It's told from Richard's perspective :) at least this part is part 1 "Why are we here, Richard?" "Because..." Oh, damn, I wasn't going to get embarrassed. Why would I get embarrassed? "Well..." "Tell me the truth, Richard." I'd never really noticed her voice before. Well, I had noticed it - who could not notice a voice like that - but I'd never concentrated on it before. It was beautiful, really. Slow and sweet and southern, with just enough sass to get your attention. She had certainly gotten mine today. "You want to know the truth?" "That's always preferable." "You walked in to the studio today..." The wheels in my head were spinning. The truth? Did I know the truth? I decided to just tell her whatever came to my mind. "You walked in today, and I didn't recognize you. You were standing under one of the keylights and I couldn't really see your face and I just stopped because I thought you were the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. And then you turned around, and it was... well, you... and... I don't know. I just couldn't get that picture out of my head. I'd never noticed how beautiful you really are." "And so you invited me to dinner just to tell me that?" She threw back her head and laughed, really laughed. Quite an encouragement. I could tell right then, my ego was going to take a beating. "Boy, what a line." "Fannie-" I said with a little bit of chastisement. "It's not a line." She shook her head. "I don't believe it. You must be really desperate." "I'm being honest!" I threw up my hands. Maybe this was a mistake. "I'm going to leave." She took her purse and stood up. I grabbed her arm. "Wait - at least have dinner. I invited you to dinner, right? And you accepted. So you have to stay and eat." "I'm not going to sleep with you, Richard." She was still standing, looking down at me. "I know that. Just dinner. I'll be on my best behavior. I promise." She smiled, just a little bit. If all else fails, beg and plead. "Just dinner." She repeated. "Right." She sat down. First battle won. The waiter approached and took our order. It was as he was walking away that I realized that I had no idea what to to talk about. Fannie wasn't a starstruck contestant that I took a liking to, and she wasn't some girl that I had just met. We had been on The Match Game together dozens of times. And she had already proven that my normal 'lines' wouldn't play with her. "What would the rest of the people on the show say if they saw us here now?" She said with an uncomfortable laugh. I had to give her credit - she may not have wanted to be here, but she was nice to try and make conversation. "They'd probably laugh us off the set." "I have a question." She crossed her arms on the table and leaned forward, eyes sparkling. Beautiful blue eyes. "You're a regular on the show, you see more than I do. Is there something between Charles and Brett?" "Charles and Brett? I don't know. They spark, that's for sure. But you know what they say about Charles. That would complicate things." "You believe the rumors? He's never come out and said it, has he?" "No..." "You should see the way he looks at Brett sometimes." "I've seen the way she looks at him. Half the time she wants to kill him and the other half she looks like she wants to rip his clothes off." She really got a kick out of that. "Some of things he wears I want to rip off of him, too." "He's creative, you've got to give him that." We laughed... and then the laughter faded... and neither of us knew what to say. Our food came. We ate, talked about the food, the service. Then it was over. I was disappointed. I had expected more. I'm not sure what, exactly - maybe for Fannie to fall head over heals in the time span of an hour. Not very realistic. I paid and we walked out together. "Thanks for dinner, Richard. It was nice." "You're welcome." She stood there awkwardly. I waited for my car to be brought around. "Did you take a cab?" "Yeah." "Let me give you a ride home." "I can take a cab." "Please. I want to make sure you get in okay." "I'll be fine." "Fannie, please. Let me take you." She thought. Then she relented. I felt a little better. Like I had bought myself more time. "Thanks for coming. And staying." I looked over at her as I started the car. "I still really am just wondering why you invited me. There are plenty girls around a lot prettier and a lot easier than me." "I don't think so. Prettier, I mean." I smirked as she hit me on the arm. But she was laughing, so I didn't worry. "You really think I'm pretty?" Her voice was seemed a little smaller than usual. So she hadn't just dismissed what I'd told her - it had been in the back of her mind all night. "I think you're beautiful." "Not many men tell me that." "Men are stupid. You should know that by now." "You included?" "Me included. Men are also easy. A woman like you should have the streets littered with broken hearts, if you tried." "But I don't try." "Well, luv, you might just have one, anyway." "I think you're exaggerating. Or maybe mistaking a heart for an ego." "Ouch. That one hurts." "Where do you live?" She gave me directions. "Tonight wasn't exactly a dream date, was it?" "It wasn't supposed to be." "I can do better." "Can you, now?" She sounded amused. Fannie Flagg isn't a stupid woman - she knew what was coming. "If you'll let me." "I can't believe this. You're asking me out again." She shook her head. "Why is it so unbelieveable?" "I think you just can't accept rejection." "So you're rejecting me?" "I didn't say that." She replied very quickly. "So you're not rejecting me?" I looked at her with a very satisfied smile. "I didn't say that either. Give me some time to think about it." "How much time?" "Until tomorrow." "You'll tell me tomorrow if I can have a second date?" "Right." "I'll take what I can get." I pulled into her driveway. "Can I walk you to your door?" She looked very nervous all of a sudden. I knew what she was thinking - would I kiss her. I wasn't even sure yet. "I suppose." She didn't sound too sure. We got out of the car. "You look nice tonight. I don't think I told you that." "Thank you." Standing on her doorstep, I felt a way I hadn't felt since high school. Nervous. Flustered. It was very unsettling. She stood there. Waiting? I was beginning to think that maybe Fannie wasn't quite as unreachable as I'd thought. So I kissed her. Very softly and very chastely. Nothing her mother would object to. "Richard..." She was half smiling. "You can slap me now if you want to." She laughed. "I'm not going to slap you." "That's a relief. For a second, I wasn't sure. It would have been worth it, though." "I'll see you tomorrow, Richard." "Tomorrow." I was practically whistling as I walked back to my car. I was on the set fifteen minutes early. Of course, it was my luck that Fannie showed up five minutes late. She barely glanced at me as she hurried through makeup and took her seat beside me. "Fannie." I said softly. She gave me a small, polite smile. Or at least she tried to. I could see a hint of something else in it. "Good morning, Richard." "That's all you have to say to me?" "For now." Then the cameras started rolling. What great timing these people have. I had to admit, my heart wasn't in the game that day. I was, in fact, rather distracted by a certain Southern belle seated directly to my right. She didn't help matters herself, either. In fact, if I didn't know better, I'd say she was being a downright tease. It was the second question of the last game that we would film that day. The question Gene asked was: Sleep Beauty decided to set Snow White up on a blind date. Imagine her surprise when instead of Prince Charming, she was greeted by __(blank)__. When Gene got around to me, the answer on my card was, "Howard Cossell." Why? Because that's what you put when you don't have an answer. That, or Benedict Canyon. Like I said, my heart just wasn't in it. "Now, Miss Fannie, what do you have to say?" Without even glancing my way, Fannie answered. "Before I tell my answer, I have something I would like to say to Richard." "Ah?" Gene gave me a curious look. I rested my chin on my fist and turned slowly to look at her. "Yes." "Yes, what?" Gene said. "That's all. Just 'yes'." "And Richard, I assume you know what this means?" "Does anyone ever know what Fannie means?" I joke, but give her a very slight nod. Then Fannie gave her answer and the subject was dropped. My mood was greatly improved in the next hour or so. The star wheel landed on Charles to answer and while he was floundering around, looking to Brett for a suitable reply to _(blank)_ road, I grabbed my marker and scribbled a note to Fannie that said, '7:30, I'll pick you up.' I knew where she lived, after all. Why not take advantage of it? I slid the card over to her. She read it and smiled at me. Then she picked up a card of her own and wrote something. 'Okay with me' it said. "Um, Mr. Teacher?" Brett said. I turned around. She had her hand in the air and was waving it around. "Mr. Teacher Man? I have something to say." "Yes, Miss Somers?" Gene was sitting at the end of the row, flirting with Eva Gabor. "Richard and Fannie are passing notes. I think you should take them up and read them to the class." I could have killed that little weasel. Of course, that got Gene interested. Fannie quickly grabbed the card I'd handed her and ripped it in half, then stuffed it in the slot next to her. I did the same. "Sorry, Gene, I don't kiss and tell." I said in my Paul Lynde voice. Everyone got a big laugh out of that. "Right, right..." I could see the wheels turning in his mind. Luckily for me, it was just then that the 10-seconds-left signal came and he had to close up. I knocked on her dressing room door. "Fannie?" "Richard? Just a second. I'm not quite decent." "Doesn't bother me." I heard her laugh. A few seconds later, she opened the door. She was wearing a t-shirt with an almond-eyed puppy on it. It had "Paw Me" written across the front. "Cute." I said, pointing at the shirt. "You need something, Richard?" "Just wanted to say goodbye. And see if you needed a ride home." "Don't you think people will talk enough already?" "And who's fault is that? Accepting a date on national television, that takes nerve." "They didn't know I was accepting a date. That could have meant anything." "But you know what people will assume." "And is that so bad? Are you ashamed to be seen with me?" "Of course not. You're a beautiful woman-" "You've said that already." I couldn't quite get her. She went from being cold to hot to cold again. Did she like me, or not? More importantly, was I going to get anywhere with her, or not? "Fannie." I started to say something, then turned around and closed the door to the dressing room. "Fannie. Do you want to go out with me tonight, or not?" "I said yes, didn't I?" "You did, but if it's going to be a repeat of last night, then I'd rather just avoid it altogether." "What was so bad about last night?" "Besides the fact that you didn't want to be there?" "I never said that." "You started to leave." "Did you really think I would have?" "Yes, I did." "Richard," She pointed her finger at my chest. "I know what kind of guy you are." "And what kind of guy am I?" "The kind of guy that kisses every woman he meets. I am trying very hard not to get taken in by you, because I know that in two weeks you'll have moved on to your next conquest." "You're not a conquest. And you're wrong about me. I'm not like that." "Your reputation preceeds you, Mr. Dawson." "My reputation is bullshit." "You'll have to prove that to me." "And I will, if you let me." I was dead serious and I think that she was just starting to realize that. "Don't hurt me, Richard. If I let my guard down and you end up hurting me, I'll..." "Fannie, stop worrying. I won't hurt you." I took her hand then waited a second to see how she would react. When she didn't back away, I continued. "I want to get to know you, Fannie. All I know right now is that you're smart, talented, funny and sexy as hell." "And I'm a bad speller." She smiled just a little. "And you're a bad speller. I want us to go somewhere tonight - maybe dinner, maybe to a movie or we could just go for a walk in the park if you want. I want to talk, and laugh-" "And kiss me?" "If you'll let me." "I think I will." We had both gradually moved closer until suddenly we both realized that we were very close. Close enough to reach out and touch. "Will you let me kiss you right now?" I said. She closed her eyes for a few seconds then she nodded. Our lips met in a soft kiss. I was braver than I had been the night before. I reached around and pressed my hand against the back of her neck. She was trembling. I kissed her a little bit harder. She seemed to like it. Her hand was on my arm, hesitantly. My other hand touched her waist. I wanted to taste her but I didn't want to move that fast. I broke the kiss. Her eyes remained closed for a few moments as I backed away. She looked positively radiant. "I'll see you at 7:30." I said, letting my hand trail over her shoulder and down her arm. "Don't be late." She smiled and I decided to leave before I lost all remnants of control and took her in my arms again.