Status: active :)

Everyone's a Winner with a Heart That Small

Twenty Eight


Five days had passed since the show and John and Gigi had become increasingly couple-like. They'd gone out every day for hours at the time, never telling their friends where they were going so that they could be sure they wouldn't be disturbed.

The sixth day happened to be special. Gigi was lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling and enjoying the silence when the door was thrown open. Cora and Ezra both ran into the room at full speed and jumped onto the bed with her, causing her to groan. "You're twenty-four today!" Cora exclaimed. "Now get up because we're taking you out for a birthday lunch!"

"And when she says 'we,' she means everybody," Ezra added."So get up! Come on!"

Cora bounced up and down oboxiously until Gigi agreed to get up and get ready. They left her alone to take a shower and get dressed. She dried her dark hair and pulled on her boots, grabbing her phone before she headed down the stairs where Cora was waiting. Ezra joined them a few minutes later after deciding to change his shirt and the three got into his car to drive into town for lunch.

The rest of the guys were already waiting at the diner when they arrived. They'd put a few of the tables in the middle together so that they were all sitting at one table and they made a big deal when Gigi walked in. They cheered loudly and shouted out happy birthday as she took her seat next to John, her cheeks turning a slight pink from all the attention. John chuckled at her obvious embarrassment and leaned in to kiss her temple, muttering his own quiet happy birthday to her.

Gigi's birthday lunch consisted mostly of her eating her food silently while Ezra and Cora took turns telling the group embarrassing or funny stories involving her. She mostly kept her head down, letting her hair block her face from the majority of the table, except John who was on her other side. He kept his arm draped over the back of her chair, periodically running his long fingers back and forth over her shoulder.

After everyone had finished eating, most of them went their separate ways but some hung around in the parking lot talking by their cars. John grabbed Gigi by the hand and led her over to his old white truck on the other side of the parking lot from where Ezra and Cora were standing by their car. Cora watched them as they walked hand in hand and she nudged Ezra, who glanced over as well.

"I need you to come with me," he told her once they'd reached his truck.

She glanced back at her cousin and best friend where they were waiting by the car, talking with Jared. "Cora won't let me go easily, you know. It is my birthday after all. We've spent our entire birthdays together since we were six."

"In that case......" John quickly opened the passenger door of his truck and nudged her toward it. She took his hint and hopped inside, shutting the door as quietly as possible while he ran to the other side and got in, starting it up and pulling out of the parking lot quickly. Once they were on the road, he turned his head toward her with a grin. "You can tell her I stole you for a few hours."

"She's gonna be pissed at you," Gigi chuckled, sliding her sunglasses onto her nose.

"Well she got to have you all these years. It's time she shared!"

When they reached their destination about fifteen minutes later, John parked the truck and got out, motioning for her to follow him as he walked toward a giant rock formation in the middle of the desert with nothing around. He walked into the shade provided by the rocks and spread out the blanket that he'd tucked under his arm, sitting down and grabbing her hand to pull her down beside him. She pushed her sunglasses up off her face into her hair as she stretched out her legs and crossed them at the ankles.

"I got you something," he told her, and he reached behind him to retrieve a small box wrapped in gold and tied with an ivory ribbon. He handed her the present and leaned back on his hands to watch her carefully as she opened it.

She gently pulled at the ribbon and it fell from the box, then she slid her fingers under the wrapping paper slowly, being as careful as possible. John groaned impatiently and took the box from her hands, ripping open the bottom of the gift before laying it back in her hands with a grin. "It's just paper, G."

Gigi stuck her tongue out at him and tore the rest of the paper off of the box, dropping it to the side and setting the box on her knee to pull off the lid. "Holy shit," she breathed as she gently picked up the necklace from the box and held it carefully, running her fingers over the surface of the locket.

"I was out antique shopping with my mom and aunt in Phoenix and came across it. I immediately thought of you when I saw it and I knew your birthday was coming up so-....." He cut himself off from his rambling and watched her as she examined the necklace in awe. "Do you like it?" he asked tentatively.

"Do I like it?" Gigi repeated. "I love it! Oh my God, thank you so much." She lunged forward at him, throwing her arms around his neck as he fell backwards laughing. She planted kisses all over his face before finally pressing her lips to his.

After a few minutes, she pulled back to look at him with a grin. "I should buy you things more often," he joked, grabbing her shoulder and pulling her back down onto him so that her head was resting on his chest. She slung her arm over his body, scooting her body closer into his side and sighing contentedly as he tangled his fingers into her long hair.

Gigi had almost been lulled to sleep when John reached up with his free hand and stroked her cheek. "We should get going. They're gonna kill me if I don't take you back soon."

"Mmm, but I don't want to go back," she grumbled softly, burying her face in the crook of his neck.

"We have to. It's your party."

"I'd rather just stay here with you," she pouted, sliding up into a sitting position and adjusting her sunglasses on top of her head.

He sat up next to her, wrapping both arms around her body as he planted a kiss on her bare shoulder. "I'll stay after the party then," he promised softly.

She turned her head, finding herself mere inches from his face, and smiled. "You better," she whispered, closing the small gap between them.

John pulled away after a few minutes before things could get too heated and she groaned annoyed. "I'm sorry," he chuckled. "You don't know how much willpower that just took for me, but we really do have to get back." He stood up, holding out his hand to Gigi and pulling her up. He folded up the blanket as she dusted invisible dirt off her jean shorts and they walked back to the truck hand in hand.

When they returned to Ezra's house, he and Cora were sitting around in the living room with Tim, Pat, and Kennedy. "It's about time," Ezra grumbled when they walked into the room. Cora quickly ushered Gigi up the stairs while the guys went to the store to buy some alcohol.

Gigi changed into one of her favorite dresses and quickly ran a brush through her long hair before sliding John's locket onto her neck and fastening it, running her fingers down the chain gently. She had already decided that she was going to take a picture with John at the party so she'd have the perfect picture to put into the locket Cora entered her bedroom a few minutes later, also changed into a green sundress, and she immediately noticed the necklace hanging from Gigi's neck. "Shit, what is that?!"

"Birthday gift from John," she replied, unable to contain her smile.

"That's gorgeous! He must like you even more than I thought."

Gigi rolled her eyes and laced her arm through Cora's, pulling her toward the door. "Come on. Let's go see if they're back yet."

After the boys had returned from the store, Ezra sent his parents away for the night and the party got started as people started to arrive. All of the guys had come, bringing along girlfriends and other friends, and pretty soon the living room was packed with over sixty people.

Gigi had made sure to tell everyone that she wanted them to take lots of pictures and soon afterwards when John came to sit next to her with two red solo cups, she handed Cora her phone and had her snap a photo. As soon as Cora had handed back Gigi's phone, she disappeared into the crowd, leaving the two alone.

"I see you like the locket," he said, taking the chain between his fingers with a grin.

"Of course I do!"

He chuckled, pressing his lips to hers briefly. "Good."

The doorbell rang and Ezra got up to answer it on his way to retrieve more beers for himself and some of the others. When he didn't return after a few minutes, Kennedy went to see who it was who had come and what the hold-up was. About half a second later, he rushed back into the room, telling all the guys to follow him quickly. Gigi glanced toward the foyer before looking back at the boy sitting next to her. "What the hell is going on out there?"

John shrugged his shoulders and got up to follow the rest of the boys who had just gone to see what all the commotion was. Gigi got up last and walked to the door as well, gently pushing her way through all the boys crowded around. When she finally made it to the door, she stepped out onto the front steps to find her cousin in the middle of a fist fight on the front lawn while everyone else just watched in confusion. Gigi knew the other boy right away. The dark blonde hair was a giveaway.

She stood there shocked at the scene before her. Cora slid into the tight space next to her and she grabbed her best friend's arm. "Oh my God! Is that-"

"Ezra!" Gigi snapped out of her daze and hurried down the steps to break up the fight between the two former friends. She grabbed Ezra by the back of his shirt and yanked him backwards as hard as she could, moving to stand in between him and the other boy. "Ezra, stop," she muttered, her voice shaking as she put her hand on his chest. "Calm down."

He was breathing heavily as he glared at the boy a few feet in front of him, but he didn't move. Gigi turned then, her eyes shifting to the dark blonde boy who was standing behind her, a dark red stream of blood steadily dripping from his nose. "What the hell are you doing here?"

"I-....I had to see you," he replied cautiously, eyeing the still furious boy standing right behind her as he dabbed his nose with the front of his white shirt.

Gigi stared at him in disbelief. "Why?" she asked, shaking her head. "Look, if it's about the papers-"

"It's not about the papers, Anna."

She flinched at the nickname she had gone by all those years ago. She hadn't allowed anyone to call her that since he had left town and now it was bringing back memories of them together. "Then what?" she replied, her voice barely above a whisper. She felt as if she might burst into tears at any moment and it was taking all she had to try to keep herself calm. She was not about to fall apart when there was a huge audience watching from the front door.

Graham glanced over to the crowd of people on the steps and scratched the back of his neck awkwardly. "Can we do this somewhere else?"

"What. Do. You. Want, Graham?" she said, anunciating every word clearly with her jaw clenched. John stood with his arms crossed over his chest, watching the interaction from the bottom step. He had vaguely recognized the boy when he saw him, but when she said his name, he was sure. He could tell that she was extremely upset and trying not to show it. He wanted so badly to go to her and wrap her in his arms to comfort her, but he found himself rooted to his spot, just watching helplessly as things unfolded.

"I oughtta fuckin' kill you," Ezra growled from behind her. She reached her hand back to grab his arm without looking over her shoulder at him, desperate for some sort of comfort. He took the hint and took a step forward, taking her wrist in his hand and rubbing his thumb against her skin comfortingly.

"I didn't come to start a fight, man," Graham said, holding his hands up in defense. "I just came to apologize. Explain myself a little bit maybe."

"Why don't you start with where the fuck you've been for the past five years? Or why you even left in the first place?"

"No offense, but I'd really like to talk to Anna about this."

"The hell you are! You're not getting her alone for a second!" Ezra's temper was beginning to rise again and fast. "I deserve some answers too, asshole! Now just what the hell were you thinking, you fucking selfish prick?!"

Graham didn't respond; he stood there silently, glancing between the two cousins, unsure of what to do next. Tim took the moment of silence to pose a question. "Exactly who the hell is this guy?"

Gigi's eyes immediately fluttered shut as her head dropped and Ezra squeezed her arm gently as Graham took the opportunity to answer everyone's question as if it were the most normal exchange in the world. "I'm her husband."
♠ ♠ ♠
Gigi's outfit number one and number two. And of course the locket from John.

Alright so it's been TEN MONTHS since I updated and I am so so sorry! Thanks to all 290 of you for not bailing on me while I was getting my shit together.

Let me know what you guys think pretty please? :)