Title: Noticing
Author/LiveJournal: Nikitangel
Rating: PG
Pairing: Mary Anne/Claudia
Words: 1,223
Written for: The Babysitter's Club ficathon
Dedicated to: borrowedwings, who wanted me to make her say, "Awww…", and suntrails for last-minute (as usual) beta services
Notes: It was harder than I thought, slashing my childhood literary figures, so this is probably the last time I'll write anything like this.

It wasn't like she was crushing on her or anything.

Mary Anne took a bite of her PB&J and stared across the lunch table thoughtfully. Claudia was showing Stacey and Dawn Marie the bracelet she'd made the night before, and she was wearing a pair of equally outlandish earrings made of the same beads as the bracelet. They were dangly, but not as long as her feather ones. Mary Anne preferred the feather earrings, especially when Claudia wore them with that pink tank top …

Not that she kept track of the other girl's clothing or anything.. She certainly didn't mention Claudia's outfits in her journal. Mary Anne blushed and looked down at her sandwich. Sometimes, she was really glad no one could hear inside her head.

They were all friends, good friends, the best. And now they were in high school, driving even, and things were getting better every year. This was no time to start trying to change dynamics. And anyway, change them to what, exactly?

Kristy nudged her elbow. "Hey, don't these noodles remind you of Biology today –"

"Stop." Mary Anne set her sandwich down. "Just stop. I brought my lunch today, and I do not want to hear what today's hot lunch reminds you of." No matter how much older and more mature they were now, some things never changed.

Like Claudia. School was going better for her now, but mostly because of all the art classes she was allowed to take. And when she kept her grades up, she was allowed to borrow the car, something for which Mary Anne was still lobbying her father. But not Claudia – she carried the keys like she was 18, or in college even. Just tossed back all that hair and walked casually out to the car, not even wrinkling her outfit as she slid behind the wheel.

Mary Anne suddenly spotted It was envy, of course, that had Mary Anne's eyes watching Claudia's every move. She was just observing the other girl in appreciation. Of her grace, not – anything else.

Logan walked bypassing by the table with a bunch of football guys, and she ducked her head so her hair fell across her face. Their latest break-up had been only the week before, but she had a feeling it was the last. He had accused her of not "being in the relationship," of being distracted, of staying with him because it was convenient. Her somewhat weak protests hadn't helped the situation. She couldn't help it if that dimpled smile and Southern twang didn't do it for her anymore. That was what happened with relationships. She was just looking for something new different now.

For instance, she'd decided she liked dark hair. And someone a little smaller, not so – well, football-y. Someone who wasn't intimidating. And someone who had a dazzling smile, especially when they talked about ar- their hobbies. And of course, someone who loved children. Someone who understood where she was coming from, and who wouldn't mind her meetings three days a week. Or even someone who came to the meetings…

Of course, they had tried having a boy come, and it was terrible, so then the person would have to be a girl, so that wouldn't work. Of course.In fact, she wanted someone who could commit to a meeting three days a week. They should be a member of the BSC.

Of course, they didn't have boys in their club. She knew that, this was just fantasizing, and she was allowed to fantasize about a – person.

She was glad she wasn't gay. She'd read about it, of course, and there was Austin Bentley at school, but she wasn't friends with anyone gay. She thought it would be weird to look at your girl friends that way. To notice how smooth their skin was, or how small their hands were, or how shiny and soft their hair was. If Mary Anne was gay, she would be noticing how Claudia's shirt fell forward when she leaned across the table, and how that little bit of her bra peeked up and how it was bright red.

Which would just be weird. A gay person would probably be like, "Claudia always creates the most beautiful things, but they look even better when she wears them." Or something.

Mary Anne bit her lip as Claudia leaned forward and extended her arm. The fabric of her shirt was kind of pulling across…

"Hey Mary Anne, what do you think of these colors?"

Mary Anne jumped, immediately switching her gaze to the bracelet. "The colors?" she repeated stupidly.

"Yeah. Do you like the purple better than the indigo I made last week? You remember, with the-"

"Silver coils and tiny black and white pearls?" The words were out of her mouth before she could stop them and feign casual ignorance.

Kristy looked curiously at her. "I didn't know you were that into jewelry, Mary Anne."

"Well, I like to … notice things." Mary Anne flushed and fervently prayed for a change in topic. "Um, what were you saying about the noodles?"

Kristy launched into another disgusting comparison, much to Mary Anne's relief, although Claudia was still gazing at her with an odd look on her face. Mary Anne squirmed and tried to look interested in the dissection story without actually having to listen to it.

She could feel Claudia's eyes on her for the rest of the lunch period, a fact that both pleased and mortified her. She was grateful when the bell rang and she could make her escape. Her cheeks were probably permanently red now.

"Hey, Mary Anne, wait up." Claudia emptied her tray into the garbage and trotted up alongside the other girl. "You've got Euro Civ now, right? That's right next to Chem."

Mary Anne took a breath and ordered herself to chill out. People walked to class together all the time, including the BSC, and why was this suddenly feeling so weird? She must have walked to class with Claudia a thousand times and never noticed the delicate way her hair kind of floated around her shoulders and how-

"Are you okay?"

"Me? Fine. I'm fine. How are you?" Mary Anne could have smacked herself. Real suave.

And why the heck was she trying to be suave?

And now Claudia was looking at her funny again, like she was seeing something Mary Anne was pretty sure she didn't want anyone seeing. She did that half-smile thing that she did sometimes, and suddenly she was handing her books to Mary Anne. Mary Anne's brain whirled with confused thoughts of carrying Claudia's books to class and what did that mean and why did would she oh but she's fixing her bracelet and why should that be so disappointing?

No, not fixing. Claudia lifted her head and held the bracelet up with a flourish.

"Did the clasp break?" Again with the dumb questions. Why couldn't she ever think of anything cool to say?

"Nope."

Claudia deftly slipped the cool metal around Mary Anne's wrist and closed the clasp. Mary Anne did her best to ignore the way her heart had sped up at Claudia's closeness, the way the other girl's fingers were tickling over her skin and how her long hair was whispering across Mary Anne's palm.

"There." Claudia said softly, looking up to meet Mary Anne's wide eyes. "Done. It looks better on you, anyways." She smiled and the smile was new, different, older, like she was winking even though she wasn't.

Mary Anne could think of no words. She was still standing there with her mouth open long after Claudia had gently taken back her books and disappeared into the crowded hallway.