I've started a challenge on livejournal/dreamwidth (babysitters100) in which 100 prompts are set to inspire 100 separate stories. I'm sure some of the chapters will be linked together, but I'm hoping to write some pairings, characters and situations I've never written before.
What you'll probably see a lot of: Spiers, Thomases, Pikes. Parent fic (John and Dee, Richard, Elizabeth.) Het. Gen. Angst, drama, family, friendship, some smut, some fluff.
Every chapter is going to be different, so if one isn't to your liking, try the next one!
Word count: 4011
Summary: Kristy has a moment of crisis when she realises she and Mary Anne are growing apart.
Notes: I think this dances on the border of gen and F/F. There are definite shippy notes, but I think you can read it as friendship, as well.
Beta: Thank you, isabelquinn!
It's a moment of crisis.
I'm not sure what came over me. I suppose everyone has to hit some sort of emotional self-destruction sooner or later. I hadn't expected Mary Anne to be the one to prompt mine.
The invitation has been pinned to my fridge with a magnet in the shape of a watermelon for four weeks. I sent my RSVP late, but she told me she'd saved me a place anyway. Now it seems like time is racing by and the birthday dinner with Mary Anne and her friends has slipped from being days away to being hours away.
I have torn my bedroom apart and, for the first time ever, I despair at the amount of jeans and t-shirts I own. I've never been to the restaurant listed on the invitation, but something tells me it's not one of the jeans and t-shirt kind of places I usually frequent.
So I tell myself it's a moment of crisis. And I go to Claudia.
"You know, Mary Anne isn't going to care what you're wearing," Claudia says for the hundredth time, her voice filtering through the suspiciously-gauzy curtain in the changing room of a boutique she confidently steered me into.
"I know," I answer tightly, struggling with a zip on the back of yet another dress.
I can hear the grin in Claudia's voice. "You're worried about what her new college friends are going to think of you, aren't you?"
"Don't be stupid." I get the zip done up and cast a glance over myself. No.
Claudia hears my sigh of impatience, which she recognises as the sign of another failure, and tuts quietly. "I'll be back in a second," she says.
I can feel myself getting emotional, and it infuriates me. The truth is, I do care what Mary Anne's new college friends think of me. If only because it feels like she's slipping away from me, and it's all due to them. Somewhere in the back of my brain I've locked onto the idea that being accepted by her new friends will allow me to cling to her and keep her as my own.
They read and they're arty and they talk about the boys in their classes, forgetting that I don't know what they're studying or the boys they're currently coveting. I don't consider myself to be ignorant when it comes to most subjects, but in the presence of Mary Anne's new friends, even the subject of Mary Anne begins to feel challenging.
So I thought to myself that somehow, a makeover would fix these things. Or, at least, temporarily trick them into accepting me so I could just have one night where Mary Anne and I could swap jokes and stories without me feeling like I'm standing on the wrong side of a glass door, looking in on her.
Claudia pushes another armful of dresses through the curtain and I glimpse her eye in the mirror. She gives me a smile and I realise that she hasn't believed one of my excuses. I'm relieved that she hasn't called me out on it, despite the fact she knows I'm having a completely superficial moment.
Under my instructions, she has kept my choices to dark fabrics. I don't exactly want to draw attention to myself, I just want to draw attention away from the person I was last time I saw Mary Anne and her friends.
I stand in front of the mirror in a dress that's somehow fitted and floaty at the same time, black and flowing against my skin. There's a graze on my knee from softball that will probably show itself when I sit down, but I figure I can get away with it, considering I'll be sitting down at a table for most of the evening.
I ask for Claudia's opinion and she looks at me carefully, cocking her head so one bright, dangling earring reveals itself from beneath her curtain of hair. She grins at me and I grin back awkwardly.
We silently agree that this dress is the dress that will help me resolve my crisis.
It was Claudia's idea to go and visit Stacey, and I don't consider it to be a terrible idea until she's trying to match makeup to my skin tone.
"I think you're the only person I know who doesn't wear makeup," she says, sounding half-admiring.
"All your guy friends wear makeup?" I ask, unable to help myself.
"Some of them," she replies absent-mindedly. "Let's do your hair first."
I'm starting to think this idea goes beyond terrible. But Stacey always looks great and I suppose everything will work out if I can gain a smidge of sophistication from her.
I can't help but fidget as she stands behind me in the salon, confidently giving orders and directions to the woman cutting my hair. I chew my lip as I'm put through my first ever colouring treatment, and I find myself gazing fixedly at my knees as the final result is combed out into sleek, dark locks that fall to my shoulders.
"Kristy, will you at least look at it, please?" Stacey asks, sounding exasperated. "You look great."
I risk a glance into the mirror and, to my relief, things aren't that bad. My hair is a couple of shades darker and whatever the hairdresser has done to it has made it glossy and silky.
But I can't help but think things are starting to snowball a bit. The first crisis looks like it's starting a new crisis, and the whole thing is giving me a bit of a headache.
I want to look nice for Mary Anne - but most of all, I want to look like the sort of person Mary Anne becomes friends with these days.
Mary Anne is, typically, early for her birthday dinner. She has brought a book and is sitting on a bench near the coatroom, one leg crossed neatly over the other and a faint frown on her face. She is completely absorbed in the pages resting on her lap and I take a moment to collect myself and draw in a deep breath.
"Hey," I say. I'm embarrassed when my voice comes out as a wheeze. I sound like Abby after she's run a sprint across a freshly-cut lawn.
Mary Anne looks up, and my heart sinks when immediate recognition fails to register on her face. She blinks and her mouth drops open.
"Kristy!" She stands, tossing her book carelessly back onto the bench behind her, and reaches for a hug. I move in, but she stops and puts her hands on my shoulders, looking at me with wide eyes and a smile.
My heart is positively thundering.
"You changed your hair!" she said.
"Yeah." I grin awkwardly.
"And you're wearing a dress, and makeup!"
"Uh-huh." I glance down at my feet. "No heels, though."
She grins down at my black ballet flats. "I'm kind of relieved," she laughs, and then she hugs me.
"Happy birthday," I mumble, smiling into her shoulder. For the moment, it's just the two of us, and I realise just how much I've missed her. I clutch her for a few seconds longer than necessary and she pats my back as though she knows what I'm thinking.
"Let's go and get our table," she says, and it's kind of a relief to see her eyes are a bit misty. "We can talk before everyone else arrives.
I can't hide how pleased I am at this suggestion
I watch her as we're led to the table and are seated. She walks with confidence and a casual air that I haven't ever really noticed before. College has changed Mary Anne - these new friends of hers have changed Mary Anne. While I can't say that the changes are negative, my wretched tendency to feel jealousy and resentment causes me to dislike it slightly. I miss the old days, when we were together and it was me who led the way.
I'm aware of how ridiculous this is. I'm appalled at how cruel it is of me to wish Mary Anne would go back to being a meek teenager who simply follows her loud-mouth friend.
"How's college?" Mary Anne asks.
"Nothing's changed much since the last time I saw you," I admit, giving her a sheepish grin.
"Except you," she says, sounding amused.
"Uh, yeah..." I look down at myself, feeling very self-conscious and awkward. I try to tell myself that I don't care what people think of my appearance - I never have. It doesn't work.
"When did you get your hair done?" Mary Anne asks, reaching out to finger the newly-sliced tips against my shoulders.
"This afternoon," I admit. "Courtesy of Stacey. And the dress is courtesy of Claudia."
Mary Anne gives me a look of curiosity and worry. I know she's going to ask me if I'm okay, and I've already planned to laugh it off and tell her I simply wanted a change, when we're interrupted by the arrival of two of her college friends.
They gush and give air kisses and smile and nod, saying hi to me and acting as though they remember me. I'm not sure I remember them. All of Mary Anne's college friends look the same.
I've never seen Mary Anne drink before. It's only wine, but I'm still surprised when she accepts a glass refill. She opens gifts at the table and giggles. Someone places a birthday tiara on her head, and instead of blushing and pulling it off, she leaves it perched precariously in her hair, not caring that it draws extra attention to her in a restaurant full of strangers.
I feel as though we've reversed roles and I don't like it.
When the plates have been cleared away and the candles in the middle of the table have burned low, the other girls insist upon playing silly word games and asking questions that have answers prompted by alcohol.
"So, Kristy..." Veronica leans back in her chair and fixes her gaze upon me. I like her the least. She has hair that seems to change colour between purple and red in the dim light of the restaurant, and she wears too much eyeliner and insists upon being called V. Most of all, however, I hate the way she snatched the chair beside Mary Anne, opposite me. I hate the way she leans in to talk to Mary Anne quietly, sharing stupid giggles and stories that have nothing to do with anyone else at the table.
I wait for her to finish her stupid So, Kristy, comment. I am automatically set on defensive mode and although I haven't had much to drink, I know the wine and jealousy in my blood won't stop me from starting an argument if Veronica says something to piss me off.
"You've known Mary Anne a long time," she says, looking at me with a somewhat icy expression.
I match her glare with one of my own."A very long time," I say.
Mary Anne shifts awkwardly and focuses on her wine glass, lifting it to her lips for a slow drink.
"Does she have any secrets she hasn't told us?" Veronica asks, giving Mary Anne what I assume is supposed to be a friendly grin.
Mary Anne's cheeks instantly flush pink.
"No," I answer shortly.
Veronica looks alarmed at my tone and Mary Anne gives me a silent, pleading look. Please don't start an argument, Kristy.
It's her birthday. I'm being entirely selfish. I've been entirely selfish about this whole thing from the time I got the invitation. Instead of trying to celebrate with her, I've been trying to figure out how to change her back into the person I consider familiar.
The chatter starts up again somewhat hesitantly, and more wine is brought to the table.
I lean over. "Hey, I'm gonna go," I say. "I have to get back early tomorrow."
"You can sleep on the train," Mary Anne says softly, sounding disappointed.
I smile and shake my head. "I'll see you another time, Mary Anne. Sorry. I'm just feeling kinda tired tonight. Have a good time, okay?" I kiss her cheek and stand, briefly pausing to push a handful of notes into Veronica's hand, hoping it will cover mine (and Mary Anne's) portion of the bill.
I leave, and when the night air hits my face I want to crumble into an emotional mess for acting so ridiculously.
Back in my hotel I strip myself of my dress and set the alarm so I can catch the earliest train possible. I stand under the shower, scrubbing away the makeup Stacey applied so carefully, and think miserably about how stupid I must have seemed to Mary Anne.
There's no way I could have seemed like Kristy Thomas tonight. I showed up in a dress with a new haircut and a careful layer of makeup and I acted tearful and emotional at the end of the night.
I tell myself it's hormones and general tiredness, but deep down I know it can be attributed to my age-old relationship with jealousy. I've never handled other people moving in on Mary Anne. When she and Dawn became friends, it felt like I'd been kicked in the gut. I lost a large part of myself when Mr. Spier married Mrs. Schafer, too.
Mary Anne didn't mean it, of course. But she didn't need me as much after that. She had Dawn. And whenever I brought up the subject of Mary Anne and myself, it sounded so damn petty it made me sick to my stomach.
Now it's even worse, because we live in different cities and we study different subjects... Our varied interests have never really bothered us before, but college is different. College opened our eyes and suddenly Mary Anne found herself facing a whole new lifestyle.
She considers it exciting. I consider it a crisis.
I lift my head off the pillow and squint at the clock. It's just gone past 2AM and I can't figure out why I'm awake. I take a large gulp of water from the glass on my bedside table, feeling slightly dizzy - something I attribute to the earlier glasses of wine.
I sit up properly when I hear a gentle knock at my door.
I peer out cautiously and my heart leaps when I see Mary Anne in the corridor. I swing the door open immediately.
"Hi," she breathes, giving me a weary grin.
"Mary Anne, are you drunk?" I hear the disbelief in my voice and I wish I could take it back. I don't want to give her the impression I disapprove. Her life is her life, and she's in college, and it's her birthday. She's allowed to be drunk.
"I am a bit," she admits, pushing past me into the room. She sinks onto my rumpled bed and kicks her shoes off.
"Are you all right?" I ask. I realise I'm only wearing cotton briefs and a t-shirt that's probably a size too small. I dismiss my worries as quickly as they come - she's seen me wearing less, at some point or another, I'm sure.
"Are you all right?" she asks accusingly, looking up at me.
I sit beside her. "It's just a haircut, Mary Anne."
"No it's not." She sounds surprisingly bitter. Again, I mentally curse the changes that have come upon her since college.
"Why are you always so rude to them?" she asks softly. "There's no need for it, Kristy. They're nice people."
"I know." I fidget slightly. "I'm sorry, Mary Anne."
She shakes her head and I can see tears brimming on her lashes. I ignore them, staring down at my toes, knowing that if she knows I've seen how upset she is, she'll start to sob.
"You've changed," she says after a moment.
I look up at her in surprise. "No I haven't," I say defensively. "You've changed."
"I have new friends," she says patiently. "That's it, Kristy. You? You show up with a glare on your face and you basically refuse to participate in any conversation that revolves around anything that happened to me after I left Stoneybrook."
I'm horrified to be accused of this. I'm even more horrified when I realise it's true. I sit on the bed, wrestling with the desire to snap at her or burst into tears.
"I'm sorry," I mutter eventually.
"Can you just tell me what's wrong?" she asks wearily. I can smell alcohol on her and I'm upset that this is how she's spending her birthday - drunk and miserable, and arguing with me.
"I'm scared I'm losing you," I mumble, feeling ridiculous. Of course she's going to say I'm not losing her. She'll say we'll always be friends and that I just have to talk to her. But in practise it's not that easy, and that's what scares me.
But she doesn't say anything. She sighs and puts her arm around me. I rest my head on her shoulder, feeling guilty, miserable and confused.
Mary Anne has always been constant and consistent - the person to turn to when you feel lost and need to find your way back to whatever's normal and whatever's right. Now it's like she's shifted and I've turned around to find her not there at all. It's disconcerting to realise I have always needed her more than she's ever needed me.
Mary Anne rubs her face tiredly. "Hey, Kristy, can I use your shower?"
"Yeah, sure." I sit up and motion towards the bathroom door.
She squeezes my hand and heads for the bathroom, a little unsteady on her feet.
I pull the blankets over my legs again and sit up in bed, watching the television on mute as I listen to the shower running. She's left the door ajar and I can smell my own body lotion being used - something fruity and frothy that Claudia gave me last Christmas. Something I've never used but just threw into the bottom of my bag before I caught the train here.
Mary Anne comes out wrapped in a towel, her hair only slightly damp around the edges - the parts the shower cap didn't cover properly. The damp tendrils are already starting to curl slightly.
She sits on the end of the bed with her back to me, staring down at her toes.
"Are you okay?" I ask. "Do you want some water?"
"I'll be okay."
I kick the blankets away and shuffle down the bed to sit behind her. "I'm sorry I was such a jerk tonight. I'll apologise to your friends tomorrow"
"No, it's okay."
I put my hand on her shoulder and shuffle closer to her. "Really, Mary Anne. I'm really, really sorry. I hope I didn't ruin your birthday..."
She smiles, but she still doesn't look at me and my heart sinks. Something is obviously on her mind and she doesn't think she can tell me about it. The gap between us seems to be widening even more. As I think about it, I notice my fingers automatically tightening on her, as though I'm trying to grab her to me and cling to her so she can't run away.
"You're my best friend," I whisper. "You went to college and made all those new friends - and I went to college and I met people, but they're just people, Mary Anne. You're still my best friend. I haven't found anyone to replace you and I'm scared all those people you invited tonight are -"
She laughs softly and shakes her head. "You're my best friend too."
"I am?" I can't keep the relief out of my voice. I think to myself about how pathetic I've become. I wrap my arms around her from behind in an effort to reassure myself and I'm relieved when she leans against me.
"Everyone else grew apart," she says softly. "You and Dawn are really the only ones I still talk to..."
"You talk to the others," I say in surprise. "Claud says you invited her to your birthday."
"None of them came though, did they?" she asks with a smile, turning her head against my shoulder and looking up at me.
"I guess not." I frown. I'm not sure why. We're all still friendly. We're all still in touch, in some way or another. But we have grown apart. Is that why I've been so desperate to keep hold of Mary Anne? Because I thought she and I were headed for the same sort of relationship I have with Claudia and Stacey? I'm friends with them, of course, and now and then we catch up for coffee or a beer on a Friday night... But then there are weeks where I barely even think about them.
I don't ever want to be like that with Mary Anne. She's been around for as long as I can remember. So has Claudia, but Claudia was always... outside. Claudia was different. Mary Anne and I just clicked. Opposites attract, I guess, and we're a good example of how well it can work. Aren't we?
"When did you become so needy?" she asks with a smile, looking up at me.
I grin at her, feeling embarrassed. "I dunno. When college started, I guess. I lost all that security."
"People aren't as easy to boss around in college, huh."
I give her a shove and she giggles and rests her back against my chest again before she turns her head and presses her lips softly against mine.
I pull back in alarm. "Mary Anne..."
She sighs and looks up at me tiredly, not sorry, but not disappointed that I pulled away, either.
After a moment's hesitation I kiss her back, just once, gently on the mouth
She rests her head against my shoulder. "I'm tired," she says. "I had too much to drink."
"Yeah..." I move backwards and she crawls up into the bed with me, throwing the towel out onto the floor once she's under the sheet.
I lie beside her, wanting to ask her about the kiss and if it meant anything or if it was just something she did impulsively because we're upset and she's had a bit to drink.
I reach over and turn the lamp off and suddenly we're in the dark. I can hear her breathing and I can feel the warmth of her body in the bed beside me. Somehow it seems safer with the lights out.
"Do you always kiss your friends when you've been drinking?" I ask after a moment.
"No," she answers quietly. "I don't really kiss anyone when I've been drinking. Logan, once, but you know how well that ended."
I find myself giggling as I remember the teary phone call Mary Anne made to me after she and Logan had failed to resist one another, yet again, at a party after a football game. Why do I keep going back to him, Kristy? Why can't I leave him behind?
Because he's familiar, and because, maybe, you love him.
I smile to myself in the dark. I wish I'd remembered that earlier. Maybe it'd have calmed me down, listening to my own advice. Mary Anne might have changed on the surface, but she keeps returning to whatever is familiar, in some form or another.
Even if it is to an idiot like Logan. Or myself.
"You aren't mad, are you?" she asks after a moment. "I didn't really mean anything by it."
"No," I answer. "I don't mind."
She may not have meant anything by it. But it did mean something to me, no matter how small.
I turn my head on the pillow and I can see the faint outline of her profile in the dark. Beside me.