Why is this over a week late you ask? I blame school, it seems every waking moment I've had I've over the past few weeks I've spent doing school work. The teachers are still in that beginning of year phase where they're all enthusiastic and shit, they're spirits will break in a few weeks I hope.

Chapter titles comes from the band of the same name. It's a real mouthful to say in a sentence. I have weird taste in music.

Chapter 24 – I Love You but I have Chosen Darkness

Ryan wakes around two o'clock the next day. He's groggy and can't remember very much but the doctor checks him over and says he's OK. Needless to say everyone is relieved. I think its better he doesn't remember anything, it'll make it easier for him to cope with it all, but the doctor says he could suffer nightmares which I must admit I'm worried about. I won't be there to comfort him.

He asks about Dahlia a lot. At about 5:30 Jack kicks us all out so he can tell him alone. The others go to the canteen for coffee but I stay behind and watch through the gaps in the blinds. It's horrible. Jack takes Ryan by the hand solemnly and says something I can't hear. My insides seem to tear themselves apart as I watch Ryan burst into tears and throw his arms around his father's neck. Jack is saying something I can't hear and stroking the back of his son's head. I'm kind of jealous. I know this is weird since Jack's his father and all but I want to be the one holding him. Comforting him. Telling him everything will be OK. I guess I should get used to it. I mean he's not going to be around for much longer and I need to start trying to pull away so it's not too hard on me when he moves. I have no idea how I', going to survive this.


It's the next day and Ryan and I are alone for the first time since he was admitted. Jack's gone for a shower and a change of clothes, Tiffany's at home with Casey and the other three are just out. The TV in the corner is on but neither of us is watching it; I'm way too preoccupied with my own troubles to watch Ricki Lake right now. Ryan has his eyes closed although whether he's asleep or not I don't know. The atmosphere is tense. I don't really want to talk at the moment; I'm too worried about bursting into tears... I mean what am I supposed to say now he's leaving? Seriously. I'm actually asking you because I am totally stumped here. How am I supposed to have a conversation with him knowing this may be the last time we're ever alone together?

"Jesus would you turn that crap off, I think it's giving me diabetes here," Ryan groans crankily, clutching his stomach and trying to turn over.

"My name's not Jesus," I say without annoyance, but turn it off all the same. "How are you feeling?"

"My insides hurt."

Yeah me too.

I shuffle so I'm facing him better. He does look pale, and the purple rings around his eyes are a sure sign he's not been sleeping. Not that it's easy to sleep with a hole in you're spleen but I wish he would. I know worry about the smallest of things but getting no sleep can't be good for any recovery process. Except maybe narcolepsy. I wonder how much he knows, I mean about the moving. I doubt Jack told him that on top of the Dahlia...thing. I still can't bring myself to say she's dead; it makes it all too real. But still I want him to know, maybe if he knows he can convince Jack to let him stay. I don't know how but it could work. He still has the apartment, maybe Jack could rent it and relocate or just let Ryan live in it by himself. Me and Tiffany will be across the hall so he'll have plenty of support.

But how do you live in the place your mother was murdered?

Good point. I don't think I'd ever want to see the building again and I don't even like my mom at the moment. No Andy, Do NOT think about the parents. They're a problem for another day. Ryan is the issue now. Focus.

"How are you feeling?" I ask.

"A little better I guess, but I wish the nurse would hurry up with the morphine already."

"That's not what I meant..."

"I know what you meant," he sighs, deliberately looking away from me.

There's silence for a few moments, I'm not certain whether I should try to fill it or not. I get the feeling he doesn't want to discuss anything much, fair enough neither do I, but still I think we should open up the subject or something. I want him to be able to talk to me again. We need to talk about something, any other topic just seems inappropriate. I really don't know what I'm doing here. I just need to stay as positive as possible.

"Doctor said you'll be out in a week."

"Yeah..." He mutters unenthusiastically.

"Come on that's good news," I encourage him, trying to force him to say something else, preferably in a sentence. "Two days ago we weren't sure if..." I trail off, suddenly realising the stupidity behind this comment.

He doesn't make any sign of being annoyed or angry, or happy or sad, or any emotion at all. His face is completely blank. "Yeah, whoopee I survived." He grumbles sarcastically.

"Don't say that..." it comes out as little more then a whisper. I don't want to hear him make comments like that, for so long I was so worried I was going to loose him for good. It just brings it all back. They're in the past, I never want them back.

"Sorry," he says, turning his head to look at me. "They told me everything you did. I'm really grateful you know." He pauses, bottom lip trembling slightly. "You're the reason I'm still alive."

"Don't. I'm just sorry I didn't get to you earlier," I confess, looking away from him, unable to meet his eye out of...what exactly? I don't know.

"You're the reason I'm still alive... thank you..."

The tension in my chest which I've been feeling constantly finally lifts, relieving me a little. Not completely since I still have the moving- anxiety rooted deep in my left cavity but I definitely feel a little better. I just needed to hear him say something like that; something to show that he didn't blame me. Not that I thought he would blame me in the first place but my own ridiculous, twisted logic told me he'd hate me for not protecting him. I've always known how stupid that sounds, I even mentally snort at myself as I think it in my head, but a nagging sense of guilt has stayed with me throughout these days. He made it disappear in about three seconds.

"It's OK," I say, "I'm sorry about your mom."

"It's OK," he replies.

"What now?"

"Ricki Lake," he smiles, waving the TV remote in front of my face.

"That's not what I meant..."

"I know what you meant," he sighs and turns away from me again. I rest my hand gently on his leg and we lapse into a comfortable but dreadful silence.


We keep the good bye short. No need to drag it out in my opinion. That may sound cold but I know if we stood by the road, pushing suitcases into the back seat for too long I'll try to convince him to stay. We do it in Bluecreek's parking lot, Jack and some other guys emptied Dahlia's old apartment a few days ago and packed all of Ryan's things. What happened to the rest of it I don't know? I think it's sad, a woman's entire life cleared out and no one even knows what happened to it. Well I expect Jack does but she must have affected so many people's lives and now she's just gone. Her life taken away in removal trucks.

Ryan and I are participating in the world's longest hug. My arms are wrapped tightly around his chest without pressing on his wound and his arms are snaked around my stomach. Honestly I never want to let go. Letting go means he'll leave. I fight back tears; I don't want his last memory of me being me weeping like a little girl.

I feel him slide something into my pocket. "Here's my Dad's house number. I have yours. I'll call you all the time. It'll be like I'm not even gone."

I doubt that. What am I supposed to do now? I can't bring myself to speak. I just nod against his head and try to pull him closer.

"Ryan we're ready!" Jack's voice calls from the driver seat.

He's ready. They're both ready. This is it, he's leaving. He can't, there's so much we need to do. So much I want to say to him. I want to kiss him but I don't. I want to tell him I love him but I can't. Both would be too painful.

We break apart and he looks at me with shiny brilliant green eyes. They actually glitter in the sun light, projecting happiness, pain and a million other emotions; joy, loss and all they gray area in between. It's him. Life. Staring up at me through brilliant green tinted windows. I may be losing him, but he won't be gone. His life will carry on and those lucky enough to be involved will have the privilege of being in his pureness as I am now. My chapter may be over, but his life will continue in California and where ever else he may go in the future. The best I can hope for is maybe, one day; I'll get another chance with him. It's unlikely but possible.

He presses a kiss to my chin. "Good bye," he whispers before pulling back, moving over to the passenger side door and hopping into the car. He leans out of the window and waves as Jack revs the engine and pulls down the road slowly. I feel a crushing sense of immense loss as his face gets smaller and smaller. After a few seconds he is nothing more then a dot in the horizon. A few moments later he is gone.


"Andy, are you alright, you seem a little on edge," Tiffany asks from the couch. She bounces Casey who is perched in playfully in her lap; shaking one of her stuffed animals violently in her hand I think she might be developing psychotic tendencies.

It's been a three days since Ryan left and he hasn't called yet. Not once. I'm using all of my will power on not giving in and calling him first. I mean he has a new life now and I don't want to intrude on it. He's probably having a great time, meeting people, making new friends and enjoying the brilliant sunshine of California. I doubt he's even thought about me. He'll call. He has too sometime soon right? I mean he said he would and this is the longest we've gone without talking since he was attacked by the dog. He can't have forgotten about me so quickly and easily. He'll call, he's just too busy right now and that's all.

"I'm fine," I say, "I'm just..."

"Waiting for a call."

I gape at her for a second. "How did you know that?"

"You've been staring at that phone for three days. Relax, he'll call." She smile and pulls the stuffed animal from Casey's grip. Casey makes a sulky sounds and folds her arms in a moody sort of way. She is going to make one hell of a teenager someday.

"I know I'm just..." I trail off, unsure of what to say without embarrassing myself. "I guess I miss him that all." OK that made me look stupid anyway but at least I'm telling the truth.

"You need a distraction, why don't you call one of your friends?" she enquires. "Nathan or one of the girls. They might be able to take your mind of it for a while. If he calls I'll tell you straight away, I promise."

"I don't know," I grumble impassively. "Hollie and Lottie are still out of town and... well... Nathan's been really depressed since his break up and is no fun any more. I'd rather be by myself."

"Do you only have the three friends? What about that other girl, Naomi. She seemed nice."

I push my bangs off of my forehead nervously. "I'm not really in a "Naomi" mood at the moment." The truth is I don't want to see her because she reminds me too much of Ryan. I know I technically met her first and none of this is her fault but she's always been associated with him in my eyes. Now he's gone it's going to be hard just to spend time with her, Jimmy too. Not that I don't want to be friends with them anymore, I really do, but I'll always relate them to Ryan and that hurts too much to think about right now. Hopefully I'll feel better when he calls. When is he going to call?

"I that case do you have any homework or anything just to do. It sounds boring but it really will help if you have something else, anything else, to focus on." She sounds like a shrink or something. "Besides, I may not be your mom or anything but I need to make sure you keeping up at school."

I groan but without venom. "Yeah, ironically I have some biology."

She pulls a curious face. "How is that ironic?"

Shit. I can't let on about Nathan and Rocky. He'd never forgive me, and right now I can't deal having another person leave my life right now. That sounds really girly but whatever. I can't believe I just let that slip; I'm such an idiot when I'm emotional. New rule; no more emotion in front of Tiffany. I search my brain for some sort of explanation to my comment, anything, but in my slightly panicked state I can't come up with something plausible. OK, don't lose your nerve yet, just look for another angle... and think fast.

"You know what, "I declare, ignoring the question completely, "I think I'll go to Nathan's and do my work there. He's in my biology class anyway (lie) so we can probably help each other out. Is that OK?"

She smiles almost victoriously; probably just relieved I'm finally leaving the apartment. Except for school I haven't been out at all these last few days despite her constant hinting. "Of course Andy that's fine." Phew, she seems to have forgotten about the irony-thing. Crisis averted.


I don't call Nathan before I turn up at his place. I never really do anyway; Patrick will be at work now so there's nothing to worry about. I pull up outside Nathan's apartment block and rush over to the entrance. It's mid November getting very cold very quickly. I wish I'd grabbed a jacket on my way out. I push the intercom impatiently waiting for a reply. Goose pimples rise on my skin and I curse loudly. I am so not in the mood for this. I press the button again. I should've stayed back at Tiffany's, come up with something better then "I'm going to Nathan's." Much to my annoyance, its several minutes before a voice comes to the intercom.

"Hello," it says. I'm shocked for a second, it isn't Nathan or Patrick, it just doesn't sound like either of them. Too high a pitch and much more pronounced.

"Hey..." I say, "Who's this?"

"You buzzed here, who's this?" He challenges. Oh right then.

"Andy. Who are you?" I grumble into the speaker.

"Oh right Andy!" His voice suddenly becomes much more airy and less demanding. OK, do I know this person? He sounds kind of familiar but I can't place him. He seems to know me anyway. "Sorry. It's Logan. Nathan's in the living room, come up." The machine buzzes stridently as the door unlocks.

Wait...Logan? As in Logan Lang, the guy Nathan isn't friends with. The one who's just cool when it comes to cars? I know I've been, um, incapacitated for a few days but I thought he'd just be hanging around with one of the guys from the soccer team or some random girl he met in a bar (it's happened before.) I didn't think the entire world would turn on its head. Logan Lang? The guitar playing, make-up wearing, emo kid whom Nathan spent the last three years avoiding? This is too weird, I think I liked him better when he was an intolerant jock; things were much less scary that way. My mind is reeling all the way up to the top floor. I let myself in his apartment as I always do. In a circumstance I find somewhat annoying, I'm greeted firstly by the grinning shape of Logan. He's standing in the kitchen eating dry Cheerio's from the box, obviously making himself at home then.

"Hey," he smiles through mouths full of food. I'm still at little too surprised at his presence to be completely receptive.

"Hi," I say impassively, "Where's Nathan."

"Living room."

"Oh right." So I'm not completely at ease talking to him yet. I hardly know the boy after all and definitely didn't expect to have to make small talk with him.

"Do you know what's wrong with him?" apparently Logan doesn't have any of the same struggles. In fact he seems pretty relaxed. "He's been miserable all week. I don't mind him being down but it gets depressing after a while."

I pause before I answer, not wanting to tell him too much. Nathan obviously doesn't want him to know about Rocky so I'm not going to tell him. "Bad break-up," I say simply. That should satisfy his curiosity for now I think.

"Oh," he mumbles. "Too bad. Well he's in the room watching Beauty and the Geek if you think you can cheer him up. I'm leaving in a minute anyway so it's probably good you're here."

"OK," I say awkwardly before walking quickly out of the room. Not too fast though because I don't what him to think I'm running away from him. I push the white door open completely to reveal Nathan is laid out lazily on the couch, empty glasses and dishes scattered around him. He does look a little dishevelled, his eyes are dark around the rims and his hair is more ruffled then usual. Like he hasn't slept in a couple of days. He looks up as I enter, eyes widening slightly in surprise. He recovers quickly.

"Hi... sorry... I was expecting-"

"Logan?" I finish the sentence for him, but make it sound as though it is a question. He looks a little embarrassed for a moment, averting his eyes. I smirk victoriously, my mood suddenly changing from uncomfortable teen to crazy sadist.

"So much for the two of you not being friends, huh?"

"I... He... You've been incommunicado for days now. Logan was just here, there's no need to look so damn happy about it." He says sounding slightly annoyed. He just doesn't want me to gloat, which he knows full well I'm going to do anyway. God, am I that predictable... who cares this is fun.

"What happened to all your cool friends?"

"They suck," he announces, making me smile slightly in amusement. I've been telling him that for a month. "They're all 'Hook up with Zoe man, she's totally into you, it'll take your mind of this other chick.' That's not what I need right now. Logan... he's not like that. He's a little more..."

"Gay?" I finish his sentence again.

"Well I didn't want to say it but yeah," Nathan grumbles.

At that second, Logan sticks his blue and black head through the door and smiles, taking neither of us both by surprise. I think spending hours on end listening to screamo music at max volume has effected his perception of noise.

"I'm off," he announces.

"See you tomorrow." Nathan murmurs.

"Yeah, bye Logan," I say, sounding slightly more sarcastic then intended.

He doesn't seem to notice. Just smiles, waves enthusiastically and ducks out of the room. We listen to him stamp to the doorway and slam it shut. He really is an incredibly loud person. I turn back to Nathan; smirk still firmly on my face. Nathan Smith and Logan Lang hanging out together. It's like 50 Cent and Marilyn Manson being best friends or something; a funny but extremely weird thought. Totally smirk worthy. Nathan glares at me viciously for a moment. "If you're just going to act like a smug idiot you might as well leave too."

"Would I do that?" I ask sweetly. He grimaces. Yes. "Fine. I promise I won't say anything."

"Good," he says bluntly. So much for gratitude. There's a short, uncomfortable silence where I can only think of patronising things to say to him. No, I must resist, being kicked out means I'll have to be by myself again. I'll go insane if that happens. Just change the subject.

"So..." I drawl. "How are you?"

I regret it straight away as his face drops and he takes a deep breath, clearly intending on going into a long, depressing story about how being dumped by Rocky has ruined his life. At least I'm not alone.


The next day Ryan calls. Needless to say I'm relentlessly relieved. The first thing he does is apologise for not calling sooner. I laugh and tell him it's fine. He says he likes California and is nervous about going for an interview at a new school. I tell him he'll do fine. He asks what's happened around here, I tell him about Nathan and Logan, and Tiffany and Casey and anything else which comes to mind. He listens. Then we talk about nothing in particular for a few minutes before he says he has to go, we both say our goodbyes and hang up. I'm no happier at this point then I was yesterday, in fact I feel worse. It was all so tense, like neither of our hearts was in it. I mean I was happy when he called but I just kept thinking this is the closest I'm going to get to him from now on. It's not fair. Is this what it's going to be like every time he calls?


It's a Friday, over a week since he left and it still hurts like hell. He's called twice more since that awkward first time and I've called him once, each time it seems we're slipping further and further away from each other. It's like a jigsaw piece that doesn't fit anymore, no matter how hard you push it, it will never really fill the gap. It just makes the other pieces slide out of place too. Our lives being the jigsaw, each other being the pieces. I hate to say it, but maybe it's time we called it off.

This really sucks. I'm alone in the apartment, laying on the couch eating and watching crappy Cheers on a Friday night. I blame everyone else. Tiffany ran off to her mom's on some secret mission involving family business. She even took Casey with her. My friends, being the losers they are, are all missing presumed dead. And everyone else, well, fuck knows what they're doing but they're definitely not doing it with me.

I glance at the clock on the mantle. 9:30. This time two weeks ago Ryan and I were by the lake. It was dark and cold by now but still we hadn't moved from the bank, looking up towards the sky and just talking... a little making out... but mostly talking. We talked so much that day. He told me about everything; his life, his parents, music, movies, even his favourite food. I listened to it all, taking in every word. I wanted to know everything about him. I thought we'd have so long together. How quickly life can throw you a curveball huh? I actually tried to call him again earlier tonight but he was "unavailable" according to the woman who I assume was the maid. Either that or a burglar. It's just as well really; I wouldn't know what to say to him anyway.

By the time the third episode's credits roll I'm begging for god to strike me down. I have nothing against Cheers I'm just not in the mood for canned laughter and Woody Harrelson right now. I push myself out of the armchair intending on going to get something to eat. Not out of hunger I'm just bored. I know I shouldn't eat when I'm bored, I'll get fat, but you don't quite understand just now bored I am right now. I never quite make it to the kitchen however as a sharp rapping on the door redirects my attention.

Who would be calling at this time of night? The only visitors Tiffany gets are her parents, but she's there right now. At least she says she is. Occasionally a neighbour will call around with mail or a newspaper or something but never at this time of night. There's another short knock.

"OK I'm coming!" I call, trudging to the door and swinging it open. Who I see on the other side I didn't expect.

"Hello son." Oh God, my dad is standing right there on the other side of the threshold, larger then life, looking nervous, like he didn't just throw me out a few weeks ago. In my right mind I'd swing the door closed in their face but right now I'm too stunned to even think never mind motor reactions. I mean he just shows up unannounced like some fucking salesman and I'm expected to be all collected about it! I'd punch him in the face right now if my entire body wasn't frozen. He passes me through the door and walks idly to the living room. Great, now I have to talk to him. I slam the door angrily, better late then never, and stomp in after him.

With the sounds of my heavy footsteps, my father turns around and... Wait, what was that? Did he just attempt to smile at me? He did not just try to smile at me! My teeth grind together in anger.

"This is a nice place," He says conversationally. "Is this where Rob was staying too. I was always a bit worried he'd end up living in a burnt out car or something. You know what he was like-"

"What do you want dad?" I cut in, not in the mood to hear trash talked about my brother right now.

He raises his eyebrows in surprise. I want to rip them off. "Are you not going ask me why spent three days on the phone convincing Patrick Smith to talk out of Nathan where you are staying and then force him to tell me, then filed a fake assault case at work in order to get Tiffany's address from my police contacts, drove out here in the middle of the night and spent forty five minutes waiting in the cold for someone to come home and unlock the gates, having to tell them I was Tiffany's older brother from Minnesota so they'd buzz me in?"

"Because you're an idiot?" I spit. I'm not in a forgiving mood right now OK and I think I've made it perfectly clear how I feel about him, even if I do sound like a brat at the moment.

His smile flickers for a second but his cheeriness remains firm. "OK, I guess I deserved that." Damn right you did. "Actually I was hoping to talk to both you and Tiffany. Is she here?"

"She's at her mom's with Casey so you're just going to have to tell me."

"OK," he takes a deep breath as though he's preparing to dive off a waterfall. "I wanted to invite the three of you to dinner."

"What?" Did he just say what I think he did?

"Dinner. This Monday. At a restaurant with me and your mother."

Yeah, he actually said it. What the hell? One day he throws me out and now he's inviting me to dinner? With Tiffany a.k.a. The Whore and her spawn? Is he dying or something, he has never reverted back on any decision he's ever made. I mean never. And now he's just coming over here with peace offerings and no ulterior motive? There has to be more to it then that, it all can't be this undemanding. He's just not the type.

"I'm still gay you know," I say bluntly, looking for a reaction. His face drops slightly for a second but for the most part he passes my test.

"I know."

"And it's not going to change."

"I know Andy I'm not a total idiot."

You could've fooled me. I say in my head, he may be admitting he's made a mistake here and I don't want my attitude to ruin it.

"You can even bring your boyfriend if you like," he continues more confidently, "You never told me his name but-"

"We broke up," I say shortly. I am not in the mood to think about Ryan right now either.

"Oh... Um... that's a shame," he stutters nervously. A shame? I bet I just made his day. "We were going to eat at seven at The Belvedere if you want to run it by Tiffany and get beck to us..." he trails off uncertainly.

I pause, deliberately thinking about my response before I blurt out something I regret. Half of me wants to tell him to stick it and get the hell out of the building before I rip his face off. I mean he threw me out of our house without so much as a "so long." And now he's talking about eating at fancy Italian restaurants. If he just expects me to forgive him go back to playing happy families he's more deluded then I thought he was, and trust me I'm sure he's incredibly deluded. At the same time, in his own way, he's trying to apologise and I'd much prefer to have a father who's uncomfortable with my sexuality but dealing with it then no father at all. If he's willing to try I shouldn't shut him out because of a twisted sense of pride I most likely inherited from him anyway. Still, I can't forgive him completely, not yet, I need some sort of feasible explanation.

"Why did you kick me out Dad?" I'm sorry but it needs to be asked.

He shuffles uncomfortably on the spot, dropping his head to stare at the floor.

"I need an answer dad." I try to sound as stern as possible.

"I... I... I wasn't thinking," Can't argue there. "We were both so angry then you blurted out this huge thing and, well, at first I wasn't even sure if you were telling me the truth. I thought you were just trying to hurt me." I guess that's kinda true in a certain way. "So I just spoke out of my anger and you left. I thought you'd come back after a couple of hours, pissed but OK, and we'd get past it. But days passed and we heard nothing. I did want to find you, I really did; I thought about coming by your school a few times but didn't think you'd appreciate it. It took me a long time to build up the courage to even come here tonight."

An uncomfortable silence fills the room. If he's telling the truth at least he's realised something. All that stuff I said about him and Rob and him needing to prove his love after making such a huge mistake seems to have gotten through. At least he's trying this time. I have to be grateful for that right? I exhale quietly, begrudgingly deciding to give him another chance.

"I'll have to run it by Tiffany, but dinner sounds great."

He looks up quickly. "You mean it?"

"Sure, we've got to eat right?" I don't want him thinking he's completely forgiven just yet.

He smiles weakly. "Yeah." Cue another awkward pause. "I-I should get home and tell your mother. She's been worried sick over you these past few weeks."

I smile slightly. She does care. "Yeah."

"So hopefully we'll see you Monday?"

"Yeah." I repeat, not sure of what else to say.

He seems to hover in the doorway as neither of us knows what to do in this situation. Should we hug or shake hands or make some sort leaving gesture? I mean that's what normal families do right. Instead he just rocks on his heels for a few seconds and I shove my hands deep into my pockets. Its way too soon for hugs. Maybe in a few years when he's too old to remember any of this and thinks I feel guilty about driving him insane. I do manage a smile though, which he seems to welcome given by the way he beams back.

"See ya then," I mumble pathetically.

"Yeah, bye." He moves out of the door, looking over his shoulder at me before he leaves. I shoot him a small wave and close the door slowly, the image of him walking down the hall embossed in my memory. That was so surreal; I didn't just fall asleep in front of the TV and dream it all did I? I mean my father, my father, almost admitted he made a mistake and is actively trying to fix our relationship. That's his relationship with me, his gay son. I know people can surprise you sometimes, but I never thought my dad would on this scale. Tiffany is not going to believe this.


"No way!" Tiffany gasps, "You're serious?"

"Yeah, I was surprised too." I reply honestly.

Tiffany got back around 10 am the next day I immediately filled her in on everything that happened the previous night. At the speed I was talking I was surprised she could understand me but the general significance of the story seems to have been transferred adequately. She was surprised when she found out dad was here. Shocked when he asked me to dinner and completely gobsmacked to find out she was invited too. He's never been nice to her once in close to eight years and now she's agreed going to dinner with him. Although I'm sure that she only agreed to go for my sake but it's all the same.

"And I had your parents written off as total lost causes," she says, shakings her head.

"Yeah me too."

We're interrupted by the phone ringing, it's high pitched cry diverting our focus. Tiffany bounces herself off the couch in order to retrieve it; she clicks the answer button and presses it to her ear. "Hello... Oh, OK. Sure he's right here." I guess it's for me. She moves the phone away from her ear slightly and covers the mouth piece with her hand. "It's Ryan's dad, he wants to talk to you."

Ryan's dad? As in Jack? Why would he be calling me? I take the phone from her curiously. "Hello?"

"Hello Andy it's Jack." Even down the fractured line he sounds nervous. This makes me nervous. My voice cracks a little as I talk.

"Hey... how are you?"

"I'm good... we're settling in nicely over here. I mean I've had to switch apartments which has been a pain in the ass but otherwise everything great yeah thanks." He's babbling, a clear give away that he's anxious about something. A knot forms in my stomach, I'm sure this has something to do with Ryan and the friction between us recently.

Right, I'm going to bite the bullet. "How's Ryan?"

There's a short pause at the other end. "Actually that's what I phoned to talk to you about."

Yeah thanks I figured. The knot tightens but I ignore it. "Oh, really? Is he OK?"

"Yeah, yeah he's fine, it's just... I'm not really sure how to tell you this..."

Just spit it out!

"...He's asked me to tell you not to call him any more."

"Huh?" Did I just hear that right? No, that can't be right. I mean Ryan wouldn't want me to stop calling would he?

"Ryan doesn't want you calling anymore."

Definitely no mistake then, but still... my thoughts have all suddenly become so jumbled I can't even summon the will to feel emotions, except maybe confusion. I mean we're dating, is this him trying to break up with me? Why would he give me his new number just to tell me not to call a few weeks later? I acknowledge there's been a deal of awkwardness between us since he moved but this is extreme, I assumed that was just us adjusting being so far away from each other. I never wanted to cut off contact completely. He must have misjudged the situation, taken the tension to mean I don't want to talk to him anymore. Idiot, how can he think that? I need to put him right before this gets any worse.

"Why?" I ask desperately.

"I don't know, he didn't give me any details I'm just doing as he asked. I'm sorry Andy."

Well that's not good enough. This needs to be settled now. "Well... put him on the phone. We need to talk this out."

"He's not here right now."

Not here, yeah like I believe that. I can practically see him now making frantic arm gestures at Jack while he talks. A bubble of anger joins the knot in my stomach. How can he tell me this and then say he doesn't know anything about the situation. I'm the one who doesn't know anything about the situation. He's fucking spectacularly informed compared to me.

"Well can I call him when he is available?" It comes out as more of a growl then a question.

"I don't think he'll want to talk to you..."

"Can I at least try?"

"Listen Andy I'm sorry OK. I wish I could tell you more but I can't and this is really unfair on you. I'll talk to Ryan later and try to get him to call you and explain. I really don't know what's going through his head at the moment but you deserve to know."

My anger towards him depletes completely. As much as I want to yell at someone none of this is his fault. Ryan's just a little mixed up right now. We need to talk that's all. Then it will all be OK. I sigh down the line. "OK, I'm sorry. Just try to get him to call me OK?"

"Yeah I'll try. I'm sorry too."

"Don't be, this isn't your fault," I grumble. "I just... it's..." I can't seem to find the appropriate words. "Never mind, I'll talk to Ryan when... if he calls."

"OK. I really will try to get him to talk to you."

"Thanks." This doesn't cheer me up very much but I acknowledge the gesture.

"Listen I'm late for work," he continues hurriedly. I doubt he actually is but I don't blame him for wanting to put an end to this horrible conversation as quickly as possible. "Are you going to be OK?"

"Sure, I'll be fine. You go to work."

"OK," he doesn't sound convinced. Then again I'm not a great actor. "See ya then."

"Yeah, bye," I hang up the phone and slam it back on the base unit. I never took Ryan for being stupid but this really is a dumb thing to do. What the hell is he thinking? And sending his dad to do his dirty work for him. I groan loudly and press my palms to my forehead. This is fucking ridiculous.

"Are you OK?" Tiffany asks from the couch. I'd almost forgotten she was there. She's looking at me with a slightly apprehensive expression on her face; only hearing one side to that conversation must have been confusing. "What was all that about?"

I take a second to think about what I'm going to say before I open my mouth. This is kind of personal and I don't really know what's going on myself. "Apparently me and Ryan are having a little misunderstanding."

"Oh... is it serious?"

"It'll blow over," I shrug. I don't fucking know if this is serious do I? It sounds more serious then I'd like but who knows. Well... Ryan knows, but he's in California and refusing to talk to me so that's no help at all right now. Why would he suddenly turn so cold like that? This is too confusing. I don't want to think about it.

Tiffany gets up and walks over to the kitchen, then begins shuffling the mail with her back deliberately turned to me. "Andy I hate to bring this up but... Is it OK if I run something by you?" Her tones slightly run down, whatever it is she wants to run by me I can tell she doesn't think I'll like it. Great, more bad news, that's exactly what I need right now.

I put on my best faux-happy. "Sure what's up?"

"Well, you know how I've been in and out on family business for the last few weeks."

In and out on family business! She's been so secretive since I moved in I began to suspect she was involved in some sort of secret espionage. "Yeah."

"Well, the thing is, my brother Brandon... did you ever meet him? No? Oh well he's a little older then us and has just got out of jail for..." She pauses uneasily, still refusing to look in my direction. "Well he got in some trouble and went down for a couple of years. Anyway he's trying to rebuild his life now and wants to move back into the area. We were thinking, me and the parents that is, that since Dahlia's old apartment's empty he could move in there for a while. You know, be close to the family and everything. It'd be so much easier on him and my mom thinks it'll be better if I can keep an eye on him. Wha'd'ya think?" She stops and tenses herself, as though preparing for an explosion.

Truth is, fifteen minutes ago, I probably would've reacted angrily to this. I mean even now I refer to it as Ryan's place and still picture it filled with his things even though I know it's bare. But after Jack just now I actually feel OK with it, not thrilled but OK. Pretty impassive really. I mean he's gone right, living a thousand miles away with his dad. The apartment's not a part of him anymore. It'll be rented again eventually; it may as well house someone close to Tiffany. That's got to be better then a total stranger I'm sure.

"I think it's a good idea," I reply, if somewhat a little blandly.

"Really?" She spins around, looking surprised.


"OK good, I was worried you'd hate the idea," the tension visibly drains from her body, shoulders relaxing and face forming a relieved smile. I have to laugh at her a little.

"Really, I didn't notice, you're not transparent at all."

"Shut it you!" She smiles, throwing a random package at me only for it to fall to the ground several feet in front of where I'm stood. I laugh at her.


The letter comes a week later. Reading it I'm not sure whether I want to cry or not. I mean I kind f expected it, but seeing it all so official and specific definitely hurts. I lock myself in the bathroom, needing to be alone right now. Tiffany keeps knocking on the door and asking if I'm OK but I just ignore her. I can only read those words over and over again.

Dear Andy,

I'm sorry for what I've put you through these past few weeks; my mind has been all over the place and I've made some stupid decisions. I'm sorry.

I'm also sorry for what I'm about to say but you must understand it's for the best. I am breaking up with you. Not because I want to, but because I have to. What we had was fantastic, I wouldn't trade it for the world and regret that we didn't have more time to let it grow into something more. You'll always be special to me Andy, but those times are gone forever and us staying in contact just amplifies the pain I feel because of that. Hearing your voice over the phone, hearing about my old friends and school tortures me. I've left a lot of grief behind me and as horrible as this sounds to say you bring it all back whenever we talk. I need to let it go. I need to let go of everything, including you.

Don't be upset about this. It's for the best. I'm sorry if I'm being selfish. Have a full life.




Last Review Replies :(

MisterScotty: Thanks, I try my best but am always nervous about posting emotional/angsty chapters so it good to know I don't completely suck. This chapter is a little more balanced in the HappyHumour/SadAngst ratio so I hope you like it.

CaFFy: Why would they divorce? You remember Dahlia right? Drinks a lot, makes bad decisions and neglects her responsibilities. There are a million reasons why they could have divorced. Pick your own. Anyway Jack deserves better, he's really cool and I nice guy and I think I love him myself. Is it sad I love one of my own creations?

Jenny Hatter: Next week? More like two weeks, I'm sorry I've been really busy. Yeah, Ryan's gone and Andy's single again. It's a shame they made a cute couple. Meh, you never know what might happen in the future (or in the sequels.)

JtheChosen1: Did you see this one coming? You have a habit of predicting my plot twists. Again I'm sorry it's a little (a lot) late but here you go!

DistructiveEntity: I like Jack too! He's like my perfect dad...or lover, but not at the same time because that's too weird even for me. I glad you liked the sad bits because I think some of the emotional parts of this chapter don't come off very well. Oh well I do a little editing later. Hope you like it!

Girl-in-america: No one was attached to Dahlia; I think I made the mistake of giving her flaws. If she was a perfect mom you'd all be blubbering on the floor right now and I'd be laughing sadistically. Oh well I still have Jack to play with ;) Yeah he is pretty cool; I want him to be real. Apparently long distance relationships don't work, but don't worry I'm not done with either character just yet. No! Don't abandon us and stray into the real world! The world of fiction is so much better! Don't abandon us!

James Hiwatari: Hmm... Not so much with the positive surprises here I'm afraid, I tried to lighten the mood a little with Nathan and the dad but generally it's a bit of a downer. No perfect ending I'm afraid, I'm just not into that. I actually thought someone may predict Dahlia's fate and you seem to have closest so you win the competition this week :) Everyone seems too be in the same boat with Dahlia, only one person was upset about her and I tried so hard to make her likeable towards the end. Oh well. Hope you liked this!

Yaleni: It's longer then usual if that counts :) Please don't cry because then I'll cry! I'm glad you like the story though and really hope you liked the ending.

xPrettyxRadx: I freakin love you for loving the story! I'm easily won over by stuff like this! Seriously God forbid someone compliment my hair or something I'll marry them in a second. I've descended into typical slash manic depression mode; I'm ashamed, eh well as long as you like it! Yeah my grammar sucks too! Enjoy!

Raine Angel: Yes! Finally some genuine sympathy for Dahlia! That's all I wanted people I can die happy now! You are officially my new favourite person! I'm sorry for both killing her off and because this is the last chapter but worry not, the sequel will be written eventually, I just need to get off my ass and do it. I' m proud of me for completing this too, I never complete anything, and yes I do hate you new favourite person. That's the most blatant oxymoron I've used in a while. I really hope you like this final chapter!

Crazy-yoai-fangirl-28: Now I'm nostalgic. You we're my first reviewer all those months ago and now you the last one I'm replying to. It must be fate, I want to cry. Don't worry about not reviewing; I want to hug you anyway. Seriously I'm tearing up here, I'm such a loser. I'm sorry I killed her and broke them up, they couldn't live happily ever after though could they? That's just too nice. Bug Kasie, review chapter, I DON'T WANT YOU TO LEAVE! :(

Am I supposed to leave a long, detailed comment here? People do that but I don't really know what to say. OK so towards the end it kinda went to hell for the characters but they can't live in freaking candy land all their lives, the worlds shit and they need to learn that. How many people end up with their first boy/girlfriend anyway? I started this with the intention o using the theme of screwed up stereotypes: loyal, understanding jocks, lesbian cheerleaders, even making Melody Asian was deliberate (as opposed to the geeky Asian stereotype.) But that seemed to run out of steam after a while so I added Caleb and took it in another direction.

I'm definitely going to write a sequel. I want to write Blood Ties first though. Sorry, no slash for that one, it was almost incestuous femslash at one point but I decided against it. It won't be as long as this one either but hopefully someone will read it. I may go a little darker with the sequel, I've got ex-con Brandon to introduce and Nathan, Logan and Naomi are all going to stick around too. What about Hollie and Lottie though? They've been suspiciously absent for however-many-chapters, that'd because they've been out making they're own story since the fight. That's in its early stages of planning at the moment but I'm allowed to look to the future.

I've also got a one shot that I'm going to write next (Before Blood Ties) but I like the concept so may make it into a proper story if I can come up with a good plot. I'm going to have about four stories on the go at the same time before I know it.

And I zillion thanks to all my reviewers for all the praise, criticism, questions, compliments and putting up with my weird random replies. You're the reason I continued with this for so long. HUGS!

I'll probably come back and do some minor edits too. But apart from that this story is officially complete!