Disclaimer: Characters are not mine. Keith belongs to No Hands Productions and Ron Carlson.
A/N: Hey, everyone! So, I know I haven't posted Keith and Natalie's honeymoon yet, but I've had the idea for this story since early last year and I really wanted to start writing it. However, that doesn't mean the honeymoon won't get written—it's just very slow going.
Anyways, this story is going to be set a week after the goodbye scene. I know in the movie it seemed like they were pretty much done with school, but I've kind of changed the timeline, so they have about a little more than three weeks left. As far as length, I'm not sure how long it will be, probably between ten and fifteen chapters at the most.
WARNING: This story will contain a major character's death. I don't think I really need to say whose. I am warning you now, if you don't want to read said major character's death, DO NOT read this story.
With that being said, I want to thank Purple Shamrock 17 for answering all of my questions (which there were tons), for her advice and for reading/betaing, and m81170 for betaing, and Ash Riley for answering all of my medical questions. You guys are awesome!
I hope you all enjoy it and please let me know what you think!
Chapter One: Away From Me
Seven days have passed. Seven days since our goodbye scene. I thought everything would get easier, once Keith knew I was staying with him until, well, he left. The problem is, being with him—it hasn't been…easy, that is.
It just gets harder with each day that passes.
I've tried not to let it affect me; I just try not to think about it. The only thing I know how to do, really, is just to go on living like everything is normal, and that the guy I'm in love with isn't really going to die. That he isn't going to leave me.
I shook my head, trying to forget the depressing thoughts that constantly ran through my mind. I walked into the school, yawning. There was only a little less than three weeks left of classes and then we had finals; I hadn't been getting much sleep, hanging out with Keith until late at night and then coming home to study. It was worth it though.
I glanced around the hall, hoping to see Keith as I walked towards my locker, but I didn't. I frowned at this, hoping that he was just running a bit late.
However, before I could get too worried and come up with possible scenarios on what could be making Keith late, I opened my locker and my worried thoughts disappeared as my frown immediately turned into a smile at the sight that greeted me.
It was the most beautiful rose I had ever seen. Each petal was a different color, and not one was the same. The petals varied from blue, purple, pink, red, green—any color I could think of, it was there. I'm not sure how long I stared into my locker, wondering how something so beautiful even existed, before I gently grabbed the rose by its stem, and slowly brought it to my face; it smelled just as wonderful as it looked. I closed my eyes, wanting the smell to surround me forever.
"I'm glad you like it," chuckled the familiar voice that I loved. Keith's voice.
Opening my eyes and lowering the rose, I turned around to face him, a huge smile gracing my face. "You gave me this?" I asked, secretly wondering how he even knew my locker combination.
He rolled his eyes, before saying, "Partner, who else would give you that?" He was silent for a few seconds before adding, "Unless, of course, you have a bunch of boyfriends I don't know about…."
"Nope," I grinned. "Only you."
"Good," he finished. He glanced at the flower and asked quietly, "So, did you read it?"
"Read what?" I asked, but immediately knew what he was talking about when I glanced down at the rose. I couldn't believe I hadn't noticed it before—a note made out of yellow construction paper was attached to the rose with dark purple ribbon.
Curious, I opened the small handmade note, but as I read it my grin diminished a fraction and I gazed back up to Keith. "Partenaire," I asked, wondering why the only word he had written on the note was "Partner" in French. "That's it? And when did you learn French?"
Keith just shrugged, before bending down and kissing me on the lips. "That's not important…." he whispered, causing me to shiver; he pulled away just as the bell rang.
"Are you going to tell me what the rest of the note is going to say?"
"Because you'll find out soon enough."
A shadow of something crossed his face, but I didn't ponder over it very long and quickly asked, "Like when?"
"Partner," he breathed, shaking his head back and forth while sighing.
Instead of getting aggravated, I stood on my tiptoes, wrapping my arms around his neck, making sure the rose wouldn't get damaged, before I kissed him deeply. "We're late," he breathed a few seconds later, reluctantly breaking away from our kiss. "I'll meet you here for lunch, all right?"
I nodded slowly, not wanting to stop kissing him, or worse of all, be separated from his presence. Regretfully, we both pulled away, and I stood there, watching Keith walk to his class when a thought suddenly occurred to me and I called out, "Wait!"
He promptly turned around, and while glancing at me expectantly I lifted the rose up and softly asked, "What kind of rose is this?"
A smirk crossed his face. "That, partner, is a rainbow rose."
Lunch couldn't have come fast enough. After class, I ran to my locker feeling the anticipation build at seeing Keith. When I opened my locker, I smiled at the rose that was carefully placed on the top shelf. I wanted to keep it forever.
Just as I finished placing my books in my locker that I didn't need, I felt a hand cover my eyes. I grinned at the touch; I would know histouch anywhere.
"Keith," I laughed quietly, as I gently grabbed his hand and pulled it away from my eyes. "What're you doing?"
Before I had time to turn around to face him, I felt his fingers grace the back of my neck as he gathered all of my hair and moved it so it was resting over one shoulder. I felt myself jump slightly when his soft lips began kissing my upper back. Goosebumps appeared on my arms as his lips trailed kisses all the way up to my neck. I could stand here all day, just letting him kiss me, but I forced myself to turn around, knowing that if I didn't stop him now, I never would. "Keith!" I laughed, before giving him a kiss on the lips.
As I pulled away, Keith gave me one of his trademark lopsided grins and said, "I wanna go out."
"What?" I asked, a bit confused.
"Out for lunch," he stated firmly.
"But," I started dumbly, pointing inside my locker, "I brought my lunch."
"So?" he pressed. "Please, I really wanna go out! Pretty please," he said, gently placing his hands on my shoulders and pushing me up against the locker next to mine, trapping me. He then placed his forehead against mine and I tried not to think about how warm it felt against my own. "Please," he breathed again.
His warm breath against my lips caused my eyes to flutter closed. "All right," I whispered, relenting. "Let's go out for lunch."
He kissed me on the lips before pulling away. "Great!" he said, slamming my locker for me as I grabbed my backpack.
Once Keith was driving out of the school parking lot, I realized something and asked curiously, "So, where're we going?"
I huffed loudly. "I can't even know where we're going?"
"Nope," he said. "Oh, and close your eyes."
"Close my eyes?"
"Yes," he sighed, as if I was being really difficult. When he stopped at a light, he brought his lower lip out in a pout. "Please?"
"Fine," I said. He knew exactly what to do to make me agree.
When Keith parked, not ten minutes later, I went to open my eyes but he said, "No, don't open them yet."
"I'll be right back," he said, before I could finish my sentence.
I sat there, feeling incredibly stupid and wondering where the hell I was. After what felt like thirty minutes, but was probably more like five, I was just about to open my eyes and see what was taking Keith so long, when the door opened; at the immediate smell, I knew he had gotten McDonalds.
"Finally! Can I open my eyes now?"
"Keith—" I started.
Before I could finish, I felt something soft touch my nose and Keith said, excitement coming off of him in waves, "Open them!"
So I did and found myself staring into the eyes of a small stuffed animal baby chick. He was adorable. I felt a grin grace my face as I grabbed the small stuffed toy from Keith. "He's so cute," I breathed.
I was just about to ask him why he randomly bought me a kids' toy when he suddenly spoke up, making me wonder why he sounded so upset. "You know the displays they have? To show which toys kids can get in their meals? And how they have themes?" I nodded, wondering where he was going with all of this. "You will not believe what their theme was!"
"What?" I breathed.
"Farm animals!" he exclaimed, as if this was the worse thing he had ever heard. "It's just wrong. They are cooking cows and chickens in there and then giving kids' stuffed animals of an animal that they just cooked. I mean…imagine: a kid gets chicken nuggets, and with it comes a stuffed animal of a baby chick. What are they trying to do? Show them what their food used to look like? There's just something very wrong about that…." I bit my lip to keep from laughing; sometimes he was just so adorable. "Anyways, I got you Chirpy here…"
"Yeah, I named him," he stated simply, shrugging his shoulders. "Stop laughing!" he stated seriously, as I let out a tiny giggle.
"I'm sorry," I said, not really sorry at all. "I think Chirpy here is mighty grateful to you. He'll have a good home now, not being afraid that he won't be made into chicken nuggets."
He just smirked, adorably at me, and while he was taking the food out of the bag (Oreo McFlurrys, cheeseburgers, and fries) I placed Chirpy on the dashboard, facing us.
"He looks good there," commented Keith as he handed me my food.
I leaned up against him before answering, with a small smile, "Yeah, he does."
We were twenty minutes late to chemistry. Luckily, Mr. Miles only gave us 'The Look' as we sat down in seats towards the back. Now, that finals were approaching we didn't have labs anymore and instead Mr. Miles, just sat in front of the room and droned on and on about stuff that he hoped we had learned this semester, but knew very well that we hadn't.
I grabbed my notebook out of my bag, planning to take notes in case there was any new information. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Keith leaning back in his chair, eating his McFlurry, while simultaneously rolling his eyes at me.
At the end of class, I could tell Keith was getting tired, and was fighting to stay awake, which wasn't surprising as this was the time he started to get exhausted. Luckily, we only had one class left.
I waited patiently as Keith sluggishly gathered his stuff. As we walked out of class, Keith said, while pulling me out of the doorway and in front of his locker, "Have fun, partner." He then kissed me softly on the lips.
"You want me to have fun?" I giggled. "In history?"
He just grinned, his eyes shining despite his tiredness. "I'll see you later," he said and went to turn around, but I grabbed his wrist to stop him.
"We're meeting here, right?" I asked. It had become a routine for Keith to walk with me to my car after school, and, now, when he didn't do it, it just didn't feel right.
"Of course, partner," he said.
I gave him a small smile, and he returned one before he turned around and walked towards his class. I watched him walk down the hall until he disappeared out of my sight.
Away from me.
After class, I waited by Keith's locker like always, but after five minutes, with the hallways almost empty, I knew he wasn't showing up. Having a good idea what happened, I walked to his English classroom. When I walked in, his teacher, Mrs. Miller, smiled up at me, before gesturing towards the back of the room. This was becoming a pretty common routine, Keith falling asleep in class, and me coming to wake him up.
I knelt next to Keith's desk. He had fallen asleep in what looked like a very uncomfortable position; his right cheek was resting on his open textbook and a pen was hanging limply in his hand. It looked like he had fallen asleep in the middle of an assignment. "Keith," I whispered. I grabbed his pen out of his hand and his notebook off his desk, and placed them in his backpack, before calling to him again. This time he stirred, but didn't open his eyes. "Keith, you need to get up, school's over."
Slowly, he sat up; his right cheek had a crease on it from sleeping on his textbook, and his hair was all over the place, making me want to run my hands through it; it was just so soft.
As he attempted to wake up, I grabbed his textbook and placed it in his backpack before standing up. I waited for him to stand up, patiently, since I could tell that he was still half asleep.
We said our goodbyes to Mrs. Miller and walked down the school halls towards the front doors, Keith lagging a bit behind me, still not fully awake. When we got to my car, I threw my backpack in the passenger seat, before turning to face Keith. He looked much more awake already, and I loved it when a smile graced his face and he asked, "Hey, you wanna come over? You can have dinner with my dad and I if you want."
"Sound perfect," I said, wanting to spend as much time with him as possible.
I loved how my answer caused his grin to turn into a full out smile; his eyes seemed to be shining brighter than the sun. "Great," he said, before bending down and kissing me. This time, however, it wasn't the soft kisses he normally gave me at school. His tongue ran across my bottom lip, causing my lips to tingle, before demanding entrance and I allowed it.
Keith arms gripped my hips and pulled me closer to him. I was so caught up in the moment that I forgot I was holding my notebook, and when I went to wrap my arms around him, my notebook fell to the ground just as a gust of wind swept by. "Shit," I cursed, pulling away from Keith, quickly bending down to get my notebook. Some of my papers had fallen out and were now getting dragged through the parking lot with the wind.
Before I had time to stand up and go after them, Keith was already chasing them. He caught the papers quickly, and when he was walking back towards me I recognized the piece of paper he was reading. "Don't read that!" I yelled, louder than I probably needed to.
Quickly, I ran up to him and tried to grab the paper from him, but he was too fast and moved it away from my reach. "I thought you didn't want to go to prom," was all he said.
Not knowing how to answer this question, I stupidly muttered, "That's not mine…"
"So, you're saying," started Keith amused, "that this random piece of paper with pictures of prom dresses and the date and time of prom magically appeared, at the same time you dropped your notebook?"
"Um…well…yeah…" I mumbled, shamefully looking at the ground.
"Natalie," said Keith, so seriously that I looked up at him, biting my bottom lip in worry. "Why do you keep telling me you don't want to go to prom, when," he glanced down at the piece of paper, "you obviously do."
"'Cause I don't," I answered, already knowing he'd be able to tell by the tone of my voice that I was lying.
"You don't?" he asked, raising his eyebrows and leaning towards me. My breath caught in my throat as our foreheads touched.
"No," I whispered. "Not…really. It's too much work. I mean, I'd have to get my hair done, my nails done. I'd have to find a dress." It would be so much fun, I thought. Deep down, no matter how much I told myself that I didn't want to go. I really did. I just didn't want the excitement of prom to cause Keith to exert himself and get sick.
Keith was silent for a few moments and for a split second I thought maybe I had convinced him, but then he said, pulling a few inches away, "You know, if we go, I'll be fine. You worry too much." I couldn't help but wonder how Keith always had the ability to know what I was thinking.
I was silent, so he added, "You've never been put off by too much work." He was right. "Look," he started, "If you're worried I'm not going to feel well, Natalie, it's okay. I'll be okay. The truth is, I haven't felt well in weeks, months even," he pressed. Another strong gust of went blew, causing my hair to fly in a dozen different directions. "Just because I'm…sick doesn't mean I can't—we can't do things. Like go to prom. I don't get why you're so worried, partner, I can still do things. It's—it's not going to make…it sooner you know?"
I tried to come up with the right words to say, but all I could think of was to mumble, "But—"
"Go with me," he whispered, the softness and seriousness of his voice causing goose bumps to rise on my arms.
"Keith…" was all I could croak out. Did he know how much that statement affected me?
He just gave me a sad smile. We stood there for a few moments, before he whispered, "Think about it, okay? It'd mean a lot to me."
And with that, he leaned down and gave me a soft kiss on my forehead before walking towards his truck. I leaned up against my car, not taking my eyes off of him as he got into his truck, and at the same time thinking about what he had asked me.
The problem was, I really wanted to go to prom with Keith. I just didn't want to risk his health in any way for something that wasn't really that important. I wasn't about to risk doing something that would take him away from me sooner.
But, then, I also knew, no matter what I did to prevent his imminent death, his leaving me; it would always be too soon.
I was only five minutes behind Keith. I had decided to give myself a few days to decide if I should go to prom with Keith. As soon as I got to Keith's we both settled into his bedroom. I took my seat at his desk, and proceeded to do homework, while he watched television from his bed.
Two hours later, I found myself not doing homework, but instead quietly watching Keith. He was leaning up against the headboard of his bed, wearing only a pair of ratty flannel pajamas, with no shirt; apparently, he was too hot (not that I was complaining). I knew I probably had the silliest look on my face, but I couldn't get over how freaking sexy he looked, just sitting there. He probably had no idea.
I tried to tear my gaze away from his form, since I knew I should get back to my homework and not stare at my boyfriend, but I couldn't help it. I figured I was entitled to at least another two minutes of staring, before I had to get back to work. Just as I thought this, however, I realized Keith's eyes were staring into mine. I couldn't believe how green they were—I could see their brilliant color even a few feet away. "What?" I asked, wondering why he was giving me such a strange look.
"Are you staring at me?"
"No," I said, and too quickly.
And then he did it—he laughed. And all of my resolve to sit a few feet away from him until I finished my homework went away. His laugh was just so amazing. I felt the sound of it curl around me and practically drag me towards him.
I was sure that's how I found myself crashing my lips against his; unfortunately, silencing his laugh, but the taste of his lips was enough to make up for it.
I maneuvered myself on top of him, and smiled against his lips as I felt, through the thin fabric of his pajamas, the reaction I was getting from him.
A few minutes later, when we both separated to gulp down air, he looked up at me and said, "You are so beautiful," while his hand made its way underneath my shirt. I shivered against his touch as his fingers found my bra.
"Ah, I see," I started playfully. "You think that by saying comments like that you have entitlement to roam your hands wherever they please?"
"Pretty much," he grinned as his hands continued to roam.
I laughed, before bending down and resuming the pleasant task of kissing him. I was pretty sure it was my favorite thing to do. I felt him grind against me as soon as our lips touched. A few minutes later, he grabbed the bottom of my shirt and mumbled against my lips, "Off." I broke away from him, so he could pull my shirt off completely. Taking our moment of separation, I moved my fingers towards the band of his pajamas, and without saying anything, he lifted himself up a bit so I could swiftly take them off.
And then he did the same to me.
He skillfully moved me so instead of straddling him, I was lying on my back. I wrapped my arms around him, tightly, as he began kissing me; his lips tasted of mint, and Keith, and love. A strong emotion filled me and, in that moment, I knew, that no matter what, nothing would make me let go of him.
It was amazing and beautiful. I could feel love coming off of him in waves, filling the room like smoke.
I had never before felt this kind of emotion…this love. Ever. And all I could do was pour everything I had into him, pulling him as close to me as possible….I couldn't really describe it—all I knew was that being with Keith it—it felt like…home.
Even when Keith slowed down, and his body fell limp on top of me, the feelings I had…they still stayed with me. A few minutes later, Keith, still breathing deeply, lifted his head up and stared into my eyes; love seemed to be spilling out of them like tears as he whispered, "I love you." I softly smiled at him, running my fingers through his hair. "Partner," he breathed, "please, won't you go to prom with me?"
My fingers stopped suddenly and I glanced away from his gaze at his question. Biting my bottom lip, a million thoughts were running through my head, but when I looked into Keith eyes, I knew that he wanted to go as badly as I did. So, I wrapped my arms around him, tightly, and whispered into his ear, "Yes, Keith, I'll go to prom with you."
For dinner we had Chinese. When Henry had come home, Keith had begged him to order it. Apparently, it was his favorite. I knew as soon as Keith brought his lower lip out in a pout and had begged, "please," in the childish voice that we teenagers use against our parents, knowing they won't refuse, Henry relented, telling Keith he could order whatever he wanted.
We ended up getting sweet and sour soup and sesame chicken. It was amazing.
I just finished eating the last of my meal and brought my plate into the kitchen when Keith came up from behind me and while wrapping his arms around me he asked, "What do you want for dessert?" Sometimes, I don't know how he could eat so much. I was going to say this, but instead I turned around glanced into this bright green eyes, their color making me momentarily frozen before I stuttered out, not being able to take my eyes away from his face…his eyes, "What do you have?"
He was silent as he contemplated my question, but then, suddenly his eyes sparkled even more and he said, "Brownies."
"Yum," I said, licking my lips, loving the way his eyes followed my tongue. He shook his head, taking his gaze away from my lips and grabbed my hand, pulling me close to his chest. He let me stay there for a few minutes, allowing me to drown myself in his warmth, before he pulled away, just when I was about to suffocate in the feeling of it all. "Want milk with it?" he asked.
"Sure," I said, smiling up at him. While he was getting the brownies and milk, I grabbed a textbook from my backpack, knowing that if I didn't read the two chapters I was assigned, I was going to fail the quiz tomorrow. Why teachers assign quizzes and tests so close to finals, I will never know.
We ate our dessert in the living room. I read my book while Keith watched television. And that's how the next hour went, Keith watching T.V while Henry (who was sitting in the chair by the couch) and I read. At one point, Keith fell asleep, his head falling on my shoulder. As soon as this happened, Henry called, softly but urgently, "Natalie," and he pointed to Keith whose grip on his glass was loosening the deeper he fell asleep. I grabbed the glass just in time before his head lolled father down my chest. After placing his cup on the coffee table, I wrapped my left arm around him, before I continued to read.
Just as I was nearing the end of my chapter, Henry got up and quietly walked towards Keith. "It's getting late, I should get him to bed."
"Yeah," I said, reluctantly. Even though I was tired too, I didn't really want to move out of the position Keith and I were in.
Henry gently called to Keith who only murmured something neither of use could quite understand. "Come on, Keith. You need to go take your medicine and get to bed." I could tell by the look on Henry's face that he didn't look too happy having to wake Keith up.
When Keith didn't budge Henry gave me a look and I scooted over careful to hold onto Keith so he didn't fall over. Luckily, he was awake enough that he repositioned himself so his head was resting on the back of the couch.
"C'mon, Natalie has to get home and it's late."
At these words, Keith's eyes flew open and landed on me. Still half-asleep he whispered, "Stay?"
I was a little surprised by this request, but not completely since he had been asking me to stay over quite a few times in the past week.
"Keith," started Henry before I could respond, "Natalie probably wants to sleep in her own bed at home."
Tiredly, he moved his eyes to glare at Henry. "But I want her to stay." He turned to look at me. "Please?"
"Of course," I answered. I knew right from the moment he had asked me that nothing would make me leave.
He grinned, a tired grin, before rubbing his eyes and slowly getting up. As he walked into his room, I went to put my textbook back into my bag when Henry said, "You don't have to stay, Natalie. I'm sure he'll understand."
"No! No, I want to stay, honest." I smiled at him. I said goodnight to Henry, before I made a quick call to my mom, letting her know I would be staying for the night. Last week, I had finally gotten the courage and told my parents what had been going on with me. I told them everything, well, mostly everything. I was just so completely relived and happy that they understood and that they were okay with it all.
Once I was off the phone, I walked into Keith's room and as soon as I did, I tripped on one of his shoes and almost fell on my face. As I righted myself, I heard Keith laughing and I looked up to glare at him. He was standing near me, toothbrush in mouth, laughing at me, his eyes sparkling.
"Shut up," I said, as I found Keith's bed, thankful that I didn't trip again. I was about to get into bed, when I realized something. "Keith, can I borrow some pajamas?"
He walked out of his bathroom, and grabbed something from a drawer and threw it at me. I glanced them and then back to him.
"What?" he asked, pulling his the covers on his down and attempting to get under them, but I grabbed his wrist to stop him.
"Um…a shirt?" I glared. "You only gave me pants."
At this, he laughed. The laugh I loved; the laugh that I swore always surrounded me and in those moments was all I could hear.
"That's all I'm wearing," was all he said.
"Keith!" I admonished, hitting him with his sweatpants, before standing up. I quickly changed into them and found one of his t-shirts on the floor and put it on.
As soon as I pulled it over my head, Keith's scent surrounded me and I drank it in greedily. Loving the way his scent was all around me, I crawled into bed with him.
"I was kind of hoping you weren't going to wear anything…." said Keith.
"Shut up," I whispered, even though it sounded softer than I indented it to.
I thought Keith was going to fall asleep within seconds, since he seemed tired, but an hour after we had gotten into bed, he was still trying to find a comfortable position.
"Keith," I said finally, not being able to take his constant movements any longer. "Can you please stop moving around so much?"
"I can't fall asleep," he mumbled. "And I'm tired…."
I lied there, not really sure how to help him when, suddenly, and idea came to me and I said, "Hey, roll over, facing the wall."
He did so. "What're you doing?" he asked, once he was in the correct position.
"We're going to play a game."
"What kind of game?"
"A guessing game of sorts."
"Really?" he asked, excitement lacing his voice.
"Yeah, try to guess what letter I'm spelling out, all right?"
"What do you me—" he started, but stopped as soon as I began lightly tracing a word on his bare back with my index finger.
"Do you know it?" I asked him once I was finished with the word.
"I'll do it again," I whispered, and this time took my time tracing each letter individually.
As soon as I finished, Keith said, in a tone that I knew, even though I couldn't see his face, that he was smiling. "Truck?"
"Yup," I said. "Next one."
The game went on for a good thirty minutes, and I could tell Keith was falling asleep, happy that my plan was working.
I just finished tracing the last letter of the next word, but this time got no guesses from Keith. I called to him, making sure my voice wasn't too loud in case he had finally fallen asleep.
After getting no response, I carefully sat up in bed, and leaned over Keith, checking to make sure he was asleep. His eyes were closed, and at his steady deep breathing, I knew he was.
I lied back down, pulling the covers over us both before, snuggling up as close to him as possible before saying, "I love you, Keith," trying not to wonder how many more times I'd be able to say those words aloud and he would be there to hear them.
A/N: Chirpy says 'hi' and would love it if you all review…