Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December Synopsis

December begins with Rachel, Jeff, and Callie getting together to watch Elf.  There is clearly still a lot of tension between them but after some squabbling, they get the film on and can relax and enjoy it.  When it's over, Andrew shows up which makes Callie go immediately to bed.  Rachel starts to follow suit, but Jeff suggests she stick around since it's band-related:  Andrew has come to pick up the sheet music for all the songs they'd written that year because he's being interviewed for an article in The Improper Bostonian.  AND the band has been asked to perform live on Christmas Eve on a Boston radio station.  

After Andrew leaves, Jeff and Rachel have a heart to heart about the precarious status of her relationship with Andrew -- and Jeff believes they will ultimately work it out.  The conversation shifts to how Jeff feels about Callie's transgression (he's willing to work with it) and how he loved her no matter what.  He tells her he's sure she'll find the same kind of bond with someone some day.

A few days later, Rachel goes to visit Kevin at work and he unwittingly reveals that Andrew and Callie once had sex.  Rachel is completely shocked and pissed off by the news and goes home to confront Callie who can't believe this particular cat got out of the bag.  Rachel then storms over to Andrew's apartment and confronts him about it, too.  He's a little more "who cares?" about it which only infuriates Rachel more.

Not long after that, Rachel decides to move out and goes to look at an apartment in Brighton.  After finding something she likes, she calls David to tell him the news.  David wants to know what prompted this decision so she tells him about what's been going on -- Callie and OK Cupid and cheating and Callie and Andrew...  David is surprised by all of this but tells her to hang in there and that he will be in town soon to spend the holidays with them.  Rachel goes home then and tells Jeff and Callie that she's moving out.  Jeff is supportive while Callie is resistant.

Rachel is at work when she gets the call that her credit has been approved -- the Brighton apartment is hers!  Cindy gives her a gentle but firm talking to about the real motivation for moving and reminds her that when things settle down she might regret this hasty decision.  Rachel takes her words to heart.

That evening at band practice, everyone's in kind of a "meh" mood.  During a break, Andrew calls Rachel over to play a new song he wrote -- and Rachel is surprised to learn he's used a poem she wrote once about a particular time in their relationship as lyrics.  The guys all like the song so they start to work on it right away.

After rehearsal, Rachel and Andrew find themselves alone after he plays her the "Moonlight Sonata," they have a heart to hear about their relationship where it is clear that they love each other and want to get back on track, but Rachel is too concerned about his relationship with Wendy and how she doesn't want to end up "running along side" their relationship and she pushes him to be more specific about how the love he feels for Wendy is different than the love he feels for her.  He can't articulate it and instead opts to leave. Rachel then heads over to Fred's to ask him for some advice.  He basically tells her that sometimes love just isn't enough but that he thinks it will work out for the best.

Before Rachel knows it, it's Christmas Eve and time for the radio broadcast.  She stops by to see Kevin briefly after work and then heads to the radio station where she runs into Callie and David who tell her where to go.  The broadcast goes fine except that the radio show host seems to be featuring Andrew and not the band.  After they go off the air, most of the band members are kind of pissed at him and they end up leaving him all alone.

Rachel, Callie, David, and Jeff go to Raymond's where their collective bad mood continues.  It doesn't get better when Martin comes in and sits at a table across the bar.  David is the only one who doesn't know who he is, but learns when Rachel goes off on Callie about how she lives this crazy charmed life.  Rachel gets up to leave and David offers to walk her home.  On the walk, David listens to what Rachel has to say and then gently reminds her of all the hardship Callie has suffered in her life which affects her ability to see how off the mark she was with her OK Cupid scheme.  He reminds her that, even though what she did was wrong, her intentions were good and he asks Rachel to be mad as long as she needs to -- as long as she's not mad forever.  This softens Rachel a bit and she does her best to make amends with Callie on Christmas Day.

A few days later, Callie is even helping Rachel pack, becoming supportive of her cousin's decision to move.  They come across a box of old photos of a Halloween party -- including ones of Rachel and Andrew.  Callie tries to put a positive spin on the situation but it just makes Rachel feel reflective.

On New Year's Eve, Callie gets David and Jeff to go to yoga with her, leaving Rachel to finish packing.  Her phone rings and it's Andrew asking to meet up because he's got something to tell her.  She agrees to meet him later that afternoon.

When they meet up, it's like old times, easy and fun.  Rachel finally asks him why he needed to see her and he tells her his New Year's Resolution is to make things right between them.  Rachel is touched but realistic, asking if he thinks it's actually possible.  He admits he doesn't know -- but he knows he needs things to be OK between them, something Rachel needs as well, so they agree to try.

The story ends a couple of months in the future, after the article has come out in The Improper (Andrew gives the band a ton of credit for their role in everything) and the newly instituted Sunday Night Dinners at Callie and Jeff's, attended weekly by all of the usual suspects, but always ending up with just Callie, Jeff, Rachel, and Andrew, something that makes Rachel feel incredibly happy.


December 31st

The next few months flew by as Rachel successfully moved across the river to Brighton (with only the occasional emotional breakdowns about leaving her beloved Somerville), Callie's belly swelled to the size of a tiny unborn human, and the band started to gig more and more.  The article about Andrew had come out in The Improper Bostonian in the first January issue and Rachel had been more than pleased that the editors had chosen to highlight the following quotable:

"I've been on the music scene a long time," Blaire said.  "But this group we have now is total collaboration -- it's so much more than just me.  We write together, we perform together, we fight, we play, we love.  We're family and we will just keep getting stronger."

Ultimately, the best part about moving was the new tradition it created:  Rachel made the trek to Jeff and Callie's apartment every Sunday evening for a big potluck-style dinner.  Everyone came over -- all the guys from the band and their "plus one's," Kevin and Lloyd, Dena, Cindy and her husband, even occasionally Fred (though never Lisa).  The one time Wendy was in town on a Sunday, she came, too, and though it wasn't without its bumps, Rachel could sense they all were trying.  What else could any of them do?  And when dinner was over, everyone would slowly depart until it was just Callie, Jeff, Andrew, and Rachel -- even the week Wendy was in town, she left with Fred.  The four of them would sit and talk and laugh -- and argue occasionally -- and it warmed Rachel inside and out that they could still be this way together.  Those nights, she typically stayed over in her old room which was slowly being converted into a nursery.  It wasn't until shortly before the baby -- predicted to be a girl they were already calling Millicent Christine after the twins' respective mothers -- was born that Rachel looked over at Callie one Sunday night in a panic and said, "Where will I sleep after Baby Millie arrives?"  Callie had reached over and patted her cousin's arm.  "When the baby arrives, none of us will be sleeping for quite some time, dear," she said prettily.  Rachel laughed and then let herself sink back into the couch to be an observer for awhile, happy to be part of this family.


Big special thanks to Kate, Carly, Rebecca, Kristen, 
Meredith, Cemile, Bob, and Natane, my most consistent voters.

Bigger thanks to Shelby for being part of the conversation that instigated the initial plot line.

Biggest thanks of all to Aprill who gave me the idea 
to write a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure in the first place!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

December 30th

Rachel purposefully arrived at Raymond's five minutes after three and felt a warm sludgy hope roll through her when she saw Andrew was already there, sitting at the bar, staring absently at the television, chewing his nails like he did while he idled.  The beer in front of him was half gone which told her he'd probably even arrived early, something much more her M.O. than his.  She hesitated a moment before walking over and sitting down beside him.

"Hey," she said, sliding out of her coat.

He looked over at her with an almost shy smile.  "Hey," he said.

They sat there in silence for half a second before he lurched over to give her a tight embrace.  

"Happy New Year's Eve," he said into her ear.

She lingered in his arms for a moment longer than she really thought was appropriate before pulling back and returning, "Happy New Year's Eve to you, too."

Kayla came over at that moment to ask for her order and she opted for a beer.  While they waited for her drink to arrive, Andrew started chit chatting about a co-worker that was always worth a story or two and then, after her beer arrived, rolled into an anecdote about Christmas at his parents' house and then they decided to order a snack with their second round of drinks and before Rachel knew it, an hour had gone by and she suddenly stopped mid-laugh and put a hand on his arm.

"You said you needed to see me," she said slowly.  "There was a reason you called."

Andrew froze for a moment before nodding.  "Yeah, we were just having fun...  So I went with that," he said.

Rachel searched his eyes.  "Understandable," she said.  "It's been awhile since we've just sat and talked about nothing and laughed..."

"I'm glad we still can," Andrew said.  "That makes this next part easier."

"What 'next part'?" Rachel asked.

Andrew leaned back in his chair and rubbed his hands together.  "I've been thinking," he said delicately.  "About everything.  All of this...stuff between you and me.  And I've made a decision."

Rachel sat up a little straighter.  "Oh?" she asked.

Andrew nodded.  "Last year I made a somewhat selfish New Year's Resolution -- to get my music on the radio.  And that happened -- with big thanks to you..."

Rachel blushed a little.  "Who knew people would like our song so much..." she said.

"I knew," Andrew said with a little grin.  "And this year I'm making another selfish New Year's Resolution whose success will take your help once again."

"Really..." Rachel said.

Andrew pressed one hand over his heart while the other went up like a boy scout pledge.  "In 2015, my goal is to make things right with you, no matter what."  He relaxed out of his pose and put a hand on her shoulder.  "I won't let Wendy or the band or your cousin or anyone else get in the way of this rebuilding project.  I'm making you a priority and I am going to find a way to for us to get back on track.  It's important to me and I can only hope it's important to you.  So...  whaddya say?  You in?" he asked.

Rachel blinked at him.  "Did you know that Callie's New Year's Resolution last year was to 'save' me from you?" she asked.

Andrew's smile faded.  "No...  I didn't know that..."

"It was," Rachel said.  "She was determined to find me a new man -- a boyfriend -- to liberate me from the hold you have on me.  She created a fake OK Cupid profile with my name and my picture and my information and she responded to interested parties as if she were me.  And she even met up with at least one of them.  Who knows if there were more..."

"Seriously?" Andrew said.

Rachel nodded.  "That's how convinced she was that I needed to get away from you.  And the thing is, none of the problems we had this year even played into this insane plan of hers.  We caused our own problems time and time again..."

"I guess so," Andrew said.

"Was that something you wanted this year?" Rachel asked.  "Did you want to fight with me all the time?"

"Of course not," Andrew said.

"So I can't help but wonder...  With this plan of yours...  What makes you think it will work?" Rachel asked.

"I don't know if it will work at all," Andrew confessed.  "I just need it to."

Rachel's mind spun wildly as she thought about all of the reasons she should say no, get up, run away, and never look back.  But her heart took over as she smiled at him.  "Me, too," she said.

"That's all that matters then," he said, holding up his beer.  "Let's cheers and get back to normal, OK?"

Rachel clinked her glass with his.  "Sounds like a plan," she said softly, her insides shaking, as he launched into a new story.

a)  Andrew spends NYE with Rachel, Callie, David, and Jeff
b)  Skip to:  a short time in the future
c)  After Andrew and Rachel part ways, Rachel walks home alone

Monday, December 29, 2014

December 29th

New Year's Eve started with Callie dragging David and Jeff to class at Equal Standing.  "I promise we can have croissants afterwards," she'd said as they made faces.  Rachel had chuckled at them as she waved goodbye.  "Hey, if you'd rather stay here and pack my stuff for me..." she offered as Callie scowled.  "They are coming to yoga, and that is that!" she'd declared, prodding them out the door.

Rachel retreated to her box-filled bedroom and surveyed the work that still had to be done.  She'd leave her bed for the morning so it was mostly knickknacks and clothing that was left on that day's agenda.  It was hard to believe that in only twenty-four hours, she'd be a Brighton resident.  Somerville had been her home for so long, it was hard to think about all of the things she'd have to learn -- where the cheap grocery store is and which liquor store was the best and which neighbors were nice.  Rachel shivered a little and wondered if maybe she should have gone to yoga with the rest of her family and put off all this panicky thinking until after she was left alone in her new place in a foreign land tomorrow.  

Before she could make the snap decision to hop into yoga pants and chase after them, her phone rang and she leaned over to pick it up, her face flinching a little when she was saw who was on the caller ID.

"Hello?" she answered.

"Hey, how you doin'?" Andrew's voice replied softly.

Rachel smiled a little.  "OK.  How you doin'?" she echoed back.

"OK," he said.  "How you doin'?"

She shook her head, familiar with this routine.  "What can I do for you, Andrew?" she asked.

"I was wondering...  Um...  I was wondering if you were free to hang out with me this afternoon," he said.

Her breath caught for a moment before a long exhale.  "Oh," she said in a tiny voice as her eyes skipped around her mostly-packed room.  "I'm kind of in the middle of packing..."

"What do you have left -- the stuff in your closet and those weird figurines your mom gives you at Christmas?" Andrew deadpanned.

"They are Swarvski Crystal and I love them," Rachel said in mock defense.

"What did you get this year -- a swan?" Andrew teased.

"Noooo....  A goose," Rachel corrected.

Andrew laughed.  "You pick the time," he said, getting serious again after a moment.  "I'm free all day."  He paused a moment.  "I really need to see you, Rach."

"To apologize for being such a douche on the radio?" she asked.

"That wasn't my fault," Andrew said with a heavy voice.  "But if you need an apology for that... Then, OK, I apologize."

"Three o'clock," Rachel sputtered.

"What?" Andrew asked.

"Three o'clock, I can meet up with you then," she said.  "But I have to be back home for New Year's Eve dinner with my cousins and Jeff."

"OK, three o'clock it is," Andrew confirmed.  "Wanna keep it simple -- meet at Raymond's?"

"Sure," Rachel sighed.  "Raymond's at three.  See you then."

"See ya," Andrew said before hanging up.

Rachel chucked her phone on the bed and flopped down beside it.  "What have I just agreed to?" she asked out loud as the ceiling began to spin above her head.

a)  When Andrew and Rachel meet up, he tells her he is proposing to Wendy when he arrives in New Orleans.
b)  When Andrew and Rachel meet up, he tells her he is leaving the band -- because of her.
c)  When Andrew and Rachel meet up, he tells her his New Year's Resolution for 2015 is to make things right between them, no matter what.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

December 28th

The next few days passed by peaceably, especially Christmas Day where Rachel and David got up early to make breakfast for the entire group -- eggs benedict, Callie's favorite.  Rachel had put together a plate for her cousin and brought it to her bedroom door that morning, saying, "Santa came."  Callie had grinned sleepily as she got out of bed and wrapped her arms around her cousin in that awkward sideways angle that gave her the most access without upsetting the plate of food.  "I love Santa," she sighed in her cousin's armpit.  And from that moment on, things had felt more right between them.

Even in this moment with boxes everywhere and steam nearly coming out of Rachel's ears and she scrambled to pack up her world before her January first deadline, she felt better than she had in weeks as Callie stood surveying the mess being created and gave solid advice about a plan of action.

"I think if you pack these boxes with books and put pillows on top of them, that would be the best use of the space to weight distribution ratio," she said, tapping a finger on her nose.

Rachel nodded in agreement.  "I think you should go hang out with your brother instead of watching me corral dust bunnies," she said with raised eyebrows.

"He's watching football with Jeff, he's fine," Callie said, waving her off.

"I don't understand how there's football on every day," Rachel muttered, trying to shake a piece of tape off her finger.

"It keeps the men happy," Callie said with a shrug.

Rachel chuckled until she came across a shoebox of photos she'd failed for five years to put in an album.  She didn't need to take the lid off to know exactly what was in there, so she opted to shove it aside.

"What's that?" Callie asked, picking the box up and tipping the lid off.  "Oh," she added after a quick peek.

"Yeah," Rachel said.  

Callie pulled out a photo of Rachel and Andrew dressed as a playboy bunny and the unibomber, respectively.  "That was a fun Halloween," she said vaguely.

Rachel nodded miserably.  "It was," she agreed.

Callie shuffled through the box for a moment before slapping the lid back on and setting it back on the floor.  "Maybe you could just leave these and I could scrapbook them for you or something while I'm on maternity leave from the studio..."

"Or maybe we could just throw them away," Rachel said cynically.  "If I haven't done anything with them in five years, why should we do anything with them now?"

"Because they're good memories," Callie said.  

"Yeah, I suppose they are," Rachel said.

Callie leaned over and gave her cousin a kiss on the head.  "We still have lots more shoeboxes to fill up, kiddo," she said, rubbing her shoulders.

The vision of the photo of her face pressed smiling against Andrew's flashed through her mind and she sighed.  "Sure," she said sadly.  "Boxes and boxes of good times to come..."  

Callie rubbed her slightly bulging belly.  "New faces, maybe, but that's part of the fun," she said.

Out with the old... Rachel thought as she said out loud, "New adventures await us, that's for sure."

a)  Andrew calls Rachel on New Year's Eve day and asks to meet up
b)  Rachel calls Andrew on New Year's Eve day and asks to meet up
c)  Callie, Jeff, David, and Rachel hang out New Year's Eve day

Saturday, December 27, 2014

December 27th

"Let me walk you home," David said gently, also climbing to his feet.

"We'll be shortly behind you," Jeff said, giving his wife a long look.

Outside, David looped his arm through Rachel's and somehow just walking silently along side him calmed her.  She glanced sideways at him and felt the same pang of envy she always felt when she when she saw Callie and David huddled together in a siblings-only moment.  No matter how close Rachel was to either of them, she never felt like she was as in with them as they were with each other.  Yin and yang, Callie and David.  Rachel wondered how effectively he could read her mind -- he always knew what was on Callie's.

"I'm sorry we're being such grouches," she said after a few blocks.

David shrugged.  "It's OK.  I knew I was walking into a... situation," he said carefully.

"I shouldn't have thrown Callie under the bus like I did back there," she went on.  "But she just frustrates me.  Who gets away with stuff like she does?  I just try to be nice to people and fair and all I get is blindsided in return..."

"Callie hasn't always had it so easy," David reminded her.  "I'm sure there were lots of years she felt the same way about you that you now feel about her.  She would have given anything to have your mom as her mom.  She would have given anything to grow up in the home you grew up in.  And so would I, honestly.  I know that you know she's coming from a place of love and respect -- she really is.  She just didn't have a good example for how to translate that love and respect into something that was truly good."

Rachel thought about that for a long moment.  "She had my parents as examples," she said slowly.  "She had opportunities to learn..."

"It's not the same," David said definitively.  "Trust me, I lived in the home that created Callie and the only reason she turned out even remotely OK is your parents being nearby.  I know that you know what my mother put her through as a child, as a daughter, as a human.  I know that you know, at least academically, what her life was like before she moved to Boston.  But I witnessed it -- I lived it along side her.  And there wasn't a lot of love in our home.  There was a lot of accusation and manipulation and passive-aggression.  And I know that never got better, not even when Mom was on her deathbed.  She was relentless with my sister, way worse than she ever was with me.  And our dad was so passive, so unwilling to get involved, it was like survival of the fittest for Callie and she did the best she could."  He paused and made Rachel turn to face him.  "I know that what she did to you was terrible, unconscionable.  But she was coming from a place of good -- her intentions were honorable, her actions were not.  She doesn't fully understand that.  I know you do.  And I know that someday you will forgive her and see what she did wasn't intending to be hurtful.  She was trying to help in a way that only people with truly fucked up senses of how to achieve right versus wrong would try to help.  She loves you -- so much. You will never know how much.  You are the sister she always wanted."

Rachel smiled wryly here.  "I was just thinking about how you were the brother I always wanted..."

He grinned back at her.  "I am your brother, just as my sister is your sister.  We're family, both in the sense of blood and in the sense of eternal commitment to each other.  And as your brother, I am asking you to let yourself be angry at Callie for as long as you need to -- as long as it's not forever," he said pointedly.

"I'll try," Rachel said, her gaze sweeping towards the ground.

"That's all anyone can ask another person to do," David said, linking arms with her again to resume their walk.

Rachel's footsteps swerved a moment as she said, "We're watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation the moment we return home and we are continuing to get hammered, OK?"

David laughed.  "Challenge accepted," he said, picking up the pace before letting go of her arm to sprint ahead.

"Hey, wait for me!" Rachel yelped, chasing after him, feeling the burden starting to lift already.

a)  Skip to: Christmas
b)  Skip to: after Christmas