DISCLAIMER: Degrassi: The Next Generation and its characters belong to Linda Schuyler, Stephen Stohn and CTV. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I was trying to write some big long drawn out Post Season Six fic, but I canít seem to get myself settled enough to write for more than an hour or so at a shot. So ficlets seemed like the solution. I have all these ideas, and instead of trying to cram them into a big chapter fic, I decided to try and exercise the plot bunnies by trying my hand at drabble-like one shots. Weíll see how long I stick with it, but I have ideas for at least three more. I guess we could call that a series! That is if I ever get to writing them all. Iíve been very blocked lately too, so that is probably readily apparent in this. So sorry for the sucktasticness in advance.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

When Did Your Heart Go Missing
By Casandra


"So you're probably going to be back for Thanksgiving?" I fidget with the keys in my pocket, trying to distract myself from the whole reason I'm standing here in Paige's bedroom. The shelves, usually overflowing with pictures of her friends and family, cheerleading trophies and countless achievement ribbons, now bare with the exception of a few nick-knacks still collecting dust.

Paige nods faintly, her eyes circling the now quite barren bedroom, obviously in search of something she forgot to pack. "Maybe sooner, it depends on how big my workload is."

And once again the awkwardness has set in upon us. It's not surprising really. Paige and I have only spent a handful of moments together ever since that day at the mall. A few tense minutes spent after Marco, Dylan and Hazel had wandered off at the beach, leaving the two of us sitting on the sand. We had only been a few feet apart, but it felt like the span of the Grand Canyon to me. Was this what our friendship had become? Awkward silences only broken by the return of our friends, who obviously were trying to play matchmaker. Futile efforts, all of them. But I had to love them just for making the attempt. Even Hazel. God, Paige's influence still has itself wrapped around me.

I step towards her bedroom window, gazing out at the street below. Paige's new, well, new used car, sits at the curb, probably all gassed up and ready to go for the three hour drive to Kingston on Sunday. As I stare down at the chrome of its rims and the metallic shine reflecting from it's hood, I'm made even more aware of how real this really is. She's leaving. And not on vacation or for the weekend. She's MOVING. Away from Toronto, and me. I've spent a good chunk of the summer trying to keep myself busy. To help me miss her less, to prepare myself for the inevitable. If I kept my distance now, the reality of her absence wouldn't be as brutal. I don't think it's working though, because I feel the panic come alive in my veins. The blood bursting forth, trying to work it's way out of my body, just to find some relief from the itchiness that's overtaken my entire being.

"Finally, got you!" I'm broken from my morbid reverie at Paige's exclamation. I turn around just in time to see her haphazardly shove something square and frame like into her black duffle bag. She zips up the bag and then flops back on her bed dramatically. "I can't believe I only have HALF a dorm room to decorate! What am I gonna do with the rest of my stuff?"

I glance around her room again, wondering what she means by 'the rest of her stuff'. It looks like she has her entire life packed away, her suitcases and boxes neatly piled in one corner. I shrug mutely, I'm pretty sure she was being rhetorical anyway. I'm still avoiding the conversation that was my entire reason for coming over here. But Paige doesn't seem to mind, pre-occupied with her plan for dorm room domination over her room-mate no doubt.

"So you're coming tonight, right?" She's sitting up now, the blue of her eyes like a laser beam searing straight into my darkened soul.

I shake my head in the negative, knowing I'll have to explain why, but completely unprepared to do so.

"What do you mean no!? Alex, I'm leaving on Sunday, it's my going away party, you have to be there!" I don't look up, knowing that her undeniable pout will completely crush any resolve I still have left.

"That's why I came over. I can't make it tonight." I don't offer any more, hoping she'll take my words at face value.

"And why is that?" I should know better.

"I have my reasons. So I wanted to say goodbye now." The moment the word 'goodbye' leaves my lips I can feel my throat start to close up. This is going to be harder than I thought it would be. Not that I was under any pretense that it was going to be a cakewalk anyway.

"Alex…" She trails off, obviously at a loss as to what to say. What IS there to say anymore?

"Look, I know things have been weird and awkward, and frankly, downright sucky between us ever since……." It's my turn to leave the rest of the sentence hanging.

"I know." The quiet admission is enough to make me understand that she's still traveling on my wavelength.

"The thing is, it's your party, and I'll just be in the way. And before you even say it, it's true. We have this wonderful knack for zapping all the air out of the room lately and filling it with uncomfortableness. And that's the last thing I want for your last night here." I turn myself away from her, unable to look into those beautiful eyes any longer. They've always been the one weapon in her arsenal that unfailingly had the ability to break me. And I won't undo this. It's a path I chose to travel three months ago, and I won't stray from it now. At the same time though, I can't let her leave unless she truly understands why I've sealed both of our fates with my decision.

"Ok." Her voice is quiet, but understanding.

For the first time in months, we sit in silence, together, and the tension isn't present. It's a welcome feeling, and yet, frightening as well. This really is the end. I breathe in deeply, resolving myself. "Paige, you do understand why I did it right?"

There's a long pause, and just as I've decided I'm going to have to brave turning around to look at her again, I can feel delicate arms weave themselves around my torso, a warm body pressed into my back. God I've missed this. In the moment that she forms herself to my body, I've forgotten all the reasons for why I ended things. None of it makes sense anymore, the only thing I know is just how amazingly well we fit together.

"I do Alex. That hasn't made any of this easier, but I never thought it was because you just stopped caring." She presses her cheek to my shoulder blade, making this most exquisite of tortures that much more painful.

"I don't think that will ever happen." I exhale, tracing the arms locked at my waist with a trembling finger.

We stand there, locked in our once familiar embrace, staring out her bedroom window for countless moments. I can't help but revel in the connection that is still so easily felt between us. Her heartbeat is strong against my back, her fingers still send shivers along my skin wherever they happen to touch. And it's time, because if I don't walk away, I don't think I ever will. And I have to, for both our sakes.

I turn around in her arms, breaking the intimate pose with a heavy sigh. "I should go."

I chance a look into her eyes, almost broken by the salt staining her tanned cheek. "Paige….."

She sniffs, but she doesn't try to wipe away the moisture. "Promise me Alex. Promise we won't become strangers. I want you in my life, however you can be. But I don't think I can deal with losing you completely."

A sad smile creases my lips as I pull her closer towards me, pressing a gentle kiss to her forehead. I linger, inhaling as I do, taking in the familiarity of it all. I certainly hope that this isn't the last time I ever get to do this. But I savor it as though it will be, just in case. "I promise." Lips still brushing against her forehead, I hope I didn't just lie to the only girl I've realized I'll probably never get over.

I finally manage to extricate myself from the tangle our limbs have become, my feet dragging sluggishly as I make my way to her door. I don't consciously remember turning the door handle or even walking down the steps and out her front door. But I'll never forget the sight of her standing at the bedroom window, her tears still glistening in the late afternoon sun, the window pane reflecting her sadness as if it were a mirror into her soul. I take one last longing look at Paige, knowing that it could easily be the last time I'll ever have that luxury.


The End

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