DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the characters in Degrassi; I'm just taking them out for a bit of fun...
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Any sentences in italics are the inner thoughts of the characters, but not to be confused with the individual words in italics meant for inflection.
TIMELINE: This fic starts on graduation day, and though it's not a sequel to my first fic (Say it Again), I do refer (sort of) to a few things in it.
SPOILERS: High Fidelity parts 1 & 2, and anything before.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
This Can't Be My Life
Dawn was just starting to break across Degrassi, and at the Nunez apartment all was still and quiet. Emily and Chad were passed out. One on the couch, the other strewn on the bed, while Alex, on the other hand, was laying wide awake staring up at her ceiling. She had been awake most of the night, nodding off and on when exhaustion finally overtook her. But every time she woke up, the same thoughts were running through her head.
Graduation day. I should be happy. I should be thrilled. I'm finally out of here. I'm finally free. And yet, I couldn't be more miserable.
Alex blinked as the morning sun began to filter in through her blinds, and in her best attempt to deny the coming day, she pulled the blanket over her head as she groaned in her misery. It had been a rough couple of days. First she broke up with Paige, and then she had to watch the merriment of the end of the school year going on around her like a contagious disease that she was somehow immune to. And though she did her best not to notice, she couldn't help but see Paige flitting around in glee as though nothing had happened.
Just a few days ago I was happy, I had a girlfriend, I had school. School - I don't understand why I'm mourning it since I never really liked it. I guess cuz it gave me some sort of purpose, or at least something to do and somewhere to go. But now what? I don't have anything to occupy my time, but I suppose I only have myself to blame for that. Damn that psychology class.
The raven haired girl pulled the blanket away from her face in exasperation while sitting up in bed, and caught a glimpse of a favorite picture of a favorite blonde on the night stand next to her bed. All at once her heart sank deep into her chest, and began to ache so badly she thought it was physically collapsing. Feeling defeated, she flopped back onto her bed with a ragged sigh.
This is going to be a very long day.
Despite the early hour, across town at the Michalchuk house things were moving in a very crazy fashion. Mom and Dad were busying themselves getting ready for the graduation party, Paige was racing around trying to pick out what she was going to wear, while Dylan was laying calmly on his bed talking to his boyfriend on the phone.
"Dylan!" Paige came bursting through his door as though it were life or death.
"Jesus!" He jumped up as if his bed were on fire, "What!"
"I need the phone," she stated with her hand outstretched.
"Now? I'm kind of in the middle of a conversation."
"Please, I think the two of you can make it until you see each other later at graduation."
"Well so could you and Alex."
"I wasn't going to call Alex, and besides, we broke up."
Into the phone Dylan said, "I'll call you back, Marco." After clicking the phone off, and dodging Paige's once again outstretched hand, he asked gently "When did you break up?"
Deflating a bit, the blonde calmly responded "A couple of days ago."
"How come you didn't tell me?" He asked concerned.
"I haven't really told anyone, and besides, it wasn't that big of a deal" at this she looked down at her feet almost ashamed at what she had just said.
"Not that big of a deal, Paige, you two were going out for more than two months. You seemed so happy. Hell, she practically lived in my room for a couple of weeks." Turning his head to the side a bit, he suddenly had a bit of a realization. "Was this about Banting?"
She looked back up at him, surprised he would guess it so easily. "Sort of. Or at least, that was part of it."
"Mmm-hmm," he nodded, "your superiority complex finally caught up with you, didn't it?" It was more of a statement than a question.
"What? No! And I do not have superiority complex!" she said in a huff.
"Oh come on, Paige. You've always thought you were better than everyone else. I mean, I love you, but you can be hard to deal with sometimes."
With a piercing glance and grabbing for the phone, she spun on her heel and walked back into her room with Dylan right behind her.
"Did you realize you would be going off to Banting with a white trash girlfriend who you'd have explain to all of your new 'in crowd' friends?"
She flew around about to scream at him, but could see he was only challenging her. Still furious with what he said, she threw back "First of all, don't you ever talk about her like that! Second of all," suddenly her voice dropped to little above a whisper, "she broke up with me."
Unable to hide the surprise on his face, he tried to reign in his voice, "Oh. I'm sorry."
"Yeah well, I guess it was a matter of time. We're too different, and we want different things." She spoke matter-of-factly into the clothes she was still filtering through. "It was nice while it lasted, but I think both of us knew it wouldn't."
Looking closely at her, and seeing the uncertainty on her face, he gently asked, "Are you sure that's how you really feel?"
Paige paused, then took in a deep breath. Slowly she looked up, and Dylan could see the tears beginning to form in her eyes.
After wallowing got to be too much for her, Alex finally pulled herself out of bed and wandered into the bathroom to assess the damage that her restless night had brought about. The apartment was just as painfully quiet, with the occasional sound of the refrigerator gurgling. The floor creaked as Alex walked into the bathroom, and flipping on the switch she squinted as she got used to the brightness of the blaring lights that were practically screaming at her from above.
"Great, I look just as crappy as I feel" she spoke out loud to the mirror in front of her. "I guess not all of us can always look as winning as Ms. Paige Michalchuk." She ran her fingers through her bed-head hair, while fixating on the dark bags under her eyes. "You'd think I had a good time last night giving how I look" she flatly stated as she looked down at her tasseled t-shirt and boxers. "I really wish that was the case." With one last hard glance at herself, she grabbed a towel and a washcloth out of the cabinet and began to get ready for her shower.
Paige gave Dylan all of the details of her breakup with Alex, along with what happened with Spinner soon after. Dylan did his best not to scold her for her actions while remembering how he had acted before and after his breakup with Marco. He was not one to throw stones.
"So are you and Spinner..." he trailed off making a motion with his hands to indicate he meant 'together'.
"No, no, no" she said shaking her head. "It was more of a 'goodbye' to high school than anything, and since Spinner and I have so much history that it just seemed, I dunno, appropriate I guess."
"Ok...So...Does anyone else know?"
"About Spinner and me?" He nodded. "Hazel. And I think Marco."
"Marco?" He said surprised. "He didn't say anything to me about it."
"Well probably cuz Spin was the one who told him, and he never wanted to get in the middle of it since Spin and Darcy have been trying to patch things up."
"Does Alex know?"
"No!" she sternly said as if to warn him to keep his mouth shut.
"You sound as though you're feeling guilty."
"Well, I know I didn't do anything wrong. I mean, we had broken up, but you know, I don't want to hurt her with this."
"Don't you think she will eventually find out?"
"I hope not" she practically whispered with a far away look on her face.
Watching her actions closely, he asked "So what happens now?"
"I don't know. I guess I spend the summer working at the theater, and then I'm off to Banting for a whole new life."
"And you and Alex?" he gently prodded.
"We go our different ways." Once again she looked off, but this time her gaze went out the window as if looking for something, or someone.
Alex emerged from her shower in a whirl of steam as she grabbed for her towel. She tried wiping away the water droplets off the bathroom mirror, only to find her reflection in a blur, yet she was still able to see the visible fatigue on her face along with the great sadness.
This sucks. This really sucks. This sucks more than anything has ever sucked before. This can't be my life.
She sighed deeply while picking up her toothbrush and grabbing the toothpaste.
I am so dreading having to see Paige at graduation. Why couldn't I have at least had the brains to wait until this summer to break up with her? Why couldn't I have just tried to make it work? She wanted us to find a place together, how could I have been so stupid?
She stared intently at herself, looking at every curve of her face and every strand of hair. "I should try talking to her" she thought out loud to the image in front of her. "She'll be in a really good mood, and it might be my best shot at getting her to hear me out."
The sound of her mom shifting in bed drew Alex out of her daydream and back to her reality. After drying off, she wrapped the towel tightly around her and made her way back to her room. She opened her closet and assessed her wardrobe looking for something to wear to graduation.
I don't get people who stress over what they're gonna wear to graduation. It's not like anyone can see your clothes under the gown, and most everyone changes into something different for their parties or whatever.
She grabbed a t-shirt and a comfortable pair of jeans and began to work out what she wanted say to Paige after the ceremony. "I can do this."
Paige was going through her closet for the fifth time, still not feeling right with the outfit she had picked out.
"Dylan, what do you think of this one?" she asked holding a summer dress in front of her.
Distracted, he replied, "I like it."
"That's what you've said about everything else I've shown you" she sighed in exasperation.
"Well everything else was good too. What difference does it make anyway? It's not like anyone is gonna be able to see it under your gown."
She rolled her eyes, "How is it you're gay?"
He finally looked up from his magazine and laughed. "Just because I don't get a thrill out of dressing up my little sister doesn't mean I am any less gay, than say, the Fab Five."
"Why couldn't you have been one of them? That would be so much fun!"
Dylan just shook his head and looked back down at his men's magazine. "How is it you ever dated a girl like Alex?" he joked, but then immediately regretted it. He could tell from their earlier conversation that she was feeling bad about their breakup regardless of what she might say. "Paige, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to bring her up again"
Paige's mood had visibly shifted, but she kept up her cheery disposition as much as she could muster. "Its ok."
Since he had already brought it up, he had to ask the question he had been dying to ask ever since he found out his baby sister was dating a girl. "Do you think you might ever date another girl?"
Paige glanced at him quickly before returning her attention to her overflowing closet. "I don't know," her voice was quiet and serious. "I think I would compare them all to Alex."
"How would that be any different from your past boyfriends?"
"I guess cuz I never thought I would date a girl," she trailed off as she picked up the pair of jeans she wore to the film premier she went to with Alex. "It will probably be a while before I think about dating another girl."
Dylan nodded understanding what she meant. Alex was special, and there would be no replacing her.
Alex fidgeted nervously in the car as Jay drove her to graduation. She hadn't said much since he had picked her up, and she remained silent on the way to school. Jay kept glancing back and forth between the road and Alex, wanting very much to say something but getting the feeling he should keep his mouth shut.
Once they finally arrived, he could stand it no longer and had to say something. He had been good for far too long. "Tell me again why we're here almost an hour before the ceremony" he said in a huff as he slammed his door.
Rolling her eyes and not being at all surprised he wasn't listening the first time she explained it to him, she responded, "I told you, Paige will probably be here early to run around and act as though she hasn't seen these same people just yesterday, and I really want to talk to her before the ceremony."
"And why is it you want to see her so badly? You haven't spoken to each other since you two broke up, why so important all of a sudden?"
"Jay, do you ever listen to me when I'm talking? she asked in disgust.
He just shrugged the question off knowing he was busted. "I want to talk to her about our breakup," she finally added.
"What about it? You two are way too different, so you broke up, and case closed."
"Look, Jay, I know you don't understand this, but I still have feelings for her and therefore I don't want things to just be over." He looked at her blankly causing her to add, "I wish I wouldn't have broken up with her."
"Oh." They continued to walk through the parking lot up to the school in silence, until he once again couldn't stand it any longer. "How come you didn't get this upset when we broke up?"
She half glanced at him with a look of disbelief on her face. "Are you serious?" He just looked at her. "I can't believe you are actually being serious" she said shaking her head in exasperation.
"Lexi, come on. We had a lot of fun together, and what we had was special" he pleaded.
"What we had was screwed up" she said as she made her way up the stairs to the front door, leaving a clueless Jay behind.
Paige was breezing through the halls with Dylan and her parents, headed towards the gymnasium. She was rattling off about her graduation party and how exactly she wanted everything to go. Her parents kept assuring her that all the details were in place, while Dylan was distractedly sending text messages back and forth with Marco.
"You know Paige, when I graduated I didn't have this big of a party planned" Dylan said in between messages.
Looking puzzled, yet catching his sarcasm, she asked "And your point would be?"
He laughed returning his attention to his phone hearing that he got a new text. At the same moment, Alex came around the corner and almost slammed right into the happy family.
"Alex!" Paige exclaimed, extremely startled by her ex's sudden appearance.
In a timid, yet steady and cool tone, Alex simply said, "Hi Paige." They stared at each other in an uncomfortable silence for what seemed like an eternity, then Alex finally noticed the other people standing with her and she added unceremoniously, "Hi Mr. and Mrs. Michalchuk. Hey Dylan."
Dylan nodded in a sympathetic fashion while Paige's parents both addressed her. She returned her gaze to the blonde and quietly asked, "Can I talk to you for a minute?"
Paige was about to turn her down, until she saw the pleading look in Alex's eyes. Her parents saw it too. "We'll meet you in the gym, hunny" her mom said as the three walked off leaving the girls to their privacy.
They stood in silence for a moment before Paige asked in all too cheery tone. "What's up?"
Taking in a deep breath and mustering as much confidence she could, Alex practically whispered, "I was hoping we could talk about us." Paige looked confused, so she added, "About our breakup."
"Now?" It came out a little harsher than she meant it to, so Paige reigned herself back in, "I mean, its graduation day. There's so much going on."
"I know, I just...I want..." She felt the wind go out of her as she struggled to find her words.
Paige could see the hurt on her face, and softly said, "I think we should talk too, hun, but I'm afraid my parents are waiting for me so we can take pictures."
Alex smiled despite the seriousness, "Haven't you already taken dozens of pictures today?"
Paige got a shy look on her face as she quietly squeaked out, "But those were at home..."
They both let out a laugh releasing a bit of the tension that was thick between them. Dark brown eyes gazed into a pair of emerald green. They spent a few moments in gentle silence, both minds swimming with thoughts all the while both feeling as though they hadn't seen each other in years. How funny that time can seem like fleeting seconds in one moment, yet years in another.
Finally breaking the spell, Alex said "So maybe after graduation?" She could see the hesitation on the blonde's face. "Oh right, your party."
Paige shook her head, "Yeah. Which you are of course invited to!" she quickly added realizing that she hadn't formally said anything about it to her.
"I'm not sure I'm exactly up for a party" Alex responded suddenly finding her shoes very interesting.
"Well I hope you'll think about it," Paige gently urged. She really would like Alex to be there. She missed her commentary. She missed her.
She glanced up and seeing that she really meant it, Alex decided to consider the invitation. "Ok. I will."
"Good." They gazed lazily at each other for a few more seconds, before Paige made a movement signaling that she needed to get going. "I'll see you in a few, hun."
"Yeah" was all Alex could say as she contentedly smiled to herself while watching Paige bounce off towards the gym.
The ceremony was well underway as the graduating class sat closely together, and the air was thick with electricity from dozens of various thoughts floating in the wind.
Don't look over at her, thought Alex as she did her best to stare straight ahead as though she were paying attention to the commencement speeches. Ok, you can look but only if you make it quick. Pretend you're looking at the wall over there. Oh yeah, really interesting wall. Looks like its been painted recently...Ok, this is just stupid, just look at her and get it over with. Make it quick...But not jerky! Don't draw attention to yourself. You don't want her to know that you're looking at her. Take in a deep breath, then look. Smoothly. Alex slowly, yet unassumingly, glanced to her left and took in the sight of Paige. Seemingly unnoticed she returned her eyes back to the stage. God she looks incredible. How can someone look so good in a cap and gown?
How can someone look so bad in a cap and gown? Paige thought to herself as she peeked at Heather Sinclair. I mean, what was she thinking with that hairdo? My god, it looks like she went through a car wash, then through a wind tunnel, and then stuck her cap on top of it and thought viola! - this is the look I'm going for! Someone really should talk to her about her fashion faux pax. Meanwhile, I look stunning, as always. Hazel looks really nice as well, and WOW does Marco look handsome. No wonder Dylan was drooling all over him earlier. She mindlessly glanced around, checking out how everyone looked until her eyes fell upon Alex as she sat slumping in her seat with her arms crossed. Alex. Despite the, 'I can't be bothered by all of this' attitude, she really looks nice. Not nice, good. Really good in fact. Blue suits her. Really well. She noticed Alex beginning to turn her head in her direction, so she quickly returned her gaze to the audience. She's looking at me again. She must be, what else would she be looking at, the wall? Pretend you don't notice her looking at you. You don't want to make her feel bad for noticing, and you don't want to have the incredibly awkward moment of - oh, you saw me looking at you when you tried to look at me.
Why does Paige keep looking over here? It's really starting to bug me, thought Ellie as she shifted in her seat. Not being able to stand it any longer, she looked over to her right and caught Alex mid glance. Oh. Right. But I thought they broke up. Course by the looks of it, those aren't, ooo I love you glances. They must still have a thing for each other. Weird. Never would have guessed Alex would fall for Paige, or vice versa. Anyone watching this whole thing play out would have probably guessed me and Alex to be together if anyone. Oh god, here they go again! Aaahhh!
God this is boring. Why did I agree to come to this? Jay slumped in his chair near the back of the room, ready to make a quick getaway the moment the ceremony was over. I really hope Lexi isn't actually considering going to Paige's party. We would have so much more fun together. I've never understood what she saw in that stuck up cheerleader in the first place. Lesbian or not, we still have a lot more in common. He rolled his eyes as he saw Alex steal yet another look at the blonde. This is stupid. She's all wrong for you, Lexi. She can't possibly make you happy. Get over her already! She's moved on, and so should you.
Ok, these two really need to get back together. I don't think I've ever seen either one so miserable pretending not to be so miserable. Marco just shook his head while watching his friends as he nervously passed his speech cards from one hand to the other. I have to give my speech any minute, and yet here I am being sucked into their little soap opera. Just kiss and make up, you're great for each other! He sighed and returned his attention back to Dylan whom he had been exchanging loving and contented looks with in-between watching Palex. He took in a deep breath. His speech was coming up next. Why am I so nervous, I used to give speeches all the time. I guess I've been away from it too long. And of course, this is my last speech I will be making at Degrassi, that's pretty huge. Damn, I'm making myself even more nervous. And again they're sneaking glances. Everyone sees you! Just jump on each other and be done with it! Oh man, here I go! He shot a quick look at his boyfriend. Dylan, I really need you to help me get through this speech.
Come on, Marco. You can do this. I'm with you all the way, Dylan thought as he leaned forward in his chair never dropping his eyes off his boyfriend. Well, except for the occasional sideways glances over to his sister. Get a room, you two! If Paige has any doubt that Alex is still very much in love with her, I would hope this whole scene they're making would give her some clue. Course, knowing my sister she's oblivious to all of it. She probably doesn't think Alex sees her looking at her. Smart enough to get into Banting, and yet here she is. Hello! Marco is on stage about to give his speech. Wait - Marco!
Marco's speech is so moving, I think I'm actually on the verge of tears. Hazel grabbed a tissue out of her pocket, arming herself in case of an unexpected watershed of emotion. He looks so beautiful and poised up there. I can't believe this is all gonna be over soon. And I can't believe those two. Who do they think they're fooling? It's sad. Paige really needs to talk to Alex. I was never one to be her champion, but for some weird reason she made Paige very happy. This whole charade she has going now - sleeping with Spinner, and buzzing around here like nothing happened - she's some kind of uber Paige, and she's starting to worry me.
As Marco's speech ended, and the diplomas were being handed out, everyone began morphing into one big senior party puddle on stage. Hugs were given out as readily as the diplomas, and despite herself and all her muster to keep cool, even Alex began to feel the rush of emotions everyone else was. She hugged people she didn't really get along with, with people she never really talked to, with anyone who opened their arms to her. And yet, she never lost sight of Paige.
She's gonna wanna hug me, I'm sure. I want to hug her too, but do I hug her like I really want to, or how everyone else is hugging her? Maybe with my hug I can show her how I feel, how I still want her...How I still love her. Here she comes...don't breathe her in too deeply. Don't fall apart.
Both girls had a sad smile on their face, rich with emotions bubbling on the surface. Paige tilted her head slightly to the side as if to say, for old time sake. Their bodies came together in one fluid motion, and sparks of electricity sprang between them as it always had. The hug was like it always was, but the emotion behind it was full of sadness and longing. As they pulled apart, Alex turned quickly to hide the tears beginning to form in her chocolate brown eyes. And somewhere, deep inside the middle of the senior hugging party puddle, someone yelled, "Let's party!"
By the time Alex arrived at the Michalchuk house, the party was well underway. Immediately after graduation and a few quick pictures, she had taken off leaving Jay with a bunch of people he wasn't crazy about. She needed to be alone to collect her thoughts, and debate over whether to go to Paige's party or not.
On one hand she did invite me to the party, but on the other she didn't invite me until today. She had mentioned it to me before we broke up, but just in the assumption that I would be there. I guess I didn't really know whether I was truly invited once it was over between us. Alex inhaled deeply, and heavily sighed as she exhaled. Over. I don't want it to be. I really want to talk to her today, I don't want to wait any longer, but I'm scared the party isn't the right place or time. She'll just get irritated with me cuz I'm interrupting her moment to play hostess. Maybe I could get her away just long enough to get an idea of how she feels about us, and if there is a chance we might try again. I just hope she has the answers I want to hear. I don't think my heart could take it otherwise. I never thought I would be so over taken by someone, especially someone like Paige Michalchuk. She absolutely drives me nuts, and yet I can't imagine having never known her. She's turned my life upside down, both good and bad. She's changed my life forever. She took another deep breath, then jumped down from the giant boulder she had been perched on over looking the beach. The party may not be the best place to talk to Paige, but she didn't want to wait one more second if there was a chance that they could get back together.
She stood staring at the Michalchuk's front door for what seemed like several minutes, working up the nerve to knock. Even outside she could hear the laughter and music spilling out of the house. A couple of hours had passed since graduation, and by this time everyone was well established in their clicks at the party.
The sound of a car door slamming shook Alex out of her trans-like state. With a brief, and emotionless acknowledgment to the other late comers, she slowly followed them, a couple of steps behind, into the house.
Streamers in the school's colors were hanging all over the large living room, along with wall to wall balloons that covered the ceiling. A large banner with the words Congratulations Paige & Graduating Class of 2006 hung in the double doorway that lead into the dining room. Alex couldn't help but laugh quietly to herself when she saw that Paige's name came before the rest, and she just knew that Paige was the one who picked out how it was going to read. Yep, that's my girl, she thought to herself as her eyes took in her surroundings. I don't think she could have added any more blue and gold in here if she tried. Well maybe if she required people to wear the colors. Suddenly she started looking around the room at the rest of the people to make sure Paige hadn't really implemented a dress code. Letting out a sigh of relief, she started looking for the blonde.
She impatiently squeezed through the joyful crowd, her head darted around for the only person she wanted to see. Finally her eyes landed on soft waves of golden hair, lightly draped over an emerald green top. Alex could tell that even from behind, she was quite animated and thoroughly enjoying herself. Suddenly she felt guilty for wanting to bring up a potentially dramatic subject, and began to turn around to leave when she heard her name being called very enthusiastically behind her.
"Alex!" Marco bounded over to her with a wide grin on his face. "I'm so glad you decided to come!" He pulled her into a quick hug. Everyone seemed a lot more 'huggy' today than usual.
"Yeah, but I'm starting to have second thoughts about all of this." She motioned to the large crowd and the blatant school spirit swimming around in the house.
In the background, Paige had heard Alex's name being called, and her heart jumped in her chest. For the first hour and a half she had closely monitored the door hoping to see the raven haired girl walk through it, but eventually admitted defeat after the second hour had taken hold. Smiling inwardly with delight, she turned around and immediately locked eyes with Alex, and found herself walking over to her without even feeling as though she was moving. Out of the corner of his eye, Marco noticed Dylan heading toward the kitchen. He turned to Alex, who at this point forgot he was even standing next to her, and quickly mumbled "Looks like Dylan could use a hand bringing more food in, I'll catch up with you later."
"Uh huh" was all that Alex could muster as she was too busy watching Paige slowly make her way over to her. She knew she couldn't back down now, just looking into those eyes made her realize just how much she wanted to make amends.
"Alex!" Paige enthusiastically said when she finally reached her, and pulled her into a tight hug. "I'm so glad you're here" she whispered into the flowing shiny black hair.
"Me to" Alex whispered back. They smiled shyly at each other when they pulled apart, and motioning to the room around them Alex said, "I like what you've done with the place."
"Oh shut up, you do not" Paige laughed.
"Ok, you're right, I really don't." Alex laughed back, then added "But I love how your name appears to be nearly twice the size of Class of 2006."
"Yeah well, it's my party" the blonde squeaked out, causing her ex to laugh again.
After a few tense moments of glancing and smiling at each other, Alex took in a deep breath, "Paige, I know this isn't the right time or place seeing how you are the host of the party and all, but I've been thinking a lot lately." She paused and searched the blonde's face before adding, "About you and me. Us." Paige nodded in agreement, so she went for it. "Could we talk? Somewhere quiet?"
Paige looked deep into dark chocolate colored eyes. She said nothing as she took Alex's hand in hers and gently lead her through the crowd heading for the stairs. Quietly they ascended them on the path that lead to the blonde's bedroom, a place Alex had been yearning to see once again ever since they had broken up. Paige walked in first, with Alex close behind. The blonde waited for her to enter, then slowly closed the door behind them. Unsure of what to do or how she should act, Alex stood close to the entrance until she received a signal from the blonde.
Without much hesitation, Paige pressed Alex against the door, passionately kissing her, while her hands were eagerly going through Alex's hair and drawing her mouth closer to her own. Alex was extremely surprised by all of this, but she quickly recovered as her hands found their way to Paige's hips, pulling them as close to her as possible. Hands, mouths, and bodies quickly became reacquainted as their hunger for each surged through them like a drug. This is heaven, Alex thought as her mind swarmed with lust and love for this girl she held so tightly.
But it wasn't reality. After she had asked Paige if they could talk, the blonde hesitated. She wanted to talk as well, but being Paige, she didn't want anyone to upstage her at her own party while she was away. Realizing that was a lot less important than the person standing in front of her, she agreed. Alex quietly followed behind her as they made their way into the kitchen to talk. Upon entering, they found Marco and Dylan making out in front of the cheese platter sitting on the counter.
"Oh come on guys, I know you two made up and everything, but is it really necessary for me to catch the two of you making out in every room I walk into? And in front of the cheese too!" Paige playfully teased, as the guys reluctantly pulled apart laughing.
"Hey, I didn't hear the cheese complaining" Dylan threw back, very pleased to see his sister walk in with Alex by her side.
"Yeah, maybe the cheese is gay too" Marco joked, and the four friends started laughing again. It was a much needed relief from the tension that was bouncing back and forth between the two girls. Marco sensed that the two wanted to talk, so he motioned to Dylan who had the same thought.
"Well let's get this gay cheese circulating before it queerly changes into fondue." They giggled on their way out, leaving the two girls alone in the kitchen.
Alex became very quiet, and walked over to the island in the middle of the floor. She slid her hand across the cool black marble, her mind quickly journeyed back to the week she had spent with the Michalchuk's.
Most nights she would wake up finding herself unsure of her surroundings, and wildly looking around the room. With her bearings back she'd then stretch out in bed, feeling a sense of safety and security wash over her. After a few moments of staring up at the ceiling, she would then quietly get up and slip silently into Paige's room just to see her cuddled up in her bed, sleeping peacefully. Creeping down the stairs, she would make her way into the kitchen, get a glass of water, then sit down on the tall stools at the island. She'd gaze down at the black marble, memorizing the white lines swimming through its surface, and finding herself in an almost meditative state. With every night she'd do this, and without failure, she would eventually hear the sleepy shuffling of Paige making her way to the kitchen.
"You ok, hun?" Paige would ask yawning and squinting at the softly dimmed lights above.
"I am now" Alex would quietly say back, taking in the most adorable sight she had ever seen. Paige would make her way over to Alex and wrap her arms around her girlfriend, practically falling back to sleep where she stood.
She must have had some kind of homing device on me, Alex thought as she softly smiled thinking of those blissful moments, all the while her hand gently touching that magical black marble counter.
Seeing her inwardly smile, Paige quietly made her way over to Alex and rested her hand on hers, "It was a good week" she whispered. Alex looked up slowly, still with a smile on her face, but also with tears in her eyes.
"Yeah. It was" she whispered back.
Without hesitation, Paige took her into her arms and tightly held her. Both closed their eyes, and they breathed in succession, just as they once had. So many things were spoken between them without any words being said. They both knew. They were back together. I was wrong, Alex thought. This is heaven.
Slowly pulling apart, and looking deeply into each other's eyes, Paige gently reached up and touched Alex's cheek and drew her into a soft and tender kiss.
"Oh come on girls, I know you two made up and everything, but is it really necessary for me to catch the two of you making out in every room I walk into? And in front of the fruit too!" Dylan couldn't help himself as he walked into the kitchen for a soda only to find his sister finally back with her girl. All three laughed, and Paige grabbed an orange and threw it at him, which he fumbled with before finally catching it.
"Wow, look at that - the fruit catching the fruit." Paige mused, before darting out of the way as the orange went flying past her.
"So does this mean...?" he trailed off making a motion with his hands to represent being together.
Paige turned to look at Alex who was smiling with overwhelming relief written all over her face. Taking her girlfriend by the hand, she returned her gaze back to her brother, and simply stated, "Yes." He smiled back at them, very pleased they had found each other once again.
"Is Paige in here!" Hazel hurriedly burst through the kitchen door looking incredibly annoyed. "Paige, finally I found you!"
"Hazel, why so flustered?" she asked furrowing her brow.
"It's Heather Sinclair. She somehow managed to get one of the buttons on those gaudy jeans of hers caught on the couch and she can't free herself."
Paige rolled her eyes, "You know, deep down I just knew she'd find someway to cause a scene around her. Come on Dylan," she motioned to her brother as she started heading for the door. "I need your help."
"What do you need my help for?" he mock complained as he started following her.
"You're a gay man, who better to help with a button/upholstery crisis?"
"Paige, I'm begging you, you have got to stop watching Queer Eye..." Their voices trailed off as they headed back into the party, leaving an uncomfortable Hazel and Alex behind.
"So..." Hazel began, just looking around the room. "Looks like you and Paige are back together."
Alex couldn't help but feel a bit defensive. "Yeah, we are. Look, Hazel, I know we've never been crazy about each other, but I really care for h..."
Hazel cut her off, "No, no - I'm happy for the two of you." Alex looked at her skeptically. "Really, I am. I know how much Paige cares about you, and I'm glad to see her happy again. Seriously." Alex softened a bit. "Plus, I know how happy she makes you too, and frankly it will be nice not to have to watch you moping around anymore."
"I wasn't moping!" Hazel looked at her with a sideways glance. "Ok, I was moping a little."
Hazel smiled at her minor victory, "It will also be nice not to see neurotic Paige running around here like a maniac trying so hard to pretend nothing is bothering her."
"So it wasn't just me who noticed that?"
"Oh heavens, no. She was starting to worry me a bit, almost like she was always high on caffeine or something. And that whole weird thing about hooking up with Spinner..." She trailed off as she looked around the kitchen, while Alex's eyes went wide with a mixture of emotions bubbling at the surface.
"What weird hook up with Spinner?"
Hazel's head whipped back to Alex as she realized no one had told her about it. "Oh god, you didn't know."
"Know what?" Alex demanded.
Trying to figure a way out of this, Hazel looked around the room hoping an answer would jump out at her. "Uh, it was no big deal, nothing to really bring up or anything."
"Hazel, either tell me, or I will pin you against the floor until you do."
"Eww, is that something you do with Paige?" Alex made a warning move toward her. "Ok, ok. Paige and Spinner, in an unexpected moment, kind of slept together."
Alex's heart sank, and she breathed in deeply to try and regain her composure. "While we were still together?"
"No! No, it wasn't until after you two broke up."
"Wonderful. I was that easy to get over, and he obviously wasn't what she thought she wanted, and so she decided to take me back. Great." Alex was practically near a panic attack by this time, over come with so many emotions rushing through her.
"It was nothing like that, Alex. She said it was some kind of way of saying goodbye to high school."
"I can think of a lot of ways to say good bye to high school, and jumping into bed with an ex right after I broke up with someone I love is not one of them" she spat back, clearly hurting from the news she had just received. She felt as though her heart had collapsed after being so full just moments before. "At least I thought she loved me..." She nearly whispered as she touched the black marble once more.
"She does, Alex." Hazel gently said, trying to calm her down and reassure her. "I've known Paige for a long time, and I could tell how much the break up was hurting her. She loved you, and she still does."
Alex leaned over the island, her mind a whirlwind of thoughts crashing into each other. She felt like she was swimming under water, and suddenly it was as if she couldn't remember which end was up. "I need to get out of here" she whispered as she started making her way over to the door.
"Wait! Alex!" Hazel called after her, trying to get her to stop.
But it was too late, the raven haired girl was quickly making her way through the crowd, avoiding Paige at all costs. She didn't want to be stopped. She needed to think everything through. She felt as though someone had punched her in the stomach, and she couldn't breathe.
By the time Hazel reached Paige, Alex had already made it out the door. "We finally got her free, where's Alex?" the blonde asked completely unaware of the drama that had just taken place.
"Uhm, she kind of left." Hazel squeaked out with a guilty look on her face.
"Left? What do you mean, she left? Where did she go, is she coming back?" Paige was clearly concerned and confused, and Hazel could barely look her in the eyes.
"I don't think so."
"What happened? I don't understand, wha..." Then a lightbulb went off in her head. "Did you tell her about Spin and me?"
"Paige, I swear I didn't mean to! I thought she knew!"
"How could she have known! I told you I didn't want to hurt her by telling her!"
"I thought maybe Marco had told her..."
"Told who, what?" Marco asked as he came up beside the two, Dylan following behind. "Where's Alex?"
Fuming and overwhelmed, Paige turned to the guys and filled them in with what happened. "I need to find her and try to explain."
"I think it would be better if you left her alone for a while and let her calm down. Give her tonight, and tomorrow go and find her."
"No, Dylan - I can't have her out there thinking I would intentionally hurt her. We just got back together, I can't let this be the end of us. I just can't."
Dylan could see she was determined to leave, so he relented. "Ok, I'll keep an eye on the party."
"Thank you" she breathed, giving him a quick kiss on the cheek before practically running for the door.
"Paige, wait!" Marco yelled to her before she could get too far. She spun around impatiently, as he calmly added, "I'll drive."
Alex bolted from the house as fast as her feet would carry her. She ran into the dusky evening not knowing where she was headed, she just wanted to put as much distance between her and Paige. So she ran. She could barely breathe, and her legs were on fire with pain, but still she ran. She ran towards the setting sun. She ran towards solitude.
Paige jumped into the passenger seat while Marco fumbled with the car keys. "Hurry up, Marco!" Paige exclaimed in impatience and desperation. "We have to catch up with her!"
"I'm going as fast as I can, and besides, how far could she get on foot?" Paige turned to him in silence with a look that said, are you serious? "Right, we're talking about Alex, the girl who bolts when she gets hurt and doesn't want anyone to see it."
"So get moving."
"Where do you think she would go? Jay's?"
"I don't think so; I've heard she's been rather irritated with him lately. Then again " she trailed off wondering if Alex would consider sleeping with him to even the score, to make her feel as bad as she did by sleeping with Spinner.
"What?" Marco glanced quickly at the blonde noticing she was thinking inwardly.
"You don't think she would Well " she trailed off again making a face of hurt and disgust.
Marco caught on right of way, "Ick, no she wouldn't. She's no doubt feeling really upset right now and probably humiliated," Paige winced at this, "so I'm guessing she is going to try and get away from everyone for the time being. Where does she usually go when she wants to be left alone?"
"I wish I knew," Paige whispered gazing out of her window."
Alex did her best to hold back the tears that were burning in her eyes. She was angry, and she wanted to stay angry. She was not going to deal with the hurt that was welling up in her, just the extreme rage flowing through her body. If only Spinner were here, she thought to herself, he'd wish he had never laid a finger on Paige. "I hate him. I hate her. I hate them both!" she muttered through gritted teeth as she sought refuge from the world that was caving in around her. But where to go? She ran through the shadows of the coming night with urgency unknown to her before. Turning onto a familiar street she headed for the beach. No one will think to look for me there.
"I've got it!" Paige practically yelled out startling Marco. "The beach!"
"The beach? Seriously?" Marco scrunched up his face while Paige shook her head enthusiastically. "This is Alex we're talking about. I can't really picture her as a beach person."
"That's the point! She probably thinks no one will look for her there since it's so out of character, but I know her! A lot better than she thinks I do."
Marco glanced over at Paige who had exchanged her look of worry and puzzlement to that of hope and relief. "You really love her, don't you?"
She turned to look at him with softness in her eyes. "Yes, I really do."
"To the beach we go!" He smiled and sped up now that he had a direction to follow.
They headed off through the surprisingly quiet streets looking for any sign of the raven haired girl. Along the way Paige stared out her window and into the warmly lit houses. She pictured her and Alex in their own apartment sitting in front of a window talking as peacefully as those she saw passing beside her. It's gonna work, I love her too much to just let her go.
Paige fidgeted nervously in the passenger seat trying to come up with what she was going to say to Alex when they found her. Marco kept glancing at her, wanting to say something to calm her, but realized she probably needed time to think.
"What am I going to say to her?" her voice was so quiet he barely heard her.
"Tell her the truth, anything else will only hurt her more" he gently said. He knew that wasn't what she wanted to hear, but it was the truth.
She sighed, "I'm not sure what that is."
"Well why did you sleep with Spinner, or why do you think you slept with him?" He kept his voice steady and calm, not trying to sound at all judgmental but rather to merely get her thinking.
Paige remained silent for a moment, collecting her thoughts first. "I told him I thought it was like a last goodbye to high school."
"Has that changed?"
She took in a deep breath contemplating everything. "No." Becoming quiet again, she returned her gaze back to the window. The rest of their search for the elusive Alex was silent.
After several grueling moments, they finally arrived at the beach. Paige practically jumped out of the car before it came to a complete stop.
"Slow down, if she's here we'll find her. You don't need to throw yourself from the car."
She turned and looked at him with an irritated look. "Hurry up and park."
"Yes ma'am" he retorted.
They started walking down the sidewalk that runs parallel to the beach each scanning every inch for the black beauty.
"There she is!" Paige yelled grabbing Marco's arm making him recoil in pain.
The sun was fading over the horizon creating a soft glow over the water as it gently rolled to the shore. A single star peeked through the clouds while the moon began its duty lighting up the coming night sky. Alex was perched on a large boulder that over-looked a large portion of the beach. She had finally calmed down; the long fast run having taken a lot out of her. By the time she arrived at her destination she was so exhausted that she didn't have any energy to feel anything emotional.
"Damn her. Damn both of them. They can have each other, I'm done" she mumbled without feeling as she took a deep breath and watched the water lapping on the sand. It became almost hypnotic as she studied each soothing wave, the sound matching her heartbeat. A cool wind gently blew through her hair causing her to pull her arms around her, and her hand brushed across the one month old tattoo on her upper arm. She did her best to keep her mind clear of thoughts, especially about Paige, but try as she might she couldn't stop the blonde from flooding in
"Ok, what is wrong? You keep wincing every time I touch your arm, and don't tell me it's nothing cuz I'm not going to believe you" Paige began interrogating her girlfriend worrying that she had gotten hit by Chad again. Alex began to open her mouth in response, but Paige cut her off. "And don't bother trying to be cute, I want the truth."
"Well you're not even playing fair" Alex laughed. Seeing that the blonde was waiting for an explanation, she pulled the sleeve of her t-shirt up revealing her new tattoo.
"Oh my god, you got a tattoo!" Paige cried out in excitement, relieved it wasn't an injury. She found she was also kind of turned on as she carefully traced it with her finger. "This is really, wait, what is it? A book with my name on it?" She tilted her head slightly to the side in confusion glancing quickly up at her and then back down at the tattoo. It was a book that had been opened to where the bookmark was lying.
Alex couldn't help the smile tugging at her lips seeing the effect it was having on her girlfriend. "Well, I kind of wanted to do something special for our one month anniversary since this is sorta the best relationship I've ever had."
Paige looked up into shy dark brown eyes. She loved it when Alex trusted her enough to open up and share her feelings. She knew it was hard for her to do, and she never took it for granted. She also knew from past experience that it was best not to harbor too long on the fact that she had opened up to her otherwise she would close right up again. Instead she returned her attention back to the tattoo. "But it's a book. You aren't really the book-y kind of person" she stated as she scrunched her brow in a perplexed fashion.
Alex grinned, "What else does it say besides your name?"
"My life" she looked up again still with a questioning look.
"And the bookmark?"
"Best" She shook her head, "I'm sorry I still don't get it."
Feeling shy again, Alex briefly looked down. She took in a deep breath, and locked her eyes on pools of green. "You are the best 'page' in my book of life."
"Oh my god," Paige breathed in putting her hand to her mouth.
"What? Too much? Too cheesy?" Alex's eyes wildly searched her girlfriend's reaction, fearing the worst. "I know we've only been going out for a month, and I know it might seem as though I'm moving kind of fast, its just I feel closer to you than anyone else in my life. And whatever happens, you will always be a part of me."
Paige finally looked back up into a pair of scared eyes; her own filled with happy tears. "You are the sweetest, cutest, most amazing person." She grabbed the back of Alex's neck and pulled her into a passionate kiss. Breathlessly she pulled back whispering, "I only got you a card and small teddy bear with my name on it."
Alex broke out laughing, "I have you, that's more than I thought I would have a month later." This made Paige grab her again, kissing her with fevered passion.
"I love you, wait here" she yelled as she ran off up the stairs to her room leaving a speechless Alex.
A minute later she heard Paige coming back down the stairs, sounding as if she was practically running. "I know it's early, but since I found your surprise here!" she said eagerly handing Alex a gift bag.
"Thank you" she murmured while opening it up finding a card and a teddy bear. She opened the card first before pulling the bear out.
On the front was a picture of two silhouettes sitting peacefully on a porch swing. Inside the card read:
I'm happiest just being with you.
And just below that is what Paige had added:
You make me feel so much more than I thought possible. Thank you for your trust, your friendship, and your love. You mean so very much to me. I love you with all of my heart! Happy 1 month anniversary!
All my love,
Alex looked up at the blonde who was watching her closely as she read the card. "You're the one who is amazing" she whispered as she leaned in to kiss her softly, enjoying the softness of her lips. "I love you with all of my heart too." A peaceful and serene smile washed over her face as she gazed at her girlfriend.
"Well open the rest!" Paige eagerly urged the raven haired girl. Alex reached in and pulled the teddy bear out with a t-shirt that did indeed say Paige on it, but she noticed something else. Around its neck she found the necklace Paige always wore - her monogram P. The blonde unclasped it from the bear and motioned for Alex to turn around. "This is so I'll always be with you" she softly said as she fastened it on her.
"Even in the shower" she mumbled.
"Alex!" Paige yelped teasingly slapping her arm forgetting where the tattoo was.
"Owe! Aw come on, you opened a door for me, I had to go through it" she laughed while rubbing her arm.
"You are so lucky you're adorable."
"Oh yeah? And if I wasn't?" she challenged.
"Well, then " Paige mockingly pouted trying to think up something. "You wouldn't get this" she slipped in before seizing her girlfriend's hips and pulling Alex close to her while snatching her lips into a feverous kiss.
"I love you" Alex whispered.
"I love you more."
They pressed their foreheads together and gazed silently into each others eyes, both wishing for the moment to last forever.
"Alex! Alex I can see you up there! We need to talk!"
And just that quickly Alex was pulled back into the present, and slapped with reality.
Alex sat frozen on the boulder, she didn't want to move. She knew she had been spotted and yet in her mind she still thought if she remained perfectly still she could just fade in with the surroundings and Paige would forget where she was.
"Alex, please come down here I want to talk to you." Paige wasn't letting her fade away.
"I don't want to talk to you right now, Paige."
"Maybe we should just leave her alone right now so she can calm down" Marco urged.
"I told you I need her to know why I did what I did. I don't want her hating me."
"But Paige " he trailed off as her hand came up trying to silence him.
"Alex, please." It was more of question than a statement, causing the dark haired girl to inhale deeply since she knew the blonde wasn't going to go away that easily. After all, Paige was one of the most stubborn people she had ever met.
"I'm not sure I want to hear anything you have to say." Alex glanced down for the first time. "What are you doing here, Marco? Here to further humiliate me since everyone but me seems to have known about what happened with her and Spinner." She returned her attention back to the water as angry tears began forming in her eyes.
"I'm sorry Alex, I didn't think it was my place to tell you."
"Apparently that's what Paige thought too" she spat out.
"Alex I didn't tell you because I didn't think it was important since we were broken up at the time."
"So you're saying what I'm feeling right now is not valid, that it should be totally cool with me that you jumped into bed with him right after we broke up?" Alex's words came out like venom as she finally jumped down from her the boulder to face Paige.
"I'm not saying that at all."
"Then what are you saying? Wait, don't tell me let me guess it didn't mean anything to you, he doesn't mean anything to you, it was all just a big mistake, you were thinking of me the whole time, or maybe you were feeling so bad about the break up that you just wanted to feel better. Spare me the details, Paige. I don't want to hear it." She started to walk off, her shoulders a bit hunched and her head slightly down. She looked completely defeated and Paige could see the hurt pouring off of her.
"Do not call me that." She coldly warned as she turned to face Paige.
Marco stood motionless as he watched the drama unfolding before him. He felt so helpless. He wanted to support both of his friends, but that was impossible to do without taking sides. Instead he just stood there frozen like a deer caught in headlights.
"I never meant to hurt you" Paige whispered.
"Yeah well, you did. It hurts a lot" Alex choked out while fighting back tears which caused tears to well up in Paige's eyes.
Alex nodded up and down as if she was both showing she got how sorry Paige was, but also in an attempt to shake off her tears and regain her composure. "When exactly did it happen? The same day?"
"No, no not the same day. It was the next day."
"Oh great, at least you waited until then" Alex practically choked when Paige told her. She inhaled deeply trying to brace herself for the answer to the next question. "Who made the first move?"
Paige looked down a bit which answered Alex's question before she even spoke. "I guess I sort of did. I asked him to come by my house, we were looking through old yearbooks and reminiscing and we found ourselves just kind of "
Alex shook her head trying to get it across that she wanted the blonde to stop. "I get it."
"I didn't plan on it happening, it just kind of did." Her voice was so quite it was barely audible.
"Do you feel better now that you've told me? Cuz you know, I don't feel any better." She was quickly filling again with anger, hurt, and humiliation.
"I'm so incredibly sorry I hurt you."
"Yeah, you said that." Alex stared into the sand, almost looking past it. She couldn't make eye contact with the blonde; she knew she'd fall apart.
"I don't know what to say. We were broken up at the time, I, I..." She was reaching for something say, something to make Alex understand that technically she hadn't done anything wrong, but she knew how much it would have hurt had Alex slept with someone right after they had broken up. "I understand how you feel, I would feel the same way had it been the other way around." Alex wasn't saying anything, she just kept staring at the sand. "I would never cheat on you." Alex looked up prompting Paige to continue. "You mean so much to me, I don't want to lose you."
"I can't just pretend nothing happened. I know you didn't cheat on me, it just hurts to think that I was so easily replaceable."
"You're not! Not at all, not in any way! I wasn't trying to replace you, or forget you, or get over you!" She spoke with such urgency wanting to dispel any thoughts that Alex didn't mean the world to her. "I want you. I just, want you."
Alex closed her eyes, her lip quivering with pain. Tears finally spilled down her cheeks. She opened her dark brown eyes that were colored with red and looked into equally swollen eyes. A few moments passed as the girls gazed at each other, and Alex's mind swam with thoughts. On one hand she loved this girl standing in front of her with everything she had in her, and yet at the same time she couldn't shake the thoughts of Spinner touching her just a day after they broke up. She took in a deep breath and whispered "I can't." She turned slowly and began to walk away.
"Alex, wait! Please!" Paige cried out in desperation. "I love you! Shouldn't that count for something?"
Still walking away Alex spoke over her shoulder, "Good luck at Banting. Goodbye Paige.
Marco enveloped the blonde in a tight hug as her body shook while she sobbed in devastation.
For the next two months Paige was a wreck, between work and getting ready for university she spent her free time trying to locate Alex who seemed to have gone missing. Every time she called her apartment Emily would tell her Alex wasn't home, but she wouldn't elaborate on whether she had moved out or if she really just wasn't home at the time. Paige even found herself pleading with Jay for information, or rather insulting him and then pleading with him but he too wasn't saying much. Frustration and stress filled her up, and her stomach was constantly in knots.
Marco and Dylan kept telling her to calm down and to allow Alex time to process everything and to heal, but Paige felt nothing but urgency to sort things out. She desperately wanted to get back together with Alex, so much so that she found herself looking for apartments in Kingston rather than even considering living in the dorms. She wanted Alex all to herself, to create a home together. What should've been the most exciting time in her life was filled with an aching sadness.
"I'm starting to get really pissed off that I can't get a straight answer from anyone. Where is she? How could she have just disappeared? I'm seriously starting to consider setting up some kind of surveillance outside of her apartment which I'm not even sure she is still living at since no one will give any answers!" Paige paced back and forth in Dylan's room while he and Marco sat helplessly on the edge of the bed.
"Worrying about it isn't going to make the answers come any easier or quicker." Dylan tried to make his voice sound as soothing as possible, but underneath all of her constant stressing was starting to make him feel stressed.
Paige stopped her pacing just long enough to glare at him, then started walking back and forth as if he hadn't said anything. "Does she really hate me so much that she is telling everyone to keep quiet about her location?"
"She probably wants some time and space to think and get past how she's feeling. You never know, she may just show up one day with her bags packed and ready to move with you to Kingston." Marco attempted to be optimistic, but even he didn't really believe that would actually happen. He knew Alex well enough to know that her best defense is to run away and judging by the look on her face that night of graduation, she wasn't going to be appearing out of the blue anytime soon.
"Thank you Marco, but you know as well as I do that isn't going to happen which is why if I want to have any hope of at least seeing her before I leave, I have to find her myself."
"Well before you completely wear down my carpet, let's make a list of all the places she could be" Dylan offered.
"I've tried that!" Paige spun to face her brother in exasperation. "What do you think I've been doing for the last two months?"
"Paige relax, I'm just trying to help." Dylan held his hands up in front of him as if in surrender, a little annoyed she was attacking him.
"I'm sorry. I don't mean to take my frustration out on you. I just feel like I'm forgetting some place she could be, and I'm running out of time. In three weeks I'm leaving, and between now and then I have so much to do. I just don't know what to do anymore. I love her so much, Dylan." A single silent tear fell down her cheek.
Dylan stood up to pull her into a hug; he could see how much this was tearing her up. Marco also wrapped his arms around her. The guys looked over her shoulder at each other wishing there was something they could do to ease her misery.
A knock at the door surprised them; it was the sibling's mom. "Paige, there's a phone call for you."
"Alex?" Her heart jumped for a moment hoping for the best.
"I'm afraid not, honey, it's someone from the administrations office at Banting. They want to know if you are going to take the dorm room that opened up."
Her heart sank. This was it; she had come face to face with the reality of the situation. Alex wasn't there, and she had to take the dorm room. She didn't have a choice. "Ok." Her voice was deflated, and defeated. Regardless of all the planning she had been doing for over a year, all the time she had spent imagining just how great her life was going to be, this was her life, and she didn't have any idea how to change it.
The small hostel room Alex was staying in was starting to get warm with the afternoon sun blazing in through the windows. She wasn't fortunate enough to get a room of her own, but instead there were three other people sharing it with her. One was a twenty something year old man who was looking for a new job in Toronto, while the other two were thirty something year old female friends who were doing a tour of Canada. She didn't mind the company, especially since she rarely saw any of them. Coupled with their busy days, Alex was working. She had found a job at one of the movie theaters on the opposite side of the city so it would decrease her chances of running into anyone from Degrassi. Though she was hoping for something instead of another theater job, it was familiar and easy to get trained in.
"Hey Alex, how was work?" Candace asked as she breezed into their room.
Not looking up from her newspaper she dryly replied, "Thrilling, I just love working at the theater during the matinee shift during the summer. So many kids filled with candy. What's not to love?" She looked up briefly realizing Candace's shadow wasn't with her. "Where's Angela?"
"Oh she decided to stop by the bakery to pick up something for breakfast tomorrow morning. Did you want something? I could give her a call on her cell and tell her to pick something up for you too "
"No, but thanks. I think I'll sleep in till lunch tomorrow, I don't have to be at work till 4."
"Ok hun." Candace went about her business not noticing Alex cringe and shiver at her use of the word "hun". She did her best not to snap at the woman, knowing she had no idea about her past. However, the use of the word immediately made her think of Paige, and she was doing her best to get the blond out of her head. Just thinking about her sent an ache through Alex's body, and absolutely exhausted her as if the wind had been knocked out of her. Before her mind had a chance to take her completely hostage, John walked through the door.
"Hi John, how was the job hunting?" Candace asked in a sing song voice, she was always far too chipper for Alex's taste.
"It was ok, I got an offer, but I'm not sure if I'm gonna take it. It pays a lot less than I was hoping for." John threw his things on his bed as he grabbed for the phone that had started ringing as he talked. "Hello. Yeah, hold on. Alex it's for you."
She took the phone from John's out stretched hand as he went back to chatting with Candace. Thankfully it was a cordless so she could take it out into the hallway for a little privacy.
"Hey, it's me. Are you done with work yet?"
"Hey, yeah I'm done, can you meet me at Baldacci's?" Alex asked as she paced back and forth with nervous tension.
"I have a few things I have to take care of, but I could be there in about a half an hour."
"Ok. Thanks for being such a great friend through all of this, I really appreciate it" she said as she gazed out the window that overlooked the parking lot.
"It hasn't been easy, Paige has been interrogating everyone and I really hate having to lie to her. She's starting to loose her mind, you really should talk to her."
"I know, and I'm sorry things are so bad right now, but I'm just not ready to see or talk to her yet. I just freeze up with the thought of it." Alex shook her head as if trying to shake off any hurt still remaining. "Besides, you're not really lying to her, you're just not telling her where I am or that you even know where I am.
"I know, but the way she looks at me sometimes is like she knows I'm hiding something."
"I know that look all too well, so I sympathize." Despite trying not to, she couldn't help but smile inwardly thinking of Paige's sideway glance that she always got when she knew Alex was up to something.
"So, half an hour then?"
"Yeah, see you then." She clicked off the phone and walked back into her room to the joyous sound of Candace flirting with John. Thank god I'm getting out of here; I don't know how much of this I could take tonight, Alex thought as she grabbed her wallet. She yelled goodnight to the giggling duo and slipped out the door.
Balducci's was semi dimly lit, with a cheap candle on each table. Alex sat in the back corner waiting impatiently for her visitor. She fidgeted nervously, worried that Paige would suddenly walk through the door, and her hiding place would be discovered. Staring off at nothing she was startled by the voice by her table.
"Hey, you weren't followed were you?" she asked looking behind him.
"No, Nancy Drew, I wasn't followed. At first I thought I was, but I managed to shake them before I took the turn off for the restaurant." He chuckled to himself as he watched her roll her eyes. "You're becoming paranoid; I told you I wouldn't tell anyone where you were."
"I know, but at the same time I know Paige and if she thought for a second you knew where I was she would follow you." She looked out the window, and he could tell that despite her words of not wanting to be found, her eyes told a much different story.
"You miss her, don't you?" he asked gently, not wanting to get into a fight since he knew it wouldn't accomplish anything.
She looked up about to firmly say no, but looking at him she could tell that he would know she was lying. "You know I do" she said quietly.
He just shook his head, and then asked "Have you decided what you're going to do, or when you might talk to her?"
"I don't know. I really don't. I just keep hoping there will be a moment when everything will become clear. When it will just stop hurting."
"She didn't mean to hurt you, Alex." He noticed her wince, so he added "I'm not trying to defend her, but it was a lapse of judgment on her part." She still didn't look at him, but instead burned a hole in the table with her eyes. "Paige is going out of her mind with grief over losing you, and what she did to cause you so much pain. I really do think she'd do anything to get you back." Alex kept her head down; he knew he was getting to her. He just had to play it cool, and not say anything that would make her go on the defense. "I hope you'll consider talking with her, if for no other reason than to let her know you're alright. She's terrified something has happened to you."
She looked up, "I'll consider calling her."
He smiled, "You know she's been looking for an off campus apartment for over two months now hoping you'll come home, but she just ended up having to accept an open dorm room today."
"I don't need to know " She started to say, but he cut her off.
"She's been crying all afternoon." Alex closed her mouth, finally realizing how regretful Paige really was. "I've never seen her look so defeated. She loves you very much, Alex. I've never seen her look so upset over losing anything or anyone."
She couldn't help initially thinking that it served her right, but she also realized that Paige wasn't just trying to get over her and get on with her life. She wants me back, Alex thought. She isn't just moving on and going off to university. She doesn't want to forget me. She loves me.
"Ok." She shook her head. "I get it." Her voice was soft.
"I just want to see the two of you happy, and I think that would be together rather than apart."
"I know, thanks Dylan. You're a good brother, and a good friend. I really appreciate it."
"Yeah well, I don't know how good of a brother Paige will think I am when she finds out I've been keeping your place of residence a secret. I'm pretty sure she's gonna want to torture me slowly, and then use my betrayal as something to hold over my head for the rest of my life as something that I need to pay her back for torturing her." He laughed in a non amused fashion knowing how true his words were.
"I promise I won't tell her about this, and if she finds out I promise to get you amnesty." She laughed for the first time in quite awhile. She also knew Paige very well, and knew Dylan was absolutely right. She would be out for his blood after driving her crazy about the whereabouts of her ex girlfriend.
"Thanks", he laughed, "I'll need all the help I can get." They looked at each other laughing quietly, relieving in the tension break. "I don't mean to cut this short, but I'm afraid I have to get back. I've got a paper I need to finish up for tomorrow." She shook her head with a serene smile on her face. "But, before I go, here is the item you requested." He handed her a suitcase with a couple more sets of clothes in it that he had gotten from her mom. Besides Dylan, only Emily knew where Alex was at the moment.
"Thank you, I was starting to get really tired of wearing the same clothes all the time."
"My pleasure, I'm glad I could help." Alex stood up with him as he rose to leave. "Just promise me you'll think about calling Paige."
Evening was setting in at the Michalchuk house, the sun creating hues of orange and yellow as it dripped the last bit of its light into the sky before disappearing for the night. Today had been a gorgeous August day, and Paige couldn't have cared less. It had been just another day. Another day of packing. Another day of getting ready for Banting. Another day without Alex.
The blond had been walking around like a zombie after having to take the dorm room, the realization finally hitting her that her image of a perfect arrangement of an apartment with her girlfriend wasn't going to happen. Is this really my life? She thought as she grabbed a box for her favorite books to pack. This can't really be my life. It must be a dream. I just hope I wake up soon. She took in a deep breath, and grabbed another book off the shelf. She gazed at it blankly while the image of Alex's tattoo flooded into her mind. Paige was in such a deep haze that she didn't hear Dylan at her door.
"Paige. Are you ok?" He asked gently not wanting to disturb her, he could tell she was deep in thought and he knew who about.
She looked over to him almost as if she were in slow motion. She looked tired, worn out, and not at all there. "Sure" was all she said before turning back to the book as if all the answers were written on the cover, she just had to stare at it long enough to find them.
"Do you want any help?" Her brother was starting to worry as he watched her in this almost robotic fashion.
Not looking away from the book she simply said, "No I've got it under control." But he could tell she most definitely did not.
"Ok, well, let me know if I can help at any time." He looked at her with a mixture of concern and pity. Dammit I hope Alex calls soon, I can't stand seeing Paige like this, he cursed in his mind.
Paige still didn't look at him, but rather nodded in silent reply. He left her standing there with her eyes still fixed on the book. She still loves you, sis, don't worry. She'll come back. I saw it in her eyes.
With the new Harry Potter film in the theaters, Alex was extremely busy behind the treats counter. It seemed like every person going to a movie stopped to get something. She and her work station looked a terrible mess with butter splashed across her uniform, popcorn crunching under her feet, and soda creating a sticky puddles on the counter. With every customer grabbing for their treats she screamed in her mind, Get me the hell out of here!
Finally after a huge rush there was a lull in the action and she was able to step outside to get a bit of fresh air. Standing by the theater wall out in the alley she sucked in a deep breath, letting the scent of no popcorn fill her lungs. It was just starting to get dark out; the sun was starting to slip past the horizon creating a soft warm glow.
She turned her head sharply towards the direction of the voice, but to her confusion no one was there. She could have sworn someone yelled her name. Looking the other direction she didn't see anyone there either. I must be losing it, she thought as she returned her gaze at the sky.
"Who's there?!" she yelled back, but again no one was there. Great, now I'm hearing voices. This time she could have sworn someone was really there, and though she tried to deny it, it sounded an awful lot like a certain green eyed blond. I'm hearing voices, and they just happen to sound like Paige. Perfect, just perfect. For a brief moment, Alex felt as though she was looking right at her. As if she was standing right in front of her, and they were staring into one another's eyes.
"I miss you." She whispered into the wind. "And I love you." Her heart swelled in her chest. For the first time since that awful night after graduation, she felt at peace. Her whole body felt calm, and she felt like Alex again. Taking in another deep breath, she grabbed her baseball theater cap and headed back to work. For the rest of the night she formulated a plan.
For the rest of the shift she had a big grin on her face, causing her co-workers to look at her strangely, but she didn't care. Excitement coursed through her veins making it extremely difficult to get any sleep that night. She could hardly wait to call Dylan in the morning. He was going to be very happy. <
Banting was already bustling with student activity, ranging from moving in, to inviting people to back to school parties. Paige felt overwhelmed as Dylan drove her up to the university campus. Before she could move in she had to find out where exactly she was going to be, and therefore headed for the student center. She could've found out sooner, but she could barely muster up enough interest in packing let alone finding out where she was going to live.
Dylan practically shoved her out of the car, telling her she needed to get in line while lecturing her for waiting until the last minute to find out. However, her indifference was actually key to the success of his and Alex's plan, and he had a very difficult time not grinning while pretending to be irritated with her. He swung the car around quickly heading towards McKinney Hall. What Paige didn't know was that he had already found out where she was going to be living, and he nearly knocked people down trying to get there quickly to help Alex set up. He pulled up to the side entrance to find her sitting on the steps with a box next to her. Immediately spotting him she eagerly jumped up and grabbed the box. She could hardly contain her excitement.
"I thought you were never going to get here" she said as he stepped out of the car.
"I'm sorry, but Paige was dragging her heals hoping that by some chance you would call before she left" he responded as he walked up to her.
Alex felt momentarily bad, but got excited again. "So that must mean she doesn't suspect anything?"
"Not even close. She looks terribly pitiful today. Didn't even mull over what she was going to wear."
"That's so not Paige."
"I told you she hasn't been her self since graduation."
"I know." She became silent for a moment looking into the contents of the box, then took in a deep breath. "She will be so surprised." Her eyes lit up at the thought.
"You have no idea" Dylan said as he nodded for them to head into the building.
Paige glanced around in the student center. She had been here once before when she got a tour of the university, but it was a completely different feeling she had then. It was so full of excitement, but now she just hollow inside. There was a very long line for the dorm room assignment booth, and sighing deeply she wandered up behind the last person. These students, presumably freshman, all had the same looks on their faces she noticed. She knew she was one of them, but she could tell she didn't look the part of glowing wonderment they all exuded.
"Are you a freshman?"
Paige turned her head to face the young man behind her who was smiling kindly at her. "Yes" was all she said.
She was about to return her attention back to the front of the line when he continued, "I'm Jack."
She held herself back from rolling her eyes, fearing that she knew where this was going. Looking back at him she said, "That's nice."
But Jack wasn't giving up that easily. "And you are?"
"Paige." She made an audible sigh, but he either didn't hear her or was choosing not to.
"I'm a freshman too, but my brother went here so I know my way around pretty well." He smiled at her hoping she'd get the hint.
She did, but she didn't care. "How nice."
"Yeah so I was thinking, maybe I could show you around some time. Maybe grab some dinner afterwards." His smile grew as he talked to her, his eyes searching her face.
Paige didn't want to be cruel, this guy didn't mean any harm, but she really wasn't in any mood to be flirted with or asked out. "Look Jack, you seem like a really nice guy, but "
He cut her off, "You're already seeing someone? I should have known someone as beautiful as you would have a boyfriend."
This made her smile despite just wanting to be left alone. "Technically we broke up, but I really love her and I'm hoping to get back together with her soon."
His eyes got big, "Oh. Ok, well can't blame a guy for trying."
Paige just smiled and turned back to face the front of the line again. It was moving extremely slow, and she didn't have much patience left. This is going to be a long, bad, depressing day to say the very least.
Back at the dorm room Alex was unloading the contents of her box while Dylan brought in Paige's things. Their first plan was to quickly put away her things, make the bed, and make the room feel homey.
"Quit pulling on the corner so hard, I can't get mine to stay on the bed." Alex laughed as she tugged on the sheets.
"Hey now, I'm not the one who keeps wanting to get everything absolutely perfect" he teased.
"I just want her to be happy" she quietly murmured.
"Oh believe me, she will be. Just seeing you here, she'll be thrilled. And what you have planned will blow her away completely." Dylan contentedly smiled thinking about how blissfully excited his sister will be seeing the girl she loves so very much.
"Ok, where should we put her posters and pictures?" She was digging through one of Paige's boxes looking to see what all was in there. Inside she found various pictures of Marco, Dylan, and her parents. And several of Alex herself, 6 to be exact, and one of just her arm showing the tattoo she had gotten. Absent mindedly she reached up for the necklace Paige had given her. Dylan noticed this silent moment, and though he didn't want to disturb her, they needed to get moving if they wanted to get everything done.
She looked up at him, smiled and said "Right, so where should this one go?"
Little by little Paige inched up towards the line. Jack, thankfully, had finally stopped interrogating her about her relationship with Alex. She couldn't tell if he was hoping he could convince her that she should take a chance on dating him, or if he was just trying to weasel out details about their relationship, or more specifically, details of their sex life.
Thank god he finally stopped asking me questions; I'm having a really hard time being nice. She clutched at the papers in her hands hoping he'd finally get the hint that she wasn't interested in talking to him anymore. Stepping from foot to foot behind her she could tell he was still racking up questions to ask, and she stared at the front of the line willing it to move faster. She heard him inhale and she knew he was just about to say something when the person in front of her finished at the booth.
"Next" the woman behind the table blandly said.
"Hi" Paige said in relief as she handed the woman her papers.
She briefly looked over everything, checked her own list, and then looked up at Paige. "Ok Paige Micklchuk."
"That's Michalchuk" she corrected the woman emphasizing the Michal part of her name.
Uncaring the woman just looked at her, making Paige feel 2 feet tall. "You're in McKinney Hall, dorm room 511. You'll go down this street, take a left, and it's the tall brick building on the corner of Monk's Avenue."
"Thanks" was all she said as she took her papers back along with the dorm assignment. In the back of her mind she was trying to figure out the best escape route to get away from Jack as quickly as possible. Darting off, she heard him start to say something as the woman called for the next person in line. Dylan better be waiting for me outside. I don't think I could take anymore from the question man.
Paige practically ran out of the building thankfully finding Dylan parked across the street. She jumped in the car fearing Jack would follow her out wanting to know where she was living.
"Ready for your new life?" Dylan asked with a small smile on his face that she couldn't quite read.
"Yeah, let's just get this over with" she mumbled under her breath.
Dylan just smiled as he pulled out of the parking lot. He knew that this new beginning was something Paige was most definitely ready for.
Dylan drove slowly down the street, secretly trying to give Alex just a little more preparation time. She basically had everything set up, but he knew she was getting nervous with every minute that passed.
"Could you possibly go any slower?" Paige whined in the passenger seat.
"What's the rush? I thought you weren't that excited about getting into the dorms."
"I'm not, I just don't want Jack to follow me."
"Jack?" He smiled to himself enjoying her grouchiness knowing her mood would soon change dramatically.
She huffed out an annoyed breath, "Some guy who was hitting on me while I was in line, then trying to get me to spill details about Alex and I."
"Well if he discovers where you are and keeps harassing you just tell him your big, hockey player brother will beat the crap out of him."
"Believe me, I will. Or I'll just tell him you'll hit on him." Despite her sour mood, she couldn't help but smile at the thought of the look on Jack's face if she ever told him that.
"Hey!" Hey playfully slapped at her.
"What good is a gay brother if you can't use him to scare off icky straight boys?" She laughed as she stared out the window.
He glanced over at her. Despite this moment of cheeriness there was still the underlying longing sadness that had plagued his sister for two and a half months. "Well, we're here."
"Great" Paige said sarcastically.
Dylan smiled at her as she looked the building up and down. "Do you want to go in and check things out first, or do you want to start carrying things in?" All of her boxes and suitcases were back in the car, but they were empty. He knew she wouldn't take more than her bag of toiletries and such.
She sighed while considering her choices. She didn't want to do either. "I'll just take my bag in right now."
He smiled to himself again. I so know my sister.
"What are you smiling at?" She asked with a slight frown on her face.
"Huh?" He played dumb. "I'm not smiling at anything; it's just a nice day.
"Sure, it's great." She huffed as she headed for the front door.
He smiled again as they headed in.
Alex quickly moved around the room finishing up with everything. Outside she could hear the sounds of students, talking, yelling, laughing; it reminded her of the sounds of high school. She never liked high school. Paige was the best part about it, the best part of her life. Looking around the room and thinking about her girlfriend, she knew in her heart they would be getting back together at any moment, and she knew she had made the right decision in coming here. Eager excitement rushed through her body and flushed her cheeks crimson. This is going to be good night, she thought to herself as she grinned mischievously. Making up is so much fun.
She heard a car pull up outside, and she went to the window. It was Dylan's car. That didn't take long, I'm not sure I'm ready, she thought in a panic. In her heart she knew she was more than ready, but she couldn't help be nervous. Deep down she knew it would go well, but after all she had gone through in her life she was still never sure of anything. Outside the car door slammed, and Alex could see Paige slumping up towards the front door. Ok, this is it!
"Why are you walking so slowly? First you drive like you're an old lady, and now you're walking like one too." Paige was clearly getting grouchier as the day went on, which only made Dylan's smile all the bigger.
"You had me up helping you pack until midnight last night, forgive me for being a little tired." He grinned to himself as they made their way up the stairs.
"Great, now you're talking loud too. Are you loosing your hearing, grandma?" she huffed in annoyance.
He was trying to give Alex the heads up that they were getting closer, even though he knew it would end up irritating his sister in the process. As they walked down the hall, a slight glow coming from under Paige's room let him know that she was ready for their arrival.
"Well, here we are" he said in a chipper voice.
"Oh goody, I can't wait." Her voice was full of disdain, but her brother knew it would change in a second.
As she grabbed for the knob and turned it slowly, a breeze of her favorite scent filled her lungs. It was Alex's perfume, and it seemed to fill the air. For a brief painful moment, her heart sank, but it didn't last long. When she pushed the door further in her heart began to pump harder in her chest. Inside the lights were out, yet the room was filled with a soft glimmering light created by the velvety flicker of faux candles. Rose petals dusted the floor with rich silky shades of red and pink giving the room the feeling of a warm blush. Two dozen more roses hugged by pink baby's breath were tucked securely into a simple yet elegant vase on the night stand by the bed. In the background she could hear soothing instrumental music softly playing, which turned out to be the same CD she had made for the two of them as their soundtrack when they were together.
"Oh my god," slipped quietly out of her lips as she absorbed the magic of the moment. Happy tears began to fill her emerald eyes as they locked into chocolate. "Alex" she whispered.
"Surprise." She smiled brightly, thoroughly enjoying the effect all of this was having on Paige.
Dylan stood silently in the doorway smiling to himself. He didn't have to see his sister's face to know the expression on it. He wanted to say something, but instead quietly closed the door as he headed back down to his car. Since he and Alex had already unpacked everything for Paige earlier, there wasn't anything left to bring in. He knew he could head home without any worry. His sister was in excellent hands, and if she needed anything he knew she wouldn't hesitate to call and bug him about it.
Paige, meanwhile, stood frozen just inside the door. The whole thing seemed like such a dream, something she had been hoping for since graduation night. She was terrified she would wake up at any moment and realize none of it had really happened.
"Alex" she whispered, afraid everything would fall apart if she spoke too loud.
Alex softly crossed over to her, not quite sure what she should do. She wanted to allow Paige to absorb everything, to resist pulling her into her arms and cover her in kisses. "I'm sorry it took me so long to get over, you know. I know this is a bit overwhelming, but I wanted to show you how I feel about you. I'm sorry you're sort of trapped in this dorm room because I wouldn't talk to you sooner, so this is all I could think of to do to make it a little bit better. I love you so much, Paige. I love you more than I've loved anyone in my life. I just, I just love you." Her voice dropped to barely above a whisper. She had exposed her heart, and given it up once again quite willingly to the girl who had stolen it.
Paige sharply took in a breath with the beautiful confession, and attempted to hold back the ecstatic tears that were nearly choking her. It felt so good to be crying out of exhilaration rather than sorrow.
"Are you ok, or I mean, is this ok? Have I waited too long?" Paige's silence began to make Alex feel a bit anxious, and a fleeting moment of concern ran through her body. "I can get rid of all of this, if "
The blond crossed the short distance between them and pulled Alex into a passionate kiss. For both it felt like it had been an eternity, yet their bodies remembered instantly. Hands caressed familiar curves, while lips fit perfectly together.
Breathlessly pulling apart, Paige murmured, "You silly girl, how can you possibly think this isn't ok?" She peacefully laughed to herself while gazing into dilated pupils. "As far as waiting too long I don't care how long it would've taken as long as you came back to me. Back to us. I love you so much." She kissed her tenderly, then looked back into Alex's darkening eyes that were full of desire. She reached behind her back and locked the door, while throatily adding "Now, if you don't get out of those clothes immediately, I'm just going to have to rip them off of your body, and by the looks of that incredibly, magnificently tight shirt you're wearing that won't be such an easy task."
They grinned mischievously at each other as they giggled with a heated passion, each giving in to the absolute craving to come together in unison. They pressed into one another with such yearning, such urgency that their breathing quickly became labored with a deep hunger. Both were thinking their own separate thoughts and yet each word, each sentence that was different in their minds was brought together as one with a singular emotion love.
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