Thanks again for all the reviews, everyone! Nice to know you've forgiven me for leaving the story to rot for so long. And happy 2009 to you all!
Abby: Don't worry, I assure you I am definitely not dead! Lol, thanks so much for reviewing, I'm glad you don't hate me and that you're glad I'm back! :D
spamisthename: Poor TJ and Spin, it's so sad that they've only just found each other but Spinelli's not got long left to live :( Thanks for reviewing!
GreenandPurpleMonkeys: I think I'd be scared of TJ in that mood as well! Lol, thanks for reviewing, glad you like the story :)
Rika24: It's so sad to know that there's no cure, this story probably won't have a happy ending and there are so many people experiencing leukaemia and other life-threatening illnesses for themselves that have only got a few months or years left to live. :( Thanks for reviewing :)
lozzard-wellard: Violent TJ reminds me of our MSN stories! It's scary! We've actually not had one of those stories for ages lol, I think we've run out of ideas :| Thanks for reviewing!
sassybutt32: Poor Spinelli, and stupid TJ at first! (But he's being nice now so that's OK :P) Thanks for reviewing, sorry I didn't update for so long before :)
Isa-BELLA Swan91: Thanks for the review! To see if Spinelli will die, then keep reading…
shana852963: Thanks for reviewing! Glad you like the story, sorry it took me so long to update before!
idoloveyou: Just goes to show how violence is never the answer and there is more than one side to every story, lol that sounded so cheesy :P Thanks for reviewing, I'm so glad you like my story :D
child who is cool: Thanks for reviewing! Glad you like my story, hope you enjoy this chapter :D
Sarina Blade: It's really sad that TJ and Spinelli don't have much time to be together :( Thanks for the review, glad you like the story :D
dynajo: Thank you for reviewing! I'm really glad you like my story and and I hope you enjoy this chapter :D
.sarah.: Thanks for the review! Glad you like the story :D Sorry I didn't update for quite a while, enjoy this chapter!
Madame Fist: Thanks for reviewing! It's great to randomly remember Recess after a while and try out the fics, and I'm glad you're enjoying my story :D I'm sorry that the individual review replies are often longer than the actual chapters, the reason I do it is because some of my reviewers are anonymous and I'd like them to know I appreciate their feedback as well. I know I could reply personally to those registered with fanfic, but I find it easier to reply to everyone at once. But if other people would rather I didn't reply to everyone at once, that's fine, I won't. I'll put a poll up on my profile to see what everyone thinks. :)
Here is chapter 14!
Ashley's words took a while to register in TJ's head. They were like a square peg and a round hole- not getting through at all.
Then suddenly, it clicked.
Ashley was dying.
Ashley was dying.
Ashley was dying…
NO!! Ashley Spinelli, the only girl he'd ever loved, the only girl he ever would love, could not die. He wouldn't allow it. He couldn't just stand back and let her die like that…
But the worst part was, he had to.
Nothing he could do could prevent Ashley's death. He could stand in front of her protectively and never leave her side, but in the end, the illness would win. Her life would be taken- and so would his. Even though he'd only just got his life back today in the kiss they'd shared.
The kiss was only today? Wow. So much had happened. So much had changed.
TJ sighed, squeezing Ashley's hand, knowing it was the most he could do. Never in his life had he felt so… helpless.
He didn't like feeling helpless. He didn't like depending on other people. He'd learned that in the fifth grade after Spinelli left and his dad died. He'd depended too much on Spinelli. He'd depended too much on his dad. When they were both gone, he was helpless. He learned not to depend on anyone else. To build hard, protective walls around himself and hope it would help him be hard and strong too.
But then all that- all the hard work, everything it had taken to make him a better person- all that was lying in ruins now.
All because Ashley was dying.
A tear slid silently down TJ's cheek- he sighed, he hadn't cried for so long. He used to think crying was pointless, because it didn't solve anything. But why shouldn't he cry? Was there any reason for him to hold back his tears? Everything he'd ever wanted- even when he was trying to be independent- was about to go, in one of the most slow, cruel, painful ways possible. Any smile that stretched across his face would be like a Halloween mask. Fake.
Ashley noticed TJ was crying. She sighed and let go of his hand, getting up and going over to look out of the broken window, her back to TJ.
"This is exactly what I didn't want," Ashley whispered.
"What?" TJ said.
"People crying. Getting all upset. It's a waste of tears."
"What do you mean, it's a waste of tears?" TJ asked, confused.
"Number one- it won't solve anything. Like it or not- this leukaemia will kill me, and crying ain't gonna stop that. Number two- I'm not worth it."
"You are," TJ growled fiercely, and Ashley turned around and smiled sadly. "No, I'm not. Because I've lied to everyone. You guys had a right to know… Gretchen, Vince, Gus, Mikey- you especially. But… I didn't tell you. And you know now, but will Mikey ever get to hear the truth, and know how sorry I am for living a lie? Will he be around to listen? Will I be around to tell him? Will I be around to tell anyone?"
"You will," TJ said, wishing Ashley would sit beside him again. How he longed to hold her, do something that had even a small chance of making her feel better.
"How do you know that?" Ashley snapped. "That's the scary part, Teej! No one knows when I'm going to die. I could get to see the fireworks at New Year, blow out the candles on my birthday cake one last time, watch our caps fall down at graduation. If any of those happen, I'll be extremely lucky. But what if I'm not lucky, TJ? What if my time's almost up? I could die next week. I could die tomorrow. I could drop dead right now. We don't know, TJ… and it scares me."
Ashley sighed, and went to sit beside TJ. It was amazing how, despite everything, just for one fraction of a second, she felt safe in his arms.
"Why didn't you tell anyone?"
"I didn't want them to get hurt. It breaks my heart when I see my mom's face every morning as I get to school and get out the car. Why? Because she looks… so worried. She pulls me into this tight hug and says 'goodbye, sweetie' like it's the last time. For all we know, it could be. And I can see how much it kills her. She's dying too, Teej- inside. Bit by bit, I get weaker, and so does she, I can see it in her eyes. I can tell it's happening to my dad too when I go to visit him. Why do I have to hurt them like this, TJ? I love them. They've given me so much. And this is how I repay them? By breaking their hearts? I don't want to hurt even more people than I already have! And that is why I didn't tell anyone."
TJ couldn't believe what he was hearing. He felt so guilty. Just a few hours ago at the hospital scene, the scene that could be Mikey's deathbed, he had called Spinelli selfish, when in reality, she was anything but. Keeping her secret from the world just because she was scared of people getting hurt. Feeling guilty because they were getting hurt. Feeling like it was her fault she was dying.
"Spin, you've got to understand that it is not your fault," TJ said gently, caressing Ashley's beautiful cheek. Had it always felt so… cold? "You didn't ask to die. And it's not your fault that these people love you so much. They're upset. That's just because you're so wonderful, and you can't help that."
"But I'm not wonderful, TJ! I lied to you! I lied to everyone! Because of me, you got all depressed and the gang broke up. Maybe if I'd told you all where I was, you'd have kept the gang together and Mikey would maybe still have you guys now, and Gus's friends would have left him alone, and he'd be sitting at school with you guys now, not lying unconscious in a hospital bed, wired up to a heart monitor. If Mikey dies, it's my fault. I didn't ask to die. My death is no one's fault. But I deserve it, because of what I did to everyone, and the consequences its had, especially on Mikey."
TJ wondered what the hell was going through her mind. How could she even think it was her fault? "It's not your fault Spinelli!!"
"But-" Ashley began to protest, but TJ put his finger to her lips. "Shh. I love you. Don't forget that."
And then he kissed her again.
For a moment or so, the two focused on nothing but the gentle movement of their lips. It felt so… right.
Ashley pulled away from him, smiling. She was feeling a little dizzy- probably because of the kiss, she assumed.
The last thing she remembered seeing was TJ's face and thinking how beautiful and perfect it was. How everything was wonderful, and how she wished she could make this moment last forever.
And then everything went black.
Please review! :)