Original Story Title: opening and upward
Original Story Link: http://archiveofourown.org/works/782627
Original Story Pairings: Sally Donovan/Molly Hooper
Original Story Rating: T
Original Story Warnings/Content Notes: No warnings apply.
Remix Author: persiflager
Remix Story Title: to leaf and to sap
Remix Story Pairings: Sally Donovan/Molly Hooper
Remix Story Rating: T
Remix Story Warnings/Content Notes: No warnings apply.
Remix Story Beta: peeveee
Remix Story Britpicker: peeveee
Summary: Sally tries to be a good friend and mostly succeeds.
Sally was watching crap telly with her little brother and feeling sorry for herself when the phone rang. She waited a moment to see if anyone else would go, then slowly unfolded herself off the sofa and moped into the hall.
“Sally?” said Molly in a small, wobbly voice. Sally frowned and was about to ask why Molly wasn’t at the dance when the whole story poured out in a rush – after waiting for nearly an hour, Molly had finally come to the humiliating conclusion that she’d been stood up and was sitting at home alone with only a bad-tempered cat for company.
By the time Molly stopped for breath Sally had run through her initial reaction (horrible, selfish gladness), and her second (murdering Tom Slaney) and had managed to wrench herself into supportive friend mode.
“I’ll go with you,” she found herself saying in a calm, steady voice. “If you need someone to go with, I can go with you.”
“Are you sure?” said Molly, sounding surprised. “You don’t have to, if you don’t-
“I’ll be there in half an hour,” said Sally firmly before she could change her mind.
She hung up, took a deep breath and poked her head into the kitchen. “Can I borrow the car?”
“Why?” asked her dad, wrist-deep in suds at the sink. He rinsed a plate and passed it to her mum to dry.
“Molly’s boyfriend didn’t show up to take her to that dance at school,” said Sally, shifting from foot to foot. “She sounded really upset. She’s been looking forward to it for ages.”
Her dad sighed. “What time will you be back?”
“Eleven. At the latest. I think she’s been crying,” added Sally for good measure.
Sally’s dad rinsed another plate. “Alright. Is this boy going to be there?”
“Well, ignore him if he does show up.”
Sally glowered at him. “That was ten years ago, I was in primary school. I’m not going to hit anyone.”
“What are you going to wear?” asked Sally’s mum as she dried a plate.
Sally shrugged. “Black skirt and a top?” She caught the wistful look on her mum’s face. “I mean, I don’t have anything else, unless you’ll let me borrow something …”
“Go on then,” said her mum, smiling, with a jerk of her chin.
Sally raced up the stairs.
Her mum’s wardrobe was crammed to bursting with clothes, from the everyday work clothes on the right to the rarely worn pretty things on the left. Sally had made forays into this territory before, when her parents were out; she’d spent stolen hours trying on outfit after outfit, watching herself become different women in the full-length mirror.
Not everything fit - her mum was a couple of inches shorter than her and a few pounds heavier - but there was a slinky, stretchy grey dress that made her feel grown up and glamorous. She tugged it off the hanger and dashed to her bedroom where she flung off her clothes and wriggled into the dress in about thirty seconds flat, smoothing it down her sides with self-conscious glee.
Sally’s one pair of black strappy shoes completed the outfit. She bent over and looked at herself in the small mirror on her chest of drawers, ran her fingers through her hair, stared at herself for a moment and then dug around in the top drawer until she found the purple smoky eye-shadow that Molly had given her for her last birthday. A quick swipe of lilac over each eyelid and she was …
Transformed. It was as if the soft powdery make-up had bewitched her eyes, so that she saw someone else entirely in the mirror. Still staring at her reflection, Sally ran her hand slowly over her hair, half-expecting to find it frizzy with the electricity she could feel crackling under her skin.
The hall clock chimed half past eight and Sally jumped. She glanced at the mirror one last time, pulled a face and ran downstairs.
“You look nice, love,” said Sally’s mum, wandering into the hall.
Sally shrugged self-consciously as she grabbed her keys and wallet.
“Don’t you want your jacket?”
“Mum.It’s warm, I’ll be fine.”
Her mum beamed indulgently. “Alright. Have a lovely time!”
Sally was already out the door.
Molly had been so happy when Tom asked her to the dance that Sally hadn’t even had the heart to be sarcastic.
“Will you come shopping with me?” Molly asked as they walked to the bus stop after school. “You’ve got much better taste than me, and I really want to look nice, and-“
“Course I will,” said Sally, her stomach sinking.
It wasn’t as painful as she’d feared. Sally gritted her teeth and steered Molly away from the overly formal black dresses and towards a cute pink dress with a short, swingy skirt that would be good for dancing in.
“Do you think he’ll like it?” asked Molly in the Miss Selfridge changing room, anxiously twisting round to look at herself in the mirror.
“He’s not blind, so yes,” said Sally, looking away.
Afterwards they went to McDonalds for lunch and took their strawberry milkshakes to the park and talked about non-Tom-related subjects, so it wasn’t all bad.
“Do you think I should have waited a bit longer?” asked Molly, fidgeting in the passenger seat. She smelled of vanilla body spray and candyfloss lip balm. “I mean, maybe he got the time wrong, or forgot to put the clock forward, or-“
“Then he’s an idiot.”
“What if he was sick?”
Sally stopped at a red light. “Then he could have called.”
“Maybe he was too sick, maybe … oh god, what if he’s dead!
“Then you can take a nice bunch of flowers to the funeral.”
The lights turned green and Sally concentrated on driving for a couple of minutes. She felt over-dressed and awkward and wasn’t used to driving in shoes with heels.
“Why do you like him so much, anyway?” Sally asked when they were nearly at the school. “I didn’t think you knew him well.”
Molly shrugged. “He’s … I thought he was nice.”
“Fit, you mean.”
“Well, yes.” Molly stared out of the window. “I don’t know. I know I’m not - he asked me and it was nice, that’s all. To be asked.”
“I know you think that’s stupid-”
“I don’t think you’re stupid,” said Sally hurriedly. “I just think you could do better. You deserve someone who appreciates you.”
She parked and looked up to find Molly looking at her thoughtfully. “What?”
“Oh! Nothing, sorry, I just – um, thanks. That’s a really nice thing to say.”
Sally snorted. “I’m not nice.”
“You are sometimes. You’re nice to me. And when you’re nice it’s because you mean it, not because you think you should,” said Molly in a rush. “Um. We should go inside.”
Sally stared at her for a moment before unbuckling her seatbelt. “Right. Let’s go and dance.”
Sally’s not an idiot. She’s got a plan, which is to wait until the day after the last day of school and then ask Molly out properly. All she has to do is wait just over a year and hope that Molly doesn’t get a boyfriend.
(Actually she’ll probably do it even if Molly does have a boyfriend by then; all the boys Molly likes are idiots, and competition isn’t what Sally’s afraid of.)
The school hall felt like a war-zone - hot, dark and noisy, with a bass beat thumping like an assault and strobe lighting capturing action shots in harsh white flashes of light.
Sally dragged Molly straight onto the dance floor before she could chicken out and they bounced along to the music, swinging their hips and waving their hands about with more enthusiasm than coordination. After a few songs Sally felt bright, lit up by energy from the noise in her ears and the rhythm vibrating through her feet and the happy, lairy crowd dancing around them.
Molly must have felt it as well because she laughed out loud, beaming up at Sally. Her forehead was shiny and strands of hair were starting to escape.
“I love this song!” yelled Molly, waving her arms above her head, the folds of her skirt swirling round her like flower petals.
“I know!” Sally yelled back, grinning, without missing a beat.
Sally spotted Tom the dickhead at one point, dancing with a girl from the year below on the far side of the hall, and wondered if Lynx had finally nailed the formula that made pretty girls fancy unattractive prats with stupid, over-gelled hair and weird laughs. For a brief moment she thought about storming over there and causing a scene but Molly looked flushed and happy so Sally decided to let it go.
Eventually they stopped for drinks and Molly suggested heading outside to cool down. They found an empty wall and leaned back against the concrete, Molly’s body a warm, anchoring presence down Sally’s side. The cool night air carried the music to them, swelling briefly every time someone stepped outside. There were cigarette butts on the ground and the faint smell of smoke.
“This is nice,” said Sally with a sigh, looking up at the starry sky. Sweat prickled on her skin. “Hey look, full moon.”
“I’m really glad,” said Molly quietly, “you know, that you - that you’re here.”
“Yeah? Me too.” Sally felt warm and buzzy.
Molly was silent for a while. Sally gave her a sideways glance before bumping her knee against Molly’s in a friendly ‘hello’.
Molly swallowed, bent down and set her can on the floor before straightening up so that she was looking right at Sally. She was close, so close that Sally can feel Molly’s warm breath on her face. Sally’s heart raced. Molly rested her fingers lightly on Sally’s hip, barely touching but flame-hot, burning through the silky, slinky fabric to Sally’s skin beneath.
“Um,” she said, looking up at Sally with her dark, determined eyes.
Sally stared down at Molly’s pale fingers and covered them with her own before Molly could take them away.
Molly pressed her hand harder against Sally, palm curving round her, and she leaned in and kissed her. On the mouth, lips against lips, quick and sweet and shocking.
“Was that,” said Molly as she pulled back, looking worried. “I mean, I haven’t done that a lot, and actually, you probably know that but I really don’t know how to-”
“You kissed me,” said Sally, staring.
“Yes,” said Molly, her face crumpling. “Sorry, I shouldn’t have-“
“No, it was good. Really good.”
“Oh. Good,” said Molly, blinking. She glanced down and up again, cheeks blazing. “Um. I really like this dress,” she said, rubbing her thumb across Sally’s hipbone.
“Oh,” said Sally stupidly.
Then she pulled Molly close, one hand on the small of her back and one on the back of her neck getting tickled by the loose strands of Molly’s ponytail, and kissed her as well as she knew how. It was warm and wet and sweet with the artificial taste of orange, and when Molly licked against Sally’s lips, Sally opened her mouth and let her in.
As it turns out Sally is an idiot, but it’s ok because her girlfriend is a fucking genius.
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