A/N: This fic is made up of two songs I really love: Sleeping With the Light On, by Busted, and The Other Side of the Door, by Taylor Swift. If you can tell, I really, really like Busted. It's a sad, emotional fic about Katie and Travis ending…kind of… Read to find out! And then review! Major fluff at the end.
Travis stared at the picture. The frame around it had been made at camp during arts and crafts, and he had remembered asking Katie what picture she was going to put it in. She had told him maybe he would find out one day if he cared enough. Now as he stared at the photograph of her, his heart ached. It had five months since he'd last seen her.
She was in the apartment he shared with Connor, standing at the doorway with a bag full of the stuff she had once left there. She had had a drawer in Travis' room filled with jeans and shirts and socks and underwear, just like he had one in her place. Travis couldn't stop the tear that rolled down his cheek as he thought about that day.
There was a knock at the door. Travis, who was playing video games alone while Connor went grocery shopping, paused his game and stood to answer it. There Katie stood, eyes sad, lips turned down, holding a bag of his stuff.
Travis scrunched his eyebrows. "Katie? What's this?"
"You're stuff. I came to get mine, too."
"I… I got a job offer in California. I'm leaving tomorrow morning."
"Why didn't you tell me sooner?" he demanded, anger substituting for shock.
She shook her head sadly, staring at the ground. "I couldn't. I wasn't sure I was gonna get it."
"Please." Her voice cracked. "Don't say anything. I just need my stuff."
"Yeah," he muttered, letting her inside. He followed her to his bedroom. "But we could try long-distance, can't we?"
She stuffed clothes into her bag, the bag of his stuff now on his bed. Katie couldn't bear to look at it. They'd made love in that bed. He was her first. She shook herself mentally. I can't love him anymore, she told herself. You're never going to see him again.
"Travis, I'm breaking up with you." Her voice didn't crack that time. She sounded cold.
And the coldness traveled to Travis' heart. It froze his heart. Even if all the rest of the sound was gone from the room, you wouldn't hear his heart.
"Katie, why? What did I do? Just tell me and I'll fix it."
She shook her head. "You can't. It's just over. Accept it."
"No!" He grabbed her shoulders. "Katie, don't. Please. Stay here. I'll go to college, I'll get a better job, I—"
"It's not that, Travis," Katie told him, stepping out of his grasp. "I couldn't care less about that. I just…I need space. I need to start over. This time, I've had enough."
Travis couldn't believe this was happening. He thought about the ring in the purple velvet box hiding in his sock drawer. He'd never gotten the courage to ask her, and now it was too late.
"I just do." She threw the last T-shirt into the bag, zipping it closed and started back towards the door. He stood in front of her. "Move, Travis," she mumbled to her shoes.
"Not until you tell me why you're dumping me."
She took a slow, careful breath. She had to say it, even though she didn't believe it. She needed a new, fresh start. She needed…normalcy. No more monsters, no more late night calls about accidental fires her boyfriend had started, no more fighting about TV channels and pets. No more Travis.
"I don't love you anymore."
His heart shattered. But he held in the tears. "I don't believe you."
Raising her head, Katie looked up at him. "Believe it."
And she pushed past him and walked out the door. She had slipped right through his fingers. Travis sunk down against the wall, pain spreading to every part of his body. The sob that ripped from his chest broke him. And he couldn't hold in the tears any longer.
That night, as he got into bed, he left the light on. Without Katie there were nightmares. Monsters. And even though the light didn't comfort him as much as Katie would, the gloom in his soul was enough for him. He didn't need any more darkness. Shocks went through his veins. She was really gone. She was getting on a plane in the morning, going all the way across the country, and never seeing him again.
3 months after he had stared so longingly at that picture, he sat in his cabin at camp, wondering where she was now, if she was still in California or had moved somewhere else. Was she thinking about him? Was she dating someone else? How was her job? Did she miss him? 8 months was a long time, especially when you're in love.
Travis still loved her, even though he fought hard to not. He couldn't help it. He loved how she always had that earthy smell, how her messy hair was always up, exposing her neck, how she could engage in a battle of wits with him and not bat an eye. She was wonderful. She was perfect. And he had let her go.
Melani was at camp that summer. After being in Italy for a while, Katie's best friend had returned to New York, to camp. Travis walked over to the Aphrodite cabin. She was sitting on the front steps.
"Hey, Travis," she said. "Um, what's up?"
"Have you heard from Katie recently?"
She gnawed her lip. "Travis—"
"She told you not to tell me, huh?"
Melani nodded. "I'm sorry. I really am. I know how much you loved her."
He didn't say he still did. "Did she…ask about me?"
"In passing. Connor and the rest of the camp, too. She's sorry she's missing the next generation of campers."
"What'd you say?"
"Melani, please." He stared at his shoes for a moment. "I need to know she's okay."
"Travis, she's engaged."
He nearly stumbled with the force of the sentence. It threw him. The heart Katie had taken with her to California had been stomped on. Squished. It was over. Any last hope he had at getting Katie back—gone.
"No one's to blame, Travis. She just…moved on. Maybe this is a chance for you to realize that this is where it ends. You have to stop killing yourself over her. Katie wouldn't like that."
Pain—the familiar feeling of loneliness and rejection—filled him. And the only reason was because he was without her. He was pain because he missed her, just as he had for the past 8 months.
Over those 8 months, Travis had developed an irrational fear of the dark. The darkness represented everything that had killed him these past months. He couldn't stand it. He had to fall asleep with the light on in his cabin so that he was already asleep when they turned it off. If he woke in the middle of the night, he cried silently, squeezing his eyes tight so he could pretend the light was still on. At home he always slept with the light on. It was just a thing, now.
"Travis? Are you okay?"
Words couldn't describe the way he was feeling. He had been search in his head for the words he had thought she said. Didn't, once upon a time, she say that she loved him? Where had that gone? Did love really just disappear so easily?
The same feeling he'd had 8 months ago returned. Shocks through his veins. She was slipping through is fingers all over again. She was gone. This time with finality. She was getting married. It didn't matter what he wanted anymore.
Katie had ignored him. He had been trying to make her stay, promising things… And she just left. It was for the best, she told herself over and over again. When she first left, she was happy she didn't have a cell phone. If they were normal, he would have been calling her. But they weren't. So he IMed. And she ignored the messages, every single time.
As she sat on the plane, she cried, remembering.
Katie walked into the parking lot to where the cab was waiting for her, and looked back towards the door. He hadn't run after her. She thought…if he cared enough…if he really, really didn't want her to leave…
And as she left, he didn't even tell her that he loved her. He didn't once say, "I'm in love with you." Even though she had been the one to walk out the door, she knew everything she had ever wanted, ever needed was on the other side of it. Travis.
She looked out the window of her plane, beating herself up. Her and her stupid pride. Alone. That's what it always came to. She got herself in trouble. And she suddenly wanted an IM. She wanted him to call her. But apparently he had gotten the message. And he wasn't going to call again.
When she had given him that picture, he had given her one, too. It was a silly, romantic photograph of them kissing on the couch. Katie had a smile on her lips, Travis was laughing, too, trying to get her to stop grinning for one second so they could have a perfect kiss for the camera. She remembered that day like it was yesterday.
In her head, she went over the things they had said. "It's over now. Accept it." "I've had enough." "I don't love you anymore."
It broke her heart again, knowing she had said those words. She wasn't surprised he hadn't IMed again. He obviously hated her, now. But Travis had often cockily said to her that he knew everything. So why couldn't he see that all she wanted was for him to chase after her?
All she had ever needed was on the other side of the country.
As she sat in her new apartment in San Diego, she thought to herself, I don't need you, Travis Stoll. I don't need you. And when she started crying again, she knew she did. With his face, his beautiful eyes, their conversations with the little white lies, that faded picture of their kiss… She broke down crying.
I need you, she thought to herself before falling asleep.
Katie sighed. Well now it was different. 8 months later, she was different. She sat up in bed, looked over at her sleeping fiancée, and smiled weakly. She shouldn't be thinking about Travis. She should be thinking about her life now. She was getting married in a couple weeks. Michael really was a good guy. He provided for her, cared about her, loved her. He even accepted the fact that she was the daughter of Demeter, though awkwardly at first.
Melani was coming to beach-side wedding to be her Maid of Honor, and they had sent out invitations ages ago. She didn't send one to Travis. She wasn't sure if she should.
She gazed down at the ring. Honestly, it was quite boring. Sizable, but boring.
She glanced down, smiled. "Hi."
He smiled sleepily. "Come here."
Katie curled up in his arms, head on his chest.
"I love you," he whispered into her hair.
And for a second, Katie could have sworn he sounded like Travis. "I love you, too."
"Melani, bring me. As your date."
"I can't have a date, Travis. I'm the Maid of Honor. My date is the best man."
"Melani, you don't understand—"
She spun around, pointing at him. "Travis Stoll, shut up! For gods' sakes, the wedding's in two days. I'm leaving now. And if you follow me…"
"Where is it?"
She slapped her forehead. "My gods, you're persistent."
He grinned. "One of my best qualities."
"San Diego. It's on the beach. I'm going for the rehearsal."
"San Diego? That doesn't really narrow it down."
"Better than the whole state, Travis."
She continued walking towards the gates of camp, a bag in her head. He ran, standing in front of her. "Wait. Should I…go?"
Melani sighed. "Travis, listen to me. Katie is getting married. Leave it alone."
But he wouldn't.
He told the driver to take him to the…what was the jerk's name again? "To the Shepard wedding."
The driver nodded. "You a friend of the bride or groom?"
He drove for what felt like hours, but it was only thirty minutes. He parked behind some condos that were directly on the sand. "You look stressed, buddy."
"I have some things I need to say to her," he confessed. "I'm just sorry it's on her wedding day."
The driver nodded. "Well, good luck."
Travis paid the guy and stood, staring at where the chairs were set up, where there was a little patio built on the sand for the minister and bride and groom to stand. The minister was already up there, smiling as guests walked to their seats. It was a small wedding. Katie obviously didn't have very many friends in California.
As he walked, he saw people staring at him. None of them knew him. He took a seat in the back.
She's so right for me, he told himself. That was how he was going to get through it. She's right for me. She's mine. I love her. If he didn't do this now, he knew he would regret it. He could've been a loser and stayed at home, pitying himself, but he took action. True love lasts forever. He was going to crash her wedding.
It was all too soon that the music started. Travis glared at the guy up front, standing like he ruled the world. He turned to watch the bridesmaids walk down the aisle with their arms curled around the arms of groomsmen. He saw Melani. She smiled and winked. Secretly, she was glad he came. Katie deserved him.
The crowd stood as the keyboard played "Here Comes the Bride."
The heart that had frozen inside his chest began to the thaw the second he saw her. She was absolutely gorgeous. The dress was white, long, tight around her middle and strapless. The veil was held up by a beautiful crown made of flowers. He smiled. Just like Katie to work flowers into everything.
Katie kept her eyes forward as she marched down the aisle to the music. There he was. Michael. She was marrying him. She would have kids with him, grow old with him, have grandkids and die with him. And she still couldn't help but picture Travis. She shook herself. He isn't here. Michael is.
"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to join together in holy matrimony, Katie Gardner and Michael Shepard…"
Travis stared at Katie. She looked…unhappy. Sure, a smile was forced onto her lips, but she looked distracted. He didn't know how long he had been examining her when he heard, "If anyone has any reason why these two should not be wed, speak now or forever hold your peace."
And Travis found himself standing.
Everyone looked at him.
"T-Travis, what are you doing here?" she hissed. She turned and glared at Melani, who shrugged.
"Whoops," Melani said, not looking remorseful at all.
Michael looked confused. "Travis? Your ex?"
Travis stepped out into the aisle. "Katie, just listen to me for a second."
"No. No." She shook her head. "I told you. It's over. It's done."
Melani rolled her eyes. "Puh-leeze, Katie. He's been asking about you for months. The least you could do is hear him out."
Michael crossed his arms. A challenge.
"Katie, remember the picture you gave me? The one where you had just finished working and your hair was a mess, and I couldn't even get you smile, but I told you about how Connor and I had pranked Percy and you broke into this silly grin? You told me to keep the picture, put it in that frame you made, so I wouldn't ever forget you. And I still have it, in that frame, and I can't forget you." She was quiet, so he continued. "And remember how I wanted to give you a picture, too? And I set up the camera and wanted to get the perfect picture…but you just couldn't stop laughing. And it became the perfect picture because you were. Remember when Connor found out about us? He decided to set up the fireworks at camp to spell 'Tratie' because he said we needed a nickname. And how you just showed up on my doorstep one day carrying a box of your things and announced you were going to have a drawer because you never spent any time at your dorm anyway? And when I did the same thing to you when you finally got an apartment, you laughed at me. The movie marathons, how you suck at cooking, how you can fight with me for hours and then realize how stupid we were for arguing over the last piece of pizza… And the fact that I'm here must mean something, too. Because I still love you, Katie Gardner." Her eyes softened, but she still didn't speak.
"I had a ring," he told her. "My grandmother's ring. I was going to ask you to marry me. I told Connor and Percy that I was going to ask you on your birthday…and you broke my heart. But it's been with you here all this time, Katie. You took my heart with you, and if you don't want it, too bad. You can keep it and I'll walk away. But I need to know if I have yours."
Michael stared at Katie. Everyone stared at Katie. Finally, Melani sighed.
"Katie! What are you waiting for? Kiss him!"
Katie looked at Michael. "I'm sorry," she whispered.
"You can't be serious," he said, looking at Travis. "He probably didn't even go to college! I'm a lawyer. I make good money, and Katie, I love you."
"That's not what you told me." Everyone looked towards the voice. It was some blonde in the front row. She stood. "Katie, doll, he's been sleeping with me since before he proposed." She jerked her head towards Travis. "Go."
Katie just stood there, staring at the girl for a moment, probably debating whether to thank her or punch her. Travis took a couple steps forward and was standing next to the platform. Like this, Katie was his height.
"Want me to hit him for you?" Travis asked.
Katie grabbed him by the shirt and pulled him to her, kissing him passionately. Travis wrapped his arms around her and lowered her off the patio so he was holding her up, her feet almost a foot about the sand.
"I love you, Travis Stoll. Don't ever let me go again."
"I don't plan on it."
"Oh, by the way, about that other thing… I will."
"What other thing?"
She smiled. "The ring. I'll marry you."
He shouted triumphantly and kissed her again, spinning her around. He had won.
A/N: Aw, wasn't that fluffy? :) Review and tell me how I did!
Love forever and ever and ever and ever and ever…
E. M. Zeray