Summary: After growing apart since college, a chance meeting reunites Mary Anne and Claudia in Manhattan while the former is in the midst of planning her wedding to one of the wealthy elite. Meanwhile, Jessi receives some devastating news about her career.
Notes: This idea for a future fic reuniting the members of the BSC hit me randomly a couple of weeks ago and I can’t get it out of my head. Quarantine does strange things to one’s head. Anyway, I’m planning on turning this into a series, so I hope you enjoy!
Chapter 1: Say Hello to Your Friends
As Mary Anne Spier stepped out of the sleek black car in front of the restaurant, she couldn’t ignore the pit of dread in her stomach. She hated meeting with her future mother-in-law, but with Parker’s complete disinterest in the wedding planning process, she was left to fend for herself against Sugar Montgomery. Part of Mary Anne couldn’t believe that an adult woman in her sixties actually went by the name “Sugar,” but so far there had been a lot of things about the wealthy elite in Manhattan that had surprised her and “Sugar” was the least of them. Mary Anne checked her watch before she opened the door to the fancy restaurant where a single glass of wine could cost more than a month’s rent at her old apartment in Stoneybrook. Ten minutes early. Good. Sugar hated to be kept waiting. She pulled open the door and her heart sank when she saw Sugar waiting for her at one of the tables, pen poised over a sleek leather datebook. Oh no, Mary Anne thought. But, all the same, she forced a smile on her face as she made her way over to the table.
“Hi, Sugar,” Mary Anne said brightly as she sat down. “I hope you haven’t been waiting long.”
Sugar glanced down at her elegant wristwatch and pursed her lips before looking up at Mary Anne. “Good, you’re here. We have a lot to discuss about the wedding. We’re only six months away and there’s still so much to do. When is your appointment at Kleinfeld’s?”
“Saturday at four,” Mary Anne said. When Sugar looked back down at her date book, Mary Anne glanced down as well and noticed the appointment was already written down in Sugar’s neat script. “My sister gets in on Friday so she can come with us.”
“Then it’ll be you, me, Dawn, and Serena,” Sugar confirmed.
“Serena’s coming?” Mary Anne asked hopefully. She liked Parker’s sister and often felt like Serena was her only ally at family gatherings with the Montgomerys.
“Yes, she’s flying in from Paris that morning,” Sugar said.
“Oh, I almost forgot, Sharon is coming on Saturday, too,” Mary Anne said.
“My stepmom? You met her at Christmas.”
“Oh…right,” Sugar said. She pursed her lips again, but didn’t say anything further. Mary Anne knew Sugar didn’t care for Sharon and thought she was too suburban, but Mary Anne was relieved her stepmother was going to be there. Mary Anne suspected that the real reason Sugar didn’t like Sharon was because Sharon wasn’t intimidated by her, but Mary Anne liked having her around Sharon made her feel brave when Sugar made her feel small, like Alice in Wonderland being pulled up and down by cookies and teas.
“This is what you want?”
“Yes.” They both heard the lie, but neither called the bluff.
“Would you excuse me for a moment? I’m just going to go wash my hands before we eat,” Mary Anne said as she stood, delicately sliding her napkin from her lap to her chair.
“I’ll order for you,” Sugar said as she ran an appraising eye over Mary Anne’s slender figure. “We can’t have you popping out of your dress on the big day.”
“Thank you,” Mary Anne said politely, hating both Sugar and herself.
Claudia Kishi stood behind the bar and tried not to look bored. The lunch rush hadn’t started yet and with everything prepped and ready, there wasn’t much for her to do besides wait for the deluge of ladies who lunched on white wine and oxycontin. A few tables had arrived here and there, but otherwise the room was dead. Claudia let her eyes drift over the tables until her gaze settled on the two women in the corner. Was that…? No, there was no way. Claudia couldn’t imagine a scenario in which Mary Anne Spier of all people would be sitting in one of Manhattan’s most exclusive restaurants. And yet…
She moved down the bar a bit, squinting her eyes a little. Holy shit. She could barely believe her eyes but she was positive that was Mary Anne sitting with one of the scariest looking Upper East Siders Claudia had ever seen. She hadn’t seen Mary Anne in…god, how long had it been? Six years? Maybe seven? Since leaving Stoneybrook for NYU, she’d avoided going home to Connecticut as much as possible unless she absolutely couldn’t get out of it. She’d lost touch with most of the girls in college except for Stacy, whom she saw maybe a couple of times a year. Claudia had heard updates about all of them, of course. That’s what social media was for—stalking people you used to be so close to you practically shared a spleen. Kristy was a river guide in Arizona, Dawn was a yoga teacher in LA, Mallory was the assistant director for a summer camp for kids. But it was Jessi who had surpassed them all by becoming a professional ballet dancer in London. If Claudia wasn’t mistaken, Jessi had actually been named the prima ballerina of some fancy shmancy dance company. About a year ago, Mary Anne had deleted her profile and virtually disappeared from social media and Claudia hadn’t known why. She figured it had to do with a disinterest in the whole platform—Mary Anne had never really been regular updates. But now, seeing her in the restaurant, Claudia wondered if the imposing woman Mary Anne was with had something to do with it.
Claudia snapped out of her thoughts to find Mary Anne standing on the other side of the bar, staring at her in surprise.
“Oh my gosh, it is you!” Mary Anne exclaimed happily. “How are you?”
“Hey, good!” Claudia said. “I wouldn’t have expected to see you here.”
“Oh, I’m having lunch with my mother-in-law. Future mother-in-law,” Mary Anne said quickly. “Wedding planning.”
“Wow, congratulations,” Claudia said, overcompensating with enthusiasm she didn’t feel. “When’s the big day?”
“September. There’s so much to do and it’s coming up so fast and—“ Mary Anne realized she was babbling and stopped suddenly. “Um, what’s new with you?”
“Oh, you know. Same old, same old,” Claudia said noncommittally as Mary Anne distractedly glanced back over her shoulder at her future mother-in-law.
“I should get back over there, but could I get your number? I’d love to get together for coffee or a drink or something. Or are you totally sick of bars after working here? Maybe we could do something else, like go for a walk. Not that March weather in New York is really conducive to a walk—“
“Sure,” Claudia said. “Any of the above sounds good.”
Mary Anne held out her phone to Claudia, who noted that it was the newest iPhone model that had been released less than a week ago. Claudia entered her number and handed the phone back to Mary Anne.
“I’ll call you later,” Mary Anne promised.
“Looking forward to it.” I am never going to hear from her.
Jessi flopped back on her couch, phone pressed to her ear. “Mallory, I just came from the doctor. It’s over.”
“It can’t be over over,” Mallory insisted stubbornly. “Have you read about the crazy stuff they can do with stem cells? I think you need a second opinion.”
“Dr. Klein is the best there is,” Jessi said as she stared down at her left knee. “I can’t dance anymore.”
“Please, just…stop. I can’t take you getting all Pollyanna on me about this,” Jessi snapped. “My ballet career is over. I’m done.” Mallory fell silent and, after a tense few seconds that felt like forever, Jessi sighed. “I’m sorry, it’s not your fault, I shouldn’t be taking this out on you.”
“We’ve been best friends for sixteen years, you don’t have to apologize for anything,” Mallory assured her. “So…it’s over.”
Jessi sighed again. “I don’t know. I’m still barely processing the news and I haven’t even started to consider what might come next. I could teach, I guess.”
“Do you want to teach?”
“No, I want to dance, but at least this would keep me in close proximity to dancing,” Jessi said glumly.
“Hey! Why don’t you come back to Connecticut for a little bit?” Mallory asked. “I know your parents would love to see you and if they start to drive you crazy, you can always come stay with me. Maybe a change of scenery would do you some good, give you some breathing room while you figure out your next move.”
“I can’t just pick up and leave,” Jessi said as she looked around her small flat.
“Why not? I mean, it’s not like you’ve got anything else going on. The way I hear it, you’ve got a bum leg and all that’s left to do is take you out to pasture and shoot you.”
“Screw you,” Jessi said with a laugh.
“Come on, come back to suburbia,” Mallory said. “At the very least, you’ll remember why you hate it and you will definitively know that whatever you do next, it’ll be far, far away from here.”
“Fine,” Jessi said. “But if I lose my mind, this is all your fault.”