"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."