Rachel got a B on her project. She could live with that.
She finished tutoring Jake, school was back to normal. Everything was back to the way it was before.
Her room had an additional photo of her family, she still skyped Gavin on the weekends, the Cabin was hooked on Rivalry, and she was finally feeling alright.
Rachel didn’t bother thinking about the future before but now she could picture her life here. School, Christmas dinners, holidays, birthdays ... everything.
It was September and she had been at Jameson for almost a year. Her 17th birthday had passed a long time ago, but when Joey and the rest of the cabin members found out they had been mad at her.
Her 18th was quite a few months away but Rachel already felt like there was something going on that they weren’t telling her about. Her birthday didn’t feel like much to her and was just another day of the year. She didn’t feel like celebrating but the cabin, Jameson institute, really, just needed an excuse to bring out the balloons and party poppers.
Rachel was sitting in her room, her notebooks scattered around her when there was a knock on the door. Rachel’s brow furrowed since when did these people learn to knock?
Rachel didn’t have to answer though because the door creaked open anyways. Connor stood there with a hand in his jeans pocket as if he was trying to look casual.
He was failing so far. He looked nothing but nervous and every part of him seemed to be screaming “trying too hard”
Rachel smiled, “Connor, hey!”
“Hey, Rachel! What’s –uh-“, he scratched the back of his neck, “what’s up?”
“The roof” Rachel smirked as she continued her synthetic division homework
“No, as in-“
“Heaven?” she tried
“Connor” she cut in.
His face was a surprising shade of pink, “Yes?”
“Why did you come here?” she was trying hard to fight off a smirk, enjoying his discomfort
“To ask what you were doing?” he tried
“Well, what am I doing?”
His eyes darted from Rachel to the books on her bed, “Uh, homework?”
“Oh.” Connor looked down at his shoes
“Now you know.” She smiled
“I do …” he stared at his shoes some more
Connor looked confused and mildly upset. He turned around as if he was going to leave but faced Rachel again.
“This is stupid…” he mumbles.
“What, our conversation just now? Couldn’t agree more.” Rachel was enjoying this far too much.
Connor cleared his throat, “No … what I’m doing…”
“What are you doing?”
“You tell me.” He repeated her words back to her
“Trying to act cool when you’re bursting with nervous energy?”
“I-“ he began as if he’d already thought of an answer then stopped, “Is it that obvious?”
He cringed, “GAAH!” he looked up at the roof, “It wasn’t supposed to be this hard.”
Rachel was smiling at him, “What?”
He grew redder, if that were possible, “Rachel Fayne … do you wanna watch a movie?”
“I’m studying” she stated flatly
“Oh” he looked like a four year old who had been turned down candy.
“Come on, Electron” Rachel said smiling, already off the bed and in the hallway
“You’re fidgeting, you’re full to bursting with energy … you keep moving around, I’m gonna call you electron.”
“Should I be offended?”
“That’s up to you.”
Rachel beamed at him immediately after saying that and he laughed too. His eyes crinkled up and his cheeks dimpled a little and his teeth glinted. He was blushing and Rachel was sure she was too.
“What are we doing?” he asked suddenly
“Standing in the hallway…”
“We should go watch that movie now…”
And then they stood there and smiled at each other like idiots for a little more.
They watched Sunshine. Because Connor loved it and Rachel liked the actors. So they did.
The next weekend, when they had their visit to town, they went out for lunch together. Joey however was confused and worried when she conveniently happened to lose her best friend in a book store. But the bookstore had a back door, and Connor had been waiting.
She felt bad for ditching Joey, so she had some food packed for her and decided to tell her over dinner. Connor and Rachel weren’t a ‘thing’ yet but they also weren’t ‘not-a-thing’ either. But they were something, Rachel was sure of that.
“YOU TWO WENT WHERE?” Joey yelled suddenly. They were both sitting cross legged on Rachel’s bed while Joey ate.
“We went for lunch.” She stated simply
“But yeah, like together?”
“Yes. Together.” Rachel nodded.
“And no one else was with you?” her best friend wiggled her eyebrows
Rachel sighed, “No, Joey…”
“So, like a date?”
“It wasn’t really a da-“
“But technically speaking …. A date?”
Rachel blushed while Joey let out a whoop of joy, “ABOUT TIME!”
So now, they were a thing. But Joey was Joey, and by the time the sun went down the entire Cabin knew. Which meant Jake chanting “Rachel and Conner sitting in a tree, K-I-“
“SHUT UP JAKE!” they’d yell in unison
And then one of them would ask, “Did you two rehearse that?”
They’d deny it, again in unison.
And somebody else would say, “Yup- they definitely did.”
It took a week for things to go back to normal. Of course, this version of normal meant Connor spending more time in Rachel’s room, Joey making constant remarks about the “heart eyes” or being ignored or Rachel’s priorities but what led to the big fight was two months later.
It was during math. Joey hit her with a crumpled up piece of paper. Rachel bent down to pick it up, unfurling it in the process.
Do you know what day it is today?
Rachel scrawled under it:
November 20th, a week after my one year anniversary here.
BUT DO YOU KNOW?
Know what? It’s Thursday…
OH MY GOD, FAYNE HOW DARE YOU? YOU TRAITOR!
Rachel turned around but suddenly Math seemed more interesting for Joey. She shrugged and dismissed her best friend’s behavior, chalking it up to a regular Joey River’s mood swing.
One by one, everyone started acting strange, giving Rachel dirty looks in the hallway, ignoring her completely. By the end of the school day, the only person talking to her was Connor.
He snapped his fingers in front of her face, “Earth to Rachel?”
She shook her head and stopped worrying at her lip, “Yeah?”
“What’s goin on in that beautiful mind…” Connor started singing and Rachel hit him over the head, “Shut up, you’re tone deaf.”
“It was just a question!” he rubbed the spot where she had hit him.
“Everyone is acting so stupid! It’s annoying! What did I do?” She yelled up into the sky.
They were walking back to the Cabin after basketball practice which wasn’t very pleasant either.
“It’s like everyone suddenly has this rivalry against you.”
Rachel stopped dead in her tracks, “What did you say?”
“It’s like everyone has this rivalry against you?”
Rachel looked at him like he was blind, “Connor?”
The boy looked mildly terrified, “Rachel?”
“You are a genius!” she exclaimed and pulled him back from the collar of his shirt, planted a quick kiss on his cheek and made him blush furiously.
Rachel started running towards the cabin leaving him behind. She heard him yell, “WHAT DID I SAY?”
“RIVALRY!” She yelled back and burst through the Cabin door, racing up to Joey’s room.
She banged on her room door, “RIVERS! OPEN THE DOOR, COME ON!”
Anna opened the door, “Joey says she doesn’t wanna see you.”
Rachel pushed her way in and jumped on Joey’s bed, “COME ON!”
Joey frowned, “You made me mess up my homework.”
“FORGET THE HOMEWORK!” Rachel took the pen out of her hand and put the books away.
“THAT’S MY JOB!”
Rachel laughed but dead panned when Joey didn’t.
“I know why you’re mad at me….”
Joey crossed her arms over her chest, waiting for her to continue.
“Today is the season finale and I can’t believe I forgot but we still have a couple of hours till it starts so we can sneak into the cafeteria and steal some junk food and make it back here in time to rewatch the previous week’s episode right before the finale starts.” She blabbered out
Joey stared at Rachel, still mad. Rachel pouted her lips and widened her eyes and tried her best puppy dog look.
“I’ll even do your homework.”
“That doesn’t work on me, Fayne.” Joey picked up her workbook
Rachel crawled over and poked her best friend’s side, once, twice, thrice, “STOP IT, RAICH!”
“HAH!” Rachel stood up on the bed, hands at her hips, expression triumphant.
“What now, you obnoxious pain in the ass?” She rolled her eyes.
“One,” she pointed at Joey, “You owe a quarter to the swear jar, and B, you called me Raich.”
“So,” Rachel said in an obvious tone and fell back on the bed, “That means you aren’t mad at me you goofball!”
Joey looked at her best friend quizzically, “You’re a little too chipper right now….”
“I may or may not have kissed Connor when he accidentally said the word ‘rivalry’ and made me realize where I went wrong.”