Pairing/Characters: Carnival+Rachel+Mina [claim → main party]
Spoilers/Warnings: AU. Profanity (see: Carnival). Heavy subject matter; spoilers for the end of Scar Night. May be a bit confusing if you don't know who the Greenes are (if you haven't read Lye Street/Iron Angel).
Summary: you were laughing in my dream.
“Why do I have to pack this much if we’re just going there to study?” Rachel had to ask, although she ran her finger down Carnival’s scribbled checklist and stuffed everything into her bag anyway.
Carnival shook her head and snorted, not getting up from where she sat slouched on the edge of Rachel’s bed, wings splayed out along the comforter. “You’ve never been to the Greenes’ place before, have you? You’re packing all that because I’m staying over, and they damn well aren’t gonna hear two words about you going home if I do. ‘Sides, you’re a crappy cook and you know it, so don’t act like you wouldn’t rather have Ellie Greene’s cooking than your own dinner.”
Rachel couldn’t really argue with that, so she zipped up her bag and stood up. “Well, you’d better lead on, then.”
And Carnival did. She got up, heaved her own lighter bag over her shoulder, and grabbed Rachel by the wrist, hauling her downstairs. She went on to tug Rachel to the door and outside it, and proceeded to pace impatiently and twitch her wings while Rachel locked up before grabbing her wrist again and yanking her down the drive and sidewalk.
They marched like that for a block and a half, and Rachel was just starting to get winded when Carnival took a sharp turn left up another drive, dragged her to the front door, and rang the bell a good six times in rapid succession.
“Door’s open, let yourself in!” a man’s voice called from inside.
Carnival actually grinned as she pulled the door open and stepped into the house, kicking her sneakers off and dumping her bag next to the door for all the world like she owned the place. And while Rachel was slipping her own shoes off, she padded right on down the hall.
“You really shouldn’t keep doing that—anybody could come barging in,” Carnival scolded in an amused tone as Rachel scurried to catch up to her. The hall led to a cozy-looking kitchen where a tall, hale man in his late middling years stood watching a pot.
The man snorted and laughed. “As if anyone but you actually rings the doorbell that many times? It’s good to have you back in here, Carnival; things were just getting quiet again.”
Both of them had a good laugh at that one, and Rachel just stood awkwardly, watching them. She’d never seen Carnival this relaxed around anyone but their small circle of friends, if relaxed was the word for that; the scarred girl was always tense and on edge around every other adult man but her uncle.
“Rachel, this is Sal Greene—Mina’s granddad,” Carnival said, jerking her thumb towards the man where he stood smiling. “Sal, Rachel Hael. We’re studying with Mina, and by that I mean we’re mooching over tonight.”
Sal roared with laughter again. “Is that so? Well, Mina will be glad to hear that. She’s upstairs in her room. Ellie’s shopping; Jack’s at work. They’ll be glad to see you, too.”
Carnival nodded to him and was brushing past Rachel to clatter up the stairs the next moment, leaving Rachel standing quite bewildered.
“Rachel, was it?” Hearing Sal speak snapped Rachel back to the present, and she turned and nodded. “Always good to meet any friends that girl has made—good to see her with friends at all.” Seeing the question obvious on Rachel’s face, he turned back to the pot on the stove. “We were her foster family before her uncle took her in—we had her right after what her father did to her.”
Rachel’s stomach knotted. “That… must have been hard.”
“She was a wild animal half the time, a broken doll the other half. We’re just glad to see how far she’s come.” Sal gave the contents of the pot a lazy stir. “Don’t you worry. Any friend of Mina’s, any friend of Carnival’s, we show the same hospitality we give our daughters. Go on upstairs, we’ll take care of your things.”
Touched—though she couldn’t explain why if her life depended on it—Rachel did as she was told, climbing the stairs slowly and heading for the only open door. As compared to the rest of the house, Mina’s room was overwhelmingly pink, from the frilly bedclothes to the papered walls to the glittery posters tacked up across them. The stereo was on and it was blaring, some popular girl-band song Rachel only knew half the words to. Mina herself was sprawled on her back across her bed, her brown curls tumbled in a halo around her, punching the air as she sang along. Carnival was on the floor beside her, framed by piles of stuffed animals, belting out the words with glee equaling Mina’s; the Greenes’ exceedingly ugly dog Basilis had the whole front of his body under the bed, but his tail was thumping to the beat of the music anyway.
They were acting like six-year-olds, but rather than scolding them, Rachel just sighed, smiling a little in acceptance as she closed the door behind her.