Ever since I was a baby girl I had a dream
Cinderella theme, crazy as it seems
Always knew that deep inside
That there would come that day, but I would have to wait
-Finally, by Fergie
At the tender age of four, she wondered how boys were like.
She would sit on one of those wooden park benches that were so tall her legs barely touched the muddy ground, and just watch as the kids play some of her favourite games.
The first time she watched, there were five kids building miniature sand castles.
The second time, the same group of kids ran around the park, making loud hooting noises as they slapped their hands over their mouths repeatedly. It reminded her of the Red Indians she's seen on television.
Then the third time, as she perched herself on the familiar bench, a short, slightly chubby red-headed boy approached her with a lopsided grin.
"Hi," He greeted meekly. "What's your name?"
"Alicia." She answered, her voice just as coy. "You?"
"Ashton." He told her, and she found herself repeating his name silently in her head. He looked funny.
And then they lapsed into a very uncomfortable silent streak, with him awkwardly rubbing his palm against his dirty shorts, and her nervously fidgeting with the end of her red, flowery skirt.
After what seemed like forever, he cleared his throat gently.
"We're playing hide and seek, and we want a seeker person." He explained slowly, his dark brown eyes skimming through her features. "Wanna play seek?"
She cocked her head to one side, and he imitated her, tilting his head to one side.
"Okay," He said, pulling her up and towards all his friends. "Count to twenty, and start looking for us. You'll have to give the last person you find a piggyback ride home. Ready?"
She took a horrified glance at the kids who were joining in the game, all larger, fatter, and scarier.
All were boys.
"Wait, but you're all bi-" She protested, but he already turned her around so that she was facing the large trunk of a tree. "But you're all-"
And she heard loud, heavy footsteps running all over the playground, looking for perfect hiding spots. She groaned in disbelief and counted to twenty. Then, she turned around.
If there was anything bad about being chubby and big-sized, it's the fact that you can never hide well enough.
She stifled a giggle as she saw two round, shorts-clad butts sticking out in one of the little blue tunnels; one leg showing out behind a bush; one very embarrassed, red-cheeked face staring anxiously at her from his ill-concealed spot behind the slide.
This was going to be easy, she thought with an amused smile.
"Ready or not, here I come!" She shouted, loud enough for her voice to reverberate around the neighbourhood.
Then, skipping her steps joyfully, she found her way to all three hiding spots and pulling the four plump little boys (rather unsuccessfully) out of their positions. They grunted angrily, and demanded a rematch, claiming the tunnels and slides to be too 'see-able'.
She snorted and took a long, piercing look around the playground.
There was only one kid left.
"Where is he?" She demanded, putting her hands on her waist. The four of them grinned, but said nothing more.
Then, one of them pointed to her right with a wide smile on his face, causing her to turn to see what was wrong.
"Boo." Someone whispered into her left ear, and she jumped up in alarm, her hands clutched over her heart weakly.
"Piggyback ride!" He shouted gleefully (Almost too gleefully, she thought), then turned her body so that her back was facing his front. "Ready?"
She turned her head and gave him a glare.
"No." She gritted, knowing full well that her bones would break if she even tried lifting him.
"Okay!" And without a second warning, he jumped on her back, emitting a loud squeal from her as she struggled to balance his body on her. "Giddy-up, giddy-up!"
And off they went, four boys trotting happily beside a frail-looking girl with a chubby boy on her back.
At the tender age of four, Alicia found herself thinking –as she went off-balance and toppled onto the mud, rolling Ashton along with her with a very loud 'oomph'- that boys were heavier than elephants.
"So…" He trailed off uneasily, shifting his stance from side to side.
They were stuck in line, waiting to collect their lunch in the school cafeteria. He was dressed in a crumpled round-collared shirt and dark blue jeans, his mass of red hair combed neatly to the side, emphasizing on his round face; She was wearing a sleeveless, knee-length baby blue dress, her long brown hair knotted up in a tidy ponytail.
They were nine, and everyone else had cooties but them.
That's what they thought, anyway.
After that one little piggyback ride (an awful experience on Alicia's side) a good five years ago, she started hanging out with him and his four friends (whom she came to known as Jared, David, Ethan and Daniel), doing all sorts of crazy things kids do.
Unintentionally -but much to their pleasure-, he became her friend, and she became his.
"Hmm?" She muttered absentmindedly, her eyes scanning the overcrowded room for her classmates.
"Are you going to Gabby's girls-only birthday party?" Ashton asked, and almost instantly her striking green eyes found its way to his brown orbs with curiosity, and maybe, just maybe, a slight bit of jealousy.
Gabby, a black-haired, blue-eyed sweetheart, was one of those blessed souls with stunningly beautiful looks, mesmerizing voice, and amazing personality.
Unfortunately, Gabby was also the best girl friend of Alicia.
They were more commonly known as Mary Sue and plain Jane, really.
"Yeah…" Alicia answered uncertainly, then perked her head up. "Why?"
Her eyes widened as Ashton's round cheeks reddened adorably and reached into his big, bulky bag pack to get something out.
A wilted, flattened red rose.
He pushed it into her hands, then quickly stuffed his own into his pockets, playing it cool.
"Wish her a very Happy Birthday for me," He started, then stopped, biting his lips as he thought of more to say. "A-And tell her I… I like her."
With one final, shaky smile, he turned around and walked out of the cafeteria.
Alicia stared after him, trying to decide if she should shout for him to tell him his ugly purple bag pack wasn't zipped.
Eventually, she decided against it, and instead, focused intently on the flower in her small, slightly freckled hands.
Leave it to Ashton to give a girl something like that.
She rolled her green eyes and slid the lifeless rose into one of her textbooks, then moved as the line urged forward.
It wasn't until years later that Ashton found out, Alicia never gave Gabby the wilted rose. Instead, she bought a small, pink bracelet for the birthday girl, telling her that it was Ashton who picked it.
Gabby loved the present, hated Ashton.
The flower, on the other hand, was delicately pressed among her diary pages, followed by her neat scrawls under it.
Under the flower were the unmistakable words: Boys are so stupid.
It took Ashton another four, painstaking years to finally realize that Holy cow, Alicia's a girl.
Much to his revulsion, though, she turned into one of those typical preppy, chick-flick loving girls.
It freaked him out, to tell the truth.
Instead of going out to scare some pitiful kids, he was forced onto the big leather couch in her house, watching movies like Pretty Woman and My Best Friend's Wedding.
To her, it was one hour and forty-five minutes of sheer bliss.
To him, it was like watching horror movies, only without blood and ghosts, and with lots and lots of annoying squeals of delight.
So there they were, on one Sunday evening, lounged comfortably on their favourite couch with homemade caramel popcorn squeezed in between them. Her eyes were glued to the screen in excitement; his eyes were glued to her in amusement.
Ashton doesn't know why, but something about her occasional burst of giggles would make him smile, however irritating it may be.
He would never admit it to Alicia's face, though. It would just give her another reason to taunt him.
Alicia's sudden gasp snapped him out of his trance.
"Oh, my gosh, he is so hot!" She shrieked, her green eyes bright with pure admiration for the male lead in the movie. Richard Greek? Richard Grey? Ashton shrugged nonchalantly.
"I'm hotter." Ashton said with a smirk, striking a random pose to prove his point.
She gave him the once-over, from his messy red hair, his normal brown eyes, red lips, to his no sense of fashion whatsoever (Baggy shirt, knee-length shorts, horribly long pink-stained socks), and snorted.
"Meh..." Came her dismissive reply, of which she received an angry smack on the arm by Ashton.
"You're just jealous 'cause I'm so hot, girls fall in love with me." Which was a very, very obvious lie, but still.
"Whatever, Ash." She laughed, her eyes now staring at the screen as they started rolling the credits. She sighed wistfully. "That was an amazing movie."
Yeah, amazingly boring, Ashton thought bemusedly to himself, stifling a yawn.
Then, the immature part of him decided to follow a trick Jared taught him a few days back. A very 'silly, stupid, overused trick to get girls', was what he said to Jared when he first demonstrated it on his own sister (and to Ashton's guilty delight, received a loud smacking across the face shortly after).
Apparently, Ashton was feeling particularly silly and stupid that evening, so he yawned loudly, stretching his hands upwards and eventually, landing over Alicia's shoulders.
To his absolute surprise, she nuzzled closer to him and rested her head on his shoulders.
Holy crap, he thought to his thirteen-year old self. Jared was right, after all!
The world has officially gone mad.
"Uh," He started awkwardly, his eyes blinking in disbelief. "What do you want to do now?"
To Ashton's dismay, his voice cracked at 'want'. He wanted to crawl into a hole and just die.
"I don't know…" Alicia trailed off, obviously oblivious to the hideous puberty crack as she leaned more into Ashton, who became acutely aware at how tight her navy blue tank top was, and how her white shorts reached the higher part of her thigh. He distracted himself by counting the amount of freckles on her shoulders, slowly moving down… down… down…
He slapped himself mentally on the head.
Bad idea, Ash.
"…Wondering how will a person know when she or he is in love. Do you have any idea?" Alicia peered at him expectantly through her long, thick eyelashes.
He blinked again and cleared his throat.
"You weren't listening, were you?" Alicia complained, poking Ashton playfully by the sides. "Never mind."
"Don't you 'never mind' me." Ashton said seriously, and then relaxed into a smile. "What was it that you wanted to ask?"
Alicia gave him a quick smile and looked down, her fingers now finding its way to the end of Ashton shirt, twisting it into a knot. A nervous habit that Ashton got used to, only he didn't understand why on earth was she the one being nervous.
"How do you know that you've fallen in love with someone?" She asked meekly, her eyes still focusing on his baggy, bright red shirt, so he couldn't see that she was blushing terribly.
Ashton raised his eyebrows, but took a while to think the question through.
"I don't know about you, but I know that I'm in love when I fart really loudly, and the first thought that pops into my mind is 'damn, if only she was here to hear it'."
And then, as though right on cue, the green beans he ate for lunch decided that it was time to make an announcement, so he farted.
Really, really loudly.
Alicia looked up at him, her face contorted into an odd combination of disgust and amusement.
"Ew." She said finally, and stood up from her place and walk into the kitchen. "You need a glass of water, Ash."
Make that two, he thought, wiping a small bead of sweat from his forehead and released a long breath.
Damn it, if only she wasn't here to hear it.
They made the school library their friend at the age of seventeen, with high hopes of acing the major exams that would get them into the most prestigious colleges in the country.
Every day, they would meet up in front of her locker, and together the pair of them would march towards the other building with an air of determination, countless books clutched under their arms as they chattered on about who's and what's.
He noticed that she started putting on light make-up to conceal the heavy eye bags from all that studying; She noticed that he lost most of his baby fat, a result from puberty and all that basketball training.
They would meet each other's gaze for a short, lingering moment, and turn away, blushing as they stride faster and faster.
28th of January wasn't much different from any other day.
Ashton waited patiently in front of her locker, his long, lean fingers flipping through the pages in his History text book.
But the moment he looked up and saw what she was wearing, he felt torn between the urge to remove his jacket and force her to wear it, or to yell at her and then remove his jacket for her.
He opted for the latter.
"Alicia Sorohan, I'm not sure if you're aware of it, but it's winter, it's snowing, and it's freaking freezing. Normal people wear jackets, long johns, and long pants, even." He bit out sarcastically, and then stared at her attire for the day. Tank top, mini skirt, flip-flops. His fists tightened. "Tell me, are you feeling a tad bit abnormal today?"
Alicia rolled her eyes at his dramatics.
"I'm not feeling cold, Ash." She rubbed her reddened nose gently. "We have a heater in this place, and you're pretty much the only one who's smart enough to wear a thick woollen jacket."
Ashton shrugged the brown jacket off his body (Realizing, grudgingly, that he was sweating), and handed it to her.
"That's not the point. Put this on, the library has an air-cond." He demanded, not taking no for an answer.
She laughed incredulously and pressed a friendly kiss on his cheeks.
"You're really cute, you know that?" Alicia teased and put on his jacket, relishing in the warmth from his body. "Are we happy now?"
Ashton nodded stiffly.
"Perfect." She said with a smile, then linked her arm through his casually. She looked up at him. "So can we go now?"
He, again, nodded stiffly.
"Let's go then."
It is times like these when Ashton wonders what was it about her that made him fall so irrevocably in love.
Time flew past them in a blur, and before they knew it, the exams have already begun.
Countless cups of bitter coffee, chocolate bars and mint candies were sacrificed during that one month as they did their final preparation nights before the exams.
Alicia even moved into Ashton's house –temporarily, much to his disappointment- so that it would be easier for them to do their revisions together. That, and the fact that she got troubled by the scary nightmares involving huge, giant-like test papers chasing after her with big forks and spears.
She plunked herself onto his large, king-sized bed on that final night, and stared idly at the plain, white ceiling, her green eyes blurry and unfocused.
"I don't think I've studied enough." She whispered after a while, her hands tracing random patterns on the bed sheet.
Ashton turned around from his seat near his study table and raised his eyebrows.
"What is the value of pi?" He asked with a knowing smirk.
"Approximately 3.14159." She raised her head from the bed and frowned at Ashton. "They won't ask that in the exams, Ash."
"That's not the point." Ashton muttered with an embarrassed blush, and then stood up from his place so he could sit beside her, giving her an encouraging pat on the head. "You'll do fine, Al. Quit worrying, okay?"
Her bottom lip jutted out slightly.
"But what if I fail everything? What if I don't get into colleges? What if they make me retake my tests because they were too awful?" She blurted out nervously.
"You'll pass everything, so you won't have to retake tests. All the colleges out there are dying to accept you, Alicia Sorohan." He said with a tilted smile. "They'd be crazy not to."
His heart raced as her tensed face relaxed into a grin, remembering how adorable she looks when she does that.
"And if I fail all the tests and can't get into a single college?" She pried jokingly.
Ashton got to his feet and sat down in front of his study table again, so Alicia didn't know that he was blushing furiously as he replied her question.
"Then I'll marry you, and you don't have to do a thing except for loving me… And making me breakfast." He added as an afterthought, and then started flipping through the pages, not really reading anything.
Alicia, on the other hand, fell deadly silent, her mind happily contemplating his words.
And for the first time in her life, she wished she would fail every single test.
But Alicia passed. Well, so did he, but she passed with flying colours.
And got accepted into Harvard University to study law.
"You have to go there, Al. It's your future." Ashton repeated for what seemed like the umpteenth time, and she found herself sighing all over again.
If he wasn't in the future, what was the point?
"You did apply for Harvard, right?" She pried after a moment of silence, her heart beating loudly against her rib cage. They were in her room this time, both looking stressed and frustrated. Ashton nodded. "Did you get in, then?"
Ashton shrugged and mumbled softly, "I don't know."
Alicia stood up from her bed and walked aimlessly until she reached the windows in her large, messy room, the bits in her mind flying all over the place.
"I probably wouldn't get a place, though. My results weren't that great." He continued, now running a hand through his messy red hair. "In that case I'll be doing local, it's easier."
She really wanted to do law in Harvard. They were famous for it, weren't they?
"I'm not that interested in law, anyway." She fibbed, her eyes trained on the ground. "I could just enrol myself into a local university. The programmes here are good enough."
Good enough for me to spend more time with you, she added silently.
Ashton groaned and moved her position so that she was facing him instead of the bedroom window.
She had tears leaking messily from her red-rimmed eyes.
"Come here, you." He beckoned, pulling her into a long, warm embrace. He pressed a light kiss on her forehead and ruffled her brown hair. "Don't stay because of me."
Alicia scoffed forcefully.
"And they say you're humble and modest." She commented dryly, but momentarily comforted by the slow, steady poundings of his heart.
"And they say you know how to make the best decisions." He retorted wittily, tightening his hold on her. He didn't want to let go. "You know Harvard will do you good, Al."
She let out a breath. "I know."
"I understand, Al." He murmured into her ears, then brushed the tears off her face with his thumb. "We need better lawyers, anyway."
She laughed through tears and gave him one tight squeeze.
If only he knew what she really wanted to say.
Alicia looked up from her small seat in the train station, her eyes lighting up as it found his face.
"Where the hell were you, Ashton!" She shouted, but her lips were curled upwards. "I thought you would never come!"
Ashton grinned lopsidedly and pulled her up into a hug.
"I would never miss it for the world. You know that." He told her, then took a quick glance around. "Checked in your luggage?"
She nodded, her eyes now filling with tears once more.
"The train will be arriving in a few minutes." Alicia muttered in one breath. She released herself from the embrace and forced a brave smile. "And then I'll be gone for good, huh?"
"Hell yeah." Ashton teased, earning a light punch from the side. The train arrived. He tugged playfully on her ponytail and sighed. "I'll miss you, Alicia Sorohan."
She blinked back her tears (to no avail), and bit her lip.
"I'll miss you too, Ashton Montgomery." She whispered, her voice almost inaudible.
This was it, Alicia thought, gazing into his dark brown orbs. Make it or break it.
She took a deep gulp of breath.
And before she could change her decision, she leaned in and pressed a long kiss on his chapped lips, hoping that he would understand the underlying message.
When she pulled away, Ashton had a look of absolute surprise on his face.
"I like you." She managed to choke out with a watery smile, then turned away so that she could board the train. He never responded to the kiss. He never responded to the kiss.
He never responded to the kiss.
She managed to take only five shaky steps when a familiar voice called out, "Oi, Sorohan!"
Alicia turned around, only to have her hand yanked roughly into the arms of a very familiar looking face.
"I wasn't done talking." Ashton mumbled.
And the next thing Alicia knew was the way her stomach flipped when she felt his lips on her again, his hands cupping her face so that his thumb could wipe her tears off. She placed both her hands on the collar of his denim jacket and smiled lightly into the kiss.
"I like you, too." He said finally, removing himself from the kiss. Then, he pushed the dazed-looking Alicia towards the train.
"Write to me?" Alicia asked quietly, her hand on the metal bar.
Ashton cocked his head to one side with a lazy grin.
"Definitely." He promised. With a final nod, she turned around and got up the train. "I'll be seeing you."
She smiled to herself as she walked into the train compartment, her fingers gently brushing over her lips, even as she sat down on her seat next to the window. How she yearned for him to be there with her now…
A tiny beep broke her out of her trance, and she stared at her phone.
Barely a minute and he's already missing her? She thought with an amused smile.
Wish I could be with you?
Alicia rolled her eyes at his egoistic remark and looked out the window, only to realize that he already left.
He replied soon after.
Ha-ha. I could go with you, you know.
Oh, how she wished for that to be true.
Stop giving me false hopes, Montgomery.
"But I'm not." A deep, lulling voice came from behind her, and she snapped her head around in disbelief.
Sure enough, there he was, standing right behind her with his hands casually tucked into his jeans.
Her eyes widened as she tried to take in the situation.
"B-but why the hell are you doing here?" She stuttered in response, her heart speed racing even more as he took his place right beside her, dropping light, feathery kisses on her pink-tinged lips.
He gave a tiny smirk and pulled out a white, messily folded paper from his back pocket.
His acceptance letter to Harvard University.
"You're not going anywhere without me, Sorohan."
a/n: UH. HAHAHA. Is it too cheesy slash cliched? / I hope it wasn't too bad and all.
Tell me what you thought of it, okay?