Story: Reunion

Summary: It's one of the Shermer High's Class of 1986's most surprising evenings . . . and it's happening fifteen years after they graduated.

Notes: And I quote, "Among the cut scenes . . . Carl predicts where the five kids will be in 30 years. Bender will have killed himself, Claire will have had "2 boob jobs and a face lift," Brian will have become very successful but die of a heart attack due to the stress of the high paying job. Allison will be a great poet but no one will care, and Andrew will marry a gorgeous airline stewardess who will become fat after having kids." (Wikipedia, The Breakfast Club)

That is so freaking depressing. So I felt a need to remedy that.

Disclaimer: If I owned it, there would be no stewardesses.

"Is that Claire?"

Gracie Stevenson turned from her punch to look at her friend; Wanda's mouth was open, eyes almost popped entirely out of her face (though that might've had more to do with genetics than surprise). Gracie looked over her shoulder towards the doorway.

There was a woman there, long, curling red hair held back with metal combs, drowning in a gorgeous dress that was a mess of Indian scarves. She vaguely looked like Claire, true, but the Claire they'd gone to school with and graduated with certainly hadn't worn jewelry that sang when she walked – in flats, no less.

"I . . . don't know," replied Gracie.

If that was Claire Standish, then some time in the intervening fifteen years, she'd grown up. And that was just hard to imagine.

"Why don't we check it out?" Gracie suggested when Wanda's silence made it obvious she wasn't going to be launching any particular course of action.

"Sure," agreed Wanda in a dazed tone.

They made their way across the room, past Andrew Clark and a slew of others in business suits that they didn't really know that well. Claire had moved from the doorway by now, and appeared to be chatting with a tall, etiolated man with a shock of blond hair. They were laughing.

"Claire?" interrupted Gracie with little finesse. She mentally winced but continued on. "Is that you?"

The redhead turned. Closer inspection revealed that, under all that hair and fabric, she was the same Claire they remembered, trim figure a little curvier in the right places, and the same slim face and bright eyes.

"Hi," said Claire, smiling. Her face was frozen in a polite grin for a half-second, and then it melted into surprise. "Gracie? Wanda? Oh my god! How have you been?" She gave them each a sincere hug, stepping back to survey her former best friends. "It's been ages, hasn't it?" She gestured to the blond man, who, even when suffering from absolutely atrocious posture, was by far the tallest person in the room. "Do you remember Brian?"

Brainy Brian? asked Gracie's brain. The midget?

"Yeah," she said. "Of course I do. How have you been?"

Brian's lips twitched into something that might've been a smirk – but no, surely not. Brainy Brian had never had a sense of humor. "I've been fine, ladies," he said, and his voice was deeper than Gracie remembered. Far deeper. "I live in Boston now."

Claire gave a bark of husky laughter. She shared a conspiring glance with him.

"Me too," simpered Wanda. "Cambridge, actually." Gracie was mildly disgusted by the rapid turnabout in Wanda's opinion of Brainy Brian. Not that she'd changed her mind – which was fine, because Gracie had too – but that she felt that 'changing her mind' apparently included 'flirting vociferously.'

"Really?" said Brian. He sounded a little sarcastic. "Imagine that."

By then, Claire had peeled away. Only Gracie – and maybe Brian, who was witness to Gracie's long-suffering grimace – noticed.

"So, Andrew," said Burt Carlson, giving him a slap on the back, "how've you been? I've heard about you on the market."

"Thanks," replied Andrew. "I've been fine. Good." Burt nodded and sipped his gin and tonic. Andrew Clark had been doing better than fine, if what he'd heard on the office grapevine was true. They were whispering that ever since walking through the doors of Everhart, Everhart & Cline, economics degree in one hand and pure determination in the other, Burt's former friend had been making a killing in the stock market.

Analysis, apparently. A sissy job that didn't require any balls, to be sure, but Burt could remember how many times Andrew had saved his ass back in school, so he kept his opinion to himself.

"I've heard a lot about what you've been doing at Everhart, Everhart & Cline," said Duff Erlington. "All good."

"Yeah, well," said Andrew, looking at the ice in his glass, "analysis is a bitch, and not a lot of people realize it."

Burt felt vaguely guilty for a second.

"So I'm guessing you're not the person to talk to if I want advice on my portfolio?" asked Duff, laughing.

"I'd probably end up steering you wrong," agreed Andrew. His eyes were a little amused. "It's my wife who handles all of our household finances. She does a hell of a lot better than I could."

Burt's eyes were drawn to the hand holding the glass of ice. There was a clink of metal against glass as Andrew shifted. "You're married?" repeated Duff, thankfully continuing the conversation through the lull that Burt didn't fill. "Did you bring her with you?"

Andrew's eyes were definitely amused by now. "Yep," he said. "She'll be along later; she's dropping Will off with my parents."

"Children?" choked Burt on his gin and tonic.

"Child," corrected Andrew. "Will. He's four."

Watching his former wrestling buddy light up at the mention of his kid, Burt felt like he'd been tipped upside down and all of the gin in his body had flooded his brain. Sure, they were thirty-three and Andrew definitely wasn't the only one at the reunion with a kid. But Andrew, of all people, married and with a tot and a job doing weird PhD shit with economics . . . it was different than when they'd been in school.

"You have a son?" piped up a voice behind Duff, and he graciously moved aside to reveal Gracie Stevenson, Wanda Greene, and some blond beansprout. "Do you have pictures?" continued Gracie, glowing like women did when children were introduced into the conversation.

"Yeah," replied Andrew, and he put down the glass of ice to pull out his wallet. He flipped through it and showed them the picture. A dark-haired child, probably about three years old, was on the beach, surrounded by huge, intricate sandcastles that had required more motor skills to build than the tiny Will possessed.

"My wife's an architect," answered Andrew to the unspoken question. "She's . . . a sandcastle maniac."

He finally seemed to see the beansprout. "Brian! How are you?" They shook hands. "Have you seen Claire or Bender yet?"

"Yeah, I caught Claire coming in," said the blond. Burt was having a hard time placing him. If Bender – that freak – was one of his friends, then they probably hadn't know each other in school anyway. "I haven't seen the Bend yet, though. Are you sure he's here?"

"He said he would come when we had dinner last Friday." Andrew shrugged. "He's probably avoiding Claire." They laughed at some joke that no one else understood, and Andrew grinned a little wider. "It's good to see you, man. It's been a while."

The unidentified Brian shrugged. It was that that gave him away.

"Brainy Brian?" asked Burt.

Andrew and Gracie Stevenson winced, but the beansprout had a look of pained amusement on his face. "Yeah, I guess," he said. "Mind you, no one calls me that anymore . . ."

"That's 'cause you work at MIT, where everyone's a nerd." The newcomer was fishing a piece of ice out of Andrew's forgotten glass with long, slim fingers. She was dressed entirely in black, but it was more as a showcase for her silver jewelry than any gothic tendencies.

She was also completely gorgeous, even as she chomped on a piece of ice.

"You work at MIT?" asked Gracie Stevenson, twisting to look at the beansprout. She didn't appear to be even vaguely interested in the bombshell brunette architect. "Oh, wow, I never connected that MIT's Brian Johnson was the Brian Johnson I went to school with - I'm with Merck, by the way."

Wanda Greene's face, however, was contorted with frustration. She obviously was trying to place where she had seen Andrew's wife before.

"I'm Burt Carlson," said Burt, extending his hand. He tried to discreetly suck in his stomach.

"Yeah," said the brunette, shaking the moisture off her fingers and grasping his hand. "I know. I graduated with you."

She grinned from underneath skimming, stylish bangs, and it was the slightly crazy twist of her lips that made him recognize her. Burt's mouth popped open.

"Ally," said Andrew, his hand on the small of her back, "did you ever actually meet Duff Erlington?" She shook her head, and Andrew casually shouldered Burt out of his path as he guided his wife through the sea of people.

Andrew Clark, married to the Basketcase, having Friday night dinners with Bender and apparently on a friendly basis with Brainy Brian. This was . . . too much.

Burt flagged down the waiter and asked for another gin and tonic.

"John Bender."

"Claire Standish."

"Glad to see you crawled out of your hole and decided to join us."

"And miss the chance to see your ditzy friends see you in full-out gypsy regalia? Never."

"Former friends."

"Oh, of course."

"Yes, well, if you weren't hiding in this corner you would've already had the chance. I've stunned and moved on."

"Oh, you're always stunning."

"Nice try, Bender."

"I do my best. How's the theater going?"

"Better. No thanks to you. I really appreciate you trying to ignite my livelihood. It teaches one to appreciate the little things in life."

"I didn't actually set it on fire."

"There were flames, Bender. And smoke. And insurance people crowding in my office. I would say that it was a fucking fire."

"That was two years ago, Standish. You need to . . . cool down."

"Cool down? Cool down? You set my theater on fire, you prick!"

"See, this is why we are not friends. You don't go with the flow."

"If it weren't for Ally and Andy, none of us would be friends. Sometimes I hate them."

"Aw, don't blame the innocent. You tried really very hard to forget us, didn't you? It's not their fault that you accepted their wedding invitation."

"Out of shock. And I didn't expect that you would be there."

"I like shocking people. And I hadn't seen you – any of you – in seven years."

"Oh, yeah, like you went to their wedding because you were missing my dazzling company. Please. You just missed screwing with my life."

"That's very true."

"Oh, grow up, Bender."

"No thanks."

"Hey, Ally." His wife twitched her head to the left to show that she was listening. "Claire and Bender, two o'clock." She turned around a little to the specified direction, and saw, past the pasteboard sign of Welcome, Shermer High School Class of '86!, the redhead and criminal, heads bent down together. It was obvious from the flush in Claire's cheeks that they were arguing.

"Again?" said Ally under her breath, smirking slightly. "I thought they weren't talking after Bender lit her theater on fire."

"I guess that she's going to forgive him," agreed Andy, watching them. "Like she did after he ran over her dog . . ."

". . . and tore her bridesmaid dress . . ."

". . . and called her a shrieking banshee . . ."

". . . and molested her last Fourth of July at the picnic . . ."

They grinned at each other. "Bender and Claire are a relationship that's never going to happen," continued Ally, smile dying.

"Give them time," replied Andy, watching as Claire threw her hands up in frustration and tried to slap her conversational counterpart. "Bender actually washed his hair for once. He's obviously putting in an effort. They've dated before."

"They kissed," replied Ally, unconvinced. "Once. Fifteen years ago."

"Ah, but some would say the same for us." He gently bit the skin where her neck met her collarbone. She squirmed and laughed breathlessly. "I repeat, give them time. If Bender was determined enough to actually find a career and do something with his life, he has at least one-third of the determination that he needs to get Claire."

"Hmm." Ally considered the pair for a second. As Claire sufficiently calmed down and Bender released her flailing hands, Andy felt his wife shrug in his arms. "Well, you always were the romantic."

Yeah, I know that The Breakfast Club was a movie about having your life changed by one meeting, and that continuing it probably ruins its integrity, like a scoop of ice cream destroys the texture of a peach cobbler . . . but all the same, I can't imagine that after such a Saturday, they never see each other again. So maybe while they weren't friends in high school, they made it work outside of school.