Actions

Work Header

forever going with the flow but you're friction

Work Text:

we can make it till the end,

nothing can come between you and i

not even the gods above can separate the two of us

.

She hates first days. She knows it's a strong word and Jesus would want her to love first days despite their obvious shortcomings but yeah—she hates first days.

She knows most teenagers love the idea of high school, it's the next best thing to being an adult and moving out and being independent and being free of your parents. Well, she loves her parents, and her home and she doesn't want to grow up. The real world is a scary place and she isn't ready to be part of it.

Libby totally ditches her because unlike her sister, she isn't popular—nor does she have any friends—she's practically a social pariah. Now, Libby, Libby's on the cheerleading team and she has people following her around and asking her to dances and she's pretty, really pretty in that way that makes guys stop and stare.

April on the other hand? She got the bad Kepner genes. You name it, she has it. Glasses, braces and she's not afraid to admit she hasn't outgrown training bras yet. (Okay, she is a little afraid to admit it.)

She hates first days because she never knows anyone and people stare and she feels more insecure than ever. She wishes her parents could just homeschool her but how bad would that look on a college application? And that's what gets her through first days—the promise of a bright, bright future. See, she loves school. She loves learning and studying and thinking about difficult questions. She just doesn't like the whole people aspect that comes with it. So if that makes her an anti-social freak, so be it.

She ends up sitting next to a girl named Reed in her first class but only because they have assigned seats and the girl makes sure she knows that by sending her the dirtiest look she's ever seen.

The teacher keeps talking about how amazing the class is without actually teaching them about the subject and April guesses that's a talent, too, so she spends her time writing in her little red notebook. She knows it's a little neurotic and weird, but it's how she controls her thoughts. It's not like she a schizophrenic or anything, she's just overly paranoid sometimes.

For example, when she was fourteen she had a nose job because she had trouble breathing and snored really badly—and now she's constantly worried people know. If they know, they'll just make fun of her and she doesn't need to give them any more reasons to do so.

She makes it to lunch in one piece and that's a small victory but she'll take any victory she can today. She sits alone because Libby doesn't want to be seen with her and she's pretty sure that Reed girl would probably skin her alive if she'd even do so much as suggest eating together. She doesn't mind because there's always a book to read and people just don't really like her. She's used to it.

Before she knows it, it's her last period and she hasn't been called names or pushed against a locker yet. Definitely a step up from middle school. Maybe people were more mature in high school.

That's what she thinks until an absolutely Too Handsome To Even Be Seen Near Me guy sits down next to her with tan skin and gorgeous piercing blue green eyes and she dies a little inside. And not in the good way. He's totally football player material.

She totally ready for him to send her a glare, or call her duckie (her sister made sure the name got around, anything to get the attention off of the fact they were sisters) or maybe throw a cold drink in her face.

Except none of that happens, he smiles at her and he doesn't sigh like it's the worst thing ever to be sitting next to her and he actually pays attention to what the teacher is saying.

It might've been a first day, but it's the day she met Jackson Avery.

.

So Reed isn't that bad. She forgets her shorts during gym one time and April offers her her spare pair, it's a little loose on her hips but it does the job, and then Reed sits down with her at lunch as a thanks. And then keeps sitting with her at lunch.

Apparently being a raging b-word didn't make you exactly loved either.

.

She is just walking down the hallway, trying to get to her locker, minding her own business. As soon as she hears the voice she turns around, which she honestly shouldn't have done. A football hits her square in the face and before she knows it, she's on the floor holding her nose, which is bleeding, by the way.

"Sorry! I'm so sorry!"

She blinks a few times, her vision blurry. Her glasses must've fallen off due to the impact of the ball. Either that, or she has a concussion.

"It's—it's okay," she stammers, it's not okay but forgiveness is one of her best qualities, she likes to think. The soft voice hands her her glasses and she puts them on, wincing as it touches her nose.

"Let me take you to the school nurse," he says, a frown on his face, "I'm really sorry, I mean it, I was just throwing the ball at my friend over there—" April looks over at his 'friend', she recognizes him. It's Alex, he's in the same history class as her. He's laughing with a broad guy and she knows they're making fun of her. He helps her up though, the guy who sits next to her in biology with the gorgeous eyes and she brushes off her clothes with her clean hand.

"And I guess I'm a little out of practice." He adds as a joke, sending her a small smile but she doesn't smile back. What kind of sick joke was this? First, he hits her in the face with a football and then he mocks her by pretending he actually gives a rat's butt? No.

"Three months into the school year? Maybe you were never in practice," she mutters as a response, her voice a few octaves higher. It's what she does when she's upset, and she's really upset right now.

He breaks into a smile though, like he thinks it's funny what she just said, and puts a hand on her arm, "Let me take you to the school nurse."

"I'm fine, really, it's just a nosebleed," she tells him calmly, her insecurities getting the best of her. If she gets mean with him now, he'll have to take revenge. Or something. She doesn't know how the whole popularity thing works.

She must look like a total idiot, blood streaming down her face and her glasses a little crooked so she tries to hide her face with her hair.

"I'm really sorry," he says again and she nods, giving him a tight smile. "It's fine. Like I said, it's just a nosebleed. I get them all the time. Not like I get hit in the face by balls all the time but I—Oh my God, I—I didn't mean it like t-that. I'm just, I'm going to go, t-to the bathroom. See you later."

He looks amused and her eyes are wide as she turns around, rushing towards the bathroom. She closes her eyes momentarily to curse herself as she walks away, her cheeks warm and flushed. She can't ever shut up. It's just like everything she thinks comes flying out of her mouth and she can't stop it and then it just becomes worse and worse and worse—and then she tells a guy—a really cute, cute guy—she doesn't get in the face by balls all the time. Like it's a regular occurrence. Great.

She wouldn't be surprised if he stops sitting next to her, she wouldn't even want to sit next to herself.

.

"How's your nose?"

Her eyes widen, alarmed as she looks up from her red notebook, quickly stuffing it in her bag. She didn't know people actually came into the school's library, let alone the guy she totally embarrassed herself in front of.

"W-what? It's, my nose? My nose is… G-great, I, you—what are you doing here?"

"Well, unlike popular beliefs, jocks do study," he tells her, a slight tone of sarcasm to his voice as he sits down next to her and slings his bag into a chair next to him.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend you, it's just I've been coming here for months and usually no one is actually in here besides for the old lady at the front desk but even she usually ignores me, which is kind of mean if you think about it because the only reason she even has a job is me since I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who actually takes these books home and—I'm rambling," she shakes her head to herself, biting down on her lip as her cheeks turn pink. Like she said, her mouth is her worst enemy. She lowers her voice, sighing to herself, "I always ramble."

"It's okay," he grins, a look of amusement on his face, taking a book from his bag, "I get that a lot. It's the eyes."

"Excuse me?" She squeaks, her head snapping back to look at him. Was he honestly that arrogant? She's pretty sure they left the part about not being an arrogant a-hole out of the bible because they thought that was common sense. Oh well, apparently not.

"I'm pretty, I get it. People think that because I'm pretty I don't have a brain. It's the eyes and the smile, oh and you should see me without a shirt."

She opens her mouth to say something, but nothing comes out and she feels all the blood in her body rush to her head. She doesn't know if she should be angry or embarrassed or weirded out. Was he being serious?

He laughs, nudging her with his elbow, "It was a joke?"

She lets out a small half-laugh in response, raising her eyebrows, "Okay, thank God because for a second there I thought I was going to have to find a new place to hang out at."

"Well, before you make up your mind," he teases, "I have to be honest and tell you it's true, about the shirt. I look really good without a shirt."

She laughs loudly and the old librarian lady sends her a glare and shushes them. She sends her an apologetic look before looking down at her math book. It occurs to her they've never actually talked or met for that matter and it's weird, how it still feels so familiar.

"I'm April. Kepner. April Kepner," she whispers, lowering her head and sticking out her hand. He takes it and grins the smallest of grins.

"Jackson Avery."

.

Jackson invites her to come hang out at his house with his friends and she agrees as long as she can take Reed. It's a casual thing he asked when she was helping him with his biology homework and she asked him why and he told her they were friends.

Friends, she likes that. She needs more friends.

It's not as bad as she had expected. Hanging out apparently means playing video games on Jackson's playstation and Alex seems to be really good at that. There's another guy there, named Charles, who's nice and stares weirdly at Reed for long periods of time without saying anything which is strange but it's better than Alex. Anyone is better than Alex. That guy is a pig.

Jackson loses for like the tenth time in a row, smacking Charles away who's reaching for his controller and claiming it's his turn, demanding a rematch.

"Aw, are you going to cry like a little bitch baby?" Alex smiles widely, pretending to wipe tears from his face and Jackson shoves his arm, flipping him the bird.

She clears her throat and she hasn't said anything for like thirty minutes and Reed is looking at her nails boredly so she just flaps out the first thing that comes to mind.

"I cry a lot. Like, about dumb stuff. I cry about romantic dramas and emotional songs and one time I was watching Oprah and she was handing all these people stuff and I just ate like two pints of ice cream and I cried. Like full on tears. I don't know why, I just really, really love Oprah."

Reed puts her palm to her face, sighing and April bites down on her lip, she doesn't know how to fit in. Reed does. "What I wanted to say was that crying about a videogame isn't that bad. Especially since I cry about WNF commercials sometimes."

"Damn Kepner, you're weird," that guy, Alex, remarks, giving her a dumbfounded look and she sends him an apologetic look. She doesn't mean to this way but this is who she is and she can't stop herself from being this way, no matter how much she wants to.

"Hey, don't call her weird," Jackson smacks his friend on the back of his head sending him a glare and April smiles at him thankfully.

"I'm with Karev," Reed adds with a teasing grin, "April is weird."

"You're just saying that because you have a crush on him."

"I do not!"

Friends. She likes having them.

.

Jackson turns out to be really great at being friends (with her). It's the little things. He comes to her academic decathlon competitions (and she goes to all his football games with Reed in return), and he remembers her favorite books and artists and ice cream flavor and he's nice to her. She likes that especially.

He doesn't treat her like she's weird, he treats her like April, his friend. And that's really nice.

.

"Wow, Kepner, I was starting to doubt if you were actually a girl," Alex snorts as she takes off her towel and sits down next to Reed on the edge of Jackson's pool. His parents are seriously loaded.

She blushes as she puts an arm around her stomach. She'd been wearing bathing suits all her life because they were safe, and comfortable and they stayed where they were supposed to say but this time, the summer she's finally grown out of her training bras, Reed convinced her to wear a bikini and to say she feels insecure is a serious understatement.

"Alex," Reed warns her boyfriend sternly by sending him what she sends people best, a dirty look. Alex rolls his eyes in return, "What? The most skin April has ever shown is an ankle and even that made her beg for the Lord's forgiveness."

"Well, I think she looks nice," Jackson says, putting his arm around her shoulders after hoisting himself out of the pool.

"Hey, you're all wet!" She squeaks, laughing as she slaps his arm off. And she sends him a beam, hoping he knows he doesn't have to keep defending her. She can handle Alex, she just doesn't always want to.

He grins, a little too big for her liking and her eyes widen as she starts shaking her head. "No! Jackson, don't—I'm still wearing my—" "Sorry," he smirks as he pushes her and she falls into the water, helpless.

"Contacts," she coughs out, before narrowing her eyes at him, "You're going down!"

.

"You're going to kill us!"

"Please, refrain from talking when I'm driving!"

"As long as you refrain from killing us."

As if on cue, the car swerves to the right and she almost hits a tree. She stops the car on the side of the road, breathing heavily. This driving thing was still a little more than scary.

"How did you even get your driver's license?" He sends her an appalled look, his brows knitted together and she gasps.

"Hey, I'm a very skilled driver for your information!" She retorts, fixing her hair a little before adding calmly, "I just… I take my time."

"I'm driving from now on."

She sighs stubbornly, looking over at him and she swears when he looks at her like that she'd do anything he'd ask. So, she hands him the keys and gets out of the car and she promises not to talk too much.

.

She's not the girl who gets asked to the dance a lot, okay, not at all and Reed and Alex just broke-up for the fourth or fifth time (she's lost count) so they both decide to 'go stag'.

At least, that's what Reed told her two days before the dance and begged her to come. Now it's an hour to the dance and Reed just called her to tell her she's going with Alex anyway. She doesn't want to go in the first place, let alone she wants to go by herself.

She given up all together, building up the courage to tell her mom she doesn't feel well after surviving a half an hour long photo session when the bell rings.

It's Jackson. Wasn't he supposed to go with that pretty girl from their history class? She frowns and he chuckles.

"I'm glad you're so happy to see me, April."

She suddenly feels stupid, childish, in her fluffy pink dress, thinks she looks like a cupcake more than anything, but he grins as he looks her up and down and she feels weird, kind of warm and nice.

"You look great," he adds casually and she blinks a few times, snapping out of it finally.

"Hi," she says, dumbly, stuttering a little as she steps aside for him to come in. "What are you doing here?"

"Let's just say I'd rather go with you and Reed than some girl who only wants me for my last name," he smirks like he's this big tough guy but she knows him, and she sees the flash of something, hurt, behind his eyes for the few small seconds it's there. She reaches out and squeezes his bicep, giving him an understanding look and his smirk softens into something more real.

She's about to open his mouth to speak when her mother barges in, interrupting her and making her grunt her teeth together. Not again, please.

"Jackson, you look so handsome!" Her mother is practically giddy with glee as she takes out her camera again, "Let me just take a few pictures. Come on. April straighten your back, honey, and gosh, let me just fix your hair for a second, there. "

April just sighs as she lets her mother put a curl behind her ear, and nudge a finger in her side to make her stand up tall and hopes squeezing Jackson's forearm is enough of an apology for the natural disaster that is her mother.

Jackson is Jackson though, and her mom loves him and he's the easy-going brotherly type who just puts his arm around her waist and pulls her into his chest as they pose for her mother in multiple slightly awkward positions until her dad finally manages to drag her away, shooting them an apologetic look.

"Reed's not coming," she says quickly when they're alone, giving him an excuse to back out. Her heart is beating loud in her throat and she blinks a few times as he finally turns to look at her. He's frowning as always and she resists the urge to smooth the line on his forehead with her thumb, she does not want to be like her mother.

"Huh?"

"She, uhm," she starts, stumbling nervously, "Reed and Alex, they, they decided to go together anyway."

She looks down at hands, swallowing hard and pretending she's fixing her skirt as she waits for him to say they could just stay home and watch a movie, or that he'd rather take that pretty girl from history anyway. She should've known better. Here she is, always claiming she knows him and then expecting the worst of him.

"Guess it's just me and you then," he smiles slowly, one of those special smiles he only saves for her because despite popular believes and based on the fact how he's around her, he does not smile often.

He offers her his hand and she returns his smile, as she gets that funny warm feeling in her chest again, "Me and you."

They share a small look before she forces herself to look away, redness creeping up her neck already. Hoping he doesn't notice, she changes the subject, "Sorry you had to suffer through that entire photoshoot for my mother." She tries not to think about the fact he's still holding her hand, and she's not stupid, they're friends, but she's also not blind, and Jackson's really hot, and her body seems to be betraying her.

"It's okay, I think my mom is even worse when it comes to these things," he squeezes her hand comfortingly as they start the short walk over to his car, "That reminds me, you really need to unfriend my mom on Facebook otherwise she'll demand pictures which I just tried to really casually dodge at home and those will haunt me the rest of my life."

"Hey! She added me, okay?"

She shoves him lightly as he sarcastically notes, "Mhm. Sure."

(The dance is fun. They dance and they laugh and she feels so happy. She knows what it looks like to other people, she sees them stare and hears their whispers. What in the world is Jackson Avery doing with a girl like her? But she doesn't care because he doesn't and she's happy. Dancing with Jackson and her friends and the punch tastes really weird but super good and Alex keeps feeding her more with one of those stupid cheeky grins on his face and Reed requests their favorite song and she decides that maybe, she likes dances.)

.

She doesn't know why, but she thinks Jackson's her best friend now. Not because Reed isn't her friend anymore, but it's just a feeling.

The dictionary tells her 'the definition of a best friend is a person who you value above other friends in your life, someone you have fun with, someone you trust and someone in whom you confide'.

It's not like she'd pick him above Reed, Charles or George (a guy from Geography who's really sweet and funny) if they were caught in a fire and she could only save one, although she's pretty sure Jackson would just save everyone anyway. It's not like she doesn't have fun with her other friends, even Alex, it's just that Jackson can always make her have fun, even when she doesn't want to because she's having a bad day. It's not like she doesn't trust the others either, because she does, she just never trusted anyone like she trusts Jackson, except for maybe God. And it's just that when something good happens and she's happy, the first person she thinks of she wants to tell is Jackson, and when she's sad and everything's going wrong, all she wants to do is call Jackson and hear his voice and she knows he'll make her feel better.

It's a feeling. A good one.

.

"When you get nervous, just look at me or, Alex, or anyone, really. No matter what, do not look straight into the camera. Do you understand me?" She looks into his eyes desperately, her hands on his upper arms as she shakes him a little. He gulps, nodding before sighing loudly.

"I'm not going to look into the camera."

"That's right. You're Jackson Avery, and you're the study body president and you can do this." She sounds a little like a soldier, she thinks and she smiles a little before turning serious again, "As long as you don't look into the camera."

He rolls his eyes a little, before running a hand over his head, sitting her down on a chair, "I have something for you, by the way." He mentions casually like her heart didn't just skip three to considerably five beats.

She nods, already feelings a blush creep up her neck as she puts her carefully styled hair behind her ear, biting down on her lip as he disappears for a moment. He comes back, holding his suit jacket in his hand and something else in his closed fist.

He opens her hand after hanging his jacket over her chair, putting something small and cold in her hand. She blinks a few times, a smile stretching over her face.

"It's your lucky pencil," she exclaims, pressing it in the palm of her hand carefully by closing her fingers over it as she looks up at him with watery eyes. She cries. A lot. She wants to, right now. It's such a sweet gesture and it warms her chest with such affection for him that she could just—do thing to him right now. Friendly things. Really friendly things.

"Hey, you beat me out with like 0.02 on your GPA for valedictorian, so it might not be that lucky after all."

She looks at it again, blinking a few times before remembering he's class president and she's not the only one holding a speech. "Won't you need it? For your speech, I mean?"

"I'm good—"

She widens her eyes, pressing, "As long—"

"As long as I don't look into the camera. Yes, April." He looks amused and he's probably right anyway. God knows she could use all the luck in the world right now.

It starts out great, quoting some Greece philosopher she told him about before comparing it to a quote from American Pie or something else barbaric and everybody's laughing and he's turned on the full charm and then—then he's stumbling on his words, laughing lowly to himself like he's drunk and loosening his tie and mumbling about the dangers of exercising within an hour after eating.

Damnit Jackson. He looked into the darn camera.

.

She finally gets her braces off on the day of a graduation party; one she was probably only invited to because she's friends with some of the most attractive people in school; a party she doesn't really want to go to but Reed shows up with a green summer dress that she knows would look really good with her skintone and newly straight pearly whites and would not 'hurt her prudely feelings'.

It's a lovely knife-pleat emerald dress, two thin straps holding it up, reaching to just below her knees and finished off with a nice, small silver belt around her waist. She bites down on her lip as she looks at her reflection in the mirror. She knows Reed is just forcing her to come along because she wants to make Alex jealous and there's going to be people sinning in all kind of different ways but it's a really lovely dress.

Reed smirks at her through the mirror, patting her shoulder, "You're welcome."

It's in the middle of an Ohio heatwave at somebody's rich parents' house and the weather is sticky and the alcohol Reed forces her to drink in return for the dress makes the back of her throat hurt every time she drinks a sip but Alex does a double take when he sees her and Jackson's pupils are dark and blown when he takes her in, and it makes her uneasy and it's just really darn hot everywhere. Maybe she's having a heat stroke. It would explain a lot.

She dances with Reed for a while, the music's nice and she feels kind of light and bubbly, before Reed spots Charles. April is about to warn her—Charles is a human being after all and he's a sweet guy and Reed can't just treat him like a toy to make her ex jealous—but the thought leaves her mind as soon as she sees Jackson. He's talking to a girl in the corner of the room, one of his arms above her head as he leans close to her. Their voices are low and the music's loud but all she hears is the rushing of her blood in her ears. They looks close, intimate, and it isn't long before he leans in to kiss her.

He's had girlfriend's before (a few here and there for short periods of time and there was Lexie; who was really nice and funny and pretty;who was a a grade below them and April really liked before Jackson broke it off after six months with no explanation; who didn't even say hi to her in the hallways anymore) so she doesn't know why seeing him now, with a girl she doesn't even know, that he probably doesn't even know, makes her throat close up and tears prick in her eyes.

Maybe it's the drinks she's had.

Maybe she needs more of them.

She stalks over to the refreshment table, which really is just code for stale chips and only beverages with an alcohol percentage above at least ten, but she doesn't care. Alex offers her the drink he'd been mixing and she takes it, gulping it down in one gulp. She'd ask for forgiveness later.

"Wow, slow down there, Kepner. What's up?" His eyes practically bulge out of his sockets as she thrusts the cup back into his general direction, he snorts but fills her cup. "Take it you're having a bad night, duckie?"

"Don't call me that," she snaps, resisting the urge to apologize immediately after as he holds up his hands in defense before starting to gulp down his own drink. She wants to, apologize, but all she sees is Jackson, whispering into some girl's ear, using that stupid special grin he usually only saves for her, before connecting their lips again. Her heart is beating loudly in her chest as she turns her head to look at Alex, who was looking out at the dancefloor. She's only barely kissed a few guys before, all knocking teeth and sweaty hands, and Alex hardly seemed like the gentleman type and she know technically he doesn't really like her but he'd do. She wants to feel good for once, too—wanted and desired. And she knew Alex, he wanted and desired only one thing, and she thinks he'd care little who it was coming from.

"Do you want to go some place quiet?" She asks him, determined, and she decides she likes alcohol, it gives her courage.

She got her braces off today and she was so proud and happy and now she feels so insecure about everything and the back of her eyes are still burning from seeing Jackson and that girl and she doesn't know why and Alex, he's there, and him and Reed aren't together and he's nice. Sometimes.

His kisses are fast and rough, but fueled with want and she likes that. She doesn't like the way his hands grope at her body, trying to lift up the skirt of her dress or to get the strap of her dress to come down, she doesn't like how he doesn't stop when she pushes him away.

"Wait," she stutters out as his hand finally manages to get under her skirt and onto her thigh. "Alex—"

"Look, April, do you want to screw or not? I'm not going to hold your hand and light some candles and talk about our feelings just because you're a virgin. I'm not that guy," he snaps, practically barking at her and he gives her a questioning look, making her feel dirty all of a sudden and she pushes his hand off, pushes him off her, straightening her dress as she feels tears forming in her eyes as she looks at him. She's about to apologize for dragging him into this, for making him kiss her as he gets up, too.

He huffs, pulling his shirt back over his head, "Fuck, April, you're such a stuck-up entitled bitch."

He's drunk and Alex isn't a bad guy, she knows that, she just—expected things of him she knows she shouldn't have. Still she finds herself crying on the porch outside, hoping God would grant her a small miracle and make Reed walk out any minute now so she can leave and take a nice, long shower. She wants to feel clean again.

He gives her Jackson instead. Jackson, with his arm wrapped around that girl's shoulder, undoubtedly on their way to his house or hers. Her head is pounding and she turns her head as they pass her, hoping he won't see. He does.

He turns to the girl, who looks annoyed and impatient, asking for a second as he sits down next to her, his knee knocking into hers as he does so. "April, what's wrong? Did something happen?"

She lets out a strangled sob as she shakes her head. Damnit. She wished she could've just pulled it together this once. She doesn't want to play the victim, but he puts a hand on her lower back, rubbing it comfortingly and she has to tell him what happened.

His face is blank as he tells her he'll be right back as he gets up, stalking inside and she calls after him to 'please, don't' but it doesn't stop him and she quickly rushes after him.

When she finds him he's punching his best friend, in the face, for her, and her heart tightens at the sight. Why is he doing this? He's on top of Alex, who's lip is bleeding, a faint bruise on his cheek, as he holds him by his t-shirt. He's dangerously close, speaking in short, stern sentences she can't form into words over the loud music and the pounding of her heart in her ears. She swallows hard as she yells for him to get off, but he doesn't listen until Charles manages to pull him off.

"You didn't have to that," she tells him after she pulls him into the kitchen, ignoring everyone's stares, putting a bag of ice on his hand. "You shouldn't have done that."

"He shouldn't have touched you when he damn well knows—" He huffs, looking like he's trying to pull himself together as he shakes his head.

"What?"

"Nothing," he says, his eyes dark and she knows not to press it.

"Well, thank you," she whispers, moving the bag of ice to a spot on his knuckles that looks particularly bad.

"You're my friend, April," he grumbles matter of factly, and if she didn't know him, she'd think he was mad at her, annoyed but the way his thumb brushes against the underside of her wrist as he takes the bag from her tells her he isn't. She nods in response, Alex apologizes the next morning, and they don't really talk about it after anymore.

(She doesn't really see the girl around after anymore either.)

.

Okay, so she has a little, tiny crush on the hot professor Shepherd and she might've brought him coffee once. There's nothing wrong with that. She knows he's married! He's just— awesome and smart and he has the greatest hair.

Jackson teases her about it but she doesn't care. She's not like, obsessed or anything. And Reed even admitted Mr. Shepherd was totally Hot capital H when she showed her his face on the cover of some scientific magazine when she was visiting one weekend.

Professor Shepherd isn't the only reason she loves Stanford, loves going to school here. It's the things she's learning, the independence, the people. They don't know April the ugly duckie, at least not the high school version.

She still isn't the most popular person, but she has Jackson and she makes a few friends. Arizona, a girl a few years older than her who shared the same passion for optimism, board games and reading. She showed her around on campus her first day and they became fast friends. She hadn't really known that concept before, fast friends. People usually needed to get used to her before they could call themselves a friend. And there's a few others, a girl named Clarke she met at lunch and Elizabeth, a girl whose major is psychology and shares the same dorm with her.

Jackson, of course, invented the concept fast friends. He's infiltrated in close knit-friendships within days, joins a fraternity before they've even been there for two Saturdays and is invited to multiple study-groups without asking.

He blames it on his reputation, his mother's name, when she mentions he's so good at this—making friends, being liked—and she just rolls her eyes, as if he doesn't know that he could make anyone do anything for him by just looking into their eyes for longer than five seconds.

Something changed between them here, though. It's not like they had a fall-out or anything, but she no longer sees him everyday and they don't hang out every weekend and she doesn't always make it to his football competitions and doesn't feel the need to apologize profusely when she doesn't. They're both busy and that's okay.

She misses him, he's still her best friend after all, but she doesn't want to force herself into his life. That's not the only thing that's changed.

Sometimes he looks at her for a really long time without saying anything, and he thinks she doesn't notice. Other times, he's standoffish and a little mean. Also, he seems to have lost any sort of modesty around her.

Whenever she's at his off-campus rich boy palace, he got their sophomore year, he's walking around half naked and stuff and it's messing with her head. He's just so—like, just totally, insanely—her best friend and she loves him but she can't want him like that.

That's like wanting your own brother and it's disgusting and she feels gross for even thinking about it. Jesus would hate her if he knew what she thought about him sometimes.

It's like he's doing it on purpose, like he wants her flustered and embarrassed. She's seen him shirtless before, they used to all swim at his house all the time and Ohio summer's get hot and sticky and it wasn't weird for him to walk around without a shirt on whenever he played video games in the living room and she read a book. She also wasn't an overly hormonal teenage girl anymore, who'd blush at any and every little reveal of skin.

(Okay, she did still blush whenever she saw him without a shirt, or he just started changing in front of her until she was forced to turn around, her cheeks warm as he chuckled, or when he did something like accidentally brushing his arm against her breast when he leaned over, but to be fair, that was something everyone would be embarrassed about.)

She just—doesn't want to think about him in that way, ever.

It's just on some moments that she really does. Like when they're watching a movie and his arm rests against hers and he feels so warm (and her heart does, too). Or when she tells a stupid joke and he actually laughs and for a second her mind just wanders off. Oh, or when he gives her one of those intense looks that just totally makes her head spin and she knows it's not a thing—it's a thing but it's not their thing—that's just his thing, his face.

.

She always wanted to be a doctor. She wants to help people and make them feel better like she's something able to do for the animals on her dad's farm. Her mother rather she'd find a nice husband and have seven kids but it's not all she wants in life. It used to be, but now she knows she can have more. She can have both.

Jackson though, he never knew what he wanted to do. Part of her thinks he was just being stubborn, not wanting to follow the same profession as practically his entire family, Jackson's mom is like on the board of the most prestigious foundation that rewards people who contribute to the future of medicine and his last name is practically a household name in the medical world. But she sees how he is. He's incredibly smart, objective, too, and he's good with people, he's charming and patient and everyone always likes him, which is a good quality for a doctor she thinks, and he's a perfectionist.

That's why she's happy when he decides to go to medical school after college, too, even if she had been strategically placing brochures and flyers everywhere around his dorm room ever since they came here.

She knows they might not go to the same medical school, she already applied three months ago and he just barely made the deadline (even if she does let herself hope a little, all the while a hundred percent knowing she'd follow him anywhere if he let her) but she knows they'll always be friends, anyway.

.

Turns out they won't always be friends.

She knows she's not like everybody else. She's twenty-one and she's still a virgin and most people think that's weird. Reed treats sex like it's a handshake and Jackson, you know, he's the person who—loses his virginity to two girls at once.

So, one night, when she's really sick of it, when she just wants to be normal for once, after a date totally freaked out on her when she told him she believed in God and looked at her like she was insane, she gets drunk. Not I-Forgot-My-Name-Drunk, but definitely buzzed.

She knows Jackson is probably about to go to one of his fraternity's bi-weekly parties, but Arizona graduated last year and Elizabeth has a guy over and she knows Jackson, he knows her, she wants to see him. It isn't like her head is telling her anything else but Jackson, Jackson, Jackson over and over and over.

She knocks on his door and waits patiently for him to open the door.

"Hi," she says, trying to cover up a hiccup but failing miserably as he laughs, grinning widely. "Have you been drinking?"

"Don't be silly, I just wanted to see you," she says, her smile bright and her vision a little blurry around the edges because all she can see in this dim light is him, his tan skin and his blue-green eyes and his smile. His special smile, just for her.

"And why is that?" He asks, amused, leaning against his door and she steps a little closer, narrowing her eyes and lifting up a finger like she knows exactly what to say. "I," she struggles, "You're really nice to look at, I guess."

"Is that so?" His smirk doesn't fade a tiny bit. She glares at him, poking him in the chest.

"Oh, don't pretend like you don't know."

"Know what?" He raises his eyebrows and she wants to wipe that smug look of his face more than anything.

"That you're hot! I mean you walk around half-naked half the time, don't pretend like you don't know I'm about to come over, and you smell really good and you always flash that stupid smile at me when you want me to help you with your assignments or get a girl's number for you even though you never want mine."

"I have your number, remember?" He chuckles a little, but it isn't like his usual ones. It's a little less light, a little less careless.

"That's not the point, Jackson," she groans, stepping a little closer in frustration, "You're really attractive and I know I'm not that—"

"April, shut up, you're beautiful," he says, his jaw clenched, his eyes dark and his pupils wide and all she does is roll her eyes in response, reaching out to push his chest playfully but he grabs her hand in the process and keeps it firmly in place. He lets go of her hand and she tests it out, moving her hand up to rest on his shoulder and pressing her fingers down softly. It's unfamiliar but she likes it. She looks up at him to see he's staring down at her, face unreadable, and she suddenly feels nervous, the buzz wearing off fast, as she swallows tightly. She suddenly realizes the silliness of the situation, standing in his hallway, touching his chest and looking into his eyes. Her best friend's eyes.

"What?" She asks, looking down, away, anything to just not be looking at him, quietly taking her hand of his chest to put some hair behind her ear but he catches it again, squeezing softly. When she looks back at him, he's still looking at her.

You know what? He wants to stare? Fine. She won't be intimidated, she'll stare right back.

Her stomach feels like she's on a rollercoaster and her brain feels a little fuzzy and he's still holding her hand and then he says her name, soft and nice and like if it was the last thing she ever heard, she wouldn't mind.

"What?" She repeats, firmly. She's more nervous than anything and she might be reading too much in all of this but she needs to know what he's thinking, why he's looking at her like she saw Professor Shepherd look at his wife after class one time, why he's making her feel this way.

Light and warm and nervous and special.

He shakes his head, finally breaking her gaze as his hand slides up to her forearm, although he doesn't seem to notice he's doing it. Making her skin feel electric and overheated.

"I," he starts and she uses the last of the alcohol in her system to force herself to step even closer to him and she breathes, "You drive me crazy, you know that?"

And it's true, he does. He makes her question everything, all the time. He spends money like it's toilet paper. He's usually a push-over, unless it comes to the important stuff. He has this really weird thing against tupperware that she doesn't understand. He rolls his eyes whenever she mentions God. He always worries, his natural facial expression is literally a frown. He makes her feel, stuff—stuff she doesn't want to feel.

"Like, standing here, looking at you, all I want to do is kiss you," she says, not even realizing what she's implying, licking her lips as she sighs, "But I don't want to want to kiss you!"

He seems taken aback, blinking a few times, his brow furrowed as he stares her down. Their chests are practically touching by now, and her cheeks are red from her sudden confession. Her mouth really needs a filter and he needs to stop looking at her like she just said the worst possible thing and she can already feel the tears co—oh my god. Suddenly he's lowering his head and brushing her lips with his and she can feel her eyes bulging out of her head, hands limp against her sides as he cups her face and kisses her. Why is he kissing her?

She has no time to think about it because her body is responding before she knows it—her hands on his face, her lips moving against his (so much better than knocking teeth and sweaty hands) and her chest pressing against his, trying to get closer. It was slow and gentle, like he was afraid of scaring her away. Little did he know, running was the furthest thing from her mind.

She doesn't know how it happens really, how much time has passed, or how long they were kissing but he's walking them backwards towards his bedroom until they hit the back of his bed. He abruptly pulls away, like he suddenly realizes what the hell he's doing, what he's doing with her, like he had just been going through the motions.

He's still holding her face, their chests heaving and and she figures it's now or never and kisses him again and they fall back onto the bed. His hands are roaming her sides and back and she finds her way under his shirt soon enough. She's touched him before, touched him without thinking about it, but it's different this time, it feels different.

Some people call her neurotic, you see, and she knows she does tends to overthink everything but when he's kissing her, she doesn't think about anything else. Only him.

"Wait, April, you're drunk."

"I'm not that drunk," she says, quietly, reaching up to touch the side of his face. He starts to nod slowly after something flashes across his eyes and she tentatively pulls her shirt over her head in response.

He attaches his mouth to her neck soon enough and she doesn't remember ever feeling this good. "Are you sure?" He murmurs against her skin, his hand flat on her sides, his thumbs rubbing her skin comfortingly.

She realizes now that the way he made her feel before wasn't friendly. She wants him even if she doesn't want to want him, she does. And he's so handsome, and sweet, and considerate, and smart, and—and she trusts him. She's trusted him since forever, she's loved him since forever, she's wanted him since forever. She doesn't know if she'll regret it later, tomorrow or in ten years or on her deathbed, but she knows that right now it's perfect and she wants to, more than anything.

Instead of answering and risking embarrassing herself in the process, she just pulls his head up to plant her lips on his, softly, hoping it's an enough of a yes for him not to ask again.

He's sweet; looks at her about a thousand times to see how she's feeling, and tender; his touch is soft and slow and he never tries to push her, and it wasn't enough of a yes for him to not ask again, but like she said, he's a worrier—he worries.

It hurts a little and it's far from perfect and there's still some knocking of teeth and sweaty hands but then it's good, and she feels warm and overcome with affection for this person, her person and it feels amazing.

So, she's no longer the 21 year old virgin anymore and she's kind of freaking out about that all time but in the end she decides she wouldn't take it back, not in a thousand years.

.

She wants to take it back, every day; every hour; every minute—all she can think about is wanting to take it back.

He's her best friend (but maybe more?) and she was drunk (she was buzzed) and blinded by the thought that maybe, she had a chance with him (okay, she has nothing on that). Girls like her don't have chances with guys like him. They're too different for it to work in the long run. Not that she wants a long run, she just wants—to take it back.

She had slipped out the next morning before he woke, going to her dorm in a relatively calm manner before completely losing it in the shower. What had she done? Not only had she made things weird between them, she had broken her vow to Jesus.

She loves Jesus. Everybody knows she loves Jesus!

So why did she do it? Why had she been so stupid?

Eight missed calls, twelve texts, two tubs of ice cream and a marathon of Friends later, she finally decides to answer Reed's plea for her to 'call right now before Jackson's annoying ass force her to perform brain surgery on herself with a rusty bolt'.

"Finally!" She can practically hear Reed roll her eyes on the other side of the line, some rustling on the background.

"I was busy." As a quick afterthought she adds, "Sorry."

"April, what the fuck happened? Jackson won't stop calling me because you apparently won't pick up and he's driving me up the wa—"

"We had sex," she blurts out, feeling tears well up in her eyes as she takes in a sharp breath.

Reeds huffs, as if to say 'that's it?' before snorting, "Well, about damn time."

"Reed," April warns sternly, but her voice is higher than she'd like it to be.

"What, April? Don't pretend you haven't imagined it before and like he hasn't been throwing heart eyes at you from the start."

"Wha—I, he's my friend, Reed, I can't believe I—why did I…"? Her voice trails off and she quickly wipes away a tear with the back of her hand, focusing on keeping her free hand busy by pick at a loose thread on her oversized sweater. Jackson's sweater, she realizes, he probably gave it to her when she was cold one time and it smells like him and now she's wearing it without even realizing and she hates herself.

"You named a pig Jackson, for God's sake, and you didn't see this coming?"

"What the hell?" She hears Alex on the background because apparently those two are still friends even though she has a boyfriend and he's supposed to have a girlfriend but she'll ask about that later. "Is that slang for something sexual?"

"Alex, shut up," Reeds voice sounds more distant now, and she hears a sound that resembles something like a slap and winces out of habit before she hears her voice again, this time more clear, "Look, April. It happened, okay? And knowing Jackson, it was probably really good, too. You love him and judging on the fact he can't go two minutes without mentioning your name he loves you. Get it together and stop sulking. Jesus will forgive you."

She's about to respond with a million things; 'I don't love him, not like that!' and 'It was really good, fantastic even, but I broke my promise to Jesus!' on top of her list, but all she hears is the dial tone.

Reed is sort of… mean? Not mean, more like… Not nice? But she's a good friend. Kind of.

It doesn't stop her from eating her weight in chocolate and ignoring his texts though, but she figures at least Reed tried.

.

He finds her eventually though. He always does.

She had figured she needed to leave her dorm room sometime soon; she had already missed two classes, running out of food and she was pretty sure Jackson's next step was to barge down the door.

He corners her in the library, like it had been faith that the second she stepped in there to get some books to catch up her schoolwork she lays eyes on him.

"April," he breathes, and he looks angry, but she remembers that's his thinking face. Finally, he adds like he's been thinking about this for a while, "April, please just talk to me. What did I do wrong?"

It's incredibly cliché, but the first thing that comes to her mind was 'it isn't you, it's me'. "No, no, no," she says softly, already feeling tears form in her eyes. He's still so sweet, even after she's ignored him for four days. Which was harder than she had initially thought, catching herself reaching for the phone more often than not, her fingers itching to contact him. "It's not...You were perfect. It's just, I," she swallows hard, biting down on her lip to keep herself from crying. He's seen her cry so many times she's sure he's just going to think she's insane.

"It's—it's the promise that you made?" She nods slowly after moment and he mutters a low, "I figured."

"What's that supposed to mean?" She asks, quietly, crossing her arms as some sort of physical protection for her heart.

"Look, I know it might not be what you planned or how you planned it—" April's cheeks color as she thinks of what she had been trying so hard not to think of, that night, her fingernails digging into his back, and no, it wasn't how she had imagined it would go, at all. "But…"

"But what, Jackson? I'll get over it? It's not even real, right? So I'll get over over breaking Jesus' heart because I slept with you—" She's been crying over this for days. She knows exactly why she's sad. She hurt Jesus, she broke her promise and she might have scared off Jackson forever.

He runs a hand over his face out of frustration, "I mean—God, April. I love you. I always have." Her heart thuds loudly in her throat. "I love everything about you - even the things I don't like, I love." Her heart just skipped five beats in a row. She's pretty sure she's flatlining. "And I want you with me. I love you and I think that you love me, too." She can't breathe. She might be dead. Or dreaming.

He's close, too close. It's not helping her breathe at all. And he looks in pain; suddenly unsure, vulnerable and completely at her mercy. "Do you?"

She blinks, once, twice, her head nodding slowly before she even realizes it, tears spilling from her eyes, her arms reaching out to hold him close.

"You do?" He asks again, quietly, his arms tight around her waist as if he would need the confirmation, leaning his forehead against hers.

She reaches up, slightly, connecting their lips shortly, sweetly and only one thought runs through her head; home. "I do."

.

They got accepted into the same med school like some lucky twist of faith and when she asks him if he's sure he wants to do this together—four years is a long time, the fear he'll get sick of her is ever present, he tells her that he'd follow you anywhere.

.

She marries the same person she lost her virginity to in a field with flowers, butterflies being released as soon as they say I do and mints that have the words 'mint to be' on them. It's a good wedding.

"Just good?" he asks her in the car on the way to the airport with one of those stupid smirks on his face and she doesn't respond, shaking her head and trying to cover up her smile.

Perfect. It was a perfect wedding.

.

April would be the last person to say it was an easy road to get to where she is now. He believed in science like she believed in God; because being best friends wasn't the same as dating at all; medical school had been hard; intern year even harder and they barely saw each other until they broke-up, once, twice, until she was sure it was really over this time; he was dating a girl who was still in college and she was dating a guy she had always dreamed of being with (but? always the same conclusion—but he's not him); staying away from each other even through buses catching on fire and perfect guys almost asking to marry her; almost because the guy who always said there was no such things as soulmates, because it was a dumb system, April, was the one to convince her to take another chance on him every time; because maybe it hadn't been that difficult after all.

Maybe it had been just right.

.

i figured it out, i figured it out from black and white

seconds and hours, maybe they had to take some time