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13 January 2012 @ 12:04 am
California Girls...Again/Effort  

TITLE/PROMPT: California Girls...Again (Prologue and Chapter 1)/Effort

AUTHOR: mkrobinson

RATING: PG-13

WORDS: 3349

TABLE: http://babysitters100.livejournal.com/53582.html#cutid1

SUMMARY: The BSC is back in Palo City for two full weeks of fun in the sun...

WARNINGS: none for this

NOTES: giftfic for bookplayer!


Prologue: Dawn

Dear Mom, Mary Anne, and Richard,

I can hardly wait to see Mary Anne, Kristy, Stacey, Claudia, and Shannon in less than two weeks. It will be great to have my Stoneybrook friends here in Palo City. Carol and Dad were so nice to let them come up!  (Though I think they are relieved that Abby, Mallory, and Jessi couldn't make it, but don't tell any of them!) Oh, Jeff says to have you tell Byron that he is looking forward to his visit. Thanks.

Sunny says hi and that she's looking forward to seeing everyone. She says she'll call you later this week, Mom. 

We don't have a lot of things planned out, but I promise we'll be having fun. (Not too much fun, Richard, and the two of you shouldn't worry because Carol's still staying home with Gracie and Dad's taking vacation time.) I'm sorry that you can't see us over the summer, but Dad said that we're coming for Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. 

I hope that your cases are going well, Richard, and that you're feeling better, Mom, and that you did well on your finals, Mary Anne. 

Love,

Dawnie.

I dropped the letter in the mailbox down the street from my house, knowing that it would get to Stoneybrook, Connecticut, within days, even though I lived in Palo City, a suburb of Anaheim, in California. Why was I writing to somebody in Connecticut, you ask? It's a long story. Let me tell you about it.

My name is Dawn Read Schafer, and I am fifteen years old. Currently, it is summer vacation, and I have just finished my freshman year of high school. I live in Palo City, California, as you already know, with my dad, Jack, my stepmother, Carol, my twelve year old brother, Jeff, and my nine month old half sister, Elizabeth Grace, whom we call Gracie. I grew up in Palo City, and both my parents lived in my house, together, until I was twelve, about to turn thirteen, when they got a divorce. My mom, Sharon, lives in Stoneybrook, (it's where she grew up), with my stepfather, Richard, (they were high school sweethearts), and my stepsister (and one of my best friends) Mary Anne. For awhile, Jeff and I lived in Stoneybrook too, but it just got too hard for us to be away from California, and our dad. Jeff moved back in the beginning of his fifth grade, and my eighth grade, year, and I moved back January of my eighth grade year, due to some tragic circumstances, which I'll get into later. I have two sets of grandparents, my dad's, who live in Sacramento, and my mom's, who live in Stoneybrook, and a set of step-grandparents (Carol's), who live in Anaheim, and come over to see Gracie a lot. 

For awhile, I had two lives. I was bicoastal Dawn. Sure, my two sets of friends knew of each other (and even met once or twice) but they didn't know each other. See, my Palo group consists of Sunny Winslow (who's been my best friend since we were six), Maggie Blume (who's been my friend since kindergarten), Amalia Vargas (who moved here in eighth grade), and, oddly enough, Jill Henderson (we were friends, then we weren't, now we're friends again), and then, there's Ducky (let's just say that it's complicated).

When Sunny's mother got sick, and later died, a lot of things happened. A lot.

Things in Stoneybrook were a bit simpler. Actually, a lot simpler. My friendship with Mary Anne led to my joining the Baby Sitters Club, or BSC, my seventh grade year. Kristy Thomas is the president, and she is in charge of the whole club. She lives in a wealthy neighborhood with her crazy blended family. Mary Anne is the secretary of the club, and she is, of course, my stepsister. Claudia is the club's vice president, and she is great with art and fashion design, though she was recently diagnosed with a learning disability. Stacey is great at math and is the club treasurer. She is another divorced kid and has type one diabetes. Finally, Shannon is Kristy's neighbor and the daughter of one of my mom's childhood best friends (they aren't friends now), and she has taken my old position as alternate officer. (There were some other members of the club at one point, but there aren't, now.) It had been Mary Anne's idea to plan this visit.

Well, and all of my parents and stepparents, of course. 

I have to admit that I'm looking forward to it, though I am a bit nervous. 

I think that's normal, though. 

I walked into my house, where my brother, Jeff, and his friends Zeke and Rob were playing video games, Gracie watching them from her swing, and I leaned over and tickled her stomach, causing her to giggle at me. I scooped her up and carried her into the kitchen, where Mrs. Bruen was preparing lunch and Dad was sitting at the table, reviewing some important papers. When Gracie saw him she let out a happy squeal and reached for him. 

"Dada!"

"Hey, Gracie. You hungry?"

"Dada!"

"Come here, pretty girl. You just want your daddy, don't you?"

"Dada!"

I handed her to him, sitting down with a seltzer and a bowl of carrots and hummus. Gracie babbled happily at him, distracting him from his work, as she tended to do for anyone. Not that we really minded, as she was so adorable. He cleared his throat.

"Yes?"

"Sunshine, I think that Sunny is going to have to live with us, for awhile, at least. Paul is refusing to, well, parent her, as has been evident, and her aunt wanted her to go to school out in Georgia, but she's agreed to let Carol and I attempt to, well, turn her around instead. We all agreed that it would be better for Sunny."

"I know, Dad. Thank you."

"It's what Betsy would have wanted. Well, sort of, at least."

"Does Sunny know?"

"Yes. She and Carol are packing her things up now."

"Do they want my help?"

"No, Sunshine, you should stay here. Now, about Christopher..."

That was the complicated thing. 

"Dad, Ducky is refusing to take a hint. Sunny doesn't need him right now. She needs positive people, not people who'll convince her to sneak into our garage and drink you and Mom's old Mikes!"

And the other, major thing, that Dad and I won't talk about. He sighs, running a hand through his hair, and exhaling loudly. 

"The good thing is that Carol and I finished those off."

We both laugh, nervously, and my baby sister laughs too, though only because her daddy is, not because she gets it. I love her so much. I can't believe I had ever not wanted her. 

"Daw! Daw! Daw!"

"Oh, so you want Dawn now, do you? Why, 'cause she's your big sister?"

"Daw, Dada, Daw!"

"I think she wants you to hold her, Sunshine. You want to?"

I take her from him, bouncing her lightly, and she beams at me.

"Daw!"

"Yes, it's me, Gracie. I'm your Daw."

She beams even wider. The telephone rings, and Mrs. Bruen answers it. She quickly hands it to me, mouthing 'it's Kristy Thomas'. My smile matches Gracie's.

"Hey? Kristy?"

"Hi, Dawn, how are you?"

"I'm fine...you aren't saying you can't come, are you?"

"No! I need to get away from here. Hold on a second. Karen Brewer, get off the other end of the line! Sorry about that. Look, promise me Abigail Stevenson wasn't invited. Promise me."

"I promise. Just you, Mary Anne, Stacey, Claudia, and Shannon."

"Thank God."

"Kristy? What happened?"

"Nothing. Well, not nothing, but not anything. It's a long story. A really long story."

"Well, you can tell me about it when you visit, okay?"

"Okay. I guess. How's California?"

Gracie babbles loudly as my dad stands to get a cup of coffee, and I smile.

"It's fine. Gracie and Jeff are getting big. Oh, and Kristy, Mom said to remind you that Jeff and Byron are twelve and are not your sitting charges anymore."

"Oh! I knew that...Hold on a minute, Karen, I'm on the phone!"

"Kristy, you can let Karen use the phone. Just email me or something."

"Okay. See you soon."

"Yeah. See you soon."

Darn it. I should have told her not to get some brilliant idea about fixing Sunny. I should have. 

She wouldn't, would she? 

I hope not.

Maybe she can just baby sit Gracie. 

Dear Dawnie,

Thank you for your letter. Of course Richie and I understand why you can't come to Stoneybrook this summer! We did just see you a few weeks ago, silly. Mary Anne is looking forward to having a break from here, anyways. She misses you. I miss you too, Dawnie. It was great hearing from you, Jeffy, and Sunny yesterday. You sounded happy. 

Richie and I are thinking of taking a weekend and going to a bed and breakfast, just the two of us. I'm feeling up to it, and it would certainly be romantic! He's being so sweet to me. 

You are happy, right? About the baby? It's okay if you aren't, I understand. I do hope you are, though. How's Jeffy taking it? Tell him he better write to me.

I miss you, sweetie.

Love,

Mom

Chapter 1: Mary Anne

Dear Dad and Sharon,

Right now, Kristy, Shannon, Claudia, Stacey, Byron, and I are on a plane (as you both well know) on our way to Dawn's for two whole weeks. I can hardly wait. I hope that Dawn's California friends like us-they did seem a bit wild, especially Sunny's old boyfriend, Ducky, but I know that Sunny and Maggie will be nice, so that's good. I will call you as soon as we get to Jack's. Also, I am going to talk to Kristy about her, well, bossiness, and remind her about what you said about Sunny. I think it makes a lot of sense.

Please, Dad, I know you think it is horribly rude, but do not let Abby know where we are or give her the Schafers' number. Please. Kristy will explain when she gets back. They had a bit of a fight, so to speak.

I hope that your doctor's appointment goes well and that everything's okay with you and the baby, Sharon. 

Hope to hear from you soon! Have fun on your weekend away!

Love,

Mary Anne

Though I knew it was a bit foolish to write a letter to Dad and Sharon already, I really, really missed them, and I really, really didn't want to hear Kristy complaining about the meal the airline had served us. Who knew that there were so many synonyms for roadkill and who knew that Kristy Thomas knew them all? Not me. I'm Mary Anne Spier, Dawn's stepsister, and we were currently on a cross-country flight to visit her in California. I've been to California a few times since Dawn and I became stepsisters: once on a trip with the BSC back in eighth grade (all of us that were in the club at that point, minus Logan and Shannon, went); for Dawn's father's wedding (Kristy, Claudia, and I went to that, and it was so romantic); and more recently, last fall, to see Dawn's new baby sister and to go to our friend Sunny's mother's funeral (Sunny is one of Dawn's old friends from Palo, but Sharon was best friends with her mom and we've bonded over the fact that both of our mothers died of cancer). I was happy to go again.

The fact that Jack and Carol (that's Dawn's father and stepmother-they let us call them by their first names) let Dawn invite the other club members made it even better, and the fact that they could all come was the best part of all. Usually, summer is a busy time for us, but this summer, it wasn't.

Kristy's family was spread out doing all sorts of things, and she'd jumped at the opportunity to join us (her father and stepmother wanted her to visit them, in San Francisco, but she hadn't shared the sentiment). She's been my best friend since we were kids. 

Claudia was afraid she'd be in summer school, but her learning disability diagnoses and pointed help in the Resource Room at school had caused her to pass all her classes. She had a ton of money from both babysitting and selling her jewelry at Stacey's mother's new store, so her parents let her come along. 

Stacey's parents let her come along as well, after getting Carol and Jack to promise that a repeat of her last trip to Palo City would not occur. Once that was promised, Ms. Spencer, and Mr. and Mrs. McGill showed up at the airport to see their "Boontsie" off, with hearty reminders about taking care of herself. Stacey has type 1 diabetes, after all. 

Shannon turned down her family's annual trip to the beach to come, and nobody really blamed her. Tensions have been running high at her house since we first met, back in eighth grade, and she's afraid they might reach a point of no return. Like Dawn, Shannon goes to a private school, and she was reading one of their summer reading books. 

And then, there was Byron, Jeff's friend, who is twelve. He is one of three identical triplets, which is really rare. My dad says it was a big deal when they were born, but they're just normal twelve year old boys, like Jeff. He's sitting in the window seat, next to me, playing his gameboy with his headphones in. He's been really excited to see Jeff. I think they really missed each other.

Then, of course, there's me. Mary Anne Spier. I'm kind of shy, a good student, and this trip was mainly my idea. You see, Sunny has had a lot of trouble since her mom died, and so Dawn decided to stay in Palo City this summer to be with her, even though she'd miss seeing all of us. Sunny and I write letters to one another (and email) and she wondered if maybe some of us could come visit. I told Dad and Sharon, and they thought it was a great idea. So did my therapist, Doctor Reese. She told me that she thought it would be good for Sunny to have some positive influences around her, and that it would be good for me to visit California for a bit. I know she's right.

"Eww, Kristy, gross! Now I can't eat this!"

I decided to interject, pulling out the brownies from my carryon.

"Sharon bought brownies for us, guys. She said that even Stacey could eat them."

"It's true. Since I got my insulin pump I can eat a lot more sweets than I could before. I can have a brownie. Thanks, Mary Anne."

She took them and passed them around. They looked positively delectable. Even Kristy "Gross Me Out" Thomas couldn't comment on it. 

After we all had our brownie (some of us had more than one) Kristy watched a baseball game on the in-flight TV, Stacey and Claudia began to read the tabloids they'd bought at the airport, I started to read one of Shannon's books (it was called Heart is a Lonely Hunter), and Shannon and Byron took naps. 

Soon enough we were taxiing down the runway. We were in California. 

After we got all our luggage (Claudia had the most), we met the Schafer-Olsons (including Sunny) at the baggage claim. Needless to say, I started to cry as Dawn and I hugged. I cry at everything, really. Sunny was following Dawn around, a bit like a puppy, and I realized that she was actually nervous. I gave her a hug, and went about introducing her to my friends. 

Carol had borrowed her friend's van again, and I found myself in the backseat with Sunny and Gracie (who was sound asleep and in her car seat). Byron, Jeff, and Kristy were in the next seat, while Claudia, Shannon, and Stacey were in the middle. Dawn sat up front with Jack and Carol. It was a tight fit, but we all made it. Shannon spoke first.

"I know that Mr. and Mrs. Schafer have never met me, but it was nice of them to let Dawn invite all of us to visit, and it was nice of Mary Anne to come up with the idea. I'm glad I'm not at the beach with my family. Tiffany just texted me to tell me that Mom and Dad aren't speaking to each other. Kristy, wasn't your sister supposed to go with them? As a friend for Maria?"

Kristy's head shot up. 

"Yes...why? What happened? Lisa and Seth wouldn't let her go? But they promised Mom and Watson!"

"Tiffany says that at the last minute they wouldn't let her. Melody came instead, but she's just not used to the family dynamics..."

A dark look came over my best friend's face, and I reached up and patted her on the shoulder. 

Thankfully, Dawn spoke next.

"What do you guys want to do? Do you just want to hang around my house tonight? We could rent movies and get Chinese."

We all agreed that that sounded good, though Jeff and Byron looked unhappy about having a bunch of teenage girls in the house all night.

"Dad, can Byron and I watch movies and eat take out in the rec room? Puh-lease?"

"I guess that's all right with me. You two better behave. I don't want you playing any tricks on your sisters' friends, you hear?"

"Okay, Dad, geez. We'll be good."

"I mean it, Jeff."

"I know."

"It's settled. You girls can have the living room, you boys can have the rec room, and Carol, Gracie, and I will get out of your hair. Dawn, will you be inviting Maggie and Amalia?"

Mr. Schafer, er, Jack, looked rather strained as he asked the question, and the absence of Ducky's name was completely obvious, almost as obvious as Dad's hesitation when Kristy had told him and Sharon all about her and her dad's plans to get together for an Angels game while we were near LA. I didn't really know all of the full details, but I knew that something had gone on with Sunny and him, and that I had a feeling I really didn't want to know the whole story. Sharon had tried to tell me, but she'd ended up blushing profusely and needing to go out to smoke a cigarette, so I dropped it. 

I looked over at Sunny. She was sound asleep, sunglasses over her eyes. I sighed. 

"No, Dad, not tonight. They have something to do with Vanish."

"Oh, okay. That's too bad."

"No, it's okay. We'll just see them tomorrow."

She flashed him a bright smile (it looked a little bit fake), and he smiled back. His was even faker. I watched Carol lean in and kiss him on the cheek, and I sighed. I wished Sunny was awake so that we could talk. Gracie babbled happily at me, and I rubbed her little tummy. Carol spoke, glancing back at us.

"Kristy, Richard told Jack and I about your father's plans to meet you for a baseball game in LA."

"Uh-huh. Dad promised. We only went to five baseball parks together, and only four of them were for real. He promised me we'd go to all the Major League parks, when I was five. Then he moved out here."

"Well, either Jack or I will bring you there, okay? I don't want you getting a ride from anyone else."

"Who else would I get a ride from?"

"Du-"

Dawn spoke up.

"No one, Kristy. Just this kid we all know."

The uneasy silence fell over the car again. I looked out my window and sighed.

Hopefully the next two weeks wouldn't be this awkward.


 
 
 
Emilybookplayer on January 14th, 2012 12:17 am (UTC)
Thanks so much for the fic! I'm really curious about the Kristy/Abby/Bart fight.
mkrobinson on January 14th, 2012 12:19 am (UTC)
You're welcome! Yeah, Kristy's chapter is the next one and she'll start to talk about it.
automatic door: squeeautomaticdoor on January 14th, 2012 03:37 am (UTC)
I'm so excited! Stacey has an insulin pump! (And a Sam/Stacey tag, don't you think I didn't notice that...) Kristy and Abby are in A FIGHT! Lisa and Seth are being jerks! Shannon and Mary Anne are bonding over reading and being nerdy! Sunny's shy! Claudia's getting help for her learning disability and selling stuff at Stacey's mom's boutique! This is the best!
mkrobinson on January 14th, 2012 03:47 am (UTC)
I'm glad you like it! Yes she does I did some research and decided that made a lot of sense for her to have one! (Yes, Sam and Stacey are back together...) Yes, they're in a fight over Bart and because Abby doesn't understand why Kristy doesn't want to visit her dad! Yes, they are! Yes, they are, but Shannon's going to befriend Maggie as well. Yeah, Sunny's withdrawn a bit! Yes, she's finally been diagnosed and that was one detail from FF I liked! Thank you so much!
Lisa: BSC: babysitters100ozqueen on January 14th, 2012 07:36 am (UTC)
Hey - don't forget you need to name your new serial (if it's a different serial to your richard/sharon one) with a tag. If you need help, let me know!
mkrobinson on January 14th, 2012 01:43 pm (UTC)
Oh dear I had done that-when I added the tags and put all the characters in I added a 'California Girls...Again' tag. I dont know what happened to it!
Lisa: BSC: babysitters100ozqueen on January 14th, 2012 01:45 pm (UTC)
Ah, that's okay! LJ has been acting totally dodgy, it's possible it got eaten :)
mkrobinson on January 14th, 2012 01:47 pm (UTC)
Not to worry! I just added it again so it would show up!