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A Pig Out Of Water (FanFic)

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Chapter 1: ConfessionEdit

“Kermit,” Piggy said urgently.  “Can Moi talk to you for a minute?”

“Sure, Piggy,” Kermit said absently.  “Just give me a second here.”  He signed his signature hastily and turned to her.  “Yes?”

Piggy gave him a frustrated look.  “In your office?”

Under normal circumstances, Kermit would have been suspicious, but something in her big blue eyes told him that there was more than flirtation at stake.  He ushered her in—but kept the door open.

            “How strange,” Kermit thought.  “Piggy looks uncomfortable.”  Piggy was rarely uncomfortable—Kermit thought of her more as a carrier—but she was clearly agitated about something.

            “I want—Moi needs to talk to you about the script changes,” she said, with a nervous look at the open door.  “Now.”

            “I’m listening,” he said, trying to look reasonable and firm at the same time.

            “It’s about the water scene,” she nearly whispered.

            Kermit was momentarily confused.  “The water—Oh!  The water ballet—yeah,” he said, suddenly enthusiastic.  “It’s going to be great.  They started working on the new sets today.”

            If possible, Piggy looked more apprehensive.  “When do they want to start filming that part.”

            “Couple of weeks, we hope.  Maybe a little longer if the sets—“

            “Oh….”  The sound had escaped before she could stop it.  Piggy put one hand to her mouth, looking crestfallen and flustered.

            Kermit began to be genuinely concerned. 

            “Piggy, are you—are you okay?”

            She mumbled something unintelligible, looking at the floor.

            “What?”  Kermit leaned forward.  “I can’t understand you.”

            A slightly louder mumble, with Piggy looking nervously again toward the door.

            “Just tell me,” Kermit said, frustration beginning to show in his voice.

            “I can’t swim.”

            “What?”

            “I. Can’t. Swim,” she gritted through clenched teeth.

            Kermit stepped back in surprise.  “Wha--?”

            “MOI. CANNOT. SWIM,” she said, loud enough to have attracted the attention of anyone within 20 feet.  Luckily, there was no one.

            “What do you mean you can’t swim?” Kermit demanded.

            “What do you mean what do I mean?” Piggy shot back.  “Read my lips, frog.”  She leaned closer, but there was nothing coquettish about it.  “I. Cannot. Swim.”

            Kermit was having trouble with the concept.  “But you, I mean we, we talked about it.  The fountain scene—you said—“

            “I said I could float,” Piggy said distinctly.  “I can even almost dive, but I cannot swim.”     

            Kermit was flabbergasted.  “But, but—you can sing, you can tap dance, you can do karate and ballet and…how can you not know how to swim?”

            Piggy put her hands on her hips.

            “Look, Mister I-was-born-in-a-swamp,” Piggy said hotly.  “It might surprise you to know that not all of us grew up with a bog in our backyard.”

            “Yes, but—“

            “And nobody ever asked me to swim in a beauty pageant or on stage.  It never came up.”

            “But Piggy, I just thought, I mean…you can do everything.”  His voice was very small and wistful, and if Piggy hadn’t been so defensive she might have recognized the compliment and melted just a little.

            “Apparently not!”  She turned away from him, hunched miserably, and crossed her arms across her chest. 

            “It’s such a great scene….” Kermit said quietly.  “I wish—“

            “I know,” Piggy wailed.  “But you didn’t tell me or ask me or—“  She broke off, fighting back tears.

            “Well, I guess we’ll just have to cut the scene, do it the way we originally planned.”

            “Why don’t you ask Annie Sue to do it?” Piggy flung back.  She felt miserable and wanted Kermit to feel miserable too.

            Kermit slapped both his hands over his face.  “Again with Annie Sue!  Piggy—Annie Sue is married and has four litters by now.  I do not want to ask Annie Sue.  I want you—that is, I want you to do, um, the part.”

            He was quiet for a moment, his mind racing, then he reached out and caught Piggy by the shoulder, turning her to face him.  He took both of her hands in his.  Piggy was so astonished that she opened her mouth and shut it without saying anything.

            “Look, Piggy, “ Kermit said earnestly.  “Would you—would you be willing to learn?”

            “Learn?”

            “Yes—take lessons.  You’re an awfully quick study….” He wheedled.

            “I don’t know, Kermit.  There’s so little time and I don’t know when I could—“

            “Morning and evenings—before and after, “ Kermit said, squeezing her hands.  “I know you could do it.”

            “Well,” Piggy waffled.  “It is a great scene.  I’ll—I’ll try, Kermit, but who—“

            “Great!” Kermit said, relief flooding his features.  “I knew I could count on you.”  He leaned forward suddenly, on impulse, and kissed her quickly on the cheek.  Piggy was too surprised to respond, standing stock-still.  Kermit was halfway out the door before she recovered her voice.

            “But Kermit,” she called.  “Who—who is going to teach me?”

            “Don’t worry about that—we’ll find somebody.  I’ll call you tonight when I get the details ironed out.”

 

            Piggy was more than a little apprehensive when she arrived the next morning at the address Kermit had given her.  A friend who was filming in Italy had been happy to grant access to his Olympic-sized pool for the next few weeks.  Piggy pressed the security buzzer and the gate swung open soundlessly.  She wrapped her cover-up more closely around her and gripped the handle of her leopard-print duffle with nervous fingers as she walked to the front door.

            A note taped to the glass told her to proceed around back, and she followed the paving-stone path across the lawn and around the house.  A wooden privacy gate opened when she pushed, and she looked anxiously for the one who would be her teacher.  She heard water running and turned to see a long, lean figure in black swim trunks topping off the pool—a long, lean, green figure.

            “Oh, no,” she said hastily.  “I am not doing this.”

            Kermit caught her before she could clear the gate, his hands on her shoulders.

            “C’mon, Piggy—don’t be that way.  I’m a good swimmer.  I can teach you.”

            “No,” she said stubbornly.  “I—I don’t think it would work.”

            “Piggy, please….”  Darn him, he was giving her “the look,” the pollywog look that not even Fozzie could beat.  It was terribly unfair, Piggy thought miserably.  She let out a deep sigh and let Kermit turn her back toward the water.  His hands on her shoulders were gentle.  “At least try—for me.”

            “I will…Moi will try,” Piggy said finally.  “But if you get snarky with me I swear—“

            “No snarking,” Kermit said quickly.  He held up two fingers.  “Frog Scouts’ honor,” he said.

            Piggy gave him a withering look.  “You were never a Frog Scout,” she snapped, but at least she stayed.

 

            Kermit had one bad moment after that, waiting for Piggy to join him in the pool.  It suddenly dawned on him what Piggy might have chosen to wear beneath that terry-cloth cover up, and he braced himself for a little more glamour and sex appeal than he thought he could withstand before 6 a.m.  He heard the robe fall and peeked around nervously, only to find Piggy looking right at him, and perfectly attired in a very no-nonsense indigo-purple maillot.  She looked at him as though she knew exactly what he’d been thinking, and Kermit felt himself blush, but she merely began to tuck her hair up under a swim cap. 

“What did you think I’d be wearing?” she asked silkily.  “An itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny purple polka-dot bikini?”

Kermit couldn’t help himself.  He smiled widely and nodded.  “Um, yes, actually.”

It was Piggy’s turn to blush.  “Well you were wrong.”

“Darn,” Kermit muttered, just loud enough for her to hear.  “And I took this job on account of—“

“Kermit, so help me—“

He laughed again, but held up his hands in surrender.  “I’m sorry, Piggy—no more joking.”

“I am working,” she said stiffly.  “And so are you.”

“Yes,” Kermit agreed, and work they did.

 

It was not as bad as Piggy had professed, nor as good as Kermit had secretly hoped, but he was optimistic.  Piggy really was a quick study, and she took direction very well (when she took it at all).  By the end of the first session, she was well beyond, um, dog-paddling, and on her way to some fairly convincing moves.  Piggy had always had a talent for slap-stick—she could take a fall with the best of them, but she had worked and polished her physical talents until her body would, mostly, do what she wanted it to do.  Kermit was more than passing aware of this, but was happy to find that Piggy was completely focused on the work.  He could have been the gym instructor at the Y—the one with the terminally baggy pants—for all the notice Piggy took of him as a man.  This made the work easier, but Kermit was surprised to find himself just a little disappointed.

At last, Piggy walked up the pool steps and reached for a towel.  After she had dried her face—patting gently, no rubbing—she plucked the swim cap from her head and her hair fell around her shoulders in glorious disarray.  The early morning sun caught the gold in her hair, and her sleek, dark swimsuit left no curve to the imagination.  She turned suddenly and caught him staring.  Kermit flushed and started to stammer an explanation, but instead of getting mad, she smiled—a demure smile, a secret smile.

“Well, Coach,” she said softly.  “I guess Moi will see you later.”  And with that, she picked up her duffle and left.

Chapter 2: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What You DoEdit

There were good days and bad days.  Most days, truly, were a mixture of both.

            Today had been a grueling day.  Piggy felt as if she’d tapped danced her toes off, and she felt like she’d been repeatedly mugged by the make-up and hair-styling police as they’d sought to keep her looking freshly powdered and curled.  Swim practice this morning had not gone well because she was thinking about the day’s demands, and she was tired and sore and grouchy when she arrived.  Kermit was also feeling the strain of their double schedule.  By some never verbalized pact, they did not discuss their before and after hours meeting, nor did they allow them to carry over into filming.  When he saw Piggy on the set every morning, it was as though they were meeting for the first time.  If anything, Piggy seemed more formal, more aloof even, but Kermit worked hard to convince himself she was merely using professionalism to offset both the huge chunks of time they were spending together as well as the romantic overtones of the scenes they were now filming.  It did not, he told himself firmly, have anything to do with the polite and very well-mannered interest her other co-star, Charles Grodin, had taken in her.  In fact, she seemed very even-handed in her treatment of Kermit and “Charlie,” but somehow that thought did not comfort him.

            In one of the many weird ways that life and art seemed intimately entwined, the story they were filming had autobiographical overtones.  At its most basic, it was a simple frog-meets-pig story (with a jewel heist and a fashion show), complicated by the fact that another suitor shows up to court the pig.  There were moments—days even, if Kermit was honest—when he wondered self-consciously about the script.  Had it been absolutely necessary for the “other man” to be so bad?  Had it really been believable that Piggy wouldn’t give him serious consideration as a suitor even before she knew he was a cad?  Had Piggy’s on-screen single-minded dedication to him been believable?  He liked to think so, but some small voice kept teasing him that is was all wishful thinking.

            This is ridiculous, Kermit thought irritably.  Piggy is my girl.  At least, she always seemed to be when he wanted her to be, but there was no use pretending that they were not in one of their off-again phases.  True, Piggy wasn’t seeing anyone else (that you know of, the voice prompted nastily), and Kermit had neither the time nor the desire for a social life at present, but something seemed off, seemed wrong, seemed wanting.  The other day, filming the prison scene, she’d actually grumbled about having to do the kissing-between-the-mesh scene several times.  The fake mustache he wore was supposed to transfer during the kiss, but it just wasn’t working.  Take after take the darn thing wouldn’t budge off his upper lip, despite changing the angle, timing and intensity of the kiss.  Piggy was a professional—when the camera’s rolled, she kissed, and her kisses—fake or otherwise—were never to be taken lightly.  But Kermit could sense, could feel, that her heart and soul weren’t in it.  He had been kissed by her on more than one occasion with considerable heart and soul, and he knew—knew exactly—what he was missing.  When the scene had finally wrapped, he could have sworn he heard her say “thank goodness,” and it put him in a monstrous mood for the whole rest of the day.  If he had known—if he had even suspected how many times that afternoon that she’d been tempted to come right across the table and kiss him—kiss him to stay kissed—he wouldn’t have been so disgruntled

            As it was, the evening practice found them both sulky and resentful before they even began, and the first half hour was very rocky.  Eventually, though, as so often happened with them, the work became an end unto itself, and they slipped back into more comfortable roles.

            One scene called for Piggy to do the backstroke, but she could not get comfortable with lying back in the water.  Kermit took her out deep enough to give them some working room, but not so deep her feet couldn’t touch the bottom and tried to get her to lie back and float. 

             “Trust me,” Kermit said gently.  “C’mon—it’s okay.”

            “No, I—I don’t want to.”

            “I’ve got you, Piggy,” he would say, his hands steady under her.  At the last minute, she would lose her nerve, and when she panicked and tried to sit up the water closed over her head.  Over and over, the pattern was repeated, and eventually Piggy’s swim-cap came off.  Now her hair was in her face, her mouth tasted like chlorine and she was so tired and hungry and angry she felt shaky.  She pushed the heavy curtain of hair out of her face and let out a slow breath.

            “I’m done,” she muttered.  “Moi cannot do this.”

            “Piggy, you can.”

            “Sell it to someone who cares,” she snapped, starting toward the stone steps.  Exasperated, frustrated by his own limitations, Kermit followed her.  Before she reached them, Kermit slipped up behind her and—risking sudden and immediate death if his grip was not true—grasped her firmly under the arms and began to take her back to the deep end.

            “What?!” Piggy sputtered, trying to twist free, but they were in Kermit’s element now, and he could man-handle (frog-handle?  pig-handle?) her with relative ease—at least for a few minutes at a time.  When they got to deep water, Kermit leaned back upon the water, pulling Piggy with him.  She had one panicky moment and tried to stand, but Kermit held her firmly, safely, letting the water support them both.  After a moment of panting, Piggy realized she was not sinking, was not drowning.  She was—quite surprisingly—lying back in Kermit’s arms and the water was sustaining them.  Kermit felt her begin to relax, but he held her tight, wanting her to feel secure and very slowly began to paddle his feet.

            “Oh,” Piggy said softly, “this is—this is nice.”  She looked up at the stars, not minding the damp hair in her face, not minding the smell and taste of chlorine.  Experimentally, she spread her arms wide, feeling the embrace of the water beneath her. 

            “Yeah,” Kermit murmured against her neck, paddling in a wide, lazy circle.  “I used to love to swim at night in the swamp.  It’s peaceful-like, hm?”

            “Yes,” Piggy whispered, seeing the stars spread like diamonds across the sky.   After a moment, Piggy began to paddle, too, letting her legs do the work.  After several moments, Kermit shifted slightly--still supporting her, but now from the side, one arm under her waist.  They made a couple of lazy circuits of the pools, listening to the crickets chirp.  Were it not for the distant sounds of traffic, they could have been in the middle of nowhere, far from the press of the city.  When Kermit felt she was ready, he withdrew his support and clasped Piggy’s hand.  They paddled around dreamily, looking at the sky with the warm water beneath them.  It was, Piggy thought later, a glimpse into Kermit’s world that she had never had before—a glimpse into his childhood.

            “Hey Piggy,” Kermit said softly, not wanting to break the mood.

            “Hmm?”

            “Piggy—you’re floating.”

            “Yes,” she agreed.  “Yes, I am.”

 

            They were shy with each other when they climbed out of the pool moments later.  Piggy set about drying herself carefully.  Kermit pretended to the do the same, while actually watching her out of the corner of his eye.  He enjoyed watching her, especially when she was relaxed, unguarded.  He wished she felt that comfortable with him all the time.

            Piggy was toweling her hair carefully.  The stylists would rake her over the coals tomorrow, wondering what she’d done to her hair, but there was nothing for it now.  She stepped into her sandals, flung her cover-up around her shoulders and picked up her duffle.  It was dark, and Kermit stepped up close to her so he could see her face.

            “You did great.”

            “Not really.”

            “Yes, really.”

            “Thank you for helping me.  Moi didn’t know—I couldn’t get it until you showed me.”

            Kermit stubbed a webbed toe against the concrete in mock self-deprecation.  “Aw shucks, ma’am—twernt nothin’.  It’s a frog thing.”

            “Apparently.”

            They laughed softly, then Piggy looked away.

            “See,” Kermit said quietly.  “You were worried for nothing.  I told you I’d hold on to you, Piggy.”

            Kermit thought he heard her inhale sharply, but she did not move.  In the dimness, her expression was unreadable.

            “Yes,” she whispered, not looking at him.  “You did say that.”

            There was an uncomfortable silence, then Kermit reached out to take her duffle, his hand closing over hers.

            “Here—let me carry that for—“

            “No—I, Moi is doing just fine on my own,” Piggy said quickly, turning away.  Before Kermit could say anything else, she was gone.


Chapter 3: Out of His ElementEdit

            Piggy seemed much her usual self the next morning, except she seemed distracted and easily flustered.  She worked hard—worked with palpable concentration on her swim strokes—and seemed more at ease in the water than she had before.  Something had changed the night before, and though Kermit couldn’t identify it, he could see the results.

            After practice, Piggy dried herself off with her usual thoroughness, but she kept tilting her head as though her neck were stiff.

            “Everything okay?” Kermit asked.

            “Yes, fine,” Piggy said.  “I just feel like I have water in my ear.”

            “Oh.  Sorry, Piggy, I never thought…, that is, um…frogs don’t have, you know, ears like—”  An idea seemed to hit him.  He looked around the pool for a spot of bright stone tile, then grabbed her hand and pulled her after him.  “I’ve heard this helps, though.”  He knelt quickly, then stretched out on his side, his head pressed to the hot concrete where his ear would have been—if he’d had one.  ‘Here—lay down with your ear against the hot stone.”

            Piggy gave him a look that was openly skeptical, but she stretched out facing him, her velvety pink ear tilted onto the sun-drenched ground.  Her expression of bemusement turned to wonder as the heat of the stone pulled the moisture from her ear.  She smiled at him, delighted.

            “Better?” Kermit asked.

            Piggy nodded slightly, still smiling.  “Much better.”

            It was nice, Kermit thought, to stretch out on the warm sidewalk beside her.  Nicer than going to work.  Neither spoke, but they smiled at each other drowsily, letting the sun warm and dry them.  Kermit waged a silent internal battle, finally heaving himself up with a sigh only when Piggy herself sat up and brushed the hair back from her face.

            “Thank you,” she said.  “I’m learning all sorts of things.”

            Kermit meant to say something else—meant to say how well she was doing, to tell her how much he appreciated her hard work, to ask her if she’d like to have lunch with him.  Before he could figure out what to say and how to say it, Piggy had gathered her things and left.

            “Oh well,” he thought philosophically.  “I’ll see her at the set.”

           

            Kermit knocked on Piggy’s dressing room door, but didn’t wait to enter since it was already open.

            “Hey Piggy,” he called.  “I was wondering—“

            He pulled up short, looking with surprise and displeasure at the big picnic hamper Charles Grodin held in one well-manicured hand.  Piggy gave a guilty start, but Charles favored him with a brilliant smile and stepped forward.

            “Kermit—wonderful stuff this morning.  I caught the end of the Happiness Hotel bit—loved the part with the bed.”

            “Oh—oh, thank you, Charles,” Kermit said stiffly.  He did not look at Piggy, who was not looking at him. 

            Charles must have sensed some of the tension in the room because he looked from one to the other quickly, his face uncertain, but Piggy came to his rescue, stepping forward and putting a gloved hand on his arm.  She took a deep breath and looked right at Kermit.

            “Charles came to see if I wanted to go out onto the studio grounds for lunch,” she said.  “We worked through lunch yesterday, and he wanted to make it up to me.”  Her eyes were steady, but Kermit thought—hoped, maybe—that there was just the tiniest plea for understanding there.  He squared his shoulders and pasted a smile on his face.

            “What a nice idea,” he said.  He hoped his voice sounded hearty, and that they could not tell he was gritting his hard palate.  Kermit tried to return Piggy’s look, but succeeded only in looking just past her shoulder.  “It’s a beautiful day—you kids have a nice time.”

            Charles smiled, obviously relieved.  He turned to Piggy eagerly, clasping her hand in his free one.  Piggy took one step forward and looked at Kermit.

            “Did you need something, Kermit?”

            “No,” Kermit said quickly.  “I just wanted to tell you that we’ll be filming on location by the lake tomorrow.”  I thought maybe we could take a picnic.

            “Moi will be ready,” Piggy said quietly.  For a moment, she watched him go, then she took a deep breath, turned back to Charles and allowed him lead her out into the sunshine.

 

            Jealousy brought out some interesting things in Kermit, but patience wasn’t one of them.  He pushed Piggy mercilessly at practice that evening, snapping orders, criticizing her form.  It did not help that Piggy was having an off night.  All the new-found confidence and sereneness she had found earlier in the week seemed to have evaporated, and she despaired of ever getting it right.  The more she worried, the less focused she became, and her last set of choreographed moves were well below what she expected of herself.

            “What’s wrong with you, Piggy?” Kermit barked irritably.  “Do the sequence right for once tonight, won’t you?”

            “I’m trying!”

            “Then try harder.  If we can’t pull this thing together, all of this misery will have been for nothing.”

            Finally, Piggy snapped, turning on him angrily.  “I can’t!” she cried.  “I—it’s too much.  Moi can’t think about what I’m doing now because I’m trying to think about what I’m supposed to be doing next.”

            “You’re just not concentrating—“

            Don’t you tell me what I’m doing or not doing!” she flung at him.  “How would you know?  Let’s see you try to do all these things while somebody’s watching you, waiting for you to mess up!”

            Kermit grew quiet, feeling ashamed.  “No one’s waiting for you to mess—“

            “I hate this!  I hate not being good at something!” Piggy shouted, but her voice was almost a wail.  Kermit heard the anger in her voice, but the pain came shimmering through.  He was very afraid she might cry because—if she did—it would be his fault.

            “Piggy—“

            She took a ragged breath.  “I don’t want to do this anymore.  Go find yourself another pig!”

            Oh please, Kermit thought suddenly.  Let her mean for the movie.  The movie had seemed all-important before; now it seemed very low on the scale.

            Kermit’s voice was gentle.  “Piggy—I don’t want another pig.  I just want—“

            “Don’t talk to me about what you want!” she shouted.  I want this to be over.  I hate not knowing how to do something everyone expects me to know how to do.  I hate feeling like I’m not doing it right.  I hate—“  she broke off and took a breath that was half sob.  “I can’t live up to everybody’s expectations.”  She did not say, “I can’t live up to your expectations,” but they both knew that’s what she meant.  She pushed her streaming hair back from her face with both hands, framing her face for a moment.  “I’m tired--tired of having to look perfect and act perfect and be perfect all the time.”  She sniffed, looking into the water.  “I want everyone to leave me alone.“

            Kermit reached out gently and put his arms around her.  He was very afraid she might move away, but she did not.  It was not meant as a romantic gesture, Kermit told himself firmly—just a desire to connect and comfort, but once his arms enfolded her, Piggy grew still.  She looked at Kermit and felt the invisible pull, drowning in it, and gazed at him with longing in her eyes. 

            “I just want—“  Piggy looked away, unable to go on.  Kermit stroked her hair and ran his thumb along her cheekbone, turning her face back up to his.  Her blue eyes were full of tears.

            An alarm was going off in his head—danger, stop, look out—but Kermit wasn’t listening to it.  He was listening to the soft lap of the water against the filter.  To Kermit, it sounded like heaven, like childhood, like home.  He did not stop to think, didn’t want to think, wanted only…. 

            “Just once,” Piggy said raggedly, “couldn’t you kiss me when the film isn’t rolling?”

            Kermit nodded slowly, then he wrapped his arms around Piggy’s shivering form and kissed her until she grew warm and leaned against him.  Even then, he couldn’t think of a good reason to let her go.

            “I can’t do this,” Piggy said finally, her voice muffled against his chest.

            “You can do anything,” Kermit murmured, believing it.

            Shakily, Piggy disentangled herself and stepped back--out of touching distance.  She put her hands over her mouth.  “I’m sorry,” she said, and her voice sounded odd.  “But you’re wrong—Moi can’t.  I just—“

            “I know, Honey,” Kermit said gently.  “I know.”

            Honey, she thought.  He called me Honey.  It had been a long time since he’d done that.  Kermit wasn’t thinking bout what he’d said.  He was looking into her eyes and seeing something old and new and timeless.  Something he wanted—something he’d almost lost.  Before he could act, Piggy took another step back.

            “I’m so sorry, Kermit” she whispered.  “But Moi just can’t do this.”  Piggy got out of the pool.  She caught up her towel and duffle as she went, not bothering to dry off, and by the time she reached the gate, she was running. 

            Stunned, Kermit stood quietly in the moonlight and watched her go.  He could still feel the sweet weight of her as she leaned into his embrace, taste the salt and chlorine on her lips. He put both hands over his face.  Sheesh, he though miserably.  I am so out of my element.


Chapter 4: The Show Must Go OnEdit

            She did not show up the next morning, and though he was certainly not surprised, Kermit had hoped that her dedication to the work would carry her through.  But this time—for the first time—it did not.  Although he would have had trouble putting words to it, Kermit was beginning to acknowledge that he had been more than content to let the work take the place of his initiative, at least as far as Piggy was concerned.  If he wanted to spend time with her, she was there—always there—at the studio.  If he was filming, she was filming.  If he wanted to hear her say sweet nothings, all he had to do was script them.  Looking back, he wasn’t very proud of himself.

            When he arrived on the set, Piggy was her usual self—that is, she was on time, polite, prepared and…aloof.  She tap-danced, posed, ran wonderful dialogue with Charles and Diana Rigg and was extra-courteous to the ladies and men trying to tweak her make-up and coiffure.  Twice, Kermit had sidled up to her, hoping to talk about what had happened, but she gave him alarmed looks and moved away.  After lunch, they would have to do the scene by the lake—the scene he had been dreading all morning.  How hypocritical of me, he thought more than once.  Kermit had happily mined their private lives—and the lives of all their friends—for good material, but this one was awfully close to home for him.  He didn’t know how it was going to play.  As if sensing his black mood, his friends gave him a wide berth.  Even Fozzie, who shot him anxious mother-hen looks from the sidelines, did not crowd him that day.

            Peter Falk, always professional and always a pleasure, had arrived on the set early that morning.  He joked with Fozzie and had been well-cared for by Scooter and Rizzo.  Gonzo seemed to consider him a kindred spirit, and they had passed the time with intense, hand-gesticulating conversations that ended in chuckles and head-nodding.  Like many other stars who had guested, Mr. Falk had looked forward to being introduced to Miss Piggy.  Kermit sucked it up and did his duty, but he need not have worried.  Piggy greeted their guest graciously and talked with warmth and insight about Mr. Falk’s distinguished career.  At one point, Piggy had even tucked her hands under both their elbows and joked about being “a sucker for a man in a trench coat.”  This was said with a gentle look in Kermit’s direction, and Kermit felt himself begin to relax, to relent just a little.  When Piggy volunteered to take over hosting duties so Kermit could get ready for the afternoon shoot and tend to three-thousand details demanding his attention, he accepted gratefully and left them chattering. 

 

            “Hey you!  Well, well, well—if it isn’t the fake Lady Holiday.”

            “Hellooo!”  This would be easier, Kermit thought viciously, if she didn’t look so darn cute.  Darn that cute hat and those big blue eyes. 

            Hello?  Last night you never even said good-bye!”

            “Oh, Kermit, that was just…silliness.”  She laughed nervously.

            “Yeah, but you lied to me—you used me.”

            “Oh Kermit, please let me explain.  Kermit, my name is Miss Piggy and I really am a model.  I only lied because I—I wanted to be with you.”

            “Oh yeah?  I saw the way you were dancing with that guy last night.”

            “Oh Kermit!”

            “Let me tell you something.  Your dancing partner happens to be a jewel thief.  What do you think of that?”

            Piggy gasped.  Her face was a picture of surprise and delight.  “You’re jealous!”

            “I am not!”  What a liar I am, Kermit thought, and it somehow fueled his annoyance instead of abating it.

            “You are!  You are, you are, you are, you are!”

            He groaned, then turned and stomped away.

            “Oh Kermit, I’m sorry.  Oh please, please don’t go, Kermit—please!  Please, please, please!”

            “Piggy—Piggy, hold it!”  Sheesh—she certainly sounded convincing.  “Piggy—Piggy, you’re overacting!” 

            That was most definitely not in the script.  The shock on her face was almost worth it.  Piggy looked as though he’d said something rude about her mother.

             She stepped back from him.  “What!?”

            The film crew were looking at each other in astonishment.  Scooter was flipping script pages uselessly, finally staring in mute amazement as their two stars proceeded to have a knock-down drag-out argument while the cameras were rolling.  After a moment, a blank look from Scooter and no further direction from anyone remotely in charge, the techies shrugged and returned to their equipment. 

            “Piggy, you’re over-acting.  You’re hamming it up.”  Kermit did not feel sorry—he felt empowered.  Hah!  Take that you Jezebel!

            “I am not!  I am trying to save this movie.”  You of all people ought to know how hard--

            “Oh, yeah?  Well, save your performance instead.”

            “I—I am playing 800 different emotions!” Piggy sputtered.  Unlike some uptight, tight-

            “Yeah?  Well, try to play one of them right!” Kermit flung. 

            Piggy looked daggers at him.  How dare you, she glared at him.  How dare you!

            “Oh!  Oh!  I have a career of my own—“  I’m here because I want to be, buster.

            “I know all about your career, pig!”  I know you could leave me at any time.             “I do not need some lousy duck pond!” 

            Personal foul! Kermit thought.  “I’m sure you don’t need some lousy duck pond!” Kermit shouted.  I’m sure you don’t need me.

            “Maybe I’ll just walk!”  She was shaking with rage.

            “Yeah?  Sure--go ahead and walk!  Just—“  Just leave me—I knew you’d leave me one day, heart-broken and alone and--

            “Well, maybe I will walk—“  Her back was to him, but Kermit heard a sniffle.  All his rage leaked out of him as suddenly as a balloon deflating.  He felt awful.  He was a terrible amphibian.  He was a bad frog.

            “Piggy, listen—“

            “I’m doing my best.”  She was crying.  Kermit felt like crying too, but directors don’t usually have the luxury.  He put a gentle hand on the small of her back.

            “I know you are.  Piggy, I’m sorry.”  She didn’t move away from his hand, but he felt like she wanted to.  “Uh, we gotta get back to the movie, though.”  How lame…

            “Oh all right.”  She lifted her head, pulling her professionalism around her like a shield.  “Okay, okay.”  Her features were veiled, her eyes blank to him.  “Kermit, I’m sorry I left you last night…at the night club.” 

            “Um, well, it’s okay, Piggy.”  It was not okay—you broke my heart, again.

            “Oh Kermie.”

            “Oh, Piggy.”

            Mercifully, the cameras stopped.  Kermit looked around.  The cast and crew were so surprised they couldn’t even pretend to not be eavesdropping. 

            “Um, can you give us a moment here, guys?” Kermit asked.

            Still, they stared in various states of slack-jawed amazement until Scooter shook himself out of his reverie and began to literally shoo people away.

            Piggy stood up, not looking at him, and started for the park bench.  Afraid to touch her, Kermit matched her stride.

            “Piggy, look, I’m sorry.  I don’t know what just happened back there.  I never meant—“

            “You never do.”

            Kermit took a step back.  He could have handled her anger.  He didn’t know how to deal with the defeat in her voice.

            “But, Piggy—“

            “I would like you to go, please,” Piggy said softly.  “I do not want to have this conversation.  If you want me to stay for the movie, just go.”

            Kermit had a momentary vision of saying, “The heck with the movie—can’t we please just fix this?”  He took a step forward.  Piggy looked up, her eyes hopeful, but Kermit was a pragmatic frog at heart.

            “I’m sorry,” he said fervently, and left her alone.

 


Chapter 5: In For a TadpoleEdit

            When several moments had passed, Fozzie came over and sat down beside Piggy on the park bench.  She had not moved, but she turned and looked at him when he sat down.

            Fozzie took his hat off hastily and held his hands up in the air.  “No hitting!  I’m the bear, not the frog.”  He gave her a lop-sided grin.

            It was such a dumb joke, and they had darn near beaten the poor thing to death during filming….  In spite of herself, Piggy smiled faintly and Fozzie dared to scoot a little closer.

            “I’m sorry you’re having such a rough day,” Fozzie said gently.  His eyes were kind, his expression earnest, and Piggy appreciated the effort he was making.

            “Yes,” she agreed.  “This is not the best day Moi has had in a while.”

            “You’re doing so many things,” Fozzie continued.  “I have trouble concentrating on what I’m doing while I’m doing it.  I don’t know how you’re doing everything you’re doing.”

            “Out of necessity,” Piggy joked, an old Ethel Merman line, and Fozzie caught it and said “Wah!  Good one!”  He leaned forward, giving Piggy a big-eyed look of admiration.

            “And you are doing everything so well.”

            Piggy eyed Fozzie suspiciously.  “Fozzie—did Kermit send you over here to say those things?”

            “No!”  Fozzie looked shocked.  He lacked the sophistication to lie effectively, so Piggy took him at face value.  He squirmed for a moment, however, then finally said, “But that is what I’ve been hearing every single day we’ve been filming.”

            Surprise made Piggy turn toward Fozzie on the bench, her expression inquisitive.  “From Kermit?”

            “Um hum,” Fozzie said hastily.  “We’re sharing a suite at the hotel, you know.  You’re all Kermit talks about when he’s, um, there.”  He had almost said something he hadn’t meant to—something that worried him.  Kermit had been getting up early and leaving—ostensibly for the set, but on at least two occasions Fozzie had arrived earlier than usual on the set and seen Kermit arrive after him.  Also, Kermit always stayed after, but there were times when Fozzie had called the set and been told by the watchman that Kermit had been gone some time—and yet was not home.  Fozzie could not imagine Kermit was up to anything he ought not to be, but he did not know what to think instead.  Wanting to reassure her—wanting to reassure himself—Fozzie leaned forward and took her hand, patting it softly.  “Piggy, Kermit didn’t mean—“

            “Fozzie, don’t.  You’re very sweet, but I—I don’t want to talk about this.  Moi is very tired, Fozzie.  Could you—I mean, would you drive me back to my hotel?”

            “Sure, Miss Piggy.”  He took her hand and helped her up the bank.

 

            Standing near the gazebo, Kermit watched them go, torn between gratefulness and misery.  Good ol’ Fozzie, Kermit thought with a sigh.  I don’t know what I did to deserve a friend like him.  Fozzie handed Piggy into one of the studio cars and shut her door before walking around to the driver’s side and getting in.  Kermit watched the car until it disappeared around the curve of the lake, but Piggy’s profile never changed.  She didn’t look back—not even once.

            “Um, Kermit—“ Scooter said, and Kermit knew by the sound of his voice that there was no more time for selfish indulgence.  It was time to be the director again.  He turned and met Scooter’s anxious eyes.

            “Um, I hate to bother you….” Scooter began uncomfortably. 

            Kermit put his hand on Scooter’s arm.  “Please,” he said, his eyes wistful.  “I could use a distraction.”

 

            Kermit was exhausted when the filming day finally ended.  Although he’d spent a good portion of the day climbing in and out of a box ostensibly floating in the water, he found himself veering not for the hotel—where he would just have to endure the annoyed, pitying or just plain curious stares of all his friends—but for the pool where he had lately spent such sweet time with Piggy. 

            The night was warm and still, and Kermit shucked off his outer garments and dove straight in.  The water welcomed him, as it always did, with the buoyant promise of peacefulness, but Kermit was anything but peaceful tonight.  He swam—not with lazy paddling flippers, but with grim, determined strokes that pierced the water.  The sky, which had been so full of stars a few nights ago, was overcast except for a palely shimmering moon, whose glow illuminated the water only faintly.  Back and forth, back and forth, Kermit swam the length of the pool, pushing himself as he had pushed her, forcing himself to reach, to extend.  Finally, when his arms and legs felt shaky and his lungs actually hurt, Kermit hauled himself out of the water and began to towel off.

            The gate opened soundlessly so it wasn’t the noise.  Some sixth sense—some awareness of her—alerted him, and he turned in time to see her step through.  She was wearing street clothes, however—not her bathing suit—and would not look directly at him.

            Kermit toweled off hastily but did not approach her, letting her know she could have space if she needed it.  Breathlessly he waited for her to speak, to act, to look at him.  At last, she sat on one of the stone benches scattered around the edge of the pool.  There was plenty of room left on the bench, and she indicated by her attitude that he was welcome to sit.  He sat.

            “I’m sorry,” Piggy said quietly.  “Moi shouldn’t have yelled at you like that.   I said some things I shouldn’t—some things I didn’t mean.”  And some I did.

            “Piggy, please don’t apologize.  I feel like a heel.  I said some things today I didn’t mean, that I never should have said.  I—I acted terrible, and I’m really sorry.  Please say—“

            “Kermit, don’t,” Piggy said, her voice low.  Kermit couldn’t see her eyes but he felt like she was crying, or close to it.

            “Piggy—“  He reached out tentatively, wanting to take her hand, but she shrank away from him.  It would be a long time before they could put this afternoon behind them.   Kermit saw it and felt his heart clench in his chest, but he plunged on determinedly.  “I put a scene in a movie—a stupid scene in a movie—above your well-being.  I’ve been pushing you too hard.”

            “You’ve been working hard, too,” Piggy objected.

            If anything, her defense of his actions made him more ashamed.  “My motivation was selfish—I wanted something.”

            “Moi wanted something, too,” Piggy said, then blushed and fell silent.  “I wanted to do the scene,” she said distinctly.  She looked out, away from him.  “I want to do the scene.”

            “Piggy, no—you’ve got too much to think about.  I shouldn’t have asked.”

            “Moi could have said no.  I didn’t.”

            Kermit laughed without mirth.  “That’s my fault.  I’m so used to you being, well, perfect.  I’m used to you being able to do anything.  Just because I asked you.  I-I took advantage, Piggy.”

            “No—“

            “I did.  And I’m really sorry.”

            Piggy looked up at him suddenly.  Her face was earnest, but her eyes were sad.   “Kermit,” she said urgently.  “I like you.  I like you a lot.”  There had been a time when Piggy had openly professed her undying passion for him in front of crowds of friends and acquaintances, but this simple admission somehow moved him more than all of those protestations of love.  Kermit smiled and reached again for her hand.  This time, after the slightest of hesitations, she let him take it between his own.

            “I like you too, Piggy.”

            “I think you got the wrong idea the other day about me and…Charlie and the, the picnic.  He’s very sweet but he’s not, I mean, Moi doesn’t—“  She looked at the bench, blushing furiously.  “I don’t feel that way about Charlie.  It’s just, I wanted to go on a picnic.”  He face set in a sweet, pouty line that made Kermit want to snatch her up and kiss her.  “Shouldn’t someone want to take me on a picnic?”

            Kermit smiled, his expression rueful.  “Someone did,” he admitted.  “Only he was too preoccupied to make a proper invitation.”
            “Oh, I don’t care about that,” Piggy said, embarrassed.  “That’s not what I meant.  It’s just I—I don’t know if I can even explain it.  It just seemed so, well, romantic and everything, and I—I wanted someone to want to take me out, to want to be with me, so I—“

            I want to be with you, Piggy.”  For a moment, Kermit sat stock-still, his mind reeling.  Had he said that?  Had he said that out loud?  He had—he had said that out loud, and if he needed any confirmation all he had to do was look at Piggy’s radiant and astonished face.

            “Kermit?”

            In for a tadpole, in for a frog….

            “Piggy, look—I know I’m not a very impulsive kind of guy.” 

            Piggy made a small noise that might have been a snort, but when he shot her a look her face was composed. 

            “I was always taught to look before I leap.  Sometimes, when I’m with you, I can’t think about where I’m going to land.  Sometimes, I don’t think I ever will land.”  Piggy swallowed hard.  For a guy who wasn’t usually demonstrative, Kermit was doing pretty good.  “I just, it’s just that I can’t handle one more distraction right now.  I’m having a hard time just doing the work.  I can’t do my best if I’m thinking about you all the time.”

            “About me?”  Her voice was barely above a whisper.

            “Yep.  That’s why I was such an idiot this afternoon.  I was jealous and miserable and—“
            Piggy leaned forward and silenced him with her hand, not her lips.  Kermit was momentarily disappointed, but her hand on his cheek was satiny soft and it felt nice.

            “Oh, Kermit—I, I’m so glad to hear you say that—all of that.”  She pulled her hand away from his cheek, blushing a little.  “Sometime, it’s hard to work with you when we’re dating.”  She shot him a daring look from under veiled lashes.  “I like to give things that are important to me my undivided attention.”

            Kermit made a little “hm?” of interest that caused her to scoot back on the bench in alarm, but he subsided and reached for her hand again.

            “But Moi can’t do all this—the swimming, the dancing, the motorcycle scene—I just can’t do all of that if I’m worrying about us.”

            “Don’t worry about us,” Kermit began, but Piggy shushed him.

            “I need you to be my director, Kermit.  And my coach.  And my friend.  I need your help.  I want to make this movie—your movie—“

            “Our movie,” Kermit insisted.

            “Our movie,” Piggy said obediently.  “I want it to be the best I can make it, but I don’t think we can do that while we’re, um, trying to work out whatever this thing is between us.”

            She fell silent, and they gazed at each other for a long moment.  At last, Kermit sighed.

            “I am your friend, Piggy, and I will be your coach—that is, if you’ll still—“

            “I will.  I want to.  I didn’t come dressed for it tonight, but—“

            “Tomorrow.  Tomorrow is fine.”

            “Tomorrow morning, then.”

            They sat for a moment longer, eyes still locked.  Kermit leaned forward, brought his voice down to a whisper.

            “Do you think maybe two friends could share a kiss—you know, seal the bargain and everything?” he asked hopefully.  Piggy looked at him gravely, withdrawing her hand.

            “No,” she said firmly.  “I don’t think so.”

            “Piggy—“

            Piggy stood.  Her eyes were luminous, her smile a Mona Lisa smile.  “I’ll see you tomorrow morning, Coach,” she said gently, and left him again.


Chapter 6: Very Good FriendsEdit

            Kermit inserted his key into the hotel door and eased into the room.  Frogs have excellent night vision, and he did not need much light to navigate the Spartan room that he and Fozzie were sharing.  Yes—he could have had his own room—Piggy had her own suite—but Fozzie was happier with a roommate, and Kermit was happy to have Fozzie contentedly underfoot.  Although Kermit might have wished for more privacy, he was about to discover the true value of having a stalwart friend as a roommate.  He had just slipped beneath the sheets when the nightstand light came on, and Kermit blinked a little in surprise.  Fozzie was sitting on the edge of the other twin bed, looking at Kermit with a miserable expression on his face.

            “Fozzie?”

            Fozzie didn’t say anything for a moment, but he was obviously upset.

            “Fozzie—is everything okay?”

            “No!” Fozzie burst out, unable to contain himself any longer.  “What are you doing?  Where are you going every morning and night?  Oh Kermit, Kermit—PLEASE tell me you are not making a mess out of everything!”

            For a moment, Kermit was too astonished to say anything, then he began to stammer out a prefabricated response.

            “Nothing, Fozzie, I mean, I’m just working—”

            “You’re going out to meet someone—I know you are, and today you and Piggy had such an awful fight.  I’m worried for you Kermit—you are going to mess up everything.”  He subsided, but only for a second.  “And she is going to KILL YOU.”

            His alarm was so genuine, so palpable that—in spite of his best efforts—Kermit began to smile.

            “This is not funny!” Fozzie cried.  He sprang out of bed and clasped Kermit’s shoulders.  “Kermit—this is serious!”

            Kermit grasped Fozzie’s arms firmly and held him still.

            “Fozzie—it’s okay.”

            “It is NOT!”

            With effort, Kermit caught Fozzie’s wild gaze and held it for a moment until Fozzie stopped panting and looked at him.  “Fozzie—it’s okay.  I’ve been with Piggy.”

            “Piggy?”  Fozzie had to think, to process a moment.  When the light dawned, Fozzie blushed furiously—Kermit couldn’t see it beneath his fur, but he felt the wave of heat as the blood surged to Fozzie’s cheeks.  “Oh,” Fozzie said uncomfortably.  “Well, if you’ve been with Piggy, then—“  Another light dawned, and Fozzie looked scandalized.  “Kermit!”

            It was Kermit’s turn to blush.  “No, Fozzie—that’s not what I, I mean, we aren’t, um—I’ve been teaching her to swim.”  Sorry Piggy, Kermit thought.  I can’t protect your secret at the cost of your reputation.

            “Swim?”  Fozzie stared again, uncomprehending.  “But Piggy already knows how to swim.”

            “That’s just it,” Kermit said.  “She doesn’t.  Well, I mean, she does now, but we’re still working on it.”

            “So you’ve been…swimming?”

            “Um hum.”

            “Every morning and evening?”

            “Yes.”

            “And Piggy is just learning.”

            “Yes—but she’s doing terrific.  You ought to see her, Fozzie—she’s doing great.”

            Fozzie gave him a deeply suspicious look.  Something was wrong here.  The last time he’d seen Kermit he had been one unhappy amphibian.  Now he sounded content—almost happy.

            “Where have you been just now?”

            Kermit began to smile again.  “I’ve been with Piggy.”

            Fozzie shook his head doggedly.  “She was very mad at you.”  Suddenly, he covered his mouth with both hands.  “You’ve been coaching her?”

            “Yes,” Kermit repeated patiently.

            Fozzie gave him the most parental, disapproving look he could give.  “No wonder she was mad at you.”

            Kermit blushed again.  “Yes,” he agreed, “but we—we fixed it Fozzie.  Piggy and I made up.”

            Fozzie face overspread with joy.  “Really really?”

            “Really.”

            “So you two are back together?”

            Kermit squirmed.  How to explain something he barely understood himself?  “No, I mean, yes, I mean—yes, we’re together.   We’re always going to be together, Fozzie.  But no—right now, we’re not dating.  We both thought—that is, we thought it might be better for both of us if we could just be good friends for a while.”  Very good friends, his subconscious insisted.  Very, very good friends.

            For a moment, Fozzie searched his face.  At last, Fozzie smiled, apparently satisfied with what he saw there.  “Well, good,” he said firmly.  “And you’re not going to argue anymore?”

            Kermit had the good sense to know when to hedge his bets.  “Let’s just say we’re going to try.”

 


Chapter 7: Falling All Over AgainEdit

            The effort Piggy put into practice the following morning made everything she’d done up until then look like a cakewalk.  Kermit coaxed, nodded and smiled, thrilled with her newfound poise and determination.  Occasionally, he commented on her form, and sometime made slight adjustments to her hand positioning, but inside he was elated.  Her backstroke was impeccable, and she had learned to flip and cavort under water without becoming disoriented or taking on more water than a sinking steamer.  One thing, however, remained to be conquered, and they worked toward it with grim determination:  Piggy could not yet dive. 

            For the final scene of the water ballet, Piggy would not only have to dive, but dive from a tall pedestal wearing a headpiece that looked like something Ziegfeld would have created for Independence Day Follies.  Piggy had managed to do a passable head-first fall into the water from the mid-way diving board, but something about the height of the high-dive was throwing her.  After a handful of increasingly unsteady tries, Piggy shook her head and climbed out of the pool.

            “I’m all in,” she said, and some of her chipper mood seemed to dissipate.  “I’ve got to get to the studio early today—they’re going to do a fortifying treatment on my hair.”  She looked at Kermit, and her eyes looked worried.  “I’m worried about the dive.”

            “You’re going to get it,” Kermit insisted, and at her worried look, added quickly, “and if you don’t, we can splice the scene.  Piggy, you’re doing okay with the diving—it’s the height that’s bothering you.”

            Piggy nodded quickly.  “It’s different up there—I feel all alone and vulnerable.  I hope….”  She trailed off, looking worried again, but Kermit patted her on the shoulder.

            “Piggy—you’re doing fantastic.  You’ve come so far in such a short time.  I know you can do this.”

            Piggy looked up gratefully.  “I want to,” she said fervently.

            Kermit smiled and held his hands up in mock surrender.  “Hey—what the lady wants, the lady gets.”

            Piggy gave an unladylike snort, but Kermit’s teasing had had the desired effect.  She was smiling, and she continued to smile as she gathered her things and made for the gate.

 

            Filming was good that day.  Although everyone walked on eggshells around Kermit and Piggy, their long-time friends couldn’t help but notice that they did not seemed the least bit discomfited to be working in close proximity to each other.  They were caught more than once smiling shyly at each other while they talked over last-minute staging for the day’s shoot. 

            Kermit kept his, um, chin up and ignored the whispered speculation on why he was still breathing, letting the work carry him forward.  He did have the good sense to have a lovely box lunch sent to Piggy’s dressing room, and the even greater sense to not attempt to join her, letting her know that he would respect her space, her professionalism and her person while she was under so much stress.  When they had met after break to finish filming the “Highbrow Street” scene, she had smiled her thanks at him briefly, and played her scenes with almost perfect comic timing. 

            If Kermit and Piggy were complacent that day, Fozzie was positively beaming.  He was watching from the sidelines when Rowlf came up, and they stood in companionable silence as Piggy led Kermit through the elaborate sets of “Highbrow Street.”  When the red light went off, Rowlf shook his head slowly.

            “Go figure,” he said to Fozzie.  “Yesterday, I thought we were going to have a dead duck of a movie on our hands—today, they’re all lovey-dovey.”

            “Oh no,” Fozzie said sagely.  “They’re not lovey-dovey.”

            “Look pretty lovey-dovey to me,” Rowlf said mildly, not arguing—just observing.

            “I guess so,” Fozzie conceded, “to an untrained eye.”  He gave Rowlf a knowing smile.  “They’re getting along better because they aren’t dating anymore.”

            “Oh.  Well,” Rowlf said philosophically.  “That always worked for me.”

 

            Piggy was already in the pool when Kermit arrived, warming up with some quick laps.  She wore her swim cap again to protect her newly treated locks, and they set to work immediately with little chit-chat.  After a grueling hour, Kermit called a halt, offering her a hand up out of the pool.

            “Let’s call it,” he said gently.  “You’ve improved a lot just tonight, but it’s been a long day.  We’ve got tomorrow.”

            “And only one more day after that,” Piggy said, and her eyes were worried again.  “Oh, Kermit, I—“  She did not know what to say, but Kermit nodded his understanding.

            “Sufficient unto the day—“ he began.

            “—is the evil thereof,” Piggy finished with a wry smile.  “Okay.  Moi is going home to eat a cheesecake and catch some zzzzs.”

            “Speaking of cheesecake…” Kermit began, but Piggy swung around and fixed him with a look.  He subsided immediately, but was not successful in wiping the smile off his face.  Piggy shook her head in exasperation, smiling again, and she looked a little less worried as she left.

 

            Their morning practice had to be abandoned.  Kermit was needed at the set to deal with a scheduling conflict and neither of them felt comfortable enough with Piggy swimming alone to want to push it.  She had the luxury of a second cup of tea and a fresh fruit plate before the studio limo picked her up, and—once on the set, resolved to not think once about swimming until the filming day was over.

            The evening air was soft, the night unusually still, and Piggy did her warming laps quickly, impatiently, while Kermit stood waist-high in the water and watched her.  Piggy swam over to the ladder and pulled herself out.  She looked at Kermit once, her face set, and climbed the ladder to the high dive.

            Kermit could see her trembling a little on the board, imagined he could hear the muffled pounding of her heart.  She stepped to the edge of the board, toes gripping, then the muscles in her sturdy legs bunched and she propelled herself up, began to go down.  Something was amiss, however, and her center was off.  She was falling, not diving, streaking toward the surface of the pool.

            She hit the water hard.  Frogs are usually graceful in the water, but there was nothing graceful about the way Kermit scrambled toward her, his heart in his throat.  He hauled her up sputtering and carried her toward the shallow end.  Before he could reach the shallows, Piggy began to struggle.  Having little choice, Kermit released her.  “Piggy…?”

            Gonzo had, on more than one occasion, used the phrase “mad as a wet hen,” but a damp chicken had nothing on Piggy.  There was fury in her face, pure and unadulterated.  She stomped out of the water without acknowledging Kermit and started for the diving board ladder.

            The next dive was not much better, but she did not hit the water as hard.  The third and fourth were nothing to write home about, but they were head-and-shoulders over her first faltering attempts.  Somewhere around her 12th dive, Piggy hit her groove.  She pierced the water gracefully and came up out of the water ecstatic.  Her 13th, 14th and 15th dive mirrored the perfection of her form.

            Kermit let out a whoop and waded toward her, elated at her progress.  He was dumbfounded when she threw her arms around his neck and kissed him—kissed him with heart and soul and relief and the joy of living.  Kermit didn’t remember what he’d been about to say, but it no longer seemed important.  As if realizing the effect she was having on him, Piggy dropped her arms with a little laugh and stepped back.

            “That was wonderful, Piggy!” Kermit gushed.  “That was absolutely amazing!”

            Piggy put one hand on her ample hip and batted her eyes at him in mock flirtatiousness.  “I know that,” she quipped.  “But how was my diving?”

            Kermit laughed out loud.  “Just great, Piggy,” he said softly.  “You’re really going to wow them now.”


Chapter 8: All About the WorkEdit

            “Gosh, Miss Piggy,” Fozzie exclaimed, wheeling his bicycle over to where she stood with hers.  “You’re all dressed up.  You look nice.”  All around them, people were paired with various cycles, waiting for the signal to mount.  The bike path had been reserved for them that morning, and they were hoping to have this footage completed before the morning sun became too warm.

            “Thank you, Fozzie,” Piggy said, fluffing the layers of her skirt at little.  “Blame it on wardrobe.”  Everyone else seemed appropriately attired for bicycle riding, but Piggy’s ladylike dress seemed more ornamental than athletic.  And the lilac 2½-inch pumps were killing her feet.

            Fozzie gave her a look.  “Ahh--but wardrobe is only responsible for the dress.”

            In spite of her aching feet, Piggy smiled.  When you didn’t feel like throttling him, Fozzie could be very sweet, and he had made a point of being nice to her since her argument with Kermit.  She stepped carefully out of her pumps to stand flat-footed on the grass.  “I would kill for some bike shorts and a pair of tennis shoes.”

            “Our insurance agent would never approve it” Kermit said, entering the conversation as he joined them, pushing his bicycle along.  Gonzo trailed Kermit, pushing a unicycle that looked like a disaster waiting to happen.  As he came to a stop, two washers and a long screw fell from underneath the seat onto the pavement, and Gonzo pocketed them with a surprising lack of curiosity.

            Piggy looked at Kermit suspiciously.

            “Would never approve what?” she demanded.

            Kermit looked at her in surprise, but there was mischief in his eyes.  “Piggy, if we put you on a bicycle in a pair a bike shorts, we’d have a 12-car pile-up on the freeway for sure.”

            Piggy blushed furiously and gave him a look of pleasure and annoyance.

            “Yeah,” Gonzo agreed, “but think of the great footage!”

            “Cretin,” she muttered, but she did not object when Kermit offered his arm to her so she could step back into her shoes.  Kermit might have further bedeviled her, but Scooter—who was also in this shot—was desperately trying to round everybody up around the curve of the trail so they could begin shooting.  The hubbub dulled to a roar and everybody mounted their cycles and faced forward.  Kermit had been eying Gonzo’s decrepit unicycle with alarm—speaking of insurance!—but his concern was unnecessary.  Before Gonzo could take his place in the line-up, the lone wheel liberated itself from Gonzo’s barely-held-together contraption and rolled serenely into the water.  Disappointed, but philosophical, Gonzo accepted a surrogate cycle and took his place among the others.  After a moment’s consultation with the cameramen, Scooter trotted over to his own metal steed and hopped on.  Ready or not….

 

            “No really, I’m okay.  It’s just a little scrape,” Kermit insisted.  “I’ll put a little ice on it and I’m sure it will be just—Ow!  Ow ow ow,” Kermit said in spite of himself.  The other stunts had gone according to plan, but when he had tried to drop gracefully from the tree branch into a handstand on Piggy’s handlebars, his balance had been off.  He’d slipped and crashed unceremoniously to the ground, whacking his left arm solidly against the handlebars. 

            He gasped as the set nurse gingerly moved his arm.  She asked him to wiggle his fingers—which he did—then looked up at him grimly.  “It’s not broken,” she said finally, “but I don’t think you’ll be doing any more hand-stands for a while.”  She explored the arm bone gingerly with practiced hands, her eyes distracted.  “Well, you won’t have to have a cast, but we need to put it in a sling.”

            Kermit’s head whipped around and he looked to Scooter.

            “Did we—did we get it on film?”

            Scooter smiled slightly and nodded.  “Yeah, Boss.  We got everything—including your fall.”

            “And it was great!” Gonzo said, with gusto.  “But you could have put more into the landing.”  Several people cast him annoyed looks.  “What?” he asked, utterly bewildered by their behavior.  “Geez, try to give a guy a little constructive criticism….”

            Piggy stepped forward.  There was a warning light in her eye.  “Forget the stupid film,” she said, her cheeks flushed.  “Are you okay?”  Behind her, Fozzie chewed his fingers anxiously.

            “Um, sure,” Kermit said, standing with some difficulty.  With his good arm, he cradled his injured one, and smiled in what he hoped was a reassuring manner at everyone.  “I’m fine—really.”  He did not, however, quite meet Piggy’s eyes before turning to Scooter, again.

            Scooter met his eyes sadly and shook his head.  “We don’t have enough raw footage—even if we splice we’re probably going to be short in the scene with just you and Piggy.”

Kermit sighed and fretted.  Piggy was at his elbow again, and he braced himself for a lecture on priorities, but when she spoke, it was to Scooter.

“Is everything okay except the fall?”

“What?  Oh, yeah—well, actually the fall is okay, too.”  He smiled a lop-sided smile.  “It’s the landing that was the problem.”

Piggy fell silent, but her brow furrowed in concentration.  “Could we—“  She turned on Kermit suddenly.  “Could you fall onto my bike handlebars?”

“Onto your—oh.  You mean, like I’m in a hammock?”  Kermit was thinking, looking up at the branch and calculating.  “Yeah,” he said finally.  “I could do that.”

“Kermit, no,” Fozzie said.  The nurse looked disapproving.

“No—I could.  I can do that.”

“I don’t know, Boss,” Scooter said, but his eyes looked hopeful.  “Do you really think so?”

“With an injured arm?  Without killing yourself?” Piggy demanded.  Kermit nodded, certain he could manage it.  It wasn’t that far a drop, and he was certain that aiming his tushie was going to be easier that trying to land and balance on the handlebars had been.

“Yes,” he said, certainty in his voice.

Piggy stepped around to look him in the eye, then leaned forward and spoke so softly that no one else could hear.  “Moi will let you try this one time—and one time only.  If you get it, great—if you don’t, and you’re still breathing, that’s it.  No more.”

Kermit gave her a hard look.  Let me?” he huffed.  He glared at her for a moment, then he saw it—saw the fear beneath the anger and determination.

Piggy leaned closer, her eyes boring into his.  Let you,” she repeated.  “Just like you let me.”

Kermit smiled then, and reached out with his good hand to squeeze Piggy’s arm.  “Alright,” he said.  “Let’s run this.”

 

Later, when the film was safely in the can, Kermit’s arm had been iced and secured in a sling, and Piggy had changed into more comfortable clothes, they sat in the quiet auditorium watching the dailies roll.  The scene had played well, and they had even reshot the ending with Kermit lounging comfortably on Piggy’s bike handlebars. 

It looked nice.  Everybody was happy with it.  Kermit was glad it was over.  He looked at Piggy and smiled.  Wearily, she smiled back.

“Your turn on Monday,” he said, knowing she was thinking it.  “That’s when the folks from the water ballet arrive.”

“Yes,” Piggy said, and she seemed surprisingly composed.  “Moi will be ready.”  She started to stand, but Kermit stopped her.

“Wait a minute,” he said.  “I want you to see something.”  Piggy sank back into the seat, watching as Kermit went up to the sound booth, spoke to the crew members inside and returned to his seat.  Piggy looked a question at him, but he merely nodded toward the screen as the film began to roll.

It was the lake footage.  They watched in silence, Piggy’s unreadable, Kermit’s uncertain, until the film went white.  It seemed a long time before Piggy spoke.

“It’s good,” Piggy admitted, her voice quiet.  Something about the genuineness of the emotion in the scene came shining through, transcending the story-line.

“Yes,” Kermit said quietly.  “I thought so, too.”

There was a small silence.  “Are you going to use it?”

“I want to.”  Kermit turned at last to look at her again, and found her gaze on him, steady and unreadable.  Piggy shrugged slightly without expression.

“Your call.”

Kermit leaned forward to take her hands, forgetting for a moment the sling that encumbered him.  He winced and let out a short gasp, but took Piggy’s hand firmly in his good one.  “I don’t want to do it without your permission.  I want—I need you to be okay with this.”

Piggy looked at him for a moment, then a smile began to quirk the corners of her mouth.  “You know me,” she quipped.  “I’m all about the work.”

Kermit smiled back.  “That makes two of us, doesn’t it?”

Piggy shrugged again, but expressively, and her smiled broadened a little.  “That’s what we have in common.”

Kermit shook his head slowly, his expression suddenly serious.  “No, Piggy,” he said quietly.  “That’s just one of the things we have in common.” 

Slowly, they stood, Piggy giving him a little elbow support because he was off-balance.

“Want to get a bite to eat?”

            Piggy almost said no.  It was in her eyes and on her lips, but what actually came out was.  “That would be nice.”  She blinked in surprise, then looked at him soberly.  “But it’s not a date.”

            “No—no date,” Kermit agreed.  “Just two…friends, having a bite to eat.”

            “Sound good,” Piggy said finally.  And it was.

 

 

Chapter 9: That’s What I’m Here ForEdit

            An air of suppressed excitement filled the set.  Although everyone but Piggy—and of course Kermit and the crew—had the morning off, the place seemed crowded, and infused with an almost festive air.  The ladies from Charlie’s Water Ballet had arrived to considerable fanfare that morning, and Kermit was willing to wager that every single single male associated with the film was on hand to catch a glimpse of the bathing beauties.  Scooter, who was usually hovering helpfully at Kermit’s elbow, seemed more than a little distracted.  If Kermit hadn’t been so miserably nervous himself, he would have teased Scooter a little.

            “Ten minutes,” Scooter said, “and Miss Piggy says may she see the director in her dressing room, please.”

            Kermit looked a question at Scooter, but he was already moving off.  Kermit hopped down from his director’s chair and made his way to the room that had been set aside for Piggy.  He knocked once and, hearing no response, opened the door tentatively to find Piggy in an almost hysterical state, wringing her hands and placing nervously back and forth.

            “Hey Piggy,” Kermit said quietly, and she started violently and gave him such a pitiable look of agitation that he stepped inside and shut the door firmly to keep any gawkers at bay.

            “Moi must have been crazy,” she wailed.  “I don’t know why I let you talk me into this.  I don’t know what I was thinking!  Moi cannot do this—I, I can’t!  I am going to make a fool of myself and ruin the whole movie and—“

            “Piggy,” Kermit said soothingly.  “Calm down—it’s okay.  You’re going to be fine.  You’re going to do fine.  You’re just—“

            “I can’t!” she insisted stubbornly.  “I’ve forgotten everything you taught me.”  She covered her face in her hands, almost panting in her distress.  “It’s all gone—everything’s gone.”

            Guided more by instinct than reason, Kermit came up behind her and put his arms around her waist.  Piggy jumped in surprise at the unexpected contact, but Kermit held her tight.

            “It’s not gone,” Kermit said firmly.  Very briefly, he touched her forehead, put his hand lightly over her heart.  “It’s here, and here.  And I’m here.”  He tightened his arms around her, pulling her back against him until her center of gravity shifted and she leaned against him.  “Trust me,” he murmured.

            “I’m, I’m scared Kermit.  What if I can’t—“

            “Shh.  Don’t be scared.  I’m right here.  Close your eyes Piggy.  That’s right—keep them closed.  Now take a deep breath.  Hold it—that’s right.  Now let it go and take another one.  Good.  That’s great.”  He felt her relax a little as the breath shuddered out of her, and she stilled a little in his arms.  His voice in her ear, his warm breath on her neck, the comfort of his embrace were calming her little by little.  “Now,” Kermit continued, “just think about the night you learned to float.  Remember?”

            “I—yes,” Piggy whispered, eyes closed obediently.  “I remember.”

            “Just lean on me, Piggy,” Kermit murmured.  “Just relax and remember what it felt like to lay back on the water, to float.  Do you remember?”

            “Yes.”

            “Remember all the stars that night?  Remember how peaceful and calm it was?”

            “Yes.”

            “The water was warm.  Remember how safe the water felt, holding you?”

            “Yes.”

            He fell silent for a moment, letting her remember.

            “Now, remember the night you nailed the high dive?”

            “No, I—“

            “Try—try to remember.”

            “I, okay—yes.  Yes, I remember.  It was, it was scary but—“

            “But you didn’t fall.”

            “No.  I didn’t.”

            “You did wonderful.  You were amazing.”

            “No,” Piggy said, but her voice was wistful.

            “Yes,” Kermit maintained firmly.  “And you’re going to be wonderful and amazing today.”

            Kermit fell silent just holding her in the quiet, until Piggy took one last, shaky breath and opened her eyes.  She was calmer now—he could feel it in the relaxed set of her shoulders, could feel that the swiftly beating pulse in her neck had slowed.

            “Piggy?”

            “Yes—I’m okay now.”  She sounded calm, composed.

            Kermit held her for a few beats longer, then set her back on her feet.  Piggy turned, intending to thank him, but Kermit had not stepped back yet.  She turned right into his arms.  Blushing, they tried to disentangle their limbs, but turned in the same direction once, twice—a third time, laughing nervously.  They held on to each other, trying to regain their balance as they bodies bumped together.  Piggy had been looking down, flustered, but she looked up in surprise, bringing their faces close together.

            She would have taken a step back, but now she was entangled in the sling Kermit still wore around his neck for when his arm grew tired or achy.  “Sorry,” she murmured.  “Sorry.”

            Kermit reached out and caught her arm to steady them.  “No,” he said softly, looking into her eyes.  “Don’t be sorry.”  There was such a short distance between them, it was no trouble for Kermit to close the gap, leaning forward and kissing Piggy’s mouth.  It was a short kiss, but it shook them both a little, and Kermit pulled back and looked at her.  “For luck,” he said solemnly.  “Just for luck.”

            “Oh,” Piggy said, cheeks pink.  “Yes—for luck.”  They continued to stare at each other.  “Maybe we should do that one more time,” she whispered.  “You know, just to be sure the luck holds.”

            What the hey, Kermit thought, casting caution to the wind.  He stepped forward boldly, swept Piggy to him, and kissed her until everything happening outside their little circle of two faded away.  His left arm, still stiff from the fall, held her close.  His other hand slipped beneath her golden curls to cup her neck so he could kiss her trembling mouth.  After a moment of stunned surprise, Piggy lifted her arms to his neck and kissed him back with almost desperate abandon, drowning in his embrace.  Gradually, reality intruded, and they pulled away self-consciously.

            “For luck,” Kermit repeated, his mind pleasantly fogged.

            “Yes,” Piggy said, laughing nervously as she withdrew.  “For luck.” 

            “Did that—did that help?” Kermit asked, trying to regain his composure.

            “What?  Oh—yes, yes—I feel much calmer now.”  Her eyes were down, her cheeks flaming pink.  Kermit looked down to catch her eye—made her look at him—then smiled.

            “Cause we could do that again if—“

            Piggy shot him a look of pure exasperation, but she couldn’t hold it.  She began to smile.  “Get out,” she growled, but her eyes were warm.  She pushed him toward the door.

            “Cause hey—the director is here for you—“

            “Out!”

            “That’s what I’m here for—“

            “Go!”

            Kermit stopped in the doorway, smiling back at her.

            “You’re going to do great, Piggy.  I know it.”

            She pushed him into the hall and shut the door firmly behind him.  Her head was spinning, her heart was thumping loudly against her ribcage, but she was smiling and she felt calm, she felt exhilarated, she felt—she felt amazing.  She took a deep breath and went to reapply her lipstick before the shoot.

           

            “Oh, good—there you are, Kermit,” Scooter said, relief in his voice.  “Looks like everything’s ready to begin.”  He gave Kermit a thoughtful look.  “Everything okay with Miss Piggy?  They’re ready any time she’s ready.”

            “What?  Oh—yes.  Miss Piggy is fine—we were just, um, going over some last-minute discussion about the scene.”

            “Uh huh,” Scooter said, and something in his voice made Kermit stop and look at him guiltily.

            “Scooter?”

            Silently, Scooter handed him a clean handkerchief.

            “What’s this for, Scooter?”

            “Um, Boss—you’re wearing lipstick.”

            “Oh.”  They looked at each other for a moment, Kermit wiping self-consciously at his mouth.

            “Um, thanks.”

            Scooter had the good grace not to grin, but his eyes were merry.  “Sure thing,” he said.  “That’s what I’m here for.”

 

            It was a grueling shoot, but the scene went wonderfully.  The ladies from Charlie’s were true professionals and, although Piggy was nervous about hitting her marks, they made it easy for her.  So used were they to moving in synchronization that accommodating Piggy was easy for them.  Two hours into filming, Kermit could tell that Piggy was enjoying herself, not to mention the murmurs of appreciation from the spectator crowd.  They wanted to try the underwater sequence one more time to be sure they had everything they needed, and then they would break for lunch.  The stylists would mob Piggy, drying and styling her hair, while she tried to eat lunch, and then it would be time for the high dive.

            Fozzie sidled up alongside Kermit while they were waiting for the camera crew to reload.

            “How’s it going, Kermit?” Fozzie whispered.  Even when the filming light wasn’t on, Fozzie tended to whisper on stage.

            “I think it’s going great,” Kermit said, speaking normally.  “How’s it look from the sidelines?”

            “Super.”  Fozzie took off his hat and played with it, a sure sign something was up.  “Um, Kermit?”

            “Yes, Fozzie.”

            “Are you—are you sure you’ve been teaching Piggy to swim?”

            “What?  Um, yes Fozzie.  Why?”

            “Cause she is doing really well.”

            “What—I’m a bad teacher?” Kermit said irritably.

            “No—no, it’s just that….”  He trailed off uncomfortably.  “Nothing.”  He began to slump away.

            Kermit stopped him with a hand on his arm.  “Fozzie—I wouldn’t lie to you.  Piggy’s just a really quick study.”

            “Frog scout’s honor?”

            “Frog scout’s honor.”

            Fozzie relaxed, smiling at Kermit, and Kermit smiled back.  “We’ve still got to get through the high dive,” Kermit reminded him.  Fozzie looked up, up, up to the high ceiling towering above them.

            “Oh, wow,” he said softly.  “I hope you’re a really good teacher.”

            Yeah, Kermit thought nervously.  Me, too.

 

            Thank heaven for small graces, Piggy thought with relief.  Unbeknownst to her, the special effects crew had nixed the idea of the sparking headdress over her own hair and attached it instead to a wig.  Piggy was able to eat her lunch in peace while they put her own hair up in a wig cap.  Only when she took of her terry robe and readied herself for the shoot did they put the crown on her head.  Once she was standing on the fountain platform, the press of a button would light the thing and she would be on her way.  Oh, please, she thought desperately, let this be perfect on the first shot.

            Kermit, watching from the elevated director’s chair, gulped nervously.  Oh, please, he thought anxiously, let this be perfect on the first shot.

            The first shot didn’t do it, but the second one did.  Piggy emerged triumphantly out of the deep—water streaming off her—to the applause and cheers of everyone there.  Wardrobe came and took the headdress away, wrapping her firmly in a warm towel while someone else fetched her robe and sandals.  It was over, it was done, it was in the can.  Piggy felt weak-kneed with relief.

            Kermit had to elbow his way into the throng surrounding her to offer his congratulations, but it was well worth the effort.  Piggy leaned forward and kissed him—chastely—on the cheek but her eyes were bright, thanking him for everything.

            “And to think,” Fozzie voice carried clearly over the lull in conversation.  “That Piggy just leaned how to swim.”

            There was a moment’s stunned silence.  Fozzie, realizing what he’d done, clapped his hat over his mouth.  Kermit and Piggy stared at each other.

            “Um, what Fozzie means—“ Kermit began, looking to Piggy for confirmation.

            “What Fozzie means is that Moi just learned how to swim,” Piggy said firmly.  It was over, her face said plainly.  No need to hide it now.

            “Didn’t look like it,” Dr. Teeth said.  “You nailed that routine pretty sweet, pork stuff.”

            “Like, for sure,” Janice chimed in.

            Piggy smiled graciously, holding court.  “Thank you,” she said sweetly.  “It was a lot of hard work, but I couldn’t have done it without my coach, Kermit the Frog.”

            The crowd suddenly turned to him, patting him on the back, pumping his good hand.  In the enthusiasm, they were carried from each other.  Through the crowds and over the heads of well-wishers, Kermit looked over at Piggy and smiled.

            “You did it,” he mouthed.

            She shook her head and accepted a hug from one of Charlie’s girls.  “No,” she mouthed back.  We did it.”


Chapter 10: Piggy Has Left the BuildingEdit

            Now that the crushing pressure of performing the unfamiliar was gone, Piggy became much like her regular self—supremely confident, irritating, radiating diva-ness.  “Of course I don’t need a stunt double for the motorcycle scenes,” she had said archly.  “I could do those stunts in my sleep.”  It was, true enough, not Piggy’s first time on a motorcycle and she had more issues with the silver jumpsuit than with her mount.  “It makes me look like the Michelin Tire Man,” she had complained to wardrobe at one early fitting. 

            “Actually, I think it makes you look more like Elvis,” Rizzo observed, munching on a yellow pear.  Gonzo found him later that day, stuffed uncomfortably into a file cabinet, but the feisty little rat remained unrepentant.  For some weeks to come, all anyone had to do was mutter “Elvis” in Piggy’s presence to get a sure-fire rise out of her. 

            With the bulk of the stunts behind them, they began to have fun on the set.  Once, in the middle of the Mallory Gallery set, with little prompting, Piggy and Charles had launched into some positively inspired cha-cha-cha-ing, dancing each other all over the floor to smatterings of applause while every other cast member in the scene—and most who were not—joined in, over-running the set with odd pairings.  This would normally have pushed all of Kermit’s buttons, resulting in an arm-waving tirade about the waste of time and the cost of the film, but instead, Kermit watched benevolently, occasionally being sucked into the mayhem.  After Piggy had dragged him onto the floor for a little spin around the room, Charles had cut in—on Piggy—and the two men had laughed themselves silly over Piggy stupefied expression as they circled the room cheek to cheek.  Piggy got her own back, however, by passing them in the other direction dancing cheek to cheek with Diana Rigg, who had some serious moves of her own.  Eventually, the dancing died out and the giggles subsided, but the tension that had been building for take after take had subsided, and everyone felt refreshed.

            On the day they were to film Piggy’s first scene with Lady Holiday, someone snuck a picture of Gonzo—wearing a dress, no less—into Piggy’s portfolio.  Piggy and Diana, both professional to the core, tried to save the scene, but Piggy finally let out a snort of suppressed laughter which made them both break character and hoot hysterically.  The next time they tampered with Piggy’s portfolio, they pasted a picture of Animal’s head over the top of Piggy’s, with similar results.  After that, Piggy began to keep her portfolio prop in her dressing room under lock and key until the scene was in the can.

            Ever the opportunist, Rizzo began to sell tour packages to popular local sights when they weren’t actively filming—using the prop bus from the Happiness Hotel.  Kermit took a deep breath, smiled, and told himself that the extra publicity couldn’t hurt the movie, and that nothing Rizzo did could hurt the bus.  Once, surprising even himself, Kermit canceled the half-day’s filming they had planned and climbed aboard, pulling an astonished Piggy after him.  They spent a fun day being jolted around the sights of London with their friends.  It had been fun, and Piggy had actually snuggled against him and leaned her head on his shoulder on the trip back.  Not a bad day, Kermit thought with satisfaction.  Not a bad day at all.

            Not everything went well.  Gonzo—a performance artist at heart—had changed out the seltzer water with real champagne in the Dubonnet Club scene, which no one noticed until Fozzie keeled over, snoring, amidst the rows of champagne glasses.  Although miserably hung over, Fozzie suffered no lasting ill effects, except to be very wary of ginger ale for a long time after.  The day’s shoot was a bust, but Kermit did his best to take it in stride.  Making millions of people happy wasn’t going to be much use if he accomplished it by making the people closest to him miserable.

            It was with a genuine feeling of accomplishment—and an equally heartfelt feeling of relief—that filming wrapped on “The Great Muppet Caper.”  Perhaps because of the unusual number of stresses they had encountered in filming, or maybe because of the anticipation of a little R&R, the wrap party was more than a little frantic.  Loud music (The Electric Mayhem was hot tonight!) and a glorious excess of food and soft drinks marked their little party, and Kermit found himself looking for an excuse to go outside.  Or maybe, his mind prompted, you just want an excuse to talk with Miss Piggy alone. 

            She had stepped outside to let the night air cool her.  She stood with her face toward the breeze, letting it blow her hair away from her upturned countenance.

            “Hey Piggy,” Kermit said.  Piggy didn’t startle at the sound of his voice.  She merely opened her eyes and smiled at him before looking back into the wind.

            “Come on out,” she said quietly.  “The night air is very refreshing.”

            Kermit came up beside her and let the gentle wind play over him.  He didn’t have any hair for the air to tease, but he liked the cool gusts playing over his features after the noise and heat inside.

            “Nice,” he said softly.

            “Yes.”

            Kermit took a deep breath.  “Piggy, I—“  He stopped.  Although he had rehearsed it a dozen dozen times, he hadn’t the faintest idea of what he was going to say now that he was here.

            As if sensing his consternation, Piggy turned and looked at him.  There was a smile lurking in her big blue eyes, but it was kind.  Kermit smiled back and forgot all about being nervous.

            “You did a terrific job on this movie, Piggy,” Kermit began.  “I could not have asked for a better co-star, or a better trouper.”

            “You could have asked,” Piggy teased, “but—“  She trailed off expressively and they smiled, laughing easily.  “I couldn’t have done it without you, Kermit,” Piggy said.

            “There were things you might have done better without me—“ Kermit began, but Piggy squelched it with a look.  “Okay,” Kermit agreed, surrendering.  “Okay, Piggy.”  He looked away for a minute and took another deep breath.  “Now that filming has wrapped, I was thinking maybe we could go away for a vacation.”

            Piggy fiddled with the ends of her blue feather boa.  “We who?” she asked, not looking at him.

            “Oh—just you.  And me.”  She looked up quickly, her eyes wide with astonishment, and Kermit blushed and fought the urge to flee.  “Um—you’d have your own room,” he added hastily, wishing his voice didn’t quaver.

            Piggy looked at him for a moment, and then down.  When she spoke, her voice was barely above a whisper.  “Where would we go?”

            “Oh, um, maybe a resort somewhere.” 

            Piggy said nothing, her expression carefully neutral, and continued to worry the feathery tufts on the end of her wrap.

            Nervously, Kermit plunged on.  “Just someplace quiet where we could rest and, um, spend some time together.  It doesn’t really matter—I don’t care where we go as long as we’re, um, together.”

            Piggy stepped close to him then.  Her face betrayed nothing, but her eyes betrayed everything.  She reached out tentatively and put her arms around his neck, letting her warm little hands slip under his neck frill.

            “This resort,” she said quietly, beginning to smile.  “Could it by any chance have a duck pond—or at least a swimming pool?”

            Kermit’s slow smile matched her own.  He found his arms around her, pulling her close.

            “It could.”

            “Good.”

            Kermit’s smile broadened.  “Does this mean I finally get to see your itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny purple polka-dot bikini?”

            Piggy made a face and tried to push him away, but his hold on her was firm.  He saw her face change as she realized he was not giving up, was not letting go, and it made his heart go pitter-pat.

            Piggy kissed him then—not a burning-down-the-house sort of kiss, but the kind of kiss that you remembered, tasted, felt on your lips for a long time afterward.  Afterward, she snuggled up against him, her head resting on his shoulder.

            “That would be nice.”

            “Good,” Kermit murmured.  “I’ll have Scooter make the arrangements.”  He started to pull away.

            “Not right now,” Piggy objected.  “Just hold me.  Just hold on to me.”

            Kermit stopped, stopped in his tracks, and kept his arms tight around her. 

            “I will, Honey,” he said.  “I promise—this time I will.”

 

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