Status: one-shot

Through Thick and Thin

Baby, You'll Be Alright, As Long As I'm Not

It seems stupid now, doesn't it? Acting like we were invincible, acting like we can get away with everything, nothing bad could ever possibly happen to us. It was ridiculous to think that, even for a moment, we just could do whatever we wanted and nothing bad would happen to us. Now that I look back on it, I regret everything.

Everything that led me to losing you, I regretted.

Of course, I never regretted the day we met. I would never regret nor forget it. That was the day I realized how alone and sad I was, the day I realized I needed somebody like you by my side all the time.

I remembered it specifically, it was freshmen year, we were both two boys who were just trying to get by and leave this judgmental hellhole they call education. We never really got by without a hitch, though, we wore giant targets on our backs just because of things that couldn't be helped, or things we really liked.

Me, with my abnormally large nose and twig-like body shape.

You, with your weird obsession with space and stars and that strange obsession you had with twirling your hair around in class.

Really, we were just made to deal with the hardships of everything together. But that didn't happen until halfway into sophomore year.

You were the one who mostly got the short end of the stick, you got beat up and pushed around the most, I still don't understand why to this day. But on that particular day, it was me instead getting your side of the field. I don't even remember why, probably just because they could.

I don't even remember how you got there, all I could comprehend was a voice in the distance, me being dropped as the attention turned to you. You took the beating from them instead though, you always told me it was the right thing to do, but I couldn't help that our story started from there. Our story really started.

Once they dispersed, all that was left was you and I, laying on the ground, battered, bruised, and bloody.

When I looked over towards you, you were already watching me as you softly smiled. You croaked out a small "Alex," it was hard to hear you since my ears were ringing so badly, but I did catch it. I smiled back at you, before returning the introduction.


After that, we'd take the beatings together. We were inseparable, like we couldn't function without each other. We did everything together, we told each other everything, we were nothing without each other.

I found out about your older brother committing suicide, how broken you were and still are, how you moved across the ocean to get a fresh start, how you were forced into therapy at a young age even though you didn't really understand what happened.

I found out how distant your parents became, how eventually it led to a divorce and now you lived with your mom. You never saw your father again.

That was the first night I held you as you cried and cried into my chest, you were nestled so deep into my chest and lap that I thought you might actually conjure into me, but I didn't mind holding you, you didn't mind being held. You needed to be held, and I didn't mind being the one who held you together.

You told me how alone you felt, how much you have isolated himself since your parents got a divorce.

I was always there for you, we were equally alone, we were so alone.

I remember when you told me you played guitar. At the time, I didn't, I never had the motivation. That was also the day you played a song for me, you never played anything for anyone, let alone sing but you told me that I was the most important person to you and you wanted to show me how much I meant to you.

I remember the song you played, how you hit the notes so perfectly, how you sang with such perfection. It mesmerized me.

You played Your Guardian Angel by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. It was like you knew that song has always been one of my favorites, even though I haven't listened to it in a couple years, I could recite every single word and breath intake.

After that, I vowed to someday learn how to play guitar, I already knew my voice could never reach the perfection that your voice has. So I never tried to sing, only play guitar.

With your help, I did eventually learn. We only grew to be stronger as the months pass.

Eventually though, you met a girl near the end of junior year. By then, I was out of the closet, I got picked on more and came home with more bruises. Sometimes run to your house when it was worse than others because I didn't know what to do, but you did, you always knew how to take care of me.

But, this girl was one of the more popular ones. She was well known around, only by good reputation. She was smart, funny, and beautiful. So now you weren't that bad off, instead I got everything you didn't.

You tried to stop it, I know how hard you tried and I couldn't appreciate it more, but you couldn't stop all of it.

Soon, she became everything to you, we occasionally talked, but now with the newly found barrier between us, the beatings continued without a hitch. You shadowed a blind eye from me, you watched me get beat up, but you did nothing because soon, the girl you loved was steering you away from me.

She turned out to be a real bitch, steering you away from anything that could involve in you leaving you or paying more attention to rather than her.

You two ended at the start of senior year. After that, things went normal. We both got the short end of the stick once again, just trying to pass by without anymore tears that were necessary to shed.

I remember when you two were coming to an end, technically, you two were still together but you went around her back all the time. Not to cheat, no, you wanted to spend time with me. My heart always swelled when you did that. Eventually, she found out where you were going and it sparked a giant fight.

I never understood why she reacted the way she did.

You showed up at my door, angry tears sliding down your face as you collapsed into my arms. It didn't seem fair to you, you never wanted to treat me so poorly but you did it because you thought you loved this girl, but she quickly changed and it wasn't fair to you at all.

Sometimes I hated how quickly I let you back in, but I cared so much about you, I just couldn't bare the thought of letting you go for good. So I just held you there as you cried into my shoulder, before I silently closed the door, and led you to my room.

We slept together in the same bed a lot, so it wasn't at all weird for me, but it felt... foreign to have you in bed with me again.

We slept like we usually did, so bundled together, practically one person. But it felt different to me, and I hoped it felt different to you too. You were completely dried out of tears, your hair was a mess, your voice was so raw and gravely. But I swore, you were still the most beautiful person I've ever seen in my life.

You curled your arms tightly around my neck when I lightly kissed your forehead. You buried your face further into my neck, feeling your hot breath fanning against it.

That was one of my favorite memories. I felt so close to you and I loved it, I watched as you slowly drifted off to sleep. You were always so cute when you slept, so content even though there were still tear stains running down your cheeks, but it made you look so perfect.

It wasn't until winter break did we realize how close we actually were.

It was only a few days into the break, we were sitting in my room, I was laying on my bed with a bowl of popcorn next to me, throwing the pieces up in the air, seeing if I could catch them in my mouth. Only a few did, most landed on my face and bounced off to rest on my bed. You were sitting on the ground, you had a perfect view of me throwing popcorn in the air. You also had your guitar in your lap, lightly strumming it but not really doing anything with it either.

I never really knew how you ended up on the bed with me, I must have been concentrating on the popcorn that I tried so hard to catch. But you picked up the bowl and set it on the nightstand, I remember pouting up at you, but you just responded with a small smile as you did a hand motion, motioning me to get off the bed s you could wipe the bed down of any popcorn.

After you deemed it clean, I lied back down. You did the same, it wasn't abnormal for us to just lay down together, but you did it spontaneously, and I couldn't help but wonder why.

Soon we were just a tangle of limbs, for some reason you always loved cuddling with me, even though I was extremely bony, it must have been like hugging a skeleton for you, but you always looked so happy with my arms wrapped around you.

I've always came to realize how much you meant to me, how much I liked you and how I always have, you never failed to make my heart flutter, especially at that moment.

Honestly, I was so lost in thought and I stared down at you, I never did notice you look up with a spark of happiness in your eyes.

I did notice when you finally, finally slotted your lips against mine. To be honest, I always dreamed of this moment. Fantasied what you tasted like, and it finally happened to me. I felt all the cliche things when our lips did finally touch, I felt the fireworks, the tingling sensation in my fingertips as I rested my hands on your hips, I felt my heart and stomach explode.

It was the best feeling in the world.

I didn't really know what happened, but we somehow rolled over, you were straddling me and our lips were still locked in a pent-up, passionate aspect. I never felt more alive than in that moment. Your hands were tangled in my hair that desperately needed to be cut before they blinded me, my hands clutching on your hips and sometimes roaming around the body I already knew.

When we detached, you laid your forehead on me as your eyes stayed close, a small smile planted on your lips. Your hands weren't so tightly tangled in my hair anymore, you were just idly stroking your hand in my hair, you knew how much I loved it when you did that. I always joked about it also.

"If you don't stop playing with my hair so softly, I might accidentally fall in love with you."

"What do you mean accidentally?"

It was like you knew my feelings before I did, but you never acted upon it until I was sure what my emotions were leading me towards.

And now, all I wanted to do is be close to you, closer than I ever was before. I knew how much you meant to me and how much I meant to you.

We were two broken boys who could fix each other.

After that, we went out on dates. They were always so amazing to me. My favorite was when we found this clearing near a small lake, it was surrounded in trees and you instantly fell in love with it. We spent the entire night there, either laying side by side with our hands interlocked, or you on top of me as we kissed.

Graduation soon came and we were still going on strong.

You wanted to go to a fancy college.

I didn't.

Eventually though, you got accepted into said college and once again, you were pulled away from me. Promises were kept close to the heart and we stayed in touch.

You were in a college in Seattle, I was in our apartment, in Maryland. Long distance was hard, especially for me. I couldn't bare the thought of you being in cold, unforgiving Washington as I worked and came home to an empty house. I just wanted to come home, greet you with a kiss in the cliche 50's movie action, and snuggle with you until we fell asleep.

But you were chasing your dreams, and I couldn't stop you for my own selfish needs.

You eventually came back, after four years. You were 25, I was 24 and we were once again reunited. We did visit each other, whenever I could get a break from work, I'd fly over to Seattle and see you. Or when you'd have time off school, you'd fly over to Baltimore just to see me.

Usually, our time spent together was with your legs wrapped around my hips and a loud cry of 'Jack!' before I finally got to hold you close to me. Everything was short lived though, because eventually you'd have to come back, or I would have to and we'd have to settle for seeing each other on grainy webcams or hearing the other's voice through a static-y line on the phone.

But it made me love you more than I already did, because I knew you would never do this for somebody you didn't care about, I knew you cared about me. I knew you loved me as much as I love you and I couldn't help how much you made my heart flutter even after all these years.

It took another 22 years for life to really snap us in the back of the head. Things were just getting good for us, after high school we were free from all the torment, the people in your college were unbelievably nice and generous. But even after all we had suffered together, life decided to make us suffer even more.

We have a 14 year old girl, our daughter. A beautiful, beautiful girl was ours.

Well, more like mine. You were on your way home, it was just after 8pm and you should have been at the house now, usually you'd call me and tell me that you'd be running late, but you should be no longer than 8:30. When it went past that and still no call, I panicked.

A call had rang through the house, I picked up the phone, looking at the caller ID. My heart leapt when it said it was you.

I answered but all I heard was a woman, somebody I didn't know.

"Hello? This is Alex's husband, right?"

I remember numbly nodding before realizing, she couldn't see me. I hastily let out a yes before she continued.

"I'm sorry but, you're going to have to come to the hospital right awa-" I hung up before she could finish.

I grabbed our daughter-Annabelle- before rushing out the door to the hospital. When I got there, I wanted you to leap up into my arms like you did when we were teenagers, when you were hiding from me and I'd go looking for you and you'd hop up on my back.

But no.

They informed me that you were in a car crash, died on impact.

Everything other than the tears shed was one big giant blur for me. Our daughter didn't go to school for a week because of how heartbroken she was, it got hard for me to even get up in the morning for my job just to know that you wouldn't be here at exactly 8 o'clock everyday.

Before I knew it, it was your funeral.

I played you our song. The song you played for me when we were 15. I didn't sing, I just played the chords near the casket. Wishing you were there to share your angelic voice with everybody, but you weren't ever going to come back. Not until I come to you.

I especially made your headstone.

Alexander William Gaskarth-Barakat
December 14, 1987 - November 9, 2025
I'll paint you wings and I'll set you free

I remember when you wrote those down everywhere, on my notebooks, homework, anything you could reach, just to leave your mark. I don't think you knew you'd make a giant mark on my heart that has yet to wash away, but I didn't want it to wash away.

You were my first everything, I never had a best friend until I found you, I never kissed anybody before you, I never made love to anybody before you, and I never loved anybody as much as I love you.

I honestly have no idea why I continue to write to you, even though I know for a fact you will never get them. I think it's just a way to cope, share our whole life with you from my perspective, share with you how I felt at one specific time.

It's been five years since then, since I lost you. Our daughter as long since moved out, chasing her own dreams. She has the man of her dreams wrapped around her arm, she has everything ahead of her and she's just so beautiful and smart.

She reminds me of you. And that's the hardest thing to think about.

Why did you have to go? Why did you have to leave me to suffer alone? You got torn viciously away from me, when things got so much better than they were, it got worse.

Now I live in a too large house alone. Annabelle always comes back though, checks up on me and helps me with coping. She even reads the letters that I have scattered around a desk. She loves reading them and seeing how much my world revolved around you.

You should see her. She's so happy all the time, she keeps such a positive outlook on life, she has an amazing boyfriend as well. I wish you could've met him.

I wish you didn't have to go, but I know that when my time truly comes, I'll see you again and we can spend eternity together. But for now, I need to watch our beautiful daughter grow.

I love you, Alex.

Forever and always,
Jack Gaskarth-Barakat

You always say I need to get as far away as I can
While I've got time to play with and any risk, I'll take it
Or fade away in this suburban wasteland and watch all your plans sink right under your feet
Sink right under your feet
Watch all your plans sink right under your feet

Under your feet is the ground to break
You only get what you take
So don't just sit and watch the atrophy of it

I have stood back for way too long
You are broken... You are so broken!

I can see that
We may be running out of time
The curtain's falling in slow motion
I can feel that the sense has left your mind
The curtain's falling in slow motion

Why did you go? I can't watch
So quiet and peaceful where did I go wrong?
Say you can stay I can't look away

You won't see me die here
You won't see me die here!

Now! Now!
Do you hear me now?
Screaming at the top of my lungs all night
Now! Now!
Do you hear me now?
Screaming at the top of my lungs all night
Why? Why?
Ask me why?
Go ahead and act like you... don't know why
Why? Why?
Ask me why?
I'll scream it... you blow me away!

Can you give me my breath back?

Do you hear me now?
Screaming at the top of my lungs all night

Do you hear me now?