Well, "Taking A Leap", my little baby, my project for school, turns out, it got amazing reviews on here and on tumblr and facebook where I also posted it. And all of my friends, even those who don't know of Next to Normal loved it. This made me a special brand of happy, and since I cannot get enough of Gabriel Goodman, I decided to expand upon it and write a prequel. And after I wrote that prequel, it got amazing reviews so I decided to take this one, beautiful little idea and make it into a full length fic.
I have such glorious plans for it and I've had so much fun writing it, I hope you all have as much fun reading it.
I do not own Next to Normal
"Birds are singing, things are growing. Even the clouds in the sky look stunning." I would very much like to agree with him, but I've just recently stepped into a puddle and, despite the fact that my sneakers cost more than I'd like to think about, they offer no protection when it comes to water. My neon checkered socks are soaking wet, the sole of my shoe has been penetrated by rain water and with every step I take, I hear a loud, wet, squash, that makes the stirs up the water sitting inside my shoe.
"Gabe, the parking lot is flooded…" I say, small frown set on my lips and he wraps an arm around me, pulling me in swiftly which forces me to hop on one of my feet and try to regain balance.
"It's not that bad out. The breeze is nice, and it's not freezing." It's not, it's seventy and sunny, and the breeze is nice, but the air is so moist, it's like trying to breathe under water. And Gabe just tends to be unnaturally optimistic about everything, especially weather, which is the one thing that tends to get me down no matter how good a mood I am in.
"No, but it's not like walking to the buses is a pleasant thing anyway…" I murmur, wincing as my shoes make another obnoxious noise. Oh buses. Public transportation where freshmen think deodorant is optional. It's not.
And Gabe and I? We're sophomores. I turn sixteen soon. He turned sixteen a while ago and his mom was planning on getting him a car (he says it's "too easy" to manipulate her) but his dad put his foot down, so we're stuck on buses. For now, I know Gabe, have known him since age six and it's only a matter of time until he gets what he wants.
"Not really." He chuckles, and his arm is still wrapped around me and I lean into him a little bit, smiling. It's not really something I can help when I'm around him, even with the impending doom of the big yellow buses.
"Maybe it'd be better if it weren't so wet out."
"Maybe." He agrees and for a little, we walk in silence, because unfortunately, the walk to the buses is longer than one might expect, it's irritating, but with Gabe, it is less. Somehow, he can make any unpleasant situation into one that I actually look forward to. I step in another puddle and groan. "Do you want me to carry you?" He chuckles and I snort a bit, like the very thought insults me as a woman, but a smile plays at the corner of my lips. Half of me wants to say yes, but that is another story, and would only result in the extreme expansion of his ego, which is unnecessary, considering I stroke it enough on a regular basis, just by liking him as much as I do.
"I'd say that you couldn't, but you'd probably think that was a challenge and then accept the challenge." I say and he laughs, shrugging.
"You're probably right." He's eyeing me the strangest way and I feel self conscious enough to squirm a bit. It's like he's eyeing up the competition, or looking over something he's about to buy, and that really doesn't help the predicament that I am constantly in with him. "Is it a challenge?" He lifts an eyebrow, smirking and I laugh one short, "oh my god are you actually asking that" kind of laugh, standing upright, watching as his arm falls back to his side. "What too exciting, too spontaneous for you to handle?" He smirks, and I can't even write it off as a smirkish smile. Let the manipulation begin.
The only thing is, it's not manipulating, not really, I am not dumb, I am smart enough to realize that he is charming and convincing and does such a good job of getting people to do whatever he wants. I am smart enough to realize that when I don't do what he wants, he does this to me. But I am also smart enough to know that if I don't want this to happen, I can walk away. Somehow, every other thing about Gabe outweighs the irritation of his ability to wrap me around his finger.
Still, I brace myself for the worst.
"I'm perfectly exciting and spontaneous, Gabe." I inform him, and he's still grinning at me that way, but this time there's a glint of amusement in his eyes, like I've just told a mildly amusing joke.
"Exciting, sure, spontaneous, not really." And he says it in such a polite tone, it's not offensive, it can't possibly be, but I look up at him, arms crossed defensively to my chest, because him having even a mildly unpleasant feeling about me, him not considering me perfect, it's too unfair for me to handle when he is the epitome of perfection.
"I'm spontaneous." I repeat myself and he's still got that look on his face and I feel mine morphing into something far more serious. He sees my flaws and it is inevitable, but terrible. It's like stripping down only to find out the person doesn't want to see more than your bare arms. My face flushes with embarrassment and I look away, content with staying silent and nodding tersely and politely at correct intervals through the rest of what is going to be a one sided conversation when Gabe slips his hand into mine. I look up, his reaction tells me he is either trying to comfort me or trying to get me to do something he wants. Or both. It's hard to tell with him, sometimes.
"Okay, let's do this, we're going to do something spontaneous right now." He says and I instantly feel my hopes rising and I tell myself not to get them up, because he's not going to do what I've been waiting years for him to do, he's not going to read my mind, he's not going to understand.
"What?" I ask.
He doesn't respond the way I want him to. Of course.
"We're going for a walk." He says, and he pulls me off the sidewalk, away from the school. We're not going in any specific direction, but I turn to stare back at the busses, my way home, with a strange sort of longing that I never knew I could feel for public transportation vehicles.
"We'll miss the bus." I tell him, but still, I am his rag doll and he pulls me along with ease.
"Then we'll walk home." He says.
"Gabe…my house is ten miles away…"
This does not deter him in the least.
He leads me to the park we met at as kids, the one with the swings that used to be rocket ships and now make me feel like I have the most oversized hips in the world and the slides that used to go on for mile and now are only about as long as my legs, and the monkey bars that used to seem so high, but now if I stand on my toes, I can touch the ground. And he takes me over to those too small swings and we sit, both of us rocking back and forth.
"Welcome to the world of spontaneity." He grins and I laugh and we sit there for a minute in silence.
"This park used to be huge." I say, looking around, and truly, in those days, it felt like we had this gorgeous, woodchip filled continent to play on, and play we would. Whatever I wanted to play, because yes, Gabe always wants to get his way and yes, most of the time he convinces people to let him, but he also makes everyone he gives even a second of his time to feel special. Like they're the only person in the world, and all he asks in return is that you treat him the same. And that's probably why we get along so well. Because he is the only person in the world. Always.
"We've grown up, some things get smaller, some things get bigger. But it's nice that in the end, you can always go back to the beginning and take a peek. Some things you find weren't as amazing as they used to be, and others are twice as perfect as you could ever imagine, but no matter what, they're still there if you really need them to be." I always like to think I am smart, but then he speaks and I'm so astounded by what he can do with words. For all of my intelligence, I could never even hope to come up with something like that.
His hand slips into mine again, warm and smooth, a stark contrast to my always freezing hands and we both glance down at our hands. He looks up first, I feel his eyes on my face and I redden a shade that must be very attractive before looking up to meet his eyes.
"I want to do something…" He barely whispers, it's something that only I am meant to hear. He slips the hair that has fallen over my shoulder back behind it, slides his hand up my shoulder, my neck, up to cup my face and then, ever so slowly, leans in, sliding his lips against mine.
There is nothing else in the world. Just Gabe's mouth and mine and it doesn't feel real, it doesn't feel possible that the boy who I've been in love with since he shared his cupcake with me in first grade is kissing me. It doesn't seem possible that the person who uses physical gestures so freely with me, who holds my hand and wraps an arm around me like we are still six and those are just friendly gestures, is sharing such a meaningful gesture with me. It doesn't even seem believable that this could occur outside of my dreams, and all of these points that make this experience surreal stop me from thinking clearly.
I wrap my hand around the back of his neck, drawing him in closer to me, kissing him back, mouth pressed firmly against his, but going no farther, not moving forward anymore, because for all of the times I have thought about this, this is the first time it is really happening and I know Gabe, he wants it to be gentle, and perfect and sweet, for me. And I want all of those things too.
But I have wanted them longer. And more intensely, and so badly that if I get it and then it is ripped out from underneath me or he ever wants to become just friends again, I will not be able to handle it. I will fall apart and nothing will be able to mend me.
I pull away from him so fast, breathing so hard it's like I've just been away from death and brought back to life, and I'm trying to catch my breath.
"What's wrong?" He knows right away that something is amiss, he doesn't even need to ask if I'm alright, he knows I'm not, but he's still touching my face, his hand is still in mine and I'm going to start crying if I don't get up and leave him now. I can't handle tears, really I can't. I don't even cry unless the circumstance is cripplingly painful. I can't deal with what we have right now, it's too comfortable, it's too perfect of a fit for me, and if he doesn't feel exactly the same way then it's going to hurt me too much.
I get up off of the swing and walk away and he's following right on my heels because he's so much taller than me and even though I am a fast walker, he can keep up easily.
"Talk to me!" He insists and it's not an order, even though he has looped around me and is standing in front of me and has my face in his hands. "If you that's not what you want, that's fine, we can take things slow or pretend that never happened or whatever you want." He says and I pull away, unable to deal with how wonderful my face feels with his hands on it.
"No, that's exactly what I needed, but it's only a want for you, Gabe I've been in love with you since you shared your stupid cupcake with me when we were six! You can't tell me that you haven't thought that maybe, just maybe I felt that way!" He hesitates.
"I'm a guy, I mature slower, it's taken me longer to realize what I want." He says, trying to take my hand again, but I'm walking faster, far away from the park, far away from him.
If only. I cross the street while the cross walk sign tells me I can abut he takes off after me.
"Just stop it, okay, it won't work, we'll break up, and you'll be able to live with it and I won't, I'll die!" I snap at him. "Gabe I want to, I want to so badly, but I can't, it's better for us this way, it's safer and we won't get hurt and we can just keep this friendship thing going and it'll all be fine."
"But what if I want to be with you too, think about that. I want you and you want me, there's no reason for us not to be together. You know everything about me, and you like all of the good and the bad. You even like my demented family. You know I can handle everything about you. No, it's more than that, I love everything about you." His use of the word love sends a jolt of pain through my body and I feel a migraine coming on and I pinch my eyes shut, trying to block out the pain and the stress and the tears. For one second.
Just one second.
That second, the light turns, a driver is talking on their phone, they're not paying attention.
Just for a second. And I am in their way.
The car comes speeding at me, I hear Gabe scream my name and I open my eyes a second too late, there's no way I can avoid getting hit, there's no way I can avoid my death.
I could have stayed at the park. I could have stayed and kissed Gabe and we might have had a happy ending with three children playing outside on our front lawn and a dog, even though I am not a dog person, and a warm, cozy little house somewhere far away from this town. We could have had it all. But instead, that one second will make sure I lose it all.
And I do, I lose everything.
I look up and I don't see a blinding white light, but the mix between sun and overcast that was in the sky a moment ago. My elbow hurts, a lot, so does my side, and I wonder how the car just managed to push me out of the way. I look around, heart pounding, look around for Gabe because all I can think now is that I'm alive and I have realized how stupid I was and now we can be together and we'll make it work forever. My heart is pounding and adrenaline has heightened my senses and I'm searching so desperately for him.
He's not here.
And I feel like all of the air has been drained from me, I am dead aren't I? Or in limbo or something? He's not here because we are not even of the same world any more and I can't even find a way to react to that, it feels like I am numb.
But then as soon as it starts, everything stops. All of the cars are stopped, even the one that hit me, although it is in front of where I stood. And the woman in it, she's outside of the car, hands clamped over her mouth. Everyone is getting out, staring, there are a few screams and I can't comprehend why, until I see Gabe in the spot where I once stood. See Gabe where he pushed me away from the car.
See Gabe's lifeless corpse where he saved my life.