Disclaimer: not mine.

Title: Sunrise

Summary: Zach after the Loony Bin. Pairings: Zach/Female-Character-of-Your-Choice, other-pairings-depending-on-that.

A/N: YAY! NOT ZANGST! I deliberately tried to write a NOT depressing fic, because I'm tired of the ZANGST, and IT WORKED! Kind of. It was difficult. The ZANGST kept trying to get in.

A/N2: Just a note, I do not warn for character death, since I feel like it gives everything away. This note being here does not necessarily mean that there is character death, although there might be. It's now a standard author's note for all my stories, particularly the ZANGST ones. They're the ones that are most likely to involve character death (I think at least one actually had it, or at least hinted at it).

...

She is his sunrise.

He'd thought that he was doomed, trapped in the darkest part of the night, alone. No starlight, no moonshine, and no dim glow of dawn's first light in the east. Just darkness.

Then sunrise.

She had never given up, never truly believed that he was a murderer. She had ignored all the facts and the logic that pointed towards 'guilty', choosing instead to follow her heart and her gut, and had found the proof to release him from his own personal hell.

As he walked out of the door of the mental hospital for the last time, three years ago this August, she had been standing by her car, an odd half-smile on her face, with her back to the slowly rising sun.

He'd thought of this moment every day for months and months, trying to think of some way to express what he felt. He'd never been able to find the words that could… there were no words, really.

Turns out, she hadn't needed words. She'd smiled that half-smile, taken two steps forward and kissed him.

Three years later, he still doesn't fully understand that half-smile. He knows that he loves her, and that she loves him. He knows that the smile always makes his heartbeat accelerate, and it feels as though his stomach is trying to tap-dance (which is illogical, since stomachs don't have feet).

The others are all happy for the two of them, and have since paired off and made their own families. Even Sweets and Daisy.

Every morning he wakes up with the dawn, and with his own personal sunrise next to him. This is everything that he ever wanted in his life: a job that matters, and that challenges him; his friends who all still love him after everything that happened.

And there's her, of course.

She saved him. Literally, as well as metaphorically. He had been spiraling down, before. He couldn't have held on for much longer. He hadn't gone to jail because people had said that he wouldn't do well there, but he had done even worse in the mental hospital.

And then she had swept in. She had pulled him from the darkest night back into the bright daylight of the real world.

She is his sunrise.

...

He is her sunrise.

She'd never thought he was the monster that the others did. She knew he'd never do anything like that. How could he kill someone?

Throwing herself into her work, trying to distract herself from remembering him, hadn't worked at all. So she'd thrown herself into trying to find proof that he was innocent.

The day he left the hospital was one of the happiest days of her life.

He'd paused in front of her, seeming to try to find the words for… something, she wasn't entirely sure what. But seeing him there, with his big brown eyes and his floppy hair and his awkward smile and the way he stood with one shoulder hunched… it made her melt a little on the inside.

She hadn't been planning on kissing him right then. She'd been planning on easing him back into the real world first, and then jumping him one day when he least expected it. But the look in his eyes as he stood in front of her snatched her plans, crumpled them into a ball and chucked them straight out the window.

For years afterwards, she still feels warm and fuzzy inside when he gives her that awkward smile, with the silly little head-duck that goes along with it.

She sees it every morning when she wakes up, and not seeing it is like the sun not coming up.

He is her sunrise.

...

A/N: I'm not sure how I feel about this…. I'm so used to writing ZANGST that not-ZANGST just seems… lacking, somehow. But it's a happy story, so that's a good thing. And we're going to ignore the fact that it's slightly mawkish and soppy and sentimental and overly-metaphorical/descriptive and shoves the 'sunrise' metaphor down your throat with a toilet plunger (a clean one, don't worry). Really. We're ignoring that fact right now. Please? I'm not that good at writing non-angst anymore! Please review?