DISCLAIMER: I don't own the characters from the movie (or the
musical play) Grease. Paramount owns the movie rights. Jim Jacobs and
Warren Casey wrote the original music, lyrics, and book for the musical.
I'm just going to borrow the characters and a snippet from the movie.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
By JS Stephens
Rizzo gritted her teeth as Sandy told her, "I know we haven't been the best of friends, but if you need anything, let me know." Rizzo growled back, "I can take care of myself or anyone else who comes along." Sandy threw her a look of tender concern, placing a hand on Rizzo's arm, adding quietly, "I mean it, Rizzo. Call me, any time day or night, for any reason." She squeezed her arm tenderly, then left to catch the bus.
Rizzo had mixed feelings about Sandy. The blonde was so goody two shoes, didn't drink, swear, smoke, or anything else that the rest of the gang did, yet there was something that drew Rizzo closer. While the other girls giggled about Rizzo's possible pregnancy, Sandy was the only one who offered any type of help. She rubbed her arm where Sandy's hand had lain for a moment, wondering why the simple gesture of caring had nearly opened the floodgates of tears. "Must be hormones," the dark haired girl grumbled to herself.
Eddy Kenickie felt pretty good about himself. He had risen from stocker to assistant manager at the auto parts store, and had just received another pay raise. Maybe they could finally afford for Betty to quit her secretarial job at the elementary school and make it on his salary alone. He hated the fact that he hadn't been able to afford a house and car on just his salary, or that his mother had to babysit their rambunctious three year old son, Tommy. He pulled into the driveway, lighting a cigarette as he shut off the engine.
"Yo, Betty, I'm home!" he called out as he entered the house. He listened for her response, frowning when he didn't hear anything. Maybe Mom was late bringing her and little Tommy back home, or maybe one of the neighbors had taken her shopping. He took a long drag on his cigarette before balancing it on the edge of an ashtray next to his chair in the living room. Eddy went to the kitchen, rummaging in the fridge for a beer before going back to his chair. He noticed a long, white envelope on the dining room table. Usually Betty took the mail back with her to the sewing room so she could pay the bills. Curious, he picked up and pulled out the letter and started reading, "Greetings. You are hereby ordered to report for induction in the United States Armed Forces..."
Betty Kenickie didn't know who found all of the old gang, she just knew she was grateful. The first shock of having her husband report for service, then being sent to war, now coming home in a coffin. She and Tommy, now a solemn five year old, stood by as the service flowed around them. Betty stealthily rubbed her still flat stomach; she knew she was pregnant again, from Eddy's last leave just six weeks ago.
The priest finished the service, and her friends and family started coming by, offering support. She was touched when she saw the old Pink Ladies and the Thunder Birds lining up in the church, and now coming through the line at the graveside. The only ones who weren't at the service were Danny and Sandy Zuko. Betty was a little surprised, Danny and Eddy had been friends since first grade. She guessed she should ask Frenchy what happened.
The crowd of friends finally drifted to the Kenickie house. Tommy had been dropped off at a friend's house for a few hours, and now it was Betty, the old gang, and the old memories. She pulled up into the driveway and entered her home, overwhelmed immediately by more hugs and kisses from everyone. Roger and Jan, Marty and Bert, Frenchy and Greg, Dominic ("Sonny") and Sally, and the old high school shop teacher, Mrs. Murdock. Betty drifted on a cloud of fatigue and grief, mingled with joy at seeing her old friends. She had a plate and a soda thrust at her by hands, which she took, slowly sipping and eventually eating as she caught up with everyone.
The hours flew by, and the friends all eventually drifted away. Tommy's friend's mother called, asking if Tommy could stay for the night, and Betty gratefully agreed. Now, though, the house was empty, except for the memories. The girls had all pitched in to make short work of cleaning, and the boys had dutifully carried out the trash, but she still needed to open more windows to finish airing out the place. As she went to the back bedrooms to open the windows, she heard the doorbell. "I wonder who forgot something?" she asked herself as she went to answer the door.
"I'm sorry I'm late, Rizzo, but I had a flat coming up from the city." Sandy Zuko stood on the porch, looking exhausted. "I got it changed, then had to find a place to wash up a bit, and realized I had missed the entire service. I'm very sorry."
"No need to be sorry, Sandy. Come on in, I was just airing out the place," Betty said, opening the door wider for the slender blonde. "Where's Danny?"
Sandy pulled off her gloves and coat as Betty reached for them, hanging the coat in the entry closet. "I'll tell you in a moment. Need help with the windows?"
"Sure, you can help me." Betty led Sandy down the dark hallway to the middle room. "This is my sewing room, and possibly, the nursery if I'm correct."
"You're expecting? I had no idea," Sandy responded, glancing at Betty's middle, then turning to push a window up. "When?"
"If I'm really pregnant, it has to be seven and a half months," Betty answered as she struggled with the other window. "Can you help me here?" Sandy nodded, sliding over to help push up the balky sash. "Okay, next is our bedroom, down the hall."
The blonde and the brunette went into the next bedroom, pushing open windows, then just standing for a moment in the darkened room. Betty took a deep breath, filling her lungs with the fresh night air, sinking slowly at the bed that she had shared with Eddy Kenickie for too short of a time. A stray tear suddenly appeared on her cheek, wiped away by a gentle hand. "I'm sorry," Betty said hoarsely, "I'm just overwhelmed."
"I know," Sandy said quietly as she sat next to the new widow. "What can I do to help?"
Betty shook her head, not trusting her voice. God, to cry in front of Sandy? It was the worst thing she could do! As she struggled with her emotions, a pair of warm, soft arms wrapped her up, tugging her against a gentle body. She felt Sandy slowly stroking her dark curls, murmuring half heard words of comfort in that familiar Australian accent. She cried, curled against Sandy's body, feeling gentle lips kissing her head and neck, offering comfort.
"So, tell me what happened with Danny," Betty demanded, reluctantly sitting up, reaching for a tissue from the box on the bedside table.
"Different dreams, I suppose," Sandy said, loosely clasping her hands in her lap. "He started to work at the car plant, then had to chance to transfer to Michigan. I didn't want to leave since I only had six months left of business school. Short version, he accepted the job, and I filed for divorce the next day. He didn't contest it, so here I am a year later, divorced, but at least working as a bookkeeper, and making enough to pay the bills."
"I thought you guys were set."
"I guess not. I should have listened to you, Rizzo. I mean, Betty. Strange how old habits from high school die so hard!"
Betty had to smile a little. "It's okay, I'm glad you made it." She stood up, holding out her hand. "Come on, let's go to the kitchen and gab. Tommy is spending the night with a friend, and there's plenty to eat and drink still. You might as well spend the night, unless you need to get back."
"No one to get back to," Sandy commented as she took Rizzo's hand.
"Damn, you still can't hold your wine," Betty crowed as Sandy reeled down the hallway. "Hope you don't get sick."
"Nope, don't think so," Sandy said, stopping in the doorway of the master bedroom, swaying until Betty caught her around the waist. "But I did get my ears pierced last year. See?" She lifted a lock of her straight blonde hair, showing the twinkle of a small diamond chip earring. "Daddy and Mom bought these for me last month. At least they don't care that I divorced Danny the Dip, they just care about me."
"So your marriage didn't work out, at least you tried," Betty said, feeling a little fuzzy herself. Only one glass to Sandy's three. She grunted as she maneuvered the drunken women into the bedroom. "Sit on the bed while I find you a nightgown."
"Okay." Sandy looked around the room as her friend turned on a lamp on the nightstand, noting a couple of group pictures of the old gang. Gangs. High school friends. Whatever. She stood up unsteadily, wobbling over to the pictures on the wall, looking at their younger selves. "We all looked so young and hopeful then," she said quietly, staring at the big group shot at the year end carnival. "I tried so hard to keep Danny's attention."
Betty came over, pajamas in hand. "Sorry, I forgot I hadn't done laundry. Maybe you can wear Eddy's pajamas tonight."
"Sure." Sandy took the clothes and disappeared into the bathroom, coming back out in a few minutes, pajamas hanging loosely on her slender frame. "Your turn."
Betty grabbed her gown and came out a few minutes later. "I see you found the extra toothbrush and washcloth," she said, feeling a little unsure. "So, do you want me to make out the couch, or sleep in Tommy's bed?"
Sandy wobbled for a few seconds, then threw her arms around Betty's waist. "Wherever you want me." Blue eyes met hazel eyes as Betty reran the sentence in her head, wondering if Sandy knew how that sounded. Or how good it felt to have her arms around her. Or just how tired Betty was of being alone since the Army first took Eddy. Fatigue washed over Betty; she laid her head on Sandy's shoulder for a moment, breathing in her light scent, closing her eyes, enjoying the feeling of her friend's cheek against hers. She felt Sandy hiccup and forced her eyes open. "I guess you could stay in here, that way I'd only have one room of windows open."
"Good idea," Sandy said, pulling back and hiccuping again. She disappeared into the bathroom. Betty heard sounds of water running and figured Sandy was getting a drink. She forced herself to go through the house, closing windows, locking doors, putting dishes in the sink. When she came back to her bedroom, Sandy was already in bed, almost asleep. "Come," Sandy said, holding back the covers, "you need the sleep."
Betty sank gingerly into the bed, turning carefully away and managing to get comfortable despite the warm body behind her back. She had nearly dropped off to sleep when she felt Sandy snuggling up to her, draping an arm around her middle. "Sandy?"
"Shush, Rizzo, you need to sleep." Betty sighed deeply, intending to pull away, but found the warmth luring her into a deep sleep. The last thing she remembered was a tender kiss placed on the back of her neck and Sandy's body curling even closer.
Sandy waited patiently after ringing Betty's doorbell, shading her eyes from the brilliant sunlight. The door swung open, and Donna Kenickie grabbed Sandy, hugging her hard. "Aunt Sandy! Mom's been wondering where you were!" Donna pulled Sandy into the house, yelling, "Mom! Aunt Sandy is here!"
"Hey, Sandy," Betty said as her daughter dragged their guest into the kitchen, "I see the welcoming committee got to you. Coffee?"
"Please." Sandy sank gratefully into a chair in the breakfast nook. She accepted a cup, adding cream to it and stirring while she watched the teenager dancing around the kitchen, snatching a cookie from the cooling racks. "Don't spoil your dinner," the women admonished simultaneously. Donna rolled her eyes and flounced out of the kitchen. "So, Donna leaves for summer camp this afternoon," Sandy said, watching her coffee lighten with the cream.
"Thank God, I was about to go crazy. Six weeks of blissful silence. Tom has taken an internship for the summer, and Donna is going to camp. I can't believe my small children are fourteen and nineteen. So, how's work? Dating anyone yet?"
Before Sandy could answer, the doorbell rang. "I'll get it!" Donna yelled, racing to the door. Sandy and Betty walked into the living room just as the girl flung open the door. "It's Billy and his mom," Donna called over her shoulder, opening the door to allow the gangly boy and his mother to step into the room. Introductions were made, and Billy offered to help Donna with her bags. Donna hugged and kissed her mother and Sandy, then followed Billy and his mother out to their car.
"Whew." Betty shut the door behind her daughter, leaning against it for a moment. "What are you laughing about, Sandy?"
"Oh, Rizzo, you act so relieved now, but soon you'll be moping around, moaning that your chicks have left the roost too soon."
"Yeah, you know me too well, darling. Want to finish that coffee, or start with a beer while I start the grill? Burgers okay?"
"Wonderful," Sandy said, "but I will finish the coffee first. I'm exhausted."
"I can imagine," Betty said, pausing to hug her friend. They stood like that for a moment, just enjoying the nearness of each other, ending with brief kisses on the cheek. "So, how is work?"
"Got another promotion," Sandy said, sliding back into the chair she'd deserted.
"Do tell," Betty exclaimed, popping a beer top and taking a sip. She listened, watching her friend's animated face as she talked about being promoted to the head of accounts receivable. She loved watching Sandy talk, the way her face lit up, the way her hands gracefully gestured in the air. Of all of her friends from high school, Sandy was now the only friend she really kept up with from good old Rydell High. "That's fantastic, Sandy. Follow me out while I start the coals."
Over burgers and beer, the women caught up on each other's lives over the past few months. Finally, Betty asked, "So what about that guy you were dating? Pat?"
Sandy reached for a beer, popping the top off with practiced ease. "Didn't go anywhere, Rizzo. How about you?"
"Ha. No man is interested in a woman with kids. Besides, I'm pretty much over the hill now. So why didn't it work with Pat?"
Sandy took a long pull on her beer, then set the bottle down on the picnic table. "Another case of 'how quick can I get you in bed?'"
"Someone as special as you, I'd go slow," Betty mused, "they just don't know what a wonderful woman they're passing by."
"Oh, Rizzo, you really think I'm special?" Sandy asked, reaching for Betty's hand.
"Yes, I do. God, you've practically helped raise my kids, coming any time I called for help. Yeah, you're special, maybe a nutcase for hanging around this old broad. Come on, let's clean up, then come back out."
Several minutes later, the food was packed away, dishes loaded in the dishwasher, and the women walked back out to the porch and started letting down the screens against the mosquitos. They came back to the picnic table, large tumblers of ice water in front of them. Betty sat across from her friend, asking, "So, you going to spend the night?"
"If you'll have me," Sandy answered.
"Always," Betty answered throatily. "Sorry, didn't mean for it to come out that way."
Sandy smiled, eyes twinkling in the deepening twilight. "Oh, I think you did." She hesitated, walking over to a corner, crossing her arms tightly over her chest. "Will you still think I'm special if you knew that the last few people I dated were women? And it's true, Patricia just wanted to get me in bed. The others at least pretended to be friends before hitting on me."
Betty expected to reel from the information, but found herself curious and angry. Curious about Sandy with women, and angry that this Patricia chick didn't recognize how special Sandy was. "It sounds like she treated you like a horn dog would!" Betty exploded, "that's not fair!"
Sandy looked at her friend curiously. "You're not angry that I'm into women?"
"No! I mean, I never thought about it..." Betty's voice trailed off as she remembered weekends with Sandy in her bed, enjoying going to sleep in her friend's arms, or mornings waking up, whispering so as not to wake the children. Long hugs hello and goodbye. Excuses to touch the beautiful blonde. "No, I'm not," she started again, "just stunned that I didn't see it earlier."
"I tried to talk to Frenchy about it, but she got angry and tossed me out of her house," Sandy admitted.
"The bitch," Betty said savagely, "wait until-"
Sandy was there in an instant, fingers on Betty's lips. "No. She can't help it, it's the way she feels. All I care about is how you feel."
Betty searched those beautiful blue eyes intently. Once upon a time, she had scorned other girls who toyed with boys, who weren't honest. What did she honestly feel right now? Hadn't she enjoyed the closeness, the shivery feeling of Sandy's fingers on her lips? She slowly reached up, wrapping her fingers around Sandy's, kissing the tips gently, almost reverently. She saw surprise in Sandy's face, and an answering look of longing.
"Rizzo," Sandy said huskily as tendrils of heat slowly rose in her middle. She was rewarded by a cocky grin. Go slowly, she told herself as she leaned over to kiss Rizzo on the lips. She felt the grin widen, and lips open in invitation. She accepted, wrapping her arms around Rizzo, kissing her deeply. For the first time since she left Australia, she felt like she'd come home.
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