Title: "Send in the Clowns"
Author: monimala
Fandom: "General Hospital"
Rating/Classification: SAC, Gia fic, Gia/Nikolas-ish, angst, language.
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters.
Summary: Who says self-centered bitches clueless about how they are perceived? Who says they can't hurt?

She practices the smile in front of the mirror every morning. The icy "I don't care because I'm better than you" smile. Sometimes she spends so much time perfecting the curve of her lips, the faint flash of teeth, that Nikolas pounds on the door and asks if she's all right.

And she tells him, "Yeah. Yeah, I'm okay. I'll be out in a sec'."

And after one more test run, she rubs cocoa butter lotion into her dry palms and then reaches for the doorknob. When the barrier gives way, her dark-haired noble of a housemate and landlord is the first to see her performance. He marvels at the sheer perfection of her attitude and the confident way she carries herself. She knows he takes in her tight skirts and jeans, the occasional golden brown flash of her midriff, as she precedes him down the stairs.

He stares. He wonders. He never does more than that. Maybe he thinks about it...maybe, at night, he dreams of her and rolls over and tries to make the arousal go away. But he doesn't do more than that.

Because he doesn't like her.

None of them do.

Not that big hulking lug Lucky. Not the goody-two-shoes Elizabeth. Not that spoiled brat Emily. Not that pathetic Juan. Not even Zander the kidnapping drug dealer.

And they think she doesn't know.

Or maybe they think she doesn't care?

That the strained bonds of mutual tolerance that bind them all are beneath her notice. Because she thinks she's better than them. Because she smiles. She is truly a master of her craft.

She could pat herself on the back.

But she doesn't.

She goes down the stairs, she drinks a cup of coffee, she starts the day. She prepares to share a car ride with someone who barely tolerates her presence and spends most of their time in public reprimanding her. She prepares to walk into Kelly's and face the hostile glares of his brother and his friends...to ignore the whispered, "Oh, great. He brought Gia AGAIN".

She prepares the smile.

She is the bitch.

She is the bitch.

She is the bitch.

She prepares the smile.

***

His cologne smells like pine needles...like Siberian snow and ice. She inhales it before she gets out of the car. Wants to memorize it and take everything about it into her lungs so that she can feel nothing else when she breathes. So she can exhale it through her gritted teeth as the light catches her eyes and the gleam of her teeth.

"Are you okay, Gia?" he asks, holding the door to the small, homey diner open for her...chivalrous to the core.

Such a gentleman.

Too much of a gentleman to kick her out of his house.

Too much of a gentleman to take sides in the "Pro Gia-Anti Gia" war.

Too much of a gentleman to be a man who might want her.

Who might love her.

And she tells him, "Yeah. Yeah, I'm okay. I'll be in in a sec'."

Nikolas waits exactly fifteen seconds for the sake of propriety, his eyes flashing momentary concern, and then goes on ahead.

She leans against the barrier after it shuts, listening to the bell jingle as voices rise inside. As Lucky slaps his brother's back. As Liz's face lights up and she gives her runner-up boy a squeeze.

"You didn't bring her, did you?"

"Puh-lease, tell me you didn't!"

"Guys, she's not that bad."

"Yes, she is!"

"She's rude and stuck up and she never has a nice thing to say about anybody."

"Okay, she *is*...but..."

"'But' what? What do you *see* in her, Nikolas?"

"I know what he sees in her...he just won't admit it, will you, Bro'?"

"Shut up, Guys. She'll be here any second."

She knows they are hoping against hope that she will not walk in.

She won't give them that satisfaction.

She can't.

She prepares the smile.

She is the bitch.

She is the bitch.

She is the bitch. She prepares the smile.

She is so fucking sick of smiling.

--end--

January 2001.



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