Raven, Chelsea and Eddie stood in front of Bayside High's entrance. They stood there, staring, remembering the horrible events that occurred. Raven could almost see Chelsea and Ben rolling down the hard stone steps; it made her shiver.
Chelsea took in her surroundings, sighing heavily.
Things were normal around them. There were regular students walking around everywhere. Small circles of high school cliques littered the campus. Girls ran up to their friends, squealing as if they had been apart for months, instead of just hours. Guys tossed footballs, baseballs, and Frisbees. Off by the trees, an apparently intense game of "Hacki-Sack" was going on. The "Paper Ball War" carried on as usual. Boom boxes blared all different types of music from all corners of the campus. Bicycles whizzed by, the football coach's whistle sounded off in the field, and loud, meaningless chatter surrounded all three friends.
"So, you ready to go in?" Eddie asked, although he didn't seem so sure himself.
"Just…in another minute." Raven said and Chelsea nodded.
Someone shouted, "Cookie-lips!" off to the left of Eddie, making him jump. He turned, waving as Chantel ran up to all three of them. "Hey! How are you guys feeling?"
"We're okay." Raven said.
"Just a little nervous." Chelsea added. Chantel nodded, understandingly.
"Must be hard."
All three friends nodded slowly as they stared at the once safe, once harmless building. Now it seemed to loom over them, enveloping them in its overwhelming shadow. Raven swallowed hard; it looked as if a dark, stormy cloud resided over the school. Lightening bolts pierced through the grey masses…well, she thought she saw lightening.
"So, how's Ben?" Chantel asked, noticing that he wasn't there with them.
"Ben's going to be out of school for another week." Chelsea answered. "He's okay though."
"That's good." Chantel barely whispered. The trio looked so frightened, so nervous, that it was starting to make her nervous too. Breathing deeply, Chantel grabbed Eddie's hand and gave it a comforting squeeze. "You can do it." She assured Eddie when he looked at her, giving him a brave smile.
"Yeah, we can." Eddie stated, breathing deeply himself. "We can do this. They're gone. Ain't nothing gonna hurt us in there."
"Except Ms. DePaulo." Raven said, making them all chuckle. "Let's go." She said, taking Chelsea's hand in her own. Chelsea steeled herself, raising her head in what seemed to be bravery, but Raven could feel Chelsea's pulse through her fingers. They both glanced at one another, exchanging supportive smiles.
It was a slow, nervous climb to the entrance doors, but once the quartet got inside, confidence seemed to take over. They moved to their lockers; Eddie and Chantel were just around the corner from Raven and Chelsea.
Raven grabbed her books from her locker and shut it, frowning at the difficulty Chelsea was having. Chelsea's broken arm was getting in the way. She couldn't keep her book bag on and take all the stuff she needed from the locker. Raven rushed to her, grabbing her books. "Here, let me help."
"Thanks." Chelsea said, laughing a little. "You know, you never realize how important having two arms is until you lose one."
"My thoughts exactly."
"YO BAXTER!" Bianca yelled and Raven winced, shrinking her head into her shoulders.
"Oh my God, Bianca." Raven whispered to Chelsea as Bianca, Muffy and Loca walked toward them. "Why me?"
Both Raven and Chelsea turned to Bianca, Muffy and Loca. Most of the students in the hallway turned their attentions toward the girls as well.
"Bianca, Muffy, Loca…" Raven said as sweetly as she could, "What can we do for you?"
"Bianca would like to know if it is indeed true that you got Rocky Collera and his gang kicked out of school." Muffy said, looking from Bianca to Raven and back.
"Well…Rocky attacked us, so yeah. I guess so."
Silence filled the normally buzzing hallway as Bianca arched her eyebrow and squinted, apparently lost in thought. Eddie and Chantel were standing off to the side, blocked by other students. Raven exchanged a worried glance with Chelsea.
"He attacked you cause you're gay?" Bianca asked in her usual fierce voice, sending chills down Raven's back.
"That ain't right." Bianca stated, and Muffy and Loca nodded in agreement.
Raven didn't know what to say to that. Yes, of course it wasn't right, but why did Bianca care? Then, totally surprising Raven, Chelsea and the entire student body, Bianca said gave Raven a friendly hit on the shoulder and said, "You're all right Baxter. You too Daniels."
"Uh…thanks, I guess." Raven said, a little stunned. Chelsea could only stare at Bianca with her mouth open. Bianca sent her a somewhat friendly, somewhat irritated smirk before the fearsome trio left. The crowd of students surrounding them slowly broke away, but they were whispering and a few were very rudely pointing. Chelsea got her jaw to quit hanging from her knees long enough to turn to a very confused Raven, Eddie, and Chantel.
"What was that all about?"
Eddie and Chantel both shrugged at the same time. "Beats me." Eddie said, looking at Raven.
Raven smiled a little and shook her head. "I think things are going to be different around here."
"By different I hope you mean better." Chelsea said, suddenly depressed by all the attention she was getting. They had just gotten rid of one set of bullies, Chelsea didn't want to be the center of attention for others. Maybe Bianca was being nice, but Chelsea didn't need anything from Bianca, certainly not her approval.
Raven scrunched her forehead in concern. "What's up Chels?"
"Nothing. Let's just get to class." Chelsea grabbed her books from Raven and headed off to class even before the bell rang.
Raven and Eddie exchanged a glance, worried about Chelsea's sudden mood change. They had all been nervous before entering school, now it seemed like Chelsea was downright sad. Eddie, Raven and Chantel followed Chelsea just as soon as the first period bell rang.
Students flooded the hallway as the lunch bell rang, grabbing things from their lockers: lunch bags, wallets, walkmans, and in some cases books. Eddie, Chantel, Raven and Chelsea walked into the hallway. While Eddie and Raven began to feel a little more at place in school, Chelsea remained in her sour mood. Chelsea walked hurriedly to her locker, not bothering to wait for the others. Raven watched Chelsea run off and then turned to a concerned Eddie and puzzled Chantel.
"Hey guys, why don't you go ahead and save me and Chels a seat?"
"You sure Rae?" Eddie asked, watching Chelsea as well.
Raven nodded. "Just give me a few minutes."
Eddie put his hand on Raven's shoulder and gave it a comforting squeeze before he and Chantel went off to lunch. Raven turned, sighing heavily before walking to Chelsea. The hallways were almost completely empty now, giving Raven the freedom to address Chelsea without whispering. "Hey, you need help?" Raven asked, seeing that Chelsea was having difficulty with her stuff again.
Chelsea sighed, clumsily stuffing her books in her locker, grabbing her lunch bag and closing the door. "No. I got it."
"Chelsea, what is going on with you? I know coming back here today was tough, but what happened to all the stuff you said about us going through things together? You're shutting me out."
Chelsea leaned against her locker, hanging her head. "I'm sorry." She sighed, adjusting her sling. "It's just what Bianca did this morning."
"What about it?"
"Why did she have to do that? Make a big scene like that?"
Raven shrugged. "She's Bianca."
"And why did she make it seem like she approved of us? Who says we need her permission to do anything?"
"But didn't it seem like that? I felt like Bianca was saying that it was okay with her if we were together. And she practically announced it in front of the school. Oh, nobody mind the lesbian couple, Bianca says it's okay for them to be together."
Raven was surprised by Chelsea's indignation. "Chels, I think you're reading too much into this. So what if Bianca thinks she needs to give us her approval? Would anything change if she didn't? Would we stop going out if Bianca said she didn't like it?"
"No." Chelsea said, sulking. "I…I just didn't like it, that's all."
"Well, don't worry about it. Come on, Chantel and Eddie are waiting for us." Raven said, putting an arm around Chelsea's shoulder, but Chelsea shied away.
"I don't want to go in there. I think I'm just going to go eat outside, if that's okay." Chelsea said, backing away from Raven. "Come outside with me."
"Okay girl, but I don't have any lunch."
"Uh-uh. I am not eating a tofurkey sandwich. No way. Let me just buy some lunch and I'll be outside in a snap."
"Okay, I'll be by baby oakey." Chelsea said, referring to the oak tree that she, Raven, and Eddie planted a while back after they basically broke Old Oakey, the rotting oak tree that stood on the grounds before.
"All right." Raven said, walking off to the cafeteria.
She reached the lunchroom, bought a sandwich and a soda, and went over to Chantel and Eddie, who were stuffing their faces as usual. "Hey guys. Enjoying the mystery meatloaf I see?"
"Hey Rae. Where's Chelsea?" Eddie managed to muffle with a mouthful of meatloaf.
Raven scrunched her face in disgust. "She wanted to eat outside…and now I know why, ya nasty."
Eddie closed his mouth and swallowed, embarrassed. After a second, he asked, "You want us to come too?"
Raven shook her head. "No it's okay. I'll see you in a bit." Raven started to walk out of the lunchroom when an idea hit her. She ran back to Eddie quickly. "Wait, could you do me a favor after you finish?"
"Yeah sure, what?"
"You have study hall today right?"
"Me too. Listen, meet me by my locker."
"What are you up to?" Eddie said, squinting his eyes in suspicion.
"I wanna cheer Chelsea up. Don't worry, it's gonna be great!" Raven shouted as she left the cafeteria and ran off to her girlfriend.
Chelsea, along with the rest of Bayside High, walked into the hallway, breathing a sigh of relief after the dismissal bell rang. It had been a long, long, day and all Chelsea wanted to do was meet Raven so they could go over to her house. 'Maybe we can get some more snuggling time in,' she thought with a slight smirk. Chelsea knew that she had been in a funk all day; it was because of Bianca. She didn't know why, but it really bothered her that Bianca gave them her "seal of approval" this morning. They didn't need that.
Reaching her locker, Chelsea looked around, searching for Raven, but the girl wasn't there. 'Don't tell me she forgot and ditched me.' Chelsea thought miserably, but then expelled the thought from her mind. Raven wouldn't forget about her. She sighed and opened her locker to throw her books in and jumped back when a white envelope dropped out.
"What the…" She muttered, bending down and picking up the envelope. It seemed oddly familiar to her.
Chelsea smiled as she examined the outside. 'Using my own tactics against me eh?' She thought amusingly to herself. Her heartbeat rapidly increased as she tore open the envelope, revealing the nicely folded white paper inside. She bit her lip, smiling as she read the one very neatly written sentence in the middle of the paper.
Meet me in the park.
Chelsea arrived at the park entrance twenty minutes later, her heart racing and her breathing excited with anticipation. She slowly walked inside, looking for Raven. Sure enough, there she was, in the center of the park, holding a rose. Raven smiled as her eyes met Chelsea's.
"Hey, what are you doing here?" Chelsea asked as she reached Raven.
"Hold on, first things first. This is for you." Raven said sweetly, handing Chelsea the rose.
"Thank you." Chelsea said, smelling the flower. She suddenly frowned, lowering her gaze. "I'm sorry about today. I know I was in a bad mood--"
Raven shook her head and put a finger up to Chelsea's lips. "Shh. It's okay. I get it. We don't need anyone's approval. That's why I went and did this."
"What did you do?"
Raven sighed, her shoulders deflating a little. "Well…I kind of copied you. Eddie helped too. He looked for the right guys."
"You should look up." Raven began, but grabbed Chelsea's chin, preventing the girl from looking upward. "But before you do, just remember that yours didn't come out perfect either."
Raven released Chelsea's head and Chelsea looked skyward, gasping as she read the phrase etched into the sky.
RAVEN LOVES CHARLIE.
Chelsea laughed and shook her head, bringing her gaze back down to Raven. It was true that she had done the same thing, but she hadn't been on the receiving end of it. Reading that message, no matter how wrong it was, filled her with so much love and passion for Raven that she thought her heart would burst any second. Tears misted her eyes.
"Those guys are something, ain't they?" Raven said, looking at the sky and back at Chelsea.
"It's completely wrong."
"I know what you meant and it's beautiful to me."
"You're beautiful to me." Raven said, taking Chelsea's good hand. "I love you. I'm going to love you forever Chelsea Daniels. That's what the sky message was supposed to mean. Our love is limitless…like the sky. It doesn't have to be approved and it can't be held down. No matter what happens or who tries to break us…my love for you will rise above it all, like the clouds above the Earth."
A few tears rolled down Chelsea's cheeks as she smiled. Sniffling, she said, "I love you too….always."
Then, Chelsea pulled Raven into a hug, wrapping her good arm around the girl's waist. Raven hooked her arm around Chelsea's waist, bringing her other hand up to Chelsea's face to wipe her tears away with her thumb. As she did, she opened her hand up and cupped Chelsea's cheek. Chelsea closed her eyes and leaned in, feeling her lips tingle as they met Raven's in a long, lovely, passionate kiss.
Both girls knew from that moment on that they would be together forever, happy and complete. No matter what they future held, their love for one another would give them strength to face every new challenge head on.
Nothing would tear them apart.
Author's Note: Hey guys! It's me...and yes, the story is over. I am so thankful for all of your reviews. :) I sent an email to everyone that I could send one to. To those I couldn't: Nicole, Theresa, iliv4snwbrding,SgtGunny, NWLIFENWWORLD,spartansam086, avdpteatime, longhorn190, andRiki1920----Thank you all so much.This is the longest story I've everwritten and I'mreally proud of it, but Icouldn't have done it without you guys.
Thank you all so much!