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Summary: McKinley High has never seen anything quite like the Scrappies. Interconnected one-shots. **On Permanent Hold as of 12/13/11**

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Television > GleeJadedFR181648,7751921874,1478 Dec 1012 Aug 11No


Author: Jaded
Story: Shaken, Not Stirred
Disclaimer: Joss owns Buffy, Glee is owned by Fox. I write for fun, not for profit.
Summary: McKinley High has never seen anything quite like the Scrappies. Interconnected one-shots.
One Shot Summary: A new student is at McKinley High can't keep her mouth shut...
Warning: SPOILERS for “Auditions”
A/N 1: So I was sitting in class, exhausted cause I'd been up since 4am that morning finishing a paper and I suddenly got inspired for a second part for McKinley High Shake Up that was less about Rachel and more about Kurt. I had six pages written out by the time class ended. Then I thought of another one with Puck and a third with Santana. So I decided I could do something like what I did with Tales from Atlantis, with interconnected one-shots. All deal with the changes brought to McKinley High with the four transfers and Spike in town...I may or may not do one for each of the Glee kids. We'll see how it goes. :)
A/N 2: This first one is basically because I've always had a beef with how Rachel's constantly getting the label of black sheep in New Directions—even when they say they're family, Rachel seems to take the brunt of everyone's irritation. “Audition,” the season 2 opener, only reinforced this belief in me.


“Mr. Schuester?”

Will looked up to find one of the new exchange students from Cleveland standing in the doorway of his office. Long brown hair, tall, obviously athletic, he'd heard Puck declaring he'd get her eventually. He didn't have her in any of his Spanish classes because she'd tested out of them all—he was still trying to figure out how she'd managed that.

“Dawn, right? Dawn Summers?”

“Yeah,” she agreed, stepping into the room. “Can I talk to you about something?”

“We do have a guidance Counselor if you need...”

“It's about your Glee students,” she broke in and he frowned.

“What about them?” Did she know something he didn't?

She quietly closed the door before turning to him. “I'm new here and honestly, I'm only staying so long as I have to—I'll most likely be transferring out after Christmas, if not before then.”

“Okay, what does that have to do with my...”

“Your Glee club is horrible!” she told him sharply.

“You're new, you haven't heard us perform...”

“No, not musically, that's not what I meant, I was at Regionals, I know you guys can perform,” she waved it away and he frowned again. “Why do you think Rachel did what she did?”

“What do you mean?”

“Sunshine? Why do you think she sent her to the crack house?”


“Rachel was jealous and what she did was stupid and wrong, I don't dispute that,” Dawn broke in again before Will could say anything. “But I was at Sunshine's audition, I've seen the way your group treats Rachel, and as I said before, I've heard her sing. She's better than Sunshine.”

“Well, I wouldn't go that far--”

“She is.” Will was really starting to wish she'd stop breaking in and let him speak. “She is better and you know it. But none of Glee club, including you, have treated Rachel the same way you treated Sunshine a her audition. When Rachel is barely tolerate her presence, mostly I suspect because all of you know she's your ticket to going to Nationals. But a team is more than that. When you show respect and admiration to Sunshine when you don't show it to it any wonder Rachel's been upset? She's finally realizing that you don't like her; you like her performance ability. And that's why you lose out.”

“Lose out?”

“I dance, have since I was a kid,” she explained. “Vi sings, so does Rona, when we can get her on stage. And Mikaela trained in New York, under some of the best vocal and dance teachers there are.”

“Why didn't we see you at auditions?” he asked, panic blooming in his chest. If what she said was true, they could totally use these girls at Nationals.

“Because we left in disgust,” Dawn told him bluntly. “We'll never join Glee because you don't practice what you preach when it comes to acceptance. We have better things to do that be in a club that'll walk all over one of its members just because her personality is different than their own.”


For the next couple days, Will watched New Directions, watched how they interacted with each other. More importantly, he watched how they interacted with Rachel and came to the uncomfortable conclusion that Dawn had been right; they did treat Rachel differently. It was a wonder they hadn't lost her yet—she could have gone to any other school, hell, she could have gone to Carmel, and most likely been more accepted than she was at McKinley.

He also came to the conclusion that there might be other students, like the four transfers, that may have joined Glee if they hadn't seen how the others treated Rachel.

He saw too that for all their team/family spirit, they were still very much divided. They were paired up, which he supposed was normal for high school students, but they were also separated by social boundaries; Santana, Quinn, Brittany, Puck, and Mike tended to sit clumped together (less so for Mike now that he was dating Tina but still). Mercedes, Kurt, Tina, and Artie sat together (again, less so for Artie now that he and Tina had broken up). Finn and Rachel sat apart from both groups most of the time and Will had the feeling it was because of Rachel's outcast status.

Walking into the choir room a few days after Dawn's visit, his eyes went immediately to where the pint-sized soprano was sitting with Finn and took note of the fact the football player was in between her and the rest of New Directions. The boy might not realize just what he was doing but Will certainly did; he was trying to protect Rachel.

“Alright, everyone, listen up!” he called out, going to the white board. He wrote FRIENDSHIP and ACCEPTANCE in big block letters. “I have a new assignment for you this week. Friendship. All of us have them, in some form. But true friendship...that is what will get us to Nationals. Accepting everything, the good, the bag, and the ugly.”

“Like Rachel's outfits,” heard Santana whisper to Britanny.

“And that is exactly what this assignment is about,” he said, staring at Santana. “You guys are always preaching about acceptance and family but there are still aspects of each other that you consistently put down, either vocally or simply by your behavior. Things like calling Rachel's unique fashion sense ugly or bad or the gay comments I've heard some of you say. That's not acceptable behavior from friends.”

More than one person was now looking uncomfortable, meaning they knew they were guilty of doing something not-so-friendly. It only served to make him more upset though, as they should know better by now.

“Don't think I'm not proud of how far you guys have come, because I am,” he assured them. “But we still have a long way to go to get to where we need to be to place at Nationals.”

“So what is the assignment, Mr. Schue?”

“You are to find songs that deal with friendship and acceptance—any genre, any type, I don't care. But it has to be about friends and/or acceptance. And you'll be doing it in pairs.”

Almost immediately, he saw the kids latch onto each other and he frowned. There were all the pairs he'd been expecting, which meant they were getting into a rut when it came to choosing partners.

“I, however, will be choosing,” he said and within moments, everyone was complaining except for Rachel, who was looking at everyone with resigned expression.

“Mercedes, who was the first person you thought of when you wanted to do a friend song?” he asked, raising his voice.

“Kurt, duh,” she replied as everyone calmed down. He nodded.




“Finn.” That didn't terribly surprise Will, as he knew about the whole football and Tina deal.





“How often have you worked with the person you just chose?” Will asked. “Last year and so far this year?”

Artie, unsurprisingly, was the one who got it first. Slowly, everyone else did as well. Will nodded. “I'll be assigning partners because I want you out of your comfort zone for this; if we're supposed to be a family, then prove it to me.”

His pairings were as random and out there as he could possibly make them, which caused more than one “Is he serious?” looks.

“Mr. Schue, I wasn't assigned a partner,” Rachel said when he'd finished.

“I know and I have a specific song I'd like you to do; you're the only one with the appropriate range to do it,” he explained.

More than one person looked insulted but Rachel beamed at him.

After practice, he was gathering up the sheet music they'd been going through when Mercedes came up to him. “Sir, are we going back to giving Ms. Diva all she wants because if so...”

“The fact you didn't use Rachel's name right there means you didn't catch what this assignment's about, Mercedes,” he said, breaking in. She looked taken aback and he sighed. “A few days ago I was pointed to the fact that no one here shows Rachel the respect and admiration you show each other so easily. Do you think Rachel would have given Sunshine the wrong address if even one of us had shown her the acceptance you all showed Sunshine without hesitation? She was jealous, yes, but would she have been jealous if we had shown acceptance of who she was, of her talent? If any of you had been honest to God friends? I don't think she would have. Sending Sunshine to a crack house was as much our fault as it was hers.”

Mercedes stared at him, stunned and he sighed. “I'm guilty of it too, Mercedes, but this has got to stop. You're the most vocal about us being a family—so why does Rachel automatically become the black sheep?”


“Mr. Schue? You said you had a song for me? Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize you had another student...”

Will looked up and motioned for Rachel to come in and sit down. “Rachel, this is one of our exchange students, Dawn Summers,” he introduced the other brunette. “Dawn, you already know who Rachel is; Rachel, Dawn saw our performance at Regionals.”

“Oh, you did?” she asked eagerly. Dawn nodded, a bemused look on her face; she obviously had no idea why Will had pulled her in for a conference.

“You were robbed of placing,” she said. She paused. “I'm pretty sure the voting was rigged.”

“Well, Coach Sylvestor has been trying to shut us down since we started...” Rachel began but Will cut her off.

“Actually, Sue was the reason we got another year,” he told her and Rachel couldn't have looked more shocked if she tried. “Yeah, that was about my reaction too. Apparently, she enjoyed trying to bring us down too much to let us just die.”

“That does sound like Coach Sylvestor,” Rachel said after a moment. “After five National titles, she might be feeling as if no one can give her a run for her money any longer, so she sees crushing Glee as a good way of getting back--”


“Yes, Mr. Schuester?”

“I got it,” he told her with a smile. She smiled back, cheeks pinkening. He turned to the other girl. “Alright, so, Dawn, I'm sure you're wondering why I called you here.”

“It had crossed my mind,” she responded dryly. “I don't tutor, by the way; I don't have the extra time.”

That distracted Will slightly. “Er...tutor?”

“I heard a couple of your Spanish kids saying you'd promised to get them tutors,” she explained. She paused. “I think they were on the Hockey team.”

“Karafsky, most likely,” Rachel murmured. “The one with the black eye?”

“Yeah, that was him,” she agreed. She smirked. “Good to know the name of the guy Vi hit.”

“Vi hit him?” Will asked, startled. Several teachers had asked what had happened but the guy refused to tell. Dawn snickered.

“He slapped her ass one too many times,” she explained as Rachel and Will stared at her, shocked. “She finally lost her temper and decked him.”

“Dawn, you really shouldn't tell me things like that,” he grimaced. “I should report it.”

“Fine,” Dawn said sweetly. “Then we'll just charge him with sexual harassment. And trust me, we'd win; my big brother is a former law firm CEO. Not to mention my sister is Ambassador Summers from the United Kingdom, who's rather close to President Hayes—I wonder, would McKinley High survive a federal investigation into the conduct of its students and teachers?”

“Er...Let's forget you told me Vi punched him,” he hastily said and she nodded, looking pleased.

“Good idea.”

“Getting back on track,” Will said, shaking away thought of an investigation that would most likely leave him without a job. “I don't need a tutor, though if you do get the time, let me know. How many languages do you know?”

“I speak about thirteen,” she shrugged. “And I can read another half dozen that doesn't have a vocal component.”

“What languages?” Rachel asked, intrigued. “I've studied music for years so I know the basics of several but...”

“I'm fluent in Spanish, Latin, French, Russian, German, two dialects of Chinese, Japanese, Greek, Arabic, Swahili, Fyarl, and Elvish,” she ticked off and Will's eyes widened. She smiled slightly. “And I can read Ancient Sumerian and Ancient Egyptian, among others.”

“How did you learn so many languages?” Rachel asked, shocked. “You can't be much older than me!”

“I'm eighteen and I was half-raised by a man with a doctorate in languages,” she explained. “And I just seem to have a natural knack for it.”

“We got off topic again,” Will sighed. He pulled out a thing of sheet music. “Rachel, this is the song I'd like you to perform.”

Rachel accepted it eagerly. Once she got a look at the title, however, her brow furrowed. Will watched Dawn lean over to take a peak.

“I don't understand,” Rachel said, looking up. “I though this weeks assignment was on friendship and acceptance?”

“It is,” he agreed as Dawn's mouth dropped open slightly. “This is about the latter. Can you do it?”

She stared at the paper a moment before placing it back on the desk and looked at him, her expression carefully neutral. “Mr. Schue, what, exactly, brought on this assignment?”

“Why do you want to know?” he asked, wondering if Mercedes had said something.

“I've...I know I've made mistakes,” she said quietly. “In hindsight, I should have dealt with my...dealt with Sunshine in a different manner.”

“Yes, you should have,” he agreed. He hesitated. “But we weren't guiltless either, Rachel.”

Her head snapped up, staring at him. “What?”

“I was recently pointed to the fact we don't give you the same respect and acceptance that we give the others,” he said with a sigh. “We've, myself included, have often treated you like the black sheep of Glee and that, I've decided, has got to stop. Like I said in practice, we're never going to get to Nationals until we start acting like the family we keep saying we are.”

“You're also losing out on getting new members because everyone see's how they tend to treat you,” Dawn pipped in. She smiled at Rachel warmly. “A couple of the other transfers considered Glee—I dance and have an okay voice—but we decided not to.”

“But why?” Rachel asked, shocked. “We can always use more dancers and vocalists! We need twelve to even qualify for Sectionals and, yes, we do rather need another guy to even things up between the two genders but I think at this point we'd accept pretty much anyone.”

“Thanks,” Dawn drawled but she didn't seem perturbed at Rachel's slight slip. It was a marked difference than how the glee kids would have handled it; they would have taken offense and pointed out, in a snappy way, that they weren't just anyone.

“That's why I called you in Dawn,” Will said. “Would you and the other girls you mentioned before be willing to help with this song?”


Will smiled as the two brunettes looked at each other. “Rachel will sing lead but you said Vi, Rona, and Mikaela sing too?”

“You want us to back up Rachel,” Dawn said. “Show them that they could have had us four if they hadn't acted so cliquey.”

“Yes,” he agreed. Rachel's mouth dropped open slightly.

“And you're hoping that by helping we'll have so much fun we'll reconsider and join,” Dawn added. She paused as Will shifted uncomfortably because, yes, he had. She smiled. “You're a sneaky one, Will Schuester. I like you.”


“Rachel, do you still need a ride?” Finn asked, coming up with Puck and Mike. He scratched at his neck uncomfortably. “Because, um.”

“We want to play Halo, Berry,” Noah broke in, rolling his eyes. “So, can you let loose that ball and chain for the night?”

Rachel's eyes narrowed at him. Yes, she knew she was difficult to deal with, especially since she had very specific beliefs in what constituted a good relationship, but that did not mean Finn was unable to do anything without asking her first. Really, she was controlling but not THAT controlling.

“As it so happens, I've been invited to go with the new transfers to the mall,” she said. “I was told to invite you Finn but as you already have plans, then I shall go alone.”

“Right, the news transfers asked you,” Noah said skeptically. Rachel gritted her teeth at the tone; Noah was probably her closest friend in Glee besides Finn but even he often treated her badly. It was something she'd long ago accepted as a consequence of her obviously superior talent.

Of course, that didn't stop it from hurting every single time.

“Rachel, you ready to go?” Dawn asked, coming up. Out of the corner of her eye, Rachel saw all three boys' eyes widen as they gaped stupidly. She focused back on Dawn, who was still speaking. “Vi and Rona are fighting over who's driving our car; personally, I prefer Rona as Vi's a maniac but since I'm going with you to give you directions to our house, I'm ignoring them. Hi Finn, guys I don't know the names of.”

Beyond her, Rachel could make out that Vivian and Rona were indeed arguing over a set of keys that were in the hands of a bemused looking Mikaela. Just as it seemed to be getting heated, Mikaela said something softly that had both girls turning the force of their glares on her. Rachel would have taken a step back but Mikaela just smiled.

“Mike,” the football player introduced himself when Noah appeared unable to speak, staring in surprise. “That's Puck.”

“Ah, so that's your names. Nice to meetcha. Dawn Summers,” Dawn said. She smiled briefly before turning. “ Ready to go Rach? The mall here probably isn't what I'm used to but...its a mall so it'll do.”

“Not what you're used to?” Rachel asked, curious. “What are you used to?”

“Rodeo Drive?” she suggested with a rather wry tone to her voice. “I lived in California till I was sixteen and was raised to shop by a couple of...well, lets just say I know how to shop and shop well. And I lived in Rome for a year as well so my style is...eclectic.”

“Your style is more concurrent to a typical teen than mine,” Rachel murmured, closing her locker. Dawn's outfit consisted of jeans that low hung on her hips and a AC/DC t-shirt with heeled boots and various pieces of jewelry—including a mis-match of religious and random pendents on a chord around her neck. She'd overheard Mercedes and Kurt dissecting the look earlier—they'd approved of everything but the necklace, which she wore everyday.

“Pssh,” Dawn waved it away as they started walking, leaving the boys to stare after them. “You rock that look, Rach. Though we could probably add a few accessories that are a bit more, ahem, adult.”

If any of the glee-clubbers had suggested such a thing, Rachel would have been instantly on her guard. Dawn's expression, however, was nothing but sincere and excited. Unlike Kurt, who'd tried making her over into a completely different person, Dawn was only suggesting adding to her style, to make it more contemporary. That, she mused mentally, was rather nice.

“We totally could,” Vivian said and for a moment Rachel wondered what she was talking about as they were too far away for the other three to have heard. “I have this really cute belt that would look awesome with that purple pleated skirt you wore the other day. I'll have to grab it for you.”

“'s yours,” Rachel said, staring in surprise. Vivian shrugged.

“I have plenty of belts and I actually don't have anything in my wardrobe that it'll go with,” she explained. “I got it mostly cause I thought it was really cute.”

“She does that a lot,” Rona snorted. “Half her closet she has because she thought it was 'cute.'”

“And what, exactly, is wrong with that?” Mikaela asked. Her eyes twinkled in mischievousness, which was a marked difference to her normally quiet and shy persona. “I think Vi's sense of what's cute is much more advanced than, say ... Andrew.”

Dawn and Rona cracked up laughing as Vivian huffed. Rachel only had to wonder briefly why that was funny. “Andrew is....I know its a stereotype but for a gay guy, Andrew's sense of fashion really needs work,” the redhead explained, smiling.

She nodded, getting it—sort of. They were making fun of Vivian's fashion sense but in a fun way, not a mean one. It was rather different than what she was used to.

“Alright, see you guys at the house,” Dawn waved them off and looked at Rachel as the three went in the direction of a black jeep. “Where to?”

“Over here,” Rachel murmured, catching Mr. Schue's surprised but pleased expression as they passed him. Her bright yellow VW Beetle was sitting alone in the corner of the parking lot.

“Oh, its so cute!” Dawn grinned. “Much better than Vi's Kia.”

“Vivian has a car as well?” Rachel asked, opening the back seat to put her backpack away. Dawn nodded.

“We have two cars between us, plus Spike's DeSoto he bought last year to replace his old one,” she explained. “I'm the only one allowed to drive it though, because he doesn't trust the other three not to wreck his Baby.”

As she slipped into the drivers side, Rachel caught the other girl rolling her eyes fondly. Feeling someone watching her, Rachel looked up and caught sight of Mercedes, Kurt, and Tina staring in surprise at her and Dawn. She resisted the urge to make face, instead choosing to smile friendly at them as she started the car.

“Who is Spike?”

“My big brother,” Dawn answered promptly. “He's our guardian while we're here for the semester.”

“Why are you here?” Rachel asked, pulling out of the parking lot and following the jeep in front of her. “I mean, Sunshine is a foreign exchange student but...”

She looked at the other brunette just in time to see her cringe slightly. “We, uh...we normally attend a private boarding school just outside Cleveland,” she explained. “We...may have, er, well, coming to Lima was sort of...punishment.”

“Punishment?” Rachel asked, perplexed. “For what?”

“We may have, er, accidentally caused our entire dorm building to, um, flood?” she asked more than stated. Rachel's mouth dropped open and Dawn slumped down in her seat. “Buffy and Giles decided we needed to remember how to act in a normal school and sent us here. To Spike. I think its punishment to him too, actually.”

“How so?” Rachel asked, trying to wrap her mind around that. Dawn seemed the most well-behaved teen she'd ever met; she was polite to everyone, even Coach Sylvestor, the cheerios, and the jocks. She could not see how Dawn had done what she'd admitted she'd done.

“Spike didn't tell Buffy something rather important and then disappeared for a while. We all thought he was dead for close to a year,” she explained darkly. Rachel glanced at her and caught her brighten up. “Buffy thought sending him four teenage girls to be guardian of was poetic justice. But don't ask why it makes sense, I've long stopped trying to figure out how my sister thinks.”

Rachel smiled slightly. A thought occurred to her as she put on her blinker to follow the jeep into a residential district that was home to the very wealthy. Not even Quinn, who's dad was one of the richest men Rachel had ever had the misfortune to meet, lived here. “What about your parents?”

Dawn sighed. “Rona's parents died a while back and her grandmother decided she'd be better off in the program Buffy runs for gifted students,” she explained. “Vi's my sister's best friends younger sister and Mikaela is Giles' goddaughter and her mom teaches at the London program. As for mine...My mom died when I was fourteen and I haven't seen my sperm donor since middle school. After he didn't show up to mom's funeral, I stopped expecting anything from him. Last we heard, he was in Spain shacking up with his new secretary, another bottle blonde with more cleavage than Pamela Anderson.”

“Ah,” Rachel said, knowing that anything she said in reply would be contrite.

“What about you?” Dawn asked curiously. “I heard someone mention you have two dads?”

“Yes,” Rachel said, wondering if the the budding friendship was going to end. It had happened more than once after finding out how she was raised. “I recently found my mother though. She used to be the coach for our rival glee club, Vocal Adrenaline. I speak to her once a week. And she adopted Quinn and Noah's daughter Beth.”

“Woah, wait, they had a kid?”

“Yes,” Rachel agreed, eying the house they were approaching with some trepidation. It was much more grandiose than she was used to. “As you can imagine, it caused quite the scandal given Quinn's place in the school hierarchy and she'd been dating Finn at the time. Quinn's father threw her out and she only recently moved back in with her mother. I believe Quinn's parents divorced over the summer; her father had an affair and her mother took offense.”

“Good for her,” Dawn murmured. “My mom did too. How did your dad's have you? Vi's older sister has been thinking of having kids but since she's a lesbian its unlikely she'll be able to adopt normally. And she'd like a biological child.”

“My fathers' chose my mother based on her appearance, intelligence, and talents,” Rachel explained, parking behind the jeep. “They mixed up their sperm so they wouldn't know who's I was. Though if you look at us, it is quite obvious.”

“How so?”

“My Daddy is African American,” she explained simply and Dawn nodded, smiling as they got out.

“That would do it,” she agreed. “I'll have to let Willow know. I think she might ask Xander to donate. He's been her best friend since kindergarten.”

As they walked up to the front door, Rachel was practically glowing at the easy acceptance of her home life and how she was raised. Due to the high levels of homophobia in the city, Lima's population of out and about gay, lesbians, and bisexuals consisted of approximately five men and four woman, plus Kurt, Santana, and Brittany at the high school. It was nice to find someone who not only accepted her family but even asked for advice on having one similar for their family members.

Rachel's first impression of the inside of the transfer's house was one of understated elegance but with a touch of organized chaos. The furniture all seemed to be antique but well used and there were random items scattered everywhere that, she suspected, didn't belong in the room they were in. The kitchen, which was where all five of them immediately went, was state of the art. It was also not empty; a man about Mr. Schue's age was there, going over some papers at the island. He looked up when they came in.

“Girls,” he greeted and she startled slightly at the accent. His eyes locked on her. “Who's this?”

“Rachel Berry,” Dawn said. “You remember, I mentioned her.”

“The chit with the Broadway voice,” he nodded and Rachel beamed at the compliment. “I'm Spike, make yourself at home. Or...wait, no, I know that look, you're going shopping.”

The last was said to Dawn, who smiled sweetly as she patted his cheek. “We've trained you so well,” she said in a mocking tone. He scowled at her.

“I'm not giving you my card,” he warned. “Last time I did that, you bought out half of the mall and I had to deal with Giles having a heart attack over the phone when he got the bill.”

“We got our allowance today, don't worry,” she assured him. “Though, Vi still needs a new comforter, since she decided her last one needed to be slayed. And all house stuff goes on the card.”

“I told you,” Vivian said, rolling her eyes, “I don't do laundry. You're lucky I didn't turn everything pink.”

“And on that disturbing note,” Spike drawled as the other three girls snickered. He reluctantly pulled out his wallet and handed what, if Rachel wasn't mistaken, was one of those mythical black credit cards to Dawn. It was one of those cards everyone heard about but didn't think actually existed. “Here. But if you buy too much, I'm giving the phone to you when Giles inevitably calls.”

“Got it, buy too much, deal with a frantic, stuffy Englishmen who doesn't seem to understand we couldn't go broke if we tried,” Dawn nodded. She looked around. “I say we take the Kia. More room in the back.”

“Agreed,” Mikaela said. “I'm driving.”

“Shotgun!” Vi and Rona both shouted. Dawn rolled her eyes at Rachel who smiled back. She was slightly overwhelmed but, surprisingly, she was enjoying herself.

“Come on, we'll leave your beetle here so you can pick it up when we get back,” she said. She glanced at Spike. “We'll probably stop for pizza—do you want anything?”

“Pasta,” he answered distractedly, having gone back to his paperwork. “Alfredo, not the lasagna or marinara kind. I don't like 'em.”

“Got it,” she said. She threaded her arm through Rachel and Mikaela's and turned to the still arguing duo. “Ladies? The mall awaits.”
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