With Jodie scrambling about and making herself impossible to ignore, Mitch begrudgingly elected to get out of bed. He hurried to the bathroom before Avi could barricade himself in there for an hour and a half, doing fuckall, presumably grooming himself. Except his routine took a million years from start to finish, and not even Jodie and her demanding hundred step skin regime took so long.
At least the bathroom smelled amazing after he was done in there, even if he left every surface damp and little dark hairs clung to all of the porcelain. It wasn’t his fault that he was half human and half rug, and cleaning every millimeter of space after every shower would add a whole extra hour to the clock. In a house with a single bathroom and four adults, it just wasn’t feasible.
After showering, beating off, and thoroughly rinsing, he stepped out of the tub, brushed his teeth, spritzed cologne, and wrapped a towel around his waist. A brand new man to start the day, he mused, in good spirits until he opened the door and came face-to-face with Jodie standing expectantly on the other side.
“You ready, big boy?” She asked, ambushing him without so much as the courtesy of letting him dress first.
“I’m still naked.” Grabbing the fold of the towel that rested at his hips, he gave it a forceful shake for further emphasis. “When are people due to come over?”
“Around noon.” She disappeared into the bathroom, and the sound of running water drowned out any further conversation. It struck Mitch that he forgot to shave, and his face preemptively itched at the idea of having a beard by the evening. Oh well, he could handle being in hell for one day.
Digging through his limited supply of clean clothes, he found a plain black shirt and a pair of black jeans without holes in the knees, then started on Jodie’s to-do list. One of the more pressing items was finding Estrella and figuring out where to corral her for the day. He checked with Mia first, bumping into her as she was about to head over to the neighboring unit and help out Nora, but she hadn’t seen the cat. For the next half hour he checked all of Estrella’s usual hiding spots, then gave up and asked Avi for assistance.
“She might be in my room?” Avi suggested.
“How?” Mitch was in disbelief until Avi led him to his room, where the door was slightly ajar; sure enough, the ragdoll was sprawled out across his comforter.
“We’re buddies,” Avi grinned and gave Estrella a light scritch near her neck, earning an affectionate trill. It took years for the cat to remain in the same room as Mitch, let alone allow him to touch her, but somehow Avi accomplished this in months.
“Jodie’s worried that she’ll be stressed around company. Can she just stay in here for the day?” Mitch pleaded after he picked his jaw up off of the floor, and Avi granted permission. They brought up her supplies, litter box and all, and Avi took over getting everything set up so that Mitch could meet back up with Jodie and resume his role as manservant.
The remaining few hours were dedicated to final cleaning details, mostly dusting and organizing. Victor swung by with extra folding chairs and card tables that he picked up from the school, arranged them in the kitchen as serving stations. Before he vacated the unit, Jodie cursed loudly from the basement in her search for whatever it was that she needed, and he wished Mitch the best of luck with a sympathetic glance.
“Everything is going to be fine,” Mitch repeatedly assured Jodie while she panicked about every possible detail. In the meanwhile, Jodie cursed everything from the busted HVAC to God himself, and swore to never do this again in her own house lest she be struck down by lightning. Unable to handle Charlton Heston levels of dramatics when he had his own anxiety to contend with, Mitch paused his work to spark a joint and thumb through his vinyls, settling on Aretha Now.
“This better not be a message,” Jodie warned when Think crackled through the speakers.
“I’d never!” Mitch pretended to be scandalized by her accusation. Holding the joint between his lips, he put the apron back on, then resumed dusting and straightening out the numerous knick knacks left over from Rosa. He wiggled about to I Say A Little Prayer, bobbing his head and just barely restraining himself from outright dancing.
“Christ, you’re an adorable housewife,” Jodie commented as she set a candle down on the coffee table, and Mitch outstretched a hand to her. Though she shook her head, she still took it, and he spun her around.
“And while I’m combing my hair now, and wondering what dress to wear now,” Mitch sang at her, cracking her up. She quickly surrendered and put her arms around his neck while he led them both in a small waltz around the livingroom. “I say a little prayer for yooou.”
“You sure you’re not a girl?” Jodie teased.
“Last I checked, still just a very, very gay man.” He planted a kiss on her forehead. “Don’t think that’s gonna change.”
“Alright, well we got shit to do. Breaktime’s over.”
“There’s still half of a song left!” Mitch protested as she wriggled out of his hold, and still sang along to the chorus despite Jodie walking away, pausing to add, “You’re a bad dance partner.”
“Light that candle on the coffee table,” She called out from the dining room. “Smells like weed in here.”
He grabbed the torch lighter and continued to shimmy, attempting the falsetto portion of the background singers. “Forever, and ever, we never will part. Oh, how I love you-“
And then immediately froze when he saw Avi watching him from the doorway. “Are you gonna play that at the next open mic?” he asked gleefully, arms folded across his chest as he leaned against the frame.
“Oh. Oh no. I’m no Aretha,” Mitch answered, suddenly very interested in the task of getting the pumpkin spice candle lit, which took every bit of his focus.
“Anything that I can do to help in here?” Avi’s eyes were still on him, and Mitch hoped that he wasn’t being silently mocked too harshly.
“No. Honestly, it’s probably better if you don’t get in the way. She’s insane right now,” Mitch whispered.
“I HEARD THAT,” shouted Jodie.