Thank you all so much for your continued support, you all mean the world to me!

Just a side note, I'm going on vacation and I don't know if I'll be able to have next week's chapter out in time. But we will get there eventually, I'm not giving up on this, and I'm very sorry for all the breaks. Thank you all for sticking with me!

This chapter takes place when the cast is meeting, the weekend after the last chapter. It is a bit of a filler chapter because I didn't have a ton planned for it anyways, but the final two chapters will definitely be much longer.

Thank you to all the lovely guests for reviewing, your reviews made me smile!

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Rise or Spring Awakening in any way and am not making any profit off of this (apart from any love you decide to show!)

Episode 8: The Petition (Reprise)

Simon picks Lilette up at noon to head to the diner. She told him everything about her resignation, but that doesn't mean she's told everyone else.

"You're sure you want to do this?" he asks the second she gets in the car. "We can find a different place to meet."
"No," Lilette replies. "I need to face my demons."

"And you're sure you don't mind us giving him business like this?" Simon asks. The car is started, but he isn't driving.

"It's fine, Simon, let's just go," Lilette says. Her friends will all be there, and that will make it okay. Simon glances over once more, just to make sure she's certain, before he starts driving. They ride to the diner in silence, and Lilette is unsurprised to see that pretty much everyone is already there. They're gathered outside, waiting for something, and Simon frowns in confusion. Lilette narrows her eyes, trying to figure out what they're waiting for. She and Simon get out of the car and the group flocks toward them, and it's only when she sees Robbie at the back looking guilty that Lilette understands.

"Robbie said something happened," Jolene says first, wrapping an arm around Lilette.

"Is everything okay?" Annabelle asks.

Lilette looks at the door to the diner- and in that moment, she absolutely does not want to face her former boss.

"I'm sorry," she says, her eyes widening. "I can't go in there."

"We can go somewhere else!" Simon says insistently. "Really, we're all here, we can just pick somewhere else-"
"No," Lilette says. "I need to- to face my demons, or whatever-"
"If you want to share, Lilette, what happened?" Michael asks softly.

"I quit," Lilette chokes out. "My boss was being a total ass and I… I snapped at him and I quit."
"We'll go in only if you want to go in," Robbie says after the sympathetic words from the rest of the group have gone quiet. "And only when you're ready."

"Okay," Lilette says, taking a deep breath. "We can… we can go in."
The group cheers as they usher her inside, in the middle of the group. Lilette can see her manager looking over in disgust, and she holds her head high. He can't do anything to her here, and it's not like he's about to kick them out- they're a huge group. He can't deny that kind of money. Lilette almost feels bad, giving money to this man- but then again, maybe she'll just be the bigger person and show him that he can't affect her any more.

They place their orders quickly, and their waitress gives Lilette an encouraging smile. As soon as she leaves, however, the talk turns to business.

"What are we going to do about this theater problem?" Gwen asks, from where she's seated next to Gordy. "We need support, guys, how are we going to get it?"
"There's just…" Maashous starts, then trails off. "Nothing we can do, apart from putty on a show, and we need a theater and a program to do that."

"He's right," Jeremy says. "I mean, we've all talked to our family and friends about it, right? But we don't have any way to prove that they care about the drama department other than selling tickets to shows."

"And like Maashous said, we can't put on shows because we have no drama department," Gwen says angrily. "It's a catch-22."

"So what do we do?" Robbie asks.

"We'll have to figure that out," Simon says decidedly. "It's been awhile since we were all together. How's everyone doing?"

This begins a conversation lasting nearly an hour as the food comes and goes. Everyone starts listing happenings in their lives, and the group gives advice and comfort to the rest of their ability. They get especially emotional when Robbie starts talking about his mother and try and offer the best support as possible. Lilette grips Robbie's hand where it's resting on the top of the table.

Sasha announces her decision to get an abortion- quietly, so no one else in the diner can hear her- and everyone is very supportive, wishing her well. Next to her, Michael is beaming. Someone asks Maashous how his mother is doing and he deflects the question immediately- Gordy steps in and changes the topic hastily, and if anyone notices, no one says anything. He answers their questions about his rehab program, and next to him, Gwen squeezes his hand from under the table.

Simon is asked how the situation with his father is going, to which he just replies that it's not going well. This gains sympathy as they try and help discuss possible solutions- but Jeremy is holding his hand under the table, so Simon thinks that it might, eventually, be all right.

Lilette tries to avoid talking about her problems because she isn't quite sure how to properly word how she's feeling about the possibility of her moving that's beginning to seem more and more real. As a result of that, she makes sure that once everyone has had a turn sharing their problems and giving advice, she steers clear of her own life.

Once they're done discussing their problems, the chatter turns humorous as they get into a more light-hearted sign of things, their situation with the department on the back of their minds the whole time. They just can't seem to think of anything, even as they burst into laughter as they share the funniest stories they can to try and lighten the previously serious mood.

Eventually, however, they begin to fizzle out and descend back into the "what-can-we-do" mindset. They start brainstorming possibilities- the most popular one is putting on a show on their own and performing it somewhere local, like a park. But then the issue rises of costumes and sets and props and, most of all, money. The money conversation spawns off a different brainstorming session entirely- bake sales, car washes, and other fundraising events to support a show they're not sure they would be able to charge for tickets at. It just becomes a giant loop of ideas that doesn't really lead to anywhere.

After nearly another hour of trying to come up with some possible solution, they realize that there's been someone eavesdropping on them for nearly ten minutes. Simon twists around hastily as he realizes his mother has been sitting at the table behind them listening.

"Mom," he says quickly, his ears going red. "What are- what are you doing here?"
"Well," Mrs. Saunders says. "It looks like you kids could use something like this, right?" She hands Simon her phone, something that looks like a list already pulled up. Lilette and Jeremy read over his shoulder on either side of him, and the rest of the group watches as the blood drains from their faces, their mouths drop agape, and their eyes widen.

"You did all this?" Simon asks his mother in shock.

"What is it?" Gwen asks.

"It's a petition," Jeremy says, breaking into a grin. "A petition to reopen the drama department."
"I organized it," Simon's mother says, smiling sheepishly. "I figured you kids could use it, and I… well, I sent it to your directors, and they must have spread it to your parents. It's been going around for a few days now."
"How did we not hear about this?" Sasha asks.

"I don't know," Gwen says as Simon hands her the phone and she looks over it. "This is… there has to be at least three hundred signatures on this already."
"I guess people have been spreading the word," Mrs. Saunders says. "I'll send the link to Simon and he can forward it to all of you? And you can continue passing it around. I'm not sure how much it will do…"

"It's amazing," Simon says, standing up. "I can't believe we didn't think of this, Mom, thank you-" He turns around and hugs his mother tight, and the rest of the group bursts into applause. The rest of the patrons in the diner glance in their direction, but probably decide it's best that they just ignore the high schoolers and get on with their meals.

"I'll just head out, then," Mrs. Saunders says eventually, and she departs with a loud chorus of thanks from everyone seated at their table. Simon immediately sends the link to the group chat, and the next ten minutes are spent forwarding it to everyone that they know while chattering excitedly that they might finally have some hope now.

"We can do it, guys," Gwen says confidently. "We can definitely do it."

It's at that point that they begin leaving, going in the little groups they arrive in. Robbie is taking Lilette home, and after they say goodbye to Simon and Jeremy, after Gwen and Gordy finish paying their checks and heading out, the two of them are the last two in the diner.

"Hang on, I wanna grab one last milkshake," Robbie says, and Lilette giggles as he grabs her hand and tugs her toward the counter. Both of their smiles fade as they see her former manager approach around the corner.

"Why are you back here, you filthy little slut? Thinking you can get away talking to me like that?" he snarls.

Robbie opens his mouth immediately, trying to get up in the man's face over the counter, but Lilette's face is set in stone as she tugs him back.

"The hell did you just say to her?" Robbie demands, puffing his chest out to look more intimidating. The man narrows his eyes and makes a move as if he's about to come around the counter.

"I got this," Lilette mutters to him, glaring at her former manager. "You have absolutely no right to be talking to me, to be near me, to even look at me. I'm going to continue coming to this diner with my friends because it's something I enjoy. But I swear to God, if you come near me or ever speak to me again I will call the police on you."
"With what?" the man snarls. "You have nothing."

"I have a video recording of our conversation the night I resigned," Lilette retorts. "On my phone. I can play it for the entire diner right now, if you want."

"You little bitch-" the man starts. Robbie takes a step forward, but Lilette holds up her phone and both of them freeze.

"Video evidence," Lilette says. "I assumed something was going to happen and I took the necessary precautions. I have video evidence of you verbally assaulting a minor, and I'm sure my mother would testify to you sexually assaulting her."

Her former manager finally, finally backs down.

"Never. Come near me. Again," Lilette reiterates, and finally, finally, he disappears in the back. "That milkshake?" she says to Robbie, her voice sugar sweet.

"I love you," Robbie says, wrapping an arm around her waist with the biggest grin on his face. "You're so damn powerful, Lilette, and I'm so lucky to-"
"Just buy your milkshake, Throne," Lilette says with a laugh.

He does, and they leave a few moments later. Someone lowers a menu held in front of their face to the table as they leave. She doesn't need the menu, of course she doesn't, she still knows it by heart. But Vanessa Suarez certainly has never seen her little girl in action around her friends, her boyfriend, her family like that.

And she doesn't know how she could ever tear her daughter away from this wonderful thing she has.

Next time, on Rise Again: "I think… I think you should give rehab a try." - "Please, I just… I don't want to go." - "You're tearing this family apart!" "No, you're the one who started doing just that!" - "Hey, hey, are you okay?" "Are we alone?" - "Yes, it's all going very well, but… who would get the position?" - "I just want you to be happy." "What are you saying?" - "We closed down the program for a petition with half this support." "And that means?"