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Almost, But Not Really

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Lights blared violently from within the Clawditorium’s closed doors, and if Holt Hyde’s breathing were any stiller, he might be able to feel the jumpy pulse of the loud music from within the party.

Tonight was homecoming. The MH Frightmares had beat Belfrey Prep 2-1 in one of the most engaging football matches of the century. With the parade of student-built floats and the proud marching band, Clawd Wolf and the other sweaty football players had brought them a shiny new trophy to add to the unreasonable amount of knacks they already had. For once, Bloodgood seemed to enjoy the parties the students of Monster high insisted on throwing with every little victory they earned, and he thought he had even caught one of those Vam-pride posers dancing with a rather bulky werewolf on the crowded dance floor. If he closed his eyes and thought about it, he could pinpoint all the bug bites on his body from the earlier cheering-fest from outside as proof. Every monster who was any monster was attending the festivities. These teenaged monsters were thirsty for the blood of victory [except Draculaura, who was probably just mildly dry-mouthed for diet coconut water or something] and Mister "Disk Jockey" Hyde was no exception.

“Holt!” The voice was giggling, contained an alien accent, and intruded on Holt’s dreary thoughts. He almost thanked it. Almost, but not really, and he looked up to face it. In the place of what was a previously empty hallway was Lagoona Blue’s similarly-blue face. Her cheeks were flushed with the blunt evidence of laughter, something he had jealousy been lacking for the past few hours, and the seawater creature herself was clad in a shiny dress that would put a dragon’s jewels to shame. He never understood what the point of buying some fancy outfit was with these ghouls. It wasn't like they were ever going to put it on again. Subconsciously, he was aware of his faux pas in having shown up in a half-hearted faux tuxedo. “Why aren’t you in there, DJ?”

Holt paused, half wondering whether to tell her the truth, and half trying to ignore the hum of some sort of gross techno beat that was taunting him to go back in there and change it and show those monsters how to have a realgood time. “I ain’t going,” he quietly decided, ignoring the song that spun on the boards. Holt wondered if it had been Lagoona’s arm to touch his shoulder, or if he had reached up there himself to hide the torched expression that had crept onto his face.

“You feeling alright, love?”

“I’m fine!” Alright, and he looked up apologetically as the flush left Lagoona’s cheeks, it had been a shade too loud. Lagoona cocked her head to one side, looking as if she would say some sort of pitying thing about how he could tell her anything. Just as she sucked in a breath, Holt lowered his eyes to the checkered floor of the trophy hall and coughed. “I said I’m not going in there right now. But I’m alright, really! You should go back in there, Blue.”

Lagoona didn’t seem convinced of his conviction, but Holt gave her a toothy smile, and she was reassured. “Tell me if you need me,” she allowed, and then went on inside with a swing on her impossibly high heels to dance to the song. And so, he was left alone in the corridor once again. Man, he had never hated Shrillex so much.

 

"A-yo, yo, yo!" Holt had cheered during the time he had been up there. "Who is ready to start this party?"

The astounding applause that unburied from the student body had roused him to promptly switch the turntables to spin. He looked out proudly, shaking his arms around the board like one of those inflatable tube arm men they put outside car sale places, or something. Up and down and around, and looking probably dumb as his limbs spasmed over the table in his excitement. His fingers slid around the discs with such finesse that it was strange to think he was only sixteen and not some sort of DJ expert with a degree and everything. It probably ran in his bloodline. He didn't really know how since his dads' talents included being a mad science amateur and rampaging around Londoom until half the population had died, and Moms, he supposed, was getting into bad relationships and getting fired from her job every five seconds. Call it even and decide he was destined to end up working at a club, and was just special? Sure. Monster High liked engraving the idea that everyone was unique into the brains of each and every boo that walked, swam, floated, or otherwise teleported to the doors of it. Even despite his talent, his eyes never ended up looking down to check what he was doing, though. His mind shifted to a different location. Any monster who loved his music was his friend, which was a lot of people to keep track with, but tonight he scanned the horizon for a particular odd-eyed ghoul amongst the dancing babes. It had been one year since Frankie had flipped the switch on "us," and although he and Jackson were totally cool with waiting for her, there was no way in Gore that he was passing up such a fangtastic opportunity to remind the little lady of her promise to them. And, of course, it didn't hurt to talk to her, right?

Song after song spun and played and danced and swayed loudly. Holt almost felt sorry that Jackson wasn't there to enjoy it. Almost, but not really. Music wasn't always around. Sure, it was a little difficult having to avoid ringtones and commercials and classroom videos, but parties was the only even ground they had. Jackson got to stay out of the potentially awkward situations, and Holt would be let out for the day. It was exhausting not being able to exist. He kept to himself, sometimes saying some nonsense things to an inexistant audience about how the teachers never brought the tracks with the good songs to all these school events, and sometimes turning from his beloved squeals of steel while a monster came up and requested he play a song that he didn't have. Ever-adamant on trying to pinpoint Miss Stein's location, this was rather annoying for him. "I'd play anything for you, goregeous," he lied pleasantly, giving the person a flirty head nod just to make them go away.

After being unable to locate the green-skinned Frankenstein, he switched the autopilot on and let himself glide out of the stands with a zombified, impatient groan. He was vaguely aware of the slower melody that had come on, but all the better now that monsters weren't rushing around, he guessed.

"Frankie?" There was no answer than the constant rumble of talk. "Frankie Fine?"

"Holt?"

The sound pinged against his ears and buzzed in his brain. Holt? Holt? Holt? It took a while to recognize. Her tone was foreign, and it tasted the depths of his mind until he finally realized.

"Frankie!" He spun hard on his heels, trying to decide who's heartbeat he was suddenly hearing. "I have been lookin' all over for you, babe! What's happening?"

Frankie had looked a little startled by the idea that he had responded with a wink and finger guns. Her green and blue eyes seemed to glaze like a late-night laptop. Or maybe like the reflection Jackson's glasses when he sent a video message to himself after his Hyde side did something particularly idiotic. Either way, something in them was not resonating correctly. Maybe she was a little tense. "Oh!" The sound was cute, but he didn't dwell on it too long. "I've been feeling pretty alive. This is a really fun party."

Holt thought that 'fun' was a degrading way to talk about his party, but his grin choked him from giving her any synonyms. Frankie wasn't verbose. Neither was he. "I'm glad to hear that the Sweet Miss is having fun! Anyways, I was wondering-"

The Hyde stopped speaking mid-sentence, and the grin that had struggled to liberate his words vanished fast. Somebody approached Frankie from behind, bent down close to her neck, and placed a rotten grey hand on her shoulder. Holt looked him up and down. Horn, tail, decaying flesh. Huh.

"Here you go," said the figure, handing her a pink cup of what he presumed was straw-scarry punch. Holt thought that the guy had given him a punch too, in the gut, but he just smiled kindly. "Man, so you're the DJ, right?"

Holt looked at Frankie in disbelief. Was this dude kidding? Who was he anyways? Before the initial surge of fury coated his veins, surprise seeped through. Frankie wasn't exactly difficult to handle, but she was cautious of how unknown people touched her. For a ghoul that spent her life fantasising about true love, she was awfully uncomfortable when Heath had approached her on the first day of school. Even before Frankie had learned to love his roaming touch on her detachable skin, she had been disgusted to find him trying to hook up with her in the theater. So either Frankie had suddenly bee not ouch starved, or she was unaware. Holt decided he could be a hero, and tried the second option. He passed his tounge over his teeth as if he could swipe the answer from the spaces between them. "It's Hyde. Holt Hyde," he confirmed to the man, showing off his embarrassingly dull canines in the motion. "Listen, I don't think Frankie would appreciate your attention, stranger. Why don't you get off my babe?"

Holt wasn't exactly certain how Frankie hadn't turned into a super possessive ghoul. With all that hanging out around Cleo and her tight wrap around Deuce, you would think she would at least be slightly concerned when Holt decided to say some questionable things to ghouls who were lucky enough to pass by him. Or maybe he was just bothered that she did not reciprocate the feeling he let when Frankie went after the next crush of the week. Like, seriously. Here she was, and suddenly some zombie has the nerve to bend over her ears and give her what might as well be ketamine. The blue elemental glanced to her; Frankie looked like that whole feeling alive thing was pretty far away. A silence stretched between them. Long and awkward. Holt knew his words had given him a nasty shock wave when the horse guy's face grew to become red. Frankie coughed, and it sounded like a scream in a silent battlefield.

"Neighthan, can we talk in private?" She shook her head towards Holt, and Holt chewed on his jaw. [Not a stranger?Startled, Holt looked to Frankie with despair. Then what was going on?]

"I. . . Yeah. Of course. . ." The unicorn-zombie guy blinked about fifty million times, but eventually wandered off with the drink set loosely in his claws. Holt merely crossed his arms against his puffed chest.

"Oh, I am so glad that dude is outta here!" He thought that Frankie's lips that pulled into a frown, and that maybe her sewn cheeks had been dusted by the ghost of a heat flash, but maybe it was the obnoxious pink lighting they had set up. "What a total jerk! Don't he know that-"

"He's my boyfriend."

Oh.

The lights turned off. Holt's mind short circuited. Somebody jabbed a shard of glass in his side. Boyfriend. All the music came to screeching halt. Holt felt his legs shake as if Monster High had been struck by an earthquake. He was her boyfriend. He was. Not him. He. Boyfriend.

When Frankie got all apologetic [being a saint, this was often], it was usually a little bothersome. Her eyes would widen in a drastic, albeit ridiculous fear, and the stitches on her arms would pop off like frozen rubber bands in a violent tremble. "I'm sorry!" she would cry, stringent on making sure her clumsiness was pardoned. It was all so comic and yet so serious that it almost made him laugh whenever she tried. Right now, though, her eyes gave way to a meter-long stare. Her red lips pressed together silently as she watched Holt's face flip through emotions faster than he could switch through radio stations. Her chest gave way to a massive shudder, lacking form as it basically somersaulted in worry. If he didn't know any better, he thought she might die right then and there. "I'm sorry, Holt. I just- I-"

Holt felt like a lame duck as he watched the twitching of her face. Not the metaphorical lame duck. A real one. One that had probably been crippled by stepping on a landmine. It took a moment for Holt's face found a channel. "You said it was a pause." A strange brand of anger surged through his voice. He could think of one other time it had ever poked through— that time he had found out he was part-time idiot. Today he learned Frankie was part-timing him. "You said you were gonna wait for us. We waited for you, and now you're dating him."

Her face morphed oddly. "Holt-" She was a paler green than he had ever seen, even despite the happy and oblivious monsters who crowded around them in slow dance. "I just wanted to move-"

"Just shut up, alright? I don't wanna talk to you right now." On. She wanted to move on. From them. From him. Her words had escaped like air and somehow managed to land in his belly like steel. Holt's features moved like a hurricane, but her's stayed immobile on the one pitiful expression. Frankie looked like she would argue, but her mouth only opened, closed, and then she reached to release his hand from her arm. Which, by the way, he wasn't sure when had climbed up there.

She seceded softly: "I understand."

No, no she didn't. Of course Frankie was dating the new hot guy in town. Frankie was that ghoul who went everywhere, and had done everything. One day she'd be the face of the entire monster world. Her name would be whispered by everyone. She’d probably be some sort of celebrity. She didn't have time to lag around for some guy who couldn't solve his problems with her other crush because, surprise, they were the same person. Holt didn't even stand a chance.

When Holt did not respond to her, Frankie turned. Have fun, he had intended to say, but only ended up hunching over the empty space her limb had left against his palm and watched her walk off to lurk for Neighthan. Great. It was all fine. Holt's brows came down on his eyes as the tables beat on monotonously, calling for their master to return. He didn't feel like it. The bitterness in his throat rose, and being with the crowd would give him a reason to swallow the bile instead of letting it go. So he left. He didn't really know what he was leaving. Maybe Frankie, maybe the rest of his hourly paycheck from Bloodgood, or maybe just leaving for the sake of transforming into Jackson.

"Hey! Where in Ra's name is that song I wanted?" Cleo de Nile's sharp rap commanded attention, but he didn't feel like playing along to her music either. He heard a hushed scoff come from the mummy queen as he brushed passed her with little acknowledgment.

 

Holt threw himself down against the trophy room case. The palms of his hands met his eyes as he rubbed at them violently 'till they were red in tire. One hour passed. Two. Three. Lagoona walked in, looking like a stray kangaroo as she jumped in exult. He almost asked the Aussie to sit down with him as he watched her enter and leave. Her eyes had sparkled with a friendly fire.

Almost, but not really, and so Holt was left alone in the corridor again.

The song switched.