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14 July 2008 @ 03:11 am
Orange Soda  

Title: Orange Soda
Word Count: 1,020
Rating: PG at most
Disclaimer: I don't own Alias; nor do I own Campbell's (makers of Spaghetti-Os)
Summary: This is set pretty early in season 5

Without realizing it, Sydney forgets many things about Rachel. Somewhere along the line, Rachel stopped being the girl who lost everything, the pawn in everyone's game, the shy kid with the preternatural intelligence, and just became Rachel. Sydney forgets that those other things are also part of Rachel. She forgets how young Rachel is. She forgets that Rachel is no where near thirty; that when Rachel says "when I was a teenager," she's only talking about a few years ago instead of a completely different decade.

Sydney suddenly remembers acutely all of the things Rachel has been when she comes home earlier than expected after dinner with her father. She finds Rachel sitting on the floor in front of the coffee table, her right foot tucked under her and her left knee pulled to her chest with her long blond hair pulled back in a pony tail. Rachel is eating a supper of Spaghetti-Os and orange soda while reading a novel. Rachel looks up and blushes: the color starts in her cheeks and spreads all the way up to her hairline. Sydney can't decide if she wants to laugh at her or hug her. She smiles.

"What are you reading?"

Rachel is mortified. She had promised to go to the grocery store, so of course she did, and she got healthy food, pregnant-people food. She checked all the labels to make sure nothing she bought included caffeine, and she tried not to buy things with high fructose corn syrup (just because it was infamously unhealthy). Sydney was supposed to be home late. Rachel was on her own for dinner, and it had been a hell of a week following a hell of a month following years of living a lie. So she had gotten kid food, comfort food that she was going to enjoy along with her book, and she was going to have cleaned everything up long before Sydney got home. But Sydney's home early, and seeing her eat food that is only supposed to appeal to eight-years-olds, food that Sydney probably won't ever let her kid eat, because Sydney's going to be one of those responsible moms with a super healthy, super smart kid. And Rachel knows that Sydney already thinks she's a child, already thinks she's an idiot most of the time, and the fact that she's blushing because she's embarrassed and because it's Sydney who's absolutely perfect is certainly not helping on the Let's Keep Rachel from Making a Fool Out of Herself front. And Sydney asked her a question.

"Ender's Game. They had it in the grocery store with the books and magazines, and it was my favorite book when I was a teenager, so..."

There it is again, Sydney thinks. "When I was a teenager." She fights the urge to say "So that was three years ago, right?" and instead just smiles. She notices that Rachel's blush deepens, and she wonders about that. She knows that Rachel has a crush on her--everyone who works with them knows that Rachel has a crush on her--but she doesn't think it's anything else, and she keeps expecting it to go away. Only now Rachel looks mortified, staring steadily at the coffee table, not at her book, or at the Spaghetti-Os, which Sydney wonders how she can eat because they taste like plastic, but then Rachel probably had them growing up so they make her feel at home. Sydney doesn't want Rachel to run away, or think that she's judging her, so she stops her contemplation.

"I've never read it. Can I borrow it when you're done?"

"Yeah. You can borrow it now; I've read it so many times that I pretty much have it memorized."

Rachel is relieved because they're talking again, and Sydney is smiling, but not laughing, at her. And she can look back up at Sydney, because they're having a conversation, and eye contact is appropriate. Rachel knows she's turning a really unattractive shade of red; she can feel her face warming up. But then she always blushes around Sydney, and she can't do anything about it (God knows she's tried). Maybe Sydney thinks that she has naturally luminescent skin--which is ridiculous, and Sydney's not a moron, but Rachel can always hope.

Rachel stands up to hand Sydney the book. She is serious when she says that Sydney can borrow it, not that she expects Sydney will have time to read it, because Sydney's always busy saving the world. And Rachel needs to do something besides sit on the floor and think about being caught eating Spaghetti-Os and drinking orange soda by the most sophisticated woman she knows. Sydney takes the book and then reaches out to rub Rachel's upper arm encouragingly.

"Thanks. I'll give it a try. It might take me a while, though. Things have been pretty busy."

"There's plenty of time."

Sydney is surprised that her left hand tingles a little as she touches Rachel's arm. She's surprised that she holds Rachel's eyes a little longer than is absolutely necessary and that she notices how beautiful Rachel is as they stand there. Sydney had not expected to watch Rachel as she bends over to pick up her dishes, nor had she planned for her eyes to follow Rachel as she walks into the kitchen. Sydney realizes, with a start, that Rachel is not beautiful like some college kid or some defenseless girl, but beautiful like a woman.

Rachel knows that Sydney is watching her; she can feel Sydney's eyes on her back as she walks away. Rachel's glad Sydney can't see her face, because it means she doesn't have to try to control her smile. She only has to concentrate on not dropping her dishes or giggling out loud, because Rachel knows she's obvious, but that would just be pathetic. "Sydney is looking at me," Rachel thinks as she rinses her dishes and puts them in the dishwasher. Rachel feels like one of the coolest people alive. Until she looks at herself in the mirror and sees the orange mustache the soda left on her upper lip.


thrace_: rachel gibsonthrace_ on July 14th, 2008 08:41 am (UTC)
This ended on a perfect note. Rachel = totally adorkable.
per_maybe_haps on July 14th, 2008 09:07 am (UTC)
Thanks. I always felt like I probably over-identified with Rachel on that front.
Janinefembuck on July 15th, 2008 01:45 am (UTC)
OMG! This is made of win. I love it. Sydney's thoughts on Rachel being so young, Rachel's complete and utter adorableness, Sydney noticing that Rachel is a gorgeous geeky fox, just everything was so... so Sachel!
per_maybe_haps on July 15th, 2008 06:00 am (UTC)
Thanks! I'm really glad you enjoyed it.
murasaki1200murasaki1200 on July 15th, 2008 02:07 am (UTC)
Awww, Sydney/Rachel goodness. So cute! These two were the best thing about s5.
per_maybe_haps on July 15th, 2008 06:01 am (UTC)
Glad you liked.
(Deleted comment)
per_maybe_haps on July 15th, 2008 06:02 am (UTC)
Thanks. I never understood why more people didn't get into Sydney/Rachel, but then it was the end of the show...
rtmsrtms on September 21st, 2008 01:40 am (UTC)
Wonderful story, you captured their releationship perfectly. Rachel was so young then.