(stevie/lamps. always-been-a-girl!fic. wait, what?) (there's really no point to this, just an unfortunate side-effect of clocking in waaayy too many hours of bend it like beckham.)
the difference between them is, stevie knows this isn't a game. it's so much more than just that; it's about history, about pride, about loyalty.
frankie, on the other hand, she's flashy. sure, not as much as their male professional affiliates (stevie rolls her eyes; she gave up her scholarship to UoL and passed on a "bright future" in tennis, according to her ex-coach, she's certainly capable of taking this sport as seriously as anyone else) can, but it's still her face in the monthly fashion spreads, and her name in the local tabloids more often than not, linked with a different a-lister every week. she loves the attention, laps it all up and still wants more. she, stevie thinks, is everything that is wrong with this sport.
the first time she meets frankie, stevie avoids her like the plague.
avoiding only gets her so far though, even though they've only just been promoted back into the premier league (stevie still grits her teeth every time she is reminded of that play-off; grinds out the obligatory response and spits right after, right there in front of the camera), it's only a matter of time they're both called up for internationals.
the first time they're paired together in midfield, it's absymal. they simply suck, to the point where powell comes up to them after the game, shuts the door to the locker room and keeps the three of them in there for over an hour.
"i don't know and i don't care how, just fix it. the two of you."
frankie catches stevie's eye as powell slams the door on her way out and grins. stevie stares at her for a minute, palms itchy with the urge to smack it off her face, but she just looks away.
"hey," and rests her hand on stevie's shoulder, gentle and warm; stevie doesn't shrug it off, but only barely. "hey, it's nothing we can't handle. we'll work this through, ok? i promise."
stevie stares down at the top of her shoes -- they're filthy, caked in mud and in need of a good hard scrubbing -- and doesn't answer.
she starts showing up at stevie's place all the time, whenever she can. (the first time, she pauses only long enough to say, "but she said to get used to each other!", all wide-eyed innocence and stevie's left to come up with the decent excuses for what a Blue is doing in their house when her folks start giving them curious looks -- which have lessened considerably and stevie doesn't really want to think how disturbing it is her family's accustomed to frankie's presence.) and when she can't actually make the trip, it's random phonecalls in the middle of the day.
"did you know that it takes forty-three muscles to frown and only seventeen to smile?"
"i gave you my number right? i thought."
"yeah, just. aren't you supposed to be at training now?"
"well, mine hasn't, so."
"seriously, stevie. consider it, i know you have it in you, there's more than just frowning in your facial expression repertoire i'm sure."
"right. so, i'm going to hang up on you now."
"wait! i'm coming down next monday, we get tuesday off."
"since when do you give any warning for anything that you do?"
"aw, i'm hurt that you think of me like that stevie," but she laughs like she doesn't really mean it, and stevie has to bite down on her lip so the resulting smile doesn't spread all across her face.
they do this photoshoot together for this national sports magazine as part of the FA's five-year plan to promote the game.
and it's not like stevie can argue against that exactly, not when bradley's flat out told her she can forget about her starting position next weekend if she doesn't agree (she resists pointing out the fact that they both know she's the only thing holding this team together at the moment; bites the inside of her cheek and forces herself to nod), but when they hand her her outfit for the shoot, she has to clench her fists tightly so she doesn't throw it straight back in the assistant's face.
she takes a deep breath, puts it on, and stares balefully at her reflection in the mirror. it's too tight, skimpy, not at all like anything they actually wear on the field, and everything that she's been fighting against her whole life.
when she finally leaves the dressing room, it's to make a beeline for the furthest corner of the room until frankie comes along and drags her to the centre. the make-up artist had smiled and announced that she looks "hot" when he was done, but stevie knows that the only reason she was asked is her captaincy, and the fact that their red and blue contrast fits perfectly into the photographer's arbitrary artistic vision, or whatever.
she fidgets, her fingers pulling self-consciously at the cloth of her shirt but it still clings uncomfortably to her body. frankie, though, frankie is a natural. she takes the instructions and glances up at the camera through her lashes, smiles flirty and bright, crosses and uncrosses her legs, slanting them at bold angles at the photographer's say so.
she smiles happily over at stevie in between shots, reaches out and pulls her closer. when she looks back at the camera, stevie clutches the football protectively in front of her and scowls her way through.
it wasn't ever an issue whether or not stevie loves the game; it's in the family, in her blood, she feels it every time she steps onto a pitch, picks up a football. it's just she could do less with the other things that come along with it; the misconceptions, the assumptions, the tags they all get automatically stuck with regardless. that stevie is, in fact, "a dyke" is beside the point.
"and the point is?" frankie drawls, not even bothering to look at her.
"the point is," she echoes absently, distracted as frankie pulls a swig from her bottle and licks around her mouth messily. "um. the point is we aren't all, lesbianism is not part of the job requirement and people need to come to terms with that!"
"you have to admit though, keira knightley would make a pretty hot lesbian. except, when jules and jess "kissed" she looked rather like a man. hmm."
"what?" stevie glances, aghast, at the television screen. "ugh i don't even know why i bother," and rolls her eyes. frankie just pets her knee lightly through her jeans and doesn't take her eyes off the movie.
somewhere along the line, frankie gets it in her little head that they're friends. and she starts dragging stevie along with her everywhere, despite stevie's, frankly, impressive protests.
stevie groans loudly when she opens the door to frankie's expectant face just before another one of her events in town that night.
"don't you have other friends for this sort of thing?" she whines, even as she pulls her wardrobe door open.
"but you're my best friend, stevie! you're the only one i want with me there!" she flutters her eyelids and then flops gracelessly onto stevie's bed.
stevie snorts, "yeah? what about jt?"
a short, heavy silence rings around the small room, and stevie wonders if she should be grinning now like it was a joke, take it back, if only belatedly. but frankie's always been the one better at these things; she licks her lower lip nervously.
"what about jt?" frankie's voice is light, but her eyes are challenging. stevie doesn't meet them, just turns her back towards frankie and starts tugging her clothes off.
the magazine hits the stands around late november, and stevie starts avoiding frankie at the start of december.
(she walks into the locker room to see jamie holding a magazine with her face on the glossy cover in her hands, reading its contents with a mildly interested look.
she hovers in the doorway, thinking for one wild minute that she can still make a break for it. then she shakes her head lightly, and calls out, "hey."
jamie looks up, surprised but smiles almost instantly. "hey, have you seen this?" and waves the magazine vaguely in front of her.
"no, um." she scuffs the toe of her shoe on the floor, mind grasping around for some excuse, any excuse. the truth is, frankie is gorgeous in front of a lens, and if stevie were being completely honest, even off it. "no," she ends flatly, scowling more at herself than at jamie.
"well." jamie lays it down on the bench, and stands up. "the girls are heading out tonight, we're meeting at the old where's-it, y'know" the right side of her mouth crooks up in a mischievous grin, as she knocks their elbows together.
stevie doesn't quite return the smile succesfully, and her face falls. "oh. you have plans already." her eyes dart towards the magazine where frankie's looking up at them invitingly out of a page, as though she can't quite help it.
"it's just. it's been awhile."
stevie ducks her head miserably, and rubs at the back of her neck.
"well," jamie tries and fails to keep her tone from falling, like she's really disappointed. "maybe next time yeah?" she sticks her hands awkwardly in her jean pockets and shrugs.
when stevie chances a glance up, jamie's smiling back at her, so tentatively that she's reaching out and grabbing at her arm before she even realises: "hey, no. wait, carra.")
"you know," frankie says the moment the door swings open. "i'm starting to get the feeling that you're avoiding me."
she pauses, like she's timing a punchline and it has to be exact. "but then again, this relationship's always been kind of one-sided, anyway."
stevie frowns, opens her mouth and starts to say something in protest, but frankie just rolls her eyes exaggeratedly. "oh don't you even dare try and argue that one, gerrard," and elbows her way past stevie into the house.
she follows frankie up to her room, frowning more out of confusion than anything else when frankie lies down onto her bed.
"what are you even doing here? it's new year's eve, don't you have a party to attend or something?"
"nope," she smiles up lazily at stevie, and stevie's pretty sure she's lying. "but you look as if you do. look at you! pretty lil stevie," frankie smirks.
stevie flushes, then scowls. "you're drunk, get off my bed."
frankie closes her eyes in response and tugs hard at stevie's arm so that she stumbles into the bed. "come lie with me stevie g. i promise i'll release you in time for your ball," and curls up sleepily at her side.
when she wakes up, it's already 2008, and frankie's just inches away from her face, watching her sleep.
"that is so creepy the way you do that." stevie groans and closes her eyes again, wishes she hadn't woken up, wishes she hadn't fallen asleep in the first place.
"you say it like you know for sure i do this with everyone i wake up with," she starts tracing lazily down stevie's left arm, patterns only discernible to her.
"thank fuck i don't."
"you could though," the finger on stevie's arm stills, as frankie wraps her hand lightly around stevie's wrist. "you know, you could."
stevie opens her eyes too quickly, and she squints, trying to get them to adjust to the bright bright light. the corners of frankie's mouth look soft with sleep from where she is, and there're still pillow creases on the side of her face as she leans in and presses their lips together.
stevie blinks really rapidly as her brain gets up to speed with the proceedings, and she lets slip a small whimper in the back of her throat, though she can't quite force herself to not kiss frankie back. she just can't not.
"frankie," she does manage to get herself to say this at least, "you're drunk."
"was. and even that was drunk enough to know that we want to do this and not so drunk to not realise that you'll never get the guts to do it first," she grins crookedly at stevie, before it slips, slightly. "we both want this, right?" quieter this time.
stevie's eyes flutter shut, and she allows herself to freak out quietly for a millisecond at what she's about to do, before opening them again. she rolls onto her side, and closes the distance between them.
when they pull apart, the grin on frankie's face is threatening to eat her face whole, and stevie can feel the beginnings of a grin tugging insistently at the corners of her mouth.
still, "i can't believe you quoted and mangled friends at me. i think we're gonna have to limit your american tv consumption if you're ever gonna pick anyone up again."
frankie laughs, breathless and delighted. "just you," she murmurs against stevie's lips. "only you."
somehow they manage to fight their way out of the group stages and wring a quarter-final result out of the world cup.
they end up getting completely trashed by the usa team in the clash, but stevie can't really find it in herself to care too much. they've gone further than anyone thought they could've, hell, further than they had ever dared to imagine themselves. they set out on a mission to get utterly pissed on chinese beer in tianjin that night, even powell's with them, singing and grinning like they've just won the world cup.
stevie's standing alone in the back of the room, quiet for a rare moment, when frankie sidles up to her side. she smiles when she sees frankie, loose and malleable.
"hey, you were great. tonight, you were great."
stevie's smile widens at that, if possible (she pokes the sides of her mouth wonderingly, tries to measure it against the span of her fingers), because they'd gelled, they'd lost tonight (to a better team, for now, and stevie can admit that inside her head), but they'd gelled.
frankie looks at her amusedly for a long moment, that stevie starts to worry if she's done that thing where the filter between her brain and her mouth disappears with a few beers again. but then frankie pulls her hands gently away from her face, leans in and says softly, "look who's drunk now?"
stevie bends her head forward conspiratorially, "not so drunk that you should feel guilty about taking advantage though," and kisses frankie first before she can.
she wakes up the next morning, to her own head threatening to implode on itself and the feeling of someone watching her.
she tries to turn onto her side without any sudden movements, but gives up halfway and throws her arms blindly in frankie's general direction, who in turn snuggles in properly.
"sleep, you crazy crazy person," she moans. "sleep."
frankie tucks her face neatly into the crook of stevie's neck, and laughs softly, nuzzling at stevie's throat until their breathing slowly even out.
(not) the end.
and look, it's not as if i'm saying that this is what stevie and lamps need to do to get the fuck over themselves: hang out a lil, make out for awhile and then declare their eternal love for each other etcetc. but, y'know, it would be a lot easier for everyone involved. as girl!frankie's life motto says: whatever works, ok?