Disclaimer: Lemonade Mouth is the property of Disney and whoever else it is that owns it. I, sadly, don't own a thing.
Notes: a...really weird future-fic that is more character study than romance or humor. um. yeah. consider it me building towards ray/stella? :)

Robots and Revolutions

Stella's sure that for some people having a cute guy sit across you in a café is a good thing. It's free eye candy and so what if he's only sitting there because every other table is full? A cute guy is a cute guy, and Stella has a small thing for cute guys.

But, you know, those cute guys aren't allowed to be Ray Beech. It should be illegal (and she knows she just called Ray cute like seven times, it's a fact and she'll admit it ─ never to his face though). And anyway, isn't there a law against high school enemies meeting up randomly?

There should be. She makes a note in her mind, right next to the one saying: become president and approve laws.

"You look…diabolical."

Stella props her chin on her closed fists and gives Ray Beech a look-over. He's only grown a little since high school, still blond, still built, still the lead singer of Mudslide Crush. "You look…like the same ass you were in high school," she tells him, smiling.

"Nice to know that the fame hasn't given me a big head."

"Oh don't worry; it was already big from the start."

They settle back in the hard plastic seats, Ray's coffee and Stella's lemonade left forgotten. It's been years ─ actual years, she's not a spunky freshman anymore ─ since they've bantered. Their bands might have met on occasion but only in the light of the media which merited forced smiles and proper attitudes. Stella's forgotten what it's like to go toe-to-toe with Ray Beech.

(But it's not like she missed it. She's fine without having dozens of detention slips flooding her locker because of him.)

"So." Ray pulls out a pen and starts to doodle on a napkin, his eyes focused on the robot head he's creating. "What're you doing here?"

Stella raises her eyebrows. "In a café, or in Reston?"

He shrugs. "Both, I guess."

Raising her lemonade dramatically, she says, "I'm starting a revolution in the state of Virginia," and then she takes a sip. The lemonade here isn't as good as Mel's, but then little is.

Ray's back to staring at her, his mouth slightly open and probably ready with a scathing retort. Sarcasm has never gone well with the popular kids, Stella's noticed; they take things too seriously and never seem to relax. Ray, though, is twenty-something now so Stella isn't too surprised when he coughs out a short laugh instead.

He reaches for his coffee and says, "As long as you're not trying for world domination, I think I'm fine with letting you have Virginia."

"Yeah, well, sorry buddy but I'm aiming for everything." She sweeps a hand through the air, already visualizing her ascent to the throne of the world. "Don't worry ─ I'll let you keep your band and your fans. We are, after all, acquaintances."

He laughs for real this time, and Stella sees that his eyes are very blue. Addictive, even, and for now she'll leave it at that. "Just acquaintance though? Don't I get the title of arch-nemesis or something?"

"Nah, you're more of a…anti-hero. Yeah." Stella nods. "Good thing too, I don't think capes would suit you."

"I'm honored." He's about to say more, she's sure of it, and then ─ of course ─ his phone beeps and he spends the next ten seconds scanning a text message. Ray starts to stand and is halfway there, hovering like a confused schoolboy on his first day of school. "That was Ron, he's having problems with his hamster ─ yeah, don't ask," he says when Stella laughs. He's grinning now and rises fully. "So uh… I guess I'll be seeing you?"

It takes Stella all of a second to spit out "Yeah," and in another three Ray is gone. In those three seconds, Stella comes to realize that she just had a conversation with Ray Beech that turned into friendly teasing and not bantering ─ and that she basically said she was looking forward to seeing him again, and is adulthood supposed to be striking up conversations with old enemies and having fun while doing it? It's damn weird.

In the midst of her confusion a harried waiter glides up beside her table, a little leather booklet tucked under his arm. "Miss, if you're finished─"

Stella waves a hand at him, already pulling out her frog wallet to give the poor kid his money and another table. She's already packing up her things when the boy squeaks, "Um, miss, your friend that was here didn't pay…"

"What?" And then Stella sees the empty coffee cup Ray had so thoughtfully left behind, right next to the napkin that has a robot sketch on it. She stares and then laughs a little, reaching over to grab it. Right there, beside the robot's square head, is a phone number and a message that reads: I'll get it next time, oh empress of the world.

Today, she decides as she pays the kid again and heads out, has been a freaky day. For one, she met Ray Beech and managed to not spit lemonade on his shirt (which had been yellow, she thinks; she'd been a bit distracted by his face), and for another, she now has his number.

Stella's not sure what adulthood is supposed to be about, but so far she's twenty-one and it's turning out pretty good.