A/N: Hi, everyone! Finally back! So sorry this took MONTHS to update. I've been meaning to update but with Avatar the Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra back in my life, I have been absolutely consumed by them once again. Between The Rise of Kyoshi, LOK graphic novels and some fanfiction, I have neglected my writing. I was actually reading a very well written Korrasami fic when I stumbled upon the last chapter of the unfinished story and realized that it hasn't been updated since 2015. I wanted to scream lol anyway, it made me realize the frustration I probably caused by not updating my fics for a century so I obviously had to sit down and write. I should be working on some other fics so that's coming soon. I hope everyone's staying safe out there there!

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CH 32

RETROGRADE

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It wasn't until she heard the other woman's voice that Rachel was brought back from her fevered thoughts. For a moment, she had forgotten she was at a bar with Lana celebrating her promotion and had allowed her mind to float into oblivion. Rachel had definitely felt off that morning. The night before she had tossed and turned with anxiety that came and went, finding her when she was most vulnerable. Anxiety was such an odd thing. It left Rachel so on edge. So naked. She hated the feeling of impending doom that rattled her to the core. It was such an awful thing and for some reason the anxiety had latched itself deep into her stomach until by some miracle, the melatonin finally kicked into gear and she managed a couple hours of restless sleep.

"Well, you're a sight for sore eyes." The woman smirked as she leaned against the bar, attempting to flirt with ease.

Rachel's green eyes fluttered up at her, surprise covering her face as she had been ripped from her thoughts. The words slowly clicked in her brain and her lips parted into a small gap, unsure of what to say or how to respond. A sense of nervousness filled her stomach and Rachel forgot how to speak the English language. Her mind stuttered for a moment until a lightbulb finally clicked. "I'm sorry, what?"

The other woman chuckled. She was older than Rachel, probably around the same age as Lana. Yet, she was shorter than Lana and dressed a little more gender neutral. Her brown hair was in a pixie cut, reminding Rachel a little bit of actress Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby. She thought about how nice it would be to see that movie with Lana.

The woman bent her head in embarrassment and laughed, "Sorry, that was a bust."

A nervous smile crossed Rachel's lips as she turned her attention back to the bartender and raised her hand to get his attention.

"I don't really do this to be honest." The woman continued.

Rachel turned her head to give her a polite smile, "Oh, that's quite alright. I don't either." She turned her attention to the approaching bartender and gave him her order. He gave her a nod and started on the drinks.

"Well, to make up for my blunder, let me buy you a drink." She tilted her head to the side, brown eyes set on Rachel.

Rachel raised a brow in question and then smiled when she finally realized what was going on, "Oh, no, that's okay. But thank you, I appreciate the offer."

"What? Will your girlfriend get mad?" She teased with a light chuckle, trying to pick up the ball that was hopping out of her hands.

Rachel bit back a laugh at the thought of Lana. She sure was the jealous type even though she tried to deny it constantly. "I'm afraid she might."

The woman's expression dropped when she saw Rachel pick up two drinks from the bar after paying the bartender. She lifted her hand and slowly but firmly tapped it on the bar when she realized Rachel was spoken for. "Tsss. Can you tell I'm bad at this?"

Rachel laughed genuinely, "Not off the bat." She gave her a soft nudge with her elbow, "Have a good night and thanks again for the offer."

The woman only nodded and watched her go in defeat.

Rachel made her way back to the table with their drinks in hand. She had been watching the floor beneath her as to not trip that she didn't look up right away when she approached the table, "Sorry that took a bit, I-" Rachel looked up to meet the tantalizing gaze of a pair of eyes she was not expecting to be in her place. For a quick moment Rachel thought she had stumbled upon the wrong table. How many drinks had she had? Not enough to confuse her sense of judgement that terribly.

"Rachel." She heard Lana's heavenly voice and her head snapped to the right where she had left Lana sitting. The panic in Rachel slowly began to die down at the mere sight of Lana. Familiar ground. She was safe. "There you are." Lana smiled at her but the look on her face was filled with relief. As if Lana was anxiously awaiting her arrival.

Rachel looked from Lana to the red headed woman sitting across from her. It was in that moment that Rachel fully took the sight of the woman in. She was slim but finely shaped with flowing wine red hair and a pair of green eyes that looked like pools of emeralds. Her lips were plump and painted a soft mauve color. She wore a casual black shirt dress and had a gold bracelet around her delicate, porcelain wrist. She was absolutely stunning.

"Rachel, Love, this is Erin Shaw." Lana spoke up, surprised that she still remembered her last name even though Erin had not crossed her mind in a very long time. It almost felt like she had never existed. Almost as if she was but a fleeting moment in her life, long forgotten.

Rachel's mind kicked into gear and she set the drinks down, "Oh, I'm so sorry. Hi." She extended her hand out and Erin took it without hesitation, giving her a delicate yet firm handshake. Rachel could have sworn Erin's eyes flickered when Lana called her "Love" but she was sure it was just her imagination.

"It's a pleasure to meet you." Rachel said as she let go of Erin's hand. Lana scooted down the booth, letting Rachel fill in the empty space next to her. Once Rachel was at her side, Lana felt an immense relief. She placed her hand on Rachel's lap, clutching onto Rachel's skirt.

Rachel looked down to Lana's hand and placed her own over it, out of instinct, giving her a soft squeeze. Lana immediately felt the comfort of her touch and let Rachel cradle her hand in her own. It never ceased to amaze her how the younger woman could so easily settle her fears. How her simple touch and sweet affection was so brave and unwavering. It was as if she wasn't afraid to show Lana off. That kind of love was what Lana always wanted. What she had been needing for so long.

"Likewise." Erin held that courteous smile. Her eyes then landed on Lana, expecting her to continue the introductions.

Lana cleared her voice, "Erin's an old acquaintance from back in the day." Lana managed a polite yet firm smile as she explained to Rachel who the other woman was and why she was suddenly sitting at their table.

Rachel took a moment to steal a glance at the woman called Erin. Her expression seemed a little serious when Lana called her an acquaintance but she was sure she was imagining that too. Rachel tried to search her thoughts for any mention of the woman in their past but she couldn't truly recall. Perhaps Lana had mentioned her before and she just didn't remember? Perhaps that had been the case.

"Erin, this is Rachel." Lana looked from the other woman to her sweet blonde haired love and her smile softened the same way her gaze did when she looked at her, "She's my girlfriend." She said proudly.

"Oh?" Erin sounded more surprised than she had attempted to but she quickly hid her surprise and masked it with a delighted chuckle, "Lana Winters has a girlfriend? Wow." She nodded to herself, accepting the fact, "I'm guessing your little boy approved this time around." She met Lana's eyes and gave her a playful grin.

Lana's eyes widened a little in surprise and Rachel frowned, confused by her comment regarding Johnny. She tilted her head slightly and was about to ask about it when Erin spoke up, "How is your little boy by the way?"

"Not so little anymore." Lana replied, "But Johnny's doing very well, thank you."

Rachel looked at Lana and felt at ease once more. She smiled at the mention of Johnny and suddenly missed him. His sweet words earlier that day at drop off had been keeping her moral up all day and she couldn't wait to get home to him.

"I bet he's grown. It's been quite a long time since I saw you both."

"You knew Johnny as a little boy?" Rachel perked up.

Erin nodded slowly yet firmly as if she was remembering. She chuckled softly, "I had the pleasure once or twice."

"He must have been about four." Lana recalled that Christmas when Johnny stumbled upon them kissing. She tried not to think about what that sight must have looked like to the little boy but the memory must have been long forgotten to Johnny.

"Precocious little thing, wasn't he?" Erin held Lana's gaze.

For some reason Lana felt like she was under fire. She felt a strong sense of guilt fall to the pit of her stomach and she didn't understand why. She and Erin had kissed long before she and Rachel were a couple. Why was she feeling so ashamed all of a sudden? There was no reason to feel that way. She had done nothing wrong.

"Yes." Lana agreed but her voice was low, almost a whisper. "He always seemed very perceptive." She then perked up, changing the subject, "So, you're back in town?"

Erin nodded, "Yes, for a couple of weeks. I might be moving back indefinitely but that has yet to be decided."

"Oh, wow, that's interesting." Rachel sat up, leaning a little closer to engage in conversation, "So you've lived in Boston before?"

"Off and on over the years." Erin answered. "Not my favorite place to be but I always come crawling back." She laughed.

Rachel laughed too. A genuine laugh like always. Her sweetness was too much to handle. Lana suddenly felt an anger towards Erin for interrupting their night. She wanted nothing more than to have Rachel to herself in that moment. "I guess this city has its charms." Rachel picked up her drink and took a sip.

Lana had almost forgotten about her own drink and took a sip as well, letting the hard liquor calm her.

Erin exhaled a breath she had been holding, "Well then, I get the feeling I might be interrupting something. A date perhaps?" She raised a finely shaped brow.

Lana and Rachel looked at one another. Lana was about to say "yes", that she and Rachel were in the middle of a celebration but Rachel shook her head. "No, we were just having a few celebratory drinks. Nothing too special."

Lana took her hand out from Rachel's grasp and patted Rachel's soft hand, holding it in her own next. "Rachel here got a promotion at work so I couldn't say it's nothing."

Rachel blushed and averted her gaze like a bashful school girl in love. "Oh, Lana. Only you think that."

"Why wouldn't I?" Lana leaned in and kissed that soft spot between Rachel's cheek and her ear. As she planted her lips against Rachel, Lana opened her eyes and looked at Erin with a firm gaze as if she was claiming what was hers. Lana didn't know why she had done so, she just felt the need to protect Rachel from anyone and anything in that moment. Even if they posed no threat.