Summery: You know there's always that one party that defines the rest of your life. But for Lizzie, Gordo and Miranda, it was the most horrible defining moment of their lives. And dealing with the consequences has Lizzie scared to go on.

Authors Notes: Wow, I cant believe I'm writing this. My first Lizzie McGuire fic so be lenient! I guess the reason why I find this show so captivating is its frighteningly close to my life. The people look and act the same -.- and my middle name is Elizabeth so people call me Lizzie occasionally O.o. haha, well on we go!

The Art of Breathing

Chapter one

The Way It Was

The summer before tenth grade, Miranda and I went on a trip. Every day of that summer was spent with her and more than ever I felt like she was my sister. It was basically the same as when she went away to Mexico in seventh grade, but this time she brought me.

I was happy to get away from Hillridge for a while and being in Mexico with Miranda and her family, was the best way to do it. We had the greatest summer ever, a summer that I would never forget - but not entirely for obvious reasons.

When we came back a week before school started we hung out with Gordo the whole time. He'd stayed home the whole summer but didn't seem to resent us going so it was fine. And then our sophomore year started.

* * *

"Jeez, I can't believe we're sophomores already!" Miranda stated flamboyantly, seated at my right in the bus seat. "Well believe it. And just think, in fifty-two weeks we'll be Juniors!" Gordo added with fake enthusiasm as he joined in the conversation from behind us.

I turned around to look at him and blinked - over the summer he'd somehow changed a lot physically; he was a lot taller and more defined, and somehow every time I looked at him I was surprised.

I shook my head. "Well you may not think its much, but in a year we're going to have to start scouting out colleges!" Gordo shrugged indignantly. "Well I don't really have to worry about that much at all - a near 4.0 average since ninth grade. I have liberty to be choosy thank you very much."

I rolled my eyes as Miranda turned back too. "And don't forget to add humble to your application." She smiled sweetly and he smirked. "Hey I'm proud of my narcissism." Miranda wrinkled her nose. "Smaller words genius, smaller words."

Now he rolled his eyes. "Proud of my ability to be egotistic, self-centered - it was a pun." Miranda looked at him dully and he retorted. "You should study the vocabulary more Miranda. Get a higher score on the SAT."

Miranda slammed her hands down on top of the seat dividing them. "You should stop being so snotty you dirk!" He chuckled. "Sorry." Miranda huffed and turned back with her arms crossed. "Yeah, you better be."

She was pretending to be madder than she was, but we both knew they were just playing. Gordo did this at the start of every year. I turned to window to see the school coming into view. "Oh, we're almost there."

As the bus stopped and everyone got off, Miranda went before me and Gordo waited for me to get into the aisle before he kept going. He watched me as I got out of the space and again I got a good look at him. I smiled and stifled a small laugh.

He grinned but furrowed his brow in question. "What?" I shook my head. "I can't get used to you looking different." He blinked. "I look different?" I giggled and brushed my finger across his subtle facial hair. "Yeah, a little."

As I walked out he rubbed his cheek oddly like a five-year-old who had just been kissed by a relative, and seemed as though he were assessing his apparently unnoticed changes. I guess when you see yourself every day you don't notice getting taller or starting to need to shave.

We both got off the bus and joined Miranda for our walk to homeroom.

* * *

Tenth grade was just like ninth, except more classy. People noticed you more and you could take more classes. I was taking Creative Writing and Psychology/Sociology with Gordo in my Psyche class and Miranda in with Writing.

It gave potential for a wonderful year. During the first few weeks I thought over the things that Miranda and I had promised over the summer. We were going to strive for same grades so we could go to college together, we planned on being maids of honor at weddings, being godmothers to each others kids - all the tons of silly promises that make girls so contented and with bond. It was silly but wonderful.

We were better friends than anyone could ever hope to be, and I think for a little while after we came back, Gordo was jealous. It only seemed very evident for a few days, but I was the only one that seemed to notice at all, and when it was just subtle things I still didn't confront him about it for a few months.

It made me feel bad, because even though Miranda and I had spent so much time together, Gordo was still just as much my best friend as before. I didn't love either of them more than the other, they were my two best friends that I couldn't live without one or the other.

I could not live without the other.

* * *

"Gordo, what's up?" Gordo turned at me startled. "What, what's up?" I crossed my legs Indian style and sat back a little from the chessboard. "What's up with you? You've been acting strange lately."

Suddenly he glanced slightly around his room and then back to the floor like he was studying his moves. "What do you mean?" He moved his rook. Slightly annoyed with him I sighed. "Since Miranda and I got back from Mexico you've been more withdrawn from us. When we're in a conversation you never add random facts or comments like you used to." I eyed him warily and moved my pawn. "Are you ignoring us?"

Very sharply he moved his rook and took my pawn.

"Of course not."

I looked at him with growing confusion but he completely avoided my gaze staring at that board. "Are you mad?" He didn't answer for a moment and I blinked. "No. It's your move." "Why are you mad?" I asked completely ignoring his answer and moving out my castle."

He sighed. "I said I'm not mad."

"Well I don't believe you." At that he merely moved out his bishop. With his casual hidden motives he was acting entirely like I had just betrayed him.

Just to keep him happy I moved another pawn. "Gordo, tell me what's wrong." He took the pawn without hesitation and stayed silent.

I moved my queen out and waited. He picked up his bishop and passed off my queen for an empty space.

"You and Miranda are really great friends." I blinked and my eyebrows drew together. "Of course we are." I moved again, not paying any attention to the board.

He kept staring at it. "You're good best friends…" He didn't seem to acknowledge that he'd said that out loud and trailed off a bit as he castled his king.

I made a definite conclusion from my earlier assumptions. My brow furrowed lower and I titled my head forward slightly. "We're best friends too Gordo."

He looked up for once looking genuinely surprised, and that was what hurt the most. "Gordo, you've been my best friend since birth! How could you think otherwise?"

He looked at me in bewilderment and opened his mouth but struggled with the words. "I- I thought that, I mean, with you and Miranda, and the whole summer and everything-"

"Gordo you are both my best friends! You don't have to have just one. I don't know how you started thinking this way, but I'll never love either of you more than the other!" In my choice of wording Gordo looked surprised again, but a little too quickly he calmed over his face. He didn't seem to have much to say to it.

"You're friends with Miranda too - should I be jealous that you like her more than me?" He bit the inside of his cheek for a moment and out of no where, he sighed.

"I'm sorry Lizzie." When he said that I suddenly felt bad - mostly because he felt bad.

"Its just that, when you came back after the whole summer with Miranda and were so happy and with it, I figured that that was how you wanted it to be. You and Miranda, and I really didn't want to interfere." He spoke almost solemnly, and at the end he looked up.

Since the beginning of the conversation he hadn't once looked me in the eye, and then he did and I felt a pang.

Suddenly I could see nothing else. "I've known you all my life. The day I was born, you were in the room. We've been friends with Miranda since kindergarten, but even if that wasn't true and I'd known you less time, it wouldn't make so much of a difference."

I paused and took a noticeable breath. "We're all friends, and no one could replace either of you." I laughed uneasily. "I wouldn't be able to live without you two!"

Finally Gordo smiled and I sighed in somewhat relief. "So everything's good now?" I asked. He nodded soundly. "All jolly robins and sunshine here." I giggled. He was the old Gordo again. I stood up from the floor.

"I don't want to play anymore, do you?" He stood as well and kicked the board sending the pieces scattering. I laughed lightly and he smiled at me. "Why don't we call Miranda and ask her to meet us at the Digital Bean?"

I smiled too. "Sure." And I had a feeling things were good again.

* * *

For that whole following week the three of us were inseparable - I don't think we were ever so close. We were all so completely comfortable around each other and had such a great time being that way and most wonderful of all Gordo was back to himself again.

Miranda must have noticed Gordo's change too, because she relaxed more around him and didn't seem like she was watching what she said.

We were the three amigos! And everyone in Hillridge knew it.

During that week there was also a party announced. One of the really rich seniors was throwing it and 'everybody who was anybody was going to be there' to put it in cliché terms. But regardless we all wanted to go.

Everything was all set, but when Saturday came around I didn't feel so well and when Gordo and Miranda came to walk me together I told them I couldn't go and that they should go without me. This resulted in a five-minute argument until I finally convinced them to go while they still insisted that they'd leave early and come back to visit. And I told them to have fun.

All week Miranda had been raving "This party will define the rest of our lives!" and of course I thought it silly - but ironically enough, it wasn't.

That party changed all our lives forever - even though I didn't go.

* * *

"Maybe I should have gone." I said talking to myself in my room at eleven o'clock. At about nine I had started feeling better and now I was tidying up my room.

The party had started at eight and didn't really have an ending time so I was starting to consider dropping in.

"But Gordo and Miranda will be leaving soon or may already have, so it would be mostly pointless." I folded a pair of pajamas and put them in a drawer. Looking around the clean room I shrugged.

"I'll just go down and eat some ice cream then go to bed. We can hang out tomorrow." I smiled and stopped in the doorway. "I really have to stop talking to myself."

As I walked downstairs it was unusually quiet. Yes it was eleven, but on a Saturday night Matt refused go up until the late night movie was over and mom and dad always sat in the kitchen assessing their parenting skills or taxes.

As I walked downstairs it was unusually quiet. Yes it was eleven, but on a Saturday night Matt refused go up until the late night movie was over and mom and dad always sat in the kitchen assessing their parenting skills or taxes.

But now, I didn't hear anything.

As I walked into the kitchen I stared in absolute confusion as Dad and Matt stared intently at Mom, who was looking very pale holding the phone with both hands.

When they noticed me they looked upset. Slowly my eyebrows drew together and knitted a frown. What was going on?

"Who died?" I asked sarcastically and fully expected them to jump back into composure, realizing that they were blowing things out of proportion for whatever it was. But they didn't, my comment just made them look more dead and pitiful.

I eyed them warily and looked to my mom. "Mom?" Slowly she put down the receiver. "Lizzie honey, I think you should sit down for a minute."

Now my stomach jumped. What was going on?? What happened??? "No, someone tell me what's going on? Why is everyone acting strange?!"

I hadn't noticed it but I had begun to shake. Somehow I was afraid of whatever had been on the other line of that phone.

My mom looked at me and when I saw her eyes shining I was scared - genuinely terrified. "Mom, what's going on? What's happened?"

"That was Gordo," as she said that I was more confused and suddenly I didn't want to hear it. I wanted to make my own assumption; someone tripped, there was a broken collarbone, we wouldn't be able to go on any fun trips for a while - Such a silly thing to tell me to sit down over, so silly. Such silly parents.

Regardless I began to noticeably tremble.

"He's at the hospital." I was starting to feel sick again. Maybe I shouldn't get ice cream. I was so scared and everything went so slow but my mother's composure was the only thing that gave me hope.

"Miranda has been hurt," 'Oh God,' I held my breath. "There were a lot of bad people at that party you were going to, and some of them got to Miranda."

I started breathing shortly and stuttering under my breath. "Oh no, oh no, oh no - no, no…" My eyes were burning and I didn't know why. She was going to be okay, I kept repeating to myself, that she was going to be fine.

My mom took a deep breath. "She's in critical condition right now, sweetie-" "Oh God, oh God" I cut her off choking out the words.

I stood there and assessed things for the shortest of seconds. I knew I couldn't listen to any more and had to get to the hospital. Our car was getting tuned.

Without a thought, I shot off and out the door not bothering to grab a coat or shoes, and my family yelled after but I kept running.

I ran as hard as I could to concentrate only on getting there and not giving my mind time to think about it. My head kept adding 'its five miles away,' but I didn't care.

Obviously someone else did though, because my neighbor drove up a moment later and recognized me.

The window rolled down and I stopped and panted. "Lizzie? Are you all right hun, do you need a ride?" I briefly noticed her bewildered look at my attire. It was the end of November and forty-five degrees out, and I was barefoot with no coat wearing pajamas.

Finally noticing what she offered I swallowed and nodded. "The hospital, please its an emergency." Immediately she opened the other door and gestured me in quick. "Hurry come on, I can get you there in six minutes!"

She drove off and I tried to think of anything, absolutely anything else but Miranda. 'Oh God, what if they hit her?! What if she cant walk again, or, or' I swallowed again and started staring and thinking intently of the dashboard.

The rest of the ride was a blur. I remember jumping out before she'd completely stopped the car and demanding Miranda Sanchez's room immediately before I was entirely in the building. When they refused to give out information until I'd filled out papers I ran down the toward the ER and Critical Patients ward, brushing a file stack of papers to the floor intentionally.

Within seconds I saw Gordo in another ward speaking with a police officer. And if I was scared then, I was even more scared now, because David Gordon was crying.

I stood there frozen feeling increasingly sick as I saw the light reflect off the water he kept brushing off his cheeks as he spoke to the officer with a clip board.

Suddenly he noticed me and I remembered that I was there and not watching some horrible film. When he saw me he ran up and I couldn't get my mouth to stop gaping.

"Lizzie you're here,"

That seemed to be all that he could say as we stood there and I stared. And out of impulse I reached up and touched his cheek, feeling the dampness from the earlier tears that bewildered me so.

As my hand dropped down I tried to find my voice or the right words to speak. "Wh- where is..?" He just turned and pointed to the door the officer was standing by. "One-thirty-two," he told me, but I completely ignored everything else but that door and ran up to it.

As I pushed that door open, time almost stopped. Miranda's parents and a nurse looked to me while a doctor ignored the interruption and my eyes automatically fell upon Miranda. Miranda who looked fine just the way I last saw her, except sleeping and attached to an IV and heart monitor, with a mask over her mouth and nose to help her breath.

She was fine, which is why I didn't understand when I looked up and the heart monitor flat lined. That noise drowned out everything, a long high screech with the low rumble of a nurse and doctor coordinating with the defibrillator.

My mind clouded as I watched and listened to the long continued shriek, suddenly noticing the bruises and cuts that adorned Miranda's arms and abdomen as the blanket was lifted and the doctor yelled, "Clear!"

The flat line spiked and went dead again and dramatically in that instant everything around me fell into place and I screamed. "No!!" the doctor yelled to the nurse to remove me but I screamed again. "No! You can't! Help her, save her, please!!"

In the commotion I didn't notice Gordo come in behind me and was too shocked to do anything when he pulled me out.

The door closed and locked in my face and I banged on it for the whole of three seconds before turning back to Gordo. "Why?! Why did you take me out!? Why, why!?" I slammed my fists against his chest but I was so tired they were more like three-year-old pushes.

And then I heard the ceased shouts of 'clear' and the uninterrupted flat line joined by the hysterical sobbing of Mrs. Sanchez.

I shook on my feet and almost fell. The doctor walked out behind me and I didn't have to look to know he was there, or what he was about to say.

"I'm sorry,"

I felt so violently ill. I pushed off Gordo and looked to the floor as I stumbled away over to a bench and trashcan. I collapsed to the floor before it and threw up, and before Gordo or the doctors could get to me, I fell backwards as my vision faded from the outside in and my mind went black.

@ @ @

well let me know what you think, and as a thought, I'd like you to know that what happened to Miranda is loosely based upon something that happened to a girl that I went to school with. The only differences were her death was much more cruel and brutal and her killers and so called friends left her body on her families lawn after calling to say they were dropping her off.

This whole story is based upon many true events of my friends and acquaintances and i hope that it can raise some bit of awareness. And yes i plan on continuing.

Love much

~tl snow