Friday, December 31st–


"Everything's such a mess," Tierney remarked from the bathroom and I had to disagree. We had managed to find a small, run-down apartment and had 'moved in' yesterday, which was definitely a step-up from living in my dying, used car. We were job-hunting and decided that we would finish high school by getting our G.E.D. equivalents. Tierney told me he would have the paperwork faxed a few towns over, so that they wouldn't know where to find us. If anything, things were looking up now that we were well out of state and on our own.

"…You look so weird," I said as I looked up at him when he left the bathroom. One bathroom, one bedroom, and, I was sleeping on the couch. These weren't ideal conditions, but they were livable and, more importantly, affordable. Although Tierney had withdrawn a huge sum of money (he wouldn't let me in on the numbers), it was only to be used in emergency situations, and we were going to work hard to make this new life pan out how it was supposed to.

"Oh?" was all he had to say in reply. It was strange to see him with anything but his unnatural, snow-white hair. In the hopes of finding a job, he had disposed of his contacts and dyed his hair a more natural looking blonde. Now that he wasn't conforming to his freaky family, he looked like a completely different person. Ignoring me for the most part, which was something I had gotten used to in the past couple days, he commented, "You're shaking."

Drawing my knees up to my chest, I glanced away from him and replied sharply, "You think I'm unaware?" Ever since we had left, I hadn't been able to drink and it was all I could think about. Every thought centered around how I might be able to come across something, anything, to take the edge off of these awful feelings. My lack of alcohol was making me nauseous. I couldn't remember a day in the past couple years that I hadn't drank something. The revelation disgusted me. That said, if I were given the opportunity to stop feeling so crappy, I would take it in heartbeat. There was no way to get anything though, since he had gotten rid of what I had been planning on bringing, and I was too young to buy.

"You'll feel better in a few days," he assured me distractedly. Ever since we left, he seemed to be in another world with a million worries. He didn't even seem to really acknowledge that I was here except in passing, not that I had minded. With the way I was feeling, it had just been easier to make myself scarce. Running his fingers through his hair, he headed towards the kitchen.

"What about you?" I wondered out loud and it stopped him in his tracks. This was dangerous territory but I continued anyway, "Are you okay? Have you…?"

"You really needn't concern yourself with so much, Carson," he deadpanned, keeping his back to me, but there was something off about the way he answered, "Especially when there's so much going on. It's a lot to adjust to and you aren't exactly in the best condition you could be in." His tone wasn't so unexpressive with the last few words and I knew this wasn't what he wanted to talk about. Nonetheless, it needed to be said.

"But, you've been taking care of it all," I pointed out, fighting the nausea that threatened to overtake me at any moment. I didn't like being so helpless. "While I've been tossing and turning on the couch and vomiting my guts out, you've got us in this apartment and you're keeping everything in order. Don't stress yourself out. And I don't want you to think you're going to be spending the rest of your life taking care of me, 'kay? Once I get past this, I'll do double time to make it up."

"There's no reason for you to feel that way," he said almost defensively, and I knew I was stepping in a touchy area. On the other hand, it was ridiculous to resign myself to a life of edited small talk with him. "I have everything under control! Can't you tell? Aren't I doing a good enough job for you? What more could you possibly want from me? I'm just one person!"

Pausing, trying to stop my head from spinning, I mumbled, "You don't have to be perfect anymore."

Finally, he faced me again and I relished in the silence that followed. Each and every sound made my headache even worse. "…Wh-what else do I do?" he looked extremely lost all of a sudden, as if he weren't sure where he was. "That's the only way I know how to operate: perfectly. I can't just do things averagely now. All I've ever known is one hundred percent. H-how can you even say that to me? Do you even understand what that's asking from me? That's impossible."

"Just give your own one hundred percent," I half smiled. "Do your best and be happy with that. That's what everyone else seems to do and they're getting along just fine."

"My best should be perfect though," he frowned, perplexed, and I knew that this whole concept had been cemented in his brain for way too long for me to change it in the next ten minutes –and that's all he had at the rate I was going. "I mean, how could my best not be perfection? Wouldn't that mean it isn't my best? It would call for improvement."

"Man, oh, man. You're really sure of this, aren't you?" I sighed heavily. This was going nowhere, fast. How was I supposed to convince him of something like this? What was common sense to me was the exact opposite of how he had been raised from his childhood up until, like, a week ago. Hoping I could at least make some impact, I gestured weakly to the floor around me and invited, "Sit down."

"I don't really have the time to sit here and talk," he hesitated, but relented when I insisted and sat against the wall opposite from me. My sneakers looked worn and dirty near his neat and proper dress shoes. That was another thing I was going to help him with –normal people clothes.

"Look, kiddo," I tried to sit up straighter, but moving made me dizzy. "You just… you can't be so hard on yourself anymore. Don't you realize what living here means? We're as free as it gets. No one can stop us from doing anything –besides the law, obviously. You don't have to live up to anyone's expectations but your own. You can do what makes you happy now. Hell, I won't stop you."

He chewed over what I said with a thoughtful expression on his face while I realized the truth of my own words. I hadn't been held to any expectations like him, but I had fallen into a pattern. Every day was the same old thing, and most of it wasn't particularly pleasant. Suddenly, my dad wasn't a threat to me. His mood swings weren't looming over my head all the time. Mom too, I didn't need to worry about her tears and complaints. It was all behind me, they were all out of my life. Those people who had shaped my whole life in such a negative way had no more influence over me. It was freeing.

This, of course, included Parker. As I sat there, I contemplated what that meant. And where the hell was Devon? Last I heard, he had run off to the middle of nowhere. Then again, what did I care? They were nothing to me now! That stupid town and the cult-like mindset everyone shared. It was all done. It was all gone! If I never saw any of them again, I wouldn't care in the least. It all meant nothing to me now.

Trying not to zone out, as I was getting close to doing, I asked once more, "Did you stop? You can't keep –keep… hurting yourself like that. You don't need to anymore."

"You don't understand at all," he turned his head away from me, refusing to make eye contact and I took that as a 'no' on stopping. "All these things weigh down on me and I had no one to say it to. Every mess up is a scar. I've done so much wrong; I killed my girlfriend that was sleeping with another boy behind my back, I've fathered the baby of my long-lost half sister… I tried to kill you, and failed at killing myself –which is so spineless anyway –and then I abandoned my sister. I've left her to deal with everything alone because I'm a coward. I've run away."

Shaking my head, which was a big mistake because I ended up just feeling woozy, I started to argue with him. "No way. No way is it so black and white–"

"God… I-I… I tried to kill you," he bite his lip and I could tell the water works were going to start at any minute. "What's wrong with me? Haven't you ever wondered that? Because I ask myself it everyday! What's wrong with me? Wasn't it enough when I ripped Vivienne away from everyone who loved her?" He looked down at his hands angrily, "I can never be cleansed of this evil. No matter how sorry I am… I can never make it up. Once a murderer, always a murderer… How can you even want to live with me? Aren't you scared I'm going to snap?"

"Tierney…" I groped blindly for the right thing to say, but gave up quickly. I knew any words I had to offer couldn't take away the pain he subjected himself to on a daily basis –physical or otherwise. How could I change his perspective? Something engraved so deeply into his subconscious view of himself was so beyond me.

"If you were to draw a line between good and evil… Where would I stand?"

Before I could reply, his eyes locked with mine and he pressed, "And you? Where would you be? Maybe everything isn't so black and white; maybe it all falls on a spectrum of a certain amount of good and a certain amount of evil with some things. But murder? Murder is either for good or for evil and what I did can simply not be called 'good'."

"No! Stop! This is just a low point," I tried my best to bring up his spirits, but it was so hard. His words had shaken me. If he wasn't arrogantly cold, he was hysterically emotional –there was no in between for him, and I knew it would take a long time to fix the years of damage he had underwent. "Things will get better. I mean, look at this. Just really think about it. We're away from all those people who made you feel so terrible. I got your back, 'kay? You can't hold onto the past and keep ripping on yourself for these mistakes. You need to get over it. Maybe that sounds mean, but that's as bluntly as I could put it."

"Those people?" he laughed darkly, not that I could say I found this the least bit humorous. "Those people are the ones I was raised to love and trust and respect and listen to. Every commanding figure in my life has lied to me for their benefit. And you know how it is. The people we're supposed to trust, the people we call mom and dad, they neglected us and mistreated us. So, who do we trust now?"

"We rely on ourselves now," I answered automatically. "It should've always been that way. We don't need anyone but ourselves."

"How can we trust ourselves when our morals and our outlook have been shaped by the guidance of those people?" he retorted and, for a minute, I didn't know what to say in return.

It was true. Everything we knew, from things as simple as the alphabet to more complex topics like the philosophies on how to live our lives, had been influenced by the ones who claimed to take care of us. Even my personal rebellions were in response to my parent's actions.

"Even still, we're our own people," I hoped that he would listen to me, because I was sure if I didn't get through to him somehow, he would drive himself insane. "Although we've been predisposed to a certain perspective by the things around us, ultimately, we can make our choices and think for ourselves."

"Now we have to be our own people," he turned his head away from me. "Do you think we're ready for that?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, I had a whole lifetime ahead of me," he said and I wondered if he was beginning to regret leaving. "I was going to be Valedictorian, you see. Then, I was going to go to the same college almost all the men of my family have gone to. After I graduated that Catholic University, I would come back and run the private school, I would inherit the house and Catherine would run the girls' school until I married –if my wife so chose to take over, not that they usually do. My mother has always been the oddball of our family. But, is that surprising…?"

Unsure how to take this, I asked, "Are you saying you want to go back?"

"No, I'm just saying I knew what I was doing back there."



"You…?" I frowned when he trailed off, staring past me. "Hello? Earth to Tierney? Hey, man, you look so out of it."

"I'm tired," he managed after a couple seconds and I noticed the bags under his bloodshot eyes. "I told you before; you should have the bed so you can sleep well. I'm not sleeping at all…"

"Well, why not?"

"Because I don't want you to think I'm crazy," he explained after a long pause and put his head in his hands shamefully. "I don't want to wake up screaming or crying hysterically. I don't want you to hear me and think I'm so insane. At least, in the place I used to sleep, the walls were thick and no one would hear me. …That's why I said you should get the bed."

"Things are tough for now," I granted, "But that won't mean anything in a little while. We just need to put it all behind us. This is a fresh start. And if you do wake up a wreck in the middle of the night, that's okay with me. You need to trust me."

The lack of sound that filled the space between us as he traced patterns on the floor with his fingers was disturbing. I was so sure that this was the best thing that could be happening to us. All things considered, I had never pictured myself in an apartment with Tierney for the rest of the foreseeable future, but, now that I was here, I just knew this was as good as it was getting –and a lot better than I deserved. I was extremely grateful for what we had in front of us, even though the circumstances around it were pretty unfortunate. We were outsiders in that small town, but here… here we could do better for ourselves, and get somewhere of our own choosing.

He stood up, his face fixed into the picture of perfect serenity, and I felt as if everything I said had no meaning to him. "I have a lot I need to do," he informed me evenly, brushing off his pants. "Sorry about that little display… Do you need anything? How are you feeling?"

"Don't you dare!" I jumped up, my sudden outburst startling him, and stomped my foot. "You don't have to do that anymore! If you're upset, be upset! If you're happy, be happy! I know it's so easy to fall into a pattern of fake perfection, but I don't want you to be that way with me anymore! Just be real, 'kay? That's all I ask. That's all I want from you."

I had never met someone so fucking frustrating in my whole entire life. He annoyed me so often, he could be so discouraging, but still, I couldn't help myself. I wanted to watch out for him. Not only did I feel obligated to, but also something wouldn't let me walk away. From the very minute I saw that gun in his hand, I couldn't leave him.

"I'm sorry," his composure was shaken almost immediately. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry," and his apologies sounded more like pleads. "I just didn't want to stress you with my own dilemmas. I… I didn't mean to upset you. You're the only one who's ever asked me to be myself and that's difficult. …But, I'll work on it…"

"That's all I ask," I repeated, feeling a little better. At least now I could be sure that he was actually hearing me, instead of it all going in one ear and out the other.

"Do you remember when I said …when I said we were unloved? Uncared for?" he pulled at his sleeves and I could tell he had wanted to say this for a while. "Well, I mean… I was wrong. Carson, I don't know about you, but… For what it's worth, I really care about you."

It was such a simple statement, yet it was so sincere. I couldn't explain the relief, the happiness, which something like that brought me, and I was at a loss for words following that sentence. At last, without really thinking about it, I surprised him by embracing him tightly and saying, "Yeah, man, I care about you too."

We weren't unlovable. We had each other.


"Please, I'm working everything out. Whichever way it turns out, it'll all be fine," my father's voice assured me on the other line, but he sounded almost as down and out as I had been feeling since the holiday. "Stop worrying about it, Dev. This is between your mother and I. Don't listen to those things she said in anger. She'll come around."

"I –I guess so," I tried to sound positive, but I was doing a horrible job at it. I didn't want to keep discussing this, so I ended the conversation as quickly as I could, "Well, have a Happy New Year. I really do hope things work out."

"Me too," he sighed before hanging up.

"That doesn't sound very good," Parker remarked sympathetically from behind the wheel of his car. We were on our way to New York –Times Square to be exact.

Apparently, his parents had been planning to go there and, although they hadn't been expecting another guest, I was invited along for the family trip. We were trailing behind the rest of his family, who were driving in his dad's van. The way they so effortlessly and kindly included me was comforting. It was the way I always thought a family should act, and how I thought my own family would always be. It was difficult being so wrong.

"I just can't help but feel partly responsible for all of this, you know?" I confided for the millionth time. This story was getting pretty old; I was more than aware of that. I had tried to shake off the incident with my mom, but it was nowhere as easy as it sounded. Facing the reality that I had caused this huge rift in my family was awful. The damage was looking pretty permanent. "Skye won't answer my calls. Mom and Dad are split up, although not officially, but still… I just… I don't know. I wish there was more I could do about it all."

"I understand," he nodded, allowing me to vent.

"It's weird…" I glanced out the window, trying to collect my consuming thoughts. "My mom wasn't supposed to ever do that to me. It's like she took everyone else's side over me. And Skye? Skye's been my best friend since she was born. We knew everything about each other. It's strange to go even a few hours without talking to her, let alone these couple days. It's a lot of change and I can't say I like it all that much."

"Everything's going to fall into place," he promised me, taking my hand in his. "It may take a while, but –I've told you before –I believe it all happens for a reason. And this? Who knows what will come of this, but, whatever it is, I'm sure it was meant to be. Don't blame yourself. I'm sure it's going to take a while for your family to adjust, but that doesn't mean they won't. It hasn't even been a week yet. For now, you need to let it go. Worrying yourself sick isn't going to change a thing."

"You're right," I nodded dejectedly, "You're absolutely right. I know you are, it's just difficult to wrap my head around. Sooner or later, though, I'm going to have to come to terms with it."

"Try to cheer up," he said, "Tonight will be fun. Vous verrez."

We pulled up to the little hotel that we would be staying in over night and I braced myself against the cold as night fell and the wintry wind blustered around us. Parker and I had packed our stuff in the same suitcase, since we didn't need to bring much of anything, and he grabbed the luggage out of the back of his car before holding my hand once more.

Looking over my shoulder, I was about to tell Parker that Mirabella was having some trouble getting her own baggage out of the car (because she had packed more than all of us put together) until I saw Sadie come around the back and take it from her. Although he didn't say anything as he headed for the hotel, I could see the way her eyes lit up and I knew she was far from giving up her quest on capturing his heart. However fruitless it seemed to me, I wished the two of them the best. I just hoped she didn't get her hopes up too much, in case things didn't go according to her plan.

"Oh, this is going to be so exciting!" Parker announced as he opened the door to the room that we would all be sharing, minus his parents who had their own. He dropped our suitcase on the floor haphazardly, wrapped his arms around my waist, and pulled me onto the bed closest to the door. Kissing the hollow of my neck, he chuckled softly, "We didn't know you'd be coming, but that's alright. We're only going to need one bed for the two of us."

"H-hey! Knock it off!" I laughed in surprise when he lifted up his head and we locked eyes. For a minute, all I could think about was how beautiful his blue eyes were and I knew that no matter how long we were together, they'd always hypnotize me. He lay on top of me, and the warmth and weight of his body against mine was comforting. His hands ran up under my shirt as his lips met mine and I pulled him closer to me by the collar of his T-shirt.

"Ahem!" Mirabella cleared her throat very conspicuously. I felt bad that we were already annoying her. "Seriously, gross. I do not want to spend the next couple hours watching you two get it on in the middle of the room we're sharing. Ugh. Besides, have some self-control. Gabe is in the room too."

At the mention of his name in relation to our behavior, Gabriel grew bright red and began to study the world outside the window with great fascination. Sadie rolled his eyes at us, put his suitcase and Mirabella's on one of the beds, and exited the room.

"I'm sorry," Parker grinned, but he kept his eyes focused on me and I was sure he wasn't paying any attention to her. With our lips only centimeters apart he breathed, "I just can't seem to keep my hands to myself around you. You need to stop being so damn irresistible."

Mirabella let out another irritated groan, but I ignored her as I kissed him once more. "You know, I think this is a little too PG-13 for the kids," I couldn't help smiling up at him. "We should probably take it down a notch, don't you think?"

"Or, and here's a much better idea, we could make it a little more R rated, if you'd like," he raised an eyebrow suggestively and his sister made a gagging noise, her attitude on that proposal quite clear. "Then everyone under seventeen would just have no choice but to leave and I'm very alright with some privacy."

"Yep, that's not gonna happen," I stuck my tongue out at him. "Nice try though. Besides, your sister is unhappy enough without us kicking her out of her room. You need to think of our roommates."

Parker thought it over for a moment, before teasing, "Well, if that's all you're worried about, they don't have to leave…"

"Dégoûtant!" Mirabella jumped up off her bed and pouted, "I'm gonna go sit in the lobby. Anywhere is better than next to you two lovebirds. This last thing I need is to hear my brother make lame-o passes at his boyfriend."

The girl stormed out of the room and I felt as if she had been looking for an excuse to follow Sadie. Gabriel, unsure what to do, slipped out after a few minutes and I assumed he was following her.

Redirecting his attention on me in a matter of seconds, Parker wondered with mockingly concerned tone, "Are my passes really that lame? I thought I was being pretty sexy, myself."

"You're pretty lame," I teased back, pushing him off me playfully and sitting up. "But, I mean, I guess there's got to be something charming about you. After all, I'm kind of attached to you."

"There must be something about me if someone like me was able to rope in someone like you," he laid down, resting his head on the pillow, giving me a crooked smile.

"What's that supposed to mean?" I wondered curiously, lying beside him and he wrapped his arm around me, holding me nearer to him. "After all, I should be saying that about me. I'm such a dork."

"I don't know… Forever's an awfully long time to be stuck with a person," he pointed out lightheartedly. "Dorks are cute, but you're gonna be stuck with me forever. Can you handle that? I'm gonna start annoying you pretty soon."

Pressing my body closer to his, if that were even possible, I shook my head and told him, "Forever really isn't long enough, I don't think."

"I agree."

"Besides, you don't annoy me," I assured him.

There was a mischievous twinkle in his eye as he corrected, "Well, not yet."

There was a stretch of silence between us and I sat up, causing him to frown. Resting my arm on my knee, I voiced the thoughts that had been plaguing me for a while, "So… what do I believe in now?"

"What kind of question is that?" he propped himself up on his elbows. "You can believe in whatever you believe in. That's the joy of living in America."

"That doesn't sound right though," I focused on the wallpaper's intricate floral pattern as oppose to him. I felt stupid but I couldn't stop talking about it now that I brought it up. "Am I allowed to believe in God now? I just… I don't want to be the people who turned me away. I don't want to think that God is what they portray him to be, you know? And even then, can I believe in God after what my family did to me?"

"Except that's not the way it works," he explained, shrugging his shoulders. "You can believe in whatever you want, however you want. If you don't think the way they treated you is right, which I completely agree with, then believe in God how you feel is right. I mean, you can't practice something that doesn't feel right."

Biting my lip, I wondered, "What about you? What do you believe in?"

"I told you before –I think everything happens for a reason. I just don't know what the reason is. If there is a God –and I don't have any proof either way, but if there is –I don't think he hates you. If what they say is true, then he created you in his image, right? This would mean, you and everyone else are the way that you're all supposed to be. Besides, in my opinion, faith, or lack there of, doesn't really matter in the long run."

"How so?'

"It makes sense to me, that, if there is some type of god or supernatural being, they would want you to be the best person you can be –above all else," he gently pulled me toward him once more. "So, my philosophy is doing exactly that. And if there's a god who demands more than who I am… well, I don't think I'd really be very interested in following them. That, of course, is just my own take on it and you're allowed to believe whatever you wish. I don't know if I'm right, and I certainly don't claim to be."

"You seem to have the answers to everything," I pointed out. That said, I still wasn't sure what to follow. Since we moved here, and since Christmas especially, everything that I had lived by had been shaken up and it was difficult to see through all the broken bits and pieces to the truth. It was easy enough to say 'believe in what you believe', but I wasn't sure what that was.

"Not at all," he replied softly. "That's just the best I've got for now."

Our conversation eventually faded out as we dozed off. It had been a long drive and we knew we'd be staying up late tonight. The warmth and safety of the empty hotel room –just me and him –made me feel so much better and I could've stayed there forever, truth be told. The two of us would've laid there forever if Mirabella hadn't ripped open the door and yelled:

"Let's go! We have to get to the square before midnight, lover boys!"

"It's cold outside…" I grumbled as he helped me off the bed. I just wasn't a particularly pleasant person when I woke up, but I was sure anyone who knew me was aware of that by now.

Handing me my winter jacket once he had on his own, Parker beamed, "It's just the right temperature for this time of year! Stop being such a grouch, Devon! We're in New York on New Year's Eve! Some people only dream of this opportunity! You're going to enjoy this wonderful celebration whether you like it or not."

"I guess I'll just have to prepare myself then," I rolled my eyes and he simply laughed at my sarcasm.

The two of us left the hotel with his parents and we all managed to squeeze into his parent's van. Mirabella and Gabriel weren't exactly thrilled that they had to sit in the back now that we were riding with them, but the former perked up when Sadie climbed in next to her, although he barely acknowledged her presence with more than a glance in her direction. As we got closer, police were directing traffic and we had to pull up to a parking meter and walk the rest of the way –not that it was a long way.

I couldn't believe how many were here! The whole square was filled up with people of all different shapes and sizes as they screamed with excitement. Cameras were everywhere, documenting the event that was happening around us, and the ball was hung way above everyone, just waiting for the clock to strike the hour. We got separated from the others in the sea of partiers, but it was hard to notice when there was so much to take in.

Here I was, holding Parker's hand as the tremendous crowd began to count down. A year ago, my family and I were in the living room, watching frosty New York from the comforts of a warm house, on a TV screen the barely scratched the surface of the energy swelling around us, like a balloon ready to pop. Part of me wondered if the family was sitting, hand in hand, on the couch again. On the other hand, however, I wouldn't have traded being here for anything in the world. Never in a million years could I have dreamed things would turn out this way, and, yet, I couldn't stop the goofy grin that spread across my face.

The voices of thousands unified into one at that moment, every number clear and concise. Every face was lit up with a smile and we were all so full of hope. It didn't matter who anyone was –every soul was looking forward to the promise of a new year with such intensity that, in these remaining seconds, all differences were lost. People threw old despairs and suffering to the cold wind of the night, craving another chance, another fresh start, that only the turn of a year could bring. In the midst of all the chatter, I could hear some making their resolutions –most of which, would not be kept, but it was the thought that counted.


The ball dropped, signaling the end of the old and the beginning of the new.

Parker's lips were on mine, and happiness washed through me with such a surprising passion, as I had never felt before. The square erupted into cheers and wild shouts as if someone had popped the balloon, releasing all the pent up excitement that had held the crowd in suspense. The dropping temperature was such an insignificant thing. All my worries melted away and I realized what had been lost on me for so many years…

"Happy New Year, Devon," he said to me and me alone, as if I were the only one he could see in this mass of people.

"I love you," I breathed, overwhelmed with emotion. I had never felt so many things at once. I was so happy, so alive, and so incredibly blissful, that I just didn't know what to do with myself.

Hugging me tightly, he said, "I love you too. Isn't this the part where we say something extremely gushy?"

Fireworks lit up the night sky in beautiful explosions of color and the exhilaration of the crowd was contagious. Finally, after spending so long feeling as if I were stumbling through my life everyday, trying to find where I belong, I felt as if I was standing upright on my own two feet again and it was all because of him. My whole life, there was something about me that didn't quite fit into the places I was put, like something about me was just wrong, and I had tried with all my might to shape myself into the mold of other people's expectations. Even amongst my family, it was like I was out of place. But, now…

"I feel so… at home here in your arms," I said just loud enough for him to hear, hoping to convey the sincerity of my words.

It was that warmth that I had been searching for since we moved, and even before then. Even in the bitter cold, that familiar sensation took over me –that feeling when you walk into your house after a long day out. When all the lights are off and nothing's been moved since you left, but when you open the door, you're encompassed by all the scenery you've become accustomed to and security wraps itself around your tired body.

"Home is where the heart is," he reminded me with an overly used, but completely true, cliché.

Looking up at him with indescribable feeling, I kissed him once more and told him:

"You are my heart."

A/N: There you go! That's then end! I do hope you enjoyed it as much as I have! I'm brimming with happiness, to be honest. I feel so accomplished! :D Thank you so much to every single person who's read and reviewed and followed these characters! It truly is the greatest gift anyone could ever give me! I love you all so much!

As for a sequel? Well, hmmm... I'll just keep you guys on your toes about that one! ;) I can't explain how strange this is. I've finished small pieces before, but never something this profound! I'll be doing some minor editing of this a little later on -maybe combining a couple chapters -but that won't be for a while yet. Oh, man, I could get all gushy and go on about this forever, but I won't! I don't need the author's note being longer than the actual chapter, right?

Thank every single one of you! This honestly wouldn't have happened without you!