It's Gonna Be Okay
A/N: 3/24/06. I know I'm always swearing that I won't write another song-fic…but…but…but….just another take on the lyrics. Please R&R!
Disclaimer: Always Be My Baby belongs to Mariah Carey and My Heart Will Go On belongs to Celine Dion. I'm just shamelessly using their work for my own evil purposes.
Now you wanna be free
So I'm letting you fly
Kevin winces as I hit the top note and I throw my head back, exaggerating my diva performance.
'Cause I know in my heart, babe,
I'll love will never die, no
To everyone's relief, my recital gets cut short by Nurse Candice's appearance.
"Just checking vitals," she assures us as she starts fussing over Kevin. We all fall quiet and watch her go through her routine, although we've all seen it a gazillion times, especially in these last two months. Even Dad puts down the newspaper he's perusing to watch Candice go through her check-up.
Mrs. Gallagher and David arrive as Candice leaves. Mrs. Gallagher's bought the latest Animorphs book for Kevin and baked a batch of ultra delicious fudge cookies. I close my eyes as I bite into a still-warm cookie. Bliss. I haven't had homemade desserts in forever. The cookie makes me almost forget that I'm standing at the foot of a hospital bed for a moment. As usual, Mrs. Gallagher fusses over all of us while David looms in the background, looking uncomfortable and out of place. Not that I blame him. This is no place a normal person should get used to.
I'm still playing Egyptian Ratscrews with Alex and Kevin when Mrs. Gallagher asks me if I'm ready to go. Mother kisses me goodbye and promises to take over my hand. I give Kevin a nonchalant hug, making sure not to squeeze him too tightly, but he complains about the sappiness of the situation anyways.
Downstairs, in the parking lot, I get a strange kick out of seeing David take the keys from his mom, sliding into the driver's seat. "David got his permit yesterday," Mrs. Gallagher explains nervously, "Are you going to be okay if he drives, KT?" I shrug. Death is a natural part of life. Still, I make sure I buckle up. There's no telling when David will go mental. In the end, Mrs. Gallagher is more freaked out than I am by the whole driving arrangement. She's still clutching on to the door handle for dear life when David slides the car neatly into a parking space.
Most of the choir is already assembled when we get down to the tiny basement. I wave to Natalie Pierce before joining Christie and Ruby at one of the side tables. Christie sniffs at me, "Eww, KT. You smell funny." Like the loyal friend that she is, Ruby follows suit and reaches a similar conclusion. To my embarrassment, Reeve Sherwin overhears and laughs. I can feel my face flare. It's not my fault I smell like disinfectant. Suddenly, I feel icky, like I could take a gazillion showers and never be clean. "Did you just come from Mercy Memorial?" someone asks me softly, touching my elbow. I turn around. It's Emily. David's standing right next to her, his arm looped casually around her waist, but he waits for me to answer, watching me with those steady, steady eyes. "Yeah," I reply, trying to sound as blasé as possible, but the teasing stops immediately anyways and is replaced by that now all-too-familiar awkward silence.
Choir practice starts and drags on. It's nearly nine by the time Mr. Trambauer dismisses us and I still have another rehearsal to go to. "Bye, Ruby! See you later, Christie!" They wave back duly. Not knowing what to do with myself, I wander down the hall, to one of the smaller rooms, where David, Natalie Pierce, Sam Delaney, and I are going to have one last rehearsal before the show tomorrow. It was Sam's idea to enter our high school's variety show and he recruited David, Natalie, and I into his scheme. I don't know Sam very well so I was surprised when he asked if I wanted to sing with him. I know Natalie even less but from my interactions with her, she seems like a really nice person.
Natalie's already there when I arrive, playing an amazingly fast piece on the piano. I pull up a chair and watch her play. Her fingers are so nimble, they look like they're dancing on the keys. She finishes the piece and I clap. Natalie smiles and motions for me to come and sit on the bench with her. "Let's play Heart and Soul," she exclaims and she takes the melody while I keep the rhythm with the accompaniment. We get to the end but I don't feel like taking the repeat so I stop and Natalie continues to play. I sit and watch her again, admiring her technique. My fingers are always all over the place when I play. Not Natalie. She's a disciplined player. No cramped hands for her.
"Are you okay, KT?" Natalie asks, suddenly stopping her playing. "What? Yeah, I'm fine," I say, startled by her quick ending. "Play some more," I urge, "It's pretty." She gives me a half smile but complies and plays the theme song from Titanic, one of my favorites, until everyone else gets here.
"On and on…" Sam croons as he and David step into the room, humming the melody. David starts to whistle the flute solo and then they've got a three person band going. I smile. This trio always makes me happy. Soon, Mr. Trambauer gets back and breaks up the party. He makes us get into position and then sits down at the piano, playing the first few chords. On cue, Sam, David, and I start humming the accompaniment and Natalie starts in on the harmony.
We were as one babe
For a moment in time
And it seemed everlasting
That you would
always be mine
I'm exhausted by the time it's all over and fall asleep in the backseat of Mrs. Gallagher's call. David pokes me awake. "You're home, KT," he says softly as I blink in confusion at the sudden brightness. I thank Mrs. Gallagher for the ride and confirm with David that we'll meet at school at six tomorrow before stumbling up the steps to my house. Mother is still up, as usual, and tucks me into bed for old time's sakes before I fall into dreamland again.
When I wake up again, it's not voluntary. Alex is shaking me in the way only annoying six-year old little brothers can. "Mommy says you need to get up right now," he says seriously and I groan and roll over. "KT," I hear Mother call out from beyond the hall. I snuggle deeper into the comforter. "KT. We have to leave now. The hospital just called." My brain kicks into gear at the word 'hospital.' "Kevin?" I croak, shooting out of bed. "Yes," she replies, coming into my room now, "Hurry, please."
It's all over when we get there. Well, Kevin's technically still alive and everything, but he's not conscious anymore. It's an agonizing five hours before Dad gives in to Mother and agrees to take Kevin off life support. Then it's another endless wait while Jason, Alex, and I sit out in the waiting room, waiting for Mother and Dad to take care of funeral arrangements. I buy Alex a packet of M & Ms to shut him up and Jason complains when I don't have enough money to buy him one too. "Grow up," I shoot back, rolling my eyes, "You're eleven, not six. Stop whining." He calls me stingy but I'm too tired to really care. I must've fallen asleep again because when I wake up again, partly from sore shoulders from having Jason use me as a pillow while he's asleep, I realize how late it is. It's past six. I should've been at school more than half an hour ago.
"Mother!" I call out frantically, when I finally see her and Dad coming down the long, narrow hallway, trying to dislodge Jason from my shoulder, "I've gotta go. It's after six." The millisecond after the words come out of my mouth, I know I've just said the most insensitive thing in the world. The look on Mother's face is an odd mixture of bewilderment and…tiredness, which makes me recoil even more.
I stand there, stunned by my own insensitivity, unable to move. Oh. Oh.
"Well, what are you still doing here, girl?" Dad asks me as Mother stares at me.
"Mommy, I'm sorry," I say helplessly.
I call Natalie but she doesn't pick up. I call Sam but get his voicemail. I call David and get an earful. "Where the hell are you?!" he exclaims, "You were supposed to be here thirty minutes ago!"
"I'm at Mercy Memorial," I say dully.
Silence. "Is everything okay?"
"Kevin passed away this morning."
"And I was an insensitive bitch to my mother."
"My mom says she's coming over right now, okay?"
"Okay." Did you hear what I said? Did you?
We hang up and I sit down on one of the hard plastic chairs next to the payphone, suddenly feeling very drained. And then angry. Why the hell is Mother mad at me? Sure, I said something slightly insensitive but I can't be expected to be considerate all the time, can I? That's unreasonable. She's unreasonable. Besides, am I supposed to be overwhelmingly sad? Well, I'm not. It's not like we didn't know it was coming. Actually, now that Kevin's finally gone, I feel kinda relieved. No more having to spend long hours in the hospital. No more having to hear Mother and Dad argue about work and family commitments. No more awkward moments when people give me that sad, sympathetic face, pretending to understand when they really don't, those posers, how can they possibly know what it's really like to have a little brother dying of a brain tumor, parents that are always on a verge of a divorce, and never-ending amounts of unwanted, unneeded, and unasked for sympathy? I hate Kevin. This is all his fault. I never even asked Mother or Dad to come to tonight's variety show because I know they can't and I don't want them to feel bad about it. They've been so consumed with Kevin that they never have time for anyone else. No wonder my older brother Len moved out the first chance he got. I can't wait to get out of this hell hole either. This is all Kevin's fault. This is all his fault. I hate him, I hate him, I hate him. I'm not going to cry for him. I've done enough for him already. Goodbye and good riddance.
I'm still in my ultra defiant mood when Mrs. Gallagher arrives. From her reaction, I think it's safe to assume that David's told her. "Oh, sweetie," she says, wrapping me in a gigantic hug. I give her a tight-lipped smile in response. She insists on seeing my parents before we leave and drags me back to the waiting room.
"Ready to go?" she finally asks me after what seems like forever.
"Yeah," I reply, none too graciously.
"Are you sure you want to sing tonight? You don't have to if you don't want to. I'm sure Natalie and the boys would understand."
"No," I insist, "I want to sing tonight. I can do it."
"Are you sure, sweetie? Because it would be perfectly-"
"-I'm fine," I snap, "Can we please get going?" I can't look Mother in the eye when I say goodbye and she doesn't hug me either.
It starts raining on our way to school. What a pathetic fallacy. The windshield wipers move in a constant rhythm and I stare at them while they push away fat raindrops. I hate Kev-in. I hate Kev-in. Even the windshield wipers agree.
The show's already started when we get there. "KT!" The three of them hug me backstage, even David, although it's beyond awkward because he just yelled at me. They switched the program so that we're after intermission, which means we still have a good half-hour to go. I do warm-up exercises and counts in my head, just to keep sane. I hate Kev-in. I hate Kev-in. Intermission crawls by and then we start getting ready again. All three of them are dressed up and I'm in jeans and an old Science Olympiad t-shirt, the first thing I grabbed this morning. I wonder if I'll get laughed off the stage and then I realize I don't really care. Let them laugh. I don't give a damn. Finally, it's our cue and the four of us file on to the darkened stage.
Do do doop dum
Do do doop do doop da dum
Suddenly, the lights come on and my voice goes missing. I can't sing, I can't breathe. I feel dizzy. What the hell is wrong with me?
We were as one babe,
For a moment in time,
And it seemed everlasting,
That you would always be mine
It's my cue.
What am I supposed to be doing?
Natalie, who's standing beside me, shoots me a worried look and I stare back at her, dumbfounded.
"Now you want to be free," David whispers urgently from behind me. Yeah. He did. "So I'm letting you fly." No, no I'm not. I hate Kev-in. I hate Kev-in. "'Cause I know in my heart, babe, our love will never die. No." Oh…
"You'll always be a part of me, I'm part of you indefinitely. Boy don't you know you can't escape me, oh darling 'cause you'll always be my baby," Natalie continues uneasily, glancing at me again.
My eyes are stinging and I can feel my nose starting to get stuffed up. Oh…Kevin. My little brother. I'm so, so sorry. I hate K-T. I hate K-T. What the hell is wrong with me?
I ain't gonna cry, no
And I won't beg to you stay
If you're determined to leave boy, I will not stand in your way.
The words come out of my mouth automatically, without thinking.
You'll be back some day.
'Cause you know in your heart, babe
Our love will never end, no
I can feel everyone relax as I catch my cue again and I join David and Sam in humming the harmony for Natalie's chorus.
And we'll linger on.
Time can't erase a feeling this strong
No way you're ever gonna shake me
'Cause you'll always be my baby
David and Sam finish as Natalie and I hum the harmony.
You'll always be my baby.
The crowd applauds and the stage goes dark. Numbly, I follow Natalie and exit the stage. "Are you okay?" She turns around and asks me the second we're hidden behind the thick black curtains. I nod my head. Yeah. Even in the half-dark, I can tell she's still worried. There's a slightly familiar look on her face. It's like that awful sympathy except…it's not sympathy and it's not awful either…it's empathy. "KT." I turn around and suddenly Sam and David are there too, forming a semicircle around me. And the same look is on their faces. Oh.
"My heart will go on and on…" Sam says, putting his hand over the aforementioned organ, "'Cause I said so." I smile. David suddenly reaches for me, folding me into a hug, and this weird whooshing sound goes through me. Out of the blue, I feel closer to him, both in the literal and figurative sense, than I've ever felt with anybody before.
We leave backstage and walk out into the glaring lights of the deserted lobby. The three of them go back into the auditorium and I hang back, just for a minute, by myself, planning on joining them later.
I turn around.
It's Mother and Dad, Jason and Alex.
Mother steps forward, catching me as I stumble in my surprise. Her arms are familiar and comforting and I finally realize what everyone's been trying to tell me all along.
It's gonna be okay.