One year. It'd been one year since she'd left the only town she'd ever called home. And now she was back.

Thalyah sucked in a deep breath, taking in the crisp, winter air of Boston, Massachusetts. It wasn't snowing, thankfully. If it had been, her flight never would have landed and she never would have been able to return home for Christmas. She'd already skipped Thanksgiving. She didn't think her mother would ever forgive her if she skipped Christmas, too.

She'd already been to her mother's so that she could unpack and chat with her for a while about NYU and how much she enjoyed it there. After about an hour of being cooped up in the living room with her mother and Jack, her not-so-little brother, she decided she needed to take a walk.

It was weird, being back home after so long of being away. Sure, a year didn't seem like much to some people, but to her, someone who had never been away from home for more than a week growing up, it was a lifetime. She'd missed her family more than anything, but she'd be lying if she said being back home was easy for her, because it wasn't.

Everything in this town reminded her so much of why she'd left in the first place. Or rather, why she'd ran away.

Speaking of... she promised Kalen that she'd call him if she was ever back in town. She wasn't certain of whether or not he was still holding her to that promise. After all, it'd been a year, but a promise was a promise.

I'm so glad you made time to see me
How's life? Tell me how's your family

I haven't seen them in a while
You've been good, busier than ever
We small talk, work and the weather
Your guard is up and I know why

Thalyah was already regretting calling him.

After remembering her promise to Kalen, Thalyah had used her cell phone to call him. He'd sounded shocked when he picked up and realized that it was her on the other line, but the shock had quickly passed and he'd invited her to have coffee with him at what used to be their usual place. That place was Starbucks.

She wasn't regretting her decision to call him because of Starbucks, though. She was regretting it because he still looked good, very good, with his dark brown curls and light green eyes, and that half-smirk, half-smile that always used to warm her heart. Turned out, it still did.

That wasn't the worst of, though. No, the worst of it was that she was still hopelessly in love with him.

"You look good," was the first thing he said after they'd retrieved the coffees they ordered and taken their seats.

She tried really hard not to blush, but the effort was a wasted one.

"Thanks. You, too," she said, her tone completely genuine because she meant it. Boy, did she mean it.

"So..." Kalen started, only to pause a moment later.

He cleared his throat and she played with the lid on her cup. The awkwardness of the situation was not lost on her.

"How have you been?" he asked after another moment of awkward silence had passed.

She looked into his eyes, those eyes she used to be convinced could see straight through to her soul, and she saw the questions swimming around in his irises. He wanted to ask more than just how she was doing, she knew that. Thalyah knew Kalen, better than she knew herself sometimes, and she wished that, for once, he'd just say what was on his mind. She knew he wouldn't, though. That was just who he was. Not much had changed in the course of a year.

But, then again, a few things had changed.

They used to be able to talk about anything and everything. There never used to be awkward silences and halfhearted attempts at making conversation.

That was before, though. Before she broke his heart, and her own, and left him behind.

"I've been good," she eventually answered. She meant it, too. She had been good. University was amazing, and New York was beautiful, especially in the winter. She loved it there, but the thing was, New York wasn't home. Boston was, but she'd left for reasons that she'd never explained to anyone, for fear that they'd label her a chicken. She felt she was, though, because she ran away when she should have stayed, but she'd let her fear get the best of her.

Sitting here now, with the very reason for her leaving seated right across from her, she realized, for the first time in a year, how much she regretted her cowardice.

"What about you? How have you been?" she asked, desperately attempting to leave her thoughts of the past in the past, where they belonged.

He hesitated a moment before answering. "I've been okay," Kalen answered. Thalyah frowned, noting the blatant honesty in his voice. Okay wasn't the answer she'd been looking for. She'd wanted him to say that he was good - amazing, even - and that her leaving hadn't affected him in the least bit.

She knew better than that, though. She could see that it had and guilt immediately seeped its way into her chest. She hated being the reason that he was merely okay. He was Kalen, the boy who always goofed off and played pranks, not Kalen, the boy who was okay.

She could see that he wasn't that boy anymore, though, and she couldn't rid herself of the nagging thought at the back of her mind that was telling her it was all her fault.

After another moment, Thalyah decided to break the silence that had bestowed itself upon them once more. "Just okay?" she asked. There wasn't any doubt in her mind that she'd regret asking that question, but a part of her knew that she'd regret not asking that question even more.

Kalen didn't answer right away. Instead, he let his gaze meet hers whilst he took a sip of his coffee. She attempted to look away, but her attempts were futile. His eyes, they were the first thing she'd fallen in love with when they were just children. There was just something about those eyes that made it impossible to look away, no matter how much a person wanted to.

His gaze made her feel naked, like he could see things about her that even she couldn't see.

"What do you want me to say, Tally?" he asked, not bothering to break their eye contact.

Thalyah felt her heart sink. She hadn't heard that nickname since the day she left. It wasn't a day she wanted to remember, but she remembered it perfectly. If the look on Kalen's face was anything to go by, she could see that he remembered it, too. Of course he did. How could he not?

"Do you want me to say that I'm happy?" he asked when she still hadn't said anything. She didn't know what to say. Yes, she wanted to hear that he was happy, but she could see that he wasn't and she thought maybe that was her fault, so she deserved the truth, even if it wasn't what she wanted. "I'm not, Tal. I'm not because I still love the girl that left me, and everything we had, behind."

"I-I'm sorry," Thalyah stammered, at a complete loss for words. She knew sorry wasn't enough. It would probably never be enough because it couldn't erase the damage she'd inflicted when she'd left, but she just didn't know what else to say.

Kalen finally tore his gaze from hers, running his fingers through his hair after doing so. It had always been a bad habit of his, ever since they were kids. It was something he did when nervous, or worse, frustrated. She had this terrible feeling in the pit of her stomach that he was the latter at the moment.

They both stayed silent for a few moments, sipping away at their coffee whilst looking everywhere except at each other.

"Why'd you leave?"

Thalyah set her coffee aside, fidgeting with strands of her strawberry blonde hair as she met Kalen's gaze. She wanted more than anything to discontinue this conversation because she didn't want to talk about why she'd left, but he deserved that much, didn't he? He deserved the truth and if he was ever going to be able to let her go, she needed to tell him why she'd walked away.

It didn't matter that she didn't want him to let her go. It was for the best. Just like leaving had been.

'Cause the last time you saw me is still burned in the back of your mind
You gave me roses and I left them there to die

Kalen wasn't positive why he asked that particular question. He'd always wanted to know, but now that she was here and she could actually answer the question that had gone unanswered for the past year, he wasn't sure that was the truth anymore.

He remembered the night before she left all too well. Otherwise known as the last time he saw her.

He'd given her a bouquet of red roses and asked her to be his wife because he had loved her with everything that he had. He hadn't cared that they were too young. Everyone had told them they were too young to be so committed to each other, anyway, so he hadn't seen the harm in asking her to be his wife. What he hadn't realized was that she was going to blow him off.

They had a fight and both left. The roses were left there to die.

She called him the next morning. She didn't apologize for the things she'd said. Neither did he. She told him she was done with Boston and that she was moving to New York and transferring to NYU so that she could start over. The conversation was short and before they hung up, he told her to give him a call if she ever returned to Boston. She promised that she would and that was that.

"We never officially broke up, y'know?" she said, and it was obvious that she was avoiding his question. He couldn't help but smile a little at that because it was so like her to avoid the things she didn't want to talk about. At least that much hadn't changed.

Her words were true, though. Neither one of them had officially broken things off. He'd known that it was over, though, without either one of them having to say it. It was over the second she left.

"You're avoiding the question." In the past, he would have humored her, would have let her avoid whatever subject it was she was trying to avoid, but this wasn't the past. They weren't the same people anymore, and what she wanted wasn't the most important thing in the world to him anymore.

He just wished he could say the same about her not being the most important thing in the world to him anymore.

"I wanted to say yes." She didn't think that answered his question; not really, but that didn't change the fact that it was the truth. She'd wanted to say yes, so badly, but it was complicated. Wasn't everything?

Kalen didn't know what to say to that. It didn't change anything. It didn't matter that she wanted to say yes, because what she said was no and this trip down memory lane wasn't going to change that.

"But you didn't," was his only response.

So this is me swallowing my pride
Standing in front of you saying, 'I'm sorry for that night'
And I go back to December all the time

"But I wanted to," she reiterated after taking a sip of her coffee.

Kalen scoffed. Thalyah didn't think the harsh noise sounded right coming from him.

"Yeah, but you didn't, Tal. You didn't. Saying that you wanted to doesn't make a damn difference and you know it."

She shouldn't have been shocked that he snapped at her, but she was. He'd only spoken to her like that once, on the last night she ever saw him. She realized she probably deserved it, just like she deserved it then, too.

"We were so young, Kalen." It was the first she'd spoken his name in a year. "I was scared," she said, her voice cracking softly.

He wanted to reach across the table and take her hand in his. He wanted to tell her that it was okay that she'd been scared. He wanted to say that none of that mattered anymore, but he couldn't because that would be a lie, and he couldn't hold her hand because this girl had broken his heart and he refused to fall under her spell again. Even though he'd never really fallen out of it.

"So was I," he admitted, and it was the truth. He'd been scared out of his mind when he'd asked Thalyah to be his wife, but he'd loved her enough to look past that fear and to realize that everyone was scared. He wasn't about to let that fear get in the way of him proposing to the girl he'd wanted to spend the rest of his life with. "Everyone gets scared," he continued when she'd yet to say anything. "Commitment is scary, but I loved you too much to let fear stop me. I guess I can't say the same for you, huh?"

That was harsh, he knew it before the words left his mouth, but despite how harsh they were, that was how he really felt. Maybe she had loved him, but he wasn't so sure, because if she loved him so damn much, why the hell didn't she stay?

Thalyah pursed her lips, knowing nothing either one of them said could erase the sting of his words. She couldn't be mad at him for thinking that way, for thinking that she hadn't loved him as much as he'd loved her. She had, though, so much. It was just, he'd always been stronger than her, and maybe that was a sorry excuse, but she hadn't been able to fight that fear, to fight that terrible feeling that, had she agreed to marry him, everything would have gone wrong.

This time, she was the one who looked him in the eye. "I loved you more than you will ever know and I only left so that I wouldn't lose you."

"You lost me when you left, Tal, so how does what you just said make any sense?"

It might not have made sense to him, but it made perfect sense to her. "If I had said yes, you could have changed your mind. That ring that would have been on my finger couldn't have guaranteed that we'd stay together forever."

"There aren't any guarantees in life," Kalen said with a shake of his head. "I remember when I first asked you out. We'd been friends for years, but we were in high school and we started to drift apart a bit. I fell in with the jocks, you fell in with the artists and the musicians, and it felt a little like I was losing you. I started seeing Lizzie and you grew distant." She remembered that. She'd been so jealous and it'd just been so hard to be around him when she knew that he was with someone that wasn't her. "It confused me, at first, but then I got it. So, I cornered you during lunch and asked you out. Your response was, 'what about Lizzie?' and I told you Lizzie and I weren't serious. She was just a girl and she wasn't you."

"And then I said, 'of course, you big doof,'" Thalyah cut in, a small smile creeping its way onto her face at the memory.

"Yeah," Kalen said, resisting the urge to smile, "but you remember what you said after that?"

She nodded. She remembered perfectly. "'Relationships take a lot of work. It won't be easy for us to stay together, but we have to be willing to work through our issues. It won't be like before, when we ignored each other for weeks before things went back to normal. We might get scared, feel like things are getting too serious, and that might cause us to run, but we have to fight that fear. I know I will because losing you would be scarier,'" she quoted herself effortlessly, recounting every word she'd spoken to him that day.

It turns out freedom ain't nothing but missing you
Wishing that I realized what I had when you were mine
I'd go back to December, turn around and make it all right
I go back to December all the time

These days I haven't been sleeping
Staying up, playing back myself leavin'
When your birthday passed and I didn't call
And I think about summer, all the beautiful times
I watched you laughing from the passenger side
Realized that I loved you in the fall

Then the cold came, the dark days when fear crept into my mind
You gave me all your love and all I gave you was 'goodbye'

"You weren't just my girlfriend, Thalyah." She hated it when he used her full name. He'd always called her 'Tal' or 'Tally', which was a nickname no one else had ever been allowed to call her, and it was just weird, hearing him use her first name. "You were my best friend. There were so many times I wanted to call you after you left, but I figured you'd call because you were the one who left, not me. You never called, though. Not once. Not until now."

It was true, she'd never called, not even on his birthday, but what he didn't know was that she'd picked up the phone, intent on calling him, plenty of times over the past year. Fear always stopped her, though. It had a way of doing that, of keeping her away from him, and she just never found the strength to fight it.

"I did call you," she said after a moment, capturing his undivided attention. "Once, on your birthday."

He remembered getting a call that day from an unknown number. He'd answered because he figured one of his family members or friends was calling from a payphone, but when he'd said 'hello', no one had said anything back. He stayed on the line for a few minutes before hanging up. He just thought maybe someone had called the wrong number. Never, for one second, did he think it could have been Thalyah. It'd been four months since she'd left and he'd been trying his best to forget her, so he hadn't for one second let himself entertain the idea that she'd been the person on the other line.

"Why didn't you say anything?" he asked, but he cut her off before she could answer. "Let me guess, you were scared, right?" The bitterness he felt was obvious in the way he spoke. It didn't suit him, but Thalyah was beginning to realize that he wasn't the same guy she'd left behind exactly one year ago.

"I didn't think you'd want to hear from me."

He looked at her like she'd gone insane. "That was all I wanted."

She felt her heart break a little more at those words. She didn't know what to say to that, so she let silence fall upon them for what felt like the hundredth time that afternoon.

So this is me swallowing my pride
Standing in front of you saying, 'I'm sorry for that night'
And I go back to December all the time

"I should go," Thalyah announced abruptly, standing up from her seat. She couldn't take this silence anymore.

Kalen looked up, stopping in the midst of fiddling with the lid on his cup, like he'd been doing for the past five minutes.

He didn't want her to go, but maybe it was best if he just let her, like he had before. Things were too awkward and he hated it.

"Yeah, you should," he said, knowing his words were harsh, but trying his best not to care. He failed miserably when he saw the wounded look on her face, but he ignored it to the best of his ability. He wouldn't let her make him feel guilty, even if that wasn't her intent.

"Bye, Kale," she whispered, not bothering to look back as she threw her cup in the trash and left Starbucks, leaving him behind for the second time in her life.

It turns out freedom ain't nothing but missing you
Wishing that I realized what I had when you were mine
I'd go back to December, turn around and change my mind
I go back to December all the time

She returned home immediately, letting her tears fall the second she stepped through the front door, completely forgetting that her mother and Jack were still home.

"Tal?" That was Jack.

"Sweetie?" That was her mom, Deanna.

"Do I need to kick Kalen's ass?" Jack asked. Thalyah laughed through her tears, looking at her mother and brother after wiping at her eyes.

"Watch your mouth, young man," Deanna scolded Jack, lightly smacking his arm.

"I'm fifteen, ma. I can say what I want," Jack joked. Thalyah giggled, but their mom didn't find his joke very funny.

"Jack, go to your room. I want to speak to your sister alone," Deanna ordered.

"Fine, ma," he grumbled, glancing at Thalyah after he stood up. "My offer still stands." He sounded more serious this time, but Thalyah just rolled her eyes and sent him a grateful smile before waving him off. He scoffed before bounding up the stairs, leaving Thalyah alone with their mother.

"I'm just going to guess that things with Kalen didn't go all that well," Deanna said after her daughter had seated herself beside her on the couch.

"Awful is more like it." Thalyah sighed. She shouldn't have expected anything less. She hadn't expected anything, not really. She was the one who left and she'd never expected for things to go back to normal between her and Kalen if she ever saw him again. Not that she had ever planned on seeing him again, because she hadn't. Sure, she'd thought about it, but she never thought she'd actually go through with it.

The only reason she'd even called him today was because she'd promised, and she'd already broken all the other promises she'd made to him, so she figured she should at least keep the one she'd made the day she left, but she hadn't expected him to ask her to coffee. She should have said no, but the second she heard his voice...

She shook her head, refusing to let herself finish that thought. She couldn't keep living in the past. She couldn't let him live in it, either. They needed to move on, but the thing was, she didn't think she wanted to, and even if she did, she didn't think she could. She'd loved him too much. She still did. She thought maybe she always would.

"What happened between the two of you that night?" Deanna asked, because she never exactly understood what happened between Thalyah and Kalen. They'd always seemed so happy and she'd always felt that the two were made for each other. She still did think that, even if it seemed that they didn't.

They'd been fine before that night. They'd been smitten with each other when they'd left the house, but then Thalyah returned home with her mascara running and tears in her eyes and Deanna had asked what was wrong, but her only response was that she was leaving and moving to New York the following morning. That was the last time Deanna ever asked her daughter about that night.

Thalyah didn't want to take that trip down memory lane, but it would seem she had no choice, if the expression on her mother's face were anything to go by. She felt awful about leaving so suddenly, she did, but she'd needed to go, to get away from Boston and everything that reminded her of Kalen.

"Kalen asked me to marry him," Thalyah said, skipping the part about the romantic dinner and the dancing in the snow because she didn't want to remember any of that, but just because she didn't want to remember, didn't change that she did.

Deanna didn't say anything, unsure of what the appropriate response was.

"I said no," she continued when her mother had yet to say anything. She was positive she was just taking the time to process the information that her daughter had been proposed to. She was sure any mother would need time to process that.

"Why?" was Deanna's only response.

"I didn't take my own advice, that's why," Thalyah explained, "and we got into a fight, a bad one, and I said things that I wish I could take back, and that was that. We both left and I called him the next day and told him I was leaving. Today is the first I've spoken to him since then."

"You were scared, so you left," Deanna said, suddenly realizing why it was that Thalyah had left. That was just like Thalyah, following in her mother's footsteps, but Deanna had never wanted her daughter to have her life. Not her love life.

"It doesn't matter." She was trying to change the subject. She didn't want to talk about Kalen anymore. "I can't change what happened, so why dwell on it?"

"Thal--"

Her mother was interrupted by a knock on the door. Deanna stood up, but Thalyah stopped her.

"Don't, I'll get it. Just go upstairs and watch your afternoon Soaps like you always do," Thalyah said, doing her best to regain what was left of her composure as she stood up and made her way to the front door.

Her mother had disappeared by the time she had reached it, which she was thankful for because the second she opened it, she found herself facing the very man they'd just been talking about.

"Kalen."

I miss your tanned skin, your sweet smile, so good to me, so right
And how you held me in your arms that September night
The first time you ever saw me cry

She'd thought being in Starbucks with Kalen had been awkward, but having him sitting in her mom's living room, seated a few inches away from her on the very couch they used to have hour long make-out sessions on, was ten times more awkward than that. It didn't make much of a difference that they were seated a safe distance from each other because she could still smell his Irish spring soap and the mixture of cinnamon and coffee on his breath and she hated that she couldn't scoot closer to him like she used to, just to feel the heat that emanated from him. Everything about him had been warm... his heart, his body, everything. And she missed him. All of him.

"I miss you," she whispered, not sure where it came from, but knowing that she had to say it because she couldn't keep hiding her feelings anymore. She had to stop being so damn scared or else they'd never get what they both desperately needed. Even though she wasn't entirely sure what that was. Maybe closure, but she hated that word because it was definite and she wasn't sure she was ready to say goodbye forever, even though, essentially, that was what she'd been trying to do when she'd left.

"I miss you always being there for me." She chanced a look at him, studying the expression on his face, but it was devoid of any emotion. She hated it when he was like this, she always had, because she hated not being able to read him like she always used to be able to, but time changed things. "I know it's my fault that you're not, I know that, but I wish so badly that I could change everything, that I could go back to that night and say yes because I wanted to. I wasn't lying when I said that before."

"I know you weren't," he said, refusing to look at her. He'd believed her when she'd said that at Starbucks. He'd seen it in her eyes. Those beautiful blue eyes that had always reminded him so much of the ocean. Eyes that he'd missed terribly for the past year.

"I miss you, too," he said, finally looking at her. "I miss everything about you, you know that. I told you I still love you and I mean that."

"What I didn't tell you earlier is that I still love you, too."

Maybe this is wishful thinking, probably mindless dreaming
If we loved again, I swear I'd love you right...

Kalen's only response was to grab her and kiss her.

She didn't know what to do, how to respond, so she just let him, but when it finally registered that the boy she'd loved practically her entire life was kissing her for the first time in a year, she found herself kissing back. This was a mistake, they both knew it. They were treading on dangerous waters, setting themselves up for a heartbreak worse than the one from before.

This was worse because they weren't together now and this kiss couldn't fix all the damage that her leaving had caused. It couldn't make Kalen trust Thalyah again, and it couldn't make her stay because she had to return to New York to continue her education. This kiss was just going to complicate their non-existent relationship further and she'd leave Boston even more broken than she was when she left the first time, but she couldn't bring herself to care because Kalen was kissing her and she'd missed him. His lips were still soft and he still tasted like cinnamon and his hands were still warm.

He was still Kalen, the boy that made her feel safe, the boy that had been her first everything, and the first and only boy that had ever had her entire heart.

She wasn't sure how long the kiss lasted before she pulled away, but it didn't matter because the second she pulled away, he pulled her back to him again and kissed her harder than he had before. She couldn't think straight when he kissed her like that, but she knew they shouldn't have been doing this. They shouldn't have been kissing because they hadn't resolved anything, but she couldn't bring herself to care because God, she'd missed him.

I'd go back in time and change it but I can't
So if the chain is on your door, I understand

But this is me swallowing my pride
Standing in front of you saying 'I'm sorry for that night'
And I go back to December
It turns out freedom ain't nothing but missing you
Wishing that I'd realized what I had when you were mine
I'd go back to December, turn around and make it all right
I'd go back to December, turn around and change my own mind

She'd lost count of how many times he kissed her, or she kissed him, before he put a stop to the kisses.

She wasn't going to lie, it hurt her to have him pulling away like that, after so many kisses and whispers of 'I missed you', but she wasn't naïve. She wished she was, so that she couldn't think of how those kisses changed nothing, but she just wasn't and she couldn't let herself be. She couldn't fool herself into thinking that this changed anything because that would just make this all hurt so much worse, wouldn't it?

"I wish things were different, y'know?" she said after a moment, unable to handle the silence. She didn't want things to be awkward anymore. Maybe they'd never be the same as they were before, but that didn't mean they had to be all awkward around each other. They'd been friends for so many years before they started dating in high school and they could be those people again. Maybe not exactly the same, but somewhat the same, and that was enough. It had to be, because after seeing him today, she realized she didn't want to say goodbye forever.

She didn't want them to be a ridiculous cliché, even if that's exactly what they were.

"Maybe in another life, Tal," Kalen said, standing up from his spot on the couch. "I've gotta go. I promised my mom I'd help her start on all her Christmas baking."

Thalyah nodded, not wanting to him to leave, but knowing that he had to.

She walked him to the door and he faced her once he was standing on the porch.

"Come see me before you leave, yeah?" He wanted to see her before she left. To say a proper goodbye.

"I promise," Thalyah said and she meant it. She wouldn't leave the same way she had last time.

"I'll see you soon, Tally," was the last thing he said before leaving.

She shut the door behind him, leaning against it after she'd done so. "See you soon, Kale," she whispered to no one other than herself, thinking about how badly she wished she'd said yes.

I'd go back to December all the time
All the time


Heh. I don't know how to feel about this.

I had this idea, but then I got distracted one too many times and this is the result of that. So... yeah. Here you go. Another one-shot inspired by Taylor Swift's new album.

I think I'm going to work on Enchanted. Or the one-shot that I've been working on for a week now that has nothing to do with Taylor Swift's music whatsoever. And neither one are angsty, so, 'tis all good.

Oh, and I don't own Taylor Swift or her music. Or Starbucks. Obviously.