~ Notes: This is femmeslash, set fairly soon after Video Wars. If you're homophobic, now would be a good time to leave.
The Misfits, Holograms and various hangers-on belong to "Jem!" – not me. And a certain stupid/suggestive remark Pizzazz makes was infamously made by Sporty Spice first. This is dedicated to my beloved, for making me promise to have Pizzazz say that line in a fic at some point. ;)
Oh, and the fashion doll of Clash came with her very own distortion modulator – but no cymbals.~
I swore I wouldn't come back. Not until I could show them… until I could show them all. Jem with her sweet voice and open face that would snap close if she recognised me, my superior little bitch of a cousin Vivianne, and most of all Pizzazz, with those hard glittering eyes that only melted when she wanted something from me.
I could tell you every single time her eyes softened when she looked at me, if you like. The count really doesn't go very high.
But what was there to do? I couldn't go home and face my parents, not hear them tell me how proud they were that their little Constance was a Misfit. Not now, when I'd fucked up my chances for ever. And fucked them up over Aja, of all people – Aja, who had been right about me all along, and was probably patting herself on the back over sussing me out for the evil nothing I was.
So I went where I always went when I had nowhere else. The Gabor mansion.
For a moment, I was afraid the housekeeper wouldn't let me in. She looked at me as if I was a stranger, and I had visions of Pizzazz instructing her to throw me out with the trash. But then her expression softened, and she called me Miss Montgomery as if nothing out of the usual had happened, and told me where to find Miss Gabor and her friends.
I came around the side of the house and hesitated. Only Stormer was actually in the pool, cutting lazily through the water. The others hated to swim. Water flattened their hair and made their makeup run, and I couldn't blame them for not thinking it was worth it. They wore skimpy bathing suits nevertheless, three half-naked bodies stretched out in a row in the last of the afternoon sun. The oil on Pizzazz and Roxy's skin glistened in the sunlight, but Jetta lay in the shade of a parasol. She was always so proud of her skin, so fine and pale against her silver-streaked hair that it looked like she used arsenic. I envied her that skin, but then envy had become so natural a part of my feelings that it was no more noticeable than my heart beating.
I couldn't force my knees to bend and carry me any closer. The three girls lying in the deck chairs were watching Stormer, or else sleeping – it was hard to tell under their sunglasses. Pizzazz was wearing a purple leopard skin two piece that looked more like suede than something that could safely enter the water. She had obviously been tanning her back a few minutes before, because the top was still untied, draped loosely over her breasts. If she sat up too quickly, it would fall askew. Any paparazzo would pledge their life for such a shot… My blood was pounding in my ears, and I felt like throwing up.
The light was rippling off the water in disorienting waves as Stormer splashed her way through it, or perhaps it only felt that way because I was dizzy with fear. If I didn't do something, I really would throw up or faint, which was not exactly the impression I wanted to make. But my throat was sore, and I couldn't make myself think.
If they turned me out, I decided with what was almost detachment, I would kill myself.
I always reverted to habit under pressure. I raised my hands over my head, and clashed my wrists together.
The cymbals rang out, and three heads turned in perfect synchronicity towards me. The Misfits frequently moved as one; it took Jetta roughly three days to match her heartbeat to the group, and I would have hated her for it if she hadn't been so beautiful and self-confident – so obviously a Misfit. Stormer, hearing the clash or sensing something up, trod water and turned towards me.
The other two were silent, waiting to take their cue from Pizzazz. Roxy's lips, full and pouting under her orange lipstick, tightened a little at the corners, but I couldn't tell if that was a good or bad sign. I was pretty sure Pizzazz was keeping me waiting on purpose, but what right did I have to resent it? I had walked out on them, in tears, no less… And I knew how Pizzazz despised weakness.
Finally, she pushed her glittering sunglasses up into her lime-green hair, and levelled an equally green glance at me.
"Well, Clash. So you've come crawling back on hands and knees?"
I nodded, trying not to let the tears that were threatening become visible, and tried to keep my head up high. Pizzazz surveyed me for another long moment, then tilted her sunglasses back down with one long finger. She nodded, very slowly. "I could do with a soda, while you're up."
The cooler was sitting only inches from where one of Pizzazs's oil-shining legs dangled over the edge of her chair, but I understood that I was being conditionally forgiven. A warm flood of relief rushed over me, and I again came perilously close to falling. As Pizzazz and Roxy called out their own requests, and Stormer heaved herself over the edge of the pool, I opened the cooler to take out the drinks, noticing how Pizzazz's golden skin sprang into goose bumps as the cold air hit it. I tried not to think about how sun-warm the rest of her skin must be in comparison. Her skin could not be as hot as my face, at least.
She grunted as I handed her the drink, the closest that she ever came to thanks and a concession in itself. She pushed the icy can under her bikini top, shivering with pleasure at the coldness between her breasts.
A memory drifted into my mind, one that I tried conscientiously to forget but which popped up at the oddest moments. Pizzazz on 'Lin-Z', soon after her disastrous liaison with Riot, declaring that she wished she was a lesbian because men sucked. I knew it didn't mean anything, especially not to me, and I had no excuse for the sleepless nights that followed.
She was utterly gorgeous, and her top was going to slide off any moment.
I realised abruptly that I had been staring too long – only a couple of seconds, but still too long – and turned to hand Roxy her drink. She had removed her own glasses, and her purple eyes were narrowed under lowered brows. I knew Roxy didn't appreciate people hanging all over her best friend. Of all the Misfits, the one I have always been wariest of is Roxy. Pizzazz might destroy things in a wild mood, or throw tantrums, but Roxy actually aims her blows to hurt. I adore her, of course, but there was no doubting that I'd always been little scared of her, too. And now, just when I needed to placate them all, I'd pissed her off.
If she figured that I was a dyke, I'd probably be out on my ear again.
Apologising was impossible under the circumstances, so I quickly turned and tossed Jetta her drink, garnering a "Ta, love," and then hesitated. There was a free deck chair, but Stormer was coming towards me, her sapphire curls ringleted with water, and I didn't dare take it. Instead, I moved towards the ice chest again.
"Hey honey, I can get my own drink." Stormer pushed past me, and when her hand found mine in passing and squeezed it, it was all I could do not to burst into tears and fling my arms around her. The temptation doubled when she took two drinks, perched on the edge of the deck chair and patted the space next to her. I ignored Roxy rolling her eyes, and gratefully squashed next to her. Stormer's damp hips were cold against my own and probably were ruining my velour mini, but I didn't care. At least someone seemed grateful to have me back.
I pushed that thought away, along with a sudden memory of how differently Jem and Aja had treated me to the way the Misfits other than Stormer treated me. It wasn't important, anyway. Jem and her friends only bother with pleases and thank yous because they're weak. Pizzazz… Pizzazz knows she's a goddess, and the only reason Stormer is any different is that she hasn't realised her own power yet.
Now that all four girls were awake, conversation turned to plans to fly to Monte Carlo for a concert at the end of the month, because after all Jem and the Holograms were going. It was all too easy to fall back into the conversation, waiting to see if Pizzazz approved of someone's comments before chiming in with agreement, reassuring them of how beautiful and talented they were – after all, it was not as though I had to lie – and justifying my presence by letting them know how much I admired and loved them. All I had to do was ignore the fact that I'd hoped that I'd be discussing this concert as part of the touring group, as an equal… as a Misfit. I could throw myself on the floor and scream later. Right now, Pizzazz needed me to tell her how gorgeous she would look in mint green vinyl.
She did need me. They all did. People were always putting the Misfits down, just because they weren't bland little goodie-goodies like the Holograms. The Misfits needed me to remind them just how fabulous they really were. And after all the time I'd hung around with them, no one understood them and their needs quite as well as I did. Jem might seem sweet, but she and her little bitch friends always spoiled things for their rivals – and they were bitches, I reminded myself, bitches who liked to ruin everything for the people I really loved. They might have been nice to me for a while, but they hadn't really cared, and they'd rejected me just as soon as they found out who I really was.
The Misfits had accepted me back.
At one point in the conversation, when Roxy and Jetta were immersed in a furious fight over whether Jetta deserved a saxophone solo, with a highly amused Pizzazz arbitrating – or egging them on – Stormer turned her head very slightly and whispered into my ear.
"When you were, you know, with the Holograms, did – did Kimber mention me to you at all?" Her voice trembled a little.
Her hair was dripping onto my shoulder, and soaking through my fake fur tank top. I turned to look into blue eyes very close to my own, and lied through my teeth. "She said she missed you a lot."
Stormer gave me a smile like a sudden blast of sun, and warmed away my guilt. Then she turned back to the conversation, trying to soothe the warring girls with the predictable result that they both turned on her. I'd learned not to interfere in squabbles between Jetta and Roxy long since. Finally, Stormer muttered something about it being too cold now the sun had gone in, and she stomped back inside, looking as sulky as she could look.
The others ignored her exit. I felt a little lost without her support beside me… But what did it matter? I was back in.
The air was growing chillier, and the pool lights flicked on, drenching the water with blue light. Jetta was still holding forth airily. "If I could tell her I had a solo, I could probably get Princess Caroline to come to the concert as our special guest."
"Really?" Pizzazz sat up slightly and smiled at her, even as she reached behind herself to tie up her bikini top again. The way she was sitting, there was no way she could see Roxy rolling her eyes in derision, but I could. I tried not to catch Roxy's gaze, in case I giggled at the wrong moment.
"Sure as I'm speaking to you, love. After all, the English Royal Family and the Royal Family of Monaco are like this." Jetta held up crossed fingers.
Pizzazz's smile grew dreamy as she arranged her bust flatteringly inside her top. "Imagine - Princess Caroline at our show," she purred. "And maybe Prince Rainier, too…" She swung out of her chair. "Come inside – it's freezing. We'll talk about this after we eat." Roxy climbed to her feet as well as Jetta, but it was the raven-haired girl that Pizzazz slipped an arm around as they wandered back into the house.
I rose to my feet as well, and watched dully as the two girls walked into the house, linked closely, Jetta's arm against the bare skin of Pizzazz's waist. Even from behind, Jetta was stunning, with that glowing pale skin in her sleek black maillot. More than I had at any time during the day, I wanted to fling myself on the ground and howl.
There was a soft expulsion of air next to my right ear. I turned, and realised that I was lucky I had never really made Roxy lose her temper, or I would be a smear on the grass. She was staring after Jetta as if she was contemplating how big a hole the leg of her deck chair would make if she rammed it through the saxophonist's spine.
There wasn't much I could say to her, under the circumstances. I started inside, wondering sickly if I was included in the invitation for dinner or if I was about to mess up again. I'd only taken one step when I felt a hand close on my wrist.
"Clash." Roxy was holding my wrist very tight, so that the cymbal had to be cutting into her hand, but she didn't loosen her grip. "Clash, you didn't like watching that neither, did you?"
I stared blankly at her. I had no idea what she was trying to say. All that palest platinum hair was glowing like moonlight in the dusk, and the shadows of her nose and cheekbones were long and dark on her face. She looked like some kind of twilight spirit conjured by the weird lighting. A twilight spirit with an uncertain temper and a very hard grip.
Don't be intimidated by her, Clash, I told myself, at least you can spell your own name – and then I berated myself for the disloyal thought. Roxy isn't exactly well educated, but she's sharp as knives and twice as hard.
She seemingly gave up waiting for an answer, because she clicked her tongue impatiently and explained, each word very separate but not particularly clear, hissing with anger. "You're jealous, Clash. Because you wanna be the girl Pizzazz had her arm around, not some dumb British broad. I'm right, aren't I?"
I thought of something to say at last. "You're the one who's her best friend, Roxy." I moved my free hand to cover her hand on my wrist, and smiled placatingly. The cymbal was beginning to dig into me even through the leather strap holding it in place. The sharp edge would be against her palm, so why wasn't she in pain?
"Yeah, so I am. Or I'm supposed to be." She let the implication hang in the air. "You don't like Jetta much neither, do you? After all, she took *your* rightful place in the band."
For a moment, I let myself believe that Roxy was going to offer me Jetta's place in the Misfits, and everything I hoped for would come true. But somehow I'd lost the ability to believe in that. My destiny was to be a hanger-on, not a star; and Roxy didn't really want me in the band, either. She'd made that abundantly clear.
"I think Jetta's wonderful," I said honestly, even though tears threatened to choke me. "She's – she's a real Misfit."
The girl's grip tightened further, and I gasped in pain. I knew Roxy was strong, but this was ridiculous. "She's a bitch." Roxy was smiling, but there was no joy in it. I wanted to run away more than anything in the world. "And she's with the girl we both want – ain't that right, Clash?"
"Roxy!" I wasn't sure if I was shocked at her attacking another Misfit so openly or at… the rest of it.
"We treat you like trash, don't we, Clash?" she said. The words were gentle enough that I would never have expected them from anyone but Stormer, but Roxy's tone had no kindness in it, only a kind of bitter unhappiness. "And you still come back… you still love us whether we act like your friends or not. And none of us even care if you're lonely, or if you're in love with someone we can't have."
She did something with my wrist, twisting and pulling towards her as her other hand came up to my shoulder, and the next thing I knew, I was being kissed. There was no gentleness about the hard pressure of her open mouth on mine, but her tongue was soft as it pushed into my mouth. As soft as the half-naked body being pressed against mine.
She released my wrist to snake her other arm around me and hold me closer, and somehow my freed hand found the bare skin of her hip, settling there as my other hand moved to cup the side of her face. Her skin was greasy with makeup, and her mouth tasted of lipstick, and even if this was a trap I couldn't do anything more than cling to her and moan into the kiss, let my mouth open and respond to her. She wasn't Pizzazz, but she was beautiful and powerful and one of my beloved Misfits, and she was kissing me as if she meant it.
It felt like I had wandered into one of my own guilty daydreams.
~tbc~ Feedback longed for.