“Richard-Elizabeth series” by OzQueen, or the one-shots “Kitchen”, “Grief”, “Distance”, “Trust”, and “Smile”, which all fit together into a series
Pairings: Elizabeth Thomas & Richard Spier, Elizabeth Thomas/Patrick Thomas, Elizabeth Thomas/Watson Brewer, Richard Spier/Alma Spier, Richard Spier/Sharon Schafer
Word Count: 44,647
Warnings: cancer, death, grief, illness, discussions of grief and illness, failed marriage, parental abandonment, divorce
One event begins the bonds of a strong friendship between Elizabeth Thomas and Richard Spier.
This is not the type of story that most fanfiction readers will seek out. Not in the slightest. It’s not a power fantasy, nor is it a sweeping romance. Instead, it’s a series of five connected one-shots that cover a decade-long friendship between a suburban mother and her neighbor. Ultimately, the “Richard-Elizabeth series” by OzQueen is an extremely rewarding work for those of us who might be looking for something just off the beaten path, but something that also comes to a beautiful conclusion.
So, for those who might not know, The Babysitter’s Club is a long-running book series by Ann M. Martin about a group of teenage girls (begun by Kristy and Mary Anne) who run a babysitting business in their small town of Stoneybrook, Connecticut. The book series comprises various babysitting adventures, as well as drama with the girls’ friendships and within their families. The Babysitter’s Club was also made into a fantastic Netflix series in 2020, which like everything else wonderful, was canceled.
But that’s why fanfiction exists, right? To fill in those gaps that we were so cruelly denied by canon? And so that brings us to our current recommendation. OzQueen works off the books’ timeline here, so this series is set in the 1970s and ‘80s, in the book series’ pre-canon. When neighborhood friends Kristy and Mary Anne are playing together as babies, their mothers Elizabeth and Alma have coffee and become friends themselves. When Alma unexpectedly passes away, Elizabeth reaches out to Richard, Alma’s husband, and they strike up a friendship. As the years pass and Elizabeth’s own marriage begins to break down, Richard helps hold her up, supporting her as she once did him. Their friendship deepens as both their lives begin to change for the better.
It is exceedingly rare to find a piece of fanfiction that can stand on its own as an original work, but the pre-canon, realistic nature of this series makes it a good candidate. Elizabeth, with four kids, is very much a parent, and as fans know, Richard is Overly Protective Father, personified. As a result, this series is very much about parenthood, marriage, getting by, learning to let go, stop looking back, and be happy. That might sound like a lot of emotions, but the gentle hand with which OzQueen handles every scene makes each part of the series flow seamlessly.
Realism is not always desired in fanfiction, but I’ve always found myself seeking it out. It helps me to make sense of my own problems by seeing how fictional characters handle theirs. Elizabeth in particular deals with many problems as her marriage to Patrick begins to fail, and it is exceedingly satisfying to read about how she sorts herself out and commits to making her and her children’s lives better than they were before.
Elizabeth and Richard both face a series of difficult questions and challenges throughout this series, ones that don’t have easy answers. Questions about doing the right thing for others, taking chances, and ultimately, wondering when and how to let go of grief. Unfortunately, I don’t have the answers either, but the “Richard-Elizabeth series” showcases a satisfying journey for the two of them, with love, coffee, dogs, kids, and lots and lots of friendship along the way.