"…go fish? Gar, that's not even how you play Crazy Eights."
It was a decent August day during the beginning of freshman year, and Rachel Roth, along with her best friend Garfield Logan, were propped up beneath the shade of an oak tree outside of Jump City High School, for lack of a social life…or anything better to do after school. Their backpacks were deposited loosely on either side of the tree, and they were side by side with their backs pressed against the rough bark of the tree. Gar's blond brows furrowed as he took in Rachel's last remark.
"Ah, forget it," he muttered. He slung the cards across the grass as a sign of his surrender.
"Angela won't appreciate you disregarding her cards like that," Rachel commented, but her voice was tinged with amusement and when Gar looked over she had quirked a dark eyebrow.
Garfield grinned. "Ah, your mom loves me," he joked. "Doesn't she?"
Rachel set to work picking Gar's hand of cards out of the grass and organizing them. "Considering she's only met you twice, I would assume she doesn't have a very strong opinion of you either way," she commented monotonously. Gar frowned. He hated it when she got like this – all quiet and shelled up. In all actuality, that was what Rachel was like all the time, to the unobservant eye. But it gave Gar a sense of unexplainable delight when her thin lips would quirk up into a barely noticeable smile, or when – very rarely – the sound emitting from her lips was not a snide remark but a tinkling laugh. He gnawed on his lip absently and decided to give her this opportunity to turn the conversation in whichever direction she so chose.
"You look nice," he blurted, and Rachel turned a questioning gaze on him. She had abandoned the cards in the grass in the process.
Okay, so that wasn't the best move…but anything to avoid talking about Tara.
Garfield sighed briefly as a sharp pain permeated his chest. It happened every time he thought about her, Tara Markov. Supposedly they were 'dating,' but that was hard to grasp when Tara spent ninety percent of her time flirting with other guys and leaving Gar in the dust. Rachel, he knew, thought everything was hunky-dory and perfect with Tara. This was merely because he hadn't told her yet, and Rachel wasn't necessarily perceptive.
"You don't want to talk about Tara?" she asked softly.
Okay, the thing about Rachel not being perceptive? The biggest lie ever. Rachel just had a way of…of sensing what was wrong with him. She was always able to tell whether his heart was aching, or if it was his head, rather – or if it was both of them pounding at the same time, driving him absolutely crazy, like now.
He'd thought the sound of Tara's name rolling hesitantly off of Rachel's lips would sting like lemon juice poured on an open wound, but when he looked up to meet her dark blue eyes, he found it very hard to yearn for Tara Markov when…this creature was looking back at him.
"No, Rae," he said weakly, "I…I don't. I can't. It's a long story. I don't think we should talk about it."
"Garfield, please - " Her hand crept over to rest on his leg. Gar blushed and inhaled sharply. " – you know you can tell me anything."
"I know, Rae," he whispered. "But it hurts."
"And it will keep hurting unless you let it out," she told him gently. "If you keep a cap on it it's gradually going to build and build and build until you can't take it anymore and you burst. And I'm not talking 'burst' like you tell someone, anyone. I mean…you'll break down. You'll barely be able to function. It will always be front and center in your mind, the only thing you think about. Your emotions will run wild – constant PMS. It will consume your entire life."
Gar listened carefully, and when she had finished, asked thoughtfully, "Hmm. Wow, Rachel. I never…never really thought of it that way. Where'd you learn all that from?"
Rachel blushed slightly. "I…my mom's really into that kind of stuff. Meditation, emotions…you know. Those kinds of things. I meditate sometimes, when things get a little crazy. And - " She swallowed. " – you know. I have experience."
Gar's blue eyes flashed upward, wide. "My kind of trouble?"
Rachel closed her eyes. "Uh, yeah. That kind."
"Rachel," Gar choked, his voice full of concern. "I mean – who? And when? And why didn't you ever tell me?"
"Malchior; towards the end of summer; and I didn't want you to worry, okay?" she muttered, answering his prying questions consecutively.
"That ass!" Gar growled, and Rachel looked over, surprised. "What did he do to you? Rae, please tell me."
Rachel removed her hand from Garfield's leg and tucked her knees up to her chest, hanging her head and allowing a few rebellious strands of black hair to fall, hiding her face. "He used me. He told me he loved me and I believed him. And then…he told me that…that I should have known better. That I really should have known all along that no one would ever love me." She paused, then whispered, "Guess he was right."
The pain in her voice was like a knife to Gar's heart.
"Not at all!" he said fiercely, and then blushed.
Dammit Logan! Get yourself under control…calm down…
But he couldn't. He'd met that freak, Malchior, once before. Rachel had appeared thoroughly infatuated with him; every time she'd reached up to tuck a strand of painfully bright hair behind his ear or whispered a pointless sweet nothing into his ear, Garfield had wanted to sock him straight in the face. But he hadn't, of course, for Rachel's sake – and now he discovered that the guy was a straight-up jerk anyway? He wanted to rip him apart, to avenge Rachel if nothing else.
It dawned on Garfield briefly that this wasn't normal. And apparently Rachel was more than a friend in his eyes. Just a smidgen. Understatement.
And then a few seconds later another epiphany hit him – this time that Rachel had called his name twice already: "Gar?"
"Yeah?" he asked.
"What do you mean, 'Not at all'?" she whispered curiously, her cheeks burning.
Gar swallowed. "I meant that he lied. You're completely capable of being loved, Rachel. You're…beautiful. I swear to you. You have this hilarious wit and modesty and the…the deepest eyes I've ever even seen. Please, just promise me you won't believe what he said."
Rachel stared back at him, stunned. An awkward, pregnant silence hung between the two like a burden on their chests, denying them the ability to speak. All Rachel could think about was the fact that Garfield Logan had just called her beautiful, told her that she could be loved. And her eyes stung with fresh tears. She blinked them back but they just kept coming. Finally, Gar broke the prolonged silence.
"Promise," he insisted quietly, brokenly. Rachel couldn't look up, he'd see her tears. He'd never seen her cry before…how would he react?
"I…okay," she half-sobbed, and discovered that one didn't need to see another's reddened, wet eyes to discover that she was crying.
"Oh god, Rae," Gar gasped softly. "You're crying."
"No," she insisted weakly, but his hand came over and cupped her chin, gently guiding her head up so that he could look her in the face, and that was all the proof he needed.
"Rachel," he said tenderly. Then, slowly, ever so slowly, he bent his head, brought his lips to the corners of her eyes, and kissed her tears away softly. At some point during this ritual, her eyes had fluttered closed, and she'd just sat quietly and basked in his tender touch. When he pulled away, neither of them spoke a word. Gar's face still remained barely two inches from hers, and his lips didn't look like they were finished. She gazed at him in adoration, and his eyes mimicked hers, with the exception of the tears.
"You can kiss me, if you want," Rachel murmured absently. Then she gaped, realizing what she'd just said. Her face burned furiously, and she stuttered, "Oh g-god. Garfield, sorry. I wasn't think - "
He slammed his lips against hers before she could finish, and her eyes remained open, her expression wide-eyed and confused. Finally she was pulled back into reality by the warmth of his kiss, and her eyelids fluttered closed. Just as she was preparing to kiss him back, he pulled away, and her eyes flew open again.
"That was stupid of me," Gar muttered abashedly, blushing. "You told me you weren't thinking straight when you said I could kiss you and I did it anyway. I must be the stupidest guy alive."
"Hey," came Rachel's soft whisper, and Garfield looked up to see her smiling, "I didn't even mind."
Garfield blinked. "So…you, uh…us…?"
"Kiss me, you fool."
And he did.
Thoughts of Tara and Malchior were blown away with the wind, like the cards that had been laying forgotten in the grass.
Meh. I feel like it's too cliche.
Lemme know if you find any silly mistakes, because I felt a little off writing them as Garfield and Rachel when I know them as Raven and Beast Boy. :P