Disclaimer: I do now own any AHS characters or plot ideas.
A/N: Hi guys! Here's the story as promised. I know I said it would be in Rachel's POV but it's not first person POV as I had originally planned, but third person limited. It just worked better for me.
But anyway, please enjoy and let me know what you guys think! I'm really excited about this fic even though it derives from original characters and AHS itself.
Ps. Kind of Woman by Stevie Nicks played multiple times while I wrote this (hence the chapter name). Idk I just found it funny lol
BIRDS IN MID SUMMER
CH 1- Kind of Woman
There was always something about waking up at the break of dawn that Rachel Dylan found peaceful. Perhaps it was the dim blue light that peered through the blinds or the sound of the paperboy making his route down the street. Or maybe it was the morning cold that chilled her and made her enjoy her coffee that much more.
Whichever it was, Rachel Dylan stood in the kitchen at exactly 5:15 every morning, leaning against the counter with a warm cup of coffee in her hands. The rim of the mug touched her lips. Her eyes were sleepy and her mind wasn't fully awake. She had to be at work in two hours and she didn't know what to do to fill the time. She supposed that was the downfall to being up so early but it was far better than laying in bed until the clock struck six thirty and she had to be up.
Work had become unbearable and droll in the past few months. Despite the fact that it had been quite eventful with the news coverage of Bloody Face's death (his real death) and the entire office had derailed into chaos but Rachel saw no real interest in it. Of course she worked hard all day, running from place to place, making coffee and running errands for Lou. She spent a good hour jotting down his pointless ideas and never ending rants.
Rachel knew all of that would have been bearable if she were there.
It had been a little over three months since Lana Winters left Boston with her son to avoid the scandal of it all. Rachel was upset to see Lana go. She had promised to return but the months were dragging and Rachel found herself sulking the greater part of the day.
She had tried to keep herself busy by reading new books. She had started Strangers on A Train by Patricia Highsmith and was enjoying it so far. Rachel had begun her book binge with The Hobbit, which she much enjoyed, a few days after Lana left. Rachel found that it was just what she needed at the moment to distract herself from Lana's absence. She needed a world filled with fantasy to escape to. The Hobbit then turned into The Lord of the Rings andthen To Kill a Mockingbird, followed by The Big Sleep. They varied in genre and one was much different than the last but Rachel enjoyed the immersion into the different worlds that were much more interesting than her own. Whenever she finished a book, she simply closed her eyes and picked a new one off the shelf at random. It kept her going.
Rachel yawned and ran her fingers through her messy dirty blonde hair. She had her unruly waves tied up in a messy bun.
She had dreamt of Lana again the previous night and had felt foolish for doing so but there was no denying the fact that she had enjoyed it. Rachel sighed at the thought of the older woman that had left her life rather lopsided if anything. It amazed her how quickly Lana Winters had lodged herself into her life, burrowed deep inside of her mind and her heart and refused to get out.
Rachel thought a lot about the kiss she had given her that night in the office before she went missing. When Rachel had heard the news her heart imploded. However, upon hearing the news that Lana and her son had been found, she felt the heaviest burden lifted off her shoulders and had not held back when she saw her again.
Sometimes it didn't matter that Lana was gone as long as she was safe. However, that kiss had been an utter landslide, unleashing multiple feelings. Rachel had been so terrified. She remembered the last time she expressed her feelings for another woman, it didn't even very well and it cost Rachel her job, her home, her friends and her family. But she had been relieved when Lana's reaction wasn't to shutter in complete horror like the other woman had. Lana was so different and she made Rachel feel so normal. Amongst other things, of course.
Rachel pulled her mind from the memory; it was so many years ago and she was still so young when it happened. It almost felt like some kind of nightmare forever lodged in the back of her mind, occasionally resurfacing to put her back in her place. Of course, Rachel did try to reassure herself. "It's the 70s now!" She'd tell herself. People are coming out left and right. Fathers are staying at home and mothers are getting jobs. There's no reason to hide. Alas, fear always won and she remained silent and smiled politely when a male coworker asked her out to lunch or dinner. She hated it. Having to lie about who she really was.
Rachel set the mug down on the counter. It had too much sugar for her taste and she blamed her half asleep mind for the extra spoonful. It surely wasn't the kind of sugar Rachel needed.
It was then Rachel heard a meow and a loud purr and looked down to see her Calico cat, Doyle rubbing herself against her legs. She purred loud like a motor.
"Good morning, Doyle." Rachel said fondly and reached up into the cabinets to pull out a can of cat food. Doyle jumped onto the counter, continuing to purr loudly.
"Doyle, no." Rachel took her off the counter and filled her bowl.
After what she so called breakfast, Rachel dressed herself and got ready for work. She didn't think it would hurt to arrive at the office earlier than expected. At least she could have Lou's coffee ready as soon as he arrived. The man was punctual, after all.
That mid-morning, Rachel sat in Lou's office with a pad and pen in her grasp. She scribbled away aimlessly as Lou paced back and forth across the office raging on about personal opinions regarding politics and the media. He was in the middle of another one of his rants and there was no stopping him. He went on and on making Rachel jot down all of his notes to hear them later.
Rachel had been in the middle of an important task when he sped by and ordered her to meet him in his office. By the determined look in his sharp, rugged features, Rachel could tell he was about to let out the biggest rampage the office had ever seen. So she had no other option but to follow after him.
However, instead of jotting down notes on the pad with the blue pen she carried with her, Rachel was writing Lana's name in cursive across the paper with little cartoon hearts. She felt childish but boredom and daydreaming had led her to it. She felt like a teenager with a silly crush.
"And that's what real capitalism is all about, Miss Dylan!" Lou said with self righteousness as he nodded to himself, completely satisfied with the sound of his own voice. The top of his white dress shirt was unbuttoned and his sleeves were rolled up to his elbows.
Rachel bobbed her head and bit her bottom lip in concentration as she continued to doodle. She was slowly working out the 'W' in Winters. "Mhm."
"Blood sucking lawyers and nitwit tycoons. They're like wolves. Wolves!" He continued to rant.
"Wolves." Rachel said without bothering to look at him, "Wolves often travel in packs…"
"Wolves and monsters—monsters like that state senate. Have you ever met a man with so much power yet so much stupidity? He takes the cake!"
"Yes! That's the spirit, Miss Dylan. Now as for totalitarianism—"
Rachel drowned out the sound of Lou's raging voice and continued to daydream about Lana. The office had been such a bore without her but it wasn't like Rachel spent much time with Lana before she left in the first place. She had been too shy to even speak to her and only did so when Lou sent for her or when she was to hand some paper work or pick up a finished article from her.
Lana had always felt out of reach to Rachel. She was so above her and Rachel just couldn't bring herself to talk to the woman. She felt so unattainable, so out of her league. Not to mention the fact that Lana was about eight years or so older than her. Just the thought left Rachel feeling numb at the fingertips.
However, she remembered the time when Lana handed her the sugar in the break room. It was Rachel's first day of work and it was the first time Lana had ever acknowledged Rachel's presence. She had been having a rough first day when Lana walked into the break room and made a cheap coffee related joke that made Rachel laugh. When she looked up, she saw that it had been Lana. She then handed her the sugar.
"Now, read it back to me." Lou's voice dug into Rachel's mind and popped her thought bubble.
She looked at Lou with vacant eyes. "What?"
"My notes, read them back to me." He stood across his grand mahogany desk.
"Uh—" Rachel stuttered and looked down at the pad to see Lana's name surrounded by colored in hearts. "Crap…" She said under her breath.
Lou was about to speak when there was a knock on the glass door and Bern peered inside, "Mr. Graham?"
"Yes, Bern! Lovely Bern!" He went around the desk to greet Bern at the door.
Rachel quickly ripped the sheet of paper with Lana's name and crumpled it up. If Lou saw it he was sure to fire her.
"Oh, that is fabulous!" Lou boasted, "Dylan, take a break. I'll call you when I need you."
Lou exited the office after Bern and Rachel left out a sigh of relief. "Shit…that was close."
She stood and exited Lou's office as well.
Rachel hid the crumpled paper in her purse and then left to the break room to have her lunch before Lou called her to run another ridiculous errand or worse—finish his rants. Rachel simply wasn't in the mood.
So she slumped her way to the break room, hoping no one was there. She didn't want any company—especially not that of Felicity Hawthorne who just wouldn't shut up about her engagement. "Yes, it's a pretty diamond", Rachel had said on multiple occasions, "Yes, we've seen your fiancé before. Yes, we know he owns a vacation home in Seattle. No, I don't have a boyfriend yet."
She just wasn't in the mood to hear it.
Rachel sighed in relief when she found the break room empty to her delight. She was so pleased she went straight to the fridge with a tiny skip and dug through the lunch bags for her own lunch. Rachel muttered to herself, something about if Hanson ate her lunch one more time she'd—
"Excuse me, Miss?" Came that lovely voice Rachel hadn't been able to forget in those few months.
Rachel froze immediately. Her hand was right about to reach her lunch bag. "Coffee is four dollars." She answered without thinking, as if her mind was working on its own.
"And how much is the refill?"
Rachel stood, the bag in her grasp and turned around to meet Lana's smiling face. She looked as beautiful as the day she left. And elegant too.
Rachel tried to bite back her smile but couldn't, "Free."
Lana laughed lightly, "Hello, pretty Doll."
"Lana, you're back!" Rachel took a step forward, dropping the bag and spilling her lunch on to the break room floor. "Crap." She said under her breath and knelt down to pick it up.
Her hand reached out for her apple fruit pie when Lana reached for it first. Rachel glanced up to meet Lana's big brown eyes right before her and froze.
"Fruit pies?" Lana asked a little teasingly as she took the pie and Rachel's cheeks flushed a brilliant red.
Rachel cleared her throat and took the fruit pie from Lana, rather embarrassed. She knew she should have gone with the celery sticks instead.
Lana laughed lightly. "I didn't realize apple was your favorite."
"Well, I like strawberry too." Rachel drifted off topic and snapped herself out of it when she realized the stupidity coming out of her mouth. She quickly jumped up to her feet and Lana stood as well, a little more calmly than Rachel however.
"When did you come back?" Rachel asked.
"Just the other day." Lana answered, placing Rachel's little carton of chocolate milk on the counter. "I was supposed to come in this following Monday but I couldn't stand being away from work for too long."
"How was the vacation?"
"Lovely." Lana admitted, "It was so nice to be away from it all."
"I could imagine. And Johnny?"
"He's fine. Didn't want to come home."
"I bet. But I'm glad he had a grand time." Rachel felt herself smiling like a fool and dialed it down. She cleared her throat, "Well, I'm—I'm really glad you're finally back." She met Lana's eyes. "Really glad…"
Rachel immediately stopped herself and felt rather embarrassed all of a sudden.
But Lana only chuckled and stepped forward, wrapping her arms around Rachel and giving her a hug. "I'm glad to be back too."
Rachel froze for a moment not sure how to react. But after a moment, she relaxed and closed her eyes, hugging Lana back and getting lost in her embrace. It almost felt like a dream.
When Lana pulled away, Rachel stumbled a little but caught herself.
"But tell me," Lana changed the subject as if the hug had never happened, "How've you been? I hope I didn't interrupt your lunch."
Rachel glanced down to her hands where she had the fruit pie and a squished sandwich. "Oh! Oh, no. I was just—I was just taking a break before Lou called me again." She quickly stuffed everything back into her lunch bag.
Lana noted that the brown paper bag had Rachel's name written on it and a tiny smile crossed her lips.
"At it again, is he?"
"And what is he rambling on about this time?"
"…I don't know." Rachel said with a small worried frown.
Lana laughed her lovely laugh and Rachel felt rather small and elated at the same time. How was it possible that someone could disarm her so? Not even the first woman she had loved had such a powerful hold on her. It really was a mystery to her.
"Well," Lana said, "I'll leave you to your break then. I have to go check on my cubicle."
Rachel suddenly felt a little panic at the thought of Lana leaving. "Are you staying for the rest of the day?" She found herself asking.
"As a matter of fact, I am. I have some details to discuss with Lou and I have to work on some articles. You know," Lana turned serious for a moment, "Bloody Face related things."
"Right." Rachel said trying not to sound disappointed or angry but the thought of that Oliver Thredson made her blood boil and not only for what he had done to Lana and Johnny but also what he had done to other countless women. It was terrible and it made her stomach twist and turn.
Luckily, it was all over.
"I won't keep you then." Rachel said.
Lana flashed her an almost playful smile that confused Rachel and alerted her at the same time. "I'll see you around then, Doll."
She turned to leave but before she did, she glanced over her shoulder, "Don't forget your cookies."
"Wait, what?" Rachel looked down to see her packet of chocolate chip cookies at her feet. She quickly picked them up but when she stood back up, Lana was gone.
Rachel held the cookies to her chest and sighed heavily. "Well, that went well…" She murmured to herself, standing alone in the break room with her lunch in her hands.
Rachel didn't see much of Lana throughout the rest of the day. Rachel was so nervous she couldn't even think and didn't even have lunch until later that day. However, she stayed clear of the break room and ate at her desk.
She opened her milk carton and her packet of cookies and set her apple fruit pie aside for last. She was munching on her sandwich when someone knocked on her desk and she glanced up.
"Peter!" She gasped behind her hand with a full mouth, surprised to see him.
Peter Scott, a coworker and brand new reporter, around Rachel's age, stood in front of her little desk with a grand smile. "Lunch so late?"
Rachel cleared her throat and sat her sandwich down. "Yeah, I was busy earlier."
"Right." He said with a smile, leaning against the desk slightly.
Peter Scott was a very handsome young man with dark brown hair and brilliant blue eyes. His father was from England and his mother from Colombia. Or at least Rachel remembered him saying so when he had taken her out to dinner the week before.
Peter had been very determined to take her out and had asked her on many occasions but Rachel had always declined. She had told him she simply wasn't interested in dating men from the office (or men in general but she left that out). Peter reassured her that it would be just as friends so she had finally caved.
Just then, Rachel noticed Lana walking by holding a manila folder in her hands on her way to the photocopier some three yards away. Rachel had once hated the fact that her desk was so close to the photocopier but when she realized that Lana made multiple trips to it during the day, she changed her mind.
The clunky, noisy machine was God sent.
As she made her way there, she met eyes with Rachel for the fraction of a second. They then flew to Peter and glanced away.
Rachel suddenly felt awkward.
"So listen," Peter began, "What are you doing tonight? Are you free?"
Rachel looked over at Lana from the corner of her eye. She looked busy making copies even though she was clearly in earshot of their conversation. Rachel put her attention back on Peter.
"I was just going to go home and watch Harold and Maude. It's playing on tv later tonight—" Of course Dirty Harry was also playing but she wasn't going to tell Peter that.
"Harold and Maude?" Peter laughed, "Why watch such a thing?"
Rachel frowned, a bit offended. "And why not?"
"A kid falling in love with an old lady? What kind of thing is that?"
"What? You wouldn't fall in love with an older woman?" Rachel challenged.
"Would you?" Peter argued back.
Lana ever so casually glanced over at them. Rachel could feel her eyes watching but her attention was rather focused on Peter asking her if she would date an older woman. She was tongue-tied.
"Man that is." Peter corrected himself, "Would you date an older man? Boy, you eat a lot of sugar, don't you?" He noticed the cookies and fruit pie on her desk.
"I'm not interested in older men." Rachel said, emphasizing the word "men". She was obviously flushed by Peter's teasing and pulled her treats from his view, "Anyway, why does that matter?"
Peter laughed. "I'm only kidding with you, Rach." He smiled, "So? You busy or not?"
"I told you, I'm watching Harold and—"
"Oh, you can watch that another time."
Rachel felt herself pinned against the wall and prayed for a miracle to save her.
"We can go to Lucille's again. You loved it the first time, didn't you?"
"Yes, their biscuits are quite good." She admitted and felt herself caving again.
"Then?" He pressed.
"Oh, Miss Dylan?" Came the loveliest of voices again and both Rachel and Peter looked up to see Lana standing before them. She had new copies in her hands and her chin was held up high and proud. "Lou would like you to stay later today and help him edit some articles. I hope that's quite alright." She looked from Rachel to Peter and then back to Rachel.
"Uh—ye-yes." She stuttered, "I'm on it."
Lana gave Rachel the smallest hint of a smirk and turned on her expensive heels to saunter away.
Peter frowned, obviously upset that Rachel suddenly had to stay late and work. "You should have told her you had plans for tonight."
Rachel let her glance fall, "Oh, Peter. You know I could never say no to Miss Winters." The words made her cheeks blush an even brighter red, "Besides, it's my job." She changed the subject right away.
He sighed, "That is true. Well, maybe another time then."
Rachel nodded and watched Peter return to his work across the office. Once he was gone out of eyesight, Rachel scanned the rest of the office for Lana but did not see her.
Later that day, when everyone was packing up and getting ready to call it a night, Peter made one last visit to Rachel's desk before he left. "It's a shame you have to work late tonight."
Rachel sighed just dreading the editing that had to be done. Not only that, she'd be stuck all night with Lou. It's not the way she wanted to spend her night. "Yes, well, it pays the bills."
Peter nodded. "Another night then."
Rachel only nodded not wanting to give him hope.
"Goodnight then." He patted her desk and was off.
"Goodnight." She said.
After Peter left, Rachel knocked on Lou's door to get started as soon as possible. The sooner she started working, the sooner she got to go home and possibly catch a part of the movie.
"Yes?" his voice came from within.
She opened the door and stepped in, "I'm here. What can I help with?"
Lou was nose deep in a few articles from some rivaling publishing companies. He glanced up from them and raised a brow. "Why, Miss Dylan, it's four o'clock, day's over."
"Yes, well, Miss Winters informed me that you need some help with editing articles?"
Lou frowned slowly, "No, I believe I don't. You go on and enjoy your evening." He smiled at her, "I'll see you bright and early tomorrow!" he then returned back to his work leaving Rachel rather confused.
She didn't argue with him and stepped out of the office, closing the door behind her.
Just as she stood there rather dumbfounded, Lana strode by her with her coat in arms. A sly smile playing along her luscious red lips. "I'll see you tomorrow, Miss Dylan." She winked at Rachel as she passed by.
Rachel's lips parted and her cheeks grew red. She barely stuttered an "Okay".
Lana was out of the office before Rachel could have another word. She had left her behind in a giddy yet confused mess. However, once Rachel realized what Lana had done, a giant grin slowly spread across her lovely face. She shook her head and laughed, returning to her desk only to collect her things and go home to watch Harold and Maude with the promise of a lovely tomorrow.