welcome to another fic commentary, yay! requested by the eternally (it felt like...) patient lazar_grrl.

this is actually one of my better fics, i think, so it's a little embarrassing to go through and rip it to pieces. *sheepish* but, here we go!

for pre-notes, there are two main things. this fic was inspired firstly by Ryuen, a friend from ffn, and from... some... mailing list or whatever. *SO forgetful* well, there was some mailing list! i don't remember if there was a challenge or anything, but, Ryuen was, at the time, in college, and just coming to terms with being gay. her family was not going to be supportive, and the environment she was in was not supportive, either. in fact, she (tried, at least, don't know how it worked out...) founded her college's gay and lesbian group. whatever the exact reasons for writing it were, i decided to do a story with nuriko and hotohori as girls. hey, it's reincarnation! they can come back any way in the world. ^_^

the other reason is far more personal, even. suffice it to say that a close friend went through something similar to what nuriko goes through here. it affects a person, deeply.

title: Four Days on the Road
fandom: Fushigi Yuugi
characters/pairings: Hotohori/Nuriko (reincarnated)
rating: G/Teen
warnings: genderswap (sorta), reincarnation, girlsex, strong language, frank discussions of sex, and some moments of slight male bashing (sorry! there is a reason... and not that one, either)
summary: Two girls with shared dreams take a road trip to celebrate an anniversary.
notes: so, this is a reincarnation fic, but it's more like what i think reincarnation, were it to be true, would actually work. so, people don't necessarily come back looking the same, or with the same name, or even the same gender... hence, the girl-love. ^_~
which is why they aren't quite the same characters. sorry! also, this fic only refers to two seishi. cuz people wouldn't necessarily come back together, either... unless they were pulled together... ^_~
for reference sake, and to make it easier, i'll just tell you right off...
Rianna is Nuriko, and Sara is Hotohori.
you know, you want, in a way, to just let people figure it out for themselves. and then you think, it's fanfiction, it's fun, it's escapism... there's no reason to get haughty about it. better to just be direct about something like this, unless there's a persuasive story-based reason for it. *shrugs*
this fic is entirely Ryuen's fault. *glares meaningfully* ok, she didn't actually do anything to inspire it, but still. i blame her. *nods affirmatively*
enjoy!

She stands by the counter, her arms moving agitatedly as she argues with the clerk over the price of the candy bars. She had a coupon, but the old guy doesn't want to take it. Says something about the region code or whatever. Neither she nor I knows or cares about what he's talking about, but if it were me, I would have let it go.

heh, i hate writing in present tense now. and, thanks to rp'ing, i have SUCH a hard time differentiating between tenses... ~_____~

Not her. She's too passionate about everything to let it go. She will not pay full price for a snickers bar if she should be getting it for half off. She's got her university sweatshirt on over the lilac sundress, and it looks really cute, with her arms waving in the air, and her little skirt swaying around her legs as she makes her points.

She's my best friend. She's my confidante. She's my hopes and dreams.

Rianna turns to me in disgust. "Can you believe this jerk?"

I can only shrug. I don't care as much as she does, but I would never tell her that.

We've been driving since dawn. We're taking a long weekend. Cut class this morning, we'll drive all weekend, and get back Monday whenever we feel like it.

as good a point as any... for this journey, i was imagining an actual trip i might have been able to take while in grad school. that is, i followed a particular road, and such. when they get back, i'm not precisely thinking about my grad school... their dorms would be more like where i went to undergrad. but close enough. ^_~ the trip, for those of you who are curious, would be up the pacific coast, in oregon.

There's an anniversary to celebrate, and we sure as hell weren't going to do it on campus.

She gets behind the wheel this time, and I watch her as she pulls away. I'm a little tired from all the driving this morning, so it feels good to sit back in the seat and just watch. I plug her mp3 player into the cassette player, and pick a song. I'll be DJ Jazzy Sara for the afternoon. Maybe I can help her relax a little.

my friends in college were always talking about DJ Jazzy _____. ^_~

The first song is an upbeat one. We bounce our heads in time, but she would have been singing a few weeks ago.

So hard to believe your whole life can change in a few weeks...

Rianna's hair is just pulled back, and the dark curls look as tired as she does. She hasn't been sleeping well, and it always shows on her.

She used to tease that she needs her beauty sleep or else she looks like the swamp thing.

I don't try to make conversation. If she wanted to talk, she wouldn't have suggested that the two of us go off together alone. She's usually really good at including people in things, even when she doesn't want to. I've known her since we were seven. The first day of school, some boys teased me about being a tomboy, and she knocked Terry Lucius in the head. Then she took my arm and said that 'little ladies' couldn't associate with such riff raff.

heh, hotohori is the plain one. ^_^

I still remember that day perfectly, as if it were just yesterday. She is such a kind person.

Just as the song is about to end, I pick something new. Something with a strong beat, but harder. Her fingers loosen on the steering wheel.

Sometimes, you need to drown yourself in vicious music.

Our teacher in the fourth grade used to call us the tomboy and the beauty queen. I used to hate that. She used to say we made such a cute couple. I used to hate that even more.

driving, listening to music... gives you time to think.

Rianna used to smile and laugh at it, though. She said that it was cute, because we were a pair.

We used to dream together, and make up stories. We made up this whole world that was like ancient China, and I was the emperor, and she was the court princess, and we were both boys. People thought we were weird, pretending to be boys, especially Rianna, since she would dress up in skirts and wear makeup, and insist that she was a boy.

^_~

My father used to hate those games. He used to berate me, and call me names. And when he got drunk, he would threaten me.

Afterwards, Rianna would sneak into my room, and cuddle up against me. Sometimes, I could escape to her house. She would tell me that he wasn't my real father, that my real father was from ancient China, in our past life, and that she was my real family.

I believed her.

I switch the songs again, and now it's an angry woman rock song. Rianna taps her finger along the top of the steering wheel.

i loves me my angry girl music. ^_~

I watch her from the corner of my eye. She's perfectly beautiful, with thick, black hair, pale skin, small frame, nice body, and wondrous blue eyes that I love to dream about. I've been in love with her forever, it seems, but it doesn't matter.

She trusts me more than anyone else in the world. She's never dated anyone she trusts more than she trusts me.

That makes me the most important person in her life, and that's better than anything.

We're taking the scenic route. The roads are crappy, and move faster than you'd think a two-lane road with questionable shoulders should move, but it's scenic.

Rianna wanted scenic.

Fourteen songs later, she pulls over for a rest stop. She doesn't ask me if I'm hungry because she already knows that I go twelve hours between meals. I go to pump the gas, because the tomboy pumps and the beauty queen goes to the bathroom to fix her hair.

What do you know? Sometimes, the stereotypes are true.

Except, she doesn't fix her hair. She comes back looking tired. It makes my heart ache to see her like that.

"There's a motel nearby. We can stay here tonight."

"If you want to." I wonder how she knows that, but when I turn my head to pull the nozzle out of the car, I can see the sign for the hotel. Yes, kids, Sara is a genius.

i had a friend, Sara, who was very, very adamant that there was no 'h' in sara. what can i say? she won me over. ^_~

"I know we could put more miles under us, but I don't really see the point. And this seems kinda nice."

I smile at her. She doesn't need to explain to me. "I'll go pay; be right back."

"No, I'll go in."

"You got it this morning," I object, but she's already moving. I sigh, and slip into the driver's seat.

She's always doing this, and it actually doesn't bother me, but I wish she didn't feel like she had to. I wish a lot of things. She knows that I'm basically entirely cut off from my parents, and that I work as an RA and at the flower shop on campus to make ends meet. I don't feel like a charity case, because it's Rianna, but I do feel like she shouldn't have to worry about me.

there was this flower shop in the 'basement' of the student union in my undergrad university. a friend of mine used to study outside of there in one of the cubbies, because there was this guy she 'liked', and when he was on break, he would come out and be all, '____, i'm so glad you are here, i hate to eat alone! ♥' anyway. mined a lot of personal experience for this... well, for any fic, i guess. that's what they mean by 'write what you know.' but this one...

She has more important things to think about.

She gets back in and shoves the receipt in the little cubby under the stereo. I start the car and we make our way to the motel. It's cheap and a little dirty, and we don't care. We throw our bags on the floor and bounce on the beds. They're thin, but who cares? It's an adventure, right?

"Wanna watch cable?" She's got this look in her eyes.

never had cable until grad school. ^_~ motel cable was always a treat for us.

Motel cable is the best. It's part of the joy of being in a motel. Neither of us ever had cable growing up. It's not surprising that I didn't, but Rianna's family never did, either. Rianna's parents are really moral and stuff, and they think there's too much junk on cable. So, motel cable is like a treat in and of itself.

We flip the tv on, and stretch out on our respective beds. There're only five stations, so we end up watching a lame '80s movie. It had its moments.

When the credits were rolling, Rianna rolls over to face me, her sweatshirt all bunched up around her torso and her skirt up high on her legs. "Let's get some food and stay in tonight."

I just nod, and get up to go to the bathroom. We walk, because it's really a small town. There are some looks, but Rianna doesn't notice them. I'd like to think that people thought that we were a couple, but that just isn't it. Rianna gets stared at all the time. She tells me that I'm pretty, too, but who would notice under my baggy clothes, with my short hair, or with my scrubbed clean look?

maybe it's hard to see hotohori as someone who isn't concerned with looks, but... well, i think one way to look at it is that sara isn't royalty; in fact, her home life is crap. another thing is, in changing hotohori to a girl... well, being pretty is exceptional for a boy, but hotohori retains some of his manliness in sara, so, as a result, she's a pretty, but not exceptional girl, prone to tomboyishness. *shrugs* i'm not explaining well. heh. but anyway.

Well, besides Rianna, assuming that she isn't just being nice.

Just as we were about to go to this place with a plastic burger in front, and an ice cream cone of the roof, Rianna stopped and tugged on my arm. "Hey, look."

I look, but don't see anything. And then I do.

"Let's go, hm?"

As if I would say no to her. But I shrug. Actually, the idea of it makes me a little nervous, but I follow, my hands in my pockets. I know I'm slouching, but I'm trying my best.

slouch to hide her attractiveness...

See, I don't believe in psychics, but you never know, right? And what if this lady could really do it? What would she say?

I still have a secret from my best friend.

not for long, sweetie.

The place isn't like you'd think. It isn't dark, with shelves full of shrunken heads and jars full of fingers or whatever. It had lots of plants, and a filmy blue curtain over the window, filtering the light.

The woman that came out wasn't what you would expect either. She was in her thirties, plumpish, with dirty blonde hair and a big smile. No makeup. That earned her points with me.

i had a tarot card reading my senior year in college. *laughs* tired of the personal stories yet? well, anyway... it wasn't anything like i'd expected. she ran them from her home, and she had this degree in paranormal psychology on the wall. she was totally, totally off-base, but she was really nice. *shrugs* i believe that a lot of things are possible, so it's best to keep an open mind. i think a real psychic would be like this. not someone who looks the part, or is all knowing. just someone who can really read people well.

"What can I do you girls for?" Her eyes dart from me to Rianna, but she's waiting for Rianna to speak. Maybe she's for real. Or maybe I'm reading into to things. I shrink back a little.

"How much for a palm reading? For a tarot reading?" Rianna talks like she does this all the time, and I know she doesn't, but it sounds good.

The woman nods, smiling. "You want a palm reading. My cards have been out of sorts all week. I think it's the moon. C'mon, sit down, let's go. It's ten dollars, by the way."

Rianna sits down in front of her, and holds her hand out. I watch, noticing how tense Rianna looks. I would offer to give her a massage later, but... We don't do that sort of thing for each other.

The woman takes her hand, just holding it for a moment or two before she starts to look. She hums, a pleasant song that makes you think you know the song, even though it's only a few bars. She runs her fingers over the inside of her palm.

I watch, a little envious.

"My, my, my... little girl, little girl, little girl... But you aren't a little girl anymore, are you? I'm sorry for your loss. Muffin, don't fret, it's not the end of the road. I promise. You have a long lifeline, very strong. The major breaks, those are mostly past. The trials you've already endured, that's prolly the worst."

Rianna's back is completely stiff, and I've inched a little closer, but she moves on.

"You have a single, steady love line. There's only one for you, pet, and you know it, have always known it. Don't be afraid of whatever is ahead of you; your love will make you strong. And you are strong."

she's been in love since her last life, after all. ^_~ from a canon point of view, i'll just say... i believe nuriko loved miaka as a big brother. i think ALL the seishi love miaka, in different ways. and they confuse the love, like hotohori thinking he was in love with miaka. but anyway. i always see hotohori as 100% gay. ^_^ just my reading of him. he HAS to get married and produce and heir, but that doesn't mean anything. nuriko, i often see as bi. and, to be honest, the most canonical pairing is probably nuriko/tasuki. but, nuriko wants hotohori so much, and i love nuriko, so... ^_~

She says more, but I don't listen anymore. I have this weird feeling like this is a private moment, even though there is almost nothing private between Rianna and me. Rianna doesn't keep any secrets.

The woman doesn't ask for my hand. She takes Rianna's ten and smiles, leading her to the door. But she does catch my arm, and smile at me.

"Thanks." I don't know why I said that, but now that it's out, I have to smile, too.

"Don't worry, peach blossom. She'll be ok."

peach blossom. because i was watching CCS at the time. ^_~

I think she must have me confused for someone else, because I'm not a peach blossom.





The next day's drive takes us closer to the water. I drive the early shift again, and Rianna sleeps next to me. She slept a little last night. It's easier to sleep when you are traveling. There's nothing else to do.

closer to the water... i said it was up the pacific coast, but you had to get to the coastline first. ^_~ now, where i went to grad school, the coast was... about an hour in from the campus. so, they must have been a bit further in. ^_~

But she had me shift the furniture so we could push the beds a little closer. I wanted to sleep with her, but I know what she was thinking.

She needed to be able to sleep on her own.

With the ocean on one side, and trees and hills on the other, it was a really pretty ride.

Except we didn't care that much for the scenery.

Still and all, it was very pretty, and after a while, we decided to pull over and go to this park there was a sign for.

The sign said something like 'Some Stupid Guy Who Gave The State A Lot Of Money State Park,' and I think the big attraction, and why they were charging $10 to get in, was the dunes. The dunes were pretty cool there, and a lot people liked to dune buggy around.

after our comp exams, a friend and i went to the dunes and ran around. it was SO much fun... the sand was just so beautiful and soft, and it felt great. and there were these guys on dunes in dune buggies... really did not look fun. plus, very dangerous!

That seemed like fun, and there was this group of guys with buggies down the way, but Rianna and I had fun just running up and down the dunes. It was hard! And Rianna actually laughed a little. Not much, but still...

She was wearing these tan shorts, and two tank tops, with spaghetti straps. The underneath one had a shelf bra. She looked really cute, with her pigtails and multiple tanks. She held her arms out from her body as she ran down the dune, yelling a little as she tripped down the high sands, barefoot.

I felt overdressed in my jeans, but then, I never really like to wear shorts much anyway.

i just about never wear shorts. ^_^

Rianna's legs seem so long, without shoes and in those shorts. Like they just stretch on and on for miles. So smooth, and perfectly formed...

I try not to stare too much, but it's been a while since she's been so happy.

We're still just running around on the dunes when the guys with the buggies come up.

"Baby! Wanna take a ride?" The guy in the front is talking to Rianna, since there's no possible way he could be talking to me. He's sorta good looking, I think, but he hasn't shaved in a while. Most people wouldn't find that too disgusting, but I know that Rianna has a thing about facial hair.

ew, facial hair. ^_~

She even got one of her ex's to wax his face, but only that one time.

"Actually, my friend and I are just meandering around on our own, thanks." She pretends to be polite, but I've known her long enough to know better. She wants them gone.

I step up closer to her, to emphasize her point. I'm very aware that there are four of them, and they're on buggies, and the little shack pretending to be the ranger station is pretty far away and they probably can't hear us from here...

"Oh, ditch the dyke and play with us, babe." The redhead behind the guy in front made some obscene gesture with his nose and eyebrows, which I might have found creative if I wasn't so busy being offended.

Rianna is very easy going and laid back, unless you mess with one of her friends. Then she becomes megabitch from hell girl.

It's one of the things I love about her.

"Mm, as much fun as it might be playing with adolescent boys who need big machines to get anything done, my friend and I are actually quite well off without you, so why don't you little boys take your Tonka trucks back to the big sandbox and leave us alone?" She crosses her arms over her chest and turns her back to them, turning her little nose up as she does.

wow, that would SO not work in real life... *laughs*

She so rules.

The redhead is about to get huffy, but the guy in front looks like he's a lot nicer than his friends. He revs his engine, and smiles. "Sorry to disturb you ladies. Just thought you might be interested. Have a good day!" And he drives off, giving the redhead a dirty look, his friends behind him.

had to throw in a nice guy or else there would be trouble...

The redhead spits in our direction, but it doesn't actually get that close.

Rianna is still fuming. So like her not to be able to give up her anger...

She stomps across the sand, kicking out as she moves, the sand sparkling as it splashes around her footfalls. "All men are alike! Such jackasses! Can you believe those guys! I mean, honestly, like no woman in her right mind would ever refuse them, unshaven heathens..."

I trail after her, kicking the sand, too, because it's fun. Her cheeks flush as she talks, her arms flailing about her body madly. I would say something, but I know when she gets worked up like this, she doesn't really listen anyway.

kinda cute, rianna is all worked up, and sara is having fun, still. ^_^

"Men think they are such studs, even the ugly ones! Remember that boy, Patrick, from high school? He was always pawing me, asking me out and stuff... He must have had ten gallons of oil in his face, and he thought I would actually date him?!?"

I remember that guy. He was a jerk. Always hanging around when he wasn't wanted... Rianna's boyfriend beat him up one afternoon. Rianna never knew that it was Jason who did that. He told me about it, though. Asked me not to tell Rianna. I never have, because Jason said that he only did it because Patrick was overheard saying that he was going to have Rianna, 'whether she liked it or not.' I don't know, and neither did Jason, whether that was true or not, or even if it was just talk, but he was a jerk, and it was about time someone pummeled him for it.

any boyfriend who wanted to stay with rianna had to be friendly with sara. ^_~

"Fuck! It's like they think they're gods just cuz they have dicks. Most of them don't know how to use them, but hey! I've got this sorta small thing hanging between my legs, so naturally women want to worship me!"

*snickers*

I laugh, but she's too worked up to hear me anyway. It's hard to keep up with her, actually.

"Like a dick is such a great thing, anyway. I certainly never saw the appeal." She plops down in the sand, at the top of the dune. We can see the ocean from here.

"I think there is a certain... er, functionality to them." I sit as close to her as I can, my butt sinking into the sand, my fingers digging in. It's warm and comforting.

"I'm not so sure." Her voice is dark, and I want to kick myself. What a stupid thing to say! "They hand them out to just anyone. If they were really functional, there's be a screening process."

"Three day waiting period, and a psychological profile." I try to tease, bumping my knee against hers.

*laughs* there would be no men left....

"Hmph!" Her little nose wrinkled up. "Right, cuz that works so well for guns! Men are such... pigs! Do you know what Ryan said when I told him? He said, Thank god!" She shakes her head, and hugs her knees. "Can you believe that? Thank god."

i wonder if anyone didn't know what it meant here...

I want to spit nails, but I don't have any nearby. "He... he was just stupid."

"Of course he was. He had a Y chromosome. It inhibits brain activity." She rests her chin on her knees and glares at the ocean. "He tried to get me to sleep with him that night. Said 'lightning never strikes twice, baby.' So, a, he was a complete insensitive jackass, and b, he was scientifically inaccurate."

She's nearly growling now. She hasn't told me this, yet. Maybe she was afraid I would try something, and get hurt. She's always worrying about other people getting hurt, never looking after herself...

"God, I don't know what I ever saw in him. It makes me sick to think there was a time when I thought he was something special." She burrows a little in her cocoon of arms and legs. "I can't believe I used to be infatuated with him. I thought he was smart, and funny... Just another jackass."

*cuddles her*

I scoot closer to her, letting my legs touch hers. "Don't do this, Rianna, please. Everybody lives and learns, right?"

"I can't even remember now what was so great about him. All he wanted was sex. We didn't have that much in common, we didn't do that much else together. I can remember when I first met him, thinking that he was so..."

She hasn't done this yet. I want to sigh and cry. It's good, but hard, and if I could, I would spare her from any pain.

Of course, I fail miserably in that hope almost daily...

"But the more I got to know him, the more things were the same as with any guy. I mean, sex is just... Oh, I'm sorry, Sara. I don't want to get all male-bash-y." She turns to face me, her eyes wide with apology.

I hate that. Like, just because I've never had sex, I can't understand what she's gone through. I smile, and shake my head. "Please, go on. I don't mind. You have a right to be bitter."

i have a friend that does that. ~_~

She smiles as she sighs, and lays her face on her knees. "I mean, it's all right, I guess. But... I just wish... I mean, it's pretty good. But it's not that big a deal. The first time always sucks. Sometimes, it hurts. Maybe... maybe I should have spoken out more, but I just..."

She pauses, her eyes closing as she nearly trembles with the need to say what she means.

"It's like I never really wanted for any of them to get so close to me, you know? Like, if I told Ryan what I liked and where I wanted him to touch me, he would know something secret about me that he wasn't good enough to know. So, I would just let him do whatever. But I think the whole sexual evolution thing went horribly astray! He would play with my breasts for hours, and after a while I was like, that's nice, but could we move this on to someplace more interesting? And then he'd get going, but it was never really enough to get me, you know? I even bought lube once, told him that it was necessary sometimes. I was just sick of... aching afterwards.

"And I always felt empty. Like, I didn't want him in me, really, but when it was over, I felt like he... like he took something from me."

She becomes pensive for a moment, and I'm haunted by memories. The other people on my floor wonder why I've taken to using the community bathroom, but if they knew what had happened in my bathroom...

She seems to physically break herself out of her reverie. "And god! He was always going on about getting a damn blowjob! Fuckin' 'ey, it's not like he was ever offering to get on his knees for me! Oh, god, no, that would be disgusting, but sticking his filthy prick in my mouth, no, that's good! Bastard..."

If she were in a cartoon, she'd have steam coming out of her ears. Seriously.

She turns to look at me, her eyes blazing. "Do you ever think of just... chucking them all in?"

"The ocean?"

"No, I mean, just forgetting all about them and just... just... going the other way?"

"The other way of what?" I swear to god, I'm not stupid, I'm not! But I can be a little obtuse from time to time...

"Sara!" She rolls her eyes and looks perfectly cute. "I mean... you know, forgetting about boys and concentrating on girls?"

"Oh." Dear god, she's serious. I try to think of something to say, and find my mouth is moving before my brain. "Well, yeah. Naturally."

"Yeah?" She looks at me, her eyes perfectly blank, questioning. Her posture is totally serious. She's goading me on, and my stupid mouth is letting her...

"I'm gay."

Now why the hell did I say that? What if she freaks? What if she hates me? What if she gets weird around me, and doesn't want me to be close to her, or doesn't want to share a room in the motel, or...

She stares at me, before screwing up her face in a glare. "Sara!" She whacks me on the shoulder. For such a small girl, she can really hit... "Why didn't you ever tell me? How long have you known? Why wouldn't you talk to me about this?"

I find my heart is pounding. I can't believe this is out, as it were, but I feel... I feel... like a vice has been loosened around my heart. It feels good! "I... I... I'm sorry, I just... I thought, well, maybe... maybe you might be upset, or weird or..."

"Oh, Sara!" And she just flings herself at me, her arms swallowing me whole.

I want to cry a little.

"You should know that you could say anything to me. We're bound, remember? I'll love you forever, no matter what." She speaks in my ear, and her body is up against mine, and I'm holding her, and it's different than ever before because she knows now, and she loves me, she said so...

I want to tell her how much that means to me, but my throat is solid, and no sound can come out.

*twiddles thumbs* eheh. sorry. um. *shrugs* i can think of a couple of friends coming out's to me... didn't go exactly like this. eh. *tries harder to think of interesting things*

"Sara, don't start crying, please, because then I'll cry, and for god's sake, you know I'll never stop!" She wipes at my eyes, her hands on my face, and she smiles even as her cheeks trembled with the unshed tears.

She is so perfect.

"Thank you." I manage to squeak it out, and she hugs me again, and I wrap my arms around her waist, because it feel so good to have her know!

see, these things are easier to do when i can rip on my writing. *laughs* i try to avoid using so many exclamation points, but i think, in this case, it's a hazard of the pov. one of the reasons i dislike this pov, but sometimes, the damned fics decide they want to be written in first person present tense, and there's nothing you can do about it. *shrugs*

If I had known how good this would be, I wouldn't have kept this from her for so long.

The guys on buggies are below us, and the stupid redhead is saying something, but thank god, we can't hear him. We can hear one of the other one's whistling.

I wish that there was something for them to whistle about, but really, there is, isn't there?

She knows, and she said she still loves me.

I'm happy. And she's smiling, which is a damn fine thing, the day before anyway.

oooooh, om~in~ous overtoooooones. *coughs* no, i presume by this point everyone knows what's going on. ^_^

Just when we get in the car, she slams her hand on the steering wheel, swearing.

"What?" I'm anxious that we've forgotten something important, or something is wrong...

"I can't believe it! That fucking jackass redhead was right!"

It takes me a full minute to understand what she means, and when I get it, I start to laugh, out loud and really deep.

She stares at me with a mixture of whimsy and disbelief, before she starts to laugh, too.

She hasn't laughed that hard for over a month. I lean back in the seat, really glad we stopped to play in the dunes.





When I wake up, I have that moment of uncertainty where I don't know where I am or who I am, and the morning is wonderfully beautiful. The light coming in from the crack between the curtains is spreading out in the room softly, and the only thing I can see outside the sliver of visible window it blue.

I turn in bed, and see Rianna on the edge of her bed, her hands clutching the mattress so that her knuckles are white. She's wearing cargo pants and a denim shirt over a tank.

It's been exactly one month.

We move silently, packing up and leaving, as if the world is on mute, and all I can hear is white noise.

I feel alien.

Rianna gets behind the wheel determinedly, and if I had ever entertained the notion of driving myself this morning, I would have sent the notion home with scant apologies. Her jaw is tight, and her eyes narrowed slightly. She is on a mission, and god help the unfortunate soul who gets in her way.

The drive supplies slightly louder white noise, and I find myself wondering about god. Is he or she out there? Is he or she watching us today? Does god care about two girls in a car, one month later?

And if so, then why?

The car veers sharply to the left, and Rianna has found it. It's only an inlet, but it's somewhat inhospitable, and so it will be private.

I wander over the sand, looking for driftwood. Rianna is collecting stones. We're building a fire.

When we were in girl scouts, we tried to build a fire for ten hours on our one and only camp out. Our troop leader was in tears at the end of the day, we were all freezing, and the other parents that came had started to talk about taking all the girls to some nearby motel or something. We were excited about the idea of bunking together in a motel, but the troop leader was screaming that by god! These girls will have a camp out!!

Rianna and I told the girls in our circle that we knew a celestial spirit who could make fire with only a word. We were going to summon him to come and rescue us. We held hands and chanted to the sky, and then we told everyone that it didn't work because they didn't believe.

When I'm too weighed down to carry any more wood, I head back to Rianna, hoping that we won't need to perform any summonings.

She's got a circle nicely cordoned off, and she's shredding some newspaper. It's an amazingly short amount of time later that we have a bonfire going. The flames lap up, higher and higher, and we sit, tired, watching the show.

Moving on autopilot, her eyes never leaving the flames, Rianna pulls the bottle out of her bag. It's just a plastic water bottle, the label ripped off, with a nearly black clump in the neck. We both stare at the bottle, as if it might become animated and start telling us about the War of 1812. Uncertainly, Rianna unscrews the cap, and stands up. She stands in front of the fire, puzzling over the best way to complete our purpose. After a moment's reflection, she drops the bottle in the middle of the fire.

inanimate objects always talk about the most random, boring things... *coughs*

There's no way that clump will pour out now, a month later, so this is the only way to cremate it.

We both scoot back, as there is a snaking hiss of fumes coming from the burning plastic. Rianna falls into pieces.

She hasn't cried since she stopped bleeding, and I find that I can't tear my eyes away from the remains. I open my arms, and she falls, half into my embrace and half into my lap. She's heaving with sobs, the weight of her pain finally slipping from her shoulders.

I can't even imagine what she must be suffering. I don't even want to. I know that I'm not even a quarter as strong as she is, to have borne it all this time, but it breaks my heart and makes me shake with fear to see her like this.

Rianna has always been so strong.

in more ways than one, obviously, but i think strength is nuriko's defining quality.

I find the flames, and the incinerating bottle, mesmerizing. I find myself reliving it all, as I rub circles over Rianna's back.

I sat on the edge of the tub in my private bathroom while Rianna sat on the toilet. We stared at the plastic stick, our fingers interlaced. She hadn't told Ryan that she was two weeks late and feeling weird, only me. We had bought the pregnancy test together, and we stared at it together, wondering silently how long a minute could last.

When the two blue lines appeared, she just shuddered. All over her body, and then she looked up, meeting my eyes.

God, we were so scared.

Rianna had grown up Catholic. I had watched her make her First Communion, and her Confirmation. She wasn't particularly devout, but she believed in god and heaven and hell and loving her neighbors.

She came back from talking to Ryan shaking, with anger and fear. He had freaked out. Well, he was 19, but Rianna was only 20, and she was the one who was pregnant. He told her she had to have an abortion.

He might as well have told her she had to slit her wrists.

They talked several times, and then eight days after she took the test, she came back to my room, bruised and hysterical.

He'd slapped her across the face, and kicked her in the stomach. He said that if she wouldn't get an abortion, he would make sure that it was taken care of.

Rianna was terrified, not sure if he had killed her baby. Those were her words. Her stomach was black and blue, with sickly yellow stripes all across it. We waited for hours, and days, and nothing happened.

I don't know if it was Ryan's fault or not, because it was nearly a week after that that Rianna came to my room right as I was going to bed. She had started to bleed, and it wasn't stopping.

We went into the bathroom again, and I helped her into the tub. I tried to make her as comfortable as possible. She begged me to tell her that sometimes pregnant women bleed, and that it would be ok, but it was too much blood, and it wasn't stopping. She was hemorrhaging.

I'd never seen so much blood. It still hasn't washed out of my tub entirely.

I kept giving her bottles of water, because I was scared of how much blood she was losing. It was one of those bottles that she caught some of the blood, and a big clot, with. It seemed kinda gross to me, but Rianna was focused on that bottle like it was the cure to cancer.

She said it was all she had of her first child.

I watch the bottle twist and deform, and I'm surprised to find that my cheeks are soaking.

Eventually, the fire dies down, and as if the flames were fueling her grief, Rianna calms. She's almost catatonic as I pick up our stuff, and lead her to the car. I place her in the passenger seat, and we drive off, her eyes blankly staring off into space, away from me.

erm. i sure they put out the fire before they left... doused it and such. *nods*

I check us into a motel, and help Rianna in. There is no question; she doesn't ask and I don't ask. We get into our sleeping clothes, and crawl into bed together. I take her in my arms, and she settles her body over mine. I rub her back, and feel her breathe against my collarbone. Each breath feels forced, but as I massage her back and run my hand up and down her arm, she calms, eventually, and I think she's going to sleep.

I can't sleep. There's nothing sexual about our sleeping arrangement, even though she knows now, but I'm afraid that if I close my eyes, the whole world will crumble.

Rianna has always been so strong.

I'm afraid I won't be able to be the strong one. I'm afraid of letting her down.

I'm afraid that I still need her, and I don't know quite what to do, now that she's depending on me.

"Sara?"

If she weren't on top of me, I would have jumped out of my skin. I thought she was asleep. "Yeah?"

"...Are you in love with me?"

There's a moment of quiet, and it honestly never occurs to me to lie. "Yeah, but don't worry about it. Just go to sleep."

wah, it's not good to point out things i like if i'm not pointing out bad things, is it? but i really like this exchange...

I kiss her forehead, and close my eyes, willing us both to sleep.





The next day starts out slowly. We're far away from campus, and we need to get back before tonight. We've already missed two days of classes.

The next day. ha. whole word missing typo! god bless the typos. ^_~ ...ok, just fixed it...

I drive the first stretch, even though it's morning, because Rianna is still wiped out. She looks... faded. She sleeps some more in the passenger seat, and I steal quick glances at her as I head for the highway.

pretty much all the way up and down the west coast of america, there are "two" roads (well, there could be more than two, but...). there's the main expressway, which is some single digit number... drat, now i have to look this up... i think it's 5... and dude. i'm right. *coughs* anyway, there's the expressway, which is superfast, natch, (though be careful of pulling over there... at least, a friend warned me about the bad things that have happened on the shoulder of interstate 5... which comes up later here, ha), but the expressway is pretty inland, as it is wide and pretty straight, all the way down. then, there's the road that literally runs down the coastline, where, a lot of the time, you can see the pacific. that's much smaller and much slower, and muchmuch windier. so, they drove from their campus to the coast, and drove up the coastline on that road, and now they are headed to 5 to get back home muchmuch faster. ^_~

It's good that she's finally getting some sleep.

We stop for lunch, not really because we are hungry, but because we're tired of sitting in the car, and we don't want to eat on campus anyway.

I start to feel it at lunch. Rianna looks tired, but she's not looking at me, and no matter how many times I try, we don't get a conversation started.

There're these little bags under her eyes, and I know that she must be worried. And now I'm worrying about what she's worrying about...

Not that there isn't enough that could be plaguing her mind, but there are two confessions I didn't intend to make that might be causing this, too...

She takes the keys after lunch, and maybe I'm imagining things, but it seems like she goes out of her way to not touch me when she takes them. I huddle into my seat, and watch the scenery stream by.

It starts to feel cold, but I don't say anything. I find that I can't say anything. I'm afraid. And ashamed. Yesterday, we burned the only remains of Rianna's first, dead child, and I'm so worked up over my little crush that I can't be a good friend. Rianna has never let me down, not for a second, and I can't be the friend that she needs now.

I suck.

We're not that far from campus, only two exits away, and it's just getting to be dusk. The trees on the side of the road are going black, and the deep blue-black sky above looks huge.

i love that time of day. ^____^

It's pretty.

Suddenly, the car veers to the right, and I make some noise as I brace myself.

Rianna looks determined as she pulled the car into the shoulder.

For a second, I'm too stunned to react, but then Rianna is getting out of the car so I have to follow her. Belatedly, I admit, but she really has me turned around.

I have this itchy feeling under my skin, like it's not safe. Rianna is walking towards the trees on the side of the highway, and my whole being is filled with a sort of primal fear of the unknown. Anything could be in those trees...

"Rianna? What's going on?" I just wish she would stop walking so fast...

"I don't understand. It doesn't make sense. I've been trying to work it out all day, and trying to work it out, but it doesn't make sense."

"What? What's wrong?" Oh, please oh please oh please let it be a calculus problem...

*snorts* yeah, don't think so, cutie...

"You said you loved me, is that true?" When she looks at me like that, I wish that she would always be looking at me.

"...Yes."

"You've never said anything."

"...I'm sorry."

"I just don't... God, Sara! It just keeps spinning through my head, and I don't understand! Everything keeps spinning inside, and spinning... do you know how many times I've let some jackass paw at me, and slobber all over me? I lost my virginity when I was 16. I was scared, I bled, it hurt... I just wanted to be normal!" She's pleading with me, and even though my legs are made of concrete, I move closer to her, wanting to comfort.

"It's ok, Rianna, don't get mired in regret. It doesn't do any good."

*coughs* that doesn't sound very natural... ah, anyway...

"If I had only known... but it doesn't make sense, I couldn't have known. I just... I just wanted to be normal. Sara, you can understand that, right? I just wanted..."

"It's ok, Rianna," I try to speak soothingly as I come closer to her. "There's nothing wrong with you."

"But I can't be gay!" She bursts out, her eyes wide and wild. "My parents will never forgive me!"

I shake my head, confused. "You don't have to be gay, Rianna. I am. That's all."

"You don't understand." She sighs, crossing her arms over her stomach. "I never thought that you would ever have feelings for me... In the dreams, you never loved me back."

I...

What did she just say?

"Rianna?"

"I never thought... and I just wanted to be normal, I wanted to be your friend. And... and now, everything is so messed up, and I hate myself and the things that I've done..."

I put my arms around her, no longer concerned for myself. "Shh, don't say that, Rianna, don't ever say that. Everything is fine. I promise."

"But..." She's sniffling in my ear. "My parents will kill me if I tell them I'm gay. You know how they are! They think Will and Grace is part of a subversive gay conspiracy. They'll never want to see me again..."

I don't know what to say, because really, there's nothing to say. I look her in the eyes, and I keep my arms around her. She leans forward, just a little, like she's tired.

I don't even realize it's happening until it's over.

I kissed her.

Or she kissed me.

It doesn't really matter, because we kissed.

aw. heh.

We stare into each other's eyes for what feels like one perfect lifetime, and then she smiles.

She is so beautiful.

She puts her forehead on mine, and takes my hands in hers.

We walk back to the car, and she drives us home.

She takes my hand every so often, running her fingers over my fingers.

I can't stop smiling.

We get back, and both go straight to my room. Rianna actually lives on campus, but in a different dorm. I had to move dorms to be an RA, and I didn't get much notice about it, either. But it's all right, because my room is large, and Rianna has a lot of her stuff in my room, for those times when she ends up there for the night.

We both check our messages, and get ready for going back to classes the next day, but we do so half-heartedly. It's always hard to get back into your groove when you break away for even a short spell, and anyway, we both care a little bit less about school now than we might usually.

I keep looking at her, and touching her, just a little, to be sure that it is real.

We kissed.

She throws her notebook aside and walks to the bathroom, somewhat noisily. When she gets back, she's in a pair of her brother's boxers, and a tank. I slip into the bathroom, and brush my teeth as fast as I can.

She's on the bed when I get out, and a cold shiver of anticipatory delight snakes down my spine and to my toes. She's hugging her knees, and when I walk into the room, her eyes come up to meet mine.

"If my child had lived," she speaks slowly, as if she's discovering the words, "my parents would have been furious. They would never have let Father O'Harrigan and the rest of the church know their baby girl had gotten herself pregnant. They would have thrown me out."

I lean against my dresser, griping the edge. It's true. Rianna's parents are nice people. Nice, not warm or friendly, or giving. They pride themselves on being nice.

It isn't nice for young girls to spawn bastard children.

"Maybe it's fate." She sighs as she drops her arms to the bed, her legs slipping loose, and she curls one corner of her mouth in something like a smile. "Maybe I'm not meant to make my parents happy."

I go to sit down next to her. "I never want to cause you pain."

"Then be with me." She leans in, and puts her head on my shoulder. "Be with me, Sara, because I need you, and I hate putting any kind of pressure on you, I don't want to be a burden, but..."

"Hush." I put my finger on her lips, quieting her. I can't believe she would apologize for needing me.

She kisses my finger.

I stare at her in shock, feeling a warm tingle shiver through me. I want to pull back, but she leans even more into my body.

"Be with me, Sara."

they were supposed to have sex here. well, they did. but it was supposed to be more... explicit. just didn't fit. *shrugs*

There is no denying the need in her. There isn't any want to deny.

Her mouth and mine meet again, and our lips intermingle. I taste the flesh of her lips as my tongue swipes out, involuntarily, and suddenly we are kissing deeply.

My hands are clutching the sheets like a lifeline. I want to put my fingers in her hair, I want to touch the skin at the base of her spine, I want to put my palm over her heartbeat...

Her hands are on the side of my face, and she pushes herself practically in my lap. She tastes a little desperate.

It is with supreme control of will that I pull away to speak. Especially since she starts to kiss my jaw and suck on my jugular.

"Ri... Rianna... We... We should..."

"I need to know this is real, Sara." She runs her hands up and down my arms, and I relax to the point that I release the sheets. "I need to know..."

"I love you, Rianna." I don't want her to feel like she has to do anything. I can't begin to count the number of times I wanted to smash in the head of some boy who made Rianna cry because of what they had done. I want to move slowly.

"I know, Sara." She puts her hand on my stomach, under my t-shirt. "I need to know."

I'm not sure what she needs to know, but I know that my ability to resist her hands and lips and body is limited. We keep kissing until we are flat on the bed, and our hands are in motion. I find her flesh, and I feel expanded. I feel choked with experience.

I feel like there will never be another moment like this, as if each breath is the most significant breath I would ever take in my life, and I believe it, truly.

I brush aside the strap of her tank, and my hand trembles. She stares up at me, her lips parted and moist, her little nostrils flaring as she breathes. I hesitate, mostly because I can feel the boundary we are passing, and I want to be sure.

I don't want her to feel awkward, or to feel like I'm taking and not giving, but I don't know what I can offer her that she would want. I take off my shirt, because I don't want her to be naked and me dressed and I want her to be naked, but I'm afraid.

My chest is almost flat, my breasts barely hanging at all. My torso is very boyish, and I feel gangly and unattractive next to her, and her smoothly perfect skin and feminine, lush body.

She smiles at me, and wiggles her torso so she can finagle her way out of her top. I help her, and then we are both mostly naked.

Her hands reach out first, and the wondrously innocent pleasure in her eyes sparks me. It isn't much longer before we are pressed close together, our hands wandering, our flesh heating up together.

It's with an almost surreal comprehension that it dawns on me that we're having sex. I'm having sex with Rianna. She and I are having sex.

Together!

When we are able to breathe normally again, when the air cools the sweat on our bodies and we have to burrow under the covers together to keep from shivering, when our eyes are heavy and our bodies feel lax, she cuddles up to me, sticking her little nose into the skin below my ear.

"I love you, Sara."

"Good," I say, and we fall asleep.





She walks ahead of me as we make our way to the dining hall. She swings her bag at her knees, and she moves jauntily, as if she's half-skipping, and half-walking.

She smiles at everyone who passes us, and all the boys try to catch her eye, but she only looks back at me, sauntering with my hands in my pockets to keep from grabbing her by the waist, and winks.

She's wearing a little sundress, the kind with the ties behind the neck that's backless. When she turns to look at me, the sides go a little slack, and I can see the sides of her unfettered breast. She laughed in the morning as she tossed her bra away, and joked that she didn't need it in the league she had joined.

We had agreed that there was no need to tell anyone just yet, and that we probably wouldn't tell her parents for a little while. They wouldn't react right anyway.

Her hair swings around her face as she moves, and it touches her shoulders teasingly. I know I'm smiling more than I usually do, and the few people who recognize me give me a few strange looks.

What can I say, but look at her!

She's my best friend. She's my confidant. She's my hopes and dreams.

She's my lover. She's my only one. She's my joy.

aw. *has nothing else to say* meep. that was boring, sorry...








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