Joan wonders sometimes if her adoration blinds her. If it’s true she’d rather lie to herself and say that it’s a fucking fabrication…because it hurts too much to admit it and God knows she needs this one thing in her life even if she has nothing else.
Cherie comes in, drunk, high and in all manner of other unprofessional conditions. When she sings, she sings poorly. Lita says it’s half-assed- a half-assed effort and not even that. The other two girls don’t express their agreement but don’t argue either.
Joan is quiet in these moments. She is quiet when after a while, magazines have nothing but Cherie’s pretty face plastered to them and nothing to say about any other band member. She feels Lita, Jackie and even Sandy stare at her pointedly- as if they expect her to say something- and it hurts each time she forces herself to turn away and ignore them. They look at her like she has forsaken them.
But fuck...Joan didn't ask for any of this...
Of course, they all eventually turn against Cherie. It was inevitable that they would. Every inch of Joan wants to call Lita a liar, to tell her to shut the fuck up every time she calls Cherie out but she knows…deep down she knows that Lita has a point.
“You’re a fucking idiot!” The lead guitarist screams at her blonde bandmate, “How can you fucking expect to show up stoned and pissed when you gotta be recording music in a fucking studio?!”
Cherie seems to shrug her off as she always does, tossing her hair back with her nose held high. She seems unfazed and full of self-confidence...and dare Joan say…arrogance?
“Fucking attention-seeking, whiny, bratty diva…that’s what you are!”
“Lita” Joan’s voice is deadly but she is avoiding everyone’s eyes as usual, looking down at her own shoes. She doesn’t know why she’s become so aggressive towards Lita as of recent. “Shut the fuck up or I’ll make you”
The guitarist gives her a confused stare and her jaw drops a little but she quickly composes herself and gets into Joan’s face.
“Oh yeah?” She challenges, eyes sparkling. “Well what the fuck can you do to me?!”
“I’ll kick you out” Joan chokes out, the words feeling strange as they leave her mouth. “I’ll kick your ass out”
Joan doesn’t like the person she’s becoming. She can’t believe she has threatened to kick out one of her band members- all because of Cherie Currie. She can hardly believe her own self. She’s horrified. The Runaways are supposed to be some sort of…team…however dysfunctional that team might be and here she is, making a war between them.
“You should hear yourself!” Lita screams, “Sticking up for this fucking dumbass…” She looks pointedly at Cherie and yells at her, “you’re bringing our entire band down, you’re a fucking embarrassment!”
Joan cringes as she sees the hurt expression pass fleetingly across Cherie’s face. For a second, it loses the fierce, don’t-give-a-fuck snarl and becomes so soft and almost childishly innocent that Joan’s heart aches a little. She looks as if she’s about to cry.
At times like this Joan is reminded of just how young Cherie is. She’s only a bit younger than herself but somehow, when she looks at Cherie she feels like it’s her responsibility to protect her from the evils of the world. Everything about her screams youth and innocence and Joan somehow feels that it's her duty to preserve that.
As if confirming her thoughts, Cherie makes a small movement to stand a little bit behind Joan as if Joan can shield her from Lita’s attacks.
“Yes, go hide behind your girlfriend like you always do” The redhead taunts, then attempts to mimick Cherie, putting on a high-pitched, hysterical voice, “Save me, Joanie! Pretty please, Joanie! Stick your guitar up my ass, Joanie!”
Cherie looks across at her murderously, lips pursed. "You better shut the fuck up"
Lita laughs loudly and waltzes over, putting her hands on her hips. "Go ahead and try to fuck me up, Bitch. I'll rip your face off in a second!"
Before Cherie can respond, Joan is between the two of them in a second and grabs Lita by the arm and pulls her away.
"Hey!" Lita tries to shove her off and directs some of her anger her way, "What the fuck are you-"
Joan releases her once they've reached the other side of the studio and Lita grabs at her bicep, wincing and rubbing at the red marks on her arm which come from Joan's nails cutting into her skin.
“-Don’t hurt her, Lita” Joan whispers weakly once she's certain they're out of Cherie's earshot. She lowers her head, her voice, everything about her suddenly faint and there's a strange sort of desperation to her. She falls to her knees and shoves her face in her hands. “Just leave her alone, okay? Please”
Lita stares at her with complete shock written on her face. She shakes her head.
“I used to respect you…I never thought I’d be saying this to you” Her expression is full of disappointment now, “You’re pathetic”
Joan can’t argue because feels exactly that.
“I know” She chokes out so softly Lita probably can't hear her, head bowed, shame and guilt overflowing from her in waves. At least she now has the strength to admit it to herself, Joan thinks.
She looks over to the other side of the room to make sure Cherie isn't listening in to their conversation. The singer seems immersed in a new conversation with Sandy.
Lita’s lowers her voice and she looks at Joan seriously, scathingly, shaking her head again. “What, are you trying to make her love you or something?” She laughs loudly after she says this and Joan feels her face heat up slightly. “She doesn’t and she won’t. I thought you would know that, Joan. You never struck me for a fool. She only loves herself”
Joan swallows heavily and looks down, never meeting her eyes. Lita’s face lights up and this response seems to thrill her. “Oh my God, I can’t believe it…you do”
“I don’t anything” Joan retorts firmly, “You- you shut the fuck up”
The lead guitarist ignores her and waltzes into the room where Sandy, Jackie and their frontwoman have gathered. Joan follows her cautiously, preparing for the worst.
“Congratulations, Cherie!” Lita smirks broadly. “Joan Jett fucking loves you and will gladly kiss your skinny ass for the rest of her life if you just grant her the privilege of beholding your beauty”
“Shut the fuck up, Lita”
Joan hates that she can feel her face becoming redder, her heart pounding against her chest, her palms sweaty. It’s pathetic how...true her statement is and she hates how hard it is for her to deny it. She feels total humiliation wash over her like she never felt before in her life.
Cherie's gaze shifts from Lita to Joan and she looks…though Joan is trying not to even think about how she feels about all this…baffled.
Cherie approaches Joan later in the night in their motel room and the black-haired girl knows exactly why she’s come. She avoids her confused gaze and flinches away from Cherie’s hand on her shoulder when the blonde crawls onto the bed beside her.
She imagines the frontwoman is mocking her.
“If you’re coming to make fun of me you can get the fuck out” She growls, rolling over to back her. She refuses to take another blow to her pride when she's barely got anything left to stand on as it is.
The blonde is silent but she doesn’t move away. Seconds pass.
“I’m not” Her voice is very quiet and Joan very nearly doesn’t hear her. She looks over her shoulder in spite of herself and sees Cherie still looking perplexed by this situation and a little flushed. She doesn’t seem to know what to say and Joan can’t exactly blame her.
“I don’t understand you…this…” Cherie says hesitantly, nervously. They both know what she’s talking about.
“Me neither” Joan mutters honestly. She wishes so badly that she could.
She gathers up courage and sits up, drawing her knees to her chest, facing the other girl. She sees Cherie take a deep breath, opening her mouth a few times before finally vocalizing what Joan knows she’s really wanted to say the whole time.
“Do you really?” She asks, “Do you really…” She trails off, avoiding Joan’s eyes, her cheeks a little pink, biting her lip.
She doesn’t need to finish her sentence. They both know exactly what she’s asking. It shocks Joan that she hasn’t figured out the answer yet. Cherie isn’t an idiot but it never fails to amaze Joan how she will convince herself that the most ridiculous ideas are the solid truth yet remains oblivious to the most obvious things in life.
Joan moves a little closer, her hand shaking a bit- she curses her nerves- and touches her face. She looks up at her, finally and blue and brown eyes meet. A long moment passes and Joan says nothing, just staring into her eyes, knowing that Cherie can understand her just by this, in the same way that she knows exactly what’s running through the blonde’s head as she turns away slightly from Joan’s stare, her brows pinched together.
She pulls away from her completely soon, getting up, crossing her arms over her chest, everything about her screaming awkward, tense, uncomfortable, fearful, panicked…
“I- I’m gonna go get some fresh air” Cherie whispers in a fluster. Joan thinks that this is probably the first time she’s heard Cherie stutter.
She feels her heart sink and a strange kind of sadness and defeat takes over her as her eyes follow the blonde’s retreating form. She grimaces, her hands coming up to pull on her own hair.
She can’t say she didn’t expect this…but this final confirmation still hurts like what she imagines a stab wound would probably feel like.
Joan doesn’t feel like talking or looking anyone in directly in the eye the next day and she doesn’t even want to be in the same room as Cherie.
She is ashamed that she wouldn’t be opposed to throwing herself in front of the nearest car or popping quaaludes until she overdoses and chokes on her own vomit and ends up killing herself.
Lita sneers at her during practice in a way that makes Joan feel like punching her outright. It’s almost as if she knows what happened between Joan and Cherie. Joan can feel her eyes on her all the time, mocking her.
She tries to immerse herself in her guitar, pulling on the strings so hard that she’s close to tearing her fingers open.
Sandy is looking at her confused and Lita becomes irritated as Joan plays her guitar like a berserker, slamming into one hell of a solo that seems to go on forever.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?!” She demands when everyone else has stopped and Joan continues strumming, almost robotically, not seeming to notice anything else around her.
The curvy girl’s gaze shifts from Joan’s blank face to Cherie’s concerned expression and she seems to put two and two together. She zeroes in on Joan.
“Oh, don’t tell me” She lets out a loud laugh, “Lovers’ tiff?”
Joan takes one look at her smiling face and pulls her guitar off, shoving it straight at Lita so that it slams into her chest and nearly knocks her off her own feet and the neck slams into her face. “Fuck you”
She feels Sandy and the other’s shocked eyes on her and hears Cherie’s hesitant voice.
Joan can’t handle this- everything- anymore. She ignores them all, picks up her guitar, straps it over her neck and stomps out of the trailer.
Joan really wants to pretend Cherie doesn’t exist when she comes to her later once again in the motel room.
“What do you want?” Her voice sounds strained even to her own ears. She's in no mood to talk or listen.
She looks up at her, her lips pulled into a fierce snarl, her teeth gritted. Cherie’s eyes widen and Joan can’t be more surprised when she sees them gloss over and Cherie throws her arms around her neck without warning.
Joan is...taken aback. For once, she feels completely at a loss, part of her thinking she can pull away from her and the other part she tries her best to ignore, wanting nothing more than to wrap her arms around her in return. She settles for freezing up, her arms hanging at her sides, not moving but not pulling away either.
Cherie moves away after a while and looks nervously into her eyes, biting that lip again. “I’m sorry” She says softly, “It was wrong for me to run out on you like that yesterday…I just- I just…I was so afraid”
Joan says nothing for a long while, her heart pounding against her chest and Cherie fidgets on the spot, looking as if she’s about to run away again at any second.
The black-haired girl sighs heavily, knowing that it’s time she puts an end to the tension, even though she has a feeling what she’s about to do will probably only complicate things more. It’s time they both face up to the truth.
“I love you” She grimaces, swallowing hard, her whole body and her voice shaking and she feels like it takes up every bit of strength in her just to get these words out, “I fucking love you, Cherie”
The blonde has a sharp intake of breath and her lips part a little, shock visible on her face. Joan knows she already guessed as much but the fact that Joan is finally saying it out loud startles her more than anything.
“And I-love you too, you’re my best friend you know and…” Cherie says quickly, babbling, uncharacteristically nervous. Joan can tell she’s trying desperately to pretend like she doesn’t know exactly what she’s confessing to her and this makes anger rise up in her. She tells herself she won’t back down this time because if there’s one thing Joan is it’s stubborn.
“No!” She says insistently, irritably. She puts her hands on her shoulders and looks right into her eyes. “You know what I mean, dammit! I’m fucking in love with you...”
Cherie stares at her for the longest moment in Joan’s life and for a fleeting second Joan fears that this will end just as it always does. Then Cherie grabs her hand and pulls Joan towards the bed. Joan sits on the edge, dumbfounded as the blonde straddles her lap, her small hands coming up to cup Joan’s face.
She looks into Joan’s eyes with this sense of affection that makes Joan’s stomach squirm and then Cherie's emotions seem to overwhelm her and she breaks down completely..
“I didn’t think I was worth that…to anyone” She confesses, her voice strained, choked. Joan can only stare at her in concern and disbelief. A tear rolls down her cheek and she sniffles and Joan sees something in Cherie crumble right before her like she's never seen her do before.
“You can have me” her voice is choked with emotion, tears now running down her face freely, “I don’t know what you see in me but just know that- that-“
“—shhh” Joan’s eyes soften. Her lips curve upwards and she kisses Cherie quickly, cutting her off. She rubs circles on her thin shoulder with her thumb.
I’m sorry I can’t give you more…you deserve so much more”
Joan frowns and looks at her seriously, looming over her. “C’mere” She says. She grabs her by the waist and pushes her down on the bed, staring down at her face.
She smiles at her and Cherie flusters in a way that makes her want to kiss her deeply. So she does. She smiles into the kiss when Cherie seems to get a little caught up in everything, making a small sound in the back of her throat, her arm around Joan’s back, pulling her down, closer. Joan’s hand finds hers and she interlaces their fingers.
Soon, they lose themselves in each other and it feels more right than it ever did before.
Afterwards, Joan is lying on her back and a smile comes to her face as she stares down at Cherie, who has her head on her shoulder, still trying to catch her breath, still very flushed and feminine and gorgeous. Joan has an arm over her slender shoulders, holding her.
Everything feels so perfectly natural, Joan muses to herself. They've done what society has condemned and it shouldn’t feel so fucking perfect but it does.
A moment passes and Cherie’s blue eyes meet hers- everything seems to have registered in her head of exactly what they said and did and what it meant for them and she looks startled. Fear…apprehension passes through her eyes.
“It’s okay” She says, holding her gaze, tracing the line of her jaw with her fingertip.
It really is okay. What they have together, whatever it means…everything is just fine. When they’re together like this…they’re just Joan and Cherie. Just two lost souls who have found some sort of strange connection with each other.
Joan tells her this, through her gaze and her smile and she seems to understand.