A/N: This came a lot faster than I was expecting... Clearly. :D Hope this tidies up any lose ends or questions you might have. I would so love if you could let me what you though of the story. Good or bad. Much love.
1 Year Later
I woke with a start, sun blinding me as my eyes flew open. A string of expletives floated through the open door and I chuckled at the coarse language. With a groan I hauled myself from the bed and pulled on a pair of jeans and a thin shirt to cover my modesty. I padded out of the bedroom and down the stairs, dreading the scene I was walking into.
"How many times have we said, no cooking before 9am, Chlo. My brain can't handle the mess." Chloe looked up from the kitchen floor, guilt colouring her cheeks pink as her hands stilled. The gloopy mess of pancake batter began spreading outwards again and another few curse words fell from her lips as she renewed her efforts to clean the spill.
"Sorry Q. It was an accident. Rach said I could start on the pancakes for your breakfast." I rolled my eyes good-naturedly and ruffled her hair as I passed her on my way to the bin. I picked up the plastic container and shifted it closer so she could deposit the remnants of breakfast in it.
"Where is Rachel?" I asked when she'd finished. She shuffled over to the sink and turned the faucet on.
"At her Dads' place. They are coming over for your-" She turned to me with shocked expression. "Never mind." I snorted a laugh then began chuckling manically. "So, um, I've been practicing not zoning out while doing stuff." I glanced down at the opaque sludge in the bin with a smirk.
"How's that working out for you?" She threw a glare at me before turning to grab a towel.
"Fine. Except for that. I'm just so excited about-" She stamped her foot. "Nothing. About nothing." I cleared my throat to cover another laugh.
"I know Rachel is throwing me a party. You don't have to worry about it Chloe." Disappointment flickered over her face quickly before disappearing.
"I don't know what you're talking about," she lied unconvincingly. I patted her shoulder.
"It'll be our little secret. Now, would you like me to make breakfast?" Her head shook vehemently; her red hair dancing around her face. "Why not?"
"Cuz it's your birthday. You should relax." She disputed.
"I'll relax a lot more if I'm cooking it," I laughed. She crossed her arms over her chest and blew a frustrated breath through pursed lips.
"You're impossible," she whined.
"You're becoming too much like Rachel," I countered. "Go clean up, you've got batter down your shirt." She glanced down subtly as if she didn't believe me then, seeing the long smear of beige, ran out of the kitchen. I chuckled and set to work on the pancakes. Just as I'd dropped the first load of batter into the pan the back door opened and Rachel stepped in. I turned to take in the beauty that never failed to steal my breath. Her hair had grown out to create soft, framing waves of deep, rich brown and her skin had darkened slightly to a lush mocha. Her scars had faded to silver slits and I delighted in kissing every single one of them when we made love; reclaiming her body back from her captors.
She breezed in, mumbling a, "Morning, baby," before she made it through the archway to the living room. She froze and turned slowly, eyebrows raised. "What are you doing down here?" She asked quickly; panic flitting across her chocolate orbs.
"Breakfast," I answered with a smile; amused at the bottom lip held firmly between gleaming white teeth.
"Chloe was supposed to be sorting out pancakes," she mumbled with a glance to the stairs. I supressed a chuckle and grabbed the spatula to flip the golden discs in the pan. I set it back down and sauntered over to my statuesque girlfriend.
"How about we leave the pancakes and you give me a special breakfast in bed," I murmured into her ear, my lips brushing over the soft shell and causing a noticeable tremor down her spine. I pulled back a little to gaze into her eyes and noticed they had darkened significantly. I poked the tip of my tongue out and ran it lightly over her bottom lip, slightly bruised from her previous attentions. A faint whimper resonated in her throat and I smiled in victory. I took her hands and began tugging her towards the stairs via the cooker. I'd just reached out to flick the appliance off when she stopped and glared at me.
"No using your body to distract me today. So rude! Right, you finish the pancakes and stay in the kitchen." Before I could utter a single response she whizzed into the living room and picked up a tattered book. I raised my gaze to the ceiling briefly; cursing anyone that was listening then turned back to the hob. I slid the cooked pancakes onto a warmed plate and left them in the heated oven while I worked on the next batch. A few minutes later the front door opened with a bang, the noise followed by a mumbled "shit". I smirked and waited for the smell of food to bring our new guests to me.
"Food! God, I'm starving. 'Sup, Q?" I shook my head at the petit brunette that had, inexplicably, become my best friend. She reached for the oven door and I quickly brought the spatula down on her knuckles with a frown. She yelped and jumped back, her hand waving rapidly through the air to try to dispel the stinging.
"B, have you not taught your girl some manners in the last year?" I glanced at the bubbly blond with a cheeky grin, one she readily returned. She moved behind the girl and wrapped her arms around her neck, her fingers coming to rest on her chest.
"Sanny, be a good kitty." I snorted at the admonishment and pulled the plate from the cooker before distributing them out onto smaller dishes for the two girls. Santana jumped at me and snatched the food from my hands then sat down at the table to eat. She mumbled her thanks around a mouthful of the fluffy discs and shoved another one in. I raised an eyebrow and shook my head.
"Rach, Chloe; breakfast," I called out and set the remaining dishes on the table. Rachel glided in from the living room and turned her questioning gaze on me when she saw our guests. I shrugged my shoulders once and began tucking into my own meal. Chloe pounded down the stairs and joined us at the table. Light banter flowed over the table and I discovered that Brittany and Santana had arrived to remove me from the house for the morning, as per Noah's orders. Rachel looked a little stunned but smiled all the same and I had a feeling it was more convenient than anything she had planned to keep my occupied.
I had a quick shower and changed then met the two girls outside. We walked through the quite residential streets, waving to a few friends on the way, until we reached a sloping park. Ringed by a low gothic style iron fence, the expanse of green was always a delightful temptation. The grounds once housed a huge brick building; imposing yet comforting, with a massive glass dome and winding corridors you could get lost in. The building was once my home. Not long after the debris had settled and the bodies had been moved, a group of the kids had set about creating a wholesome space; one that brought joy as well as remembrance. This lush park was the result. Trees were slowly growing and blossoming. An adorable play area was set to one side; full of swings, slides and all manner of small rides. Standing in the very centre of the space was a stone obelisk. Carved into all four sides were the names of the children that had given their lives for freedom. It was here we stopped.
I ran my fingers over the neatly printed names reverently; wishing, not for the first time, that I could bring them back. My gaze lingered on the name Christopher. Many of the lab-born kids didn't have surnames; without a family to hand down the title they were simply categorised with a number and occasionally a first name. When they joined our family, they chose any label they desired. Not long after we liberated him, he had walked in on a group reading. I was sat in my comfy chair; Sally curled up on my lap while ten other kids sat around my feet, a book in hand. I didn't break from the reading; instead I nodded to the floor. With a gentle smile, the boy of eight had slid to the ground and listened intently. When I had finished and the other children had cleared out, he'd remained; shy and blushing.
"I've chosen my name," he'd said quietly. I nodded encouragingly, waiting for him to open up. "I like the character in the book. The boy. Christopher Robin. I like that name." I had grinned, wide and reassuring. With a sigh, I turned back to back to see my friends perched on the swings, quiet conversation flowing between them. Making my way over to them slowly, I contemplated everything that happened in the past fourteen months.
Soon after the Ministers downfall, a new governor had been elected in the truest sense of the word. Several people had put their claim to the position, and then the residents of the city voted. A young woman called Mary Archer was chosen. She was firm but fair. Her focus was on building systems to sustain and last. She had reclaimed several square miles of land outside the city walls and turned it onto farmland. Acres of crops grew and cattle roamed the land.
She also emphasised the importance of education; for all. Schools were reopened and children could begin learning again. Evening classes were available for adults as well. Skilled workers hosted classes to teach other their knowledge. She understood the prominence of technology and had drafted in Amber to start developing and rolling out beneficial applications of computers. She was also a strong advocate of history. 'We need to remember what has passed in order to build a better future.' Special classes were available to synth children to help them develop any skills they wished to learn. A 'foster' system was set up, enabling the kids to choose the adults they wanted to live with. Many natural-born kids were reunited with their birth parents or other family. A lot of the older children found jobs in security, though we were a mostly peaceful province these days.
A hand on my shoulder broke me from my musings and I turned to see Brittany gazing at me, concerned. I smiled and took her hand, squeezing it briefly before letting it drop. Santana held up her arm, gesturing a direction for us to walk in. We meandered through the park and emerged on the other side.
"So, where's Noah?" I asked after a stretch of silence. I had assumed he would meet us at the park. Santana nodded up the road.
"Waiting for us." I rolled my eyes at her vague reply and smiled softly. Her loyalty had been unyielding and, though she could've left when Brittany had healed, she chose to say. Our friendship blossomed through awkward silences and explosive arguments. She had wormed her way into my heart slowly but surely. Brittany cast a quick glance at me before skipping over pressing a soft kiss to my cheek. I frowned for a second then realised she had heard my thoughts. I cocked an eyebrow at her and mentally reminded her that eavesdropping was rude. She sucked her lips between her teeth in a sheepish grin then mouthed 'sorry'.
We found Noah and Derek loitering on the edge of the residential area; arguing the finer points of a hypothetical battle situation. I mumbled a quick, "old habits die hard," before Noah spotted me swooped me up in a crushing hug. "Need air," I gasped after a few seconds. He scoffed and set me down. "Seriously I only saw you two days ago."
"It wasn't your birthday two days ago," he retorted with a sly grin. I sighed and shook my head.
"So, what's the plan?" Derek fixed his steel eyes on me and indicated to the left with his head. I followed him down the block until he stopped in front of a fancy restaurant. It specialised in cuisine from the land south of our small island. Exotic spices and strangely named vegetables graced their menu. "Okay. Why are we here?" Santana rolled her gleaming yellow eyes and brushed past me.
"We're taking you to lunch, idiot." I smirked at her words until they sunk in.
"Wait, what? No. It's too expensive here," I argued. Noah lifted me from the ground and dragged me up the steps to the door Santana had already opened.
"Oops, look, we're here now. Can't back out." I huffed but didn't put up another fight. We entered the dimly lit restaurant and were immediately shown to a table in the corner. The waiter handed out menu's and told us the specials in his striking accent. We ordered and he disappeared. Small talk fluttered over the table until our meals were produced a short while later. The food was mouth-watering and delicious, a far cry from the food we lived on before. Derek and Noah left the table briefly once we had finished eating and I guessed they were going to settle the bill.
When we left, we wandered through the streets; simply enjoying the freedom of being able to do so. Derek filled us in on the latest idea from the governor's advisers; a carefully selected committee from all areas of expertise, he sat on it from a security position. She planned to reach out to the nearest city and become allies. Alliances hadn't been formed for decades, distance and lack of communication the reason given. The only interaction the various cities had with each other was by way of trading. We eventually reached my house and my friends barrelled through before I could finish opening the door fully. After a beat I followed them in.
As I closed the door I noticed an eerie silence pervading the house. With a frown I crept along the hall into the living room, unsure of what I should expect. I was met with the loud shout of "Surprise!". I jumped back in shock and took in my surrounding mutely. A banner had been hung above the bay window; proclaiming 'Happy Birthday' in scrawling cursive and brightly coloured streamers stood out against the magnolia walls as they dangled from the ceiling. My friends, old and new, were scattered around the room; wide, expectant grins lighting up their faces. Finally the shock wore off and a little embarrassment crept in, followed by so much warmth I thought I was on fire. Rachel walked towards me with a large cake in her hands and a questioning dip of her eyebrows. I nodded in response, assuring her that I was fine and she placed the cake on the low coffee table.
"Happy birthday baby." Her voice was low and sweet and, I knew, only for me. I pressed a chaste kiss to her lips.
"Thank you, my sweet." She grinned at the term of endearment before spinning around and tugging me forward to the couch. Once I was seated, my friends bustled around me in a whirlwind of presents and cake. A little while later, completely exhausted, I was slumped on the love seat waiting for Rachel so show the last of the guests out. She reappeared in the door frame, leaning coyly against the wood. "What?" I questioned as her smirk grew.
"I've been waiting all day, just to get you alone. And doesn't think you're getting away with that little tease this morning." She swayed her hips alluringly as she made her way to me and I found myself unable to look away from her sexy curves. Her finger dipped beneath my chin and pulled my gaze up, connecting with gorgeous chocolate orbs, as she slid onto my lap; her knees either side of my hips. I gripped her waist and captured her lips hungrily, infusing as much passion into the kiss as I could.
"Thank you for today, baby," I mumbled into her mouth, nipping at her full, plump lips playfully. She hummed a distracted acknowledgement then plunged her tongue into my mouth. I moaned at her dominance and shuffled forward slightly, my hands supporting her ass. "Chloe?" I asked hurriedly.
"With S and B," she panted as her fingers slipped beneath my shirt. Satisfied with her answer I stood up, her legs wrapped firmly around my waist. I walked haltingly to the stairs and slowly ascended them. Once in the bedroom, I kicked the door closed; intent on properly thanking the petite brunette that had turned my world inside out.