Chapter 1: Hi, I'm your ex-Nostalgia Chick, and I remember because--well, frankly, because at this point, my memories are the only thing I have left.
"Excuse me," said a little old woman. "Do you work here?"
No, thought Lindsay. I just hang around the Buy More in a green polo shirt to fool people into thinking I work here. (Although, really, that was something she possibly could see herself doing, so maybe the sarcasm was out of order.)
"Yes, ma'am," Lindsay said instead--she couldn't afford to alienate any more customers this month. She was already on thin enough ice as it was. "How can I help you?"
"I'm looking to buy a new television," said the little old woman. "A really big one."
"How far away from your television do you usually sit?" Lindsay asked automatically, as she led the woman towards the television department, where a dozen big screens were all displaying Live with Kelly and Justin.
"Oh, don't you just love Nostalgia Chick?" the woman said when the cameras closed in on Kelly and Justin's next guest.
Lindsay summoned all of her willpower to bite her tongue. She really needed this sale.
"Do you have a favorite movie?" Kelly was asking.
"The Little Mermaid," answered Nostalgia Chick immediately. "It teaches such important family values, about sacrificing everything if something is important enough.”
Justin nodded. "Such an empowering message," he said.
Lindsay gritted her teeth.
"So rumor has it," continued Kelly, "that you have a nude scene in your upcoming movie, Nostalgia Chick: The Motion Picture."
The Chick nodded. "It's true. I was real apprehensive at first, but--anything for one's art, right?"
"Absolutely," agreed Justin. "So when are we going to get to see this?"
Nostalgia Chick smiled shyly. "Well, the film comes out in theatres this July, but maybe I'll see if I can get you an advance screening."
"Oh my God," Lindsay said, unable to control herself. "She's flirting with Justin fu--" She glanced at the little old woman and cut herself off before she got any further into the "fucking" and finished with "Bieber."
"Remember you can find Nostalgic Chick in her hour-long television show, weekday afternoons at 4pm on CBS,” Kelly reminded the audience.
"Are you okay, dear?" the little old woman asked, staring at Lindsay. "You look a little flushed. Although, you know, you actually look a lot like the Nostalgia Chick yourself, now that I think about it. Except for the hair, of course. Did you ever think of getting it died?"
Lindsay took a deep breath. "She's wearing a wig."
Lindsay entered her apartment, her soul sucked dry by the demeaning monotony of her job at the Buy More. Her dog, Mignon, ran up to greet her, and Lindsay smiled sadly as she bent down to pet Mignon. At least one person in her life hadn't abandoned her. Of course, that one person was totally dependent on her for food and water and quite literally had the I.Q. of a small dog, but at this point, she was willing to take what she could get.
"It wasn't always like this," she reminded Mignon as she bent down to fill the dog's bowls with food and water. Once upon a time, Lindsay had been happy. She had had friends, and a job she was good at and found fulfilling.
Once, she had been the Nostalgia Chick.
"Sic transit gloria Monday," she said with a sigh as she pulled a six-pack of cheep beer out of the fridge. "C'est la vie. Que sera, sera." If she had known any other foreign-language expressions of equivalent sentiment, she no doubt would have said them too.
She passed her framed Tisch diploma hanging on the wall as she walked back to the living room. Fat load of good that had done her recently, of course, but as she passed it she saw her reflection in the glass. "Oh, Lindsay," she said to her reflection, "whatever happened to us?"
3 months earlier,
Finally, thought the Makeover Fairy as she silently made her way through the Nostalgia Chick's apartment, I'll have my revenge. Soon the Nostalga Chick would no longer be able to interfere with her makeovers with her silly feminist convictions. And really, what was the problem with the color pink?
Calm down, the Fairy reminded herself. Letting the Nostalgia Chick ruin her calm would only lead to breakouts and nothing good. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out.
Duly calmed, she made her way into the bedroom. When a loose floorboard creaked, she froze in place, but the Chick only stirred without fully waking. After a moment, the Fairy continued on until she stood at the side of the Chick's bed. Pulling out a pair of scissors from her makeover kit and gently picking up one of the Chick's pigtails, the Fairy carefully cut off a single lock of hair and placed it in a glass petri dish.
Once she had succesfully made her way out of the Chick's apartment without waking her, the Fairy looked down at the hair in the petri dish and smiled. Stage one of her plan was completed.
She would have her revenge against the Nostalgia Chick.
"So," said the Makeover Fairy, sliding the petri dish across the table. "You can do it?"
"We can do it," Dr. Tease answered immediately. When Dr. Block simply sat in silence, however, she turned to her partner in science and asked quizzically, "Can't we?"
"We can do it," Dr. Block agreed at last. "But to properly bond the genetic sequencers, we're going to need some phlebotinum."
"Phlebotinum?" the Makeover Fairy asked.
"Phlebotinum," Tease supplied helpfully, "is any magical, mystical, or scientific force, event, or object that furthers world-building or advances the plot."
"I know what phlebotinum is," said the Fairy, somewhat testily. "And I know exactly where to find some."
"Who's there?" Lord MacGuffin said, rising from his chair with some trepidation.
The Makeover Fairy stepped out of the shadows. "I suppose you know why I am here, Lord."
MacGuffin's hand went involuntarily to his propeller beanie. "I always knew you would collect on your debt one day."
The Fairy nodded. "I need some phlebotinum," she told him. "And something tells me you are just the man to give me it."
"Why did we agree to this again?" Block asked.
"She promised us wealth, power, beauty," Tease answered. "And men."
"Well," Block conceded, "those are all good things."
"Lindsay," Nella noted, "that's the tenth time you've checked the time in the last thirty seconds."
Lindsay sheepishly slipped her cell phone back into her purse. "Sorry. It's just Todd said he would meet us here at 1:00," she said. "And right now it's"--she pulled her cell phone back out of her purse and checked the time again--"1:02."
Nella blinked. "I don't think two minutes late is that extreme."
It was just that Todd usually avoided meeting with her if at all possible, so his suggesting they get together while they both happened to be in New York was a big deal, even if he did insist her friends be there as well. And he said he had good news to tell them, and it wasn't all that unreasonable to hope the good news was that he had given up on pursuing Lupa and was now interested in her, was it? With a deft skill born of many years of doublethink, she quickly silence her inner voice of reason before it had a chance to answer the question. "Wait, why isn't Elisa here?"
"She thought her canon characterization wasn't consistent enough for her to appear in this fic," Nella answered, which made sense. "Hey, there's Todd, and he's with--" She broke off, confusion written across her face. "You. Only blonde. And . . . girly."
"What?" asked Lindsay, twisting around in her seat. Sure enough, there was Todd, making his way to their table, and with him was a young woman who could have been Lindsay's mirror reflection except that she wore a blonde wig (it was definitely a wig) and an outfit, complete with pink miniskirt, that looked like it belonged on the DVD cover of Legally Blonde 4.
"Nella, Nostalgia Chick," said Todd, "I'd like you to meet my new girlfriend, Mary Sue Chick." He stopped, as if a thought had just occurred to him. "Hey, you two could be related."
Lindsay just stared at him for a long moment, without expression. "You have absolutely no idea that my last name isn't actually Chick, do you?"
Todd shrugged as he pulled out Mary Sue's chair, then seated himself next to her. Lindsay just stared at her Spock-with-a-beard counterpart, trying to process the strange turn of events into something resembling some vague facsimile of sense--and utterly failing. "So what happened to Lupa?"
"Lindsay!" chastised Nella, scandalized.
"It's okay," said Todd. "Mary Sue knows I only have eyes for her now. We ran into each other at the Buy More--I was looking for new headphones--and it was love at first sight."
"She looks exactly like me," Lindsay said, feeling that somebody should point out the obvious. "If it was love at first sight, then you should have fallen in love with me." Which, of course, he should have.
Todd looked pained--possibly. It was hard to tell under the mask. "I hoped you would be glad for us."
"Could this day get any worse?" Lindsay asked rhetorically, then instantly clasped her hands over her mouth, realizing her mistake.
Nella just glared at her. "Lindsay, really."
Just then, her cell phone rang. "It's the Critic," she said, reading the display.
"Well, then you should probably answer it," Nella said, still shaking her head. "He is, like, your boss or something."
"Hello?" Lindsay said timidly into the phone.
"Nostalgia Chick," the Critic greeted her with his typical gleeful bravado. "I was just calling to tell you I've given your job to Mary Sue. Nothing personal, you understand, I just think she'll be better for business. Gentleman prefer blondes, and all that."
"She's wearing a wig," she said, but he had already disconnected.
Two months later,
There was a knock on the door. Lindsay opened it to see three figures, two men in black suits and a woman in a black skirtsuit. "Ms. Ellis?" the woman asked.
Lindsay gulped. "Yes?"
"Good woman," the woman said in a brisk monotone. "We represent BFF, Inc. I'm afraid you missed your last few payments."
"Yeah, I sort of lost my job recently," Lindsay admitted. "But you don't mean--"
"I'm afraid so, Ms. Ellis," the woman said, her voice emotionless. "We're here to repossess your Nella."
"Liinnnddddsssssayyyyyy!" Nella called out, struggling as the two men pulled her out of the room.
"Nehhlllaaaah!" Lindsey cried back, reaching out for Nella, but the skirtsuited-woman strategically placed herself between the two best friends, blocking the way.
Lindsay tore her gaze away from her reflection in the diploma frame. Now that she had gotten the obligatory flashbacks out of the way, she decided, it was time to become proactive about her life.
"Lindsay!" Nella said, surprised. "How did you find me here?"
“When you removed all the cameras from your parents’ house? You actually missed a couple.”
"Ah," said Nella.
Lindsay looked around. "So, you're some new girl's BFF now? What's that like?"
"It's horrible!" said Nella. "She doesn't like Kirk or Picard."
Lindsay considered this. "Well, both Sisko and Janeway do have some legitimately badass moments," she said. Then a horrible possibility occurred to her. "Unless you mean she likes Archer." An involuntary shiver ran across her spine.
"Worse," answered Nella. "She doesn't like Star Trek at all."
Nella nodded. "You have to get me out of here, Lindsay."
"Don't worry," Lindsay said. "We're going to fix this."
"But how?" asked Nella. "Without your Nostalgia Chick job, you don't make enough to be able to pay BFF, Inc."
"I'm going to remove the source of all my problems," Lindsay explained. "Cut out the cancer which has poisoned my life." She looked Nella in the eye, her gaze one of steel. "Nostalgia Chick must die."
Chapter 2: And Nostalgia Chick Wept
The further adventures of Team NChick as Lindsay confronts the Nostalgia Clone and discovers something bigger than any of them. Literally.
"So this is NChick Studios," Lindsay said, staring with more than a little awe and jealousy at the massive complex. "And to think that when I had the job, we just filmed out of my apartment."
"But how are we going to get in?" asked Nella. "Security looks pretty tight."
Lindsay held up a blonde wig. "Oh, I think I might know a way."
Lindsay made her way through NChick Studios followed by Nella. Every once and while, they would pass a studio employee, who would instantly straighten up and greet her with a "Good morning, Nostalgia Chick." She had to admit that she enjoyed the sycophancy more than she should have, even if it was stolen.
In addition to the deference from the employees who believed her to be Mary Sue, it felt good to be on a mission with her BFF Nella again. With Nella at her side, she knew there was nothing they could not accomplish.
"There she is," whispered Nella, and sure enough, Lindsay could see her identical copy having a conversation with one of the show's producers. Lindsay and Nella waited out of sight until the producer left, then came up behind Mary Sue and knocked her out from behind. Lindsay lent down over the other woman, about to place her hand over Mary Sue's mouth and nose to asphyxiate her, when she heard someone coming, and gestured for Nella to help her hide Mary Sue in the closet instead.
"There you are," said Todd. "Shouldn't you be in your dressing room? The show starts in ten minutes."
"My dressing room," said Lindsay. "Right." Where the hell was Mary Sue's dressing room? "Why don't you come with me?"
A smile spread across the lower, unmasked portion of Todd's face. "Well, we do have ten minutes to kill," he said.
She stepped out on the stage, and was greeted by thunderous applause. She swallowed. She had never done the show live before, at least not unless you counted Nella, Elisa, and Mignon as a "live audience."
"Hi, I'm your Nostalgia Chick," she read off the teleprompter. "We have a great show for--"
"Wait!" said Mary Sue, rushing onto the stage holding an icepack to her temple. Nella trailed behind her. "That's not Nostalgic Chick! That's an imposter!" With a dramatic gesture, she pulled off Lindsay's wig.
Lindsay just rolled her eyes. "Puh-lease," she said, and pulled off Mary Sue's wig.
Todd stepped out onto the stage. "Mary Sue? Lindsay?" He looked back and forth between the once and present Nostalgia Chicks. "Wait. So which one of you did I have sex with just now?"
Mary Sue stared at Lindsay. "You had sex with my boyfriend while pretending to me?"
"Maybe?" Lindsay hazarded timidly. When Mary Sue put it that way, it sounded pretty bad. "But you took away everything I ever cared about. My job, my BFF, my boyfriend--"
"Uhm, I was never your boyfriend," Todd pointed out, but then stepped back under the intensity of her glare.
"Well, you can have it all back," Mary Sue said. "You came here to kill me? Well, you could have gotten what you wanted just by waiting a few weeks. I'm dying, Lindsay."
The audience gasped.
"What?" asked Todd.
"It's true, my love," Mary Sue explained. "Block and Tease give me a month to live, maybe less. Apparently the phlebotinum they used to create me must have been unstable."
Lindsay blinked, unsure what to do with this new information. Was she really supposed to feel sorry for Mary Sue--the very woman she had come here to kill?
Suddenly, Mary Sue gasped and fell to her knees. A hush fell on the entire studio, as Mary Sue pulled herself back up to her full stature, her eyes now burning.
"Wait," said Lindsay. "What just happened?"
"I suspect," said Lord MacGuffin, stepping out onto the stage, "that she has been taken over by the same intergalactic quasi-demonic force of evil which animated Dark Nella."
"Wow," said Nella. "That's really useful exposition, Lord MacGuffin."
"No problem," he answered, with a little bow. "Noblesse oblige."
"Goodbye, Lindsay," Mary Sue said, an evil smile spreading across her face. Lindsay watched as Mary Sue began to hover above the floor of the stage, and then her body became enflamed with black fire, before she flew right through the ceiling and away.
"Where do you think she's going?" asked Nella.
"I don't know," answered Lindsay. "But I have feeling we better follow her."
"We can take the Nostalgia Plane," offered Todd.
Lindsay just stared dumbfounded at him for a moment. "The what?"
Todd shrugged. "It'd be easier just to show you," he said. "Follow me."
"Wait," said Nella. "What are we going to do with the live studio audience?"
"Take a bow," suggested Lindsay, followed her own suggestion by bowing to the audience, then ran off following Todd.
"Wait, Mary Sue had a giant secret base built under NChick Studios?" Lindsay asked, looking around her in awe.
Todd nodded. "She called it the Nostalgia Cave."
"I'm almost starting to like her now," Lindsay admitted. "This place is fucking cool."
"It looks like there's some sort of secret underground compound underneath the ground," Nella said as she landed the Nostalgia Plane. "Mary Sue must have gone inside."
Lindsay led Nella and Todd out of the plane and down into the underground compound.
"Wait," said Todd. "Do you hear that?"
Lindsay paused. Sure enough there seemed to be a banging emanating from one of the closets. When they opened it, Block and Tease burst out.
"Nostal---I mean, Lindsay!" said Tease. "Thank God you found us! Who knows how long we would have been trapped in there if you didn't find us! We were already beginning to consider cannibalism."
Block looked at her partner quizzically. "No we weren't," she said.
"You keep telling yourself that," Tease told her.
"How did you get locked in the closet?" asked Lindsay.
"That pathologically perverse power-pursuing pink pixie!" said Block.
"Calm down, Block," said Tease, resting a reassuring hand on Block's shoulder. "You're alliterating."
"You mean the Makeover Fairy is behind all this?" Lindsay asked.
Block and Tease nodded. "When we refused to assist her any further in her evil plan," explained Block, "she locked us in the closet!"
"Wait." Lindsay crossed her arms. "Did you two clone me?"
"Of course not," answered Tease immediately.
Lindsay simply said nothing.
"Okay," Tease said, breaking under Lindsay's stare, "maybe be we did do a little bit of harmless cloning."
"Okay, first--she stole my job, and is now possessed by our friend the quasi-demonic intergalactic force of evil, so not so harmless. Second--what did I tell you about cloning?"
Tease looked at the floor. "Not to do it," she recited dutifully.
"Thank you," said Lindsay, relieved to have at last gotten at least a moral victory. "Now lets find Mary Sue. Or the Makeover Fairy."
"Although technically," Tease added, obviously not knowing when to shut up as she followed Lindsay, "you only told me not to clone Nella. You didn't say anything about cloning--" She broke off when Lindsay turned around and glared.
The five of them walked through the compound until they came to a giant chamber filled with thousands of giant test tubes containing . . . thousands of floating naked clones of Lindsay.
"Holy shit," said Lindsay, because really, what else was there to say?
"Do you like my little army of Nostalgia Clones?" asked a familiar voice and, sure enough, when Lindsay turned around, there was the Makeover Fairy. "Armed with this army of clones, I will be able to be makeover the world!" And then she laughed a malevolent, maniacal, high-pitched giggle. "And there's nothing you can do about it."
"Probably not," Lindsay agreed amicably. "But the copy of my genetic blueprint currently possessed by a quasi-demonic intergalactic force of evil and is standing behind you? I'm thinking she might be able to do some damage."
"What?" said the Makeover Fairy, turning around. Her eyes narrowed. "Mary Sue! How are you?"
Mary Sue made no comment, even as her eyes burned with black flame.
"Well, gee, isn't this giant cavern full of vats containing floating naked clones awfully nerdy and gratuitous?" Lindsay asked, deliberately projecting her voice.
"Well, let me see," answered Block, catching on and projecting her voice to match Lindsay's as she examined her clipboard. "Nerdy? Yes, check, definitely nerdy. Gratuitous?"
"The very definition of gratuitous," offered Todd.
Black flame erupted from Mary Sue's face and hands and filled the cavern, bursting vat after vat of floating naked clones.
"No!" cried out the Makeover Fairy. "My clones! What have you done?"
"No!" cried out Mary Sue, the Nostalgia Force seemingly having departed her, as she crouched over the burnt corpse of one of the Nostalgia Clones. "My sisters! What have I done?"
"You will pay for this, Nostalgia Chick!" shouted the Makeover Fairy as she began to . . . grow taller. And taller. And her legs, arms, and ears seemed to dissolve into her elongated body.
"She's turned into a giant snake!" shouted Nella, presumably for the benefit of any visually-impaired persons who might inexplicably be present. (Well, Todd was wearing his mask.)
"And its piiiinnnnnk!" added Lindsay.
The giant pink snake lunged at the assembled members of Team NChick, who promptly and wisely began running away from it. When it opened its massive maws, however--
"It breathes fire!" Nella noted.
"And its piiiinnnnnk!" added Lindsay.
Lindsay ran as hard as she could, trying to evade the pink fire of the Makeover Snake's breath, but it was a losing battle. She could feel the flames as they got closer and closer to her, until suddenly she felt herself be knocked out of the way.
"Mary Sue!" she called out as she watched her clone take her place in front of the pink fire--and then watched as the giant snake came crashing to the ground, with Nella standing upon holding a large sword. "Wait, isn't that--"
"A replica of the sword Excalibur from the BBC series Merlin starring Colin Morgan and Bradley James?" asked Nella. "Yes. Yes, yes it is."
"But where did it come from?" asked Lindsay.
"I brought it with me on the plane," explained Nella. "I thought it might come in useful."
"But how did you--you know what, I don't even want to know," said Lindsay. "I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth." Instead, she made her way to where Mary Sue was being tended by Block and Tease. "How is she, doctors?"
"Not good," Tease answered. "These burns are twelfth-degree burns." Off of Block's look, she hazarded, "Seventh-degree? How about 3.14?"
Block sighed. "She has been badly burnt," she said. "There might not be much we can do."
"It's okay," said Mary Sue. "This way I'll die here, with my sisters. Go on. I think I have left enough of the quasi-demonic intergalactic force of evil's powers to bring this place down behind you once you leave."
"There has to be another way," Lindsay protested, but Mary Sue shook her head.
"Just go," Mary Sue insisted, even as the black flames began to rise from her body. "But Lindsay, remember: You're our Nostalgia Chick. You remember because--"
Before Lindsay could hear why she remembered, Nella had grabbed her hand and began pulling her out of the cavern and through the underground compound towards the exit. Behind them, the black flames engulfed more and more of the compound, so that once they finally made it to the surface, there was little more than a crater left where the compound had been.
The five of them stared down at the crater. "Now what do we do?" asked Nella.
"I think I'm going to call Lupa," answered Todd as he pulled out his cell phone.
"Did you perhaps use some type of vehicle to transport yourselves here?" asked Dr. Block. "One that perhaps we might be able to use to return ourselves to civilization?"
"Oh, yeah, of course, it's just over here," said Nella. "Lindsay, you coming?"
"You guys go ahead," answered Lindsay, not taking her eyes off the crater. "I'll catch up in a bit."
Nella stared at Lindsay for a moment, then nodded. "Here," she said, pressing something into Lindsay's hand, then began to lead Block, Tease, and Todd back to the plane.
Lindsay glanced down at her hand. In her palm, were two elastic bands.
Lindsay looked out across the crater and thought about Mary Sue, about the Makeover Fairy, about a thousand clones who never had so much as names of their own. This crater was their grave, now.
Slowly, solemnly, she used the two bands to pull her hair back into two pigtails. "I'm your Nostalgia Chick," she said, her voice little more than a hoarse whisper. "And I remember."