Disclaimer: For the last time, I don't own anything. I swear I don't!

Chapter 20

That night, before dinner, Chelsea called. She called the house phone, not Raven's line, and asked Tanya if it was okay to come over, given Raven's current punishment. Tanya was a little hesistant at first, but Chelsea threw in the project excuse and some sort of grade percentage, and Tanya caved.

"One hour. No more." Tanya said on the phone, and Chelsea waited a second for Raven's response.

"But Mom, it's a really complicated project and it could take longer. We only have so many days before it's due. How about two hours?" She could hear Raven say on the other end of the line.

"An hour and fifteen minutes."

"An hour and forty five minutes." Raven really knew where it was going to end up and ninety minutes was better than sixty.

Tanya sighed. "An hour and a half...and that's it Raven."

Chelsea nodded on the other end of the receiver, saluting Raven's negotiation skills. If the whole fashion thing didn't work out, lawyer would be the next best choice. She could already hear Raven saying, "And wear nastly little grey power suits all day? I don't think so girl."

"...sea, Chelsea are you still there?"

"Oh, yeah, sorry Mrs. B. Yeah, so it's okay?"

"Yes. After dinner, you can come over."

"Around seven then?"

"Yes Chelsea, seven would be fine."

"Okay. Thanks. Bye."


A little after seven o'clock (She didn't want to push her luck) Chelsea arrived at Raven's. She was equipped with her notebook, a textbook, and "The Catcher in the Rye." Tanya opened the door.

"Hello Chelsea."

"Hi." Chelsea said sheepishly, stepping into the house. Raven cautiously came out of the kitchen.

"Hey Chels. Ready for the project?"

"Uh, yeah Rae. I have everything." Chelsea held up her small pile of books.

"Okay great. Well, I'm done with the dishes Mom, so we'll be upstairs--" Raven grabbed Chelsea's arm and was about to quickly drag her upstairs when Tanya put a hand up.

"Hold it."

Raven cringed and turned. This wasn't going to be as simple as she thought. "Yeah?"

"You know, I've been hearing a lot about this 'project,' but I don't know what it's about. So, why don't you girls tell me?"

Chelsea and Raven looked at each other, as if mentally debating which would handle the excuse. Chelsea took the initiative, thinking that it would seem more believable if Tanya heard it from her. She handed her books to Raven and began to make her way back down the stairs.

"Oh, Rae didn't tell you?"

Tanya shook her head, smiling.

"All right. Well...well, the, uh, the project is about 'The Catcher in the Rye.' We just finished it, great book."


"See, we--meaning Raven and myself..." Chelsea gestured toward Raven and then pointed at herself. "...we have to..."

Raven craned her neck forward, her eyes as round as saucers. Where was Chelsea going with this?

"We have to t-take a part from the book and analyze it, and present our...analysis in front of class."

"Oh. I see." Tanya nodded. "Have you decided on a part yet?"

"No. Not yet." Chelsea shook her head vigorously. "That's why I'm here tonight. We're gonna pick out a part and try to..." Chelsea bit her lip, cursing her self for not knowing another word. "...ana...lyze it."

Tanya looked at Raven, who nodded, and then looked back at Chelsea. Chelsea held her breath, praying that Tanya would buy it. Tanya nodded slowly. "Okay. I'll be here in the kitchen if you girls need anything."

"Okay." Both girls answered in unison.

Tanya left as Chelsea met Raven in the middle of the stairway.

"What was that?" Raven asked, surprised.

"I had to think of something really fast. We didn't exactly make up an entire story for your mom. I was on the spot Rae."

"No, it was great. I didn't know you could think on your toes like that."

"Wow, thanks for the vote of confidence."

"You know what I mean."

"Whatever." Chelsea said, pretending to be hurt. "You have no faith in me, that's fine."

Chelsea started up the stairs, putting the back of her hand to her heart playfully, making it seem as if she were really offended by Raven's thoughts. Raven followed her, not recognizing the pretend of it all. "Chels wait, you know I have faith in you."

"Aw, Rae. I was just kidding."

"Oh." Raven blushed with embarassment. "Sorry."

Chelsea laughed as they headed into Raven's room. Raven closed the door and set Chelsea's books down on her desk. Chelsea sat down on Raven's bed, and Raven plopped down next to her, but not too close. She didn't want Chelsea to be uncomfortable.

"So...let's talk."

"Okay." Chelsea said, exhaling deeply. "I...kind of have a confession to make."

"What?" Raven moved a little closer, the tension in her stomach beginning to build.

"You remember two years ago, when I was gonna go out with a guy named Sam?"

"How could I forget? He had the same name and personality as your dog."

"Hey, Sammy Whammyhas a great personality."

"Whatever, continue."

"Okay. Remember when he stood me up...and you pretended to be a guy the next day to teach him a lesson?"

"Yeah sure."

"Well...when you did that, you didn't realize how much it actually meant to me."

"I'm sure you would've done the same thing for me Chelsea."

"Yeah I know, but that's not what I'm getting at here."

"So...what are you getting at? What does Sam have to do with anything?"

"Okay, just shush for a second and I'll tell you." Chelsea whined, getting a little annoyed that Raven kept interrupting. Raven promptly closed her mouth.

Chelsea looked away for a second, and then turned back to Raven, gently taking hold of one of her hands. "When you did that for me, I...I-I kind of developed feelings...for you."

Raven sucked in air. "What? You...for me?"

Chelsea nodded. "Yeah, that's the same thing I kept saying to myself. It was strange and definitely new, but I couldn't help how I felt. But, I never thought you could possibly like me back. What were the chances of that? So...I just hid it from you."

Raven slipped her hand from Chelsea's moving away a little and losing herself in her thoughts. Chelsea had had feelings for Raven since they were fourteen. That was a long time to hide something. Raven thought hiding her feelings for a few months was torture; she couldn't imagine how nearly three years felt.

"I thought it was a phase." Chelsea continued. "That it would pass, but it didn't. Sure, I denied my feelings for a while, and finally learned to bury them deep, deep down inside of me...that's how I managed to go out with other guys. Guys like Curtis or Ben. But I think the feelings were always there. That's why Ben broke up with me. He had a vision...several visions, and he knew that it was going to lead to this."

Raven nodded, but she didn't say anything. She looked at Chelsea with more emotion than she ever thought she possibly could.

"When you kissed me Rae, it was like you woke me up. All of the feelings that I managed to keep deep down suddenly rose to the top. And that's why I ran. I hadn't confronted them in such a long time, it scared me when they came back."

Chelsea breathed deeply, filling the silent room with nervous air. "I want this to work. I really want it all to work, but we have to take it slow. If we rush, I'm afraid I'll lose it again. And I don't want to, because I do have feelings for you Raven. And I know you said you loved me, but I...I can't say it back. I don't want to hurt you, but it's going to take some time."

Raven felt her heart swell. She thought it would burst if she let it. "Okay."

"Okay?" Chelsea asked, a little relieved.

Raven nodded. "Yes. You don't know how happy I am to hear this Chelsea. You don't have to say you love me. Right now, you just sticking around is more than enough for me."

Chelsea released some more tense air in relief, shaking a little from the adrenaline she built up for the confession. "Okay."

Raven moved closer again, taking both of Chelsea's hands in her own. "I-I know you want to take it slow, and I respect that. But, would it be okay if I kissed you right now?"

Chelsea smiled softly, nodding. "We've already done that twice. Once more isn't going to hurt."

Raven leaned in, closing her eyes and bending her head to the right. Chelsea bent her head to the left, closing her eyes and meeting Raven the rest of the way. Their mouths connected, and it was as if all time had stopped. Passion, love, and happiness exploded from their bodies and filled the room. Chelsea took her hands from Raven and wrapped her arms around her waist. Raven did the same and they pulled toward one another, like polar magnets that finally got to connect.

They ended their kiss, but embraced one another fully, resting their heads on each other's shoulders.

Raven knew that she wouldn't be happier than she was right now, just being able to hold the one she loved. Her dream had come true, her fantasy a reality, and nothing else in the world could make her feel so complete.

"Hey Rae?" Chelsea whispered, not taking her head off of Raven's shoulder.

"Hmm?" Raven mumbled in contentment.

"What did it mean when you said 'strawberries?'"

Raven laughed a little and whispered back, "You taste like strawberries...you smell like strawberries."

"Yeah? Good or bad thing?"

"Good. Very, very good."

Raven closed her eyes, letting her love for Chelsea wash over her. They stayed that way the whole time, happy and comfortable in one another's arms.

The End.

"Sweet Thing" by Van Morrison

And I will stroll the merry way
And jump the hedges first
And I will drink the clear
Clean water for to quench my thirst
And I shall watch the ferry-boats
And they'll get high
On a bluer ocean
Against tomorrow's sky
And I will never grow so old again
And I will walk and talk In gardens all wet with rain

Oh sweet thing, sweet thing
My, my, my, my, my sweet thing
And I shall drive my chariot
Down your streets and cry
'hey, it's me, I'm dynamite
And I don't know why'
And you shall take me strongly
In your arms again
And I will not remember
That I even felt the pain.
We shall walk and talk
In gardens all misty and wet with rain
And I will never, never, never
Grow so old again.

Oh sweet thing, sweet thing
My, my, my, my, my sweet thing
And I will raise my hand up
Into the night time sky
And count the stars
That's shining in your eye
Just to dig it all an' not to wonder
That's just fine
And I'll be satisfied
Not to read in between the lines
And I will walk and talk
In gardens all wet with rain
And I will never, ever, ever, ever
Grow so old again.
Oh sweet thing, sweet thing
Sugar-baby with your champagne eyes
And your saint-like smile...

Author's Note: Yes, sadly, this story has come to an end. But don't worry, I want to write a sequel, because there's more to the story, but I didn't want to make this fic too long. So, hopefully all of you will follow me to my continuation.

Which one's greater, a gazillion or a bajillion? Aw, nevermind...countless thanks to all of you that read so faithfully and reviewed just as much. Once again, you have lifted my spirits and boosted my confidence to new heights. To readers such as "Faded Writer" "ymarti89" "erisedliaisons" and"kitkatkit27" I offer my heartfelt thanks. You have no idea how much all of your comments mean to me.

To "Allison L.F."--I'm happy that you love this story so. And "#1 favorite author?" I'm flattered and honored. You made my year, I mean it. Thank you very much.

To "The Soul Piper"--Your story is one of the best I've ever read, and I can't wait to read more. Thank you for taking the time to read mine and comment. When I first started to read TSR fanfic, I always thought yours was the most intriguing, emotionally raw, and powerful. You haven't disappointed yet.

And my deepest gratitude goes to "Chelsea Van Der Pol" whose enthusiastic comments and wonderfulcompliments (which I'm sure I don't deserve)gave me the energy to write this story so quickly. Not only have a gained a reader, I've also gained a friend. Your story is the best. It's descriptive, full of intense emotion and it always leaves me wanting more. Thanks for all of your feedback. This story is dedicated to you.