Warning- you might need tissues. I wrote it and I cried. Completely AU. Read and review!
The day started as a normal one, in the Solar Blue boarding house. Training before the sun was up, in the bitter winter wind, before they retreated to the house to have hot showers and breakfast.
"What time are you going to be back?" Bec asked Guy curiously, pouring herself her second cup of coffee.
"Eight?" he tried. "I don't know- I won't break curfew, I promise".
"Again", Charley reminded him with a grin, making Adam snicker.
"It happened once, Charles".
"It was twelve thirty at night and you were calling the house to let you in!" he protested. "It doesn't matter if it was once or ten times, it was twelve thirty and you woke us all up".
"Stop being such a whinger", Cassie said with a smile, scraping butter across her toast.
"Make sure Natalie drives carefully", Bec warned.
"She always does", he said with a smile. "I'm proud of us, you know? I mean, getting this far into the year".
They were exactly halfway through the year, as of the day before where Bec and Garry had revealed their scores. Halfway through the surfing year, halfway through the school year- with the exams under their belt, they had two weeks of school holidays to enjoy.
"Aw, Guy". Bridget smiled.
Putting his plate into the sink, he bowed his farewell. "see you later guys!"
It had started as a normal day. Guy went off with his friends, Adam and Cassie went to catch a movie. Charley and Loren hauled the volleyball net from underneath the house, setting it up on the beach. And Bridget joined the couple, clad in trackpants and jumpers, hitting the ball over the net and having the time of their lives.
It was a normal day up until about five o'clock. Cassie and Adam had returned from the cinemas, relaxing in the lounge room with the TV playing. Bridget picked up a book and curled herself up in the corner of the lounge room, while Charley and Loren took to the kitchen to cook dinner for the group.
"Do you know if Guy's coming home for dinner?" Charley asked Bec, as she darted through the house to answer the ringing phone.
"I'll get it!" Garry called, stepping into the office.
Sliding to a stop in her socks, Bec shrugged. "Cook some for him and we'll cover it with glad wrap", she suggested. "Save it for him- even if he's already eaten, he knows it's you two in the kitchen tonight. He'll force himself to eat more".
Charley and Loren laughed- it was typical Guy.
"Bec", Garry called urgently, a lump in his throat. "Phone!"
Cassie looked up, from where Adam had been absently drawing patterns on her stomach- she had never heard that tone of voice from their coach before.
"Wonder who's on the phone?" she voiced.
Bridget shrugged. "I'm sure they'll let us know".
Less than five minutes passed, between Garry's strangled call for his housemate to when they emerged from the office.
"House meeting, now!"
Bridget, Cassie and Adam headed into the kitchen, not knowing what to expect. Seeing Bec with tear streaked cheeks, however, was not part of their original plan.
Swallowing hard, Bec tried to put her words together.
"Bec?" Charley said, his voice echoing in her ears.
Loren moved closer to the brunette, putting an arm around her waist. Bec tried to smile at her, but failed, as a single tear rolled down her face.
"There was an accident", Garry said, his voice wavering. "Guy was in it…"
"Oh my God!" Adam gasped. "Is he okay?"
"Which hospital's he in?"
"Can we go and see him?"
Bridget knew the answer even before it came out of the man's mouth.
"Guy didn't make it", Garry choked out. "He passed away instantly".
He could hear their gasps, one of the girls crying. But it was Bridget, fleeing for the stairs that caught his attention.
Charley and Adam in their spots, unmoved, their faces blank. Cassie and Loren had their arms around each other, sniffles coming from one of them.
They had been a group of five once before- when Charley had gone home, back to Perth, glandular fever stopping him in his tracks. But they had become six again, upon his return.
Guy wouldn't be returning.
"What happened?" Adam said thickly, swallowing hard.
"On the way home, another driver didn't stop for a red light. Their car skidded across the road and Guy went through the windscreen". Garry shook his head, unable to picture it mentally.
Loren let out a whimper.
Bec put her head in her hands, rubbing her temple. "I just can't…"
Taking a seat, Garry just shrugged.
It all hit them at different times.
Adam, when he saw the empty bottom bunk in their bedroom. Snatching the blankets and pillows from his bed, he marched down the stairs and tossed them onto the lounge, making himself comfortable beneath them.
Charley, when he saw the third towel hanging up on the hook on their bedroom door. The same towel that had been, when damp, spun around and hit at the back of his legs.
Cassie, when she moved into the kitchen to get a drink and saw the eight chairs around the kitchen table. She was the one to sit next to him at all meals.
Loren, when she methodically placed clean towels into the linen cupboard and saw his favourite towel on top of the pile.
It hadn't hit her yet.
But she knew it would. And she knew when it did hit her, it would hit her hard.
"Mr and Mrs Spender know", Garry said quietly to Bec, coming out of the office. "They're flying in tomorrow morning. They're coming around to work out funeral arrangements; I just got off the phone to them".
"I don't think I can do this", Bec told him honestly, shaking her head.
"We'll be right". He put an arm around her, kissing the top of her head. "How are the kids?"
"Not so good. Charley and Adam have commandeered the lounge room as their room for the night; they don't want to be upstairs. The girls are all in Cassie's room, last I checked".
"What about Bridget?"
"She's… she's going to be okay", Bec decided.
Garry took the seat beside the brunette, resting his head in his hand. "I still can't believe it".
"I don't want to believe it", she agreed. "I wish we were meeting them on happier terms".
Finding Cassie and Loren curled up in Loren's bed, murmuring conversation between them, was too much for Bridget. She loved the girls, but human interaction was not what she wanted. So, taking her pillow, she crossed the hallway and made herself comfortable in Cassie's spare bed.
"What are you doing?" Bec murmured, coming out of her bedroom still in sleep mode. "Bridget?"
"Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you", the blonde apologized, pulling a towel from the linen cupboard in the hallway. "I'm going down to the beach".
"Bridget, honey, are you sure?" Bec leaned against the doorway, trying to make sense of the situation. "I mean-"
"Bec, its okay", she tried to assure her. "I'm going for a swim. Need to clear my head".
"Be careful", Bec warned her, before sliding down the wall and yawning heavily.
Padding down the stairs, Bridget made her way out onto the sand, staring at the icy ocean. Every morning, it was a mission to crawl out of their warm beds and out onto the sand. Guy was the hardest to get moving- five minutes was more like thirty, in his world.
She sat out on the sand until her lips were blue and she was thoroughly chilled to the bone, before picking herself up and walking back to the house. She found Adam and Charley in the same spot she left them- wrapped in blankets on the lounges- while Bec and Garry were sitting at the table. Loren and Cassie had their heads on their placemats, purple bags under their eyes- clearly, they had gotten about as much sleep as she had.
"What are you doing?" Loren asked, aghast, standing in the boys' doorway. Charley and Adam were sitting on the floor beside the bottom bunk, pawing through the drawers she knew had been Guy's.
"We promised Mr and Mrs Spender we'd help them pack up", Adam told her. "they don't want to do it".
(Honestly, it was a job that Adam and Charley didn't want either, but they weren't about to refuse.)
"Loren, check this out", Charley said gently, holding out a notebook. "It's the list he was always talking about".
Taking it from him, Loren could almost hear Guy talking about his bucket list. Everything he ever wanted to achieve was on it, and they had never seen the full thing. But they all knew that number two on his list was to get into Solar Blue Academy- he had announced it on the very first night at dinner, much to Bec's amusement.
Tears filled her eyes, as she scanned the list. Leaning against Charley, she let the tears fall.
"He's never going to complete this list", she whispered, and Charley put her arm around her.
Bec had climbed into the Solar Blue van many, many times in her life. Carrying armfuls of towels, dripping salt water and sand, pressed up against the window on the way home from a competition, eyes tired. Even lifting the skirt of her formal dress in behind her, high heels looking completely out of place among the sand of the floor mats. But never had she rode the Solar Blue van- a place of happy memories- to a funeral.
And never again did she want to.
Glancing in the rear view mirror, Garry looked at the kids in the backseat. They had resumed their normal positions- silently. Bridget and Guy had provided the soundtrack to every adventure undertaken in the vehicle, arguing about everything and nothing at all (down to the point where they had been fighting for so long they forgot what the original point of their conversation was). It had become normal.
But, dressed in black, with one empty seat, was about as far away from normal as they could get.
"I'm going down to the beach in the morning", Garry told them, sipping his cup of coffee. It had been a week since the funeral, and he could tell that the kids were itching for some normality in their lives again. "For training. It's optional- you don't have to come. But the offer's there, if you want to start training again".
He highly doubted he would see any of the kids. But when he poked his head into the boys' room to check, he saw the red dots on both alarm clocks, signaling an alarm was set. And, upon checking, Bec confirmed with him- both clocks in Bridget and Loren's room were set, too.
Loren and Cassie lay on the single bed, a blanket covering nothing but their feet.
"This sucks", Cassie whispered, hugging Loren's blue stuffed dolphin to her chest. "I mean, its trying to go back to normal but it's not. It can't".
"It won't, not really", Loren agreed, glancing over to the other bed.
Bridget, who normally slept tucked into a ball, the blanket covering all but her eyes, was lying as still as a corpse, her eyes squeezed shut. It didn't take a genius to figure that she wasn't asleep.
"Bridget?" Cassie tried.
"Go to sleep". The blonde didn't even open her eyes, shifting onto her side. "Just go to sleep, Cass".
"How are we supposed to get closure from that?" she wanted to know. "We don't!"
"We need a proper Guy Spender memorial", Loren almost declared.
Cassie looked at her, eyes bright. "Want me to go and tell the others?"
"Wait until morning", Bridget mumbled into her pillow. "It's the middle of the night".
"Good night, Bridget", Loren said softly, pulling the blanket a little higher over her and Cassie.
"Good night Bridget", Cassie echoed.
The next morning, the alarms rang, breaking them from their sleep. With the sun barely up, they shuffled out of their pyjamas into swimming costumes and board shorts, in an attempt to resume some normalcy in the Solar Blue house. Loren and Charley lead them down to the beach, Adam and Cassie on their heels. Bridget trailed behind, a towel over her shoulder.
It still didn't feel right. They half expected to see Guy running down the sand after them, late as usual. They spent half their mornings trying to get him out of bed.
"Alright!" Garry called, barely believing his eyes. When he had to prod them out of bed, he got groans and moans, and yet when he made training optional, they were there earlier than usual. It was their attempt to resume life's normality. "Boxing!" he pointed to the pile of gloves and pads on the towel. "You guys know the drill- Bridget, you'll be with me".
She nodded, slipping her hands into a pair of gloves. Guy had been her partner in every training session, from that very first day.
Garry, holding the pads out to Bridget, did his best to focus on his partner, but shouted instructions to the other groups. "hit harder, Loren, that's it! Good girl! Cassie, a little faster!"
Pulling away, she tugged off the gloves.
"Bridget?" Garry said, as she stopped. Shaking her head, she ran up the sand, falling into Bec's arms and crying hysterically for the first time since she heard the news.
"I loved him", she sobbed, as Bec held her close. "I loved him so much!"
Bec cradled her gently on the grass in front of the house, rocking her back and forth. "He loved you too", she whispered, resting her chin on top of the blonde's. "He loved you".
"He said he loved me and then he kissed me and then he got a girlfriend… and then he died!" Bridget howled, downright hysterical, taking a deep, shuddering breath.
Gently, Bec helped Bridget up, leading her towards the house. Taking her up the stairs, she handed her a towel and pushed her into the girls' bathroom. Bridget, hiccupping and biting her already swollen bottom lip, turned on the hot tap as hard as it would go, before stepping into the bathtub.
The hot water made her skin tingle, as her tears mixed with the water streaming down her face. Slowly, leaning against the wall, she felt the hot water work its magic. Slowly but surely, she was calming down.
When she turned off the tap, her cheeks were tomato red and her eyes were bloodshot, but she felt a hundred and ten percent better. Stepping down the stairs in her dressing gown, her wet hair plastered to her face, she stopped in the doorway of the lounge room, where her six housemates were sitting.
"We didn't even get to say a proper goodbye", Loren mumbled, her head in Charley's lap. "I mean, we didn't get to say goodbye to the Guy we knew. We said goodbye to the Guy everybody knew. The one his parents knew".
"It sucks", Adam agreed, hanging upside down on the lounge, one hand on Cassie's stomach. "We have to do something. We have to say goodbye to our Guy".
"How can we?" Cassie wanted to know. "It's not like it's something we discussed!"
"I know", Bridget said quietly, leaning against the doorway. "He told me… energy drink incident. He thought he was going into cardiac arrest".
Loren erupted into giggles, before covering her mouth in shock.
"That's such a Guy thing", Charley smiled, Bec and Garry laughing a little.
"It's simple, really", Bridget said, taking a seat beside Adam and relaying the whole story to them.
As the sun set over Blue Water Beach, the seven occupants of the big boarding house left the warmth and comfort of their lounge room for the chill of the nighttime air. Armed with blankets, a photo of Guy, his laptop and a dozen candles, they made themselves comfortable. Bridget sat between Loren and Bec, the former keeping a firm grip on her hand.
"We gather here tonight to remember the life of Guy Spender", Adam said quietly, as Garry lit the candles. "A tractor on land, but a Ferrari in the water".
Wrapping a blanket around her shoulders, Bridget leant against Loren.
"There's no other way to describe Guy, really". Adam shrugged. "So I'll use his own words. Ever since we first met, he had been talking about his bucket list. Fifty things he wanted to accomplish before he died. Number fifty- walk along the shore of the longest beach in the world".
Loren had to smile- he had shared that snippet of information with her only a week earlier, as they bent over their science homework together.
"Forty one- get a tattoo".
It had been something he had shared when the conversation at dinner had dwindled to silence, making Cassie stare. She had never thought of Guy as the boy who would get a tattoo, but the boy was a mystery.
"Thirty four- swim with sharks".
Adam visibly shuddered at that- Guy had been insanely jealous when Bec took Cassie and Adam to the aquarium. The swimming with shark certificate on the wall had only boosted his jealously, and he had tried his hardest to give the pair of them the silent treatment for the rest of the afternoon.
"Twenty nine- see Coldplay in concert".
Garry smiled- he and Guy had bonded over a love of Coldplay and had vowed that if they were in Sydney, they would go and see them in concert.
"Twenty three- live in Tahiti".
Bec grinned- when he found out that she had spent a year of her childhood living in Tahiti, she had been peppered with questions.
"Nineteen- fly in a helicopter over Sydney Harbour".
Cassie blinked back tears- they had agreed, that when they returned to Blue Water, they would fly in a helicopter over the beaches.
"Fifteen- put bunk beds in every room of my house".
Charley snickered- the sleeping arrangement situation they had gone through on that very first day in the boarding house was the first time he had even met Guy. And he had been full on- and although he wouldn't admit it, he had been very much looking forward to spending their year in the academy together.
"Number five- fall madly in love so my heart takes over from my head".
Silent tears streamed down Bridget's face, as Loren squeezed her hand a little tighter.
"Number two- make it into Solar Blue, the best surfing academy in Australia". Adam had to swallow hard, tears blurring his vision. "And number one- meet a group of friends that I will know for the rest of my life".
They were silent for a moment, taking in Guy's wishes.
"I know that Guy's not going to be able to complete this list", Adam said, the lump in his throat audible, "But I think we can all agree that he achieved number one".
"Now we're going to play his favourite song", Cassie said bravely, clicking on his iTunes library.
Bec didn't know what to expect- but the Spice Girls 'Wannabe' was certainly not it.
Garry snorted with laughter, as Charley and Adam exchanged shocked looks.
If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends
Make it last forever, friendship never ends!
If you wanna be my lover, you have got to give
Taking is too easy, but that's the way it is
"It certainly was his favourite", Loren giggled. "It was played four hundred and nineteen times!"
They all laughed. Probably too hard for the situation, but they didn't care.
"Alright, we're skipping to the next favourite", she decided. Pressing play, Josh Pyke's 'Memories and Dust' filtered through the speakers, the familiar words that Guy was caught singing so often filled their ears.
I landed in the garden longing for the view behind the fence
Oh my God
I prayed my bones weren't brittle
For the air we float on can feel dense
Oh the weight of it aches
But if I speak to you of days upon the ocean
I can speak to you of memories and dust
There won't be time for all us,
I know there won't be time for all of us
They spent the night out on the beach, sitting under blankets until the first cracks of daylight appeared. Swapping stories about Guy, laughing at almost forgotten moments.
"Come on". Charley held his hand out for Loren, lifting her off the sand.
"What are you doing?" she wanted to know, tugging her jacket a little tighter around herself.
Charley pulled her down to the water, splashing through the frothy whitewater. Exactly what Guy loved to do, picking Bridget up onto his shoulders and dancing around the foam.
Slowly but surely, Cassie and Adam followed them down to the water's edge.
"Come on", Bec said to Bridget, as Garry helped her up.
The three of them headed down to the water, Garry lifting Bec all the way onto his shoulders and making her shriek. Laughter filled the beach for what felt like the first time all year, as Garry spun with the brunette on his shoulders.
"I'm not saying goodbye, Guy Spender", Bridget whispered, stepping through the water until she was up to her knees. "I'm saying thank you. Thank you for touching my life for the better. Thank you for being my best friend. I love you".
Blowing a kiss into the salty Blue Water Beach air, she turned around to find Garry and Bec standing behind her.
"There's no reason to say goodbye", Bec told her, brushing aside a lock of blonde hair and squeezing her tight. "You're going to remember forever".
Taking her by the hand, Garry spun her around and the blonde was passed from arm to arm, the seven coming together for a group hug.
Together, they would remember.