Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup

Epilogue – Make This Go on Forever

The last girl and the last reason

To make this last for as long as I could

The first kiss and the first time

That I felt connected to anything

The weight of water the way you taught me

To look past everything I have ever learned

The final word in the final sentence

You ever uttered to me was love

Make this Go on Forever – Snow Patrol

I didn't head straight back to the Donovan mansion. I drove aimlessly, for what felt like hours. I didn't have a destination in mind. I didn't have anything in mind. I didn't need to have anything in mind. I just needed… I don't even know what I needed, but I felt that if I was driving, maybe I could find it.

Maybe I was looking for… space, maybe. Or time alone. Some kind of revelation that would tell me exactly how to proceed. Where to go. What to say. What to do.

Whatever it was that I was looking for, I didn't find it. Instead I found an eerie sort of peace that felt somehow familiar. Like that eerie, muggy sort of calm before a summer storm, when the air smells like wet earth and tree-sap, and is full of the electrical charge of the coming storm. It was calming, sort of, that tense waiting period before the heavy rain. I had always liked those kinds of storms, because when the rain was finally over, the world came out shiny and new and clean. It was like crying, almost – a purging.

When I finally made my way back, my mother was awake and sitting in the den watching TV. Her ankles were swollen and achy, and she had them propped up on the pouff.

"Hey honey," she greeted me as I sat on the arm of the sofa that she was resting on. "Did he get off okay?"

"Yeah, fine," I replied softly, staring at her rounded stomach. It was hard to believe a little person was growing in there. I had seen the ultrasound the other day – it looked little more than a kidney with little stubs for arms and legs. When I had seen it, my little brother or sister, I had felt an ache, low and keening, well up in my chest and I had had to fight valiantly to quell it.

"Did you watch the plane take off?"

"Huh?" I snapped back to attention, ignoring my wonder at the fact that the little kidney with arms and legs and a beating heart would be joining us in a few weeks, and stared at my mother blankly. "What? Oh, no," I answered her question distractedly. "No I didn't."

"Oh," she smiled as she put her hand swiftly to her stomach. "Baby's kicking!" Her whole face lit up with a glowing delight. "Come feel, quick!" She went to grab my hand, but I pulled away before she could touch me, bile rising in my throat.

"I-I, uh… I-" I stuttered, my eyes burning hot but dry. Finally, unable to vocalize my suddenly strangling emotions, unable to tell her that it just wasn't fair and that it was too soon for me to be truly one hundred percent happy for her without feeling my own pain, I turned and I fled.

It was a coward's way out, and it hurt both of us deeply, but the pain of my miscarriage just didn't disappear along with the fetus. It may not have shown on the surface, or perhaps I was just so used to hiding the scars that no one saw them anymore, but that wound was still gaping open and bleeding profusely.

Please don't let this turn into something its not

I can only give you everything I've got

I can't be as sorry as you think I should

But I still love you more than anyone else could

I spent the rest of the day hiding in my room, curled up on my bed in the fetal position and crying. Sara knocked on my door close to dinnertime, before easing the door open an inch or two and peeking in, but I quickly closed my eyes and made my breathing deep and even.

By this time, the tears had stopped and had dried, leaving streaks down my cheeks. My eyes were red-raw, so it was a blessing to close them. I felt my mother move into the room, rather than heard her. I suppressed a flinch when my bed dipped under her added weight as she sat on the edge, close to me. She brushed back some hair from my forehead and pressed a gentle kiss to it.

"Silence, baby?" she murmured, her hand moving from my forehead to my shoulder and stroking gently. I could tell she was wavering between whether she should wake me and say whatever she had come to say, or letting me sleep. Finally, she sighed heavily, and levered herself of my bed as gently as she could, but the bedsprings still squeaked in protest. "I'm so sorry honey," she whispered, before she slipped out of the room and closed the door with a quiet click behind her.

I opened my eyes, and stared blankly at the wall across from me. As I watched the shadows of my curtain blowing in the slight night breeze, I found myself wondering what she was sorry for – sorry for being happy over having a baby to help fill the aching void that Paul had left behind or sorry that I lost my baby and couldn't share in her elation?

All that I keep thinking throughout this whole flight

Is that this could take my whole damn life to make this right

The splintered mast I'm holding on won't save me long

Because I know fine well that what I did was wrong

The next day, I received a call from my grandmother and grandfather, who had finally figured out how to use their new phone's conference-call feature. "If you're not doing anything for the rest of the summer, you should come out and visit us," my grandfather suggested awkwardly, obviously feeling weird about inviting me over. I didn't blame him – the change in our relationship status was still fairly new.

"Yes," my grandmother enthused, sounding more comfortable with the idea. She had turned from being the scary Dragon-lady into being an ok grandmother, although we both still had a long way to go before winning the grandmother-granddaughter of the year award. But at least we had made a start.

"Thanks for the offer, but I think I've still got a few things to straighten out here with mom and Richard… and everyone," I said finally, deciding not to bring Gabriel, who they still didn't approve of, into it.

"Well, the invitation is open, so feel free to take us up on it at any time," Grandfather replied. A few minutes later, I hung up after an awkward 'I love you' and goodbye. I smiled. It wasn't a great relationship, but it was well on its way to being one.

In the mean time, I figured I should find Gabriel. It had been so long since I had seen him. I was glad he had respected my relationship with Raoul enough to give me the time and space I needed to end it and say goodbye properly, but I had missed him over the last week and a half. Missed his voice, his laughter, the way his eyes would crinkle at the edges whenever he was trying to hide a smile… the way his hair would always fall in his eyes, almost like it was on purpose.

He had been living between the Crawford and Donovan mansions before my return, but had moved to live with the Crawford's completely after I returned. I think that was half his decision and half at the urging of Richard, considering the… er, nature of our relationship.

It was quite unnerving to know that Richard knew that Gabriel and I had had sex. I mean, for God's sake, the man had seen both of us in diapers, and he knew about our sordid sex-life?!

I spent about and hour and a half in front of the mirror, trying to look my best for what was hopefully going to be one of the most important moments of my life. I had no idea what to wear – did I wear something demure and sensible to highlight my stability, or did I wear something chic and racy, designed to let him know I wanted him? After deciding that Gabriel probably wouldn't notice what I was wearing anyway, I made my way out of my room in jeans and a tank-top, a light cardigan tied around my waist in case of the cool change the weatherman had predicted, intending to head over to the Crawford's.

"Morning, honey, did you sleep well?" Sara asked, waddling out of the lounge room as I crossed the foyer. She was getting heavier and heavier, and either the baby was a big 'un, or she had miscalculated exactly when the conception had occurred. I was beginning to think maybe the latter was the case.

"Like a baby," I lied cheerfully, mentally wincing over the analogy. I had tossed and turned for most of the night, sleeping fitfully. "I'm heading over to the Crawford's… I think it's about time I spoke to Gabriel about where we stand with each other."

"Oh," my mother said uneasily, looking painfully uncomfortable.

"What?" I asked, wondering what possible objection she could offer. I knew she liked Gabriel. She adored Gabriel. So why was she looking decidedly distressed about me going over to talk to him?

"Um, I tried to tell you last night, honey, but you were fast asleep. Gabriel came by, around dinner time, looking for you."

I flushed guiltily… I hadn't been asleep – I had been playing possum. True, I hadn't been up for facing anyone after my little breakdown, but I still felt a little guilty. "Oh? Did he say where he was going to be today? The less running around I have to do trying to find him, the better."

"Not exactly…" she replied quietly, chewing on her bottom lip anxiously.

I raised my eyebrow impatiently, fighting the urge to also cross my arms and tap my foot impatiently, which would have completed my look of utter petulance. "Spit it out, mom, I haven't got all day."

"Well, I don't know enough to say, but I'd guess you won't be able to find him for a while." Sara fidgeted uncomfortably, shifting her weight from one foot to the other, one hand supporting her back as the other rubbed her distended stomach in a gesture I'd come to recognize as a nervous one.

"What do you mean?"

"Here," Sara said, thrusting an envelope with my name on it in Gabriel's bold handwriting at me. "He left this for you last night. He didn't look to happy about giving it to me, but he seemed relieved once he had."

I snatched the letter from my mother's fingertips, and stared at it coldly, a dead weight settling uncomfortably in my stomach. A freezing mixture of feelings I neither knew nor cared to identify infused my spine with a resolute stiffness that refused to let me disintegrate into a heap as my heart told me I longed to do. "Thanks," I said absently, and retreated back into my room, where I finally allowed myself to collapse, tears that I had proudly refused to shed in front of my mother streaking down my face.

The last girl and the last reason

To make this last for as long as I could

The fist kiss and the first time

That I felt connected to anything

The weight of water the way you taught me

To look past everything I have ever learnt

The final word in the final sentence

You ever uttered to me was love

I didn't read the letter. I didn't want to read the letter. I didn't want the letter to exist. But I knew exactly why it did exist, and I hated myself for it because I knew that it was all my fault. If I had only been a little less proud, a little more willing to bend… then maybe I wouldn't have broken. But that was then and this was now and there were too many tears to be shed for there to be time for 'what if' and 'if only'.

I'm sure people have their hearts broken all the time. I bet it must happen about a thousand times a day. I guess I just never thought of myself as one of those people. You know; the one who begs the other person not to leave, not to give up on the relationship.

I'm not the girl that gets all teary and curls up in front of the TV all day, watching sappy romance movies, eating chocolates and throwing tear-sodden tissues at the happy couples on the screen in anger and pain and regret. It's just not me. I'm not… programmed that way, I guess.

I just don't invest myself that much in relationships. You see, I'm not really that only-the-lonely, pining-after-him, need-his-lovin' kinda girl. I'm more the couldn't-care-less, love-'em-and-leave-em kinda girl. The one that does the heart-breaking, not the one that gets heart-broken.

Not that I thought I was invincible. Hell, no. If the past year had taught me anything, it was that I had more feelings than I ever thought I could feel; fear, pain, guilt… love.

No, I didn't think I was invincible. I was all too aware of my limitations. But I had always hated that girl… you know, the one who dreams of her wedding from age five, who obsesses over every little detail. The girl who has all five of her kids names' picked out, the schools they'll go to and the careers' they'll pursue. I was never her… and I never thought that I would be the type of girl who would want that kind of happy ending. You know, the white picket fence, dog, SUV… the whole shebang, really.

Some people get that happy ending. I used to be so sure that I would never want that to be me… so why could I think of nothing else? Why was I sitting on my bedroom floor, tears streaming down my face, wondering if I'd ever get my Prince Charming, complete with sparkling kingdom?

I don't know how long I spent sitting on my bedroom floor, staring at that god-damn envelope and crying. For me, time seemed to have stopped, and I was suspended in a moment that I couldn't escape no matter how much I wanted to. Hours passed like seconds to me, and I felt like my every motion was weighted, as though I was moving in slow motion.

My mother walked around me on eggshells. Richard just plain avoided me, and I don't quite blame him. It was like everyone expected me to… I don't know, break or something. To explode. To yell and rant, or maybe breakdown and cry. To do something – anything, really.

But I had shed what felt like all the tears my body could have ever held and there were no more left to trail down my cheeks. My voice felt too raw and weak to speak, let alone yell as loud and as hard as I wanted to. And what was there left to yell or cry or vent about? All the feelings I had were gone. MIA, if you will.

Mary-Alice came to visit me on the weekend, and she looked just as dry-eyed and empty as I did… except she didn't look as utterly broken as I knew I did. As if she still had some hope, something to hold on to. Me, I felt like the rug had been snatched from under me, and that I'd not catch my balance for some time to come.

"Spencer left with Gabriel," she told me, her voice catching on a dry sob, though no tears fell to relieve the ache I knew from personal experience was pressing against her heart. "He left me a letter, you know."

I nodded, still not up to speaking.

"Did Gabriel leave you one?" I nodded again, and handed her the unopened missive. "You didn't open it?" I shook my head, no. "Why?"

"I don't know," I said finally, my voice dry and rusty from lack of use over the last week. "What possible excuse could he have for leaving without letting me see him or talk to him or tell him how I feel?"

"I don't know, that's what the letter is there for," Mary-Alice said, handing it back to me. "To answer the question that it poses – why exactly did he leave?" She was kind enough to not point out that he had done exactly what I had done to him, except he had at least left a letter to attempt to explain his actions where I had left none.

"I'm not sure I even care anymore," I said flatly, unable to conjure up the glib tone I had wished to say it in.

"That's a lie and you know it," Mary-Alice replied without the customary barb in her tone. I guess she was just as emotionally exhausted as I was. Our conversation was punctuated by long gaps, as though speaking in itself required an effort that sapped us of what little energy we had left after our big emotional draining.

"What did Spencer say to you in yours?" I asked finally.

Mary-Alice shook her head. "You know I love you, you're like a sister to me and we share everything, but I'm not sharing that with you just yet. I think you understand."

I nodded. I did understand… but I also wanted some sort of preparation before I read the letter – I wanted to know what I was possibly up against so that when I did read Gabriel's words to me, I wasn't completely and utterly destroyed again. So that when I did read the letter, I would have something with which I could rebuild myself.

"Do you want some privacy when you read it?" she asked after a few more minutes' silence. I nodded, and then shook my head. "What do you want me to do?"

"Just… don't go to far away," I replied eventually. I didn't look up when she stood.

"I'll be under Paul's tree when you need me," she told me, pressing a kiss into my hair and then leaving me alone with my thoughts. As she retreated, I felt a warm flash of appreciation towards Mary-Alice – she truly knew the meaning of being a best friend.

We have got through so much worse than this before

What's so different this time that you can't ignore?

You say it's much more than just my last mistake

And we should spend some time apart for both our sakes

I sat still, my breathing shallow. I felt that maybe if I didn't move, if I didn't even breathe, then maybe I'd stop existing and this would never have happened. I was just one big dry, aching space filled with regret.

The letter lay in my lap. It was thin – it couldn't contain more than a page, maybe two, tops – but it felt as heavy as lead.

Finally, I let go of the breath I had been holding, and picked up the envelope. I knew exactly what I had to do. Mentally steeling myself, I stood. I could do this. I would do this. I had to do this. I knew that if I didn't do this, I would never move on. And if I never moved on, I would be forever stuck in this eternal moment of aching suspense. And I was so sick of my life being in self-imposed limbo.

With shaking hands, I opened the drawer of my nightstand and placed the envelope inside. I then removed the necklace that rested so heavily around my neck and placed it on top of it, and closed the drawer. I grabbed an empty duffel bag from my cupboard and shoved a couple changes of clothes into it. I grabbed a toothbrush, a hairbrush and other necessities, too, moving with a speed that belied my lethargy of late. I felt like I had been just stepped out of a swamp, I was no longer experiencing that forlorn sinking feeling of regret and loneliness. Instead, a white-hot rage and sense of independence gripped me.

I was better than this. I had always been better than this. I was not the type who lay about, pining for someone who obviously had moved on. Normally, I was the one who moved on first. And I would be damned if he should walk back and find me waiting for him. I had shed my last tear for Gabriel. Our moment had passed, if indeed it had ever existed. And that was something we were both going to have to get over, if it even mattered to him. He had made his choice, and ignored mine. It was over. It was done. He was gone, and, in a few short hours, I would be too.

This much decided and carried through, I relaxed. I felt tension I hadn't even known I was feeling ease, and a headache from suppressed tears faded. There was still pain, I couldn't deny that. Gabriel had knocked down many of the walls I had built many years ago around my heart, and it was going to take some time to rebuild them. And rebuild them I would, stronger and tougher than ever.

The last girl and the last reason

To make this last for as long as I could

The fist kiss and the first time

That I felt connected to anything

The weight of water the way you taught me

To look past everything I have ever learnt

The final word in the final sentence

You ever uttered to me was love

I joined Mary-Alice out by Paul's tree a little while later. She was resting on her back, staring up at the canopy overhead as the sunlight played over her face. I joined her and we lay in comfortable silence for a long time.

"Are you ok?" she asked after a while, not turning to look at me.

"No," I replied quickly, shaking my head slowly, squinting my eyes shut against the play of sunlight across my face, trying to memorize the exact pattern of light. "No, but I will be. What about you?"

"About the same," she said, sighing as she pulled herself up into a sitting position, resting her head wearily against the trunk of the tree. "Do you want to talk about it? You don't have to if you're not up to sharing just yet. I know I'm not."

I sat up too, crossing my legs Indian-style. The wind blew strongly, bringing with it the cold bight of autumn that would come in less than a month. I shook my head. "I wouldn't mind sharing with you, but I don't know what he said, myself. I decided not to read the letter after all."

Mary-Alice nodded, as though she understood, not disappointed like I thought she would be. "I can understand that. It could be like in Persuasion, you know," she offered tentatively, naming one of my favorite Jane Austin novels. "You know, it could be just poor timing. Maybe one day, when it's the right time, you guys will be together then."

I shook my head, and rubbed my arms as a chill passed through me. "I don't think so. I think our moment, if we ever even had one, has passed, and its best that things have worked out this way." I sighed heavily, and decided it was time for a change of topic. "What are you going to do next year?" I asked her, dreading the answer. Mary-Alice had, for as long as I had known her, wanted to attend Princeton, and Richard had pulled some strings so that I could attend Harvard last year.

"I got accepted into Princeton," she replied casually, twirling a strand of grass between her forefinger and thumb idly, as though her acceptance wasn't a big deal, though I knew that it meant everything to her – a chance at a new life, a new place, and new her. New friends. "I'm going to live on campus, starting the week before the term begins. I assume you got into Harvard?"

"Yep," I said heavily, pulling a face. "Richard pulled some strings and called in a few favors – without them, I probably wouldn't have only got in on an outside chance." It was true – as much as I hated Richard at times, without his help, I probably would have only had a 40 chance of getting in. I wasn't terrible at school, but neither was I brilliant. "I don't know if I want to go there anymore, though... My grandparents called me this morning, told me I could visit them whenever I wanted."

"Are you going to take them up on it?"

"I might as well, now," I replied. "And if it goes well, I might go there, stay there until school goes back or something... we'll see."

"That's a good idea," she agreed. We both ignored the fact that we were not going to see each other for a long time. The end of high school was signaling what could be the end to our friendship. We would no longer have anything in common – not school, not guys… we wouldn't even be living in the same state! "We'll still be friends, right?" she asked the inevitable question after a long, tense pause.

"I hope so," I said honestly. I had known Mary-Alice for the longest time, and I hated to think of not having her in my life. "You save me, you know?" I looked at her, hoping she'd understand a statement that I wasn't even sure I understood myself.

"You too," she replied, smiling.

Best friends are good like that.

And I don't know where to look

My words just break and melt

Please just save me from this darkness

Please just save me from this darkness

And I don't know where to look

My words just break and melt

Please just save me from this darkness

Please just save me from this darkness

I told my mother about the letter, and about my decision that I would go to stay with my grandparents for the remainder of the summer, and, if things went well enough, move in with them before attending Harvard in the fall. She didn't take the news well, to say the least. The hormone levels, courtesy of her pregnancy, made her all emotional and hard to deal with.

"But what about the baby?" she cried, tears streaming down her face like a waterfall. "It's only a few weeks away now!"

"I will be back for the baby's birth," I promised. "Nothing short of a natural disaster could keep me away, and even then I'd find a way to be here."

"You promise?" she sniffled, waiting for my nod before wrapping me in a bone-crushing hug. "What about Gabriel? What are you going to do about Gabriel?"

I shook my head, surprised that I could keep from crying when his name was mentioned. "I think that ship has sailed. The timing just wasn't right for us." I didn't mention that maybe it never was and it probably never would be.

"Fair enough," my mother said softly, her face all soft and glowing with love. "That's how it was for Richard and I – it just never seemed to be the right time or place. But eventually, you find yourself in a position where you just can't find the energy to fight what you think has to be wrong, so you find a way to make it right instead. We don't always have to have all the answers… we just have to know that eventually things that are meant to be will happen whether we stress over them or not."

I nodded. "Thanks for understanding, mom," I said finally, hugging her tight. What she had said made sense, in a way. I was glad it had worked out for my mother. But I still couldn't see a way for it to work for Gabriel and I, and I wasn't sure I ever could. I didn't regret this. I didn't.

"No problem, sweetie, that's what moms are for," she replied, hugging me back. And this time, I felt my little brother or sister kick, and I didn't feel weird or hurt or sad at all.

It was becoming a trend in my life to not know what was lying ahead of me. To not know where I was headed, or what I was going to do. So it didn't really faze me that I was heading into a new phase of my life with nothing really confirmed and nothing familiar around me to comfort me. I had no Mary-Alice at my fingertips to save me from myself. I had no Gabriel to confuse and confound me, or make me feel fragile and feminine, and precious when all I felt worthless.

But I did have a new sense of… something. I didn't know what it was, but it made me believe that things were going to be alright eventually, as long as I quit worrying about it. I knew that would never happen – I was, after all, a control freak to some extent – but the knowledge that I didn't have to have all the answers all the time comforted me a little.

I could take as long as I wanted. Gabriel and I were over, and the pain in my heart would eventually be buried. My heart would chip, but not break. I just had to survive in the meantime.


WORD COUNT: 4,629 words (8.76 pages)

TOTAL WORD COUNT: 53,109 words (95 pages)

A/N: Mwahahahaha... I changed it. This one fitted in with my still-formulating plans for the next crappy installment of Silence's wierd life. So sue me, I'm into self-flagellation... or at least it appears that way, because I've committed myself to boring you all to tears with the next part - and hopefully the last part - of Silence and Gabriel's story. If you would like a teaser for the prologue of the next story, send me an email or a private message and i'll email you or send it to you by osmosis, whichever you prefer. I'd suggest the former, as the latter involves telekenetic skills that I do not possess, so you're more likely to get it if you email me. Bon appetit, mon ami!

As always, thanks go out to those that reviewed - not you others who read but don't want to inflate my ego - HAH to you, i still get a little ego trip because they're now showing us hits per page! blows a big raspberry! And of course, many thanks and much adoration to Kaika-Suki, who pre-reads and edits my shoddy writing.

Your ever faithful author of this unmitigated crap, the one who breaks my heart.

ps: sorry, I was in a really weird mood. To help aliviate this mood, and to avoid further tyranical tirades, you should try to appease me with a truckload of reviews. If you've already reviewed signed in and would like to review again, feel free to leave an anonymous review (please do say your sign-in name or leave an email so I can thank the nice people who choose to love me)