Happy New Year!
This fanfiction was inspired by "All This Time" by One Republic
She never told him.
All those years of being Farkle's friend, and Riley never told him her feelings.
Why? There were several reasons.
First, there was his decision to go out with Smackle. Those two were steady for at least two years. Riley could never get in the way of that.
As her own relationship with Lucas fell apart, and she learned just how selfish she had been, Riley Matthews had vowed to give herself a year. One year to really discover who she was.
It wasn't easy. As the group all started their college semesters, Riley found that her roommate, Chai was trying to set her up with a friend of a friend.
That was a test of her patience. While Chai pushed her, Riley decided to avoid the situation as much as possible. But she wouldn't be able to tonight.
New Years Eve.
Chai had convinced Riley that she had been out of the game long enough, and even though Riley protested, Chai refused to back down.
"It's time you meet someone new," she said, "You need to get that guy you told me about off your mind. He's not here now, is he? Live in the moment!"
But it wasn't that simple. Riley knew Farkle, more than anyone. But, as his relationship with Smackle grew, and he was accepted to NASA for astronaut training, she drifted away, in favor of his happiness.
Farkle had always wanted to go to Mars. She knew that, but she felt guilty. She didn't want him to go, which was selfish. And she had been very selfish.
Of all the lessons Riley learned in High School, the most important was being a true friend. Finally recognizing Maya's unhappiness helped her realize that if she told Farkle to stay, it wouldn't make him happy.
He had seemed excited on the last day of High School, as Smackle stood with him, both wearing NASA shirts.
And Riley was busy anyway, with college, and deciding what to major in.
She texted Maya that morning. Maya was busy with her art college, and she and Lucas were going steady. Riley didn't want to intrude.
She shook her head, as she stepped out of the closet in her best sparkly purple dress.
The year was up, and it was time for new beginnings.
As she brushed her hair, Riley looked in the mirror, and for the first time, in a long time, she was proud of the person staring back at her.
The year had been a great lesson, and her father and mother had always reminded her that you were never too old for a lesson. Life was learning.
She finally knew how to say no. And, she had learned that she actually loved fashion.
As her first semester at NYU wrapped up, Riley was looking for study abroad trips in Paris and choosing special classes in fashion design.
She still needed one more science class for credit. And she knew it would be Astronomy. Even though it reminded her of Farkle, Riley knew that no matter what class she chose, science itself would bring back the memory of a sweet boy with orange turtlenecks who grew into a handsome genius. But with Astronomy, they would talk about Pluto. And Riley had always believed in Pluto.
As she put the finishing touches on her makeup, Chai knocked on the door.
"Are you ready, roomy?" Chai asked. Riley noted that her roommate had also chosen a sparkly dress in silver.
"Ready as I'll ever be," she replied.
"Oh come on!" Chai told her, "Your bizarre vow of single-hood is up. Tonight you snag a hunk! Let's see some enthusiasm!"
Riley tried to smile, but thoughts of Farkle intruded her mind. Hadn't Smackle called Farkle a hunk? Why hadn't she kept in contact with him since graduation? It wasn't like he had tried himself, but still.
"Okay," she said, "So, where are we going? Do I need to grab some cash?"
"Only if you want to buy a drink. The punch should be free. The guy throwing this thing is filthy rich. He rented a whole ballroom! It's going to be fancy!"
"I'll bring some cash just in case," Riley said, grabbing a formal purse. It was a purple cat. She smiled at the memory of her art projects, and her art teachers' frustration.
"Well, we're ready to go," Chai said.
They locked the apartment door and walked down to Chai's car.
"How'd you hear about this party?" Riley asked her.
"My classmate," Chai told her. "Her father works for the company."
"What company?" Riley asked, sliding in the front seat.
"I don't remember," Chai said, "but it's one of the most successful brands in the city. They just bought a new technology, and they might sell it to NASA!"
"That's interesting," Riley said, but her chest tightened at the mention of NASA. Maybe it was time to move on. Farkle had, as far as she knew.
"So anyway, it's going to be crowded, plenty of guys you can flirt with," Chai said.
"Okay," Riley replied.
"What did I say about sulking?" Chai asked.
"I know, I know," Riley said. "Let's just get there in one piece."
She liked to tease her roommate about her driving habits. Chai was a speed demon with a lead foot.
"Alright girl," Chai said, "Lets turn up the tunes and get moving."
Riley listened to the music, trying to focus on every word, and push all thoughts of Farkle out of her mind. She remembered a time, not so long ago, when New Years had been very important to both of them. When Farkle was determined to let everyone know how she felt at exactly midnight.
It probably wasn't healthy to pine after him anyway. The last she had heard, he and Smackle were the dynamic duo of the science department. It would be hard to compete with that.
"We're here," Chai said, parking the car.
"There must be some mistake," Riley said horrified.
Chai pulled a flyer from her purse.
"No mistake, it's the right address. See?" She handed Riley the flyer.
"Oh no," Riley said.
"What?" Chai asked.
"I can't go in there," Riley said.
"Why not?" Chai asked.
"You know that guy you told me not to think about?" Riley asked.
"Yeah," Chai answered, "His name was kind of strange. Wasn't it ..."
"Farkle Minkus," Riley said, pointing to the flyer.
The name was right there, staring at her in bright orange letters.
"No way!" Chai said, "I mean, this is probably a coincidence."
"I don't believe in coincidences," Riley told her, "I can't go in there!"
"Why not?" Chai asked, "He won't be the only guy. There will be so many people, you may not even see him."
"It's more important that he doesn't see me," Riley said.
"Why?" Chai asked.
Riley sighed. Her mind went back to the day after graduation. The day she had spoken to Farkle for the last time.
"Congratulations on your acceptance at NASA," Riley told him.
"Thanks Riley," he said.
"I know Smackle's proud," Riley told him.
"What about you?" Farkle asked her.
"I'm always proud of you," Riley told him, "I knew you'd rule the world someday."
"I don't know," Farkle said, "I'm nervous."
"You'll do great!" Riley told him.
"You think so?" Farkle asked.
"I know you will," Riley said.
"I am excited," Farkle said.
"And you've wanted to go to Mars for a long time," Riley said.
"Yeah," Farkle told her, "And Smackle will be there too!"
Riley tried to smile. Smackle was an amazing person, and if Farkle loved her, then who was Riley to get in their way?
"Then you'll have all you need," Riley said.
For a moment, Farkle met her eyes.
"Do you mean that?" He asked her.
"Every word," Riley said.
"Well what about you, Riley?" Farkle asked.
"I'll be fine," she said.
"Are you sure?" he asked.
"Don't worry about me," Riley said.
'But Riley..." Farkle said.
Riley shook her head.
"Not another word. I learned my lesson. I won't be looking for a relationship for at least a year."
Farkle's eyes didn't leave hers.
"Promise me that you'll find happiness," Farkle said.
Riley's heart skipped a beat.
"I promise," Riley said. "And in one year, I'll be back in the game."
"A year," Farkle said.
"That's right," Riley told him. "It'll be good for me. There's still so much I need to learn."
"And in one year you'll be ready?" Farkle asked.
"I think so," Riley told him, "A year away from guys would be a good thing."
"All guys?" Farkle asked.
"All guys," Riley answered.
"If you're sure," Farkle replied.
"I'm positive," Riley said.
"Because if this is another act," Farkle said.
"It's not," Riley said, "Farkle! Can't you just be happy and move on?"
Her words rang through the air as the music died down.
"I'll move on, Riley," Farkle said, "If you really want me to."
"Go, Farkle. Be the first man on Mars. Be the scientist you've always wanted to be," Riley said.
Farkle took one step closer to Riley, and she moved one step back. The closer Farkle was to her, the more nervous she felt.
"Alright Riley, one year." Farkle said, "I hope you find happiness."
He stepped forward, and when she stepped back, he pulled her into a hug.
Riley slowly returned it.
"Be happy Farkle," Riley said.
"You too," Farkle replied, "take care of yourself."
Then he let go, and walked away.
Riley tried to find him later during the graduation ceremony, but he was nowhere to be seen. She even went by the Minkus residence, but Farkle was long gone by the time Stuart answered the door.
She sent texts. He never replied. She tried to email him. No answer.
Eventually, halfway through the year, Riley stopped trying. Farkle had clearly made his decision.
And now, here she was, with her new roommate on the night she was ready to move on. Unbelievable.
"You can't turn back now!" Chai told her. "Maybe this is fate! You won't know if you still care unless you see this guy again."
"I don't want to," Riley said, "Especially if he's happy."
"Well you won't know until you see him," Chai said, "Didn't you tell me that you knew this guy more than anyone?"
"I used to," Riley said, "And, it's been a year."
"Well then," Chai said, "You're older and wiser."
"Supposedly," Riley said.
"Riley Matthews," Chai said, "If you don't walk in that building then you have no choice but to go out with the next blind date I find. Do you understand?"
Riley looked at her roommate. She was serious. And deep down, she knew why Chai had threatened such a thing. This was an opportunity. Riley could finally learn the truth. She would finally learn what she meant to Farkle.
"Alright," she said, opening the car door and stepping out slowly. "Let's do this."
"That's my girl!" Chai said.
Riley clutched the purple cat purse for dear life.
Questions flooded her mind. Would Farkle even recognize her? How would he look now? Can one year really change someone that much?
As she walked into the ballroom, she noticed a specific color. Purple.
It was everywhere, from the balloons on the ceiling to the ribbons tied on the wall. The room appeared to have a purple glow with the stars projected on the walls and the lights shining on the stage, dance floor and the tables where guests clinked champagne glasses and munched on snacks.
The detail surprised her. Hadn't Farkle always liked orange? She thought back to his favorite orange turtleneck, buried in the time capsule they wouldn't open for another ten years. Had he forgotten?
Chai gave their names and the host checked them off the list.
"Please write on the board," the host said, gesturing to the right.
Riley walked past the bright banners that read, "Happy New Year" to a giant chalk board, where people scribbled and chatted excitedly. At the top in bright purple letters, it read: New Years Resolutions.
Chai tapped her on the shoulder.
"We're supposed to write one resolution we have for the year." Chai said, handing Riley a piece of chalk.
Riley thought for a moment, then she started writing on the board.
"To understand true love," Chai read. "That sounds like a good goal."
Riley smiled. "What are you going to write?"
Chai scribbled on the board quickly.
"To choose a major," Riley said, "That's a good goal too."
"I like yours better," Chai said, "because you've been single long enough."
"I learned a lot this year," she said, "And I don't think that's a bad thing. Relationships aren't everything after all. As my Dad says, it's important to know who you are."
"Well, now that you know who you are," Chai said, "Let's go learn who those hunks are,"
She pointed to some good looking guys that stood by the punch bowl.
Riley saw the guys, but she also saw the purple curtain that hung behind them. Purple everywhere! It was starting to annoy her. If Farkle had arranged this party, why hadn't he used his favorite color? Had Smackle chosen the theme? Why purple?
She walked up to the guys standing in front of the punch bowl. Chai giggled.
As Chai introduced herself and Riley, all Riley could do was stare.
The punch bowl had apples in it.
"Oh," one of the guys, she thought his name was Fred, told her. "I know the apples are a little weird, but you just go around them for the punch."
He demonstrated by taking a glass, and pouring the clear sparkly liquid in the cup.
Riley noticed that her hand was shaking.
"Thank you," she told Fred, trying to collect herself. There was only one thought in her head as she stared at the punch bowl. The moment Farkle Minkus saved her life.
She was watching for him around every corner, expecting him to show up the moment she let her guard down. What even was the theme of this party?
"Riley?" Chai said, "Fred just asked you something."
"Huh?" Riley said, "Oh, sorry Fred, I guess I was a little distracted. Maybe it's the punch."
"Did you want to sit down?" Fred asked.
"Uh, yes," Riley said, "I think that would be a good idea."
Fred offered Riley his arm as he walked over to a table. At the center of the table, Riley finally found something orange. A clock. Around the clock were party favors that said "Happy new year" and "Make a wish."
"I'm going to get some food," Fred said, "will you be okay?"
Riley nodded, but she knew it was a lie. She hadn't been okay since she learned whose party this was. Still, Fred appeared to be a nice guy. Maybe Chai was right. She deserved some closure. Didn't she?
As Riley moved forward to pick up the clock, the music stopped.
Everyone looked up at the stage, and there he was. Farkle Minkus.
Riley was surprised at how fast she recognized him. He was dressed in a fine suit, and he was as handsome as she remembered him. If not more so.
He stood, addressing the crowd that cheered.
"Thank you," Farkle said, "Thank you all for coming to my New Years Celebration. In a half an hour, we will go to the roof to see the fireworks above Times Square."
The crowd cheered.
"I hope you all have written your resolutions and you keep your heart open to the possibility that they can come true. Someone very special in my life taught me that, and I hope she's here tonight."
Riley waited for Smackle to walk on the stage, but she never came.
Fred returned with the food.
"So that's the guy," He said.
"What do you know about him?" Riley asked.
"Well, I know he's the most sought after bachelor in New York City."
"Bachelor?" Riley asked.
But before he could explain, Farkle spoke again.
"Tonight is the end and the beginning. I hope you all enjoyed what the year has brought you, and that you look forward to the future."
The crowd applauded.
"So, let's get this party started!" Farkle said.
The crowd cheered again, and Farkle handed the microphone back to the DJ.
Riley turned to Fred.
"What did you mean by bachelor?" Riley said.
"You know exactly what I mean. And I'm afraid if I tell you anymore, you'll lose interest in me all together."
Riley's heart skipped a beat. She watched Farkle walk off the stage. None of this made sense.
She stood up to go find him but he disappeared in the crowd. As Riley walked toward the dance floor, Fred took her hand.
"I'm sorry, Fred," Riley said, "I'm not really in the mood to dance right now. I have to talk to someone."
"Come on," Fred said, "Just one dance? You won't regret it."
Riley tried to free herself from his grip.
"I'm not interested right now, please," she said.
"You sure like to play hard to get, don't you?" Fred said.
"Is there a problem?"
Riley went numb. She knew that voice.
"There shouldn't be," Fred said, "Right, Riley?"
Riley glared at him.
"I said I don't want to dance right now!"
She stomped on his foot, and he let go of her hand.
Riley smirked, watching Fred slowly walk away.
"Well," Farkle's voice came from behind her, "I was going to save you again, but it seems like you can save yourself."
Riley slowly turned around. His soft, blue eyes met hers, and it was almost as though the year had never happened. That same gleam in his eye. The same proud smile.
"Farkle," she said, unable to think of anything else.
"Hello, Riley," Farkle told her, "how was your year?"
"My year?" Riley asked him, "Oh, it was good. How was yours?"
"Enlightening," Farkle said, "I learned more this year than all our High School years put together."
"Oh," Riley said, "Well I guess my father wouldn't be happy to hear you say that."
"This was a lesson your father couldn't teach," Farkle said.
"Interesting," Riley told him.
"But you still didn't answer my question," Farkle said, "How was your year away from guys?"
"You remembered that?" she asked.
"I couldn't forget it," Farkle told her.
"Why?" Riley asked him.
"I'm saving that answer for midnight," Farkle said.
Riley watched him. He wasn't smiling, and his eyes focused on her so intently that she couldn't help blushing.
"What happens at midnight?" she asked, "I'm afraid you won't be able to blow Gabriel's horn again."
Farkle smiled, and her heart pounded in her chest.
"Are you sure about that?" he asked.
Riley watched him.
"Farkle," she asked, "What is all this? Why all the purple? And what's with the theme of this party?"
"You don't approve?" he asked her.
"Why would it matter if I approved?" she asked him.
"You haven't figured it out yet?" Farkle asked.
"You're being cryptic," Riley told him.
"Maybe," he said.
"Then maybe I should go find another Charlie Gardner!" Riley said, anger boiling in her. Did he not care? Was he messing with her?
"Wait," Farkle said, taking her hand.
Unlike Fred's harsh grip, Farkle's was gentle, almost hesitant.
She searched his gaze.
"What?" she asked him.
"It will be midnight soon," Farkle told her, "and I want you standing next to me."
"Me?" Riley asked.
"Yes, you," Farkle told her.
"Why?" Riley asked him, flustered. "We haven't spoken since graduation. I texted you, emailed you, and you never replied."
"Well, at least you're not denying it," Riley said. "Okay then, here's my question. If you want me standing next to you at midnight, you have to answer it."
"Why? Why didn't you write back?"
Farkle looked away for a moment.
"I had my own year of self discovery," he said, " and I needed to learn what I wanted."
"That's fine and all," Riley told him, "but that doesn't explain why you just dropped all communication."
"Yes it does," Farkle told her, "Remember what you said to me? You wanted a entire year, away from guys. All guys. Riley, I am a guy! You knew that when you told me. You shouldn't be surprised."
"But we're friends, Farkle. And friends talk to eachother, and they listen, and they're there for each other, like we used to be."
"Riley," Farkle said, his eyes locked on to hers, "This is what I learned, just this year. We have always been more than just friends."
Riley gulped. Farkle was serious, and she couldn't escape his gaze.
"And now!" the DJ announced, "It's nearly midnight. Time to head up to the roof. Five minutes until the fireworks."
Everyone walked out of the ballroom. Everyone except Riley and Farkle.
Riley stood there, trying to calm her pounding heart while Farkle watched her every move.
"What do you mean, Farkle?" she asked.
"You know what I mean," Farkle said, "You never treated me the same way you did Zay, or even Lucas. Riley, I know you! I've always known who you are. And, you've always known who I am."
"But NASA," Riley said.
"It all means nothing to me, if you're not there to share it with."
"This is a joke, right?" Riley asked, waiting for some guy to pop out and say they were on candid camera.
Farkle stared at her for a moment, then he pulled her hand gently.
"Please, come with me,"
Riley allowed Farkle to lead them up the stairs. But there was no crowd eagerly waiting for the fireworks.
"Where are we going?" Riley asked.
"I've had a lot of time to plan this," Farkle said.
She didn't know what to say as Farkle opened a door that lead out to a single platform balcony. A single table with two chairs awaited them, and two glasses of champagne stood on the table, confetti stars sprinkled between them.
Farkle let go of her hand and offered her a glass.
"Farkle," Riley said, "Is this?"
"For you?" he asked, "Yes Riley. It's all for you. The theme, the purple. I even put apples in the punch! I wanted to remind you that we have a history. And it's important to me."
"But what about Smackle?"
"We broke up, not long after my first week at NASA," Farkle said.
"Farkle, I'm sorry," Riley said.
"I'm not, Riley. I learned a very important lesson."
"What lesson?" Riley asked, stunned.
"I need you."
"But I've been selfish, and blind," Riley said.
"So have I," Farkle told her, "You remember that night in eighth grade, when we worked on that Thomas Jefferson project?"
"You asked me a question, and it never left my mind. Did you ever think when you look through a microscope..."
"You miss the bigger picture?" Riley finished.
"I did," he said, "I missed the bigger picture, Riley. I missed you."
Riley took a sip from her glass, unsure what to think. Was this really happening? How strong was that punch earlier? But, as she placed the glass back down on the table, and walked toward the balcony, Times Square in the distance, the pieces slowly came together.
She heard Farkle walking behind her, and then when she looked to her left, there he was, by her side. He always had been, hadn't he?
"I missed you too, Farkle," Riley said. She could hear the countdown from the balcony below them, people cheering.
She stepped closer to Farkle.
She took his hand.
She looked in his eyes, and he looked back.
He smiled and leaned in.
Their lips met.
She heard the fireworks bursting in the air, and the people cheering, shouting Happy New Year. But none of that compared to the warmth and the gentle touch of Farkle's lips against her own. As they deepened the kiss, Farkle pulled her close and she wrapped her arms around his neck. Like two puzzle pieces, they fit perfectly.
When they pulled apart, both breathless, Riley smiled.
"I guess my resolution came true," she said.
"What was it?" Farkle asked.
"To understand true love," Riley told him.
"Huh," he told her, "That was mine, too."
"I love you, Farkle," Riley said.
"I love you, Riley," Farkle said, "Happy New Year."