A/N: This was formerly a one-shot called 'Just Teenagers Talking' but after writing it I got a lot of feelings and another idea came to me that I thought would fit perfectly into this universe, so instead this has become a series of 3 or maybe 4.
I've wanted to write for this pairing ever since the first time that I saw Lauren and Razor interact and then went on to read all the excellent stories that already exist, but any form of plot eluded me for a long time. For reasons unknown I suddenly remembered the conversation that Emily and Razor had during 1x02 and couldn't stop the words from pouring out for this first part.
Sundays were supposed to be family day. Unfortunately, that didn't mean much to her father. He had his own schedule and it didn't revolve around her desire to be a normal teenager for even one day out of seven. Therefore, their supposed bonding session always played out the same way. Lauren would fidget theatrically, maybe turn the TV up loud, whatever encouraged him to disregard his papers for long enough to catch her eye. Finally Steve Tanner would throw her a glance and peel some bills from his wallet with an air that suggested he begrudged the pay off, wringing his hands until she left. In reality they both knew he was relieved, and in a sense she was too, because the week could be so long and stifling. All the same it hurt a little that she could decode her father's eyes effortlessly and they read, don't come back until you're spent up. It wasn't pleasant to realise that each time, the pile of paperwork on the desk was directly proportional to the amount of cash in her hand, allowing her to judge how much of a burden she'd been.
Nevertheless, she did as she was told, letting the bright lights of the Mall cradle her. It wasn't really a hardship to glance around the stores for a while, taking her boredom out on the limits of her allowance. Lauren wouldn't think twice about adding stacks of clothes to her already bulging closet despite knowing, and perhaps secretly relishing, that most items would still have the tags on by the start of fall. It was just killing time, most of which she lavished upon the shiny make-up counters, eagerly learning all the tricks, and filing them away for later use. The blonde quickly became an expert on which pallets suited her skin tone best and the features she was best to extenuate or hide, not only for herself, but for her best friends' complexions as well. Above all, she watched and asked questions. It was almost fun. The ladies encouraged her after the initial visit because she was content to be their guinea pig irrespective of whatever outlandish colour schemes or combinations they tried. It didn't matter. She didn't tell them that it went beyond childish curiosity, that when she closed her eyes it was in order to imagine that the woman teaching her these things smelled familiar, that her touch was gentle and comforting. When all was said and done though, the trickery couldn't last; it always ended the same with Lauren trying not to cry as she scrubbed her face clean.
It was that reason which always compelled her to wait a long time before calling Kaylie. Regardless of how long she postponed her dialling, fighting a battle against her repressed emotions, the brunette always seemed to be waiting by the phone. Her best friend apparently hated Sundays just as much she said, although Lauren didn't really want to try and compare. It felt wrong that this, the misery stakes, should be the only time that she didn't come second to Kaylie Cruz. It wasn't the way she wanted things to be, so she nodded, smiled and let her friend complain about the horrors of her family whilst biting her own tongue forcibly. On the other hand, there was a degree of compensation for her torment. The blonde's one stipulation, which sustained her no matter how annoying the other girl got, was that she could pick the place they hung out. She never told Kaylie why she made this demand and let her friend dismiss it as bossiness. It wasn't argued over much anyway because Lauren always paid without lording over Kaylie how tight her father could be with his purse strings whenever purchases weren't gymnastics related. Alex Cruz didn't approve of distractions of almost any kind. Therefore, unchallenged, the girl was free to select anywhere in Boulder to while away the remaining hours and more often than not, she chose the movie theater. It was a reprieve from the crowds in the mall (the truth was, although she'd never admit it, it upset Lauren to watch the people, the families, milling about.)
Today though, whereas she usually agreed, the other girl chose to rebel. "We're always going there, let's just stay here for a while, I need you to help me pick out a new dress for-"
"You don't need a new dress, we never go anywhere!" Lauren snapped back, eager to nip the dissent in the bud before her mood suffered even more. As such her tone was probably excessively harsh but she couldn't help it. She was sick of the mall. The bright lights were beginning to give her a migraine.
"Maybe you don't, but I have a date on Friday." The blonde tried to ignore the smugness that oozed out of every syllable, but it was nearly impossible, and her temper flared.
"With who? Marty will freak out if you break the no dating rule, not to mention your dad's reaction if he finds out that you're using the gym as your own personal speed dating arena." She wasn't sure what she was more offended by, that her best friend was casually breaking a million rules or that she had only just told her about it.
Kaylie smiled. Clearly she was enjoying every minute of this. "Relax, it isn't someone from the gym, it's with a friend of my brother's and he's been sworn to secrecy, same as you'll be when we're done. Nobody's going to find out and besides, it's just one date. We might not even hit it off." To Lauren that seemed unfeasible, the other girl was perfect; of course this boy would adore her just like everybody else did. The overwhelming jealousy that she swallowed down did little to stem the oncoming headache. Why did she have to be the one that was so dissatisfied and barely even existing? There was nothing in her life but an endless diet of gymnastics and she was still only third. Her friend was beating her without trying, she never stayed late and now she was dating too. The blonde's guts twisted painfully as a revolt against this news.
"I've already done several circuits, see?" She held up the bulging shopping bags as proof. "Besides, there's only a few hours left of curfew and I really just..." She trailed off, the brunette's scowl killing her desire to share any personal details in that moment. All the same, she knew how to play it so that a white lie became truth. "Everybody will be there." Lauren added, deliberately emphasising the first word. She had Kaylie over a barrel. They were both aware that going to the movies was more than just an empty pass-time like shopping, it united them. It gave the girls something to talk about in the gym on Monday, a slice of teenage normalcy to cling to around the water cooler. If they missed the latest release they'd be out of the conversational loop and she knew that her best friend would never stand for getting iced out. At the age of 13 their reputations were the most important thing to them besides training.
"I don't care! Don't you get how important this is, I have to make a good first impression!" It was impossible not to be startled by the outburst; she was so sure she'd won.
"Of course, but can't we go one day after practice instead-"
Lauren had no idea how the situation had escalated into such petty threats but she wasn't going to give in. Let Kaylie pout, she'd had enough of her anyway. Her friend had been getting more and more stuck up lately, since the last competition, truth be told. The blonde was over it. She was tired of this rut. Nobody listened, they just waited to speak. The other girl could have her spoilt little princess tantrum if she wanted, but she wasn't about to bear witness, not this time. She'd left the house for an escape, not more drama. "I shouldn't have called you." She murmured, half to herself, before sloping off. The girl didn't miss the lack of another shadow following behind, the loneliness, by comparison, was a relief.
"Can I get a smile?" The question hit her like a bolt from the blue, she was flicking the edge of the ticket stub with a fingernail (to avoid biting it) as she waited impatiently to enter the screen. To put it bluntly, Lauren hadn't noticed him; she'd made a point of not noticing anyone. She didn't want to deal with the pity of being that loser alone. She acknowledged the request with a raised eyebrow, lacking the energy required to bite his head off. Her temples were throbbing and she it was clear that she should have gone home ages ago, but all the reasons that she gave Kaylie for staying were valid, and aside from that she didn't want to run headlong into her father's bad mood. Whenever work stressed him out she bore the brunt, because who else was there, he wouldn't dare raise his voice to his PA or any of his other colleagues. A collision of fiery tempers didn't make for an enjoyable evening. "Hey that's okay, I appreciate the dreaded Sunday feeling better than anyone, the death of the weekend, right?" When she didn't agree the boy pressed on regardless. "I only asked because I've seen you before and you look so pretty when...I mean, uh, your eyes change colour and-" She cut off his ramblings to spare them both, pushing past his bereft figure and straight through the doors to her available seat without a word.
By the time the next trip to the movie theater rolled around, Kaylie still hadn't forgiven her. Rumour had it that her date had not gone well and the girl had herself convinced that it was the fault of the dress she been forced to pick out solo. Lauren bore the undeserved punishment easily enough in the gym throughout the week, but it was hardest to stand being alone all Sunday. She almost didn't go to the latest screening, remembering the bizarre stranger who had commented on her smile and the bad impression she made, but a summer storm had rolled in and the rain left her with little else to do. She told herself that it didn't matter that she was getting into the habit of buying single tickets and spending the day solo. She was Lauren Tanner and coolness was what she defined it as, in fact, it appeared that the blonde could do anything if she was willing to brazen it out. It had worked for her so far at any rate; she just had to repeat that she was the one in control, until the words gave her the surge of strength to deal with pretty much anything.
Additionally, there was always the possibility that she could tag along with other girls from the gym, like Chelsea or Stacy, if they happened to arrive for the same showing. She figured that the universe had to throw her the odd piece of good luck occasionally just thanks to the law of averages, and she felt she was owed some her way after nearly falling off the beam a few days ago. For once, god or whoever happened to agree because not only were Chelsea and her friends standing in line when she arrived but they were happy to see her. Relief made her grin instinctively as she spotted them. "That's much better." She recognised the voice at her elbow as belonging to the dark haired gawky kid who had formerly acted as her ticket checker. She'd been so focused on the girls in front of her that she totally disregarded his current progress with the mop and bucket.
It was no surprise then that she not only jumped out of her skin, but immediately used hostility to cover how startled she had been. "Jeez, stalk much?" It wasn't a real question and Lauren didn't expect an answer.
"Not really, but when I do it's totally worth it, kinda like your feelings on smiling, I guess." The guy was just so cheesy that she was powerless to stop the chuckle that escaped. This time when she left him standing there, the blonde looked back for a moment, long enough to catch his eye. He deserved a tiny smirk at least.
During the third encounter he worked up the courage to greet the blonde and ask her name. Whilst she in turn, sensing Kaylie (who by this time had reclaimed her place as loyal best friend) scrutinising them as his cheeks coloured and frantically attempted not to blush herself. Despite her best efforts Lauren couldn't tone down her mockery though, unable to believe that he'd given his real name. Since she'd replied Lo, her nickname, she assumed he'd done the same. Nobody named their son Razor, did they? It did occur to her afterwards that perhaps his plan was solely to intrigue her and he'd certainly done that. Real name or not, lie or truth.
The boy shook his head. "It's my real name, I swear." She didn't buy it and her expression must have displayed her disbelief, as grinning, he asked, "Do you wanna see my birth certificate, officer?" Lauren just laughed. He was a goofball, but something about his attitude was infectious.
"So tell me the story."
"It's not that interesting. My dad's a baseball fan, that's all." The blonde knew nothing about the sport so she shrugged, more than a little disappointed.
However, before disappearing, she aimed a final amused smile at him. "You should lie next time, really impress the girls, you know?"
"Is it too late for you?!" He called, rushing the words before the door closed and stole them away.
"Maybe." She murmured softly, the answer escaping from under her breath irrespective of the fact that her intended audience couldn't hear. Kaylie jabbed her in the ribs, eager to tease but prevented by the silence that had descended. Lauren had lingered so long over the conversation with Razor that the trailers had already begun.
"Are you coming to the movies or not?" She was yelling, too loudly, as Kaylie dawdled over her inspection of two identical pink bikinis. She'd been trying to keep her impatience in check, firstly to avoid a repeat of the blowout of a few weeks back (it hadn't escaped anybody's notice that the two girls had been clashing frequently, yet that didn't mean the blonde had to resign herself to the bickering) and most importantly so that her friend wasn't granted any ammunition to use against her. Regrettably, Lauren's idea failed.
"Are you sure I won't be third wheel." The other girl exclaimed sarcastically. "I wouldn't to get in the way of your weekly visit to your new boyfriend."
She glared. "Oh please. I don't date boys named after grooming products." It wasn't enough and she knew it at once, instantly wishing that she didn't care so much that Kaylie's eyes were alight with delight at her expense, but she did, and she absolutely had to wipe the mockery away by whatever means necessary. "He cleans up spilled soda for a living, give me some credit. I'm a Tanner, we don't slum it."
"It's a summer job, Lo." The brunette said in reply, subjecting her to an unimpressed eye-roll for overlooking the facts. "No normal teenager has their career mapped out in 9th grade."
"Whatever." Actually, Lauren wanted to chip in that he'd just started a band too, but she doubted that would help her case. It was more than likely that being seen having done research would condemn her. Kaylie would think that she was right all along, so in place of that, she heaped on more scorn. "Well then, I suppose he's proof that being older doesn't automatically equal increased maturity or sophistication." She made her best friend laugh and that was the end of it, although neither girl watched any movies that day.
After Kaylie almost rumbled her growing infatuation, Lauren started making different plans for her Sundays. She'd take the girl to the ice rink instead or failing that, they'd sit in Spruce Juice. A couple of weeks passed like that, in a bubble of avoidance. Unfortunately Boulder wasn't excessively large to begin with though, and ironically all of the girl's attempts to make it smaller only forced her back into Razor's path.
She was in the grocery store, having been dragged there with Payson, when he spotted her. "Did you finally get the memo that books are the new movies?" He quipped. His voice was raised, either in excitement at finding her, or annoyance that he'd had to seek her out, and several people turned in their direction. Lauren took a deep breath, grateful that Kaylie was absent on this occasion. The brunette would've absolute loved the awkward encounter, but she wasn't, not one bit.
"I've just been busy."
"Gymnastics, yeah?" She simply nodded, not asking how he knew. It sounded as if the blonde wasn't the only one who liked to find out about unspoken things. It was hard to know how to feel. In the end, Lauren decided that strangely, rather than putting her off like she expected, this realisation made her feel closer to the boy standing before her.
In spite of that though, she concealed her smirk and played it cool like all the movies told her too. "Exactly." The girl was purposefully dismissive and vague; searching the aisles for Payson to avoid his eye. Game playing in the vein of the older elites at the gym was becoming a habit.
Razor didn't seem overly concerned by the tactics. "I have to know, call it a comic book geek's prerogative, if you could only choose one superpower to have for a day which would you pick?" He paused deliberately, making her wait for a few beats. "The only choices are being able to fly or being invisible, so no curveballs, okay?" For the first time in a long while, it occurred to the blonde that she'd missed him and her smile was harder to hide. Sundays had become boring without the dose of randomness that he brought to the table.
She blurted out the single word instantaneously. "Invisibility." It wasn't quite a whisper. Lauren knew at once that she should have chosen flying; she wanted to, her dream had been to get out of Boulder and travel the world for as long as she could remember, but something prevented her. The stumbling block was advice, spoken long ago, stick with what you know. The wisdom became the basis of why she had chosen to be a beam specialist. It guided her all the time, in a million daily decisions. The boy's question was no exception.
At any rate, being invisible was something she could relate to. As a child she was afraid of being seen and left trembling by the strange shapes her shadow made whenever she was alone. Lauren was terrified of how deeply her mother slept, like a statue, despite the way she knocked and knocked using her big girl voice and bringing glasses of juice or bowls of cereal that lay untouched. She was forever anxious about the late night whisperings of her father and his cell phone, worried to make too much noise in case her parents found out she wasn't napping after all. In fact, looking back, she'd often considered that it would be better if her blanket was a real invisibility cloak instead of pretend. She'd been looked through on too many separate instances, her mother hadn't realised that her bedroom door was open that morning as she pulled her suitcase down the stairs and even now that she was older, her father was oblivious to the notion that she heard him sneaking his endless stream of girlfriends up that same staircase. It was the clear choice, so by that logic, it must also be the right one.
"Lauren!" It wasn't his voice snapping her out of her introspection, Razor was suspiciously silent. It didn't help at all that the look on his face was suddenly impossible to decipher, She thought she saw a shadow pass over it, but it could have just as easily been a trick of the fluorescents. Nevertheless, she couldn't shake the feeling that her answer wasn't what he wanted, that she was somehow lacking as a result of it. Maybe he'd expected her to ponder over the choice for longer, or perhaps she was just over thinking his reaction now. How was she supposed to know? She had lost her opportunity to figure anything, including him out; she knew it as soon as her neck swivelled involuntarily to follow the sound. "Lauren!" Payson's urgent echoes were too loud to ignore.
He was no longer there when she spun back around, having located her impatient friend. Razor had utterly disappeared like one of those superheroes that he liked so much and for a split second, she hated the other blonde for stealing her attention. She didn't want to care, and yet it really hurt knowing he was gone. Lauren deflated, caught off guard. Clearly nothing was certain; she couldn't even trust her instincts. All Lauren had was Payson, stamping her foot in irritation as she sought her out. There was nothing to do save for hoping that she'd run into Razor at another time, in a different place, and be given another chance to give him more insights that he wouldn't dislike. She had to believe that Sundays weren't destined to be another ruin.