I ran and ran, the pounding of my feet upon the asphalt ringing in my ears. I ran until almost all oxygen had escaped my lungs, so I was finally forced to stop.

Unaware of my surroundings, of where I was, I sat down in the gutter of a random back street, and placed my head in my hands. Tears streaked my face, and my legs ached from my long run. Yet my head was what tortured me the most, and my heart was what pained me.

It was ironic, that when I finally believed I had all my feelings sorted, I was thrown into turmoil again. A twisted smile formed on my face when I realized that is the funny little thing we call life.

Hayden..Jesse...Hayden..those names echoed themselves over in my head, as one of them would be my fate, as my thoughts ran all over the place.

I thought it was Hayden who I loved. I did, I told myself. Then why was I so affected by Jesse's kiss? If I had no other feelings for him than friendship, why did that kind of physical contact affect me that way? But if I chose Jesse, could I banish Hayden from my heart?

A thousand questions screamed within me, and it was extremely irritating to realize that I would have to answer them myself.

I took a deep, steadying breath, and in my mind, I allowed myself to imagine. I imagined a life with Jesse as my boyfriend. Maybe we could exist with the closeness we did now, but with a thousand other levels. We'd finally be free to express the passion we had for so long concealed. There would be no need to hide our need for each other anymore. It was what I had longed for, for months.

Yet there is a dark side, as was another one of life's quirks. What if I could not push Hayden from my mind? What if our relationship eventually deteriorated, and we were not able to divulge even the friendship we had before? That would devastate me, beyond anything I could ever imagine, to lose Jesse completely.

I couldn't speculate, I realized. Not on a decision this important. I had to stick with what I knew.

Suddenly I realized what I did know. It wasn't like one of those 'light shines down from heaven' moments in a movie, where the protagonist makes a startling discovery that was obvious to the audience all along. It was just me finally listening to my heart. And at that point in my life, it beat with love for someone I had already acknowledged it to.

Hayden.

A soft smile played on my lips as I thought of him. His gentleness, his quiet intensity, his warped sense of humour, and his uncanny perception of my feelings. Of the way he always brought a smile to my face, and how when he held me, the world suddenly became ok.

He would forgive me, I thought, for one kiss with Jesse. Especially if I could finally acknowledge that it was him I wanted.

Yet I would have to have an explanation as to why I couldn't break away from Jesse when he kissed me, why his touch set my whole body on fire.

After perhaps another whole hour of sitting in the gutter, running through all the possibilities in my mind, no matter how outrageous, I think I finally had an answer.

It was because I had always wandered. I had wandered for so long, what it would be like to kiss Jesse, to have that type of physical contact with him. It was every bit as magical as I imagined, and I didn't regret it. Yet it hadn't altered the way I felt about Hayden. And if that didn't, I decided, nothing would.

Life doesn't always turn out the way you expect it, I realized. And the three of us learnt that the next day. Jesse learnt it in the hardest way, when I told him my decision. His face fell, and because of our connection, I could almost feel his heart breaking. It killed me to see him in such pain. But I had to be real. He finally, slowly, as if it caused him great physical pain as well as emotional, asked if he could still be my best friend. I held him for a long time to reassure him of what he still meant to me.

Then I told Hayden. Watching the joy in his green eyes as he realized I had chosen him warmed my heart, as I examined this remarkable, amazing guy who had turned my world upside down with love. It took someone pretty incredible to turn my heart away from Jesse, and Hayden had done that. He held me in his arms, and I knew I had made the right choice.

Someone had their heart ripped out, one was completely joyful, and me? I was torn in too, between love and sorrow. That, again, is one of the funny little things about this life.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

I had made the right decision, I reaffirmed myself two years later, when Hayden and I had broken up a month earlier. I was now 19, with my emotions still in turmoil. I had not left the rollarcoaster of my adolescant years behind. Yet I did not regret a moment I spent with Hayden. He was the most meaningful relationship I had had, he had taught me so much.

But it was over.

Jesse, of course, was still my best friend. It would take a fate worse than death to banish that guy from my life. That night he was taking me to a university ball, so I was partaking in the female beautifying experience that afternoon. With Shellie and Mel. Despite all the guys that passed in and out of our lives, we were forever. I was glad of that.

Jesse, who has yet to hit a spot of maturity, whistled as he saw me.

"You only get hotter as we get older. Do you think that once we hit a certain age, the process will reverse itself, and you'll begin to get uglier?"

I hit him playfully, yet laughed all the same.

As life does, when you are least expecting something to happen, and definitely aren't looking for it, it makes something occur.

As Jesse and I were on the dance floor, and old song came on. Tears sprang to my eyes as I considered the full meaning of the first verse to me:

"Thinking about our younger years,

It was only you and me,

We were young and wild and free.

Now, nothing can take you away from me,

We've been down that road before,

But that's over now.

You keep me coming back for more."

I laughed softly, as Jesse said to me. "You do keep me coming back for me, despite everything you do to me, you know." He said huskily.

As I gazed into his eyes, instinct took over. I did the only thing that felt natural.

I pressed my mouth firmly against his, almost melting in his arms. As our lips met for the first time in two years, only for the second time ever, I realized with a laugh, the magic was still there.

As we were kissing, I thought to myself about the irony, once again, that I had been presented with. Throughout our younger years, everything had been so complex. Emotions always shifted, changed, as we caused each other great emotional pain, whilst still meaning the world to each other. We had always expected something to happen between us, we were always looking for a moment.

Finally, we had stopped looking. That had happened when I had chosen Hayden over Jesse.

Yet here we were, two years later. When we had least expected it, something had happened, the moment had found us. And I finally felt like I belonged somewhere. My body was almost tingling, with a strange sensation, like I was home.

As I spent the rest of the night swaying in Jesse's arms, barely talking, just being, I had no idea what the future would bring. I only hoped that this was forever. I was glad we could stop asking ourselves 'What If', because something was finally happening.

That is the funny little thing we call life.

A/N *sniff* That's the end guys! Hope you've enjoyed reading, cos I've had a blast writing it. Hope the ending is satisfactory for everyone, cos this way she sort of ends up with both guys. This was the only way I could satisfy myself! Anyway, thank you so so so much to everyone who ever reviewed, you're what makes it worth writing! Special thankyou to Rosemarry, Grunge Muffin, Hidden in the Shadows and Buggie for their constant reviews. If any of you guys are interested, I'll be posting my next story in the next few days.and go thru this all over again. Thanks again!