FanFic - Alex and Isabel
"Barely Breathing"
Part 1
by The Crow
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters. They are the property of Jason Katims and Melinda Metz and the folks at the WB.
Summary: Isabel goes to the band room to think but gets a little surprise.
Category: Alex and Isabel
Rating: PG
Isabel sat with in the band room. She was on the floor, leaning her back against the last desk, staring out the window. She had chosen this seat for one simple reason: it was out of sight. She wanted to be alone now, and she didn't really need a teacher looking in and telling her to go to class.

Isabel sighed and studied the yearbook she had open in her lap. The page showed a large group of kids huddled around Alex as he played his guitar. She studied the picture again, just as she had been doing for the last ten minutes. She stroked the image lightly and chastised herself again for not going to the concert last night. She and Michael had finished in plenty of time to make it, but she had just gone home.

Then Isabel turned her attention to the other object in front of her. "Cast Your Own Star Chart," the book that Alex had given her before she had broken his heart. She picked it up and flipped through the pages, stopping on the chart of Aries, the Ram. She had never expected the book to be useful; she had just thought it would be a reminder that someone out there loved her.

The opening of the door jarred her from her thoughts. She glanced through the chairs, trying to get a glimpse of who had come in. She saw a pair of faded sneakers and some long denim shorts. The gleam of the chrome chain revealed that it was Alex that had come into the room. "Great," she thought. "What am I going to say to him?"

Isabel decided to wait there a moment. Maybe he just needed to pick something up and would leave soon. She could hope anyway. Her hopes were dashed when he settled heavily into a chair on the first row. His bag hit the floor, and there was a rustling as he messed with something that she couldn't see. A moment later, she heard a series of random chords and realized that Alex was there to play his guitar. She wasn't sure, but she thought she heard him say "Isabel" as he began to play.

She settled back to listen, curious to know what kind of music Alex played when he was alone. She listened to the mellow notes that flowed from his fingers. She closed her eyes and swayed her head slightly to the upbeat tune that he played. She was completely taken by surprise when he began to sing softly.

******

"I know what youíre doing, I see it all too clear. I only taste the saline when I kiss away your tears. You really had me going, wishing on a star. But the black holes that surround you are heavier by far."

******

The song sounded vaguely familiar to Isabel, but she couldn't place it. She leaned forward, straining to hear Alex's quiet singing.

******

"I believed in your confusion, you were so completely torn Well it must have been that yesterday was the day that I was born Thereís not much to examine, thereís nothing left to hide You really canít be serious if you have to ask me why

I say good-bye...

ĎCause I am barely breathing And I canít find the air I donít know who Iím kidding Imagining you care And I could stand here waiting A fool for another day But I donít suppose itís worth the price, worth the price The price that I would pay"

******

Isabel gasped. Was Alex singing about her? If so, it sounded like her words the other day had had an affect on him. She had expected some momentary heartbreak, but she had expected him to returning to his dogged pursuit of her.

******

"Everyone keeps asking, whatís it all about? I used to be so certain and I canít figure out What is this attraction? I only feel the pain Thereís nothing left to reason and only you to blame. Will it ever change?"

******

Isabel listened as Alex's voice got slowly louder. He put more emotion into the song as it progressed. The room resounded with the melody of his surprisingly haunting tenor voice. Tears filled her eyes, as she remembered the day of the convention. She could still see the hurt in Alex's eyes as she had told him that he was "suffocating" her. It had hurt her to say the words, but she had thought them necessary at the time. As she listened to Alex sing, she wasn't so sure...

******

"ĎCause I am barely breathing And I canít find the air I donít know who Iím kidding Imagining you care And I could stand here waiting A fool for another day But I donít suppose itís worth the price, worth the price The price that I would pay But Iím thinking it over anyway..."

******

Isabel stood up to watch Alex. He was sitting with his back to her, completely oblivious to her presence. She studied the motion of his arm as it moved up and down, striking the guitar strings with precision. He shook his head slightly back and forth as he sang. Moving slowly as not to disturb him, Isabel made her way down the aisle. She paused directly in front of him. He had his eyes closed tightly, so she went unnoticed. She leaned back onto the teacher's desk and watched as he continued.

******

"Iíve come to find I may never know Your changing mind Is it friend or foe?

I rise above Or sink below With every time You come and go Please donít come and go"

******

His voice was really straining as he belted out the song. Isabel was glad that the band room was soundproof, because she didn't want anyone spoiling this totally unexpected private serenade. He might have been singing the song for his own benefit, but it was having an affect on her as well. In the back of her mind, she had always thought that Alex would be there, trying to win her affection. From the sound of things, she was mistaken. He seemed perilously to actually moving on, and she didn't know how she felt about that.

******

"ĎCause I am barely breathing And I canít find the air I donít know who Iím kidding Imagining you care"

******

Alex's head came up and his eyes snapped open. He fixed Isabel with an intense gaze as he sang through the chorus again.

******

"And I could stand here waiting A fool for another day But I donít suppose itís worth the price, worth the price The price that I would pay But Iím thinking it over anyway...I'm thinking it over anyway.

I know what you're doing.

I see it all too clear."

******

His voice took on a wistful quality as he sang the last words. He strummed a few more chords as he watched Isabel, then he sighed and put the guitar down. He looked at her expectantly, waiting for some type of response. After a moment, he shook his head and stood. He grabbed his bag and slid the guitar onto his back. He silently walked past Isabel, making a beeline for the door.

Isabel reached out and grabbed his arm as he passed. "Wait Alex."

Alex sighed and turned around. Isabel reached up and wiped away a single tear that made it's way down his cheek. He pulled away from her and wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. The anger and pain in his eyes gave Isabel pause, but she decided to continue. "So, are you really thinking it over anyway?"

Alex laughed bitterly. He looked into her eyes. "Isabel, I think it over every day. I sit at home, or I sit at school, and I wonder why in the hell I keep trying with you. All I am ever rewarded with is cruelty and pain." He looked away and shook his head. "I'm not sure I can take it anymore."

Isabel gently grabbed his chin and turned his face to her. He was trying to fight back his tears, but was losing the battle. She stood there a moment and just stared into his eyes. "Alex, I haven't treated you like you deserve," she said finally. "You are a sweet, understanding, adorable boy...man...and I have been taking you for granted." She released his chin and went to sit on the edge of the desk. "I mean, you have come through for us so many times..." She trailed off and looked at him. "You deserve better than me."

Alex looked at her incredulously. "How could you say that?

"No, don't say anything. Let me finish," she pleaded. Alex nodded and went to sit in the desk directly in front of Isabel. She sat motionless for a long moment, staring into space. She finally focused in on Alex. "I've sat in here for the last half hour and thought about the last few days. I've gone back over my actions, trying to decide if I had done what was best for me. I thought that I had. I thought that a period of space would be good for both of us." She smiled and laughed. "It was supposed to make you decide to be friends, and me..." she paused for a moment. "I was supposed to stop wanting you..."

Alex stood and walked over to Isabel. He put his hand underneath her chin and lifted it gently. "Did I hear that right?" he asked quietly.

Isabel sniffled and nodded. "It has been getting worse and worse since we started hanging around one another." She laughed. "I somehow thought if we stayed apart, then the feelings I was starting to have would go away..."

"It doesn't work that way," Alex said gently.

"Don't I know it," Isabel said. "These last few days have been torturous. I knew that I had done what was best...the thing that would protect you...but I was still felt like I was hollow." She turned away from him. "You'll never know how much saying those things to you made me hurt."

Alex put a hand on her shoulder. "I think I have a good idea." He pulled on her shoulder and turned her towards him. "It felt like you had stabbed me in the heart."

Suddenly she fell into his arms and hugged him tightly. "Oh Alex," she said. "While I listened to you sing, I was terrified that I had lost you...that I had driven you away."

Alex rubbed Isabel's back and hugged her tighter. "You can never drive me away," he whispered in her ear. "You may make me stumble, but you'll never make me fall."

Isabel smiled as she nuzzled Alex's chest. "You know that this won't be easy," she said. "Max and Michael will have a cow."

Alex chuckled and stroked her hair. "Don't worry Isabel. We'll take it slow." He tilted his head to the side and laid it on top of hers. "And no matter what happens, we will make this thing work."

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