Breaking Free

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Summary: She had been waiting for him for so long, and he never noticed. OneShot.

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She was always the one waiting for him. He was always late, or sick, or simply slow. And while most would have grown impatient or annoyed, she stayed by his side, waiting for him. It was how their worlds worked.

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It was the first school dance of the year and neither of them had a date, for once. He always had a date, but after a nasty break-up with his cheerleading girlfriend of two years, he asked her out last minute.

She had no choice but to say yes to him.

She waited one hour for him to pick her up, and when he didn't, she decided to drive herself there. When she got there, she saw him, dancing with his "ex".

She never spoke of that dance afterwards.

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It was their movie night. It was her turn to rent the movie, and pop the popcorn, and bake some sweets for the two of them to munch on. She chose a horror movie that she knew he'd love, and a comedy for later so she could watch by herself to calm herself down from the trauma of the movie.

The fuzzy blanket was on the couch, and two pillows were set up on opposite ends for the two of them. It was a quarter until seven then, forty-five minutes after their meeting time. She was on the couch, her legs crushed against her chest, watching infommercials as she waited.

He arrived at eight, two hours late. He mumbled a "sorry" and explained that his practice ran late and that he had to drive his girlfriend home. He sat down on the other chair beside the couch, even though she had laid out his pillow onto the couch already.

She started the movie, and he left an hour into it, saying his mom called him to get home immediately. She watched him wordlessly leave and she finished the movie despite having a phobia of clowns - which was what the movie was about. She didn't bother watching the comedy.

Her own life was more terrifying that the movie.

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It was Halloween. Despite her pure hatred for the holiday, she would always go trick-or-treating with him and his friends. Even if she sticked out like a zebra in a pack of horses, she suffered through it all for him.

He would always stop by her house to pick her up.

This time, he didn't. He forgot. He had a great night, TP-ing houses and ding-dong-ditching. He was with the guys and their hot girlfriends - she never even passed his mind.

Until the next morning, when he woke up and was on his way to school when he saw her walking to school by herself.

He not only forgot to pick her up, but he forgot to also pick her up.

But he figured it was too late to pick her up so he drove on by her, not even thinking that she might recognize his bright red convertible.

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It was her first recital. She was the oldest in her piano-learning group, and it embarassed her enough, but she thought it might be worth it in the end if she could play piano with her best friend's band.

He promised to show up with a bouqet of tulips, her favorite flowers. He promised to give her her first standing ovation, and to scream her name when she stepped up there.

But when she looked down at the audience and spotted his seat, it was empty.

He showed up, eventually. He was late, dressed in casual jeans and a t-shirt, and he only had a singly flower he picked from the building's garden outside.

Still, she accepted it with a strained smile and thanked him.

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It was New Year's Eve. Their families always went skiing together, and he was the only reason she even showed up. She resented her dysfunctional family and their fights, and she once broke her arm skiing. But he always made it fun, one way or another.

But this time, he bailed to go to the beach in Miami with his friends and his girlfriend.

So she spent the whole New Year's Eve, alone and sad in her hotel room. And as they counted down the new year, she stayed inside, reading.

Because books became a lot better than her actual life.

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That New Year's Eve she made a resolution though. She swore that she would stop waiting for him. She'd go out and make real friends.

And he'd realize his mistake, hopefully.

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It was Valentine's Day and for once, she had an actual Valentine.

It was her birthday and for once, she didn't have to wait for him to be the only one to remember after several hints.

It was his birthday and for once, she didn't feel guilty about only sending him a card rather than baking him a cake.

It was the school's play where she had made the lead and for once she recieved tons of flowers and congratulations.

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It was graduation when he finally realized she was gone.

He spotted her with her group of friends, and she was smiling. He quietly tried to remember the last time she smiled at him that year and couldn't remember. Then, he tried to remember the last time the two of them really talked, or hung out.

"Hey," he said, smiling at her as he approached her after so long.

She stared at him for a while before quietly saying, "Hi."

It shocked him how foreign her voice sounded. How they felt like strangers to each other, when they were best friends for so long.

"H-How's life?" he stammered, looking at her.

"Good," she said, attempting to smile at him in reassurance.

"Wow," he breathed. "I haven't realized how long it's been since now."

That hurt. She couldn't believe it. He hadn't noticed she was gone for that long? He hadn't noticed a single thing, had he?

"Yeah," she whispered. "I-I have to go. Goodbye."

He watched her leave wordlessly.

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It was her wedding day. She was so happy, so excited. And as she stared into her future husband's eyes, she realized that all the pain she suffered through, waiting for the wrong guy, was worth it.