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What I Want to Mean to You

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1.

“Ms. Martinelli.” The publicist has the kind of plastic Hollywood grin Angie isn't used to yet, and he uses way too much cologne. He smells like her cousin Joe, and she doesn't really like her cousin Joe. “If we're going to have a productive working relationship, I need to know everything about you. I need to know where you shop, I need to know if you sign a petition, I need to know if your aunt might get boozed up and give an interview about the dress you wore to your junior prom.” He leans forward. “I need to know who you're dating.”

Christ. “Not anyone, at the moment. Attending a million auditions kind of doesn't give you the time, even when you get your big break.”

He sighs and tuts at her like he's her elderly grandma. Angie promises herself she's going to fire him the second it won't offend the big-name star who gave her his name. “Fine. I'll say it. Are you fucking your roommate, Angie?”

“Peg? God, no, I'm pretty sure she's not gay.” She's got several ex-boyfriends, one of whom she talks for at least two hours on the phone with once a week.

The publicist looks like he has a sudden headache. “But you are?”

“Yeah.” She smiles sweetly. “Problem?”

“Not when you get a little more famous,” he says, and rubs his temples. “It might be easier to sell if you were all loved up with your roommate, though. Sure you aren't?”

“Really sure.” More's the pity. “So, want me to tell you all my other dirty secrets?”

He sighs. He's a lot more likeable when he's not giving her the used car salesman act. Maybe they can manage that productive working relationship after all. “Yes, Ms. Martinelli. Tell me your life story.”

2.

“Angie, I'm sorry—”

“No, English, it's fine, I'm sorry for snapping.” Angie tilts her head back. If she even thinks about ruining her makeup Sarah in the trailer is going to have her killed, and probably try to take the job herself. “We'll have celebratory dinner next week, okay?”

“This is your last day of filming, though. I promised to be there.”

Angie sighs. “Yeah, believe me, I'm aware it's of all of that. Look, I'll go out with some of the cast and crew, no big.”

“It's big, Angie—”

“Peggy.” Peggy stops. “I've got like five more takes. You go take care of whatever … whatever telecommunications emergency there is this time. I'll talk to you when you get back.” There's a certain amount of satisfaction in hanging up on Peggy when she's being secretive and heroic and probably putting herself in mortal danger. At least Angie knows where she goes, now, but funnily enough, that doesn't make the mortal danger any easier to deal with.

She gets the chime of a text ten seconds later, but she stuffs her phone back in her jacket pocket and goes back to watch the rest of the lights being set up.

“Fighting with your girlfriend?” asks her co-star, who's still the kind of unnervingly famous that means Angie is bad at small talk with him.

“Wait, my what?”

“The British girl. You're always on the phone during breaks.” He shrugs. “No big if she is your girlfriend.”

“She's not,” Angie says, way too fast. “Like, yeah, I'm really gay, but she is not. We're roommates, and she's always traveling on business.”

He raises his eyebrows. “If you're sure.”

“Obviously I'm sure.”

“Places!” yells the director.

“Thank God,” says Angie, and goes to get in place to do her last scene.

3.

Peggy shows up to the wrap party twenty minutes late with a red dress that makes her look like a noir heroine and a jewelry box tucked in her clutch, which she produces for Angie the second she gets close enough.

“To make up for being an absentee roommate.”

“You didn't need to get me a present, English.” She opens the box anyway, though, because she's not going to turn down gifts, especially when she's still kind of mad at Peggy. It's a bracelet with a charm on it, the logo from the original show they're rebooting with this movie, and she stares at it for a few seconds before she summons up a smile. “Okay, put it on me, maybe the director will see it and remember that in the show she gets superpowers later on.”

The director does notice it later on, when he wanders by and she snags him to shake hands with Peggy. “Angie, great to see you socializing—she's not stunt crew. Girlfriend?”

“Just a roommate,” says Peggy, with one of her charming smiles. She's probably a better actress than Angie. “Angie deserves far better than me, I'm always traveling.”

“Works well, with actresses!”

“Peg just gave me this great bracelet,” Angie blurts, which in hindsight really isn't going to help the rumors, but she's going with what she's got. “What can I do to wheedle a badass costume out of you?”

He laughs and they talk for ten minutes about movie series trajectory and whether the company might spin her off, and Peggy stays with her the whole time.

It's weird, knowing everyone is making assumptions, but Peggy is acting like she always does in public, smiling at the right times and staying in sight of at least two exits at all times, so Angie decides to forget about it.

4.

“Angie! Angie, look over here!”

Angie does, with her most dazzling smile, because she's going to make the most of her red carpet debut even if she's nowhere close to the most popular person the paps are pointing their cameras at. “Hey, folks. Some selfies, maybe?”

Peggy, walking a step behind her wearing a gorgeous black dress Angie only talked her into because it's got pockets and because people pay more attention to women in suits at things like this than they do to just another beautiful woman in an evening gown, snorts, and the fans on the other side of the barricade scream, because people like Angie. She's a Hollywood success story and Twitter loves her.

Angie takes about ten selfies, and the last person she takes one with is a girl who looks at her with the kind of breathless admiration Angie reserves for Academy Award winners. “Is that your girlfriend with you?”

“She's my roommate, not my girlfriend.” She makes sure to take a great picture for the girl and then meets her eyes. “I should be so lucky, right?”

“Angie, the press line looks a little impatient,” says Peggy, low, and Angie blows kisses around, getting lipstick marks on her fingers, and lets Peggy lead her over to the less fun part of the red carpet. “You're good with them. The fans. It's going to matter a lot when you come out.”

Angie is really off her game for her first three interviews.

5.

“So, Angie, you've made quite a splash in Hollywood!”

Angie grins and throws her arms out. “What can I say? The people love me!” Cheers out in the audience. Angie can play a crowd.

The late night host leans forward. “What's it like, going from audition after audition to getting a role in the biggest reboot in theaters right now?”

She knows this story by heart, just the way to tug heartstrings and make people laugh and not take up too much of the interview, so she does it, and finishes up with a big grin and an “And my roommate never has to worry that I won't pay rent anymore!”

“Yes, your roommate.” He gestures at one of the screens, and there are a few paparazzi shots of her and Peggy on the red carpet, and a few more outside their apartment, Peggy leaning on Angie, which Angie knows is because she got kneecapped by a mafia don on her latest assignment. She's not going to be able to work undercover much longer, which she swears is okay, but Angie still feels pretty shitty about it. “You seem pretty close for roommates!”

“Are you trying to imply something?” she asks, going all fluttery Southern belle so it doesn't come out as sharp as it wants to. She's really sick of everyone assuming she's with Peggy and getting none of the private benefits that would come with that.

“Not at all! Just thought I'd ask.” He switches pictures, and apparently someone—probably a caterer, Angie did worse as a waitress though she never shared it with the media machine—got a blurry pic of them at the wrap party, Peggy clasping the bracelet on Angie's wrist. “I mean, if the shoe fits ...”

Angie sighs and does her charming smile, the one that sometimes made her Ma back down on grounding her. “Unfortunately, this part of the Cinderella story doesn't involve a princess. She's a great friend, and a great roommate, and I'm going to keep dragging her to Hollywood parties as long as she'll let me, but we're not together.”

“But you want to be?” He raises his eyebrows.

“Look at those legs. Doesn't everyone want to be?” Angie asks, and he backs off, asks about something else, and she keeps her big plastic Hollywood smile pasted on for the rest of the interview.

+1.

“I saw your interview this morning. I'd recorded it.”

Angie, sprawled across the couch as much like a Victorian maiden as she can manage, groans. “I'm really sorry people keep doing this, Peg. I'm probably blowing all your covers.”

“Hey, can I sit down?” Angie pulls her legs up and Peggy sits and puts her hand on Angie's leg. “I told you to take the role, and I told you I wasn't going to move out or ask you to do so. I'm transitioning into more of a supervisory role anyway. I just wanted to apologize that everyone keeps harassing you.”

“That's my life from now on. I'm kind of philosophical about that. It just sucks that they keep pulling you into it.”

Peggy rearranges herself until she can make eye contact with Angie. “If the price of being your friend is being in the press and a few assumptions, I don't mind in the least. I just keep listening to you say it, Angie, and you never say that you don't want us to be together.”

Angie puts her hand over her eyes, because she's a mature movie star. “Goddamn spies. English, I swear—”

“Would you like to be able to say yes, Angie?”

“Wait, would I what?”

“Please sit up, I'd like to have this discussion face to face.” Angie does, grudgingly, and tries not to go all startled fawn when Peggy grabs her hands. “This friendship is dangerous to both of us, no matter how much you breeze over it and no matter how many precautions I take. It won't get any more dangerous if the relationship changes, and I—I wouldn't like to miss my chance.”

“That's a really good speech,” Angie says, on automatic.

“I'm not writing a romcom, Angie, I'm asking if you would like to be able to tell your fans yes the next time they ask if your selfie captioned that we're having spaghetti means that we're finally dating.”

“I knew you follow my Instagram,” Angie says, and kisses her.

She might have to have a talk with her publicist, but right now, she couldn't care less.