song credits:

"Graduation (Friends Forever)" – Vitamin C (*tear* I'm graduating in six months… how sad)

Someone to Love: Rachel's Story

Epilogue: Friends Forever

As we go on, we remember
all the times we had together
And as our lives change, come whatever,
we will still be friends forever

Rachel stepped out of her car, the tears misting up already. Four years had gone by so fast. Where had all the time gone?

She saw Ethan. After that huge breakup in their sophomore year, they became distant, but soon became friends again. She remembered, one night, long, long ago, when they were nothing more than friends… the night that they had talked on the phone forever, about anything and everything.

And so we talked all night about the best of our lives,
where we're gonna be when we turn twenty-five
I keep thinking times will never change
Keep on thinking things will always be the same
But when we leave this year, we won't be coming back
No more hanging out 'cause we're on a different track
and if you've got something that you need to say,
you better say it right now 'cause you don't have another day

God, she was going to miss them. Karina, Jeni, Alyssa, Eli, Patrick, Alina, Carrie, Evelyn, Ethan, Julie Beth, Serena, Stacey, Rachelle, Alicia, Megan, McKayla, Karen, Maria (the class valedictorian, of course)…the other countless people she knew, the class of 2003. And now it was June 17, 2003… graduation day.

'Cause we're moving on and we can't slow down
These memories are playing like a film without sound
and I keep thinking of that night in June
I didn't know much of love, but it came too soon
And there was me and you, and then we got real cool
Stay at home, talking on the telephone,
and we would get so excited, and we got so scared
Laughing at ourselves, thinking life's not fair
And this is how it feels

She didn't know how she made it through the ceremony. But when it was over, and she tried to sing with the rest of the Chamber Singers, she couldn't. Emotion overwhelmed her and she started bawling. Rachel knew she was messing up her makeup, but she didn't care. She was leaving her friends… again. She didn't want to be alone again.

Once the whole ceremony and everything was over, she kept bumping into people she knew, giving them extra-huge hugs, telling them to keep in touch. Rachel saw Nick and Jeni, who had gotten together in the fall of their junior year; Serena, with her boyfriend Marc, Ethan and Stacey (yes, after Rachel broke up with Ethan, he had gone out with Stacey), Jade and Patrick. As soon as Jade, Stacey, Serena and Rachel had met up outside the auditorium, they engaged in a group hug, crying their eyes out.

"Keep in touch, okay, Rachel?" Stacey asked.
"Yes. I will. I promise. You too, guys. I'm going to miss you so much!" Rachel wailed.
"Don't cry, Rach, Stace… you're gonna make me cry!" Serena said.
"You already are crying, Serena," Jade pointed out.

The four of them laughed through their tears. Rachel's mom motioned for her to get going, but Rachel said no, she'd drive home by herself. She couldn't let four years of memories end like that.

So if we get the big jobs and we make the big money,
when we look back now, will our jokes still be funny?
Will we still remember everything we learned in school,
still be trying to break every single rule?
Will little brainy Bobby be the stockbroker man?
Can Heather find a job that won't interfere with a tan?
I keep, keep thinking that it's not goodbye
Keep on thinking it's a time to fly
And this is how it feels

After she had said her final goodbyes to her friends, everyone, Jacob found her. "Oh, Rachel, please don't cry."
"I can't help it, Jake. It's been four years… I can't believe it's finally ending."
"I know, Rach, I know how it is. I feel so sad too. I don't ever want to leave you, but…"
"What are you saying, Jake? Does this mean…? Don't let me go through that again, please."

"No! No, it's nothing like that." He smiled, a bit sadly. "Rachel, I don't ever want to lose you. I know you may say no, but I have to ask you something really important."

"What is it?"

Jacob sighed. "This is a huge question, Rachel… think about your answer before you say it, okay? And I won't get hurt if you say no."

"Okay! What is it?"
At this, Jacob dropped down to one knee and pulled out a black box. Rachel gasped. "Jake, you're not… are you…?"

Jacob only nodded and opened the box. Inside there was a silver ring, with a diamond and a tiny blue topaz heart on either side of it. Rachel remembered the night of the Mid-Winter dance, sophomore year, and knew that Jacob remembered it too. Tears of joy started streaming down her face.

"Rachel, you are my everything. I love you so much. I don't ever want to lose you. I know that these past two years have been hard on both of us, but we made it. We will make it, Rachel, I promise. I just want you to remember that even if we are apart, I will always keep you in my heart. You know, when I first met you, I never believed in dreaming, or that I'd find the perfect person in my life, but when you came around… you totally changed my mind about that. And that is why I ask you this. Marry me, Rachel. I want you to be the one that is in my heart always. Say you'll be my wife."

Rachel stood, speechless, a hand to her mouth. Finally, she said, "Jacob, I… I don't know what to say… I mean, we're only seventeen."

"I'll be eighteen in a few days," Jacob reminded her.
"Yeah, I know. But we're way too young to get married."

"I know, I know." Jacob stood up. "Rachel, I don't intend to get married anytime soon. I just know that you are the one I want to marry. No one else. And I had to ask you before anyone else took you away. People stay engaged for years, you know. And once I'm a pro figure skater and you're a famous singer, whatever, when we have what we want in our lives, we can get married. But that's a long way off." Jacob's eyes looked into hers.

"If you put it that way, yes." She smiled. "I will marry you, Jacob. I love you so much, more than anything in this world."

Jacob smiled. "Thank you!" He kissed her and then put the ring on her finger, kissed her hand, and gave her a huge hug. "Rachel, I love you. Don't you ever forget that."

Rachel was admiring her ring. "Of course not, Jake. Besides, how could I? I have proof right here."

A horn blasted, and Rachel was reminded of where she had to be. "Jacob, I'm so sorry, but I have to go. I have a graduation party to attend."

Jacob nodded sadly. "Yeah, I better be going too. Keep in touch, okay?"
Rachel nodded, then started crying again. "Oh, Jake, I'm going to miss you so much."
"I know, angel, I know," Jacob replied, holding her close. "You know I love you, though, right?"

She nodded. "I love you too." He kissed her one more time before she had to go. As she left, she turned one last time and blew a kiss to the one and only man she would ever love.

On the way home, Rachel dried her tears, and then turned the radio on, hoping to find something good on. What she heard made her cry again… it was their song, the class of 2003's song.

Will we think about tomorrow like we think about now?
Can we survive it out there?
Can we make it somehow?
I guess the thought that this would never end,
and suddenly it's like we're women and men
Will the past be a shadow that will follow us 'round?
Will these memories fade when I leave this town?
I keep, keep thinking that it's not goodbye
Keep on thinking it's a time to fly

As we go on, we remember
all the times we had together
And as our lives change, come whatever,
we will still be friends forever

Rachel looked on proudly as she sat in the stands. Her fiancé was standing atop the platform, receiving a gold medal for the United States in figure skating. She couldn't believe it. After all these years, both of their dreams were coming true. (She had sung the national anthem for the opening ceremonies; the Olympics were being held in Chicago, Illinois, this year.)

After the whole excitement for the night wound down, Rachel was waiting for Jacob in their hotel room. (Don't worry, even though they've been engaged for three years, they haven't done anything bad… yet. *wink*) "Jake, I'm so proud of you!" Rachel said, throwing her arms around him. "I knew you could do it!"

"Rachel, I kept thinking of you when I was out there on the ice. You and everyone else I love. That's the whole reason I skated to 'My Everything'… even though it's an old song, it gave me hope and inspiration." He took the gold medal off from around his neck and laid it on the nightstand.

"Thank you."
"For what?" Jacob asked, puzzled.

"For giving the United States another reason to be proud. And for showing the world what you can really do." She smiled.

"No, thank you. Because without you, I wouldn't be here today."
Rachel said nothing, just gave Jacob a hug. As they embraced, Jacob whispered, "Thank you for being my someone to love."