Looking back on the incident, Maeve would come to realize that this was the exact moment where she should have realized just how far removed from reality the mind of Duke Lethe could be. She had known he was a madman before, of course, but this was just the bottom layer of what would become a great big crazy cake.
But at the moment, she was just confused. Very, very confused.
When she, Cooper, and Jo had gone to work that morning, the common area of their apartment had been fairly neat, and they had been expecting it to be the same when they returned. They had a gig in only a few hours, and they had to get ready fast.
Circumstance, however, was against them. Chairs were overturned, the sofa was lying on its back, and a lamp lay broken on the floor. The papers that had been on the coffee table were scattered about like leaves in a forest. It was a complete mess.
And in the middle of it all was Duke and Sextus, locked together in a wrestler’s embrace. Despite his black eye and broken glasses, the latter clearly had the upper hand in the two-man brawl.
“If you’re gonna insult me,” he growled, “then get your bloody insults straight, ya twit!”
“Don’t you think that you’re overreacting just a little bit?!” Duke’s voice was made almost inaudible by his bloody nose and the forearm pressed against his windpipe. “Seriously, man!”
Six tightened the choke, making him gag. “Overreactin’? I ain’t overreactin’, mate. How the hell would you like it if I called you a–”
“Enough!” Joanna shouted. She pushed her way past Cooper. He looked at Maeve, eyebrow quirked, but she could only shrug.
As soon as he saw her, Six jerked his arm out of the lock and let Duke hit the floor with a hard thud. He grinned sheepishly. “Erm, ‘ello, Joanna,” he said. “When did you get here?”
“Just a few minutes ago.” She crossed her arms. “You both realize that you should be getting ready for our gig, right?”
Duke staggered to his feet. “He’s trying to kill me!” he said. In addition to the bloody nose, an ugly bruise was forming on his jaw.
She turned to Six, eyebrow raised. He folded his arms, frowning. “He called me a fruit,” he said, “so I decked him. He hit back, and we had ourselves a bit of a tussle.”
“If this was a ‘bit of a tussle,’ I’m not looking forward to seeing what an actual fight looks like,” Maeve said to Cooper. He nodded in agreement.
Joanna returned her attention to Duke. “A fruit, Duke? Really?”
He was beginning to flush, as he usually did when agitated. “I…you…but…” He shook his head as if to clear it. “I didn’t mean to…”
“How do you ‘accidentally’ call someone a fruit?”
He rubbed the back of his head. “I was trying to say Kiwi, but I couldn’t think of the right word, so I just kinda blurted out the first thing that came to mind…”
Six’s laugh was completely devoid of humor. “And there’s the other problem,” he said. “I’m an Aussie, damn it. It was a point of national pride.”
After a long moment, Joanna sighed. She rubbed her temples. “Alright, whatever.” she said. “We need to get ready. Duke, apologize to Sextus for your terrible communication skills.”
“B-But–!” Duke looked ready to argue until he remembered that Cooper and Maeve were still standing in front of the door. “Danza! Back me up here! Tell your boyfriend it was an accident!”
Cooper frowned. “Sorry, but I ain’t takin’ sides this time,” he said. He crossed his arms across his chest. “Y’all can sort this out for yourselves. I’m gonna go get my stuff ready.”
He walked past them and quickly made his way up the stairs that led to the bedrooms. Maeve was sure that Sextus smirked, but her view of him was suddenly blocked by Duke.
“C’mon, Maeve,” he pleaded, “help me out. I’m begging you.”