A/n Hello again, fans, sorry for the pause after last chapter. I had stuff going on though, school trip to Broadway (which was awesome, btw), dance recital…it's so stressful being popular, ha ha…No I'm just kidding. Anyway, this chapter's title comes from "Ballad for Dead Friends" by Dashboard Prophets, which I no longer have on my iPod due to repairs (sniff sniff). Let's have a moment of silence for my dead iPod and all the songs I had on it. (silence) Okay I'm good. On with the show!


Chapter 5: There's No Vacancy In Paradise

"So what did you two do last night when you went on that 'walk'?" Kelly asked as soon as Gwen picked up the phone the next morning.

"Uh, nothing, why do you ask?" Gwen rubbed her sleep-filled eyes, still tired even though it was ten o'clock in the morning.

"Come on, Gwen, I know something happened."

"Okay, okay. Ryan kissed me, that's all."

Kelly squealed. "That's all? So what, are you guys going out then?"

Gwen hadn't considered that. "Actually, I'm not sure. He's picking me up before the dance tonight, so I guess we are." She let that sink in. "Wow. I'm going out with Ryan Machiavelli."

Suddenly a small beep sounded in her ear. "Hang on. I've got a call."


Gwen pressed the 'talk' button. "Hello?"


"Oh, uh, hi, Rachel." A rush of guilt swept over her as she remembered what had happened the previous night. "What's up?"

"Oh, Gwen, I don't know what to do!" she exclaimed. "My mom won't let me go out with Matt!"

"Ummm…okay," Gwen replied, puzzled by the outburst. "Can I ask why?"

Rachel sniffed. "She said he's a delinquent and we won't last after graduation."

"Oh. Well, I guess there's nothing you can do about it."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, it's kinda hard to date a guy behind your mother's back when she's the head of the school board," she replied. "You'll just have to stay single for a while."

"Are you sure?" Rachel asked in a quavering voice.

"Of course." Gwen became suspicious. "Why?"

Rachel became very quiet and mumbled something.

"What?" Gwen asked.

Her voice was barely audible. "Do you think I should call Ryan?"

Irritation flared up within Gwen. "No!" she squawked. "You dumped him! You can't go back to him just for the sake of having a boyfriend!" She realized she was yelling and regained her composure. "Promise me you won't call him."

There was a long pause. "Fine," Rachel said in a tight voice. "But it's not like I just want a boyfriend. I'm not that type of girl. I think I still kinda like him." She paused. "Besides, he still wants me, I know he does."

Gwen almost laughed at her ignorance. "I wouldn't bet on it."


Gwen set her jaw and clenched a fist in irritation. "Because he's going out with me."

There was a long silence, but when Rachel spoke Gwen could hear the shock and annoyance in her voice. "Oh." Then there was a sudden click.

Gwen couldn't believe it. "Rachel? Rachel? God damn it!" She angrily hung up the phone and threw it on her bed, throwing herself on top of it in frustration.

Gwen and Ryan walked into the high school gymnasium later that night to a blast of music from the DJ. Before they had been there very long Kelly bounded up to them.

"Hey, Gwen," she said. "Hey, Ryan."

"Hey," they replied.

"Hey, Gwen, how come you hung up on me earlier?"

"Ugh, sorry, I forgot you were on the other line."

Kelly shrugged. "Doesn't matter, I've done it a million times. Who called?"

Gwen could feel Ryan's eyes on her. "Uh, just a telemarketer," she said casually, twitching her eyebrows discreetly.

Kelly frowned a little, confused, but she understood in a split second. "Oh," she said, carefully avoiding Ryan's eyes. "Yeah, those telemarketers always irritate the crap out of me."

"Me, too."

Ryan spoke up. "If you guys are done complaining about salespeople, don't you think we should move out of the doorway?"

Kelly turned around and realized they were blocking the entrance to the gym. "Whoops." Suddenly an upbeat rock song came on over the speakers. She grinned. "Yes! I love this song!" She strode out onto the gym floor and began dancing.

Gwen grinned, too, and turned to Ryan. "Come on, let's dance." She grabbed his hand and dragged him over to where Kelly was standing.

It's wild the way you reach me

Wrapped me up in your wire from the start.

As Gwen danced and sang along with the music, she noticed that Ryan was just standing next to her. She stopped dancing. "Come on, Ryan, dance."

He shook his head. "I don't dance."

"Come on," she pleaded, grabbing his hand. "Please?"

He hesitated, then smiled. "Alright." He moved closer to her and began moving around a bit.

As they were dancing, Gwen suddenly saw Rachel doing a Marcia Brady-esque dance with Matt. Ryan soon noticed her disgusted expression and looked over.

"Oh," he said quietly, keeping his face carefully blank.

Suddenly Gwen felt him edge up behind her and put his hands around her waist, bumping and grinding against her. Shocked by his unusual behavior, she stopped dancing.

Kelly stared at them. "Okay, how bout you guys save that for the bedroom? Cause I don't really need to see it."

Gwen gently removed Ryan's hands from her waist and turned him to face her. "It's kind of awkward dancing with you behind me, Ryan. I know you're trying to be couple-like but why don't we just face each other?"

He shrugged as if it was his idea. "Sure." Then he put his hands around her waist, pulled her close, and began dancing again, this time with a little less bumping and grinding.

Gwen sighed. "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

Later that night, near the end of the dance, the music suddenly stopped, and the principal walked over to the DJ booth.

"Testing, testing." He cleared his throat noisily until everyone was looking at him. "Good evening, kids. Well, I'm sure by now you've realized that now is the moment you've all been waiting for: the selection of Homecoming Court!" Everyone was silent, except for one person in the crowd who clapped vigorously until he realized he was alone. The principal cleared his throat again. "So for the winners of the freshman class…" He read through all the names, but Gwen paid no attention. What did it matter to her who won?

"…And now for your king and queen! Drum roll, please!" Silence. "Okay… and your Homecoming King and Queen are… Ryan Tudor and Gwen Montague!"

Gwen stared at Ryan. "What?!" Before she knew it, she and her slightly disappointed looking date were pushed into the center of the floor. A slow song suddenly came on, and everyone in the gym paired off into couples. One of Gwen's friends, Lauren, walked away with a huge grin on her face.

"You two lovebirds have fun!"

Ryan and Gwen both flushed and put their arms around each other. Gwen couldn't help but notice that his hands rested perfectly on her hipbones as they nestled close against each other. They began to dance, Ryan leading perfectly. Gwen was bursting with joy, wonder how her life could get any better, when she realized what song the DJ had picked.

You're beautiful, you're beautiful, you're beautiful, it's true.

I saw your face, in a crowded place, and I don't know what to do

Cause I'll never be with you…

She craned her head back to grin at Ryan. "Kind of an odd song to play for Homecoming couples, huh?"

He blinked. "What? Oh, yeah."

Gwen frowned. "You okay?"

He nodded. "Yeah. Just…headache."

"Oh. Okay." They danced in silence for a few seconds, her head resting on his shoulder, until they were suddenly disturbed by a tapping on both their shoulders. Gwen looked up and was amazed to see Rachel standing there.

She smiled a syrupy sweet smile. "May I cut in?"

Before Gwen had time to recover from her annoyance at the question, she heard Ryan answer for her.


She snapped around to stare at him in shock and dismay, her mouth hanging open. Before she could even protest, Rachel pushed her way between them. Gwen watched in despair as her best friend pressed her barely-there chest against her boyfriend, leaning in close and snuggling her head against his shoulder. His hands slipped around her tiny waist and onto her butt with ease, and they started to dance, ignoring Gwen like she didn't exist. Feeling tears in her eyes, she spun around and ran out of the gymnasium, crying. As she sat in a stall in the girls' bathroom, she could hear the last strains of the song as the dance ended.

Now it's time to face the truth.

I will never be with you.

A/n So how'd you like it? It seems like every time one of my characters is happy I always have to smash it to pieces with some petty melodrama. Muahaha. There are those two songs in there that I forgot about earlier, though. They were "Bad Boyfriend" by Garbage and "You're Beautiful" by James Blunt, in that order. Now that that's done with, there's only one thing left to do…