Hi everyone! It's been a while—for me, anyway—and I'm not sure I'm feeling this chapter. I had a lot to fit into one chapter, and I'm afraid some parts are a little rushed. I've gone over and over it, so hopefully its okay… and this one will definitely give some insight into Lucy's feelings :)
And thanks so much to my amazing reviewers, because they keep this story alive :)
Marisa Lee, Screak, SmileXDanceLove, Fiddlegirl, aworldwellneverfind, and sepersexyghotmew95, I really am so thankful to you guys :) And to all my readers, thank you, and I hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own Peanuts :(
The weeks following were, admittedly, some of the most amazing in Lucy's life so far.
After mornings of arranging and rearranging furniture under her critical eye, the apartment had finally begun to change into home—sweet and cozy, with the mismatched secondhand furnishings somehow fitting together harmoniously. The couch was worn but soft, permanently smelling of Febreze and a faraway hint of tobacco. The fridge that was older than Lucy herself purred closer in volume to that of a lion than a cat, but the two found it almost comforting. And the TV was in good shape, a plus Schroeder hadn't seen coming.
What Lucy couldn't get over was the piano.
It only seemed natural to her that they would have one; it was a given. She knew Schroeder would definitely prefer one to even a microwave. So the morning after their arrival, they stood in the little kitchen with some old bowls and spoons, and over their Cheerios, Lucy asked offhandedly when the instrument would arrive.
Schroeder choked on his cereal. After coughing and wheezing—and a rather violent beating on his back on Lucy's part—he replied quietly, "It should be coming today."
Satisfied, Lucy enjoyed the rest of her cereal. All was right with the world; it had been a long while since she had felt hateful jealousy towards Schroeder's piano. Of course, nothing could have prepared her for the horrifying sight that awaited her a few hours later.
The piano was horrible.
Compared to the beautiful, shining black instrument Schroeder lovingly cared for back home, this one was shaped like a box—"A studio piano," he reminded her—and was a funny shade of brown. The paint was chipped, the legs scratched, and she was sure that a couple of the keys weren't supposed to be sunken in like that. Her mouth open, she turned to Schroeder in dismay.
He was staring at it too. "It was the best I could afford," he whispered, his eyes never leaving the sorry piano. She could hear the pain in his voice, and she was flooded with guilt. If she hadn't been here, could he have been able to get a better one? "Hey," she said quietly, laying a hand on his arm. "It's not so bad, really."
He finally turned to look at her skeptically, but she pressed on. "No, I mean it," she insisted, "I mean, it's still in one piece, right? In fact, it's probably an antique. No, even better! I wouldn't be surprised if this used to belong to Beethoven himself!"
He acquiesced. "I suppose." A grin tugged at the corner of his lips, blue eyes brightening.
So the piano was granted a corner, adorned with a vase of flowers and a miniature bust of Beethoven's head. Perhaps it was her imagination, but the piano did seem to brighten up considerably with its adornments and a little love.
With its flaws, it took a lot of talent to create the music he did on that piano, but unsurprisingly talent was something Schroeder was full of. Somehow the pieces he had played at home seemed richer than ever to Lucy. Every afternoon, as the blond boy settled down to practice, Lucy would perch nearby on the couch with a cup of hot cocoa, usually exhausted from the day's cleaning and organizing and occasional throwing up.
But as the music swelled and breathed, and Lucy was lulled to a content hiatus from the stress, she was suddenly a little girl again, and the young man before her was a tiny boy. As the music reached its peak, the twist in her heart would become all too familiar: the urge to cry and sing and laugh… to love. Big feelings too overwhelming for her tiny child heart to comprehend; for how could a mere child realize what it was to fall in love? Her head would spin, and her chest would ache- but as Schroeder sweetly finished, and grew slowly back into the tall man she knew, the feelings would find their way back under lock and key and she could breathe. She both loved and hated these moments; she hadn't felt this way in ages, and it confused her. Hadn't she promised herself she wouldn't love him that way anymore?
Thinking critically, she knew that she obviously wasn't over him. She had tried time and time again to love him as only a best friend—had tried to date others, almost succeeded—and until recently, had deluded herself into thinking she had won. But now, after the baby, living with him constantly, having been surprised and touched by his care, heartaches that she had tried to stifle hit her with full force. No, Lucy decided, now they were even worse; for how could Schroeder ever want her now? She was alone, a soon-to-be a single mother, while he was finally on the brink of success. He deserved better.
She brooded over her hot cup, pressing her palms against the steamy ceramic as if to clear her head. She closed her eyes, trying to hold back tears. Stupid feelings. Stupid hormones. Stupid Lucy. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
But Lucy wasn't the kind to dwell on pain. The day would go on. Evenings were always her favorite, for many reasons. She had always been a night person—the idea that she was a morning person was simply laughable—and she was filled with good humor. She loved watching the city light up as the sky darkened, as if to say that sleep in New York was inconceivable, that really life began only after dark.
For another reason, evenings were also always the times for fun. Now as close as family, Franklin usually came around at seven, carrying some kind of takeout and a movie (never a romantic comedy, for some reason). The three could finally act like the teens they still were, fooling around and enjoying themselves. The night would grow deeper, and the teens would settle on the couch, usually with enough personal space. But as the movie wore on, they would end up sprawling all over each other, oftentimes falling asleep (curiously, Lucy's head always found Schroeder's shoulder). One interesting morning, Schroeder had awoken to find that Franklin had forgotten to go home.
Other times, the three would go sightseeing, with Franklin as their tour guide. The more Lucy saw and heard, the more she fell in love with this sprawling city that seemed to glow with vitality. How could she have lived so long without it?
Schroeder was almost indifferent to the sights. When she gushed about it to him one night after Franklin had left, he only shrugged.
"I guess it's nice," he replied, tightening his arm around her shoulders, as they sat on the couch watching TV. But not as nice as you, he thought slyly, glancing down at her pinked cheeks. He wasn't going to hide from her anymore.
On the other hand, Lucy was a secret tumult of emotions, ranging from ecstasy to pain to self-loathing. She wanted to punch someone. Very badly.
Somehow, these weeks before school started were the best she had ever lived, but how was she ever going to live with her best friend if he kept torturing her like this?
Schroeder, her one closest friend, whom she trusted with her life, smart, funny, talented, the only guy she could ever call beautiful in every way—was going to be the death of her. How the hell was she ever going to stop loving him?
Getting over him was going to be a lot harder than she hoped.
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