I know this chapter jumps around a LOT, but it should be fairly easy to keep up with. Sorry for any confusion!
I want to thank each and every one of you for reading this story. Whether you've been a faithful reviewer or just a silent reader, this story never could've been written without your help and your support. Thank you so much for everything!
Disclaimer: I don't own the lyrics to "Tell Me What to Do," by Demi Lovato. I also do not own the episodes of swac I reference.
Chad Dylan Cooper Never Says Goodbye
Tell me what to do, ohh
By the time Connie and Sonny finally figured out which hospital Chad was in, Sonny had managed to compose herself. Her eyes were red, but at least she wasn't sobbing uncontrollably. She needed to be strong for Chad's sake. Someone had to help him wake up, right?
At first, the nurses refused to let Sonny in the room, stating firmly that only family was allowed. The actress didn't give up easily. She explained that even if Chad's parents bothered coming, he would want to see her too. She tried telling the nurses that she was Chad's girlfriend and the Cooper's wouldn't mind if she saw their son. Even Connie stepped forward and tried reasoning with the ladies. Nothing worked; their answer remained the same.
Sonny paced around the waiting room, racking her brain for believable excuses. She could lie and say she was Chad's sister. Would the nurses go for that? No…Chad was too famous. Everyone knew he was an only child. Maybe she could pose as his cousin or something. Did she look like someone who could be related to the Cooper family?
"You're making me dizzy," Connie complained as her daughter circled the room for what had to be the hundredth time. "Why don't you sit down for a while? I'm sure they'll let you see Chad eventually-,"
"I can't wait for 'eventually', mom!" Sonny cried out. "What if 'eventually' comes too late? What if Chad wakes up while I'm being hostage out here and he freaks out because he has no idea where he is or who anyone is? What if he never wakes up at all and 'eventually' doesn't come until it's too late and he's already – he's already…"
"I'm sorry," the brunette apologized quickly. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to shout like that. It's just…Chad's never been in an accident before and I know people go into comas all the time and end up waking up perfectly okay, but other times, they lose their memories and forget who they are, who their friends are, and I just couldn't deal with it if that happened to Chad all because of me!"
Connie stared at her daughter blankly. "Because of you? Sonny, Chad was in a car accident. You had nothing to do with it, sweetie."
"Why do you think he was driving so far away from home in the first place, mom?" The actress answered her own question. "He was mad at me for breaking up with him! If we never would've broken up, he wouldn't have jumped in his car and he never would've been there when that semi appeared. If anything happens to Chad, if he's not okay…it'll be my fault."
A break-up? Why was this the first time Connie was hearing about a break-up? She thought things were going fine between her daughter and the greatest actor of her generation. When had they decided to split?
She would have to get the rest of the details later. Right now, Sonny was hugging her shoulders tightly, trying her hardest to keep the tears from escaping again. Connie held out her arms. The young teen fell into them, burying her head in Connie's chest.
Connie always thought Sonny was tough. She'd grown into a beautiful woman, a woman who knew right from wrong and always did her best to make the right decisions. She was an amazing actress and had a smile that was contagious. She was mature for her age, which was something Connie took pride in. Somehow, she'd managed to raise a nearly-perfect daughter.
Looking at Sonny now, watching as she tried and failed to keep her composure, Connie remembered what it was like to be a teenager. Feeling not quite grown-up enough to be called an adult but not childish enough to be a kid either. Falling in love for the first time and falling out of love just as quickly. Imagining the world was ending because your heart was broken into a million tiny pieces.
Sonny was strong…most of the time. Tonight, as Connie held her daughter in her lap, gently kissing away her tears and whispering that everything was going to be okay, she was nothing more than a little child who needed mommy to make their boo-boo go away.
Tonight, Connie wished she had someone to make her feel better, too.
Connie jumped when she felt a hand lightly shake her shoulder. Her movement caused Sonny, who must've fallen asleep in her lap, to wake up as well. Blushing with embarrassment, Sonny leapt to her feet and brushed her fingers through her hair. Connie followed her example, wondering if her hair was as frazzled and her eyes as red-rimmed as her daughter's.
"I'm sorry to wake you," a man's voice apologized. "I assume you're here for Chad Dylan Cooper?"
Just hearing his name was enough to grab Sonny's attention. She turned to the man – a tall, thin guy who didn't have much hair and was wearing a white coat – and clutched his arm.
"How is Chad?" she demanded. "Is he okay? Has he woken up yet? Can I see him?"
"Sonny," Connie disciplined. "Breathe between your questions! You need to give him a chance to answer before you spring another one on the poor guy!"
"You may ask as many questions as you'd like to ask, dear girl," the man said, smiling down at the actress. "My name is Doctor Hammond. Chad has been placed under my care for the time being."
"Is he alright? What's wrong with him? Oh, I hope it isn't anything too horrible. Can I see him yet? Is he awake?"
The questions came out as a huge run-on sentence. Sonny tried to slow them down but she was too nervous about the answers. What was the point in talking slow when Chad was sitting all alone in a hospital room with no one around to comfort him? The faster she got the questions out of the way, hopefully the sooner she'd get to see him.
"I am very happy to announce that Chad is doing much better," Dr. Hammond said. Both Munroe's let out sighs of relief. "However, although his vital signs are picking up, Mr. Cooper has not yet woken up from his coma. I am certain that he can hear almost everything going on around him and his body is accepting the food and fluids we're giving him, but he was jostled around pretty badly in the accident. He has a few minor injuries – bruises, cuts, things of that sort – and he must've hit his head too. From what I can tell, there isn't any brain damage."
So, Chad was eating and drinking. He also didn't have any brain damage. If it wasn't for the stupid coma, Sonny would've jumped up and down in joy.
"If there's no brain damage," Connie wanted to know, "Why is he still asleep?"
"I think his body has gone into a state of shock," Dr. Hammond replied. "We won't know for certain how much he's suffering until he opens his eyes. Only then will we know whether or not he's able to function properly."
"And by properly you mean…?"
"I mean that Mr. Cooper will know who he is, when his birthday day is, what today's date is, and that he plays Mackenzie on a hit tween show," Dr. Hammond clarified. "If we're lucky, Chad will still have all his memories. If that's the case, his healing process shall be fairly short."
Sonny felt her smile fading. "What if he doesn't have his memories?"
"If that's the case," Dr. Hammond said, "His injuries will still heal just as fast. He just might be a little harder to look after. He'll need someone to watch him twenty-four hours a day until he regains those memories. However, that is a worst-case scenario. Right now, there's no evidence that makes me believe Mr. Cooper won't make a full recovery."
Dr. Hammond pulled out a clipboard, which he studied closely for several long moments. Sonny shifted her weight from one foot to the other. What was taking so long? Why hadn't she been given permission to see Chad yet?
"I understand that you are Mr. Cooper's only visitors?" the doctor asked. "What is your relation to the patient?"
"I'm his…" Sonny paused, unsure which term described her now. She wasn't a girlfriend…Were they even friends? "I'm one of his co-workers."
"We're not sure about his parents," Connie jumped in. "He doesn't talk about them very often. I can assure you that Sonny and Chad are close. They're practically family, so if anyone should be allowed to see him-,"
"You don't need to give me excuses," Dr. Hammond said, waving off her statement. "I was already planning on inviting you to see Mr. Cooper. I hope that hearing the voice of someone close to him – someone like Sonny – will help him wake up."
Putting aside his paperwork, Dr. Hammond smiled brightly at the ladies standing before him. He gestured toward the hall. "So…Shall we proceed with the visitation?"
Even though she'd wanted nothing more than to see Chad less than five minutes ago, Sonny suddenly felt scared. What if she made things worse instead of better? It was possible that Chad was so mad at her for breaking up with him that the sound of her voice would encourage him to stay asleep instead of awakening him from his coma. Was she even ready to see him? Could she look at his lifeless body without screaming?
Noticing her daughter's hesitation, Connie took Sonny's hand in hers, squeezing it tightly. The younger girl closed her eyes, breathed in deeply, and finally nodded her head.
"Let's do this," she said, mustering every ounce of courage that she could find.
Still holding hands, Sonny and Connie followed Dr. Hammond as he led them through the hospital, each and every step bringing them that much closer to Chad Dylan Cooper.
Dr. Hammond stopped at room 118.
"I'll leave you alone," he said before placing a hand on Sonny's shoulder. "It will feel weird at first, talking to someone who can't respond. Please try your best to keep the conversation flowing. Talk to him about anything. Simply hearing your voice will help him."
Sonny nodded. She would've answered him except her throat was tightening up. The impending tears waited at the corners of her eyes and she blinked rapidly to keep them from escaping.
Without another word, Dr. Hammond left. Sonny and her mother were alone in the quiet hallway, both of them staring at the closed door as though they expected a ghost to walk through it at any given moment. A door had never looked so foreboding.
"Do you want me to come in with you?" Connie offered.
"Yes," Sonny said fervently. "The more voices Chad hears, the better his chances are of waking up."
'And I'm too afraid to go in alone,' she added silently.
Connie stepped forward, knowing Sonny wasn't going to make the first move. She placed her hand on the doorknob – Sonny chewed furiously on her lower lip – and slowly, she twisted her wrist. The door opened just wide enough for Sonny to slither her way inside, which she did, but not before closing her eyes.
With her eyes still knit together, Sonny had no idea what made her mother utter that phrase. Did Chad look that bad? Was she going to puke the moment she saw him?
'You have to look at him, Sonny,' that annoying little voice ordered. 'If it weren't for you, he wouldn't even be here. You owe him, Munroe!'
The voice was right. If Sonny was the one lying in a hospital bed, she would've wanted someone, anyone really, to come sit with her, even if it was Chad Dylan Cooper, her ex-boyfriend.
She forced her left eye to open.
At first glance, Sonny thought Chad was an angel. His skin was so white; it was almost glowing in the soft lighting. His blue eyes were closed and his face – his beautiful, award-winning face – was covered in cuts and bruises. As Sonny stepped closer, she could make out every injury clearly. The black and blue circle around his eye. The long mark stretching from his chin to his temple. The spot where his hair had been shaved so the doctor could tend to another cut.
Tubes stuck out in every direction. Sonny guessed that two of them were for food and water. The others, she had no idea. A bandage was wrapped around his forehead, which also had wires attached to it. That one was easy to figure out: it was keeping track of Chad's lifeline.
"It's not so bad," Connie commented, plastering a fake smile to her lips. "It almost looks like he's just taking a nap, doesn't it?"
"He is napping," Sonny agreed, latching on to the excuse. Anything was better than thinking about talking with a coma-induced Chad. "He's just tired after everything he's been through. He'll wake up when he's ready."
Connie stepped closer to Chad's bed. Sonny hung back, staying as close to the door as possible. She wasn't sure she was ready to approach him just yet.
"Hey, Chad," Connie greeted gently. "It's me, Mrs. Munroe. The mother of your girl – ex-girlfriend, I mean. You're having a rough day, huh?"
Of course there was no response. That didn't seem to faze Connie.
"Well, I suppose it's a good thing you're getting rested up," she continued, "Because you're going to need your strength when I get my hands on you. I don't know what happened between you and my daughter, but I do know that it was probably your fault. It seems like every time the two of you have a fight, it's because of something stupid you've done."
Sonny felt her jaw drop. Here she was, feeling responsible for Chad's condition, and instead of telling him how sorry she was to have such a stupid daughter, Connie was making Chad out to sound like the bad guy!
"I'm only joking," Connie went on when she glanced up long enough to see Sonny's expression. "My daughter isn't perfect, either. I'm sure she's caused a few fights along the way. I'm not kidding about this though." She leaned forward, allowing her lips to linger just above the actor's ear. "You really do need to wake up. No matter what happened with you and Sonny, she'll be heartbroken if anything happens to you. She cares about you a lot, Chad – a lot more than she'll ever admit."
The blush that overtook Sonny's cheeks was priceless. Her mother couldn't help it; she had to chuckle.
"Sonny's going to talk to you now," she explained, motioning for Sonny to come forward. "She's been so worried about you. You need to open those dramatic eyes of yours and let her know everything's going to be okay, alright? I've already told her, but she won't listen to me. Maybe she would believe you."
"No, no," Sonny protested. "I don't need to talk to him yet. You're doing such a wonderful job, mom! Why don't you keep talking and I'll just – I'll…"
She couldn't think of a good excuse. Connie narrowed her eyes and Sonny sighed in defeat. She'd stalled long enough apparently.
Her feet stayed glued to the floor as Sonny sluggishly made her way to the bed. When she was close enough, Connie grabbed her arm, dragging her the rest of the way. Too quickly, she was standing at Chad's side.
"Um…Hi, Chad." She refused to look at his lifeless face. "It's me, Sonny. Sonny Munroe, to be exact. I have no idea if you remember me or not, so maybe I should tell you something about myself?"
She glanced up at Connie, silently asking if she was doing okay so far. Her mother nodded excitedly, gesturing for her to continue.
"I moved to Hollywood a little over a year ago," she explained, deciding the beginning was the best place to start. "See, I'd just gotten a role on So Random, which was like a dream-come-true for me. I always wanted to be a comedian so when I found out I was going to live out my dream, I was so excited! I couldn't wait to start my new job at Condor Studios. Do you know what Condor Studios is? You work there too, you know – for a show called Mackenzie Falls. Your cast hates mine. Well, they used to hate mine, anyway."
Sonny giggled as she thought back to her first days in Hollywood. Man, how things had changed since then!
"My cast mates hated me when I arrived," she said, rolling her eyes at the memory. "They were already best friends and they didn't want me to mess things up. They thought I would be a horrible addition to the show, that I didn't have a funny bone in my body. I proved them wrong. I didn't know about the rivalry between your cast and mine until a week or so later. Believe it or not, but you weren't so fond of me when we first met, either. Actually, you didn't even know I was an actress. You asked me for yogurt…"
Connie backed out of the room silently as Sonny dived into her stories. If Dr. Hammond's theory about hearing the voice of someone close to him was true, Chad would be awake in no time.
Sonny Munroe wasn't shutting up anytime soon.
For the next week, Sonny spent as much time as she could at the hospital. She called in sick to work – it wasn't like it mattered how many days she missed since she was moving to Wisconsin anyway. Every day, she spent the time she'd normally share with Tawni, Nico, Grady, and Zora sitting at Chad's bedside, babbling on and on about anything and everything. She told him about her life before and after moving to Hollywood, about how close she and Lucy used to be and how great it would be now that they were going to college together. She also spoke about his life, just in case his own memories were gone. She reminded him how stuck-up he was and that he referred to himself in third person on a daily basis.
When she finally ran out of things to say, Sonny had several different activities lined up. Sometimes, she pulled out a book and started to read it out loud. It didn't matter which title she chose; Chad hated reading, so she was sure he hadn't heard any of them before. Other times, she brought DVD copies of Mackenzie Falls or So Random with her, hoping the voices on the videos would help him wake up.
Sonny never left the hospital earlier than nine o'clock, which was when Dr. Hammond kicked her out of Chad's room, stating that visiting hours were over. She went home every night but never got any sleep. Instead, she spent her nights wondering what she was doing wrong, why Chad hadn't come out of his coma yet, and what she could do differently that would help him more. She was back at Chad's side every morning at seven, the exact hour visiting hours began.
"Come on, Chad," she encouraged on more than one occasion. "I've heard of beauty sleep, but you're going a little overboard, don't you think?"
She took his hand in hers, twining their fingers together. His hand was cold – freezing, almost – and she worried that maybe that was a bad sign. However, his wrist proved that he had a pulse. Chad Dylan Cooper wasn't dead; he was still fighting for his life.
"Don't think I don't know exactly what you're doing," Sonny accused. "You've always said drama is better than comedy. You're only staying asleep for so long because you want to create dramatic effect, right? Well, you can knock off your little game anytime now, Chad. I, for one, am getting sick of this hospital. Aren't you?"
For the first six days, Chad remained motionless. On the seventh though, something finally changed.
"Come on, Chad. I've heard of beauty sleep, but you're going a little overboard, don't you think?"
Her voice sounded far away, but Chad couldn't deny hearing it. He knew he'd heard it somewhere – it sounded very familiar – although he couldn't quite put his finger on who it was. His mother? No…Her voice had never sounded so musical. The voice spoke with perfect clarity and in a tone that reminded him of sunshine…
Sunshine…A tone that reminded him…of sunshine…
He could see everything clearly, almost as though the scene was playing out right before his eyes. A younger Chad and Portlyn were on the So Random set, hiding from the Randoms. Actually, they weren't so much hiding as they were spying. From the looks of it, the comedy show was getting a new actress, a very pretty girl with brown hair, brown eyes, and a cute smile.
The new actress started to walk away. Chad was alone now – Portlyn must have left – and he couldn't take his eyes off the new girl. For some reason he didn't understand, she glanced over her shoulder as she left. Her eyes locked with his.
The clip he'd just seen, Chad realized with sudden shock, was a flashback to the first time he laid eyes on Sonny. Wait…If this was just a flashback, where was the real Sonny? He'd heard her voice! She was nearby, maybe even right beside him. How come he couldn't see her? Where was she?
Chad started to panic. Noises were becoming louder – machines whirling, feet running in every direction, the rustling of papers, voices he'd never heard before. What was happening to him? Where was he? Why was everything getting louder and brighter by the second?
He was finally waking up.
Chad's hand was in Sonny's when she thought she saw his finger move. She ignored it at first, figuring her eager and tired mind was just playing tricks. When another finger moved a few seconds later, followed by a loud moan from the blonde actor, Sonny jumped to her feet. It was finally time!
Dr. Hammond and three nurses rushed into the room. They ran around like chickens with no heads, their happiness evident on their faces. Sonny refused to move away from Chad, clutching to his hand for dear life. She held her breath.
'He's going to wake up now. Okay…He'll wake up now. Maybe now?'
"Doctor!" one of the nurses cried out. "Look at his eyes!"
His eyelids were fluttering like he was trying to keep them closed, like he didn't want to open them. Sonny waited, cheering him on silently: 'Come on, Chad. You can do this, I know you can!'
Slowly, his blue orbs finally opened.
The nurses clapped, Dr. Hammond ran to check something, and Sonny bent down, hugging Chad's torso as tightly as she could without jostling the needles. For his part, all Chad did was blink in surprise.
Chad Dylan Cooper was alive!
"I really got hit by a semi?"
A few hours later, after Dr. Hammond was satisfied with Chad's tests, the two actors were left alone. Sonny did her best to fill Chad in on his accident, although it was hard since she hadn't been in the car with him. Thankfully, he seemed to remember everything else. He knew his name (all three of them), he knew he acted on Mackenzie Falls, and he didn't need to be told who Sonny was. It looked like he was going to be just fine once his cuts healed and his bruises faded.
"You're lucky to be here right now," Sonny confirmed the answer to Chad's question. "I saw your car after the wreck. I'm pretty sure it's totaled."
"Huh. I guess it's really true then, isn't it?" Chad said thoughtfully. "Chad Dylan Cooper can survive anything!"
"Chad Dylan Cooper never would've had to survive anything if it weren't for Sonny Munroe."
Chad wrinkled his brow. "What are you talking about, Sonny? It wasn't your fault this happened."
"Don't you remember what happened before you got in the accident?" Sonny asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
Everything about that night was still a little foggy to him. Chad remembered something about a re-count, a crying Sonny, and anger as he hopped into his car and drove away from the studio. Any other details were temporarily erased.
"We broke up," Sonny explained when the actor never answered her. "We broke up and you went crazy and tried to kill yourself."
"I wasn't trying to kill myself," Chad argued. "I just went for a drive-,"
"Yeah, a drive that almost killed you! Chad, you were so angry about our break-up that you got in this horrible accident. Do you have any idea how scared I was? I had no idea if you would ever wake up from your coma or if you'd be the same person if you did or if you would just…If you'd just…"
She broke off, shaking her head as she flopped into the chair beside his bed. Chad reached out quickly, ignoring the pain that shot through his arm. Stupid needle!
"Even if something had happened to me, it wouldn't have been your fault, Sonny," he assured her. "It was my decision to get behind the wheel. I was the one who didn't see the truck until it was too late, not you."
Sonny wasn't listening. She shook her head again, sucked in a deep breath, and stared at her hands nervously.
"I guess I really do 'Sonny it up' sometimes."
Chad didn't know what to say. He had no idea what Sonny was talking about. She hadn't done anything wrong! Sure, the old Chad would've blamed her for everything, but he couldn't do that this time. He was the one who got behind the wheel when he was too upset to drive. He was the one who turned up his music too loud. He was the one who allowed his car to drift into the other lane. Sonny hadn't done anything.
"Let's face it, Chad. We're not good for each other." Sonny shrugged helplessly. "We fought when I first moved here. We tried to cover up our hate by dating. Now, we're sitting in a hospital room after breaking up. I've been a bad influence on your life. Maybe things will get better now that I'm leaving."
The blonde actor felt his jaw fall. "Leaving?"
"My mom thinks it would be a good idea for me to go to college in case my acting career ever falls through. I'm moving back to Wisconsin."
This couldn't be happening. Here he was, sitting in a hospital room with too many injuries to count, and Chad didn't care about himself at all. All he cared about were the words leaving Sonny's mouth, the goodbye she was inevitably building up to.
"Don't tell anyone else about this," she pleaded. "I want to wait to tell my friends until they absolutely need to know. They might try convincing me to stay…and I might listen to them."
"What if I try convincing you to stay?" Chad demanded. "Would you stay if I asked you to, Sonny?"
Her brown eyes were round as they locked on his blue ones. He wished he could read her mind, that he could tell exactly what she was thinking about. Why was she so keen on leaving Hollywood? Did she really want to take college courses or did she just want to leave him? Was he that horrible of a person?
"No," she decided after a pregnant pause. "No…I wouldn't stay even if you asked me to."
"Sonny." He took her hands, refusing to let them go as she struggled to free them. "I know I hurt you by asking for that re-count, but I don't want you to leave Hollywood. You're an amazing actress; you don't need to have a college education. If you want one though, you could take classes here instead of moving away and-,"
"I can't stay here," Sonny argued. "Like I said, we're not good together. All I've ever done is hurt you, Chad. I can't do it anymore. You're free now. Free to fall in love with someone who isn't your enemy. Free to go back to dating your co-stars. Free to live in the spotlight without sharing it with anyone."
"But, Sonny, I-,"
"I need to go," the actress interrupted.
She climbed to her feet, scrambled to grab her coat, and fled the room without looking back. Chad sat in his bed, dumbfounded.
At least when Sonny broke up with him, he knew it wasn't goodbye. He would still see her around the studio and he hoped they could be friends. That wasn't going to happen if she moved back to Wisconsin. She might keep in contact at first, but Chad would get busy with his acting career and Sonny would get wrapped up in her homework and her new friends. Eventually, they would stop speaking.
With a heavy heart, Chad realized that unless he could change her mind, Sonny Munroe was going to leave him…
I already know, I can see it in your eyes when you're telling the truth
Cause it's been a long time comin'
So where you runin to?
Tell me what to do, ohh, about you
Chad did everything he could think of. He dropped by the So Random set, claiming he'd left something there. He stopped by Sonny's apartment. He stood up for her when the new girl – whatever her name was – claimed the audience at the Patio wouldn't like Sonny's music. He hired people to make sure Sonny won the bet. He fired the people when Sonny got upset. He even stayed home on the night he knew she was finally performing because he knew she'd never get through the song if he was there.
Nothing he did was helping. Sonny was still planning on leaving for Wisconsin.
Sonny, for her part, could see exactly what Chad was trying to do. Now that he understood she was leaving, he was ready to change. He couldn't do it when they were dating; no, he had to wait until the moment when she made up her mind to leave Hollywood.
'He's faking,' she told herself. 'Chad isn't really changing. He just wants you to stay. The second you say, 'Okay, I changed my mind: I'll stay here!', he'll go right back to the old Chad again.'
Sonny didn't think anything of it when she received a phone call asking her if she'd be willing to do an interview. The reporters were beginning to figure out that she and Chad were no longer a couple; it made sense that the world wanted to know what was going on with Hollywood's favorite pairing. She agreed to the interview happily. It would be a great opportunity for her to let everyone know about her college plans.
She had no idea that Chad was behind everything. The phone call, the interview…It was all part of his grand plan, the last idea he had before giving up and allowing Sonny to leave peacefully. If this plan failed (which it wouldn't, of course. He was the one who came up with it and Chad Dylan Cooper's plans always worked), he would leave Sonny alone.
It was now or never.
You've got your way of speaking
Even the air you're breathin'
You could be anything
But you don't know what to believe in
You got the world before you
If I could only show you
That you don't know what to do
"Please give a warm welcome to Hollywood's very own Sonny Munroe!"
The applause was thunderous as Sonny made her way onto the stage. She waved at the audience and smiled brightly – until her eyes landed on the other side of the set, where her interviewer was sitting. There was a couch too, a couch where she was supposed to sit.
The only problem was, Chad was already sitting on it.
Sonny turned around quickly. She would tell the host she suddenly felt sick as soon as she stepped into the spotlight and that was why she avoided the interview. It wouldn't be a lie, exactly. Sonny's stomach really did churn the moment she noticed Chad.
Unfortunately, before she could get off the set, Chad sprang from the couch and wrapped his arms around her shoulders. Sonny had no choice but to paste a fake smile to her lips as her ex pushed her across the stage. Apparently she was doing the show whether she wanted to or not.
The host, a lady in her late thirties named Wendy, shoved a microphone into Sonny's hands as soon as she and Chad were back on the couch. Sonny grimaced. Could they have found a smaller piece of furniture? Chad was practically sitting right on top of her!
"You must be a little surprised to see Chad Dylan Cooper here," Wendy said, laughing off Sonny's almost-exit. "I thought it would be a fun idea to keep his presence a secret. That way, everyone got to see your reaction when you finally saw him!"
"What a great surprise, Wendy!" Sonny said, glaring daggers at the actor sitting beside her. "See, there's actually a funny little story I'd like to share about Chad-,"
"I'm sure Wendy has more important issues to discuss right now," Chad jumped in before Sonny could say another word.
"I do have a few questions I was hoping the two of you would be able to answer," Wendy confirmed. "The first one is this: has Channy really broken up?"
"Yes," Sonny answered at the same time Chad shouted, "No way!"
The audience was silent as they tried to figure out which answer was the right one. Chad had never heard a live studio audience sit so quietly before.
"What my delusional friend is trying to say," Sonny explained, "Is that yes, we are broken up. Actually, I broke up with him a few weeks ago, just after the Tween Choice Awards."
A loud gasp emitted from the crowd. Chad was losing ground fast; he needed to fight back before his plan was completely blown.
"Okay, so maybe we are broken up now," he admitted. "How many people here think we should get back together?"
Every hand – including Wendy's and Chad's – shot into the air.
"Two can play this game, Cooper," Sonny muttered under her breath. Then, she smiled as she addressed the audience. "Let me ask you this: how many of you are dating egotistic people who only think about themselves and never put you first?"
This time, a smaller group – Wendy still included – raised their hand. Sonny stuck her tongue out in an 'I-told-you-so!' manner.
"How many egotistic jerks out there are willing to change if it means keeping the person they love?" Chad asked.
The hands that had gone up for Sonny's question fell as the other half of the crowd, the ones who were the egotistic people, threw their hands into the air.
"Sure, you can claim you're willing to change. Saying it is easier than doing it," Sonny pronounced. "How many of you actually believe the other person will follow through with their promise?"
Every hand stayed down.
"That's not fair!" Chad protested. "You can't just shoot the egotistic people down without giving them a chance!"
"Maybe," Sonny shot back, "They've already had plenty of time to change. Maybe their girlfriends are getting sick of waiting."
"Maybe their girlfriends need to stop and smell the roses so they can realize how good they really have it!"
Sonny scoffed. "What are you trying to say, Chad? That these couples who are suffering because of conceitedness are really the luckiest couples in the world?"
"No, that's not what I'm saying," Chad stated firmly, his eyes only looking into Sonny's. He needed her to hear this, to really listen to him. "All I'm saying is that some egotistic people don't realize how bad they are until it's too late. It takes their girlfriend breaking up with them to make them see how terrible they really are."
Sonny shifted her weight, studying her shoes.
"I don't know where you're going with this, Chad. You just said it yourself: it's too late by that point. They're already broken up."
"That doesn't mean they have to stay broken up!"
She couldn't handle the pressure. There were too many eyes watching her for Sonny to concentrate. She needed to get out while she still could, while she still stood a chance of making it backstage before the tears came.
"I'm sorry," she mumbled as she stood up. "I – I need to go."
That was all it took to bring Sonny's feet to a sudden stop. Chad had never called her Allison before. 'Sonny' and 'Munroe' and 'm'lady' and 'sonshine' she was used to. No one ever called her by her first name.
"Before you leave here today, I want you to think about something," Chad ordered. "Don't think about the stupid re-count or anything I've ever done to upset you. I want you to think about the good times we've had together."
"You guys know that Sonny and I used to be rivals," Chad said, turning his attention back to the audience. "You know that we eventually fell in love. What you don't know is how that happened. Sonny and I…" He paused as he summoned the will to keep going. "There were a lot of hidden moments that led up to our relationship."
"Chad!" Sonny hissed, not believing a word she was hearing.
"Don't 'Chad' me, Munroe!" He closed the huge gap between them, taking her shoulders in his hands. "Think back to everything that led us to this moment. Every time we met up after work was done…All the almost-kisses…How we pretended to hate each other just to make our friends happy. Do you really want to throw all of that away, Sonny? Are you going to throw away everything we have just because I made one mistake?"
The memories poured in, each only pausing long enough for Sonny to recognize it before switching to a new one. She didn't want to remember them – she didn't want to see them play out now, not when she was supposed to be mad at Chad – but there was nothing she could do to stop them.
The game of Musical Chairs So Random played against Mackenzie Falls just after she joined the cast. The game she and Chad engaged in later without their cast mates.
Chad telling her she was welcome on the Mackenzie Falls set whenever she wanted to drop by.
How Chad had pretended to be her biggest fan.
The way he helped her study for her math test – which she passed – all because she wanted to keep her job on So Random.
The birthday cake she'd broken apart with her hands after he accused her of sabotaging it.
Playing Duck, Duck, Goose in the studio's parking lot with both casts.
The time Chad agreed to be her fake-date just so they could make James jealous and the fake kiss that Chad blogged about afterward.
Dancing together at prom, even though Chad hadn't been invited because he thought all proms were stupid.
The one (and only) time Chad admitted Sonny was better at acting than he was.
Staying in the Prop House all night in order to paint a wall, having a paint-war, and falling asleep while using Chad as her pillow.
Putting together Nico and Grady's birthday present (the super-cool chair) with Chad's help, then fighting over who got to spin in it first.
The serious discussion they had after Chad guest-starred on So Random when they decided they weren't ready to date yet, but maybe it would happen someday.
Appearing on Got'cha with Gilroy Smith.
How nervous they both were when it came to their first kiss.
Playing paint-ball one-on-one.
All these memories and so many more played through her head like a movie. They wouldn't stop no matter what Sonny did. She had to remain strong. She couldn't get back together with him just because they'd had a few happy times. She needed to remember the re-count and how he wouldn't let her be in the spotlight for even one day and…
…And what she really needed to do was get off the stage.
"Well?" Chad demanded, and Sonny could only guess at how long she'd been out of it. "Are you going to throw everything away or what?"
Without saying another word, Sonny ran.
Chad was speechless. His plan hadn't worked after all. The interview, the audience participation, begging Sonny to reminisce…It had all been for nothing. She still wasn't willing to give him another chance.
It looked like he really was going to have to step aside and let her go to Wisconsin.
You think about it
Can you ever change, finish what you've started
Make me wanna stay, tired of conversation
Show me something real, find out what your part is
Play it how you feel
Several days passed without Sonny and Chad seeing each other. She stopped coming to work. She wouldn't answer her phone, neither calls nor texts. It felt like she'd dropped off the face of the earth.
Chad tried to focus on his job. Mackenzie Falls' ratings were slowly beginning to drop and he knew if he didn't do something soon, he would be unemployed. With Grant replacing Mackenzie once and someone else taking his place while he was in the hospital, viewers were getting annoyed with the constant changes. So Random's viewers were soaring while the Falls fell farther and farther behind.
His life was falling apart at the seams.
He was sitting in his dressing room when he heard the knock. Wondering who would still be around at this time of night, Chad timidly called, "Come in." Who cared if it was a robber? It wasn't like he had much left for anyone to steal.
His back was facing the door, but he could see her reflection in his mirror. He paused, rubbing his eyes to make sure he wasn't seeing things.
Sonny Munroe was standing in his dressing room.
"I wasn't expecting to see you again," Chad commented without turning around. "I figured you would already be in Wisconsin by now."
"I'm leaving tonight," the actress – ex-actress actually, replied. "I thought I would say goodbye."
So that was what she wanted: to say farewell before leaving him behind forever. Well, Chad didn't need her charity.
"Don't bother," he said. "I'm sure my head is too big to care about you anymore, right? I'm too conceited, aren't I? I only care about Chad."
"You're not conceited," Sonny disagreed softly. "Tonight, you're just an idiot."
Now she wanted to insult him too? Leaving him for her new college life was one thing, but no one insulted Chad Dylan Cooper!
"Let's get one thing straight before you take off, Munroe," Chad said, finally facing the brunette as he closed the distance between them. "You can be as mad at me as you want to about our break-up. You can even blame me for it if you want to. I don't care. I used to care, but now I don't. You're leaving so I guess…I guess there's no reason for us to even have this conversation. What does it matter?"
"It does matter, Chad," Sonny stated, grabbing his wrist to keep him for turning around. "Every conversation we've ever had matters. Don't you get it?"
Chad stared at her, one eyebrow raised in the air. "Don't I get what?"
"That I'm only leaving because I love you too much!"
She threw her arms around his neck and, without giving Chad a chance to say anything or do anything that would stop her, she pressed her lips against his.
It was like the world stopped. All Chad could think about was how great it was to have Sonny in his arms again, to kiss her like there was no tomorrow. He wrapped his hands around her waist, pulling her closer to him. He ran his hands through her hair, cupped her cheeks, touched every inch of skin that he could. He wanted to remember everything about this moment. Everything about Sonny was special and he never wanted to forget the way she could make him act like the world's biggest fool just by looking at him with her big brown eyes.
All too soon, the moment ended. Sonny pulled away and Chad was left with nothing but a cool gust of air. He always felt cold when Sonny wasn't with him. It was almost like she really had become his sun somehow, the only person capable of supplying him with the heat he needed to survive.
"I need to go."
"No!" Chad pulled on her hand, bringing Sonny back to him. "You just said you love me!"
"I do love you," Sonny repeated. "I just…We're not ready for this yet, Chad."
He couldn't believe it. Sonny was in love with him and he was in love with her. What was the problem? Why couldn't they be together?
"We're not ready for a relationship like this," Sonny said again. "We think we're in love, but are we really? We're so young and I can't help but wonder if maybe our hearts grew up before the rest of our bodies. Maybe we can make this work someday, but that day isn't today. We both need to grow up and figure out who we really are before we can commit to something this…this powerful. I'll go away and attend college for now. You'll stay here and work on your acting. If we're meant to be together…Well, it'll happen if it's meant to happen."
Chad's entire body was going numb.
"This is it," he stated what they both already knew. "This is really goodbye then."
"Not forever," Sonny assured him. "It's just goodbye for a few years."
A few years…this would feel like forever to Chad. He had no idea how he was going to make it without Sonny around. No one to go argue with when his day was going bad. No one to smile at him. No one to make him do all the things he never thought he'd do. Sonny Munroe was the only girl who had ever made him break his own rules. No one else was special enough to have laws broken for.
Sonny hugged Chad again. He held her for as long as he could, dreading the moment when he would have to let go. This, saying goodbye to a girl who he was supposed to hate and had been stupid enough to fall in love with instead, was the hardest thing he'd ever needed to do.
"I'll miss you," Sonny whispered weakly.
"I'll miss you too, Sonshine," Chad promised, kissing her cheek.
In two seconds flat, she ended the hug and ran from the room, refusing to look at Chad on her way out. That was it.
Sonny Munroe was officially gone.
Chad sat down in front of his mirror again, taking a moment to fix himself. His hair was messed up – Sonny must've ran her fingers through it without him noticing – and the collar of his shirt was wrinkled. He smirked; most girls couldn't get away with messing up Chad's clothes without him getting angry. That was one of the many perks he gave to only Sonny.
He picked up the tiny black box waiting patiently on the table. The ring inside glowed as Chad held it up to the light. It would look beautiful on Sonny's hand…
"Yep," Chad muttered, smiling sardonically at his reflection. "I'll miss you too, Sonshine. More than you'll ever know."
Tell me what to do, ohh
And that, my lovely readers, is the end.
Sonny is leaving so she can go to college.
Chad already stated Mackenzie Falls is losing fans, which partly explains why he would need to switch to So Random.
AND Channy still has feelings for each other. What will happen in the future when Sonny gets back from college? Will Chad ever learn how to let her share his spotlight? Will he meet someone else or will she meet another guy in college? Does that ring end up on Sonny's finger? Only time can tell, my dear friends.
I want to give a HUGE shout-out to everyone who has read this story! I know I wasn't always very fast with my updates. But you guys stuck with it anyway and I can't thank you enough. Each and every review I ever got has brought a smile to my face and given me the courage I needed to continue writing. Thank you to everyone!
PS. This was the first story I ever posted to FF. Four years later, I am happy to finally say: