Roxy pulled away at last. She seemed to be breathing hard – a quick glance downwards confirmed she was, and I hoped the light had failed too much for her to tell how much I was blushing – and her lipstick was smeared. I could see the glint of her teeth through her parted lips, the same pearly sheen as her hair.
"Don't have anything to say, huh?" I was silent, and Roxy laughed. The sound seemed to fall on the patio like a hail of glass shards. "I knew I was right about you." The hand on my shoulder pulled at my tank top. "All that fake fur you wear is scratching my skin."
"I'm sorry," I said automatically.
"So get it off," she snapped impatiently, pushing me slightly away so that I came close to unbalancing and stumbling back into the pool. "There's nothing to be afraid of." I was suddenly afraid that I would ruin this miracle through being too slow – I knew Roxy became bored almost as easily as Pizzazz did – and wrenched the top over my head, catching it on my headband. I was blushing, even though even in a bra, skirt and tights I was still far more modestly dressed that Roxy was in her strapless bikini. She laughed.
"Yeah, that's my good girl. You're so cute, Clash. Our perfect little fan who would do anything for Pizzazz – for us." Her eyes seemed far too bright, but perhaps that was just because the light was almost gone. Besides, her eyes closed as she wrapped her arms around me again, kissing far more tenderly this time, a long wet slide of her tongue against mine that seemed to dissolve every bone in my body. So maybe her eyes were closed because she was thinking of Pizzazz, and maybe she thought I was doing the same… But why should I? Roxy was a true Misfit, in touch with some glamour and fire that had always, always eluded me… but was in my arms now. It wasn't just enough, it was some kind of fantasy created by the pool lights glimmering in the water.
I retained just enough sense of myself to be worried that Roxy was choosing to do this here and now, in Pizzazz's back yard, so to speak. It was one thing if we were just making each other feel better; another thing altogether if I was being used as revenge against Pizzazz. But I couldn't imagine pulling away, not when Roxy found my lower lip and sucked it hard between her teeth, her hands sliding up my sides to curve against the sides of my breasts. Her fingertips edged inwards to circle lightly over my nipples, and what little self-possession I had deserted me. I wound my hands tightly in her thick hair, painfully dragged my lip from the grip of her teeth and began to kiss fiercely in return.
I was only vaguely aware of Roxy stepping backwards with clumsy unseeing steps, pulling me with her. The motion stopped after a moment, and then she sat back heavily, pulling me tumbled onto her lap and losing the contact between our mouths.
We stared at each other for a long moment, staring blankly into each other's faces. Roxy was a mess, a beautiful mess, her mane of hair disrupted and her lips looking too full from smeared lipstick. The painted lines on her face looked like slap marks in the semi-darkness.
"Clash." Was her voice really so shaky because of me, or because somehow we'd ended up on Pizzazz's chair and she was doubting the whole deal? "You know I won't make you do this – I'm not like that. You can put your top back on right now and no hard feelings, 'kay? We'll go in just the same as if nothing happened."
I wanted to point out that she would have to fix her makeup before we went back inside, but I found myself kissing her again instead. She rather awkwardly lowered herself back in the chair until I was lying half on top of her, holding her face in my hands and pressing clinging kisses against her mouth, licking the lines of paint on her cheeks and down over her chin, pausing to suck there.
I felt her pass her hands over the back of my hair, stroking down to massage the nape of my neck. I was startled into stopping until she made a complaining noise. I never would have thought that Roxy, of all people, would touch me so gently.
I recovered myself and began kissing her again, nuzzling where the chin turned into her neck so that she flung her head back to allow more access. Her throat was long and slender and sensitive enough that she sobbed in the back of it as I kissed and licked and sucked her skin. I'd be leaving marks, and I hoped she wouldn't be angry with me when she realised, but the sounds she were making were encouraging me. The slightly acrid taste of coconut suntan oil was addictive. I wanted to swallow it down until I could taste her skin alone.
I paused again in the hollow of her neck, tilting my head to butterfly-kiss it with my eyelashes while I gathered courage. Then I made my way down, kissing every tiny space on Roxy's clavicle and to the tender valley between her breasts. I kissed softly down until I reached the line of her bikini top, hardly daring to believe that, far from protesting, she was heaving in desperate breaths. I was breathing hard too, and sweating, wishing I hadn't chosen to wear something as hot as my sparkly lurex tights. I wanted to look cool and attractive, for Roxy… But then, I had wanted to dress to impress the Misfits, not long before.
I put all my worries aside, and ran my mouth over the dry touch of fabric, finding her left nipple through the bathing suit and taking it gently between my lips to suck deeply. Roxy cried out hoarsely.
I lifted my head, expecting to see her eyes closed as she thought about… someone else… and met wide eyes, black in the darkness and meeting my gaze openly.
Her hands had been still resting in the nape of my neck. She lifted one, and caressed the side of my face. "Clash - Constance. It's okay." I hadn't even realised she remembered my other name – not my real name, Clash is who I really am, but the name my parents called me. While I was wondering why she chose to use it now, her other hand slid down and pulled the bandeau of her top down, so that the full curve of her breasts were open to the night air. "There, isn't that better?" She reached around me and unhooked my bra, removing it as carefully as if I was a doll, and running her fingers over my breasts with the same light touch. "Pretty Constance."
"Pretty? Roxy, you're – beautiful…" The skin between her brows dented, just a little, but I realised that she didn't want to hear it. Not from me, anyway. I lowered my head instead.
At least this I was good at. Judging from the way Roxy arched under my mouth, very good instead. And I had known her skin without oil would taste like this, tasted the way softness would taste if it registered on that other sense. I decided to stop thinking altogether, and just let moment slide into moment, as I explored what was offered to me.
I don't know how long it lasted, but it was not long enough.
I shrieked with pain as my head was jerked back, the tail of longer hair grabbed and pulled roughly back. Away from Roxy, whose eyes were wide again, but not with desire or tenderness.
"Aaaargh! Get off her!" There was no mistaking that particular fire-engine shriek of rage.
An arm came tightly around my rib cage and pulled me back along with the grip on my hair. I let myself be hauled half to my feet and then dropped to one knee, folding my hands over my breasts in terrified modesty, still held by the tail of hair. Roxy made no attempt to hold me, or to cover herself.
All her attention was on Pizzazz.
"What the fuck do you think you're doing, Roxanne Pelligrini?" Maybe I'd been afraid of the wrong Misfit. I'd never seen anyone literally shake with rage like this before.
Roxy's mouth had settled into a sullen pout as if she was merely arguing with Jetta, but her eyes were still too wide in her face. "It should be obvious, shouldn't it? What are you doing out here anyways?"
"It's my backyard!" I hadn't thought Pizzazz's voice could get any louder, but she was surpassing herself. We were probably being watched by Jetta, Stormer and a house full of servants by now. I just hoped Pizzazz's father wasn't home. I hugged myself tighter and prayed for merciful death. For the moment I didn't even care what I'd done to my status with the Misfits – all I hoped for was to avoid dying either at Pizzazz's hands, or of humiliation.
"Yeah. It is, isn't it." Roxy stared up at her for a moment. "But I thought you were busy with Jetta."
"Busy – Jetta –" Pizzazz's voice died away a little. I could swear that, from her tone, she had no idea what Roxy was talking about. "You didn't come in, and I came to see if you were okay. I should have realised that – this – " she tugged on my hair, and I squealed despite myself – "this lousy little slut had tried to find another way to buy her way into the group." She was shouting again.
"Don't talk about Clash that way. It's not her fault!" Roxy's voice rose almost as high, although no one could out scream Pizzazz in full voice.
"You don't want me to insult your precious girlfriend? It's your fault, then? You wanted me to walk out and find you with her?" Pizzazz dropped my hair, but I didn't dare leave. I sat on the ground and reached out for my fur top, pulling it on so that I felt less exposed. Not that Roxy seemed in the slightest self-conscious, sitting there in her bikini bottoms and nothing else.
Roxy took so long to answer that I was as close to crying as I ever had been in the whole horrible day. I should have known, really, that she was using me – well, I did know, but I'd at least thought she was using me for myself in some way. I didn't want to think it was all a set-up to punish Pizzazz.
"I don't see why you're so uptight about this," she said at last, her voice even harsher than usual. "How many years have we been best friends, Pizzazz? And in all that time, all you ever did was hit on men who didn't want you. And then Jetta waltzes into your life and I'm fucking useless even as your best friend. Why shouldn't the two pathetic losers make nice together, then? Clash and I understand each other."
That last statement was a blatant untruth, but Pizzazz seemed too angry to care. "Don't you dare compare yourself to that little nothing." She kicked out hard with a booted foot, and the cooler sailed neatly into the pool. At least she wasn't actually kicking me. "Or to Jetta."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You stupid moron!" Pizzazz's voice soared in an ear-piercing shriek. I closed my eyes, waiting for the explosion. Calling Roxy stupid was absolutely the most dangerous thing anyone could do. She tended to be incredibly sensitive on that particular point.
I opened them at last when the sound of muffled crying became too much to ignore. Pizzazz was sitting on the deck chair next to Roxy, her arms protectively tight around her. They were sitting so close that white hair was flowing into green, as Roxy sobbed into her shoulder.
Maybe they only despised weakness in people who weren't themselves.
"Stop it," Pizzazz said at last. "I'm sorry for whatever I did – just stop crying." I'd never heard her apologise to anyone unless it was to dodge a lawsuit. "Come on, babe, cut it out now. If you really want Clash –" I stopped easing to my feet, and covered my face at the disgust in her voice –"you can have her."
"Don't wanna…" I wasn't really surprised, but it still hurt.
"Why, then?" Pizzazz's voice sounded so lost and little-girl, so far away from her usual raucous tones, that I uncovered my eyes, all the time knowing I shouldn't really be watching and listening. A half-naked girl cradled against black leather, and a conversation that really didn't concern me anymore.
Especially when Roxy unburied her head and reached up her mouth to be kissed.
I couldn't look away. They were so perfect together – the two women I admired and wanted more than any others on the face of this planet. And I wasn't stupid enough not to see that there was a world of difference in the way Roxy was kissing Pizzazz to the way she had kissed me.
I was probably witnessing their first kiss. The thought didn't help much.
When it finally broke, Roxy was saying, in a whisper that didn't seem very Roxy-ish at all, "I've always loved you, you know that?"
Pizzazz shrugged. Even from behind I could tell she was happy, by the easy curve of her spine. "So – I'm a slow study sometimes."
As their lips met again, I felt a hand slip into mine. I looked into Stormer's sweet face, and let her lead me quietly back into the house.
Jetta joined us at the door. "Well, this is a turn-up for the books, isn't it, loves?" she said brightly, slinging an arm around each of our shoulders. "D'you think I'm the only girl in the band who isn't a dyke?"
I glared at her, as Stormer turned scarlet. "Um – I think – Clash, do you want anything to eat? You should eat before you go to bed," she said with some semblance of normality.
"I think I'd better just go."
"Don't be silly – I had your old room made up. You're staying." I shook my head. "You are staying. And Roxy will want to talk to you in the morning." Stormer's voice was firm, and I believed her. She didn't throw her weight around much, to say the least, but she could make it felt when she did.
"I don't want to-"
"It's best, really. Everything will be okay," she added in painful echo. "You'll see. You'll always be a Misfit in your own way. It'll all turn out fine, won't it, Jetta?"
"So long as those two don't turn me sick going all love-dovey in rehearsals. I don't have much stomach for mushy stuff."
"Jetta!" Stormer gasped in outrage, and hauled me into the dining room. I even felt close to smiling.
But that night, right before I fell asleep, I wondered whether, when Roxy made love to Pizzazz, she would call her Phyllis.