Cloud Number Nine - pt. III

TITLE: "Cloud No. 9" part 3/?
AUTHOR: Me, of course (Alex)
Disclaimer et al. - see pt. 1

AN: It's *all* fluff. I tried starting several new fics, all to be centered on serious themes, and couldn't get past the first chapter, feeling the urge to retreat back into fluff where everyone's happy and shaggy and everything's spiffy. I can't escape it. Whyyyyyyy????

And again it's all too sex-driven. Damn hormones.:-p

There's this English short story contest going on in St. Pete right now, and my English teacher asked me yesterday whether I "write" ("You have a wonderful chance of winning!")… I told her I don't (why worry her with my Larry-obsessed fanfic? I doubt any more than a handful of people have even *heard* of the show & the initial characters, let alone *Larry*! And their relationship with Ally, all the Jamie crap & etc, is impossible to understand without having seen the show…), but actually wanted to say "Ooooh yeah, I sure *do* write, but trust me, you don't wanna know *what* it is I write!"… Hmmm, she promised to xerox the story that gets first place… Well-well-well. Should make for interesting reading…

And here's my risky creation... Enjoy:-)

Pt. 3/?

Richard began his morning sermon by dissecting the mistakes of everyone made throughout… the last 4 years.

"And Jackson…" he began, after thoroughly examining the faults of Nelle, Ling and Mark (who was accused of "lacking an exterior and deteriorating on the interior", which made Nelle icily remark Richard had clearly spent the previous night with Webster's instead of a wattle), and everyone let out an exhausted groan.

"Fine, since no one's interested in Jackson, we'll move on to… Ally!" he exclaimed as she entered the room.
"What?" she asked on reflex.
"The sun will have set by the time you finish with Ally, Richard…" Elaine pointed out, carrying in a heap of files and dropping them all on the table in front of Ling. "Oops…" she faked concern.
"Ick… Work… Are we finished yet, Richard?" Ling asked, annoyed.

Richard replied with something unintelligible. Ally nodded, then walked out, bumping into Alice Weaver by her office door.

"Ms. McBeal?!" Alice exclaimed, her voice shrill and almost hysterical.
"Alice?" Ally clearly wasn't expecting to see her.
"You wanted to see me?"
Ally was even more surprised. For a moment she thought it was something set up by Larry, but she quickly erased that thought, reassuring herself Larry would never do such a pointless, stupid thing. She was convinced it was either Richard or someone else just as vile. Alice sensed Ally's surprise, and continued to explain why she was there.
"Mr. Paul called me and-"
Ally wanted to fall through the floor. Larry?! WHY?!
"Ah, Mr. Paul… How sweet of him…" she spat out, ready to yell and cry at the same time, but nevertheless maintained an overall calm look.
"Ally?" John scurried up to them, just as surprised to see Alice.
She didn't turn to him, afraid of burning his head to ashes if she were to open her mouth and breathe out the flames trapped inside.
"In. My. Office. Both of you." She made out through clenched teeth.

After 15 minutes of random arguing on a wide range of controversial subjects, including wars, human rights, the American judicial system and why all men are pigs, they finally reached the matter at hand - the case. Strangely enough, Larry arrived splat on time for the fun to commence, viewing it from a comfortable position of front & center.

"Ah, how very lovely…" Ally made a too-sweet smile, her eyes narrow and dark. "Mr. Paul himself has graced us with his presence…"

"Hi." Larry looked guilty but unsure of what exactly he'd done to deserve Ally's contempt.
"Never mind hi. May I… talk to you outside for a second?" she asked coolly, and before he was able to reply she dragged him out of her office, meeting up with a gleaming Elaine who was soon sent off to pamper herself elsewhere.
"What's going on?" Larry finally asked when they were left alone.
Ally didn't answer, just crossed her arms, staring at him lividly.
"Do I have to guess by myself or can I use a lifeline?" Larry cracked, at which point Ally's eyes shot out spears at him.
"Why the *hell* is Alice Weaver here?"
"I… wanted you to talk to her." Larry said in a tone that clearly stated he saw nothing wrong with it. Ally obviously disagreed with that.
"I see... and was I going to be informed?"
"Ummm, I initially came here to report that, but you… dragged me away…"
"Oh? So you now come to my office not to say good morning, not to offer to take me out for a late breakfast, but to "report" news concerning *your* client?!" Ally by now was desperately searching for a way to follow Ling's advice and get livid with Larry. It wasn't working too well.
"…who is, in turn, suing *your* client, by the way, although that little detail might have slipped by you… As for a late breakfast-" he reached inside a paper bag he'd been holding all this time, and extracted a cinnamon roll - Ally's favourite, "here."

Ally bit into the roll, still mad at Larry but unable to resist the tantalizing smell of cinnamon & honey, and a bit of icing was left on her nose. He kissed her nose softly, licking away the icing, then opened the door and took her hand, pulling her inside again. Alice looked up at them, a flicker of jealousy not of Larry, but of a happy relationship, appearing in her eyes. Ally pulled her hand out of his grasp and walked over to her desk. Everyone sat for a moment in silence, before John summed up the courage to begin a conversation.

"Alice, why are you suing Ray?"

The room retreated back into silence. Ally by now was starting to understand where John was going with all of this, and couldn't help but imagine herself in Alice's situation. A twinge of pain in her heart echoed in her brain at the thought, and she looked over in Larry's direction, who himself was waiting for Alice's answer. He was so wonderful in every possible way, and there were still a million wonderful things to be discovered about him. He had become such a big part of her; she just couldn't imagine her life without him. How could *anyone* live without a Larry?

"I don't know..." said Alice quietly, her gaze fixed on the floor.
"Out of hurt..." Ally automatically replied, then quickly covered her mouth, realizing she was audible.
Alice looked surprised, though deep down understood Ally was right.
"He's a pig. No one's going to argue with that. Not even we, as his lawyers. And if we have to stand before a jury, it's the statement I'll be closing with, because I can't bring myself to say anything else about him. But what you have to understand is that, by suing him right now according to claims you've filed before, you're admitting you want *more* from him. And not necessarily money, or an apology, or whatever else you're seeking in your roughly 15 claims. He might not see it right now, and neither may you, but what you're actually subconsciously going at is for him to ask you to take him back. You feel a void in your life because you two are apart, and *I'm* certainly no one to judge you or him or both of you together, but... you can do better than him. He's not worth it. By walking into that courtroom carrying a pile of claims, you're exposing yourself to the world as a hurt woman who's not even sure what she wants to achieve by filing those papers. Is that who you want to be seen as?"

John and Larry just about simultaneously broke out into an ovation. Alice simply shook her head in incredulity.

"You're *too* lucky, Ms. McBeal. Too lucky in life to be a lawyer. Usually the best ones are the really mean ones, whose only joy in life is barking at others because it's the only way they can release all the anger built up over the years at not having a full life. They know what their clients want. You can't feel people's pain when you're so absorbed by your own happiness. Just hold on to what you have. Because it's as perfect as perfect gets."

Ally wanted to run up to Larry, throw herself into his arms and stay there forever, never leaving his embrace. It wouldn't hurt for everyone else in the world to evaporate into thin air, too. She looked up at him, tears of adoration filling her eyes. Even the way he looked into her eyes was special. For some strange reason, she suddenly felt more strength to continue the case, despite what she had just told Alice, and was totally convinced now nothing would ever ruin their relationship.

"I'm going to court." proclaimed Alice, the existence of whom had temporarily slipped out of Ally's & Larry's minds.
John was nevertheless set on changing her position. Both exited, to Ally's great relief, leaving Ally and Larry alone.

"You heard the woman... We're going to court..." Larry started, referring to Alice's last phrases.
Ally wanted to say something, but couldn't identify which words would come closer to defying her emotions as fully as possible. She stood up and walked over to him, first sitting down on his knees, then curling up on his lap. He smiled a rowdy smile, then took her hand in his. Just as he was about to start off on a tirade of tendresse, Richard and Alice opened the door without even knocking. Alice was by now more frustrated than jealous, and turned to Richard, desperate to see a reaction from him as Ally's boss. After all, it was completely inappropriate - to her mind - for counsel to be... she couldn't even pinpoint what exactly it was they were doing wrong, but felt it was necessary for Richard to reprimand them for *something*. Being in love and *rightfully so* was just plain *wrong*.

Ally quickly sprang up from Larry's lap, straightening her skirt. Again she was faced with the awful feeling of being caught by her father making out with a boyfriend. Larry stifled a laugh, still holding her hand.

"Mr. Fish!" Alice barked, annoyed. "Isn't there such a thing as office policy here?!"

Richard burst out laughing at her words. "She's a cracker!" he wheezed. "Seriously, Larry, where'd you find her?"
Alice walked away, displeased with Richard's remark. Richard followed, still hoping to get her number to "keep in touch", as he liked to call it.
"So then I guess I'll see you in court..." Ally turned back into the lawyer she'd been trying to stay since morning. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately enough), the woman in her voiced her opinions louder than the lawyer.
"Ah yes. And not a moment earlier than trial time." He wanted to play along, turn this into a serious discussion of two professionals, neither of which was about to give in.
"Of course." Ally continued.
"Most definitely."
"What?!" Ally giggled.
"I... ran out of synonyms." Larry confessed, chuckling.
"You *do* realize we'll be drafting our cross-exams in different rooms... Silently... And not while making love, either..."
Larry mimed appalled horror. "Damn! 'Cause I was so looking forward to it..." he joked, then continued. "By the way, the Marinson cross-exam you & I composed in bed Saturday night worked perfectly..."
"See how nice it is to be on different cases!"
"Tell me about it... So... on who'll be writing in what room... I get the bathroom, you get the kitchen..."
"Why do *you* get the bathroom?! *I* want the bathroom!" Ally erupted with giggles.
"Sorry, first calls, first goes." Larry shrugged his shoulders.
"*I* want the bathroom!"
"*I* do, too!"
"No, *I* do more!" By now, she was trying to wiggle out of his embrace, laughing.

Nelle walked in, formally serious and quite surprised at their behaviour.
"Uh, Ally... Richard wants to talk to you... And, um, there's a... *bathroom* right down there... in case you didn't know..." she smirked, pointing in the direction of the Unisex.

"Thank you, *Nelle*." Ally grimaced, then turned to Larry, who looked ready to collapse with laughter.

"I have to go..." she whispered softly.
"To the bathroom?!" he asked mischievously, making her, in turn, collapse onto *his* shoulder, laughing so hard her cheeks hurt.

"This is the best case I've ever tried..." she finally managed to say, being completely sincere.
"Even though *I'm* on it?" he asked, smiling.
"*Because* you're on it..." she corrected him, then smiled and fluttered out of the room.

Do women get any closer to perfect? he asked himself.

Probably not. Ally was *it*. It's amazing how much *Jamie* of all people made him realize about Ally. She was *it*.

He never told her about their conversation with Jamie that night, when it seemed their relationship was as close as ever to falling apart. But he felt she knew how much he loved her. Their looks, their hugs, their kisses, even the briefest ones, said more than anything else ever could. And that was the most exhilarating, magnificent thing of all.

- - -

Court that day surpassed all and every terrible moment in Ally's life cubed and multiplied by five, though she wasn't exactly the only one rightfully receiving the priority on the spoiled day blues. By the time their fifteen minutes of pleading to dismiss were through, Ally & John had used up just about every lifeline they had. Larry stood up calmly, explained the matter in an even tone and naturally got what he'd been after - the trial was scheduled for the following week. He didn't quite expect such a reaction from Ally, though, who didn't so much as *look* at him after the gavel hit the stand. She herself understood it was childish, but wanted him to suffer in at least *one* aspect of life - if she got misery in court, he'd get it at home.

Outside it was, to quote Richard, "pissing rain" when they exited, icy drops of water flying down to form puddles waiting to be stepped in. When Ally walked up to her car, she made the startling realization her keys were locked inside… together with the remote.

"Shit!" was the most reasonable reaction she could manage, which also attracted Larry's attention. She turned to him in despair, watching miserably as he opened his car door and successfully got inside. When he saw her, he immediately climbed out, promenading over to the side closest to her car and leaning back, despite the freezing rain, against his car door.

Her beige suit was now all wet, her makeup runny and her eyes on the verge of spilling tears. How could everything be so wonderful one minute and so terrible the next? [the question I'm asking myself right now - author's note]

He opened the passenger door in the manner of a valet, almost certain she would say something not-so-nice before getting in. To his partial surprise, she stayed quiet, just answered his sympathizing smile with her own.

Headlights broke through the rain, starting them off on a journey past the slate gray walls of a soaked Boston. She suddenly remembered Alice's words that morning, and wanted more than anything right then to cuddle up on his chest and listen to him whisper her name over and over again. He sensed she needed to be close to him, and placed his hand on hers. She didn't try to move her hand, just sat up a bit straighter in the car seat.

"I love you…" he finally started when they were almost home. "And soon this'll all be over…" he continued, pulling up by their porch. "…And we'll go back to leading a perfect life. Okay?" he smiled sincerely at her, admiring her features in the light and her immensely beautiful eyes, which now seemed much sadder than usual.
"I'll just have to wait until then." Ally cut off, then opened the door and slammed it dully behind her, leaving him alone to reflect on what had happened.

- - -

Inside, everything screamed of the necessity of work. She began to get worried when he hadn't come up after first five, then ten minutes, realizing she'd been too rude, something he hadn't in any way deserved.

She plopped down onto the couch, grabbed a legal pad and immediately started drafting her cross-exam. She'd think up something ingenious, she was sure of it. Not to prove anything to Larry, who already knew she was brilliant, but to prove to herself that she could win. And she *could*.

In 10 minutes she collapsed on the couch in a peaceful state of sleep. After what had seemed like a moment but had actually been several hours, she woke up once again to encounter Larry's - incredibly soft, dark, passionate, warm, gentle and yet very manly - lemur-like eyes gazing at her affectionately.

"Hot chocolate?" he proposed, holding up a cup of fresh hot cocoa. He himself smelled of cinnamon, cocoa and firewood - a mixture so sense-heightening Ally felt transported into another universe.

She smiled sheepishly, then lifted herself up on her elbow and wrapped her arms around his neck, breathing in his smell. Not quite calculating her balance, she fell off the couch and onto him - thankfully, the cocoa realized it was best to stay in the cup and not spring out onto the floor -, sending his fingers and lips in all sorts of different directions from her back.

He quickly made away with the warm sweater she'd changed into upon coming home, leaving her in a simple tee. Staring into his eyes, she wanted to tell him a million different things but didn't know where to start. Maybe an apology was best.

"I love you." He whispered softly, his breath tickling her earlobe.
"I love you." He repeated, making sure she understood what he'd said.
She giggled a little, then wrapped her arms and legs around his body, pressing her ear to his chest. The soft thumping of his heart relaxed her beyond anything else.

He - with great effort - finally managed to get up, with Ally clinging to him like a baby koala to its mother. When he voiced that comparison, Ally remarked sleepily that he'd make a wonderful koala mother, igniting a retort in him in the form of arguments against incestual zoophilia. Ally almost fell off of him laughing, which didn't matter much since their target - the bed - was just a few feet away.

"Uuurrphhh…" she growled playfully into his cheek when he finally settled down underneath her.
"So now we're a lion cub? And that makes me what… a lioness?!" he asked, sending Ally off into laughter hysteria. "Scratch that, you're a hyena…" he continued in that same serious tone, chuckling only when Ally was on the verge of tears of laughter.

In a minute Ally calmed down, now overtaken more by arousal than glee. He carefully, gently undressed her, then let *her* take care of him. He exuded such passion, heat, manliness, that he was impossible to resist. Not that Ally wasn't pleased with the end result… By the time they were through with their extracurricular activities, it was frighteningly late, and both settled into a deep, relaxing sleep, his arms curled up around her waist, her curving into him as though seeking warmth and protection.

Could an evening get any more magical?

In this interminable soft bedroom rain of kisses, tenderness and passion, they both found a way to escape into *their* world, where only *they* existed and only *they* mattered to each other. The real world, however, was neither much different nor much worse - if they had each other, they could pull through.

- - - -

Thank God that's over. Phew. Thoughts?