The whisper of his breath is what wakes her or maybe it's his body shifting in the bed; pulling the covers just slightly more to his side. She's slept alone since Maya had stopped looking to Katy to shield her from the monsters under the bed and sleeping with another body beside her is a foreign experience that she'd never planned to have again.

It's an experience that she should be grateful for, but she can't stop herself from slipping her feet out from under the covers and letting them reach for the floor.

The hardwood is cold against her bare feet (She'd never been one who could wear socks to bed) and she flexes them slowly before grabbing the robe she'd discarded on the chair and wrapping it tightly around her.

The window pulls up with the ease of having gone through the motion often enough to recognize exactly what she wants, and she slips out onto the fire-escape and lets her feet hang over the edge.

It's too cold, really, to be outside at this time of night, but she can't pull herself away from the safe perch that was somehow outside of the life she'd worked so hard to build herself. It was here where she let herself remember; even when the pain felt strong enough to tear her apart.

Sometimes, she'd imagined the Kermit was somewhere staring up at the same sky and thinking of the things they're no longer aloud to talk about; the shared memories that will only ever belong to them. No amount of rebuilding or moving forward is quite enough to erase them and the anger had just started to fade enough that they're not completely shaded in the harsh lighting of a woman abandoned.

Someday, she hopes that Maya will ask her for the whole story.

Someday, she hopes she has the right words to explain it.

"Don't look now, but he's staring right at you," Bobbie Jo informed her; looking discreetly over the cover of the romance novel she was reading.

"He is not," Katy disagreed; though her eyes couldn't resist darting from her biology homework to the boy that was sitting at the other end of detention.

His name was Kermit and she'd known him their entire lives. He was the mysterious boy, whose parentage was debated over when the adults thought the kids weren't paying attention. Everyone knew his mother, which meant there were a fair number of candidates for who his father might be.

People steered clear of Kermit if they were smart and Katy considered herself the brains of her and Bobbie Jo's duet.

But, that didn't mean she couldn't look.

Sure enough, his navy-blue eyes were trained in her direction and a smirk pulled at the corners of his mouth. His boots were caked in mud and currently crossed on the top of his desk and his head was craned back just far enough that she could almost believe that he was comfortable enough in the position to actually sleep. Though, she guessed he was looking more to upset the teacher, than catch up on his rest.

"Told you so," Bobbie Jo flipped the page of her novel and Katy rolled her eyes in her best friend's direction.

"It doesn't mean anything," Katy informed her, and Bobbie Jo's only response was to raise her eyebrows before continuing with her reading.

She peeked again, and his eyes met hers.

The rain is falling in sheets from the heavens and she holds her backpack over her head, as she darts through the rain. She can already feel the water soaking through her jeans and all she can think about the time she'd spent painstakingly curling her hair that morning.

She has an audition for the fall musical after school and she'd wanted to stand out, but, now, the only thing she's going to look like is a drowned rat.

"Katy," a voice calls and her head drifts in the direction of the road, "Hop in."

Her parents had warned her about getting into cars with boys, but she barely recalls their words, as she slides into the passenger seat; relieved to find that he has the heater on full-blast.

"Doesn't Bobbie Jo usually give you a ride to school?" he questioned, as she dropped her bag at her feet and pulled down the mirror to check on the state of her hair. It's damp, but not entirely a lost cause.

"She had to go in early to talk to one of her teachers," Katy explained; hoping he wouldn't ask the obvious question of why she wouldn't ask her parents for a ride.

"Well, I'm happy to step in," his eyes didn't stray from the road and she felt her heart skip a beat.

Their first kiss is under the bleachers and it's such a cliché that she almost doesn't admit it to Bobbie Jo when she calls her later.

Football games were the kind of affairs that the whole town turned out for, though Katy had only shown up to sing the national anthem with the choir. Bobbie Jo had dragged her into the student section and they'd watched the first half of the game before Bobbie Jo's attention had been captivated by one of the drummer's in the band and Katy had stepped away to give them some privacy.

Katy had been on her way to the concession stand when he'd fallen into step beside her; his signature careless grin across his face.

"You're missing out on a time-honored right of passage, Katherine Grace," he informed her, insisting on calling her by a longer name, despite her constant insistence that she was just Katy.

"And what would that be?" she'd questioned; feeling some foreign emotion bubble in her chest.

"Do you trust me?"

All she'd had to do was nod and he'd twined his fingers with hers; pulling her through the wandering students and around the corner of the old metal bleachers. They picked their way through dropped cans of soda and fallen popcorn, before he paused; suddenly looking far less confident then she was used to him looking.

"I like you," his voice had been a whisper and his eyes had been filled with an intensity that took her breath away.

"I like you, too," she'd repeated, and his hands had gently cupped her face, his thumbs brushing her hair away.

She could see the instant he decided to back out and her hands fisted in his shirt, pulling him down to her level, so that she could kiss him. Her hands wound around his neck and his slid their way down to her waist; moving her backwards until her back hit one of the support beams.

They're not the kind of couple that holds hands in the hall and walk each other to class. She still sits with Bobbie Jo and the other theater kids at lunch and he still leans against his car in the parking lot, eating a sandwich from a lunch that his mother packed.

She only knows because she found the note taped to a brown paper bag in the back of his car when he'd gone into the gas station to buy chips for an impromptu picnic.

They're not the typical high school couple. They don't talk about kids or marriage or what the future of their relationship looks like. She's not sure that he thinks about the future at all and he knows that one day she'll leave this town and never look back.

It's almost a surprise when she finds herself smiling across the parking lot at him and realizes, in the moment that he smiles back, that her feelings go far deeper then she'd initially realized.

"Does it bother you?" she questions him, once, while they're curled up together on the hood of his car. His arm is wrapped around her, his fingers curled in her hair and her chin is resting on his chest, as she tries to see his face in the fading light.

"Not knowing?" he questions; his hands halting in their movements, as he waits for her nod, "Sometimes, but then I realize that if he'd really wanted to be there, he would be. And we're better off without him."

"My mother spends more time at the hospital, then she does at home. And Dad always wanted a son; I don't think he has any idea what to do with a daughter."

"You turned out okay," he informed her; his hand continuing with winding strands of her hair around his fingers.

"So, did you."

She cries when he tells her that he's leaving; learning only a week before that his mother has decided to take them all the way to New York.

She offers platitudes about fresh starts and getting to go somewhere where nobody knows all his personal baggage and, then, she breaks down and sobs hysterically into his chest for an hour.

"It's for the best, Katy," his voice was a whisper in her hair, "Now there's nothing to keep you here. And we both know that you could do so much better than me, anyway."

She sticks a picture of the two of them in her locker and doesn't take it down until graduation.

He never calls, she never writes, but she misses him all the same.

Nobody's been able to keep her off a stage, since she was capable of climbing up onto one. She never felt more alive then when she was standing under the spotlight, with the orchestra playing in the pit, and an auditorium of eyes looking up at her.

"Someday you're going to be famous, Katy Grace," Bobbie Jo had informed her; their heads opposite each other as they stared up at the stars.

They were sprawled out in the middle of the football field after closing night of their high school musical, neither of them ready to admit that the night was really over.

The grass was warm underneath them and their hair was impossibly tangled together in a fan around their heads.

"Only if you'll come with me," Katy insisted; unable to keep the smile off her face.

"Broadway and Hollywood have no idea what's coming for them," Bobbie Jo laughed, and Katy couldn't help joining in.

It all felt so close; all their dreams right at their fingertips. It never occurred to her that they were really as distant as the stars above them.

She's not sure why Bobby Jo and she decide to go to separate coasts. Just that Bobby Jo likes to be in front of a camera and Katy can't get enough of the stage lights. They pack up their bags and spend their last night before graduation; talking about the past and the future and everything in between.

The next morning, Katy takes the car that Kermit left behind for her and starts making her way to the city that never sleeps. She doesn't even bother to go the graduation ceremony, more concerned with the future then she is with the past.

She tells her parents where she's going in a note and she's not sure that they ever really forgive her.

She finds plenty of plays to occupy her time and sings at a bar for tips, loving every moment of her new life. For the first time, there's no one to disappoint; no one to look at her and tell her that her passions are going to take her nowhere and that she should be realistic.

She lives for herself and she lives almost on passion alone.

He walks into a bar one night and she immediately picks him out of the crowd. It feels like fate or destiny or the universe trying to tell her something and she feels her heart wake up the minute that his eyes meet hers; though she hadn't even been aware that it was sleeping.

"I like college," he informs her, and she laughs; picking at a peanut from the bowl in front of her.

"You hated school," she reminded him, struggling to get over the hint of a blush that was spreading from his neck.

"I hated high school, but this is different. I'm taking classes that actually interest me. I'm thinking about a future that's more then what I thought I could have before," he explained, still refusing to meet her gaze.

"I'm happy for you," her voice is sincere and his pinky brushes against hers at the counter.

"Are you happy?"

"No responsibility, nobody to tell me what to do or how to do it? This is everything that I've ever wanted," Katy returned, the smile slowly sliding from her face, "It's really good to see you."

"I never thought I was going to see you again," he admitted, and she finally found the courage to stretch her pinky over his.

"I still have your car."

One day, her pants feel a little tighter and she immediately goes on a diet, knowing that weight gain could be the thing that halts her career. She eats less and works out more and, then, one day she finds that she can't sing at all.

She feels as though she can't get a full breath of air in her lungs and she nearly passes out in the middle of an audition.

"It's stress," she demands of herself; staring intently at her face in the mirror, "Or the flu."

But, then, she's standing in the checkout aisle of the drug store with a handful of makeup in her cart and she grabs the test without even thinking about it.

She sets the table with robotic motions; struggling to keep her head on the task at hand and not getting lost in the news that she still hasn't found the courage to tell Kermit. He's not home, yet; still in his last class of the day and his mother is humming softly as she cooks in the kitchen.

Katy's mother had never cooked; she's not sure the woman could even boil water and without anyone to teach her, she doubts that she'll be any better.

"Kermit mentioned that you had an audition this week," Penny started, glancing at Katy with the same kind eyes her son possessed.

"I did," Katy agreed; trying not to think of the moment when her voice had cracked, and she'd seen spots in front of her eyes, "I don't think that I got the part."

"Well, if you didn't, I'm sure something else will come along. Sometimes life knows what you need better then you do," Penny offered, and Katy dropped the spoon, wincing at the sound it made when it hit the glass plate.

Kermit still doesn't know who his father is; doesn't know if it's someone's whose face he saw everyday in their little hometown or a stranger he wouldn't recognize in the street. She still can't get beyond the juxtaposition of a mother like Penelope Hart, with a past so colorful there aren't enough oils to paint it.

"Everything okay, Dear?" Penny turned her full attention on Katy. She's never been anyone's, "Dear."

"Everything's fine."

He walks her out; keeping almost a foot of space between them and then folds her arms and turns to face him when they get to the landing of the stairs.

"You were quiet tonight," he observed, and she blinked away the tears that filled her eyes.

"I ruined my audition," she admitted, and he took a step towards her, "My voice cracked, and I couldn't breathe, and I can't sing, anymore."

"You were just nervous, you'll get other chances," he assured her, reaching out to grab her elbows.

"It's not nerves or stress or the flu," she listed, backing away from him, "We were supposed to be being careful."

"Careful with what?" Kermit's face paled and she could see his own dreams fading in his eyes.

"I'm pregnant," the words feel dirty in her mouth and he wraps his arms around her, as the tears finally escape.

She doesn't let herself think about the choices; the thoughts in her head. How close she came to losing Maya out of some desire to retain a sense of freedom that she'd fought so hard for.

She doesn't let herself wonder what it might have been like if Kermit hadn't had to drop out of school. If she hadn't had to shift her focus. They might still have fallen apart; separately and together, but in her darkest moments the maybe of it all sometimes eats at her.

They move into a one-room walk-up that looks like something straight out of a crime scene photo and she tries to pretend that she's worldly and not a terrified child on her own for the first time.

Kermit jokes about the experience it's giving her to pull from when she resumes her career on stage and she blinks away the hormonal tears that crop up every time she thinks of all the things that seem like too much to hope for, now.

They can't afford a bedframe, so they sleep on a mattress stretched out in a back corner and she learns to cook out of a discounted cookbook that she'd found in a secondhand book store. They hang a ninety-nine-cent shower liner over the windows and, one night, Kermit takes a marker and draws a countryside across the white material.

And, it's the first time she's able to acknowledge that as difficult as the situation is, she's not making it any easier, either.

The first time Maya kicks, they're lying in bed together and she presses his hand to her stomach. The smile that spreads across his face is the brightest that she's ever seen and for a minute she feels with an absolute certainty that they're going to make it.

She falls in love with Maya the moment that she's placed in her arms for the first time. The idea that this little bundle of blonde hair and blue eyes is hers doesn't quite seem real, but she doesn't care when she's cooing over ten tiny toes and ten tiny fingers.

She can't deny that Maya won the genetic lottery; gaining her parents blonde hair and her father's big blue eyes.

And, she doesn't even think about Kermit sitting in the corner; looking very terrified and very distanced from the idea that had just become a reality.

He keeps going to school, until Maya is born. She isn't an easy baby by any means and she has a voice that won't be silenced. He fails a class and loses his academic scholarship and there's no money to pay his fees after that.

He takes a job as a mechanic and she knows that he hates it; knows that he feels like they'll forever be stuck trying to scrape together just enough to get by. She knows that he feels like he's suffocating because sometimes she feels that way, too.

He starts coming home with oil on his fingers and alcohol on his breath. And she can't bring herself to begrudge him his vices because there's a part of her that longs to escape, too; that wants to go back to the two teenagers sneaking kisses when no one was looking and loving each other in that way that you only do the first time.

On rare nights, when Maya's finally settled herself to sleep and their exhaustion isn't enough to force them into their own bed, they'll sit out on the fire escape wrapped in each other's arms; listening to the sounds of the city and thinking of home.

Eventually, they manage to buy a bigger apartment; two bedrooms, one bathroom. Half the time the elevator is broken, and they can hear animals running through the walls at night, but it feels like progress.

On the night they move in, Kermit turns on music on the radio and dances with Maya across the living room. And, when the song ends, he extends Katy his hand and they sway back and forth in the same rhythm they always have.

It feels like muscle memory; like two people who have managed to make it even with all the odds stacked against them.

They're not prepared for Kermit to lose his job in budget cuts and, suddenly, they're drowning in bills and he's desperately looking for something that will just keep their heads above water.

She doesn't find out until after he's gone that he'd applied for a student loan to go back to school and been denied.

The night he leaves isn't remarkable in any way. He claims he's going to buy milk and it's not so out of the ordinary that she thinks to question his motives.

They'd been fighting about money, but it was nothing new. The same old argument that barely had any of the sting left in it. She'd been trying to write out a budget; using the envelope method on the kitchen table, while Maya played with a doll in the living room.

It had never occurred to her that he could just walk away without looking back.

She learns from his mother that he's safe, but that he needs some time by himself to figure things out. She finds out that he's cutting his ties with her in a letter with five-hundred dollars in cash for her troubles.

And, she lets herself hate him because it's a million times easier then remembering how much she loved him.

She knows that he kept in contact with Penny, despite the fact that Penny never passed it on to her in all the years that she helped watch Maya. She'd needed someone she trusted to care for her daughter and she couldn't bring herself to deny Maya of the little family that she had left.

He'd sent envelopes with cash in greasy overly handled bills and she'd kept them when she was desperate and sent them back when she was feeling vindictive.

She'd gotten Maya, which was the better end of the deal, anyway. And, somewhere, along the way she'd gotten Shawn, which felt like far more then she had any right to hope for. Her own happy ending all tied up with a pretty little bow.

Most of the time, it was enough.

The smell of cigarette smoke drifted up from somewhere below her and a television blared infomercials from two windows over. This was the neighborhood that she'd raised her daughter in; the neighborhood that had raised her.

She wasn't a child, anymore; young and hopeful, with all her dreams just a wish away.

She'd go back to bed in a minute; curl up next to her new husband and appreciate the feeling of having someone that loved her lying beside her.

But, for now, she let herself stare out into the darkness and imagine the life she never finished.

There's something that just fascinates me about the backstories that we just got glimpses of on the show. I might continue this with glimpses into some of the other parents of the show and maybe some of the main characters as parents, but we'll see.

If you've been with me for awhile and are curious about my other stories. I am working on them, albeit at a snail's pace. I just got a promotion at my job, which requires additional training, so that I can read heart monitors. And, on top of that, I'm taking a pretty heavy course-load this semester as I get closer to applying to nursing school.

Thanks for reading and if you've got a minute, I would love it if you would drop me a review and let me know what you think.