"I can't believe I let you talk me into this!" Linna yelled into Nene's ear as the crowd's noise doubled in volume.

"I can't believe you were in the theatre and never did this before!" Nene shouted back as they settled into their seats -- two on the aisle, as she'd insisted. They were about two-thirds of the way back from the screen, which seemed to disappoint Nene slightly, but the redhead quickly recovered.

"I didn't think I'd like it!"

Nene smirked. "Trust me, you'll love it. Especially the live show. I know I'm looking forward to it -- it's been months since the last time I came here. Now, do we have everything?"

Linna looked into the plastic-handled shopping bag on the floor in front of her and made a face. "Do we really need all this stuff? What all do you have in here, anyway?" She cautiously pawed through its contents, as if expecting something might leap out and bite her.

"Rice, toast, toilet paper, newspaper, playing cards, confetti, rubber gloves, party hats, noisemakers, hot dogs, squirt guns, butane lighter," Nene singsonged.

"What do you use it all for?" Linna demanded.

"You'll see!" Nene smirked again.

Linna rolled her eyes. "So why is it just the two of us?"

"Priss doesn't like the show." Nene shrugged. "Go fig. And do you really have to ask about Sylia?"

Linna laughed. "Yeah, she wouldn't be caught dead here."

Nene pouted. "Well, I did call to see if she wanted to go, but Mackie said she had plans for the evening and was already out."

"Lucky Sylia," Linna murmured, and Nene lightly smacked her on the arm.

Looking over at Nene, Linna once again marveled at the difference in her friend. Linna had barely recognized her when she'd picked up the redhead at her apartment. To begin with, Nene had poured herself into a tiny French maid's outfit that did wonders for her figure. She had added fishnet stockings and stiletto-heeled shoes that were at least 12 centimeters high, and the combination easily put the lie to all the teasing comments her friends had often made about the younger woman's weight and figure. To top it all off, Nene had teased and sprayed her hair out into a wide, slightly curly mop and done up her face like something out of a kabuki play: paper white base, bright red lips, and heavy mascara and eyeshadow. Linna had to admit that right now, next to Nene, she felt rather plain and frumpy in her designer sweats and headband.

At that moment, the house lights began to dim, and the crowd erupted in cheers and whistles. On the screen, the studio logo appeared, heralded by familiar music, and then the screen went black.

"A long, long time ago," the crowed roared as one, "God said, let there be lips. And there were, and they were good!"

And with a colossal cheer, another midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show began in MegaTokyo.

* * *


A Bubblegum Crisis Fanfic by
Robert M. Schroeck

(Special thanks to Jeanne Hedge.)

Dedicated to Dori Hartley

* * *

Linna was entranced.

Confused, deafened and bewildered, but entranced.

She had never seen this kind of audience participation before, and it simply overwhelmed her. Linna found herself quickly swept up in the spirit of the evening, carried along in a kind of contact high by the hundreds of oddly-costumed and loudly rambunctious movie-goers surrounding her -- whose numbers included a downright rowdy Nene who unselfconsciously screamed very un-Nene-like profanities at the flickering screen. Linna's shock and surprise had faded into a kind of disbelieving delight about the time that Nene yanked her into the aisle to dance the "Time Warp"; and by the time the song was done, she had surrendered completely to the atmosphere and mood.

Nene had been right, she decided. What appealed most to her about this ... happening ... were the live performers who acted out the film in the small open space in front of the screen. She found herself spending as much time watching them as watching the far more visible action projected above them, and felt a growing kinship with the strangely-dressed band.

As she sprawled in her seat, happily panting after the exertion of the Time Warp, she grinned in devilish delight as the live Brad and Janet slowly backed up the center aisle of the theatre, only to run into a tall, dark-haired figure in a black satin cloak who had silently glided towards them. Linna screamed along with both the live and the film Janets when the figure's bone-white face was revealed by a tightly-focused spotlight.

"How d'you do, I/See you've met my/Faithful handyman..." the figure mouthed, tossing its head, and Linna suddenly had the strangest sense of deja vu; there was something disturbingly familiar about this bizarre, androgynous figure in the black and purple sequined merry widow and fishnet stockings. As the song progressed, the live Frank N. Furter strutted up and down the aisle wreathed in the glow of the spotlight. Fans both male and female reached out for a touch of a hand or a thrown kiss -- whoever the performer was, Linna realized, they had a hell of a following.

She watched "Frank" with great interest. He was tall, almost 2 meters, and the high heels he wore had to add another 15 or 16 centimeters to that. "Frank" also had a strong but slender build and a seductively confident strut that faltered only once, when he was stalking up the aisle near where she and Nene sat. His face was a study in stark relief: heavy white pancake makeup setting off great dark blobs of eyeshadow and mascara and black lipstick, all framed by the black fright wig he wore. Something about him tugged at the edges of Linna's memory, as if this were perhaps someone she had known once, long ago.

Next to her, Nene was bouncing up and down and cheering wildly, her attention shuttling back and forth between the screen and all the live players, but Linna found herself captivated by the dark eyes that dwelt at the center of all that outrageous makeup. "Frank" noticed her staring, and stared back for a moment before a slow, wicked smile crept across his face. He stalked over to tower over Linna as Nene hooted with delight.

"So, come up to the lab," both Franks sang together, "and..."

"FUCK ME ON THE SLAB!" shouted the audience.

"I'll see you shiver with antici..." "Frank" leered at Linna, who felt a delicious chill run up and down her back.

"SAY IT!" dozens of voices blared.

"...Pation!" "Frank" crouched down to place himself on eye level with Linna as the audience around them began whistling and cheering.

"Thank you!" a solitary voice called out.

"But maybe the rain/Isn't really to blame./So I'll remove the cause..." With a hand on either side of Linna's face, he trailed a fingertip along each cheekbone, and she suddenly felt her heart pounding and the room heat up. "But not the symptom!"

As the music smashed into its closing notes "Frank" suddenly drew Linna's face to his and kissed her, a firm but soft, dry, almost chaste kiss that lasted just long enough to set the audience howling in approval. He gently released her, his fingers caressing her cheeks again as they slid from her face, and gave her a brief, private, and once again wicked, smile. It was a smile that said, I have a secret that you would die to know, and I'm not telling. Then he turned back to the other players; "Brad" was trying to introduce himself.

As the movie and the floor show continued on, Linna realized that she was half-out of her seat. She slowly lowered herself back to the cushion as strangers on all sides whispered envy and desire and longing to her, and Nene brushed Linna's ear with her lips to say, "Wow, she's never done that before."

It took a minute or so for Linna to bring her palpitating heart and near-hyperventilation under control enough to realize what Nene had said. "'She'?" Linna hissed back to Nene. "That was a woman?"

Nene looked genuinely surprised. "You didn't realize? Her name's Lee -- that's all they put in the program, just 'Lee' -- and she's been playing Frank on and off for a couple years now. She's not the regular Frank, but she's one of the most popular." Nene leaned in, a conspiratorial look shining on her face. "So, how was it?"

Without thinking, Linna touched her lips with her fingertips and murmured, "Nice..."

Nene laughed.

Linna spent the rest of the movie in a partial daze, which seemed to amuse Nene to no end. She soon forgot to watch the screen at all, her eyes never leaving the tall, slender woman who was so provocatively dressed. But "Frank" never again came back up the aisle to where she sat, and seemed to avoid looking in Linna's direction at all, even when doing so made their staging clumsy or stiff. Linna once again wondered if she might know this Lee from somewhere...

She was only roused from her speculative trance when Nene elbowed her sharply in the side and pointed to their identical custom wristwatches, which were glowing and beeping softly. She swore under her breath, and together the two of them quietly stepped out of the cinema as twin Rockys carried the corpses of their creators while a pair of Riff-Raffs fired useless antimatter lasers at them.

* * *

Mackie froze in his seat at the control console, and had all but drooled when Nene swept in with Linna. As the redhead marched off to the changing room to transform herself from Magenta to Pink, Linna asked, "Where's Sylia?"

After receiving no answer, and seeing the stunned expression on Mackie's face, Linna prodded him until he blinked and looked up at her. "What?"

"Where," Linna repeated, slowly, "is Sylia?"

Mackie shook himself, as if to rouse himself from a dream, and replied, "She didn't respond right away to the page, but she did call in a few minutes later; she's on her way right now."

Linna nodded. "And Priss?"

Mackie yanked his gaze away from the changing room door, where it had drifted. "Already suited up and in the armory." He sighed and his eyes unfocused. "Do you think Nene would dress like that for me?"

Linna resisted the urge to smack him on the back of his head, and went instead to change into her softsuit. When she was done, she returned to the ready room. Through the door to the hardsuit locker she could see Nene, face scrubbed clean and hair slicked back damply, already climbing into her suit -- and also growling at Mackie, who hovered over her, trying without much subtlety to assist her every movement. Linna was about to come to her teammate's rescue when the secure building intercom sounded.

"Mackie!" Sylia's voice followed hard on the heels of the buzz.

Mackie left off "helping" Nene (for which the latter gave silent thanks) and loped over to the control console. "Yeah, Sis?"

"I'm on my way down now. Go upstairs and get me the spare myomer actuator control unit."

"Sis?" Mackie sounded genuinely puzzled.

"Do it, Mackie." Sylia's tone brooked no argument, and despite the confusion he clearly felt, Mackie nodded.

"Right, Sis, I'm getting it now." Punching the "off" button on the intercom, Mackie looked at Linna, shrugged, and ran for the elevator.

Mere moments after he had left, Sylia stalked in, an imposing figure in a full-length black trenchcoat, with a gym bag in one hand.

"Hi, Sylia," a hardsuited Nene, her helmet under one arm, called from the door to the locker.

"Yeah, hi," Linna added as Sylia dropped her gym bag on a handy chair.

Sylia nodded curtly. "Ladies," she said, something close to a scowl darkening her expression. She reached for the top button of her trenchcoat, then paused. She gazed intently at the two of them for several long moments, saying nothing. Then she turned her back to the two women; from the movements of her arms, she had begun unbuttoning the coat.

"If the two of you ever say anything to anyone," Sylia softly warned, "I will personally help Mackie bug both your apartments. Understand?"

She whipped off the trench coat and threw it over the chair, and picked up the gym bag. Then Nene and Linna stared wide-eyed as Sylia, clad only in a black-and-purple sequined merry widow and fishnet stockings, strutted into the changing room.

This work of fiction is copyright © 1999, Robert M. Schroeck.

Bubblegum Crisis and the characters thereof are copyright and a trademark of Artmic Inc. and Youmex Inc., and are used without permission.

This page was created on November 18, 1999.
Last modified March 12, 2011.