse into hysterical laughter.
“Oh my god” Simon gasps, before resting his head on Bash’s shoulder affectionately. “This is the best night. Please please please bring all the other Glow girls one night, we will collectively die and go to heaven. Ooh ooh, also, do you guys need any extras? We would do it for free, it would honestly be an honor.”
Artie gestures at Debbie.
“Debbie once said that she wanted a wrestling valet.”
“And you must have me” Simon says instantly. “I’d be the best valet, I’d basically die for Liberty Belle, Zoya could kill me and I wouldn’t even care.”
Another man leans forward, Debbie thinks his name might be Daniel.
“Do you think you could bring Zoya here? I love that crazy bitch, she could step on my neck… if she wanted to kill me it would be the best day of my life… Oh my- does she need a valet?”
Bash stares curiously at him.
“Wait- you like Zoya? She’s like, the main heel?”
Daniel places his hand on the drinks menu like he’s swearing on the Bible.
“I love Zoya. She’s like the ultimate queen of the take down and I love it. I love the nasty, you know?”
Debbie snorts, and then covers her mouth.
“She’s… Ruth is very different from her character. She’s really…caring. She’s basically a way better person than I am.”
Yolanda gestures at Debbie vaguely.
“Debbie and Ruth have got this whole…thing going on.”
Everyone looks at her. Simon covers his mouth.
“Dramaaaa - details please!”
Debbie rolls her eyes, and takes her sip of her drink, smiling.
“No. No details. But only because-” and here she leans forward, inviting confidence. “-only because I don’t even think you could handle it.”
“Oh my god!”
After another hour of being made to feel as though she is literally The Greatest Human Alive, Debbie calls time.
They make solemn promises to return, and nearly all of the men give Bash their number, just in case the show needs some extremely enthusiastic free extras, and Debbie, Artie and Yolanda all have to sign a wide variety of objects before they are allowed to leave.
“I didn’t even consider appealing to that market” Bash muses to himself, in the taxi back seat. Debbie smiles at him.
“Thanks for coming.”
Yolanda stretches, and then tips her head sideways onto Artie’s shoulder. “Far better choice than staying at Ray’s - I like the man, but his DJs are always stuck in the seventies.”
“Yeah, well, I appreciate it. I had fun. And I… needed distracting.”
It’s as close as Debbie has come to verbally acknowledging the mess she is for Ruth to someone other than Bash and Sheila.
Artie nods a couple of times, and then says quietly “You guys will figure it out.” Yolanda smiles but says nothing. Debbie sighs heavily, doing her best to avoid thinking about Ruth and Russell, together, alone, in Ruth’s hotel room.
“God I hope so.”
It’s late, Debbie realises. Artie starts shushing Yolanda in the elevator as they rise to their corridor, and the hotel feels like it is asleep.
“What time is it?” she whispers as they approach their corridor. Yolanda checks her watch.
“Two thirty… but no training tomorrow morning, so no worries there- I am being quiet!”
Jesus, Debbie needs this evening to be over. It feels like a lifetime ago that she and Ruth had been waiting to enter the arena, sitting next to each other. And Ruth had touched Debbie’s finger with her own and Debbie had nearly turned inside out in response.
Yolanda starts kissing Artie. Artie pushes her away with a laugh, and then says “You’re drunk.”
“And you are beautiful, what?”
“Just, concentrate on getting to the room, okay?”
Debbie is about to shush them, but then when she turns the final corridor all of her thoughts fly out of her head.
Ruth is sitting by Debbie’s door, leaning her back against it. She turns to look at them, and then smiles weakly.
Debbie almost forgets how to walk. She certainly forgets how to reply, and it is Artie who supplies the return greeting, as Yolanda mumbles “holy shit the drama” next to her.
Debbie’s room is close, and that’s a relief, because Debbie doesn’t know if she’d be able to do a long walk to her room with Ruth watching her every step of the way.
The air seems to have gone.
“Whoopsie, sorry, pretend we aren’t here guys… will you stop you complete-”
Artie and Yolanda are kissing. Debbie watches as Artie half turns away from her, giggling, and fumbles her key in the lock, as Yolanda makes a pretty determined effort to lick at her ear.
Ruth turns to look at them as well, but looks down at the floor when Yolanda turns back to them, resisting the tug of Artie’s hand. And… jesus… they make it look so easy. Debbie’s jealous.
“Okay, as much as my queer little heart would love to stay and watch…” Yolanda waggles a hand towards Debbie and Ruth “whatever this is, apparently I’m not allowed to, which sucks because I think you guys are about to be really cute and-” Artie snorts at Yolanda and starts dragging her bodily into her room. Yolanda resists for a few seconds more.
“…and, yes I’m coming, and I just wanted to say, you know. God speed. We’re all rooting for you. Make us proud!”
The door closes, and then there is silence, or at least Debbie assumes that there is silence. She can’t hear it over the roar of her own heart.
She looks down at Ruth.
“Are you… are you going to stay sitting on the floor, or-?”
Ruth shrugs with one shoulder. “No, I…although I don’t know if I can get up, I’ve been here for long enough to cramp up.”
Debbie says nothing, and then reaches a hand down towards her. Ruth accepts it, and allows herself to be pulled upwards, groaning slightly. Debbie drops her hand quickly, because she doesn’t know what to think. She clears her throat, and starts fumbling in her bag for her key.
“How long have you been sitting there?” she manages to ask, because god knows it is an easier question than ‘why are you sitting there?’
Ruth looks nervous.
“Um. A couple of hours, maybe.”
Debbie bites the inside of her cheek.
“So everyone has seen you” she states, and Ruth nods after a moment.
“Yeah… they didn’t seem that surprised. And I… I didn’t care. Do you?”
“No” Debbie says easily, surprised at herself. Ruth shrugs, and then turns towards Debbie slightly, leaning on her door with one shoulder.
And Debbie wants… god more things than there are words for.
Ruth. She wants Ruth. Her chest is… tight, with the strength of it.
Ruth is looking at her, and she’s so close.
“Ask me” Ruth whispers.