A/N: I just felt… introspective. And the need to write a little bit on Gwen for the first time in a while. Plus, I was feeling a little low, so this came out of it…

Disclaimer: I do not own anything. Man Of Action owns everything.

She has always known when to stand up for herself and when to back down from a fight she's sure to lose.

She's always drawn the finest line between right and wrong, always stepping on the side that would lead to her being the perfect child, the girl everyone would envy.

She always knows what to do under stress- read a book, hide in her room, push it all away, bottle it up, pray for it to go away, wish upon a star for the world to stop spinning.

She knows how to take care of herself; she managed a whole road trip with her grandfather and idiot cousin, didn't she?

She is the embodiment of ultimate perfection.

There is the rare occasion where she tries to fight back, fight for what she wants, fight for who she is. She usually backs down from these for her own safety, but when that battle rages, she isn't afraid to speak her mind. She has a strong voice and an even stronger will, the ability to do anything she sets her mind to. If she can try, she can be unstoppable, undefeated.

But instead, she sidesteps conflict, reels away from the accusations and yelling that that battle brings forth to the table. She ignores it, tries to pretend like it doesn't happen, like it can't happen, like this peaceful world will exist eternally. It never can last, but she tries to imagine that it can, that it could, that it will. She's afraid to see this world collapse around her, walls crumbling, safety shattering, heart breaking.

She tries to avoid it all. She doesn't want to fight back. She doesn't mean to upset. She doesn't try to incur pain. She walks away, letting the consequences deal with themselves, putting forth the belief that maybe the world can be self- sustaining, that good can come from all the accumulated karma over the years. All those years of being good had to have meant something.

She fights for a trip to Miami with her boyfriend. It's the one thing she asks for. Four days alone with her boyfriend. They know the rules, they know the limits, and she is no fool. She knows where she stands, and she knows he is ready to respect that. All she requests is for one trip, for four days, for a single chance to have time for herself instead of being molded into Little Miss Perfect.

For once in her life, instead of being known as Perfect, she wants to be Gwen.


Not Perfect.

Just Gwen.

She thinks that maybe a little time away from herself can do some good. Some time with him will get her mind off of school, tear her away from the tears of stress, keep her from losing herself to this thing she's supposed to be living up to, the impossible idol of perfection. She's supposed to become so much more.

But she needs away from that. She needs Gwen, even if just for a few days, just to remember who she is, to know what life she wants to lead, which path in the yellow wood to take.

They aren't letting her go.

They don't trust him. They don't want her to leave school for more than a second because that'll be docked and put on her permanent record, skipping class. They don't want her record to be poisoned, they don't want his influence to taint her, they just want that fair daughter to strive for perfection with a narrow-mind and a strong will, never looking back, never thinking otherwise.

She has to be perfect.

There is no other option.

Perfect or nothing.

She only wants a trip to Miami. Is that so much to ask for? A break from trying, a break from the stress and tension of her everyday life, time away from the unavoidable suffering of her day-to-day world. She needs it.

He's got his arm around her shoulders, his other holding her tightly to his chest as he fights for her because she won't. She just needs someone to fight for her because it was all chased away when she was small, when she learned to be passive and obedient. He's trying to protect her from them because she can't. She can't risk another battle, things are too tense as it is. She can't keep running this path at this speed, running until she's ready to burst.

She doesn't want to sleep at night. She doesn't want to have to sleep and wake in the morning. She dreads school because of all the work it entails. She used to love school back when she was learning something new each and every day, a different letter or word, a new way to play with numbers. Now it's a chore. She dreads the last period of the day not because it's the worst class ever, but because it means she has to go home afterwards, that she has to face them and all their pressure and tension, the need for her to be a gem among pebbles.

She doesn't want to live.

It's all too much. If the need was lessened for her perfection, maybe it'd be different, but it can't be. She can't escape, can't leave, and that's why she's so desperate for Miami. An escape, even if it's only a brief one. She just needs to get away from it all.

He holds her close, her one comfort in this messed up world. He's all she has to cling onto. He doesn't care if there's a loose strand of red hair in her ponytail. He's laugh at it and toy with it because he can and because he loves it. He'll smiles when she says she's doing homework before ripping the book away and saying that she needs to relax. That's why he knows she needs Miami. He sees her need for a vacation from the misery. He knows who she is, who she wants to be. He can see it in her eyes. She only wants to be Gwen. That's all.

Neither side wavers, but he's vaguely aware that certain things can happen if he doesn't back down. Forbidden from seeing her. Restraining orders. Juvenile detention. Not like he hasn't seem the last two before.

He has to pull away before he loses her. But he pulls her with. Out of her house, off of her front steps, down that long, stone driveway, into that waiting car, keys in the ignition. He tucks her into the passenger seat, trying to pretend like he can't hear her crying. It breaks his heart to see her like this, in so much mental pain. He can't hardly bear it. He shifts the car and leaves that miserable house behind.

He knows what she needs. Away from them.

Her heart longs for home, to whisper apologies and beg for forgiveness before the wounds are too deep to mend. She feels this ache in her chest, this painful emptiness, the betrayal that hangs in her lungs, hurt, hurt, hurt. She just cries in his passenger seat as he reaches over and assures her that he'll take her home tomorrow after all of this has blown over.

She knows what she needs, even though she's known for the longest time. She cries harder because she knows she'll never get it, she sees it's unattainable.

She needs to be Gwen.

If she can figure out who that is now.

A/N: Review?