Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Dedication: Laura/American Idiot and Liz/Butterfly Dancing for reading this over for me and Adam for listening to me complain about it even though he had no idea what I was talking about.
Author's Note: I've been trying to figure out how to finish this for months...

She remembers when she was nine, the first time she saw her mother drunk...

It was late, maybe ten, but she didn't care. She had woken up thirsty and gone downstairs to get a drink of water. As she reached the bottom of the staircase, she heard her parents talking. Her mother sounded.. different.

"Dance with me," Sarah said, giggling. She began humming a tune loudly while Grace watched her parents from her seat on the bottom stair.

"You should get some sleep. You'll feel better in the morning," her father said.

"I don't want to sleep!" her mother yelled back. She picked up a flask from the coffee table and took a long drink. "I want to dance."

"Sarah, you'll wake up Grace."

"Good. Maybe she'll dance with me. Gracie!" Sarah yelled, taking another drink from the flask. From the stairs, she watched her father pull the flask away from her and go into the kitchen, to pour out whatever was making her mother act that way. When her father returned, Grace watched as her mother began screaming things she couldn't even comprehend, her mother so far gone, so incoherent, she knew that her mother was scaring not only herself, but her father too.

Finally, after what seemed like forever of shouting, the house went silent. Cautiously, Grace stood up and got off the steps, the floor board creaking beneath her. Her father turned towards the staircase.

"Gracie," he said. Grace looked at her mothers form, laying on the floor, and the helpless look on her fathers face.

"What's wrong with mom?" Grace asked. Her father sighed.

"Grace, go back to bed. She's just not feeling well. She'll be better in the morning." Grace raised an eyebrow.

"Are you sure?" she asked. Her father nodded.

"I promise your mother will be better in the morning. Go back to sleep kiddo," he said. Grace nodded, believing her father, and returned to bed, having no idea what was to come later.

She remembers when she was thirteen, and her idea of a perfect family was shattered...

"I can't believe we have to write a seven page report in three days!" Grace complained. "We aren't even in high school yet. What kind of tyrannical teacher forces seventh graders to do that kind of work?" Adam laughed.

"It's not that bad Grace," he told her. She smacked him.

"You're supposed to say 'I know Grace', or 'I can't believe it either Grace'," she told him.

"But then I'd be lying," he responded. She glared at him.

"You want to go down to the lake after dinner and race paper boats?" Grace asked. Adam nodded.

"Sure," he told her as they approached his house. "You want to stay for dinner?"

"Of course," Grace said. She loved staying at Adam's house. It was amazing how close the three Roves were. Grace's family had become so torn, so strained, that seeing a normal family like Adam's was almost like stepping into a parallel universe. Carl and Elizabeth had become more like parents to her than her own parents.

Suddenly, Grace felt something touch her stomach. She looked down to see Adam had put his arm out in front of her to stop her from walking.

"Adam?" she asked, glancing up at her friend. Following his line of eyesight, she saw it. All at once she saw the flashing lights of the ambulance in front of the Roves' house.

She's pretty certain that she had repressed the memories, but every so often one or two come floating back. The long wait in the cold, dull hospital. Adam crying, more than she had ever seen him cry before. Mr. Rove sitting across from the two young teenagers, trying to be strong in front of them, but not doing to well. Memories of that cold November day, while leaves blew around the Roves and herself as they lowered Elizabeth into the Earth. Memories of the weeks, the months that passed by without Adam. The months he spent locked up in his house, staring at that note.

Every so often she remembers when her life went to hell.

She remembers when she was sixteen and Joan Girardi told her to stop underachieving and have some pride...

She didn't make friends. She didn't want to ever let anyone in. Rove, he was already there, he had always been there, physically. She was certain she hadn't had more than five conversations with him in the past three years though. There were no more sword fights with sticks in his back yard, no more running around the block or walking through the sewer tunnels to the creek where they use to race paper boats. Their relationship had evolved into a non speaking one. One where they sat together, did work together once in awhile, and his shed provided a place for the two of them to sleep when things just got too hard at home for the two. It wasn't ideal, but it worked.

And then, Joan Girardi joined AP Chem.

Joan had taken Grace by surprise. Joan had stood up to Grace when they had only known each other for a few days, and slowly after that Grace watched as she opened herself up a little more to let this teenage girl into her life. She watched as Adam got that light back in his eyes, the one that had been there before his mother.. She watched as she became good friends with Joan, and as Joan and Adam danced around their feelings for each other for months.

She watched things start to get a little better, because of this slightly eccentric sixteen year old girl.

She remembers when she realized Luke Girardi would be her complete undoing...

Joan had a little brother. She sat behind him in chemistry. She made fun of his hideous cologne. She threw spit balls at him, she tried to talk Joan into stealing his notes. She liked Luke well enough, she didn't think up creative ways to kill him at least, but she didn't want to be his friend, and she certainly did not want him to have a crush on her.

And yet, he just didn't give up. And part of her didn't want him to.

She remembers when she kissed him at the dance, how weird, yet amazing it had been. Her head was spinning out of control that night, in the way that she never wanted it to. And then everything had happend so fast after that. Kissing in the middle of the street, the contract, the long, confusing summer, telling him about her mother. She trusted him more than she had ever trusted anyone. She had let him in, let him know her. And knowing that he was there for her and that he understood helped.