Disclaimer: Unfortunately the characters do not belong to me, I'm just borrowing them for fun.
Author's Note: This was written very quickly this afternoon for the kids entry of Faberry Week. Mostly just because I had to get the fluff out of my system before I continued with a Faberry WIP that I've been working on for a while. Hope you enjoy :)
There was nothing more annoying to Lucy than the dinner parties her parents hosted for her father's bosses and the way they would stay for hours, drinking and eating her out of house and home. She had always been taught that it wasn't proper to ask for a second helping of food, yet Mr. Callahan, her Daddy's boss's boss, always made sure to have a second serving of whichever meat had been prepared for dinner and he was a pig whenever dessert was served. Lucy never got dessert when he came over. She'd cleverly nicknamed him Herbert Hoover several months ago. Her father wasn't quite as tickled the time when she accidentally referred to his boss as a dead president in front of Mr. and Mrs. Callahan.
That was all beside the point.
What Lucy hated more than anything was when her parents went away for a weekend with the aforementioned Callahan's and left her alone with her big sister. Her older sister was beautiful and popular and everything Lucy wasn't, and she never hesitated to throw an elaborate party whenever her parents trusted her to be alone in the house and take care of her little sister.
Sure, sometimes Frannie would be cool and would turn all the lights off and read a Goosebumps book to Lucy by torchlight in ridiculously frightening voices, but a lot of the time she would invite the entire (cool) student body over to their house to get drunk. Lucy hated that. She hated Frannie's friends and the way that they looked at her as if they were wondering how on earth they could possibly be related, and she hated the way she felt uncomfortable in her own home; the one place other than the school library that she could be herself. Lucy's bedroom was her favourite place in the world.
Unless drunken teenagers were stumbling into her bedroom and collapsing in a heap onto her bed that she was in with the covers thrown over her head, cocooning herself under there to read her favourite comic book.
Lucy fought her way out of the covers and grimaced when she saw Stacey, one of Frannie's best friends with the quarterback, trying to eat each others faces.
A repulsed scoff caused Stacey to open her eyes and laughed against the boy's mouth, pulling away a moment later. "Looks like we found our way to the troll's lair."
Years later Lucy would have a scathing retort for that, but now she was nowhere near armoured enough and the words and sniggers stung.
"I'm going to bed," Lucy announced awkwardly, as if it would stop them.
Stacey used the heel of her foot to push herself further across the bed, delighted with the way newly-appointed quarterback Brad followed and attached his lips to her neck. "Five minutes, Gizmo."
"But it's my room—"
Stacey's lips parted and she at least made an attempt to keep a pleasured moan inside. "Shut your mouth and hide your face, okay? Just for ten minutes."
"You said five."
"Yeah, well, he might want two rounds."
"Two rounds of what?" Lucy asked, clueless until Brad started kissing Stacey on the mouth again. Obviously they were going to kiss for a while. She leapt out of bed and shoved her glasses back up her nose. Stacey was a horrible girl and had never been nice to her, and once Lucy had overheard her mother telling Frannie that she didn't want her associating with a vile trollop. Lucy wasn't sure what a trollop was or why her mother had struggled to get the word out in the first place, but she assumed it wasn't good by the way Frannie blew up. Family fights that had nothing to do with Lucy were always the best.
It would have been better if her mother's words had stuck but Frannie was still friends with Stacey and these ridiculous parties happened every single time their parents went away. Lucy couldn't stand it.
"Seriously, buzzkill, don't make me smother you with a pillow," Stacey said, breathing a little heavier than a few seconds ago. "Get lost. Take yourself for a walk."
"I-I'm not supposed to leave the house at night. Daddy says he'd have my legs off if he ever caught me trying to—"
"Daddy's not here though, and I won't say anything." She saw Lucy hesitate. "For God's sake, freak, just go! Give me some goddamn privacy."
Rachel Berry's bi-monthly camping trip was something she had been enjoying immensely for the past year. It was an adventure every single time and if there was anything Rachel Berry lived for other than music, it was those adventures and the possibility of Bigfoot traipsing through their camp and getting rich from the handful of pictures she would inevitably end up snapping on her Polaroid camera. Then there were the stars. So many of them twinkling above, fascinating her. She could stare at them for hours —and she had.
She'd been looking forward to her adventure ever since she and her Dads got back from the last one. Then, at the last possible minute, they informed her that they would not be driving out to the woods for the night and following through with a promise they'd vowed to her. She was hurt and outraged by their claims of being unwell. Both at the same time? Very unlikely. Her fathers were never sick at the same time. This was old-fashioned abandonment.
Rachel's hissy-fit tapered off when Hiram and LeRoy swayed dangerously during the hour it actually took them to erect a tent in the backyard, their ashen faces sweating profusely the entire time. LeRoy was the first one to rush back inside the house with his hand covering his mouth, and when Rachel stepped forward to embrace her Daddy for his efforts, Hiram inhaled sharply and sealed a hand over his own mouth, racing off in the same direction as his partner.
One good thing that had come out of it was that Rachel understood where her talent came from now. She was going to build them their own golden globes.
Rachel had every intention of doing that to pass them time in the tent but she ended up liking being out there. It was like having a second bedroom. She did a mix of things she would do in her own bedroom and when she camped; she studied the stars, listened to certain songs on repeat, singing loudly to each word she knew by heart; made up scary stories using Ted, her oldest, tattiest teddy as the audience. Rachel took it as a success that her dramatic re-telling of Big Hairy Toe and her exclaimed "Gotcha!" as she swooped in and snatched him up into her arms had him stunned to silence.
Rachel kissed the top of his head; delighted with her ability to instil fear into Ted being as one of his eyes was hanging on by a thread. Ted was the only thing on earth afraid of her, and she loved him for it. He was the only teddy she'd kept from her diaper days, which were of course a distant memory now that she was a young lady.
It wasn't just her opinion. Sometimes when she slept over at her Grandparents' house and she protested at the way they refused to give her full access to the TV set like she had at her own house, her grandfather would wag a finger in her face and begin with, "Listen here, little madam."
Rachel was lying with her head outside of the tent looking up at the stars. She never got bored of looking at them, marveling over just how many were up there and how it would take her until at least her eighteenth birthday to count them all, and Rachel just didn't have twelve years to waste.
The wailing voice on her headphones died out and she lifted her Walkman up to see the disc slowing inside. Rachel pulled her headset off and rolled over to rummage underneath the mass of blankets for one of the other three CDs she wouldn't have been able to live without for even one night. It had been a diva week more than it had been a showtune week, and so, in her opinion, the three masters were taken on her adventure. She was putting Celine back in her case and reaching for Mariah or Whitney when she heard scuffed footfalls nearby.
It was a safe neighbourhood and it was late, at least eight o'clock. Nothing interesting ever occurred there unless she happened to put on a concert on the front lawn.
The CDs were forgotten as Rachel seized Ted by the throat and held him to her chest, eyes wide as she scrambled further outside of the tent to listen closely. The scraped footsteps were not her imagination, she found out a moment later. Having the heart of a lion (something her Daddy had said to her after seeing The Lion King once, cementing him as her favourite parent for all of ten minutes until she fell asleep on the couch against her Dad with the contented conclusion that she could never choose between the two), Rachel hid Ted under the blankets, pushing him out of view.
"Stay there, I'll check it out," she whispered. She liked to imagine that he would protest if he had vocal chords, so she added a soothing, "I'll be fine!"
Rachel zipped the tent up as quickly as possible and darted across the yard to past where she had heard the footsteps. She crouched down to a conveniently placed hole in the fence and squinted for several seconds until she spotted a young girl who couldn't have been much older than her walking past her house with a backpack. When the girl got closer, Rachel could tell she had been crying.
There was nobody with her. No sibling or parent; not even a loyal pup trotting beside her.
Rachel was horrified.
She turned and glanced up to her Dads' bedroom window, taking the lights being off and not being distracted with imitating a power note to miss the young girl walking by herself at eight-thirty at night in the first place to break rule number one, which was rather obviously not to leave the back yard under any circumstances unless it was to go inside the house.
Her grandmother had taught her how to use those bony elbows for self-defence, so Rachel wasn't afraid for her safety if the girl turned out to be as rabid as a wild dog. If she was somehow incapacitated, she would shatter each pane of glass in the street with a well-practiced squeal.
She raced through the garden and hopped over an ornamental frog that she always found distasteful, making it out to the street in only seconds and hurried around to the side of her house which was the last one of the street. In fact, Rachel had run so quickly that it was only her razor sharp reflexes that prevented a collision with the other girl. Rachel's reflexes did not do anything to prevent the other girl's shock or the way she looked entirely nonplussed that someone other than her and a serial killer was roaming the streets so late at night.
Rachel gasped a little. She may have been fast, but she was no athlete. "I'm Rachel." The girl looked even more thrown, so she stepped even closer and thrust out her hand for good measure, grasping the girl's and shaking formally. "Rachel Berry." She waved the other one towards the house. "It's okay, I own this place."
Lucy's eyebrows rose at the declaration and her voice came stuttering out. "O-oh, okay."
"Where do you live? Why are you out here by yourself? Are you running away?" Rachel cocked her head and seemed mightily impressed. "I've never interacted with a fugitive before."
"I'm not a fugitive," Lucy dismissed softly, wondering when Rachel Berry was going to give her hand back.
"You're out here by yourself late at night and refuse to tell me your name."
"So are you." She felt brave enough to add, "And you didn't give me chance."
Rachel dropped the girl's hand to place them both on her own hips. "I'm camping," she declared haughtily.
Lucy's heart rate begun to slow now that the Tasmanian devil who had nearly knocked her right off her feet was making it abundantly clear that she was not there to hurt her. Even if Rachel wanted to, Lucy thought those twigs for arms wouldn't be able to inflict much damage anyway.
"Where's your tent?"
"Where're your parents?" Rachel came back with, and Lucy shrugged.
"Your siblings?" Misery seemed to make Lucy shrink under Rachel's careful gaze.
"My sister's throwing a party, nobody wants me there. I was going to the park until you… appeared of thin air."
Rachel's face fell at the confession. There was nothing worse than feeling unwanted. She changed her stance so she appeared a little friendlier. "What's your name?" she asked nicely. "Or should I call you America's Most Wanted?"
The shorter girl who went by the name of Rachel Berry was weird, but Lucy found herself smiling softly despite that. "Lucy."
Rachel's eyes lit up. "Ricardo?"
"A star. I'll explain later. So, what's your name? I told you mine; Rachel Barbra Berry if you want to be technical about it."
"Lucy Quinn Fabray."
"Quinn?" Rachel smiled. "That's like my middle name." Lucy was at a loss as to how Barbra and Quinn could ever be considered similar and it showed on her face. "They're both beautiful, unusual names guaranteed to make us stand out from the sheep."
Lucy humoured Rachel with a press of her lips.
"My fathers abandoned me with false claims of severe flu," Rachel launched off pre-emptively. "I'm camping in our backyard because they promised me we could go this weekend and that was the best they could do at short notice. There's plenty of room if you wanted to hang out?"
A word stood out. "Fathers? You have two?"
"And a Mom?"
"No, and I have no desire for one. My Dads are amazing, that is unless they're feigning illness to get out of sleeping in the wild for one night. Then we have beef."
Lucy managed a nod. "Oh."
"So, are we hanging out?"
"I know we've only just met but you seem nice, I'd hate to read about your gruesome murder at the hands of one of the freaks who frequent the park late at night. Maybe you could skip that? H-have you ever camped before? It's so much fun. It would really be your loss if you were to decline."
Lucy's brows creased. "Freaks?"
Rachel nodded affirmatively. "Grandma says delinquent freaks are drawn to the park like ants are drawn to sugar."
Upon being informed of that fact, Lucy faltered again. "I didn't know that…"
"It's true." Rachel stepped even closer to her. "So, should I whip out the big bag of marshmallows? My snack of choice is carrot sticks but I realise that it isn't the same to roast a carrot over the fire during a camping trip, so I decided to leave them in the fridge."
"You built a fire in your backyard?"
Oh, if only. That was one of the biggest drawbacks to camping in the yard; she was forbidden to strike a match. Rachel was referring to the real camping trips where one of her fathers would always safely build a fire for her.
"My Dads would kill me," Rachel stated gravely. "But we could pretend."
"I don't know," Lucy said, pushing her glasses back up her nose. "I don't know you."
"I've lived in the same house for eight years, I treat the neighbours to a monthly concert —I love to sing, my favourite colour is gold, and I want to perform to thousands of people all over the world when I grow up. What else is there to know?"
All over the world? Wow. Lucy couldn't imagine ever getting out of Lima. "All over the world?"
Rachel nodded. "Maybe even Canada." Yes, she had grand dreams but right now there was a girl, Lucy Quinn Fabray, who was at risk of being torn limb from limb by a depraved monster out for a cheap thrill. She couldn't allow that to happen. "Do you need character references?" she asked. "Because I can provide you with three. One's from an elderly neighbour who loves me dearly because she thinks I'm her grand-daughter —she may be a little nutty but she says some lovely things; another is from a miserable guy who always tells me to put a sock in it whenever I burst into song —therefore making it known that by keeping it I can handle a critic, and the other is from an anonymous fan who flattered me to the point of a blush." Rachel had written the last one herself because everybody else refused to.
"Why do you have references?" Lucy asked, bewildered.
"A beloved pet went missing a few months ago and I was the prime suspect simply because I made it known to everyone that I despised being woken up in the middle of the night by a barking mutt." Rachel smiled in reassurance. "I'm not crazy. A-and they found the dog in the end. Turned out he was off fathering some puppies across town. It was very Beethoven 2." Lucy was looking incredibly unsure again so Rachel decided to keep her mouth shut.
That, it seemed, was the key to success.
"Okay," Lucy agreed softly a prolonged moment later. "I'll stay with you. I mean, if… if you're sure it's no problem."
"It's no problem at all!" Rachel beamed, throwing her arms around Lucy's shoulders for a lightning-fast hug, pulling Lucy's backpack off on her withdrawal. "Let me take this for you."
Lucy couldn't remember the last time anybody hugged her and was still reeling from it as she was dragged by the hand towards Rachel's backyard. Her eyes wandered to the backpack and how the left side of Rachel's body was drooping towards the ground as they walked.
"I can hold that," she said. "It's heavy, I had to put all my stuff in there."
"Nonsense!" Rachel rebuffed, her voice strained. "Guests won't lift a finger in my house." By the time they reached the tent Rachel was panting lightly and dropped the bag to the ground in relief. "Home sweet home."
Lucy was introduced to their home for the night and all of the music and books that Rachel had transported in there. She was particularly impressed with the handful of books and the binoculars that she could use to spy on people (or look at the stars, if Rachel had anything to do with it). Then there was the monster sized bag of marshmallows that Rachel produced from under one of the many blankets padding out the floor of the tent and the endless scary stories she knew by heart. They frightened Lucy beyond belief, especially the one about a bloody Mary, but even when Rachel was using the scariest voice she could muster she still made sure to hold Lucy's hand and that made it better.
Better but not perfect, because Lucy was still pale five minutes after concluding the story. Somehow even Frannie had never managed to scare her like that before.
To lighten the mood, Rachel decided that music would be the only cure to fear. "What kind of music do you listen to, Quinn?" She shook her head at once. "Lucy."
"Whatever's— whatever's on the radio."
Rachel stared at her. Clearly they were fated to meet. She moved closer, hoping her new friend would stop looking so terrified. It was just stories, after all, although she was well-versed in the art of storytelling. Maybe she was that good, Rachel concluded sympathetically. It was entirely possible.
"Do you want to listen to one of the three divas?"
Lucy's brows pulled tighter, curious. "Who?"
"Celine, Mariah, Whitney," Rachel fired off rapidly. "They're equally as amazing, but you can choose whoever you want. We can listen together. They're very soothing for this time of night. They usually put me right to sleep. Well, unless I get so into the music that I start daydreaming about how many young ladies will be listening to my music like that one day."
Lucy chose Mariah after being informed that Rachel hadn't long finished listening to Celine and they lay down with a pair of headphones on the blankets between them, each lying close to a speaker. It was playing loud and clear and Rachel sang along sometimes to make Lucy grin. But if she was honest, Lucy didn't think too much of Mariah. She didn't hate her, there was indisputable talent there, it was just that there were too many high-pitched squeals for her taste. Of course when Rachel supplied her with a marshmallow as a reward for getting through each song, Lucy sat through the entire length of the album without offering anything other than praise to someone Rachel obviously cared a lot about.
By the time Music Box had finished Lucy was beginning to feel sick but she still accepted another marshmallow when Rachel wordlessly handed one over. She put it on top of her stomach for later. Rachel yawned beside her, obviously not kidding when she said that any of the three divas made her sleepy. Lucy thought they would have put her to sleep if she had to listen to much more of it, as well. But more than that, Lucy was thinking how nice Rachel was and why she had never seen her before. They lived in the same town and there had been someone nice —weird, sure, but really nice— there for eight years who she'd never known existed. Things would have been so much better if she'd had someone like Rachel around to talk to.
Rachel would have probably laughed at the Herbert Hoover nickname hysterically (because the littlest things seemed to set the little brunette off, Lucy had noticed), instead of her sister lifting one perfectly groomed eyebrow, waiting for the funny part to come.
"May I ask you something, Lucy?" Rachel didn't wait terribly long for a response. "Why were you going to the park instead of a friend's house?"
Lucy shrugged and put the marshmallow in her mouth to busy it for a while. "Don't have any."
That was difficult for Rachel to believe because other than the glasses, which weren't even that bad if you asked her, Lucy was interesting, easy to be around, and had the same kind of funny way about her that her Dad had. Rachel didn't know if the correct word was sarcastic but a few of the things Lucy had commented on had been in the same taste her Dad would say things. To hear it coming from someone like Lucy tickled Rachel each time.
"I don't believe that."
"Nobody but my family talks to me," Lucy admitted. "I mean, unless it's to be mean, then I'm pretty popular."
Rachel turned over and propped her head up on her hand. "I'm talking to you. As far as I'm aware, we're unrelated and I'm not being nasty."
Lucy started to smile. "That's true."
"So, what do you think that means?"
Lucy knew but she didn't dare to say it first. "I don't know."
"I think it means we're friends." The blush immediately springing to her new friend's face made Rachel feel good about the decision. "As long as you agree. I don't have friends either, so I'm not sure how this part works but I would think that a mutual agreement would be most beneficial."
Lucy nodded. "We're friends." After that, Rachel tackled her with another hug.
"This is going to be amazing," she declared excitedly. "There are so many things I want to show you, like more of my favourite music, books, and movies. I can't wait to show you The Sound of Music, you're going to lose it. It's the best."
Lucy stopped feeling like a freak at that point. Her face lit up with recognition. "I've seen that."
"Twice. I loved it."
"Oh, my God!" Rachel had to clamp a hand over her mouth to prevent another similar outburst. If her fathers woke up to find a stranger in her tent, however harmless and if it was a new friend or not, there would be hell to pay; as in she would be grounded without her CD player. "We have to watch it together!" she whispered loudly. "We could do a sing-a-long!"
Lucy chewed on her bottom lip. "I like the Toy Story movies, too. And the old turtles cartoons, even though Mom says they're more for boys."
Rachel didn't know what Lucy was talking about but turtles were always cute. "We'll watch them, too," she promised. "But… The Sound of Music first, right?" That was very important.
Lucy nodded emphatically and was rewarded with a brilliant smile. "Yeah."
Some time passed in which Rachel listed many of her favoured movies that she and Lucy could watch together; musicals, old comedies, and Disney were the clear favourites. It wasn't that Rachel was boring —far from it— but after a while Lucy's eyes had closed. She wasn't asleep, but she could no longer keep them open.
Rachel didn't notice for a few minutes, too caught up in retelling plots and why each movie was ranked in its position on their list of movies to watch. When she did, her sentence got stuck in her throat and what came out instead was, "Are you tired? I'm sorry, I talk a lot, I know. Grandma says I could give Satan a headache. She always kisses my face and tells me she loves me first though, so I don't know if she actually means it or if she does it to shut me up."
Lucy smiled. "Just thinking."
"About the movies?"
"No, about… why is your favourite colour gold?"
"Gold stars are kind of my thing."
"Because I'm going to be a star someday. I had this idea last week that whenever I write my name from now on, I'll sign it with a gold star. What do you think?"
"That's cool," Lucy said.
Despite Lucy's eyes being shut, she didn't sound in any danger of falling asleep and so Rachel asked, "Do you want to see some of my favourite stars before we go to bed?"
Over the next fifteen minutes Rachel would work incredibly hard to keep her enthusiasm hushed to a whisper so as not to wake her parents now that they were outside of the tent. It didn't help that Lucy actually looked more interested the more Rachel spoke and pointed. They only moved back inside when it started raining lightly. Rachel could do a lot of things but she couldn't accurately teach a new friend the few things she could remember about constellations when it was raining on her face.
There were so many blankets inside the tent that Lucy kept forgetting that she was laying on the ground as Rachel crawled under a blanket beside her, saying goodnight to somebody called Ted. The four flashlights that had lit the tent were clicked off one by one until they were in the dark.
Lucy's hand searched blindly until it was against Rachel's arm. "I don't like the dark." One of the flashlights was instantly clicked back on and handed over so that she could keep hold of it herself. She moved closer to Rachel anyway, thanking her quietly even though it was partially Rachel's fault for scaring her with some idiot tale of someone called Mary. "Are you tired?"
"Not anymore," Rachel said.
Lucy started to wonder if Frannie had discovered her absence yet and if she was worried at all. It might have been wrong to think so, but Lucy hoped she was going out of her mind. She hoped her parents would arrive home in the morning before she did and then there would be no more stupid parties thrown while they were away for the night. On the other hand, if it wasn't for Frannie and her stupid friends Lucy never would have left the house at that time of night in the first place and she wouldn't be on a camping trip with a friend right now.
She looked over at Rachel and opened her mouth to thank her for being so nice to her when she noticed that the girl was fast asleep. Lucy would have that happen to her too many times to count over the next ten years. She decided she could just thank her tomorrow and removed her glasses, folding them up and putting them high above her head so that they wouldn't be stepped on.
When Lucy awoke the next morning, it was because the back of Rachel's hand slapped off her face during a stretch and stayed there. She squinted past the little hand and tried to remember why she wasn't at home in her own bed instead of inside what looked like a four-man tent with a tiny person throwing her fists around. The memories filtered back in quickly enough for Lucy not to be alarmed.
Then her biggest problem was her desperate need to pee.
She wondered if she could sneak inside the house without anybody noticing, more specifically Rachel's parents. She didn't know what time it was or if they were even awake. Russell would pop a blood vessel if he woke up to a strange kid in his house. Lucy didn't imagine any other father being any different.
Lucy peeled Rachel's hand off her face and carefully placed it beside her on the mattress of blankets. "Rachel?"
Rachel grumbled and rolled away from her.
Lucy gave it another minute but she was going to burst if she waited much longer. "Rach, I'm sorry, I know you're asleep but can I use your bathroom?" There was nothing but deep, steady breathing. "Rachel."
Brown eyes shot open. "Huh?"
"Sorry for waking you, but I really need to pee. Can I go?"
Rachel inhaled sharply and stretched loudly. "I was awake," she said, managing to sound alert despite being awake only a handful of seconds. Lucy would have marvelled over it if not for the more pressing matter. "And of course, silly. You don't have to ask, just go."
"What about your Dads?"
Lucy was patient but ended up lifting her brows up questioningly after a moment. "Yeah?"
"Sorry, you just— look really different without your glasses," Rachel said. "And my Dads never get up early."
After checking her watch it and finding out that it wasn't even six AM yet, it was decided that while Lucy was running to the bathroom and also using the spare toothbrush in there Rachel would make them breakfast of either cereal or fruit, depending on what she felt like fixing when she got in the kitchen.
Lucy ran up the stairs faster than she had ran in a long time and was horrified to run almost literally into one of Rachel's fathers, who slowly made his way out of the bathroom looking extremely haggard while clutching a full water bottle that was dripping down onto the carpet. She stopped dead in her tracks, staring at LeRoy with wide eyes and a thundering heart.
What would he do?
She was very close to the stairs; maybe he'd shove her down them in shock like she'd embarrassingly done to her sister one time in the middle of the night when Frannie was horsing around.
Maybe he'd call the police.
Lucy didn't think she'd last long in jail.
But LeRoy didn't do anything other than shake his head tiredly and shuffle back to his bedroom like every single muscle protested with each step.
Lucy sent a quick thanks up to the Lord and rushed into the bathroom.
By the time she'd finished, Rachel was waiting in the living room for her with a bowl of cereal. Lucy hesitated to sit down. They should probably stick to the tent until she was given the green light to be in there. "Maybe we should go outside…"
"We can't have breakfast and not watch TV," Rachel said, even though that was only the case on the weekends because she got too distracted by it on school mornings. "Even if we were able to drag it to the tent, it wouldn't work."
"But your Dads—"
"Are in bed. Trust me, they'll sleep until all the good cartoons have finished."
Lucy brightened up at that. "Cartoons?"
Rachel patted the seat beside her. "I mean, there are no turtles in this, but…"
There were no but's, Lucy loved everything about cartoons. To think that somebody had drawn the images on screen by hand always blew her mind a little bit. It was undoubtedly where her love for drawing came from.
She settled on the couch beside Rachel and they laughed at the appropriate scenes, as carefree as any other eight-year-old kids. Lucy figured that she must actually really like her new friend because even when Rachel pointed out some flaws in how a child could realistically take down an adult evil mastermind she just grinned and reminded her that it was Cartoon Network they were watching and not the Discovery Channel. It felt bold, to be able to talk to Rachel like that instead of keeping her comments to herself, but it also felt really good.
So good that when the time came for her to go home, more because of her parents finding out she'd snuck out of the house than coming face to face with Rachel's parents, Lucy was anxious. It was mirrored on Rachel's face as they retrieved Lucy's backpack from the tent and made their way to the front of the house.
"Do you think you'll be able to come over later?" Rachel asked. "Usually my Saturday afternoons are full with dancing and singing lessons, but if my Dads wouldn't even go camping I doubt we'll be jumping in the car to drive around town. I'll just be here…"
"I don't know. I'll try," Lucy promised.
Rachel nodded. "Try." She didn't need to ask if she and Lucy attended the same school. She would have known if she'd seen her around before. "Will your parents or sister be mad at you?" she asked worriedly. "I could forge a note from my Dad. My penmanship is pretty advanced."
Lucy smiled and said, "It's okay, I'm not sure anyone would have noticed yet."
"You can come back any time," Rachel blurted. "It doesn't have to be today, it can be whenever. I mean, we're still friends, right?"
"Yes, and I will. As soon as I can."
Lucy was a little stiff when Rachel stepped forward to throw her arms around her, still unused to the gesture, but she made sure to return it until Rachel pulled away bashfully. She was still pink in the face when Rachel looked up to her eyes and laughed, gently pushing Lucy's glasses back up her face for her.
"See you soon, Lucy."
A lot of things had changed in almost ten years.
"Quinn!" Rachel shrieked as the last marshmallow was stolen from her own hand. The way hazel eyes rolled up from the magazine they were reading to meet hers made Rachel's heart slow.
"That was mine."
Quinn had that look on her face that said she knew exactly what she'd done and she would do it again to get a reaction from Rachel. "You stole my carrot sticks."
"I did not!" Rachel denied passionately.
"It wasn't something you could sit there and suck, Rachel. It sounded like Black Beauty was in here with me."
"I didn't take anything." It would have been more convincing if she hadn't laughed throughout it.
"You should have warned me about the delinquent standing three feet away when we first met," Quinn said. "Think of all the trouble we could have saved."
Rachel thought that if anyone should have been warned of their future, it ought to have been her. Befriending a girl who would ultimately become head-cheerleader at their high school was a recipe for disaster. All of those secrets Lucy could have spilled. The heart she could have broken if she forgot all about her.
The first time Lucy told Rachel that she was thinking of getting surgery she promised nothing would change between them, it was just something she had to do. Having Rachel as a best friend was almost everything she ever wanted, but it wasn't quite enough not to cry herself to sleep most nights when people had been overly mean to her that day. If anyone understood the need to make that go away, it was Rachel.
Instead of spending time in the house or taking leisurely walks somewhere they began to spend more of their time outside exercising, taking bets on who would be able to get to their destination first and what the winner would get. When it was stated that Lucy wouldn't have to listen to any of the three diva's quite as often, it was like a match striking. She always won. Or maybe Rachel always let her win, she wasn't sure. Either way, Lucy had never felt so much love for another person before, especially when the weight began to fall off.
Her parents weren't overly keen on Rachel but they also didn't demand for her to stop spending time with her, either. And they didn't bat an eyelid when Rachel turned up on the day of Lucy's surgery with her Dads and a flower. Quinn always remembered the way Rachel's eyes, shining with tears, looked at her as she was being wheeled to the operating room, like she was memorising everything.
"It doesn't matter how you look, I always see you like this," Rachel whispered, quiet enough for it not to be overheard. "You're so beautiful, Quinn."
That had been the first time Rachel called her that and meant to. It was not the first time Quinn felt something for Rachel that she should have felt towards a boy.
There was no conceivable way that Quinn could have forgotten about Rachel when they started high-school and she was recruited to the cheerleading squad. The new-found popularity didn't matter if she didn't have her to share it with. Hardly any of the other Cheerios understood Quinn Fabray's super close relationship with her loser best friend but they were in no position to question it after one of the other Cheerios had slushied Rachel once. Quinn went schizoid and ordered the slashing of the her teammate's tyres as well as daily slushies for her and a hundred lines on why it was unacceptable to treat anybody that way, much less her best friend. The only reason Quinn hadn't given in to a blind fit of rage was because Rachel begged her not to.
Similarly, the only reason why Quinn joined something as stupid as Glee Club was because Rachel begged her to. Still, she supposed they'd both met some pretty great friends in doing so.
"You're the one who's always been trouble," Rachel stated, feeling a little smug as she sat zipped up in the tent in her backyard where her fathers couldn't tell her to keep the door open.
"Yeah? So sorry, you innocent little lamb."
"You should be. I've had a rough time of things."
"Mmm," Quinn agreed, forgetting the magazine totally as she leaned in to kiss Rachel's neck. "Poor baby."
"I trusted you the moment I saw you, and you used that to your advantage. I never would have invited you back here if you hadn't have looked so sad."
Quinn smiled against Rachel's skin, her kisses slowing. "If you want to be technical about it," she began, parroting some of Rachel's favourite words to this day, "you were the one who lured me here with marshmallows. Like any kid is going to resist, especially a chubby one."
"You were perfect," Rachel insisted, holding Quinn's chin in place as she dipped her head to join their lips. "Still are."
Their kisses lost any playful nature and turned heated instead. Just as Quinn's hand slipped underneath Rachel's top, a deep clear of the throat outside the tent had her pulling it back out so fast that it smacked down heavily against the blankets. Rachel, on the other hand, turned so abruptly that her flailing elbow caught Quinn in the face.
"Yes, Daddy?" Rachel called out shrilly, mouthing her apologies to her girlfriend who was cradling her face underneath her. Rachel tried to pull Quinn's hands away to see what damage her lack of co-ordination had caused this time but Quinn giggled quietly and rolled on top of her, smothering her with a stolen kiss.
"Just thought I'd let you perfect, innocent lambs know that dinner is ready," LeRoy announced. "Two minutes and the door will be locked."
Quinn and Rachel would make it just in time.
A lot of things had changed in almost ten years, but most things had stayed the same.