As you probably know, Rise was cancelled after only a season. I was very, very upset. Immediately following the end of the last episode, I cycled through the five stages of grief, and then I started planning this- a possible season 2 of Rise. The chapters will probably be shorter than what a normal episode would be, but after this one I'll continue to update every Tuesday for a total of ten chapters so you can get that Rise fix you need.
Thank you for reading, and enjoy!
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Rise or Spring Awakening in any way, apart from caring too much to be healthy, and am not making any profit off of this (apart from any love you decide to show!)
Episode 1: Reception
Tracey Wolfe wipes away the tears that are threatening to spill over her lashes. Despite a third of the audience leaving at various points throughout the performance, the seating area still looks full, especially with everyone on their feet. She looks over at Lou- they did good. Their kids did even better.
"Alright, everyone offstage," Lou says quietly, so only the cast will hear them. The audience begins to die down a bit, and she's grateful- she doesn't know how long she can stand up there under those bright lights before her eyes water enough to really make the tears fall.
"Aren't you going to say something?" Robbie asks, beaming at the crowd.
Tracey watches Lou's face fall- almost. He catches himself almost instantly. "No," he says quietly. "No, I-I'll say something on closing night." Tracey narrows her eyes as the audience begins chattering as they leave the theater and the cast begins to hustle offstage. She makes a mental note to bring that up later. For now, she'll let the kids enjoy their stardom.
They make their way through the wings and down the hallways, approaching the lobby where those who came to see the show will be sticking around to talk to the actors, or maybe just to eat the food they set out. Tracey can't believe she wasn't going to come tonight. Despite her doubts- they did good. Really good. For now, she'll push aside any thoughts of the PTA and the superintendent and the principal and just enjoy it while it lasts.
"Robbie," Lilette whispers. "Robbie, I didn't get a chance to talk to your mom-"
"That's alright," Robbie says, grinning. "She's still here." Lilette smiles back. Of course, she loves Robbie's mother- but she also wants to avoid her own. Robbie entwines his fingers in hers as they continue to the lobby. As they enter there's a smattering of applause. Lilette's smile widens. She can see her mother at the back of the crowd, waiting with the man she brought in earlier- her mind flashes back to the box of chocolates sitting in the dressing room and she almost feels guilty as she goes for Robbie's parents first.
"Hey, mama," Robbie says, and Lilette stands back as Robbie greets his parents. She approaches when she's certain it's okay, as Robbie talks to his father and stepmother.
"Lilette!" Robbie's mother gasps. "Oh, you were so beautiful!"
"Thank you," Lilette says, going to kneel next to her wheelchair. "I'm glad you enjoyed the show." Robbie's mother beams.
"Of course I did," she says. "I'm glad I came to see you."
"I'm glad you came too," Lilette replies, her smile finally reaching her eyes. Robbie's mother finds her hand and squeezes it as Robbie turns back to talk to her. Lilette turns away as she catches the phrases "girlfriend" and "you looked in love." Her cheeks turn faintly pink as she suddenly faces Robbie's father.
"Hello, Mr. Thorne," she says quietly. She's entirely shocked when he smiles back at her. Robbie's stepmom also greets her warmly. She briefly wonders if something is wrong- did Robbie get in contact with them and tell them she was moving? Are they excited she's leaving so Robbie can focus on football?
"You and Robbie-" he starts, then chuckles and shakes his head. "You looked good up there, up on that stage. I know my son- that look on his face when he was- well, you know- that wasn't acting." I sure hope not, Lilette thinks. "You did wonderful."
"Oh- uh, thank you," Lilette says, nodding. She's not entirely sure where he's going with this until he continues speaking, ignoring her gratitude- obviously he wasn't finished.
"Seeing you up there on that stage with each other… well, I can see how happy you make him. How happy everything you've done for him has made him." He pauses, and she straightens, nodding. "You're not holding him back at all, Lilette. You're pushing him forward." He's watching Robbie and his mother, who are talking softly to each other. Mr. Thorne gets a wistful smile on his face. "Thank you for making my boy happy."
"I hope I can continue to make him happy," Lilette blurts out. He doesn't know. He doesn't know that she's about to leave, and then she'll just let him down. She'll let everyone down. Mr. Thorne smiles at her.
"I hope so, too," he says, nodding. "Excellent performance- excuse me, I see Coach Strickland…" He wanders off, Robbie's stepmother saying something about punch as she holds a bouquet of flowers and follows him. Lilette turns back to the other two and is sucked into their quiet conversation in the middle of a loud crowd of people.
"I told you he doesn't hate you," Robbie says quietly, and takes her hand again. She smiles as Robbie's mother gets a knowing look in her eyes. Lilette glances up just in time to see her mother waiting, watching. Lilette gulps and squeezes Robbie's hand. He smiles and her, his eyes telling her to stay- she can talk to her mother on the car ride home.
Not all is quite as well elsewhere. Sasha trails after Michael awkwardly as he searches for his parents. Her father didn't bother to show up- he never does- but she likes Michael's parents well enough. She stands back as they hug him and hand him flowers and tell him how proud they are, and she's completely shocked when Mrs. Hallowell hands her flowers as well.
"Of course, we'd never forget about our Sasha!" Mrs. Hallowell gushes, beaming. Sasha cautiously smiles back, a bit overwhelmed. Michael's parents continue to talk about how amazing the performance was for a few more minutes while the two students stand there, not really sure what to say. Sasha glances over at Michael and offers a slight smile, and Michael offers one of the same.
"-but of course, you probably want to go backstage and talk with your friends!" Mrs. Hallowell finishes loudly. "Well, I'll leave you to it! Do you need a ride home, Sasha?"
"No, I'm good," Sasha says quietly. "I have my car."
Mrs. Hallowell beams and Mr. Hallowell smiles as they head off to talk to someone else's parents. Michael rubs the back of his head. They step toward each other hesitantly when someone else dive-bombs them- Annabelle and Jolene.
"We're gonna go get some cookies, yeah?" Jolene says, grinning and carting the two off toward the refreshment table. "Free for cast and crew!"
She tugs them right past Mr. Mazzucchelli's family- Michael smiles at them, because they'd all been around at one point or another. He waves to Maashous, who's standing awkwardly next to Mr. Mazzu's older daughter in a suit and tie. Maashous waves back before turning back to Kaitlin.
"So," she says quietly. "First night at your mom's tonight?"
"Yeah," he says quietly. "Yeah." He doesn't understand why it had to be tonight of all nights- but he wondered maybe if she'd come see the show tomorrow. Not the last performance, because that's generally when they all go out somewhere for drinks until it's late at night and they can all laugh about how amazing their show was. Maybe she'd come to the matinee, see what he's been doing while she's been gone, get to know her son through his lighting. Is that how mothers work? He wonders to himself briefly.
"Text me if anything happens, alright?" Kaitlin says, oblivious to his current thought process, her eyes filled with worry. He smiles- she's like a little sister now, always being there and not caring that he was living in her house. He'll be sad to not be around her anymore. He reminds himself that she'll be in the drama program next year- then reminds himself again that he might not be in the drama program next year. All her talk of being in the show while he was running the lights and now it might now even happen- no. He can't think about that. He'll be back. He has to be.
"Of course," he says, nodding.
"It was an amazing show," Sadie is saying excitedly on Kaitlin's other side, tugging on Gordy's sleeve. "What did you do? Did you build stuff?" She pokes the back of his shirt, reading 'stage crew' in white letters.
"No," Gordy says, smiling at his little sister. She narrows her eyes- isn't this the entire point of 'stage crew'?
"Did you paint stuff?"
"Did you sing?"
"Then, what did you do?" Sadie asks, her nose wrinkling.
"I dunno," Gordy says, trying to brush her off. "I just helped out, I guess."
"Are you gonna do it for the next show?" Sadie demands.
"Yes," Gordy stresses as she jumps on his shoulder. "God, Sadie, get off… oh, hey, Gwen." He smiles as Sadie lands hard on the ground. The girl glares up at Gwen, whose arms are crossed. Gwen raises an eyebrow at Gordy, who in turn just nods down to Sadie with a 'go along with it' face.
"Are you his girlfriend?" Sadie demands after a solid six seconds of thinking. Gordy goes beet red as Gwen rolls her eyes.
"I'm not," Gwen says to his little sister, not unkindly. "Hey, Gordy."
"Not yet," Gordy mutters out of the corner of his mouth to Sadie, who grins. "Go talk to Mom." The girl rushes off to go find their mother as Gordy turns back to Gwen.
"So, you're sticking around, then?" Gwen asks, nodding to where Sadie was just standing. "Is this the next phase in your stalker plan?"
"Yes," Gordy says sarcastically, mimicking her posture. "Most definitely." He relaxes a bit. "You did… amazing, tonight." She smiles, shrugging.
"Thanks," she says quietly. "That's what my mom said."
"And… your dad?" he asks cautiously.
"Dunno," she replies. "Didn't talk to him yet. Kinda avoiding that conversation for as long as possible." They stand in silence for a while, watching the other actors. Gordy spies his mother talking to Mrs. Strickland- that can't be a good conversation, especially with Sadie close by. They both turn to each other to talk at the same time, then laugh the same breathy laugh. Gwen gestures for Gordy to go first.
"Punch," Gordy blurts out, not certain what else he was going to say. He's just caught Coach Strickland watching the two from across the lobby- he's a dead man the next time he goes to practice. He jabs his thumb back toward the refreshment table. "I was just gonna go get some, do you want any?" She laughs again.
"Sure," she says.
"Great," he says, nodding quickly before backtracking away. It seems that most of the cast is gathering around the food- not that he's entirely surprised. There are still a few missing, however.
Simon wanders around when he enters the lobby, not really wanting to run into anyone. He knows his father is gone, because he saw the empty seat, but his mother and Emma probably stuck around. He realizes after a good few minutes that he should definitely go talk to him. His mind is racing with a constant what will they think, what will they think, what will they think. He knows his father's answer- but his mother's?
He doesn't need to worry. Not at all. The moment she sees him, his sister gives a laugh of joy and runs to hug him.
"You did so good!" she exclaims, beaming up at him before pulling away. His mother is right behind her, and he's shocked when she grabs his face and presses a kiss to his forward.
"I am so proud of you," she says, her eyes brimming with emotion, and Simon almost cries. Emma begins talking about all the parts she loved, all of them centric on either himself or Lilette. He scans the crowd for her, pretty sure she's still with Robbie, and his gaze falls briefly on Jeremy. The other boy is looking the other way, and Simon hastily focuses on Emma again.
"I don't know what Dad thought," Emma says suddenly, sadly, before brightening and continuing with her list of her favorite things. His mother watches, but Simon thinks, about what's going to happen when he gets home. He'll have to avoid his father… but for how long? How long can Simon keep denying the unavoidable, how long until he snaps and his father, what, kicks him out of the house? He supposes he could always move in with Lilette…
Speaking of, his best friend approaches quickly. She hugs Emma and Simon's mother, then rests an arm around his shoulder, talking with Emma about the show as if she's one of their family. Simon allows his gaze to dart around again, ghosting over Annabelle somewhat guiltily before landing on Jeremy once more. Lilette glances up and sees him staring, then nudges his hip with her own. He blushes faintly and looks at her to see a knowing look in her eyes. He gulps and starts making his excuses to his mother, telling her he'll see them at the car and giving Emma one last hug before carting Lilette off to the refreshment table where it seems all of the cast has gathered.
"Ms. Wolfe!" someone cries as their assistant director approaches. They hound around her, now able to loudly exclaim their excitement that she came. She's followed closely by Principal Ward who, to their immense shock, is smiling.
"An excellent show!" he announces loudly to the students before heading off toward the parking lot. There's silence amongst them, then they all start talking at once. If Principal Ward was proud, and not saying anything about the fact that they completely disobeyed him, then they must be okay. They talk for a while, all loud and over each other, before Ms. Wolfe tells them all they should get backstage and out of their costumes before someone spills something.
Little do they know, however, there is already something extremely important going on backstage. Gail Mazzucchelli watches as Kaitlin waves goodbye to Maashous as he and Gordy go with the rest of the cast. She's glimpsed her husband once since the show ended, and it was only for a moment or two as Lou caught the superintendent's arm and spoke to him for a minute. She had watched the two go back toward the backstage area, and Lou's office- which could never be a good sign.
"Thank you so much for coming back to meet with me," Lou says as soon as they make it into his office. "I'm sure you just want to get home-"
"Not at all, not at all," the superintendent says, his posture indicating the exact opposite.
"I'll be brief," Lou says. "When you say you're- that this- this is the last show, you mean we still have our matinee and performance tomorrow, right? The last show in general, not the last last show-"
"I mean the last last show," the superintendent says. "I'm sorry, Mr. Mazzucchelli. I can see how much you care for these kids. But that stunt you pulled tonight- I allowed it to go on because it was a wonderful thing for them, and for you. But for my district as a whole? No, this opening night is the closing night also, I'm afraid. For both this show and the theater program." Lou stares at the wall in shock- the superintendent doesn't seem to notice. A million things run through his head, most of them fire me instead and please not the kids, interjected by one quick Tracey's gonna kill me.
"Alright," Lou says in a small voice, rather than the things he's thinking. "I- thank you, for not shutting us down in the middle of our how."
The superintendent chuckles. "Oh, Principal Ward tried- went up to the lighting and tried to convince the young man running it to turn off the lights. Your Ms. Wolfe put an end to it." LOu smiles for a moment, then realizes she's going to double kill him. His face falls. "Excellent performance, Mr. Mazzucchelli," the superintendent finishes before exiting the office.
He walks through the doorway, waving as Tracey Wolfe enters, followed closely by the troupe of actors and crew kids. The students are excited, talking loudly about the following day's performance. Lou leans on the open doorway of his office, staring at the ground with a look of shock and incomprehension.
"What was all that about?" Tracey asks, waving a hand in front of Lou's face. "Hello? Lou? You in there?"
His head snaps up, manic eyes focusing on hers.
"I need to talk to you," he says, gesturing for her to get into his office and closing the door behind her. The actors don't notice, all heading off for the dressings room, expecting to change into their normal clothes, hang up their costumes, and gather around the piano, singing and waiting for instructions for the performances the following day.
None of them notice the look on Mr. Mazzu's face, and none of them notice Ms. Wolfe's face fall completely and he continues talking to her. They just continue on their way, pleased at the wonderful reception.
Next time, on Rise Again: "My mother was imprisoned for a lot of things, none of them good." - "I don't want to leave you, or Stanton, but my mother… it's what's best for her." - "You kissed me for a reason. You grabbed my hand for a reason. What is it?" - "The superintendent...has decided to end the theater program."