Title: Last Year’s Hit (the remix)
Summary: Another year of Camp, but things have changed.
Notes: Mitchie/Tess. Written for takemeback.
Mitchie starts to panic when she asks her mom for the fifth time about this summer at Camp Rock. Her mom says no, and she looks seriously sad and Mitchie decides that okay, yeah, she’s seriously not lying or joking around.
Still, she takes a peak at her mom’s planner anyway, her stomach twisting up and her teeth mashing marks into her bottom lip, and when she sees most of the summer marked up in red with weddings and funerals and most of July with a different camp – one for the rich Bible kids at the church across the river – Mitchie throws the black book at the cabinet and actually-actually cries.
After recovering, at least to the point where she can see clearly, Mitchie logs online, hoping to find a familiar face on Instant Messenger. Sure enough, Caitlyn (mizitCait) pops up after a moment or two with her typical “What’s the news from Mama Torres today?” before Mitchie can even think to start typing “No go.” They only continue a moment before Mitchie gets too depressed to keep talking.
rocktorres: look i think im just gonna go invisible k caitlyn
mizitCait: Okay, feel better though. Call me if you want to talk. We’ll miss you, seriously. *hugs*
Mitchie closes the window, feeling worse than she already did, getting up from her desk and flopping back on her bed. She actually feels empty inside, this is all of her hopes, wrapped up and thrown away. It’s not like her mother didn’t witness last year, how it rocked her whole world. How it changed everything. Still, she must not understand that music is her life. That it’s more important to Mitchie than breathing. That she would do anything to go back, to breathe that experience back into her lungs.
Even if it included the same torturing from Tess Tyler. Maybe especially.
Okay, so maybe Facebook isn’t the best idea right now, but Mitchie finds it somehow comforting to sit at her desk, knees pulled to her chest, typing in the names she remembers and looking up the familiar (sometimes friendly) faces. She comes to Tess, who she may have been putting off, clicks the link to her profile, catches those bright eyes, the straight, white teeth. Her shining blonde hair, curled in the first picture she sees. View photos of Tess. She clicks. Mesmerized.
She doesn’t know why. She doesn’t stop herself. Add as friend. Add personal message.
“hey tess i’ll miss you at camp this summer bet you’ve been getting ready to beat me”
What Mitchie doesn’t expect is a response. In fact, by the time it comes, making her email ding, she’s moved on from sentiment and sadness and anger and has become somehow resigned to a summer of ruined dreams and sitting around poking at her own instruments and singing to herself. She doesn’t check her account for a few hours, after all, what could happen now to make things improve?
“Mitchie–you should let me know your address–It’s not on your fb page, and my mom has something that needs to be sent to you… Really, asap.”
Mitchie is taken aback. It’s unsigned, but with an account name like firstname.lastname@example.org, the identity really isn’t up to questioning. But what she doesn’t understand is why. Sending her something, okay, that’s not the weirdest thing, but from her mother? The famous TJ Tyler? Mitchie looks at the screen like its offering her a third arm.
Still, she hits reply.
A week before Camp Rock would start – when Mitchie would be packing and planning – she can’t help counting down, a knock falls on the door when she’s home alone. On first instinct, she calls for her mom to answer it, but remembers that she’s out catering. So Mitchie rouses herself and, pajamed, goes for the door.
“Mitchie, yes?” The taller blonde woman asks, shifting her weight on leather boots. Mitchie looks her over, jaw dropping.
“T– TJ Tyler!” She forgets that she’s wearing flannel boxer shorts. Forgets she’s not in a bra, but only an old tank top.
The woman smiles, a small quirk of her lips. She nods too, an incline of her head. “I’m afraid we should have called first, but Tess has only just convinced me–”
“Tess?” Mitchie interrupts, blinking. Reality comes back, suddenly.
“To come along with us as we take a little vacation on the way to drop you two off at camp.” Ms. Tyler finishes with a smile, a real one this time. She looks back at her car, looking for Tess, Mitchie supposes, but then she doesn’t think anymore, because the words set in. And then, Mitchie freaks out.
Half of the words that tumble across her tongue don’t even register. The only thing she remembers later is saying “Oh my God,” before running up to her room, leaving Ms. Tyler standing, laughing a little, in the doorway.
Mitchie makes some quick phone calls, the one with her mother sends Mitchie into tears made with a mixture of frustration and laughter because all along – or at least for a week – Mrs. Torres has known about this plan, and even though she knew she couldn’t get Mitchie to camp on her own, she knew it would happen, but she promised on a surprise. But today, the timing is all wrong, and she can’t say goodbye, except over a crackly line.
But Mitchie knows how to do this: wipe her eyes and finish packing, grab her guitar and song book, arrange her things in the trunk and slide into the back seat alongside Tess, and smile. And after only minutes, it’s genuine. Ms. Tyler picks the music, and Mitchie never complains.
At the hotel, Ms. Tyler gets two rooms, and Tess quickly grabs Mitchie’s hand (and though Mitchie starts, she tries to hide it), turning to her mother and rolling her eyes. “Mom, seriously. I got sick of sharing a bed with you, like, 10 years ago.” She shares a look with Mitchie, innocent enough, if Mitchie thinks about it, and she does. Later. “And besides. We’re smaller. We fit better.”
Mitchie tries not to choke; the thought of them that close; and she knows what Tess wears to bed. She starts to offer to share with Ms. Tyler, imagining that might not be as awkward. But Tess grins and jerks Mitchie’s arm towards the elevator. “We can watch HBO, if you want,” she says, and her eyes flash. So Mitchie doesn’t even hesitate as she follows.
They fall asleep quickly the first night, and even the second. Mitchie is surprised, the next mornings that having Tess close, smelling like fresh flowers and honey-vanilla didn’t keep her up, didn’t keep her trying to examine the other girl in the filtered moonlight. But she wakes up refreshed each morning, ready for a day of sight-seeing and a brief nap in the car as they travel a few more hours towards their destination. TJ – as she instructs Mitchie to call her – says she’s the guest instructor this year, which is why she has a clear schedule. Tess leans in close and whispers in Mitchie’s ear that there’s no other way she would even dream of taking off an entire week to spend “quality time” with her daughter. She rolls her eyes. Says that’s why she invited Mitchie. For back up.
Halfway there, TJ pulls into a more rustic-looking place for the night, telling the girls that she needs to get accustomed to the camp lifestyle before she’s in front of the people she’s trying to impress. Mitchie smiles, but again, Tess just rolls her eyes. No HBO or wireless internet here.
The girls simply get ready for bed, and sitting close, they start talking about their plans for camp this year. Tess asks about Mitchie’s new songs, if she has any, if she thinks she’ll win the Final Jam. Mitchie wonders if Tess has been planning to go alone again, or if she wants another backup group. She thinks to herself that there’s probably another group of naive girls ready to cling to the Tyler majesty, if Tess wants to pursue that. Mitchie would be disappointed, she’s been imagining a summer of Tess, changed Tess, nice Tess. Maybe even duet Tess. And these past few days have given her evidence to support that hypothesis, but Mitchie hasn’t forgotten last year. She could be falling again.
“I’ve been working on some new songs. They’re pretty basic though,” Tess replies, fingering the blanked that covers her lap. She glances up at Mitchie, her cheeks a little pink. “Maybe you could help me with some, and we could do campfire jam together?”
Mitchie presses her lips together. She can’t tell. Maybe Tess is only using her for the sake of her own songs, or for Mitchie’s voice. But she sees Tess’s face, and she looks so genuine. And the kiss – Tess biting her lip, Tess closing her eyes to tiny slits, Tess moving closer in ridiculously slow motion, Tess stopping time, Tess’s mouth brushing against Mitchie’s, and the taste of Tess mixing with the taste of herself – the kiss may have helped convince Mitchie. Just a little.
They’re quiet in the morning the next day, and in the car. Neither seems to want to suggest a location for breakfast, neither seems to have an opinion on car music, so as a joke TJ plays Michael Bolton until even she can’t stand it anymore. At a rest stop, Ms. Tyler pulls Tess aside, and Mitchie pretends not to notice when she asks her daughter what’s wrong.
Mitchie doesn’t think that anything is wrong, per se, well, nothing aside from not knowing what to do with her hands, or if she can look at Tess during the car ride, or if there are feelings behind those lips.
And the fact that Tess rolled over and turned out the light before Mitchie could even begin to explain the moan that escaped from her lips, or the arching of her back.
Ella and Peggy have forgiven Tess enough to take the same rooming arrangements as a matter-of-fact decision, and upon arrival, start squealing and rounding Tess and Mitchie in a circle and catching up on the gossip.
“Ohmigod, Mitchie you have to sign up for campfire jam, I’ve been dying to hear what you’re working on, seriously, you totally have to, don’t you agree, Peggy?” Ella insists, bombarding the two of them, apparently submitting to Peggy now, in lieu of Tess.
Mitchie considers forgetting whatever it was that happened with Tess over the past five days and signing up by herself. Making an early impression. It’s what Tess would have done. But in a flash, she reconsiders.
“Actually, Ella, Tess and I were considering signing up together.” She doesn’t even look at Tess when she days it. Walks away just after, wondering what Tess looks like, if she’s shocked, if she’s angry. Maybe, Mitchie thinks, she’s smiling.
They never make it to Campfire Jam. When the leader asks Mitchie about it later, she tells him that she forgot she even signed up. Tess tells him she didn’t feel well.
They practiced for hours on end, Mitchie at the piano, Tess staring at the frets and working on her guitar fingering. Honestly, though this is one thing they never tell anyone, not even Caitlyn or Ella or Peggy, all the shaping of words with their tongues and lips, and moving of fingers on keys and strings , and the staring of eyes to keep in sync, it leads to another kind of lip and tongue moving and another kind of fingering and a whole ‘nother kind of keeping in sync.
Mitchie thinks, for a passing moment, that it’s nice not to worry about performing for an audience. That its nice to sing a song she knows, but to a brand new tune.