I watched with gentle amusement as Rachel deftly tugged the new guitar string up towards the tuning peg. She'd obviously done this several times before, but still she looked stern, sharp brown eyes focused on the bright red string and glasses slowly sliding further and further down the bridge of her nose. The look of extraordinary concentration on her face was absolutely adorable; I was sorely tempted to lean over and kiss her lightly-furrowed brow.

"So Dalton's visit went well, then?" I prompted, a gentle smile on my face. She glanced up, flashing me a small smile; her eyes quickly returned to her guitar to ensure that her fingers were still pressing the string in properly.

"Yeah, we had a good time." Her careful fingers bent the taut string outwards. "We played a quick game of guys-versus-girl Nerf battle and then I took him and Thomas to Wild Adventures for the day."

I raised a brow in mild surprise. "You guys actually went out to a theme park?"

"Yeah." A tiny grin appeared on her lips. "Told ya we had a good time."

I laughed a little. "You spoil your brother."

That earned me another glance. "D'you reckon?" There was a worried undertone to her question. I leaned over to give her a quick kiss, placatingly patting her upper thigh.

"It was a joke, babe. I think that's the first time you've mentioned taking him out anywhere except restaurants, so obviously you're not spoiling him." The musician seemed to consider that for a moment before nodding in acceptance.

"Fair enough."

I shifted back to the side of the bed I'd been on previously, resting against the headboard and giving her a little more space to work. "Besides, you guys always have a good time when he comes down for a visit, even though you don't go much anywhere. You're really good with kids, you know?"

That surprised a genuine smile out of her. "Not really, but thanks."

I laughed a little. "You are, though! I've seen you with your brother, remember. You really are good with kids." She merely shook her head, vaguely amused but still doubtful, and turned her attention back to the guitar in her hand. I watched as she resumed attempting to put the new string on her guitar. "Have you ever thought about having kids of your own?"

The string promptly snapped back, and next I knew Rachel was swearing sharply, shaking out her right hand – which now bore an impressive red welt.

I sat up. "Are you alright?"

"Yeah. Fingers slipped, managed to snap my hand with the damn string," she grunted, examining the red mark on her hand. I reached out to take her injured hand, lightly running my thumb over the raised area.

I glanced up to shoot her an amused smile. "Should I assume from that reaction that you've never thought about having kids, then?" I teased. Her cheeks pinked slightly and the musician glanced to the side.

"Well, I mean... not really," Rachel admitted reluctantly, shyly scratching her cheek with her free hand. "I mean, I've y'know, thought some about what it'd be like if I could have kids, but nothing really... in-depth."

"If you could have kids?" I echoed, bemused, before I could stop myself. I pinked slightly and glanced back down at her hand, still held in mine, still gently rubbing the scarlet injury on her hand.

Rachel shrugged, a faint smirk tugging at her pierced lips. "Well, considering that I'm currently interested in a gal and not a fella, it's not likely that I'm getting accidentally knocked up any time soon, hm?" And she grinned wickedly at me. I felt a deep blush staining my cheeks.

"You're awful," I muttered as she laughed. She leaned in to give me a quick kiss in apology for the quip. "So, you were saying?"

"Pardon?"

She gently tugged her hand back, turning her attention back to stringing her instrument. "You said you'd thought some on it," I elaborated. "Can I hear?"

A small blush touched her cheeks and Rachel shot me a wry smile. "Planning that far in advance, darlin'?" I blinked hard at the joke, feeling a surprised flush work its way onto my face. I hadn't expected that.

I couldn't quite get it together. "I didn't... That's not what I meant at all!" I squeaked, my blush worsening as the musician regarded me with an amused grin. I quickly realized that I was being played again and made a face at her. "I can barely even plan all the way to summer vacation, let alone..." I made a vague waving gesture, "anything after."

The rocker chuckled. "So touchy." She began twisting the next string into place. "So you don't have summer plans yet, then?"

I shook my head, momentarily forgetting that Rachel couldn't see me. "No, not really. I've been thinking about just going back to stay with my parents for the summer, but... you know." I gave her a small, wry grin. "I'm already pretty much moved out. I don't really want to move back in, especially since it's only for a few months." I leaned back to rest on my hands. "I love my parents and all, but I can't handle them for months at a time anymore," I quipped. Rachel nodded absently, still fumbling with her string. "How about you? I know you're not in school, but do you have plans for summer?"

"Hm." She began fine-tuning (no pun intended) the two new strings. "Well, we were throwing around ideas of a summer tour on the east coast," the musician informed me matter-of-factly, picking absently at the second string on her guitar. "To promote the new album. Ash is out of school for the summer, too, and Taylor..." She paused for a moment. "Hell, I don't really even know what the fuck Taylor does, but she's been talking like she doesn't have any issues with a summer tour, so." The metalhead gave a shrug. "We've been throwing that idea around pretty often."

"You're actually going on tour for once?" I was mildly surprised at that. During her "first wave" of activity, as her fans had taken to calling it, she hadn't done any genuine touring. A smattering of concerts here and there, but not a proper tour.

Rachel shot me a wry smile. "We don't know yet, that's what we're throwing the idea around for." She began the process of replacing the third string. "None of us are exactly rich so, y'know, can't quite afford to do a big US tour just yet, so we're probably just gonna stick to the east coast. Should be fun, I'd think."

I tilted my head. "It sounds it." Truth be told, I was somewhat envious. Though I'd been on my choir's tour and had a great deal of fun with it, the idea of Rachel's tour was... different. More exciting. I easily remembered the several concerts I'd performed with my girlfriend. There was a serious disconnect between the warm thrill of pleasure at a job well done at a choral concert and the rush of mingled terror and pure adrenaline that came from performing in front of a screaming, frothing mass of an audience decked out in spikes and denim and leather.

The idea of a tour with the slightly-older woman sparked a ghost of that same sensation of mingled fear and excitement.

"You're welcome to come with if you want." The rocker's casual offer caught me off-guard and I looked up at her, surprised. Rachel tossed me a grin. "You're in one or two of the songs on the album, remember? May as well count as an honorary band member." She winked. "Plus we could use a touring keyboard player."

I reached over to swat her thigh. "Did you just agree to give me piano lessons so you'd have someone you'd be able to call to play keyboard for you?" I pretended to be scandalized.

The rocker snorted, threading her third string in. "Don't be that guy, Jessie."

I pressed a kiss to the corner of her mouth, earning a little smile from her. "It was a joke, babe." I shifted back again. "I wouldn't mind going, but you'll need to give me the dates in advance to make sure I didn't have anything planned already."

She nodded without looking at me, focusing on her guitar. "Sure, 'a course. You would've gotten those beforehand anyhow." Careful fingers tweaked the knob on the head of her guitar. "We've still got a lot of shit to iron out before planning the actual tour in any case. Need to find roadies and techs and a rhythm guitarist before all that. Plus the tour's not lasting the entire summer either, y'know. Only like half. If that."

"Ah." I combed my hair back with my fingers and smiled playfully at Rachel. "So I'll only have to live with my parents for half a summer, then."

Rachel glanced at me, suddenly shy. "Actually, um..." She briefly set her guitar down onto her lap to turn and look at me. I was genuinely curious now. "I was meaning to talk to you about that."

"About what?"

"Um." She fiddled with the long, curling end of one of the new strings. She hadn't clipped the ends just yet. "I know it's kind of like... out there and all, and we haven't actually been back together that long, but uh..." Rachel's alabaster cheeks went adorably pink. "I wanted to know if you wanted to, um, stay here for the summer. With me." She kept running her thumb over the loose end of one of her strings. "Thomas'll be here for part of the time too," she added hastily, as though assuring me (or herself) that we weren't living alone together, "but he's going to stay with his mom for most of the summer so it won't be that long. Um." She nudged her glasses up and peeked at me again. "Would you be at all interested in just staying with me? Instead of spending the whole time with your parents?"

I blinked, and to my surprise, felt a blush begin to build in my face. I wasn't entirely sure why I was blushing, but I certainly was. "Oh, um..." I wasn't sure what to say. I really hadn't expected her to make that offer. Staying in my girlfriend's own house for the summer? Alone (mostly)? I'd spent time alone with my girlfriend for extended periods of time, but... it was different. I'd actually be staying with her in her own home. It was different. More personal. Almost intimate.

Rachel took my surprise the wrong way. "I mean, you don't have to if you don't want to," she added hastily, her own blush worsening. "I just thought if you didn't want to stay with your parents the entire time, you know, my house is free instead-"

I shut her up with a gentle kiss. "Calm it down sweetheart," I chuckled softly, reaching up to ruffle her short hair. "I just haven't thought any about staying the summer with you," I admitted, shifting to sit closer to her. "It didn't occur to me."

"Oh."

She sounded disappointed. I kissed her again, lingering longer. "Please don't sound like that, babe," I requested against her pierced lips. "I just hadn't realized that you'd even want me to live with you for the summer." The phrasing of that confession - living with her - sparked a distant trembling in my stomach. I wasn't quite sure what it meant. "You said we were moving slower," I reminded her, shyly taking her pale, slender hand in my own, "so I guess it didn't occur to me." I bit my lip briefly, considering. "Do you think we're ready for that?" It seemed like a big step. Particularly since we hadn't done anything... physical... beyond kisses since we'd gotten back together.

Rachel distractedly ran her free hand over her lips. "I don't know for sure," she answered carefully, "which is why I was only gonna invite you to stay for part of the summer." She turned her hand over, allowing me to twine our fingers together. "To test it out."

"Mm." I glanced down at our hands, watching as I absently toyed with her fingers and hand. My girlfriend definitely had piano fingers. It wasn't something that I noticed terribly often, but she did. "Can I think about it a little before I give a definite answer?" I requested, looking back up at her. My thumb shyly stroked the rough palm of her hand.

She'd apparently been distracted while I played with her hand. "Huh?" Dark eyes blinked. "Oh! Yeah, no, sure, that's totally fine, I hadn't really expected you to give me an answer straight away anyways," she laughed, a tiny blush touching her pale cheeks again. I raised a brow and smirked slightly.

"It's cute when you blush," I remarked out of the blue. Her blush worsened at the comment and I laughed. "Yeah, like that."

"Oh, shut up," the rocker muttered, rubbing her cheek.

A/N: A few quick things! First off FP finally let links show up on folks' profiles so now my profile looks less obnoxious and cluttered! Yaaay. Also, remember how I mentioned that I was working on a PDF ebook of Singer? Well... it's finally done! (The free standard edition, in any case.) The download link for it, if you're interested, will probably (hopefully) go up on my Tumblr blog and FP page before the week is out; I want to take one last glance at it for technical bugs before posting it. Thanks to fmorgana for (very patiently) helping me fix that ridiculous thing up in the first place.

Also thanks to all y'all who have been very very very patient with me as I take a million months to write and post each chapter! Give yourselves pats on the back