First, thank you for all the love Walk Me Home got! it made my week. So, I kept thinking scenarios for Lucaya, and decided to turn the story into a longer story around the episodes out so far (though I’m not ruling out getting a little ahead).
Oh, and I’m also posting this to FFN under my pen name Clavel.
THE THING ABOUT PLUTO
It was lunch hour at John Quincy Adams’ middle, and Riley was still in a state of shock over discovering Pluto was no longer a planet, something that was amusing Lucas to no end.
“I really can’t believe she didn’t know.” He said as he and Maya walked behind Farkle and Riley on the way to the cafeteria.
“We, The Riley Committee, take our job seriously, Huckleberry.”
“Too seriously I would say.”
“What do you mean?” Maya said, a little defensive.
“Well, I know you guys do it out of love, but you shield her too much.” Lucas said and then braced for the retort Maya was sure to deliver, but instead he got a surprise when she just sighed.
“I know it seems like we go too far to protect her, but she has been like that since I met her, and the fact that she hasn’t lost her… child-like wonder is one of the things I love best about Riley. It is a lot of work, sure, but I want her to be happy.”
“That’s sweet of you.” Lucas said, genuinely surprised by the way Maya had dropped her guard for a moment.
“Don’t call me sweet! I have a rep to protect!” Maya said, but she had grinned, for a moment, before she remembered to be cool.
“I stand corrected.” He said, tipping his imaginary hat.
Maya rolled her eyes at him, “Once a Ranger Rick, always a Ranger Rick.”
“Always at your service.” He said, holding the cafeteria door open for her.
For the rest of the day, Riley had been in a little daze, the only thing that had cheered her up was the idea of making a time capsule like her parents and their best friends had done 15 years before, and she had talked the three of them into doing it that very same afternoon.
Of course, Lucas had basketball practice after class, but said he would join them later at Topanga’s (and he had to stop at home for what he wanted to put in the capsule anyway).
As he left the gymnasium and headed for the Art Room, where he usually picked up Maya after her studio time, Lucas thought about the buffalo penny his grandfather had given him after his winning first kiddy rodeo. It would be a good choice for Riley’s time capsule, a reminder of how he had wanted to be a rodeo star once upon a time.
He was so engrossed, wondering where that penny had landed after the New York move; that he almost walked right past the art room. Thankfully, Maya was humming loudly to some song he didn’t quite recognize, and her voice pulled him out of his daze.
“Maya?” He called as he walked into the room, heading for her usual spot at far end of the room, where light was best.
She startled, but kept her hands steady, which amazed Lucas, then again, she an artist and had the fine motor skills down. “Sundance!” She said vexed, pulling out her headphones. “You scared me.”
“Sorry. Didn’t mean to.”
“Is it Four already?” She asked, looking at the big, paint splattered clock on the opposite wall.
“More like 4:15.” Lucas said.
“Just as well.” Maya said, standing up and gathering her brushes to go wash them. “I just really wanted to finish this today.”
While she was busy with at the sink, washing her brushes with turpentine and water, Lucas took a peek at the canvas. “Hey!” He said with happy surprise as he recognized the subject. “Isn’t this…?”
“Yeah, it is.” Maya said quickly, still a little uncomfortable when people looked at her art.
“It’s great, Maya.” He said sincerely, looking again at the single sunflower on a colorful vase in front of a window, being hit by the sunlight and causing the yellow petals to reflect a full rainbow of colors. “I should give you flowers more often if this is what you do with them.”
“Don’t flatter yourself.” Maya said, scrubbing her brushes a little too hard, but then stopping herself (these were the brushes she had saved all summer for, she wasn’t about to mistreat them for a boy!) “It was just a really cute flower.”
She dried her brushes and replaced them methodically in their little case – just about the only school related thing she carried regularly, while her books and notes tended to be left at home as often as not – and then went to move the canvas away from the sun so the oil paint would dry better.
“Do you want me to do that?” He asked, as the canvas was big, probably heavy.
“I got it, Huckleberry.” She said, not quite trusting anyone with her work yet, especially at this stage where the possibility for smudges was high.
While she was busy setting her canvas and saying goodbye to Miss Cosell, Lucas folded the easel and straightened the table Maya had been using.
“I’m curious about something, though.” She said as she came back and unlaced the work apron she wore over her clothes. “How did you know I love sunflowers?”
“You told me you knew they were my favorite, when you gave it to me. How did you know?”
“Oh, well…. You have a poster of Van Gogh’s sunflowers in your room, and you always stop to look at them when we walk by that flower shop near the subway station…. I just paid attention.”
“Uh,” Maya said, picking up her bag.
“I have a question for you,” Lucas said, as they fell into step and he adjusted his longer stride to fit her shorter legs.
“Shoot, Ranger Rick.”
“Why weren’t you surprised about the whole “I used to be a delinquent” thing?”
“Just paid attention, I guess.” Maya nodded. “You have a temper, you know? You hide it well, but it comes out when you care about something, like when Billy was bullying Farkle or when your Dad wouldn’t let you keep going back to Austin every weekend, last year.”
“I see.” He said, remembering how he had gone off at Maya and Riley that time. And that yeah, he would have hit Billy if Maya hadn’t jumped on his back to hold him back.
Like all 100 pounds of her would have made a difference if he had gone off at Billy… only that they had, because the moment she had jumped him, he had been more worried about not dropping her than about bashing Billy’s face.
“Plus, you are too good at playing our little game so I knew there had to be a bit of darkness under all that Mr. Perfect stuff.” Maya added.
They walked in silence for a while. “Hey, do you mind if we stop by my house for a moment?”
“Sure.” Maya said, already envisioning the glass of sweet tea Mrs. Friar was sure to push in her hand the second she walked through the door.
Much as she had made fun of the Friars while working at the Hart & Friar Muffins project, Maya secretly loved Lucas’ mom. Not as much as she loved Topanga, but Mrs. Friar was one hell of a cook and she always had homemade treats ready whenever Maya stopped by. And she gave really good hugs too.
And though she would never admit it, Maya kind of loved how Lucas’s Texan drawl deepened whenever he was around his Mom, whose own voice dripped of magnolia and sweet tea.
“I have to pick up the thing for the capsule.” Lucas elaborated. “Have you decided what are you going to put in it?”
“I’m not playing.” Maya said.
“I don’t like to think too much about the future. I’m fine believing nothing much is gonna happen for me. If you hope for things you get disappointed.”
Lucas stopped, “Maya.” He said simply.
“I went really depressing, didn’t I?” She said, looking away. “Sorry. I’m just not one of those dreamers like Riley.”
“No one is a dreamer like Riley.” Lucas said.
“She is a little sparkly pink unicorn, isn’t she?” Maya said with a grin.
“So are you, Maya. Probably a black one that breathes fire, but totally sparkly all the same.”
“You don’t know much about unicorns, do you?”
“Well, they are basically horses, right?”
Maya laughed so hard she snorted, “Oh Cowboy, you are so clueless sometimes.” She said, and kept laughing all the way to his apartment.