Inspired by Ashlyn from Wattpad and a little something she said during tonight's #tcbwatt webcast, this post will be largely devoted to sharing the majority of a short new chapter from Red Rain which remains unreleased, as it does not go into the edit currently available on Wattpad or Write On. This is a new Chapter 24 (the previous Chapter 24, "Oh Love," will now be numbered 25, but its title will remain intact), entitled "Beautiful Child" after a lovely song by NCIS star Pauley Perrette. I chose that song because, thematically, it's very appropriate, as it includes one of my characters coming out of the closet - in more ways than one, too. And there's another character who never lived long enough to have a physical presence in my story, and had she heard this song, it would have made a difference. I'd like to think it's a sweet little story I've got going on here, with its message of love and hope for all involved, and I would hope the Pinecone Army agrees with me.
A few little notes - first off, this is set late in Red Rain, after Fionna's death (hence the huge SPOILER ALERT on top of this post). Also, Rachel and Dani have changed hair colors, so Rachel's now redheaded and Dani's blonde. Finally, yes, I've done away with the whole "are they a couple or not?" thing that Alex and Rachel have going on in the currently online version of Blue Monday. Now, Rachex is to be an Official Couple throughout Blue Monday and beyond, and this scene includes the moment when they make their first romantic connection.
With that, here's the music, and away we go:
As time goes by, I find myself feeling a little bit less dispirited from day to day. There are exceptions, though. Lots of exceptions. From November to December, I infrequently lapse into periods of depression brought on by memories of Fionna. I don’t even have that many of them, but those that I do have, especially the happy ones, force me to think of what could have been.
Like the possibility that, on holidays, I could have taken Fionna home with me to meet my mom. Or vice versa. Thanksgiving and Christmas, I dread them now, because I know these thoughts will be occupying my head the whole time.
If I’m in my room when my “fits of the sullens,” as Mrs. Weasley might put it, strike, Luca’s usually there to bring me back to normal. He often succeeds - like when he shows me hilarious GIFs of the various Doctors giving great quote, or Baymax from Big Hero 6 (which I never got to see at the movies, in the end) being an inflatable white puppy chasing a soccer ball.
Sometimes, though, he’s not in our room. Or I’m not. There’s a time right after we get back from Thanksgiving break where I spend hours folded into a window seat in the lounge, staring into space with wet eyes. Luca tries to get me to come back to the dorm with him, but I refuse, not wanting to move. Rachel also comes up to me and holds my hand just long enough to say, “If you ever wanna talk to me, my door’s always open.”
I file and save that in the back of my brain for a while. Then, the next time I end up in that window seat, on the last full day of school before winter break, I tear my gaze away from the snowy skies and walk into the girls’ dorm hall. Checking the name tags, I soon find the room Rachel shares with Dani.
“Hey, Alex,” she says when she opens the door after I knock on it. “Feeling all right? Of course not; that’s a stupid question. Come in, come in.”
Entering her room, I’m directed to sit next to her on her bed. She has a few posters on her side of the wall, unlike Dani’s, which is bare and undecorated. The most prominent one is of 5 Seconds of Summer, Hell’s biggest boy band.
Above that poster is a small flag with three stripes. Pink on top, blue on the bottom, and a narrow purple band in the middle.
Following my gaze, Rachel covers her mouth as she starts laughing and blushing. “You recognize that, huh?” she asks.
“The bi flag,” I say.
She looks down, still with a flaming red face to match her hair. “This, uh, this isn’t how I imagined coming out. I usually take that down if anyone else comes in.”
“That’s okay,” I say, laying my arm over her shoulder. “You’re telling the right guy.”
“No duh.” She looks up at me for a moment. “The only people who know are you, Dani, and my family. By which I mean my parents and brother.”
“You have a brother?”
“Mm-hmm.” She pulls out her phone and shows me a picture of herself arm-in-arm with a tall, broad-shouldered Ian Somerhalder look-alike. “This is Carl,” she says. “He’s a junior at USC. And no matter how many girlfriends he ever has in his life, he always says he’ll never love them more than he loves me.”
“You should know. You’re the only other guy I’ve met with a heart to rival his. And that’s not the only thing you’ve got in common with him.” The next picture she shows me depicts Carl from behind, shirtless and showing off his wings on the beach.
Featherless wings. Like Gabe’s.
“That’s right,” Rachel says as my jaw drops. “You aren’t the only hybrid in Heaven. Our dad’s a demon, and our mom’s an angel.”
“Your dad’s probably hella more chill than mine.”
“Oh yeah.” She puts her phone away. “He was so proud of me when I came out to him and Mom.” She wipes a tear from her eye. “It was a really sad time for me at that point. Kind of like what you’re going through right now, actually.”
Rachel takes my hand - hers, I feel it shaking. “You know why Dani got me as a roommate, of all the girls at Balthazar?” Her lip trembles. “‘Cause I was the only girl in our class without one. And the girl I used to room with - she was Mia Kang.”
“No!” I cry. “Not her!”
“You remember how she killed herself last summer?” she asks. “Most people don’t realize it was ‘cause her parents found out she was a lesbian.”
“Oh my God.” I don’t know what else to say.
“Yeah,” Rachel says. “We were...we were in love. And she was my first love too.” Wiping her eyes, she adds, “First girl love, anyway. Mia was there for me after Steve and I broke up - and then she wasn’t. I still miss her, even now, and it’s been six months.”
Now I understand what she meant when she said her door was open. Her story has really tugged my heartstrings. Not with sadness, but longing. Hope. The desire to offer her a level of love and solace she hasn’t known for months, and have those feelings reciprocated.
It’s a stupid idea, but I think I owe it to the both of us to go for it. I lace my fingers with Rachel’s and feel her squeeze my hand in return. Then I turn my body so I can face her more properly as I kiss her salty, tear-stained lips.
I expect her to pull back in surprise, maybe even disgust. But she responds by pulling my head even closer to hers, deepening the kiss.
Compared to the one spicy kiss I had with Dani, and Fionna’s awkward-but-sweet ones, Rachel blows them completely out of the water. I’ve never felt this way before, hammered with this kind of wild, intense mix of emotions. My heart aches for her similarly broken one. At the same time, it merrily skips a few beats, overjoyed at the opportunity to kickstart its reconstruction.
Her hair’s tangled around my finger when our lip-lock is broken. We gaze into each other’s eyes for a few moments, then she says, “Thanks. I...I needed that.”
“So did I.”
This would be the perfect time to ask if she’d like to meet up again sometime. Like, on a date. But I think we’re both so overwhelmed by our kiss that we completely forget to voice that question. Stupid me, I even leave her room without getting her email or her number or anything.
So I spend all of winter break dying to see Rachel again, hoping against hope that this kiss wasn’t just a one-time thing. She’s right - I do have a big heart. Too big by half. I’m going with a Pink quote for this one: “Why do we fall in love so easily, even when it’s not right?”
Turns out, though, it’s the opposite of not right. The first day back at Balthazar in January, when I see Rachel, I kiss her on the cheek, and she jumps into my arms to hug me back. She even leaves a yellow Post-It inside my hood, with her email and number written on it. “Should’ve given that to you before break,” she says.
“Love you too,” I say, holding her hand as we sit in the lounge’s biggest armchair.