ONE THING IS FOR SURE
The rest of the summer flew by like nothing. Sydney was busy taking care of her father. The one plus side of the whole experience is that it had brought all three of them closer together. Sydney was grateful for that much.
Sydney felt strange as her father pulled into Ledger and parked. She felt a mix of excitement, nostalgia, and sadness. In a way, she felt like she was returning home. She had barely gotten out of the car when she was attacked by Brooke.
"You're here! You're here! I've been waiting so long!"
Sydney laughed. "Miss me much?"
"Ugh, its been so boring here!"
"Yeah, I missed you too."
Brooke let Sydney go. "Oh, hi, Mr. Darnell."
Mr. Darnell just gave a wave as he laughed. Brooke helped Sydney unpack the car and bring everything to their room. Sydney took a few minutes to say goodbye to her father, then she and Brooke went to the gazebo to catch up.
"So how was everything here?" Sydney asked.
"Great! I've been working with Walker a lot. Its been going really well."
"I'm glad to hear that."
"Hey, Sydney, I'm really sorry about calling Fin and telling him about your dad. I just thought maybe you needed someone, and I didn't know who else to call."
Sydney shrugged. "Its fine. He helped a lot actually."
Sydney and Brooke heard the shout and looked to see Jenna and Jeisson heading towards the gazebo. They were both waving. Sydney and Brooke didn't wait; they ran over to meet them. There were hugs all around as the four greeted each other for the first time in three months.
"I'm so glad to be back," said Jeisson with a sigh.
"Everything going okay with your uncle?" Brooke asked.
"Yeah, its great."
"What about your mom?" Sydney asked cautiously, wondering if it was a taboo subject.
"Haven't spoken to her all summer. It's been really nice, actually. I'm feeling like I can finally just let it all go, you know?"
Sydney nodded. She knew exactly what he meant.
"What about you, Jenna?" Brooke asked. "How was it with your parents?"
"Good. Its amazing how much you can bond with someone when you stop trying to give them hell."
The rest of them laughed. "So where's Fin?" Jenna asked.
"Actually I think that's him." Brooke pointed out to the parking lot. The rest of them turned to see. Fin was there with his parents and brother, unloading the car.
Sydney felt a flutter in her stomach. She hadn't seen Fin since the hospital. He had spent the night there with them and stayed until their father had woken up. Then he had left to give them their privacy. Sydney hadn't seen or spoken to him since.
"Let's go say hi," said Jenna.
"Actually, I think I'm going to go do some unpacking," said Sydney, starting to head towards the dorms.
The rest of them nodded understandingly and waved goodbye.
Sydney wasn't exactly feeling like she needed to avoid Fin. Actually, she felt like it would be really nice to see him. She just felt weird now after all that had happened at the hospital.
But as she unpacked her stuff, her desire to go and see Fin grew more and more. Knowing he was there and not seeing him pained her, for some reason. Eventually she gave up on the packing. She went over to where she thought Fin's room was. Luckily, the rooms had the names displayed on the door. She found it easily enough. She knocked twice and heard Fin's voice call her in.
She opened the door and went inside. "Hey," she said, somewhat awkwardly.
Fin dropped what he was holding and looked up at her in surprise. "Oh. Hey. I was wondering where you were. Everyone said you went to go unpack."
"Yeah, I did."
"Oh. Is this gonna be weird? Can we not all hang out together anymore?"
Sydney shook her head. "No, that's not it. I dunno." Sydney thought for a moment. "I guess I just expected our first meeting to be a bit more private."
"Did you want to say something?"
Sydney shrugged. "I guess I just wanted to say thanks. You know, for coming to the hospital."
"Well, I figured you'd probably need a hand to hold or something."
Sydney's breath caught in her throat as she suddenly realized something. She hadn't just needed a hand to hold. She had needed his hand. She was sure that no one else would have been able to help like Fin could. Just his very presence had changed everything for her.
Fin shook his head abruptly. "Sorry, that's a lie. I actually thought maybe you probably wouldn't want to see me. But I couldn't stay away. I knew what you must have been going through and I just…I couldn't leave you alone. Sorry."
"Don't apologize," Sydney said with a shake of her head. "I'm glad you came. I…I needed you. And I missed you, a lot. I still do. I miss you, Fin."
"Well, we're together now," said Fin with a laugh.
Sydney sighed. "That's not what I mean."
Fin became serious again. "Then what do you mean?"
Sydney felt tears form in her eyes. "I don't want to do this without you," she said, her voice cracking.
"Life," Sydney said with a shrug. "I thought I was doing well this summer. I kind of pushed all thoughts of you aside. But then I saw you and…you're all I can think about. I didn't want to admit that to myself. I was in denial, until now. But I don't want to lie to myself anymore. I need you in my life. I can't function without you. I mean, I can get by, but its not life without you. Its just…living." Sydney shook her head in frustration and gave a sniff. "Sorry, I'm not making any sense."
"No. You're making perfect sense. Because I can't really live without you either. Nothing's the same. The whole world is so bland unless you're around. You give life and meaning to everything in my world."
Sydney's heart fluttered and she felt overwhelmed with a warmth, a warmth that she recognized from before, when she had first realized her feelings for Fin. She made her way around the boxes to Fin. She stared at him for a few moments before stepping in close and kissing him. Fin kissed her back, and Sydney remembered all the good things about their relationship. And the badness was gone. Somehow, throughout being apart from him, and then through having him there again, she had found forgiveness.
They broke apart and Sydney laughed. "I'm sorry it took me this long." She felt that she had wasted time, time she could have spent with Fin.
"I'm just glad you're with me now," said Fin. "I love you."
"I love you."
Sydney lost herself in Fin's embrace.
THE LAST, THE LOST, THE LEAST
Everyone flipped out when Fin and Sydney came to dinner together. Of course, they couldn't show any PDA, but the other Larks knew immediately that something had changed. They all seemed happy for the two of them.
A lot had changed. Kevin was gone to college, Alec was gone forever, and all the remaining Larks had each endured so much. But still, they were together again. They were joking and laughing, just like before. Except there was one difference.
"Ooh, here come the new kids," Brooke said excitedly as the new students all flocked into the cafeteria together. They had just come from an informational meeting.
"Fresh meat," said Jeisson. "Think of all the fun we can have with them…."
"Oh, play nice," said Jenna. "They're probably really frightened."
"Yeah, like I was," said Sydney.
"Or they'll be all tough and pretend they're intimidating, like I did," said Jeisson.
"Or they'll come in pretending like they don't care and everything's cool, like I did," said Fin.
"No matter what, they're going to be trouble," said Brooke. "We're going to have to reign them in fast. Can't let them go about doing all sorts of crazy things like our last new kid did." Brooke nudged Sydney with her elbow.
"Hey, I wasn't that bad," said Sydney. "Was I?"
The others just laughed. The two new members of the group reached the table, one girl and one guy. Sydney wasn't sure how old they were.
"Is this the table for the Larks?" the girl asked. For the first week at least, the students were supposed to eat in their groups.
"Most definitely," said Brooke.
The two kids moved to sit down.
"Wait, wait, wait," said Fin, waving his hand. "You can't sit down yet. You have to answer one question first."
The kids looked confused. "What is it?"
Sydney smiled up at them teasingly. "What's your malfunction?"