Notes and disclaimers: One Tree Hill and characters property of large corporate entities and not me. No profit garnered ever. Thanks to Tigs and Signe. Title from the Spice Girls.
CHICAS TO THE FRONT
But Rachel swallowed her annoyance at the unfairness of it, squared her shoulders, put her chest forward and sucked in her tummy. She walked right up to Brooke. "Hey, Fats," she said.
"Hey, Slut," Brooke squealed and then hugged Rachel. "Oh my God, Rachel. I didn't know you'd be here! You know, you could send an email or something. Or reply to them."
Rachel stepped back and deliberately crossed her arms under her breasts. They were one of her best features. "I could. But I suck at keeping in touch."
Brooke totally checked her out. Rachel grinned, and kept staring at Brooke. She said, "You think I look hot."
"You do look hot. That's my skirt," Brooke said. She looked proud. It made her glow.
Rachel tugged her sweater down to show the top of her breasts and the edge of lace on her bra cups. "This is yours, too. I saw you went into underwear."
"Victoria's Secret." Brooke giggled. "Thank you," she said, sober again. "I owe you, you know."
"I know," Rachel said. "You completely owe me. But it was my pleasure. And at some point, I'll collect my ten percent."
"Ten percent?" Brooke hooked her thumbs in her belt, hips forward and ready for a fight. Rachel laughed in her head. "One percent, maybe. Maybe. I did okay in calculus in college, you know. No cheating there."
"You were never stupid." Rachel stepped forward and tucked Brooke's hair behind her ear. It was funny watching her almost shy away and almost lean into it. "Chill, Brooke, I'm kidding. You don't owe me anything."
"Yeah," Brooke said. "I really don't. Well, a little. But a really little." Brooke reached into her purse and pulled out her wallet. "I think we should get coffee. Or something. And catch up. Since you suck at keeping in touch and you will never believe what is going on with Mouth now."
Rachel followed Brooke to the tiny coffee house next to the hotel. She made sure Brooke got a nice long look at her Chanel purse as she paid for her white mocha. "Your parents pay for that?" Brooke pointed at the purse.
"I did," Rachel said. "I'm working as buyer now. For a store you might have heard of, but I don't remember what backwater college you're at now."
"Uh, F.I.T. Hi, not backwater. I can't believe you still do that," Brooke said. She frowned.
"People don't change," Rachel said. She sipped her mocha. "Me in two minutes is: I work for Barney's. After Tree Hill, my parents locked me in some prep school and I managed to get into Sarah Lawrence. Dropped out after three semesters. Then I bummed around New York and got the job at Barney's. And now we're caught up." Rachel smiled. "It is good to see you. And I was just teasing, I knew you were at F.I.T. It's really cool."
"It really is. And so is Barney's, you bitch. That's awesome. That's why you're here at the conference, right?"
"Yup." Rachel fiddled with the clasp on her purse and thought about how people didn't change. Maybe that was true of most people, including Brooke and Rachel. Maybe they did. She said, "And I knew you'd be here. I saw you were on that panel."
"Did you come?" Brooke leaned in close enough Rachel could see the sparkle in her eyeshadow. She probably knew exactly which brand it was. But that was all distraction and bullshit.
"I did. I sat in the back. It was really incredibly boring." Rachel shifted in the chair and smiled. "But you looked good. And you sounded five times smarter than that girl from Parsons. What was that?"
"Seriously," Brooke said. "It was like talking to Peyton about art, only without, you know, any of the good. Or the sexy."
"How is Peyton?" Rachel didn't actually care. Mostly, she didn't care.
"She's good," Brooke said. "Still with Lucas. No surprise there. And you didn't ask, but Haley and Nathan are still married, with two kids now and disgustingly happy. And Bevin is a political activist. Seriously a political activist, protesting and wearing hemp shirts or something and every time she talks to me, she tells me to buy a hybrid."
"You're making that up," Rachel said. "I know you are." Rachel remembered kissing Bevin and being high. Funny how all that had turned out.
"I'm not," Brooke said. She took a newspaper clipping out of her wallet. Because of course Brooke would keep something like that. She'd show it to everyone because she loved Bevin and she probably bragged about everything Bevin did. Rachel had bragged about knowing Brooke to a few people, so she leaned in and looked at the bad picture of Bevin with her sign and her short hair.
"So tell me about Mouth," Rachel said. Mouth she genuinely cared about.
"He's the Mayor. Of Tree Hill."
"Bullshit," Rachel said, laughing.
"No shit," Brooke said.
Rachel said, "That's great. That's, wow, that's perfect." It was wonderful. She would bet he was amazing at it, too. She put down her cup and stood up. "Come on, let's go back."
"Wanna see my hotel room?" Brooke looked up from under her lashes and Rachel knew that look. Funny how that turned out. But not surprising.
"Do you mean that?"
"What do you think?"
Rachel reapplied her lipstick and adjusted her shirt. It was stalling and distraction. "Are you serious?"
"Do you have anything to say that isn't a question?"
Brooke was standing next to her, staring her down. Rachel said, "Do you?"
"So, with Peyton, it turns out all that weird lesbian subtext was totally there, but also totally one-sided. My one, her not interested that way side. But then I was at F.I.T. and it was a lot easier to find other girls who were interested that way. And they didn't all insist on wearing really ugly shoes just because they were vegan or something. And you went to Lesbian U, so when I say wanna see my hotel room, I'm pretty sure you know what I mean. And none of that was a question, so, your turn." Brooke stepped closer.
Rachel said, "Let's see that hotel room."
The first kiss was in the elevator and Rachel didn't have one flashback to Bevin. She thought about Brooke and how good she smelled and felt. Brooke was always a well-made, well-designed hot piece of ass and she managed to kiss better and hotter than she looked. She didn't just kiss, she grabbed Rachel's ass and pressed against her. "You've done well at F.I.T.," Rachel said when she pulled back as the elevator doors opened. She took a deep breath and tried to walk straight like she wasn't weak in the knees.
"Right back atcha," Brooke said, adjusting her shirt. "I knew it."
Rachel stopped at the door. "You knew it," she said. She took a deep breath and said, "Maybe I can't do this."
"What?" Brooke turned in the open door.
"Not with you," Rachel said. "You're not -- Brooke, what are we doing here?"
"I was hoping we would go into my hotel room and have some fun. Did you spend too much time with the Clean Teens? Do they have those at Barney's or something?"
"Brooke, you're not fun. You're not just fun," Rachel said. She felt like she was talking through a fog and she'd clearly gone completely insane somewhere in this hallway. She didn't turn down fun. Rachel was all about fun. But she heard herself saying, "I've been thinking about this. I have. But I don't want to just go to your hotel room."
Brooke squinted. "You're in love with me."
"I didn't say that."
"I was never stupid."
Rachel fought the urge to run. "I'm so not in love with you. I just want more from you. But that's not happening, so I'm going to leave. Now."
She turned but Brooke grabbed her arm. "No, you're totally not. I've been sending you emails for five years, missy, you don't think I've been thinking about this? I'm Brooke Davis. I get what I want, remember? You're always going on about how people don't change and you know what? You're stupid. You change, I change, we all do. We get better or we get worse, but nobody stays the same. And we can totally do this and then, we can go back to New York and do it again. And it's totally going to be fun. It's going to rock your world, Rachel."
Rachel blinked and felt the fog slipping away. "After that, I'm going to be disappointed if I can walk tomorrow."
"So will I," Brooke said, laughing. She walked into the room without looking back, her hips swaying on purpose. Rachel followed, bubbling inside.
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