The teenage brunette girl turned the collar around in her hands. Her eyes glistened with the tears she could not hold back. She could not believe her beloved pet, the only creature she trusted, was gone.
"It was just a cat Sandi," Linda Griffin told her daughter. "Get over it."
"You just don't get it mother," the teenager said coldly as she carried the collar back to her own room. Her dad understood, he wouldn't have spent an hour and a half burying the creature otherwise. Her brothers offered half-hearted condolences but had offered. As usual it was her mother that dismissed Sandi's feelings insisting her daughter act contrary to her emotions.
Sandi slammed her door shut and locked it. She grasped the collar tightly and stared into the mirror that sat atop her vanity table.
"Sometimes fluffy," she said to the air. "I think you were only one who gave a damn about me."
Sure most of the time it was more of a mutual respect thing but once Sandi had learned to be gentle with the feline there had been moments of genuine affection. Especially after she had feed the cat. He would curl up on her lap and respond to her gentle strokes with contented purrs. Her own mind would responded at these times by think about moments she had actually enjoyed during the days events. No plans of one upmanship or revenge formed and no thought as to how to belittle the members of the fashion club, or those that wanted in would present itself.
"Please forgive me fluffy," she said. "I swear I put that lid on that foundation."
Sandi made a plan, tomorrow after borrowing Stacey's Foundation enlist the club to help her find a new brand to use. One that would hopefully not kill poor defenceless animals. Secondly ask Quinn's sister (she knew but felt it would be more damaging if her rival admitted the truth freely) for advice. The recent passing of Tommy Sherman had shown that the older Morgandorffer knew how to deal with such things. Sandi placed the collar around her favourite photo.
It was taken before she knew how to correctly handle her pet. Yet the large smile she actually had in the picture made it worth keeping despite the cats obvious signs of distress. As she set the collar down she became overcome with a strange urge. To pick it up and clasp it around her neck. She shook it off as a ludicrous idea of her grief stricken psyche.
Five dollars, some anger and several months later Sandi was surprised she still felt the urge to wear the dear departed cat's collar. It was so against everything she stood for. Collars weren't even that popular in alternative sub-cultures after all, and it would never work with anything in her selection of go to outfits. Still the urge was almost overwhelming. Perhaps she should investigate this? But whom could she trust with knowledge of such a power over herself? To reveal it would be tantamount to forfeiting her popularity. Even the three people she considered her closest friends could be dangerous to share her compulsion with.
Stacey would rightfully use the information to take revenge for years of emotional bullying. Sandi briefly wondered why she had treated the kind and caring girl like that. While Tiffany could be given the information and trusted no to use it, it was a fact the girl would inadvertently reveal it at some point to Sandi's enemies. Sandi briefly wondered how a girl her age could amass so many. Quinn, now she was the wild card, she was always pushing the boundaries Sandi established for the club. Yet she was above playing the power games that would utterly and totally assure Sandi's falling into a live of an outcast forever. Linda Griffin would cal that weakness. Sandi thought it was an admirable quality I this case.
Yes she would ask Quinn. But not until she had at least scouted this affliction out herself. After all it was part of her duties as fashion club president to scout out new fashion no matter from were it originated, this was exactly like that se tried to reassure herself. Gulping as if to swallow her fear she placed the collar around her neck. She managed to slip the article off several hours later. With a fearful sigh she realised she could remember nothing of that small sortie into the unknown. Conversely, despite the fear, she was content with the experience. In fact Sandi Griffin admitted to herself she had been happy. But why? She would find out but would she dare trust Quinn Morgandorffer, rival, lesser, better and perhaps friend to aid her.
"Could you believe what Tori was wearing?" Quinn babbled as they made their way to Sandi's room. The younger were Griffin siblings falling over themselves to offer the red head a Soda interrupted her tirade. Sandi's fierce scowl worked for once and they made themselves scarce. As Sandi closed her door Quinn finally voiced her concerns she had been mulling over since Sandi had summoned her and only her to an emergency meeting after a cheese less pizza shared between all four club members earlier in the afternoon.
"If this is really and emergency shouldn't tiffany and Stacey be here?" Quinn said. "I know Tiffany can be slow sometimes but her contribution is still important and what about Stacey? How can we have a meeting without her excellent record keeping? I know she lacks confidence and sometimes…"
Quinn's features hardened as she came to a conclusion.
"You want to kick Stacey out don't you?" Quinn stated coldly. "I thought we agreed that monstrosity she was forced to wear was a necessary evil and then I made that comment about how grandma Barksdale thinks knitting is beneath her."
Sandi scowled hard at her fashion club subordinate.
"This has nothing to do with Tiffany or Stacey," Sandi explained. "In fact if I didn't need your help it wouldn't be any of your business either."
"Sandi? You need my help?" Quinn was dumbfounded.
"Yes I need your help Quinn," she admitted while inwardly cursing that she was unable to say her friends name without tones of condescension.
"Sandi you're scaring me!"
"Please Quinn," Sandi wailed. "I'm not asking as president of the fashion club but as a friend."
"But we're not really…" Quin trailed off. Not really the two girls thought even when compared against the most casual of acquaintances.
"You're the closest I have," Sandi admitted. "For this you are the only person I can trust."
"What do you need me to do?" Quinn asked surprised at Sandi's candour.
"Just watch me," Sandi explained. "Make sure I don't hurt myself and when it's all done tell me what happened."
"What do you mean?" Quinn received no reply.
It was then she saw Sandi's knew accessory.
"What the hell are you wearing?" Sandi didn't reply and instead dropped to the floor. She began prowling back and forth in an animal like gait.
"I mean you remember the research we did into the fashion of the alternative," Quinn said still not getting a response. "Too many associations with … well you know."
Sandi looked up at her with a quizzical expression.
"Do you even understand me right now?"
Sandi just nuzzled her face into the material of Quinn's jeans.
"Daria is my sister!" Quinn yelled at Sandi. This elicited no response. Instead the brunette girl batted at a tassel on her bed cover. Quinn slumped down on the bed in disbelief. This was real, Sandi needed her to observe so that the fashion club president would know what was happen as the brunette's mind seemed to have left the building, maybe the planet.
Sandi crawled up on the bed and laid her head in Quinn's lap. Quinn tried to figure out what she should do. The red headed teen absently ran her fingers through her friend's hair. Strangely Sandi responded with a deep reverberating purr. Looking down Quinn was surprised because Sandi was smiling. It just seemed so wrong. Quinn considered that thought and realised she had never seen Sandi express happiness except with a malicious smirk when the brunette had put someone in their place.
Quinn sighed trying to think of how to explain what Sandi was doing to Sandi herself. For that matter how was she going to get Sandi back to normal? Perhaps is she removed the collar. Quinn reached down to take it but Sandi shied away.
"I'm sorry Sandi," Quinn explained. "I know you're happy right now but I've got to explain to you why, you asked me to after all."
Sandi seemed to accept this and moved into a position that made it easier for Quinn to remove the collar. The brunette's eyes seemed to blur and then refocus on Quinn.
"So?" she asked as she sat up and tried not to think of the compromising position she had awoke to.
"For some reason," Quinn explained. "You were acting like a cat."
Sandi gave her a puzzled look.
"And you seemed happy okay, you definitely looked happy."
Considering this for a moment Sandi came to a conclusion.
"It makes sense," she said. "Fluffy was the only member of this family that was ever truly happy, and even then it was only after I fed him and he let me give him more than a quick scratch behind the ears."
"Um?" Sandi just continued as if Quinn hadn't tried to interrupt.
"He'd only let me stroke and pet him when he had a fully tummy, but when he purred I knew I was doing something right for once."
Tears began to stream down her face and Quinn moved to comfort her.
"Umm Sandi do you know why your like this?" she asked.
"I don't," Sandi said. "All I know is ever since fluffy passed away I've been having overwhelming urges to wear his collar."
"I'm trying to think of questions to ask to help us figure this out," Quinn said. "But all I can think of is if there is anything sexual about it."
"Oh god I hope not," Sandi groaned.
The room lapsed into an uncomfortable silence until Quinn realised a way she could help Sandi further.
"I think I know someone that could help," she said. "I know it has taken a lot of courage to trust me but I need you to keep trusting me."
"I," Sandi began. "I will."
As Quinn had thought Daria had kept Jean-Michel's contact information on a just in case basis. A week after she had convinced Daria to hand them over without asking questions (a bribe with more than one zero in the number had helped) she was sitting with Sandi in the psychiatrists office making sure her friend would continue to trust others to help in this matter.
"Don't worry Sandi," Quinn said. "He has to adhere to all kinds of ethics and rules and regulations and I can stay while you talk to him or if you just need me to supervise a demonstration of what the collar does to you or…"
Sandi turned and looked at her friend.
"Thank you for being here for me," was all Sandi said before the doctor came in and introduced himself.