A.N. So apparently I'm alive, after all.

(for a while there, even I questioned it.)

i wish i could say that life was insane, or that my computer spontaneously combusted, or that my keyboard was possessed, but the truth is i just kind of lost inspiration for this story. A bad case of writer's block, as it were.

(very much not fun.)

PM/review if you want to yell at me or talk to me or whatever.

Thanks to:

BartWLewis, Damon Asgard, charmedprincess101, LIly, a friend of old, Guest, Katwizzle, DeathOfTheBlack Dragon, gabylokita41, Guest, Curse you Perry the Platypus, and crazedduke for reviewing ;D

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theundesiredones, LilBlackBird, Draco5146, Korik Sotir, when-time-stops, ravenandbb4ever, Kateland Rose, unknownwriter09, BlackPachirisu, Damon Asgard, juliptree, ThoughtsLightsAndFireAndSound, BartWLewis, Palaemona, TheLurkingShadowWillow, KnifeAZombie, Yuri Hannah, and BatPrincess14 for following ;D

So my PMing thing was being weird for while, but it hasn't been an issue lately. I've sent review replies, but some of you probably didn't get them; go ahead and PM me if you didn't and we'll talk :D

Falling In Love At A Coffee Shop

White walls are interesting, Rachel thinks as she lays on her white standard-issue bed. They're interesting because they're white but they're not blank.

Shadows dance upon them, and sometimes she thinks she maybe sees something in them: Jessi's wedding dress, or Gar's eyes. In the flashes of brightness she sometimes sees Wally's quick smile.

(Drugs'll do that to you. Make you see things. Funny how that works.)

Jessi's the only one who knows where she is, in the rehab facility outside of Philadelphia, but Rachel purposely made it that way.

She thinks that maybe she should feel bad about that, because Gar's probably killing himself with worry (he's sweet like that), but she can't bring herself to feel the emotion. Cause, see, Rachel's being feeling a whole lot of things for a very long time and she think that might be the problem. See, Rachel either feels everything or feels nothing, and she's thinking about trying the former for a while.

(feeling nothing feels so, so, so good.)

Jessi tells her to get her shit together.

"Gar's watching Animal Planet and moping," Jessi tells her through the glass window in the Visiting Room. "And if I have to watch one more thing about meerkat society I'm going to lose my mind."

"Tell him when come back I'm going to hurt him for being a wimp," Rachel deadpans.

"Your loser boyfriend is kind of a pansy," Jessi smiles.

"That's just who he is. He's adorable."

"He's weak." Jessi's voice hardens. "But most adorable things are. Nobody wants to take care of the strong. Do you miss him?"

"Gar?" Rachel sighs, because she knows that she doesn't miss him as much as she should. "Yes, I do."

"I miss Flash, too." Jessi sighs. "To think, I used to be bad."

"You were never bad, Jessi."

"I was never happy being bad, babycakes," Jessi corrects her. " I guess I like the perks of being good too much. I like being free. I like not giving a sh t. I like not caring."

"Not caring is good," Rachel nods. "Very, very good."

"Love screws everything up, and the worst part is that it doesn't even matter." Jessi sighs.

"Love matters," Rachel says, because she knows that much.

"Maybe in your world, babycakes." Jessi sighs. "Maybe in yours, but sure as hell not in mine."

Rachel starts to get better.

But rehab is boring.

So, so boring.

This particular facility is not famed for its recreational activities, so Rachel thinks maybe that's a good thing. Because for so long Rachel's life has centered around something that's not her, anything but her.

Because for a long time she's been in Gotham, surrounded by the drama, and maybe that's kept her from seeing that she isn't who she wants to be. Isn't who her mother would want her to be.

Rachel isn't a feeling-girl. She isn't a loving-girl.

And maybe it's time she stopped pretending otherwise.

She left Gotham because Gotham means drama and love and complications and feelings, and if Rachel's going to get better she has to leave all that behind.

A man brings a puppy into the drug ward, and it makes her think of Gar.

Oh, Gar.

Maybe he isn't worried, maybe he is, but she can't think about it, because Gar is number 3 on the Things Rachel Shouldn't Think About list (right behind Jason and drugs).

Because Gar is sweet and kind and nice, but Rachel isn't any of those things, and she's so tired of trying to be the kind of person that deserves him.

Rachel just wants to be Rachel.

Is she worth this? Gar wonders sometimes, because he's kind of not sure.

She's gone, and no one knows where she is, and maybe he's being callous but he isn't crushed.

He watches Animal Planet because he wants to, because for so long he hasn't had the time to, and he makes Jessi join him because he knows she likes meerkats, no matter how much she complains.

Maybe he's being insensitive, or maybe he just doesn't care, but if Rachel wants him, she can have him. He thinks it might be time to stop chasing after her.

(she kind of obviously doesn't want to be found.)

"Do you miss her?" Flash asks him.

"...Sometimes," Gar muses. "Maybe."

(because Gar's thinking about devoting more time to him -being a little selfish, as it is-, and less time to Rachel.

To the slips and tatters of a girl he might still love.)

(after all, absence only makes the heart grow fonder when there's something to long for, and he's starting to realize that maybe he and Rachel never actually had enough of a relationship for that.)

"It's almost time for medical school," The college guidance councilor tells him. "Any thoughts?"

Gar looks at the man, looks at the tiny desk he's sitting behind, looks at the tiny office in the tiny building, and he sees himself in ten or twenty years, and he decides that maybe that's not good enough anymore.

"Yeah, I do," Gar says slowly. "I want to go to veterinary school."

"That's not covered by your degree," The councilor pulls at his collar. "You'd have to take some totally new classes."

"My degree's not set in stone," Gar shrugs. "And anyway, what the hell else am I going to do?"

Rachel is gone, and no one knows where she is, but life goes on in that weird way life does.

Richard finally mans up and gets Kori back (hallelujah. if Gar had to listen to anymore emo sobfests, he'd go join the meerkats.)

Kole is pregnant.

Karen and Vic take a Caribbean cruise; Karen starts anti-stress medication.

Adam joins the Olympic swim team and trains all the damn time.

And Gar?

Gar gets up every morning and breathes and for the first time in forever, he thinks of going back to Africa.

Because Gar's starting to think that maybe he and Rachel didn't work because he and Rachel weren't ready to work. Maybe it wasn't the Terras and the Jasons and the Reggies; maybe it was just them, not working. Not being ready to change.

(because maybe Gar doesn't actually like the man he's become. maybe he's realized that the whole dewy-eyed schoolboy, nice and gentlemanly, isn't who is. maybe he's spent the past three years living day to day, in drama and anger and love and something akin to remorse.

maybe this is growing up.)

"Do you miss her?" Flash asks him as they sit at a bar downtown. "It's okay if you do. I still miss Jessi, especially at night."

"...yes?" Gar shrugs. "I want her here, but not like before."

"...I'm going to nod and pretend like I understand that." Flash laughs.

"I'm making no sense, I know." Gar shrugs. "Damn, though. Girls bring so much drama."

"Ain't that the truth," Flash smiles, and clinks his beer against Gar's.