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Strangers in Paradise

FROM THE JOURNAL OF FRANCINE PETERS...

These Pants I Wear

These pants I wear I bought at Ross

To make me skinny like Kate Moss

They're much too snug, they're not my size

They bulge at belly, hips and thighs

I hope and pray these pants I wear

Will hide my spreading derriere

That grows for all the world to see

These pants I wear are killing me

But Katchoo says I never learn

I buy on clearance and can't return

I hate these pants-I hate my mom

I miss the dress I wore at prom

Back when I was young and thin

And my toga wouldn't hold me in

But high school girls eat lots of cake

And chips and chocolate bars and steak

So think before your love begins

These pants are all that hold me in

So seams may pop to give me room

And these pants I wear will seal your doom

I guess I really should leave the poetry stuff toKatchoo and David...They've both been sogood to me. No one has ever loved me the way Katchoodoes. She'd die for me in a heartbeat, I know it.That's such a rare and precious commodity. Tonight,I've decided to finally return her love, completely.

Til tomorrow, dear diary,

Francine Peters.

***

Francine bursts into Katchoo's bedroom, wearing only anightshirt and a giddy smile. Katchoo is struggling towake up, hair down in her eyes and blinking at thelight streaming in through the newly-open doorway.

"Katchoo! Katchoo! Wake up! I saw the elephant!"

"Francine...wha...? Wha's wrong...?"

"Nothing, Katchoo! I mean, everything! I mean, I'vemade a decision..."

Katchoo reaches for her cigarettes, groans when she sees that her battered and abused alarm clock says it's 4:35 am..."Okay, Francine, you woked me up, now give me the benefit of your thoughts. Let me have it. What is so friggin' important?"

"Listen to me, Katchoo...this IS important."

Katchoo looks at the sincerity in her friend's eyes, instantly dropping her flippant facade..."Oh, honey...I'm sorry. I AM listening." She reaches up to hold Francine's darling face in her hands. "Are you okay, baby? What's wrong? It's not Freddy again, is it?" She brushes away an errant strand of hair from Francine's forehead...

Francine gently takes Katchoo's hands into her own, and her eyes soften. "No, no, this isn't about Freddie. It's about us. You know how you're always telling me I never make up my mind? Well, I realized tonight that I've been running from myself...from my feelings for the best friend I'll ever have. I've tried to deny this, but it's like I've come awake after a long sleep. You are my heart. I love you, Katchoo. I always have, and I always will. Forever."

She moves her face in, lowering her head slightly to kiss Katchoo on the lips...

"HELLO!!!" , says Casey (Francine's ex-boyfriend's new wife), bursting into the room with enormous new breasts, smiling in her cute but ditzy way..."ListenI'msorryifIinterruptedbutI'vebeenthinkingitoverandI'vedecided

IdefinitelywanttobelesbianlikeYOUguyscauseyou'rebothsocuteina

non-threateningwayandsoisitokayifIgetnakedrighthereandjumpintobed

withbothofyou?nononoyou'rerightI'monlydoingthisbecauseI'mconfused

overFreddysorrysorrysorryI'lljustgogoodbyeI'llletmyselfoutGeez,

isn'titweirdhoweveryyoungwomanweknowiseitheralesbianoralesbianin

denialorawannabelesbian?weirdByesorryforinterruptingagainBoy

isn'titweirdhoweveryoneseemstoTALKaboutsexalotbutnoneeveractually

getstoHAVEany?SorryI'lljustgoIt'sjustthatsometimesIswearIfeelike

nothingmorethanadevicetomakesurenoneofyouactuallyDOanythingwith

eachotherDon'tworryIknowthewayout."

After a moment's silence, Katchoo stares at the doorway through which their unexpected guest has just exited, smirks, and says, "Well...THAT was different. Now, what were you saying?"

Francine sighs, and recollects her thoughts. "I was saying, before we were interrupted, like ALWAYS, that you've been right all along. What I want IS right here with me, and I want to show you that I mean it. I love you, Katchoo."

Trembling, Francine moves in closer to her friend...her lips part softly and her eyes close as her mouth nears Katchoo's...

Suddenly, a six foot plus shadow fills the doorway, "Hello, Cinderella," a deep feminine voice belonging to a muscular woman who was almost CERTAINLY a lesbian growls threateningly, "Am I interrupting something?"

Francine and Katchoo both yelp in surprise, "TAMBI! Or BAMBI!"

"Hello, ladies.", the deadly former Darcy enforcer mutters, scornfully, "Just came by at this exact and seemingly critical moment in your relationship, just when it's about to be consumated after years of constantly referring to it and several dozen false starts and cliffhangers, to remind you both...I'm watching you. And remember, I'm a woman, so I'm most likely a lesbian even though that hasn't been overtly referred to at this point. Even though I worked for a KILLER lesbian who had a great big group of ninja lesbians working for her. So, again, though it hasn't been explicitly mentioned, I'm almost certainly a lesbian. I'd say the odds are like 9 to 1, in favor of my sexual preference being other women. Maybe 8 to 1, but certainly in that range. Well, bye."

Francine stares at the now-vacated doorway, "Wow. Weird timing, huh?"

Katchoo, still a bit confused, says, "It's like these people show up every time we try to have an important conversation. It's just creepy! All right, Francine. Collect your little thoughts and tell me what it is you're trying to say."

Francine sighs, "Do I have to go through it all again? CRIMINY! Okay, okay...it's just this: For a long time, I've been trying to be someone I thought I was supposed to be, instead of being what I want to...wait. Let me start over. For a long time, I've wanted to be who you want - crap, that's not it. Okay. Katchoo, you are my heart. No, I mean, you're IN my heart. Whatever. What I mean is, I'm ready to be with you, forever."

Katchoo, taken off-guard, again takes Francine's hand, "Francine, I don't understand..."

Suddenly, the door flings open again, and the light from the hallway is partially obscured by a beautiful but menacing woman wearing a bizarre and uncomfortable-looking red bathing suit.

"AHA!", says the woman in the doorway. "I SUSPECTED you two would be in here!"

"We LIVE here! Who the **** are YOU?!?", says Katchoo, exasperated.

"I'm VAMPIRELLA! I'm not even IN this book, but I felt a strange compunction to come right over here and make SURE you two were interrupted! For you see, even though comics are read primarily by guys who think that they're enlightened, I ALONE know that the SECRET ENGINE that drives the ENTIRE industry is SILLY SEXUAL INNUENDO! It's EVERYWHERE! Wonder Woman butt-shots! Gen 13's non-stop erect nipples! Witchblade's armor that will protect her completely, assuming someone is targeting her areolae or the crack of her ass! Lady Death's enourmous, world-devouring ti...well, crap, you get the point, right?

"And for all this talk, no one actually ever HAS anadult sexual relationship...this is the oneunbreakable law! It's titillation without completionthat keeps the fans coming back, so DON'T MESS THATUP!"

Francine and Katchoo stare at the deranged woman insilence.

Vampirella is suddenly embarrassed..."Um. Guess I'll go now. Unless one of you wants a big long sensuous blood-sucking scene...? No...? Make it look like we're lovers? You sure? Makes a nice variant cover? No...? Well, okay. We should do a crossover sometime. I'm crossover curious. Anyway, um, bye."

Francine cocks her head toward the doorway, "She lookslike she's put on a few pounds..."

She turns back to Katchoo, impatiently..."Anyway, you're in my heart, etcetera, et cetera...love you always, yadda yaddayadda, running from feelings, now let's have sex."

Katchoo's eyes open in shock as her best friend movesin to kiss her..."Francine!! What the hell are youtalking about? "Let's have SEX!?!" What are youthinking?!?"

Francine's head moves back in shock as though she'sbeen slapped in the face, "Huh? But...but Katchoo! Ithought...I thought that you wanted to..!"

Katchoo moves back withdrawing her hands from Francine's, "Jeez, Francine! You must be the QUEEN of mixed signals...I'm sorry, we're friends, but I don't like you like that. I don't know where you got such a crazy idea, Francine! I'm one hundred percent guy-lovin' straight! And for God's sake, Peters, put some PANTS on!"

NOTE FROM TERRY MOORE: What a SHOCKER, huh? Bet you didn't see THAT coming! Wow! Anyway, the stunning CONCLUSION to this story is next! Right after a three-issue sidetrip into the lives of Katchoo and Francine when they were in Junior High, before they knew each other, and a dream issue that takes place on a VERY familar starship with a very logical David and Katchoo playing a certain hard-fighting, hard-loving space captain, and then a Buffy the Vampire Slayer Homage, and a very special all-crossword puzzle issue! Don't miss it! Also, don't miss my special All-lesbian issue of Betty and Veronica that I enjoyed doing so much I refused to be paid for it!

Terry

PS: To that woman who got plastic surgery and gained thirty pounds to look like Francine - That's REALLY flattering! What great fans I have!

Special thanks to Terry Moore for his generous help and for use of the SiP logo. Visit the official Strangers in Paradise website today.

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