A/N: I decided that you guys definitely deserve this chapter after being so patient with me for so long. It's been a long journey, and I have to say that I'm kind of sad to see it end. Thank you so much to everyone who has stuck with this story. One of these days I'll get around to fixing some of the chapters, but for now, I'm very content with what's here. :) Thank you to everyone who has reviewed chapter twenty so far: The Ferrett, ihrtbks, Ashelin, Laen, Silver Stars, sleepiedreamer, hubbabubba, bitterdeath, JazzyMa-06, Extraho-Uxor, Shadow of the Black Wolf, and Gwyn Baranof. Thanks to everybody! As always, enjoy. :)
Aubrianne sat on the soft green grass, staring at the cement stones that sat in front of her. She took in a deep breath of the cool morning air. After not getting any sleep the night before, it had only felt natural to come here--especially since today was the day. It had come so quickly that Aubrianne had barely had any time to stop for air as each plan had to be made and each detail had to be perfected.
A pair of footsteps walked up from behind her. Aubrianne didn't need to look back; she already knew who it was.
"I don't think you're supposed to see me before the wedding," she stated matter-of-factly.
"I think we're safe as long as I don't see you in your dress," Brent replied. He sat down next to her, placing a kiss on the top of her head before glancing at what Aubrianne had been so intently staring at.
"You think they'll be watching, today?" Aubrianne questioned.
"Of course they will be."
The headstones of her twin sister and her dad sat steadily on the ground.
Greg had lived three months longer than the doctors had predicted. When it was his time, his family had stood around him, not wanting to let go but grateful that they had that extra time with him.
"So what are you kids up to today?" Greg asked cheerfully. His voice was shaky and soft but still held a surprising amount of confidence for a man laying on his deathbed.
"Oh dad---" Aubrianne whispered. She sat down next to him on the bed, taking his hand within her own.
"Honey, I don't want you to start moping around on my account," Greg told her. He looked up at Brent, who stood a few feet away. "You make sure she doesn't mope around the house, okay?
"Yes sir," Brent replied. Greg had felt grateful that in his last few months of life, he was able to see his daughter and Brent finally together in a relationship. It had been a long time coming.
"Now come sit down over here," he told Brent. "It's awkward with you all the way over there." Brent let out a small smile, knowing that Greg was trying to lighten the mood.
"You look so beautiful, daddy," Aubrianne said quietly. Greg smiled and gently kissed the back of her hand.
"Now I have something important to tell you," Greg said in a serious tone. Both Aubrianne and Brent looked to him expectantly. Greg's eyes settled on his daughter as he began to speak. "Now Aubs, we both know that one day, you're going to get married. Now I won't be there to walk you down the aisle, so this is important. You need to know this, okay?"
"Okay," Aubrianne answered weakly.
"Since I won't be there when you get married, I want you to know this: you're going to make your husband very happy, and since I know you'll make the right choice, I'm going to do this now while I still have the chance. I give you away. It will be up to somebody else to protect you, and I give you away to him," Greg said. He then looked at Brent. "And I trust that he will protect you with his entire life."
Aubrianne leaned forward and sunk her head into her father's chest. Greg and Brent still held eye contact. Slowly, Brent nodded, assuring him that he would have nothing to worry about. Greg nodded back, then turned his attention to his daughter, hugging her tightly to him.
It had been two years since the night that Brent and Aubrianne shared their first kiss--two long, beautiful, scary, heart wrenching, joyful years. There had never been a doubt in Brent's mind that he was going to marry Aubrianne. She had always been the one to believe in soul mates and destiny, but he couldn't help but give in to the idea that there was only one person in the world for him.
And he had been lucky enough to find her at five-years-old.
"I can't believe how lucky you got with this weather," Junior commented. Over the past two years, he and Brent had became even better friends, and now he was Brent's best man. "You're having a wedding outside at night, and the weather is actually nice."
"I can't believe you waited to have your wedding at seven at night. This is going to be quick right? Because the reception's always the best part," Kyle, who was also still close with Brent, remarked. He was one of the groomsmen.
"Thanks for the support," Brent said sarcastically. "It was Annie's idea to have the wedding this late. You know how much she loves the stars."
"Will there be cake at the reception?" Joseph, Brent's little brother, questioned. Brent laughed.
"Don't you worry; there's a huge cake," he promised.
"Good!" Joseph exclaimed.
"Hey son, you about ready?" Brent's father asked as he entered the room.
"Yeah. Is my tie on the right way?"
"Looks good to me."
Brent took one last look at his reflection in the mirror. It was time.
"Where are my flowers!? I can't find my flowers! Mom, do you see my flowers?" Aubrianne exclaimed, searching through the dressing room.
"Relax, Aubs, I have your flowers," Julie said. Aubrianne looked over to see that her maid of honor did, in fact, have the flowers in her hands.
"I'm sorry, I'm just a little nervous," she explained.
"It's natural to get nervous before your wedding day," her mom told her.
"And if you decide to back out, I'll have the keys to the getaway car ready," Julie teased.
"I wouldn't joke if I were you. You could be in my shoes soon," Aubrianne reminded her.
"I doubt it. I think Keith and I are going to have a long, long engagement. It's no fun anymore once you actually get married," Julie said.
"Don't listen to her," Aubrianne's mom told her daughter. "Marriage is a wonderful thing, especially if two people are doing it for the right reasons, and I can't imagine there being two people in the world more right for each other than you and Brent. Besides, you two have been married since you were five-years-old; this is just a wonderful formality to celebrate it."
"Thanks, mom." Aubrianne smiled gratefully at her mother.
"It's about time!" Julie announced. "The weather's nice, the groom is waiting, and I am ready for everyone to see me in this fabulous dress!"
"You guys go out. I just need a few seconds," Aubrianne told them. Julie and the other bridesmaids left the dressing room. Her mom pulled her into a hug.
"He's watching, you know," she whispered in her ear.
"I know," Aubrianne replied.
"I'm sorry that he won't be here to give you away. I know that it's important to you."
"It's okay. He already took care of that."
"I shouldn't be surprised. He was always planning ahead," her mom commented. "Well, I think they're all waiting for you. Are you ready?"
"I am. Do I look okay?"
"You look beautiful."
"I love you, mom," Aubrianne said. She took her mother's hand and squeezed it gently.
"I love you, too."
The pianist began to play the Wedding March. Everybody stood up. Aubrianne took a deep breath. It was time. She walked forward, unveiling herself to her family and friends. A slight gasp was heard throughout the crowd.
"I've never seen anyone look so beautiful!"
Aubrianne didn't hear any of these exclamatory whispers, though. She could only see one person, and he was waiting for her in front. The walk felt much longer than she had anticipated. When she finally reached Brent, he took her hand and led her forward. They smiled at each other; Aubrianne saw a twinkle in his eye.
The minister began to speak. Brent and Aubrianne continued to stare at each other. She glanced up at the sky. It may have been because of her mood, but the stars seemed to shine even brighter than usual. She looked back at Brent, who nodded in understanding.
"I love you," Brent mouthed, gently squeezing her hand to reassure her.
"I love you, too," Aubrianne replied.
"Okay kids, it's time for us to get into partners and start our new project! Your partner will be the person you sit next to. Natasha and Lydia, Grant and Jake, Thomas and Leigh, Brent and Aubrianne…"
Aubrianne quit listening as soon as she heard that she would be partners with the boy who had been sitting next to her for the past two weeks. She had wanted to yell, "But he's a boy!" to the teacher, but she didn't have the courage. Not only was she going to be partnered with a boy, but he was a scary boy! His hair was spiky, and he never smiled!
Mrs. Johnson finished explaining the project and handed out the materials for the kids to get to work. Brent awkwardly scooted his chair closer to Aubrianne's, unsure of what to say. He had noticed over the past few weeks that she didn't seem to get things like the other kids did. For instance, when Mrs. Johnson would ask them to get out their glue, she always took out a pencil. When told to draw a picture of their family, she drew a picture of cats and dogs. Why wasn't this girl in the class for the special kids? And how did he get stuck partnered with her?
"Here, you can cut these out," Brent said, handing her a sheet of paper with circles, triangles, and squares on it. Aubrianne stared at the piece of paper strangely, as if she didn't know what to do with it. Hesitantly, she took the paper and laid it on her desk. What was it he had told her to do with the paper? Well, it was black and white, so maybe she was supposed to color it. She reached for her crayons, but Brent stopped her.
"No, don't color them yet. Cut them out," he reminded her. Aubrianne nodded. Cut them out. How was she supposed to do that again? Maybe she could use her hands.
"Here, use these." Brent handed her an odd looking thing with holes in it. Sighing, he realized that she was going to need some help. He reached for her hand, but she quickly pulled it away. "It's okay. I'm helping you." He looked at her bright blue eyes, and even at the age of five, he understood the fear in them. Slowly, he reached for her hand again, and this time she didn't pull away. He placed her fingers in the holes of the scissors and led them to the paper with the shapes on it. They slowly began to cut the triangle out together.
"Do you understand?" he questioned. She nodded as he pulled his hand away. Put fingers in holes of scissors. Move them along the black lines. This is easy.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Johnson had been watching the pair intently with her assistant Ms. Sanchez.
"I think you're on to something there," Ms. Sanchez admitted. Initially, she didn't think that Brent and Aubrianne would be a good match for partners.
"Well, he's way ahead of the other kids when it comes to understanding projects and putting things together. Hopefully he'll help her get up to par."
"My fear is that your plan will work too well."
"What do you mean?" Mrs. Johnson questioned, now confused.
"Hopefully she won't learn to depend on him too much," Ms. Sanchez pointed out. Mrs. Johnson nodded but pushed the thought away. That would never happen.
"You see this shape?" Brent questioned.
"Yeah," Aubrianne replied.
"Now it has three sides. One, two, three. And it has three points. One, two, three."
"It's a triangle."
"But how am I going to remember that?"
"Well it was the first shape we cut out together today. So I guess just remember that we cut out the triangle first. Can you remember that?"
"I think so. We cut out the triangle first. It has three sides and three points."
"I think I get it!" Aubrianne exclaimed, looking up at the boy who she had resented at the beginning of the day. Well, maybe this boy wasn't so bad- spiky hair and all.