trick after trick, i make the magic
Posted originally on the Archive of Our Own at

Teen And Up Audiences
Archive Warning:
No Archive Warnings Apply
F/F, F/M
Hatchetfield Universe - Team StarKid
Stephanie Lauter/Peter Spankoffski | Hot Chocolate Boy, Grace Chasity/Alice Woodward, Brooke/Caitlyn (Nerdy Prudes Must Die)
Stephanie Lauter, Peter Spankoffski | Hot Chocolate Boy, Brooke (Nerdy Prudes Must Die), Caitlyn (Hatchetfield), Alice Woodward, Grace Chasity, Ruth Fleming (mentioned)
Additional Tags:
Not Canon Compliant, Alternate Universe - Everyone Lives/Nobody Dies, Crack Treated Seriously, Teenage Drama, Cinemas, Established Relationship, Hijinks & Shenanigans, Idiots in Love, lautski's love language is bickering
Published: 2024-02-20 Words: 2,387 Chapters: 1/1

trick after trick, i make the magic


Steph feels like her head is about to fall off with the amount of unnecessary information it’s currently taking in. She can feel the migraine incoming. Her brain is working too much for it to be summer break.

Deb? The always up–in–the–clouds, always either high or already smoking another joint, the supplier for popular kids’ parties, along with the rest of the Smoke Club was dating Alice Woodward? How the hell did they get together if Steph had to say her name at least five times to get through?

Wasn’t Alice from Clivesdale?


Was Deb even gay?



pete and steph's date at hatchetfield's oldest and most forgotten cinema turns out to be a part of something bigger. steph is severely out of the loop, pete just wants to fulfill his promise to ruth, and brooke really needs the two idiots behind her and her girlfriend to shut up.


live reaction of me typing brooke/caitlyn in the relationship box: im going to create a rareship so rare nobody's mother heard about this

a nee ways. gracealice ftw! lautski are just a narrative tool for me to introduce them and britlyn to the general public. everyone is probably a little out of character. i feel like i went really with abstinence camp ish steph on pure accident and pete is like . really confident ??? they're also still losers for each other AMEN

trick after trick, i make the magic

The cinema smells damp and moist from the moment they step in. The inside is even hotter than outside, which makes the seventies–y decor — striped red and orange walls, definitely moldy, dirty carpets and creased movie posters lit by lamps with various degrees of success — even more sickening.

She hasn’t felt this out of place since her father took her to some conference in Pennsylvania in seventh grade and she spent half of the speeches awkwardly shifting in her stiff, itchy dress, and the other half trying to catch a moment of sleep.

And really, Stephanie Lauter loves her boyfriend. Honest to God or her Mom or whoever is watching over her miserable little life, she loves Pete more than she thought she could love anybody. He makes her head spin and heart race like she stood up too fast, and he turned out to be a great kisser once they got past his awful lack of self–confidence.

And that’s how she ended up in Hatchetfield's downtown cinema in the middle of summer. Instead of, fucking, getting drunk out of her ass and kissing Pete on the balcony of Ted's apartment.

Perhaps she should love him less. (She won’t. She knows that, and hopes Pete knows that — or better not, because she still feels like a twelve–year–old with a crush on her classmate, like she’s about to start drawing hearts around Steph Spankoffski on the back of her Bio notes, and if he ever used it against her, even in jokes, she’d melt into a puddle of shame.)

“I still don’t get why we had to go here instead of Cineplex.” Steph mumbles — half to herself, half to Pete — when she tries to get comfortable on the creaky seat and pulls out the Doritos from her bra.

“There’s a vibe to places like these, darling.” Pete says as he almost kicks his own seat to get it open.

Steph clicks her tongue, trying to will away the blush that comes banging every time Pete calls her a pet name. “Yeah, and the vibe is black mold exposure.”

“Shh!” Pete whispers as the lights slowly dim and he finally kicks the seat open, sitting alongside her. (Subconsciously, Steph’s hand wraps around Pete’s. He squeezes back, rubbing his thumb over her hand, and Steph's pinky finds the braided bracelet she made him.

It’s just lights. Get your shit together, Lauter.)

The first few minutes of the movie are a mix of silence and quiet rustling of snacks other people have smuggled in. Pete is drumming his fingers — of the hand that’s not wrapped around Steph’s — on the armrest, a soft sound. The nervous energy that’s usually surrounding Pete isn’t even there, and Steph starts to believe that maybe they can have nice time in a shitty, damp cinema.

Then Pete turns to her with wide eyes and a small smile, and Steph almost jumps in her seat because holy shit the lighting makes him look all too distorted and her heart has been already wild since the lights suddenly went down.

“Grace and Alice are here.” He quips, and before Steph can process his words, cranes himself right in front of her, covering the screen entirely.

“What— who?

Pete completely disregards her question and goes on his own little rant. “Ruth is out of town on some acting camp, so she asked me to see if they were, y’know, on a proper date–date, or still dancing around each other.”

Steph’s eyebrows furrow as she tries to connect the dots of Pete’s sudden burst of talkativeness. Grace? Alice? Proper date–date? What the hell is this guy on?

“Still dancing around?” She mumbles outloud.

“Yeah. Grace and Alice.” He cranes his neck back to her. “You know who they are, right?”

“Yes, Jesus!”

“I’m Pete, actually.” He flashes her a grin, and Steph smashes the butterflies that rise in her stomach with a mallet.

“If you make one more awful dad joke, I’m leaving this theater.”

Pete rolls his eyes affectionately, and Steph kind–of–very–much expects an apology kiss to her cheek at least. Instead she gets hit with another piece of information she never thought would be revealed to her.

“You know they’ve been around each other a weird lot since the summer break for students started and Alice came home from her college?” Pete makes it sound half like a question, half like a statement Steph is meant to believe blindly. “And Ruth lives just across the street, few houses down from the Woodwards, so she’s seen, and I mean this absolutely seriously—”

“I am not going to believe you especially after you said that.” Pete reaches out to softly shove her back, and she shoves him much harder in retaliation. "A weird lot for Ruthie is any attention from anything that moves, breathes, and isn't either you or Richie."

Pete huffs in mock annoyance. His elbow is digging into Steph's bare thigh, but it's grounding her here, even in the dark.

“She’s seen Alice sneaking Grace in through her window.”

“What?” Her voice sounds way too shocked for her to be talking about a classmate from high school she didn’t even talk to that much. (She doesn’t count the two weeks or so of hell back in the beginning to be school–related conversations. More like a bunch of people grouped together in a survival horror movie.)

“Her window, Steph.” Pete says it like it’s the worst thing in the world. Like she hasn't snuck in through his window.

Steph tilts her head so he can see her raised eyebrows even better and quietly puts telling him about the shit she pulled off in December of sophomore year to some other time.

“Well, we should all expected that I mean, people did talk about them making out in the sacristy of their church—”

Steph’s eyes fight between squinting and widening in shock. “They did?”

Pete looks over to her, and snorts.

This bastard of a man, direct relative of the horrible little rat man Ted Spankoffski is, snorts.

“I can’t believe I was better caught up in school rumors than you, Miss Hatchetfield.”

Steph rolls her eyes almost audibly, and Pete sends her a glare visible even in the dark theater. “Anyways, the rumors started even before Alice’s girlfriend Deb, y’know, Smoke Club, dropped her right after prom. She was out of Hatchetfield the moment summer break started.”

Steph feels like her head is about to fall off with the amount of unnecessary information it’s currently taking in. She can feel the migraine incoming. Her brain is working too much for it to be summer break.

Deb? The always up–in–the–clouds, always either high or already smoking another joint, the supplier for popular kids’ parties, along with the rest of the Smoke Club was dating Alice Woodward? How the hell did they get together if Steph had to say her name at least five times to get through?

Wasn’t Alice from Clivesdale?

Was Deb even gay?

“Deb was dating Alice?”

Pete's mouth corners go downward in a crooked smile, the one he makes when he's really trying not to laugh and slaps his hands on his thighs, the sound of them landing on the jeans silenced by the material. “Since junior year!”

“Well, I spent most of my junior year blasted the fuck out of my mind, forgive me for not being caught up in every single rumor.”

Someone in front of them shushes aggressively, and Pete whispers a pliant “sorry” before turning his attention back to Grace and Alice’s dimmed forms.

“Do you think they moved closer?”

Steph squints at the blurry shapes of the two, leaning forward and trying to determine if she’s even looking at the correct people. “You’re the one wearing glasses, not me!”

Pete barely has the time to open his mouth before a whisper–shouted “shut the fuck up!” comes from the same person row before them.

Steph’s brain cogs start turning for the first time that day.


There’s rustling, a quiet whisper and a badly disguised snort, and then,

“Stephanie?” Brooke’s face is lit by the screen still playing some obnoxiously peaceful lakeside scenes — is that a goddamn horse? — but Steph can clearly make her confused expression, furrowed eyebrows and eyes searching for any clue. “What— What the fuck is going on?”

“I could ask the same!” Steph whisper–shouts. She and Brooke were friends, then they weren’t, and then they kind–of–were — all within the last year and a half of high school. There’s still a polaroid of Brooke on rollerskates on Steph’s cork board in her room. Something like shame and anger mixed into one pulses through her.

“We’re on a date.” Another voice comes from Brooke's direction.

This time Pete speaks up.


“Hi Peet!” She says, bright as ever, and Steph kind of feels both like punching her, or Brooke, or Pete, or even Ruth, and then herself.

She's pretty sure the girl was one of the people in the spring musical? Even if it was a disaster for multiple reasons, including one of the actors throwing up during the first show, and the lights going a bit crazy, Steph had actual fun — for the first time at any school function. (It would be better if Pete was with her, but he had to help Ruth out in the light booth.

Because, even though she had to fight the doctors at Hatchetfield Hospital and came barging back in on her crutches with one leg still in cast and neck brace making her look up to the ceiling half of the time, Ruth would rather claw out all the lights in the auditorium with her own fingers and nails before letting Miss Mulberry control them.)

“Jesus Christ, why is everyone dating after we graduate?” She mumbles, and then suddenly a blow comes to her right shoulder.

“Steph!” Pete sounds both out of breath and frantic as he scrambles almost right into her lap, trying to crook her head into the direction of their targets. “Look, look—” He almost talks at his normal volume, and she would pinch him for drawing so much attention to them, if not for the scene.

Grace Chasity is leaning over and it looks like she’s fucking kissing Alice.

And Alice is kissing back, and they’re moving, and holy fuck, they’re definitely kissing, and Grace is leaning it, and—

Holy shit.

“Holy shit.” She whispers, pressing a hand to her mouth, watching with some strange awe and shock as both of their shadows lean deeper into the kiss, and something that could be Grace’s hand — none of them can be sure in this lighting — tangling itself in Alice’s hair.

“Are they fucking making out?” Brooke asks as Caitlyn is letting out a soft ooh.

And Steph stays in the same position, hand over mouth and ruler–straight in her seat, because it’s something she never even could imagine. Grace fucking Chasity, nerdiest prude of them all, making out in a cinema, during a movie, in front of other people, with a girl.

And it’s not like she’s even fucking exaggerating, because Grace looks like she’s about to crawl on Alice and eat her entire fucking face.

“Jesus, I never thought.I would see her making out in a public cinema.” Brooke says to Steph’s left, something both disgust and humor in her voice, smacking her lips.

“Don’t say Jesus, she’ll smell him out.” Pete snaps mockingly, and Brooke flashes a straight–toothed smile at him. She’s fully turned around at this point, back to the screen. Caitlyn at least pretends to still pay attention to the movie, though she turns to look between the three of them from time to time.

And then Caitlyn peels herself away from the screen, which is now showing some women running between cars, constantly a second away from being run over. What is this movie even about? “At least they went here and not to Cineplex.”

“Yeah, basic decency.” Pete nods. Then he turns to Steph, and fucking hell, she knows what he’s about to say from the lilt in his voice. “Hey, Steph, do you remember—”

“No.” With that, she slaps a hand over his mouth, successfully depriving him of a voice. “I don’t remember anything about Cineplex.”

Brooke looks at Pete with a knowing smirk, he smiles back under Steph's hand, and she once again gains the patience of a monk to not smack all of them upside their stupid heads.


“If I knew you were going to be so fun around other people, I would show you off more. Like a little funny purse dog.” Steph says once they’re back in Pete’s — Ted’s — car, fixing her lipstick in the rearview mirror. (It got a little smudged once they all got bored of witnessing Grace and Alice engage in sin in almost–front–row, and she and Pete decided the movie was a complete shitshow and engaged in the sin of public make–out session themselves.)

Pete’s hand stills around the keys in ignition.

“I am notgoing to be funny again. It’s a stress defense mechanism.” At Steph’s raised eyebrow, he sighs and continues, wiping the other hand on his jeans. “Hedgehogs have, the, y’know, spikes? I have the funnies to not let people see how awkward I am.”

Funnies.” Steph mumbles to herself.

“Like when we first talked. I didn’t even know what I was babbling, I think I blacked out from stress.” Pete continues, staring through the front shield into some bushes and gesticulating wildly with one hand. He does not, though, miss the way Steph snickers into her hand. “Seriously!

Steph checks her phone one last time — yeah, she’ll probably turn it on three more times, what about it — and the moment she unclocks it, an Instagram Direct Message notification pings.

ali.woodie_00x: you really need to work on your detective skills lmaooo

Steph slams the phone down on her mattress and watches it bounce once, twice, before falling onto the carpet with an empty thud.

She groans.

Goddamit. She knew none of them were subtle.

She should have just brought her cat along. He looks just like Pete, but at least wouldn't make her remember that time in Cineplex.


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