Never Say Forever

Kaleah felt like something was being ripped out of her heart the minute she stepped on the plane and left her home in Sunset Valley. As much as Ironhorse was her home, so was Sunset Valley. As much as her mother was her family in Ironhorse, Sam was her family in Sunset Valley. She was a flurry of different emotions. She felt sadness for leaving Sam, not knowing if she will ever be back. She felt guilty for giving Kimmi the cold shoulder and not even so much as saying goodbye, but relief for having a break from seeing her Okie face. She felt excitement to see her mother and the friends she left behind, but also felt scared to know how it felt to be in her childhood home without her father there. The plane ride was barely 3 hours long, and her mother had explained to her that a driver would be waiting for her at the airport. The driver would know where to go and was already paid for, so the only thing Kaleah had to worry about was her luggage. She got into the car and slumped back in her seat. As the driver began to head into the depths of the tiny town Kaleah called home, she couldn`t help but smile at the familiar surroundings. They passed the old consignment store where Kaleah and her best friends Olivia and Alex used to be frequent shoppers. They passed the art gallery in which inspired Kaleah to become an artist when she was just a young girl. They passed the old factories and the sheriff`s department. Kaleah took in familiar scents and sights...for as long as she could, anyways. When they neared the right-hand turn that would take Kaleah to the home she grew up in, the driver didn`t turn. He kept going right passed the turn off.

"Excuse me, sir." Kaleah tapped the drivers shoulder. "You missed the turn."

"Listen, little lady. I've been a driver for 25 years. I know my way around Ironhorse like the back of my hand. Trust  me. I did not miss the turn. The address your mother gave to me is just up this street." The driver responded. Kaleah was confused...maybe her mother was meeting her somewhere else. Without saying another word, Kaleah sat back in her seat and trusted that the driver knew what he was doing. He was heading up a road that Kaleah knew well. Before she had moved away, there had only been the frames of houses on this street - it was a newer development and Kaleah remembered fondly of the great memories of illegally trespassing on the dug-out basements with her friends and throwing bush-bashes out there. To see it all developed felt strange.

The driver dropped her off in front of a small, white brick home with a one car garage and a fierce stone fountain placed neatly in the front yard. It had a white picket fence closing off the front door from the rest of the world and ivy vines grew rapidly up the sides of the brick. Kaleah studied the home as the driver put her suitcases on the flagstone driveway.

"Where are we?" Kaleah asked the driver. The driver tipped his hat, in an obvious farewell gesture, and got back into the car, completely ignoring Kaleah's question. Immediately, Kaleah's stomach knotted up. Wherever she was, this was not her home. Hesitantly, she headed inside.

Kaleah didn't knock. She was too confused to even let the thought of knocking enter her mind. She walked inside to this tiny little home - much smaller on the inside than Kaleah expected. She studied it. There was a small kitchen with a little breakfast nook. Off to the right of the kitchen was a little half bathroom. Straight ahead was a closed off room in which Kaleah saw nothing but a staircase. To the right of the kitchen was a small hallway that led to a back door. Everything was white...the walls were white, the doors were white...even the counters and cupboards were white. It felt almost angelic, but in an eerie way. Kalaeah barely noticed her mother and her two best friends only a few feet away from her. When she walked inside, the room grew quiet. She noticed her two best friends were staring at her in shock, as if they weren't seeing Kaleah, but saw her ghost instead. Her mother peered over, but only for a moment. She continued to make the coffee she was so intently brewing. After a few moments of silence, Olivia - a cute blonde with an innocent face and a slim frame, jumped up and ran towards her.

"KALEAH!" She hollered. 

Olivia lunged towards Kaleah and brought her into an excitable hug. That was typical for Olivia. She was always so happy and bubbly. In ways, she reminded Kaleah of Kimmi, but in a good way. She didn't have the annoying Okie twang or the overly motherly attitude. She was like Kimmi in all the positive ways.

"I'm sooooo happy to see you!" She giggled as she pulled away. Kaleah looked over at her mother, who had still yet to say a word. She sat down in the seat that Olivia was just in.

"It's good to see you too!" Kaleah said, smiling big. It was true...Kaleah missed her best friends terribly.  

"Your mom invited us over when she found out you'd be arriving today. She said you would be super pleased to see everyone right away!" Olivia smiled. "We missed you so much! Things haven't been the same without you around!"

"I missed everyone too. I'm really glad you guys are here!" Kaleah smiled again.

"I want to know everything that's been going on with you! How are you super awesome art classes? What about your roommate, Samantha? Did you guys become super close or what? I hope you don't like her more than you like us....that would just be terrible if you replaced us! What's Sunset Valley like?" Kaleah couldn't help but to laugh at the millions of questions Olivia was dishing out. A pain flashed through her chest, though. Her mother didn't keep her friends filled in on anything that was going on...and what was worse, Kaleah just realized that in the entire time she was away, she hadn't bothered to talk to any of her old friends. She felt terrible. 

"I'm sorry I didn't keep in touch." Kaleah said, fighting back tears. "I didn't even realize until now how I must've just disappeared to you guys."

"Oh, Leah. It's alright! We understood why you left and that you were probably super wrapped up in all of the awesomeness over there!" Kaleah felt her heart warm when she heard her old nickname. Unlike the nickname her cousins gave her, Leah was a nickname she always liked. Nobody had called her that in months.

"Awesome is soooo not the word for my life over there. Everything's been a mess since the start." Kaleah said, sadly. Alex got up from her stool and joined Olivia in the interrogation.  

Alex was an intimidating red head who was always blunt and brutally honest. Kaleah met Alex back in the seventh grade when Kaleah was being picked on by a group of snooty cheerleaders. Alex was always tough and picked fights constantly. She stood up for Kaleah and ever since then, they were inseparable. Kaleah may have known Olivia since kindergarten and been her best friend since then, but she always felt closer to Alex. 

"I'm not going to get all sappy and give you a big bear hug like Liv did over there, but it's good to see you." Alex said as she approached. Olivia rolled her eyes. While the two of them were just as much best friends with each other as Kaleah was with either of them, they never really did get along. They had two completely separate personalities that almost always clashed. "But I will say this - I'm not surprised that your life over there is a mess, like you said. You always were the kind of person to get herself stuck in sticky situations."

"Oh Alex..." Kaleah laughed. "Always one to tell the whole truth and nothing but it." Alex winked at Kaleah.

"That's why I'm so damn lovable. Anyways, what's the story?" 

"Maybe we should sit down at the table." Kaleah's mother had finally said. Kaleah looked over at her. She looked worried at how Kaleah would treat her. In all of the phone conversations they had had, Kaleah's mom never mentioned her moving away from the home Kaleah spent her entire life in. As far as Kaleah gathered, this was her mother's new home they were standing in. Without a word, Kaleah nodded and four of them sat down together.

Kaleah got right into telling everyone the entire story about what happened to her in Sunset Valley. She mentioned how her art classes were non-existent since the first day she got there and had to just endure the six month lease without a real reason for being there. She told them about the awesome home she lived in and the cute little balcony she always painted on. She mentioned how Samantha was actually a boy named Samson and how they had a very complicated friendship. She decided to leave bits and pieces out of everything, including her affair with Sam's best friend, her on and off feelings for Sam, the situation with Bre and her binge partying she had just recently went through. She came here to escape her problems, not relive them. She told them about her ex-boyfriend, Tyrell and how amazing he was. She told them about her first encounters with Hank and how Sam had saved her from a terrible mistake.

"You should've brought this Sam guy." Alex said, eyes dazed in a dreamy gaze. "He sounds like someone I'd go for." Alex was always attracted to the angry hero type boys. Kaleah did her best to hide her jealousy when Alex spoke about him that way.

"He sounds like he's nothing but drama." Olivia said, rolling her eyes. "I'm glad you didn't bring him."

"Girls, regardless how you feel, this boy is very close to Kaleah." Belinda, Kaleah's mom, said. She knew a little more about Sam and Kaleah's relationship, but not by much. Kaleah felt thankful for her not spilling the details she left out to her friends. Kaleah nodded in agreement to her mother's words.

"Despite everything, he and I are very good friends." She said. Just before either of her friends could go on about the details of Sam, the back door opened. Kaleah looked over and her heart dropped when she saw who it was. Dawson, a boy who Kaleah had known her entire life, came walking in. He was distracted by the basket he was holding, full of different vegetables and fruits. He didn't even notice Kaleah until he had placed the basket in the fridge. His shocked expression made it obvious that he had no idea Kaleah was coming home. 

"Well, well, well..." Dawson said, all too loudly. "Look who came crawling back."

"Dawson, be nice!" Belinda cried. "Dawson has been helping me around the house ever since I moved. He's a great helper." Belinda told Kaleah. Kaleah stared at Dawson, unsure of how to react. 

"Why are you back here?" He asked, angrily. "You left."

"Dawson, this is her home!" Alex hollered, getting defensive. Dawson and Kaleah stared into each other's eyes. Kaleah had a pleading look across her face whereas Dawson looked furious.

"Yeah, but she abandoned it! She has no place here!" Dawson responded, practically shouting. "Are you home for good or are you just visiting?"

"I...I don't know." Seeing Dawson's reaction had startled Kaleah and she was on the verge of tears. "I'm sort of playing it by ear."

"Story of your life, huh?" Dawson pursed his lips, still not taking his stare away from Kaleah. His passion and anger took over his entire body. Kaleah looked over at Olivia, who seemed to have a jealous look in her eye. She stood up.

"We have somewhere to be." Olivia said, grabbing Dawson from behind. "We should really get going."

"Yes, we really should." Alex said through her teeth, giving Dawson a deathly glare. Dawson didn't say another word. He shook off Olivia and headed out the door, slamming it firmly behind him.

"Sweetie, if I would've known..." Belinda said to Kaleah, apologetically.

"Don't worry about it. I'm fine." Kaleah lied.

"Leah, we will talk to you tomorrow, okay? We have this thing down at the pier...we would invite you but we only have 3 tickets." Olivia apologized and then left, Alex following quickly behind. 

Dawson had lived next to Kaleah and her parents since before she could even remember. He had been her friend for longer than either Olivia or Alex. They grew up together - played in the park together, played tag and hide and seek in their backyards together. Her parents and Dawson's parents were good friends, too. When Kaleah and Dawson hit Jr. High, Dawson developed a little infatuation with Kaleah. He crushed on her pretty hard and he tried to make sure that she knew it. Unfortunately, Kaleah didn't really feel that way about him...until High School hit. He started to become more attractive to Kaleah and while she had her own mini crush on him, she never really wanted to do anything about it. She always feared rejection...always feared falling in love and getting hurt. She would lead Dawson on and then stomp on his dreams. They hooked up three times right before Kaleah moved away...the first time they hooked up, they were drunk at a party. They made out on Alex's mom's couch while buzzed up on Patron shots. Kaleah hardly remembered it the next day, but Dawson had it vividly planted in his mind. The second time they hooked up was at a beach party. They were in the lake and he had snuck in a kiss. Kaleah didn't expect it, but she kissed him back. She couldn't tell if it was because she liked him or because she felt bad for him. Either way, she did kiss him back. The third time was the day before she had moved away...and this time, they actually did more than kissed. She had told him she would finally give him a chance and he made it well passed 2nd base, but not all the way. She had been planning her trip to Sunset Valley for months, but never wanted to mention it to him. He found out she was gone the day after she had already left. She knew she must've left him heartbroken, but she feared that if she stayed for him or asked him to come along that her mini crush would turn into love and loving something meant you would hurt if you lost it. Kaleah never wanted to face that. She ruined things with her oldest friend that she had, and that hurt just as bad as losing a love.

"Sweetheart, I didn't want to say anything...but I have to ask....what the heck did you do to your beautiful hair?" Belinda asked once the company had left. Kaleah shook her head.

"I honestly don't know. It will grow back."

"That is just so harsh on you. If you'd like, Christian owe's me a favor. He could take you in tomorrow morning and fix that for you." Christian was the most talented hair stylist in Ironhorse. He was usually booked months in advance.

"No, that's okay. I will just let it grow out." Kaleah sighed. "Mom, why did you sell the house?" Kaleah felt her eyes begin to water. She had sort of hoped, despite worrying about feeling sadness about his death, that she would be able to feel her father's presence and warmth and smell his scent she was so familiar with when she got home. But this was clear he hadn't stepped foot in it.

"Honey, I'm sorry." Belinda started tearing up as well. "I couldn't live there anymore. It was so old and way too big for an old bag like me to live in alone."

"I would be coming home permanently soon." Kaleah said, as if it was the answer to everything. 

"I know. It's still too big for the two of us. This's the perfect size. Two bedrooms and less upkeep. Plus, that home paid for the funeral. We were nearly bankrupt from all those medical bills your father had."

"We could've figured it out, mom. We could've kept the house! I wanted to come home. Not....whatever the hell this is supposed to be." Kaleah was shouting.

"This is home now. And do not curse under my roof!" Belinda hollered back.

"This is soooo not home!!" Kaleah screamed.

"I couldn't be in that house anymore!" Belinda responded sharply. Kaleah took a few deep breaths and calmed down. "I couldn't bare to be in that home and all I saw was him. He and I have had that home since the day we were married. All of our most precious memories are in that home, Kaleah! I couldn't handle the pain of seeing him everywhere I went in every dang object of that house anymore." Kaleah nodded her head in understanding. Her and her mother couldn't be more opposite. All what Kaleah wanted was her father...and if she couldn't have him, she wanted everything else about him. She wanted to see where he last stood and where he last slept before he passed on. She wanted to feel him and see him in everything she saw. But her mother didn't. Her mother had a different way of coping.  "You must be starving. I will cook you some supper." Belinda started to get up, but stopped when Kaleah shook her head.

"No, I'm not hungry." Kaleah swallowed back tears. "I think...I'm just going to go lie down." 

"Okay, sweetheart. Your room is downstairs...first door on the right through the hallway." Kaleah nodded once before she made her way to the stairs.

When Kaleah went downstairs, she passed the door she knew was supposed to be her bedroom. She wanted to find something that belonged in her real home...something that made this museum feel more like a house. She went down the hallway and came to a family room. She didn't recognize a single thing...not a picture or an heirloom. Everything was brand new and incredibly depressing. To the left of the living room was a door. She opened it and walked into an office big enough to be a tiny third bedroom. Again, nothing brought back her old home. Even the computer was brand new. Sighing, Kaleah moved onto the second and final door on the left side of the hall. It was a very modern, up to date bathroom that she was assuming was hers. Not even the soap holder was from her old home. 

She went to the room on the other side of the stairs. It was a laundry room. She hadn't expected her mother to haul their old washing machine to a new home, but she at least hoped her mother would still be using the same brand of washing detergent from when Kaleah was a kid. No such luck. Everything, literally everything, was different. Kaleah hesitated before going into her new bedroom, totally unsure of what to expect. Finally, she went in, walking slowly and cautiously. 

Kaleah didn't know what to expect, since her mother had moved all of Kaleah's bedroom furniture to Sunset Valley when she first moved out there. But what she saw was definitely a shock. Not a thing about her bedroom made her feel at home at all. It was too elegant and exquisite for Kaleah's taste and her mother should've known that. The only thing Kaleah recognized was the photography that she had in storage place percisely on the far wall and the shoes she had left behind neatly organized on the shelves. In the wardrobe were the remainder of her clothing - the stuff she didn't take with her. Otherwise, nothing was the same and nothing felt right. Kaleah lowered her head in disappointment.

All what Kaleah wanted to do at this point was curl up in a ball in defeat on the bed and hopefully get some sleep. She walked over to the four-poster king size bed and frowned upon it. It was so neatly made and the sheets looked too nice to mess up. Instead, she sat on the floor, her back up against the solid wood nightstand. She brought her knees closer to her chest and started to sob.

"Daddy, if you can hear me..." Kaleah said out loud, not caring if she looked foolish or not. "...why did you do this to me? Why did you leave me?" Kaleah began to sob harder and slowly, as her eyes and face filled with tears, she fell sleep.  

Later that evening, Kaleah woke up with her head resting on the hard, carpeted floor. Painfully, she stood up and put on her pajamas. Realizing she wouldn't fall back asleep very easily, she decided to get some fresh air. She went into the backyard and it was extravagent. The back deck was fenced off and held a little outdoor kitchen. The furniture was all high quality - totally out of her mother's character to have. Her mother used to only buy things on sale, whether they were poor quality or even completely broken. Binging on high class furniture was something her mother never did. 

Kaleah lit up the fireplace that sat to the right of the door and sat down on the extremely uncomfortable cushioned bench. Lost in her own thoughts, she barely noticed when her mother came outside.

"Honey, what are you doing out here?" Belinda asked. "It's quite cold." Even though it was still technically summer, the August nights in Ironhorse grew chilly. Fall was definitely coming in fast.

"I needed some fresh air." Kaleah said, solemnly. Belinda joined Kaleah on the bench.

"What's on your mind, sweetie? You never really told me exactly why you came home. I know you spent the night in jail, but why? What happened?" 

"I don't want to talk about it." Kaleah frowned. "I just want to forget it all happened."

"Kaleah, you can't just forget that it happened. You need to accept what you did and forgive yourself before you can move on."

"I didn't do anything wrong...I was the victim." Kaleah thought about how Sam and Kimmi betrayed her by spending the time she was grieving over her father making love and sneaking around. "Mom, why didn't you let me come home when dad died? Why didn't you let me come to the funeral?" Belinda stared at the ground for a few moments. She put an arm around her daughter.

"I'm sorry. I regret doing that to you." She said. Belinda never regretted anything, and for her to have regretted that made Kaleah a little satisfied. "I was an absolute wreck at the funeral. I could hardly stand and I was hysterical. Your aunt had to hold me up most of the time. I didn't want you to see me that way. I tried to shelter you from it all...for some reason, I had it in my head that if you were all the way in Sunset Valley, then it wouldn't affect you."

"It did affect me, mom! And I was completely alone." Kaleah felt tears threatening their way back, but tried her hardest to fight them off.

"I thought Sloane and Kimmi came to help you. And what about Sam?"

"They didn't know what I was going through. They didn't understand. Besides..." Kimmi sighed. "...Kimmi and Sam were too wrapped up in each other. They're dating now." This was a little fact that Kaleah forgot to mention to her mother. Her mother gasped in surprise.

"I thought you and Sam..."

"...We're just friends." Kaleah interrupted.

"Well what about Sloane? Wasn't she there for you?"

"You know Sloane...she spent most of her time greiving over her hair, rather than helping me grieve over daddy. I think that girl spent most of her stay shopping and straightening than anything." Kaleah giggled softly.

Belinda pulled Kaleah's face so she was looking her in the eye.

"I'll tell you what," Belinda said softly. "Next time something tragic affects the two of us, I will make sure that we grieve hysterically together. I promise I won't attempt a lost cause in sheltering you from bad stuff like that again." Kaleah smiled again.

"Thank you." She said. She forgave her mother, and started to understand her side of things. 

"Now, I know that you are here to get your head together, but can I lay down one ground rule?" Belinda asked, voice light and motherly. Kaleah nodded. "Have fun while you're here. If you go back to Sunset Valley, I want you to go back with a smiling face and a rejuvenated attitude." Kaleah giggled and threw her arms around Belinda.

"I love you mom." She said, holding her tightly.

"I love you, too, baby." Belinda responded, holding her daughter back.

The next morning, Kaleah woke up a little happier than she had in a while. She wasn't completely at ease about her father or the dramas of her life, but she was a little lighter hearted about it all. She got dressed and headed into the kitchen..but no one was there. She went upstairs to her mother's room,  Again, it was empty. As she went to head back downstairs, she saw two figures happily watering plants in the garden in the backyard. Kaleah quickly went outside, only to find her mother and...Dawson. Her heart skipped a beat when she saw him. She knew he would be angry at her, but in light of things, she at least hoped he would be there for her like he had been her entire life.

"Morning, darling!" Belinda called from the garden. Kaleah smiled at her mother and noticed Dawson watching her out of the corner of his eye. He didn't have that fury plastered all over his face like he did yesterday, but he still didn't seem entirely happy. "There's waffles on the table if your hungry." Kaleah nodded and sat down at the outdoor table where a giant plate of steamy waffles were waiting.

The waffles smelled and looked great, but after studying them for a minute, Kaleah realized she wasn't all that hungry. Waffles used to be her favorite breakfast, especially the ones her mom made. She missed them just as much as she missed home, but eating them in a house that could never be her actual home just didn't seem right.  

"You have to physically put them in your mouth in order to eat them. Staring at them won't help you much." Dawson said. Kaleah didn't even notice him approaching and jumped slightly at the sound of his voice. She looked up at him for only a brief moment and then stared back down at her waffles. 

"I guess I'm just not hungry." She said quietly.

"Mind if I sit down?" Dawson asked, pulling the chair out enough so he could sit. 

"Depends. Are you going to scream and shout at me some more? Because quite honestly, I don't think I could handle hearing any of that again." Kaleah said, still not looking at him. Dawson sat down anyway, apparently suggesting that he wasn't there to get mad at her. He sighed deeply before speaking.

"I'm sorry." He said softly. Kaleah looked up at him, surprised that he was apologizing. "I shouldn't have gotten so mad at you. When I left your house yesterday, I realized that you came home early for a reason, and it takes something big for you to ever give up on something. Instead of getting mad at you, I should've been there for you. Whatever reason you're home for, I'm here to listen." Dawson was always a great listener, and he was one of those rare people who will offer up any advice and help you in any way he could. Kaleah smiled in relief.

"I'm sorry for leaving you without any warning." she said. "I should've told you I was leaving. I should've called you and apologized the minute I was gone. What I did to you...that's unforgivable." 

"Why did you do that to me?" Dawson was a very sensitive guy, and Kaleah had every right to believe that he would start bawling his eyes out right then and there. Kaleah was very sensitive to Dawson's sensitivity. If he started crying, so would she. She tried her hardest to keep the conversation light and avoid that kind of sadness.

"I knew that if I told you, you would've asked me to stay." Kaleah responded, forcing a smile.

"So? That's hardly a reason to keep it from me."

"If you would've asked me to say, I would've stayed. And this was something I had to go do...for me." Kaleah was fighting back tears and Dawson smiled.

"You mean that?" Dawson asked. "You would've stayed if I asked you too?"

"I liked you a lot, Dawson. Of course I would have. Getting together with you was never part of my plan...going to Sunset Valley for half a year was." Kaleah noticed that Dawson's smile faded into a frown. He looked down at his feet.

"Liked..." He said softly. "As in...past tense." Kaleah stared wide eyed at him, unsure of how to respond. He looked back up at her. "You don't still like me?" Kaleah paused before answering.

"I don't know...I haven't really thought much about it." Kaleah decided to leave out the fact that she hadn't been thinking about it because she was too wrapped up in her on and off feelings about Sam. She was telling the truth though...she actually couldn't tell where her heart stood when it came to Dawson.

"Well, at least that's some hope...even if only a little." Dawson smiled again, but Kaleah noticed it wasn't easy for him. 

"Am I interrupting something?" Alex asked as she sat down on the chair across from Kaleah. "If you're giving Leah hell again, Dawson, don't think I won't break that pretty little nose of yours."

"Alex!" Kaleah scolded. She couldn't help but smile though. The familiarity of Alex always being on the defensive was something that made Kaleah happy.

"You don't scare me, Royce." Dawson said light heartedly. Royce was Alex's last name."Anyways, I should get back to work. Can we talk more later?" Dawson asked Kaleah. Kaleah nodded and Dawson stood up. "Again, I'm sorry for yesterday. I'm actually really happy to see you."

"Could've fooled me!" Alex said. Dawson rolled his eyes and headed back out to the garden.

"So what was that all about?" Alex asked as she stuffed a waffle in her mouth.

"He wanted to apologize. No big deal." Kaleah said, staring off at Dawson.

"Did you forgive him?" 

"Of course. And he forgave me for leaving without telling him."

"Yeah, you did him pretty bad. That poor guy didn't leave his bed for 3 weeks when you left. We all knew he liked you, but not that much."

"Well, I kind of led him on." Kaleah just now realized that she had never told her two best friends that she hooked up with Dawson so long ago. "We almost slept together before I left. I had feelings for him too."

"I have to say, I'm a little offended that you never told me about this, Leah!" Alex grabbed another waffle and began munching on it. "These waffles are amazing. Anyways, you say you had feelings for him. Do you still have those feelings?" Kaleah shrugged.

"I don't know. I want to say yes, but I honestly have no clue how I feel about him right now."

"'Cause you know, Liv has a thing for him now. She's dedicated the entire summer to luring him." Kaleah paused. That would explain the jealous glare Olivia had last night.

"Has anything happened between them?" Kaleah asked. She was surprised to see that she was now the jealous one. Maybe she still did have feelings for Dawson afterall. Alex shook her head.

"Dawson's totally oblivious. And Liv is too chicken to tell him how she feels. She's been chicken her whole life."

"Her whole life?" Kaleah asked, curiously.

"She's liked him for just as long as he's liked you...I thought you knew that..." Alex looked over at Dawson quickly. "Hell, I thought everyone knew that!" 

"I never knew that...did she tell you?"

"Yes. But I didn't need her to in order to figure it out. She's not the best at keeping things a secret." Alex laughed to herself. Kaleah sighed in disbelief.

"What's wrong, Leah?" Alex asked, concerned.

"Nothing. I just didn't know."

"Come on...I've been your best friend for God knows how long. I know that's not all on your mind...what's wrong?" Alex could always see right through Kaleah. Keeping a secret from Alex was near impossible.

"It's just...I don't know. I'm having mixed feelings about everything."

"I thought you would be happy to be home."

"I am." Kaleah sighed. "I don't know. It just feels like something is missing. I think it's the house....I miss my old house."

"Hm..." Alex studied Kaleah, not believing what she was saying.

"What? You think I'm lying?" Kaleah asked, angrily.

"No, I don't think you're lying...I just don't think you realize what it is that's actually missing." Kaleah was confused. Alex rolled her eyes and stood up. Grabbing Kaleah's wrist, she pulled her to the door. "Come on." She said, pulling Kaleah behind her.

"Where are we going?" Kaleah asked.

"You'll see." Leave to Alex to keep things blunt.

Kaleah followed Alex all around downtown, not stopping for a single thing. It was hot out...really hot and Kaleah was starting to get sweaty.

"Alex!" She called up ahead. Alex was a few paces in front of Kaleah. "Where the hell are you taking me?!" Alex didn't respond. Instead she walked back to Kaleah and pulled her to move faster. They headed up the hill to the old churchyard and that`s when Kaleah realized where Alex was taking her. "Alex..." Kaleah stopped walking.

"Leah, you have to." Alex said, urging her forward. Instantly, tears began to roll down Kaleah's cheeks.

"No! I can't!!!" She hollered, trying to push Alex off of her.

"LEAH LISTEN TO ME!" Alex screamed in frustration. "The reason why you feel like something isn't right...something's because you haven't made peace with your dad's death. You weren't at the funeral, which is where most people make peace with a loss. You didn't know it would happen, nor were you around when it did. To you, he's not dead. Your subconscious mind won't rest until you see it for yourself." Kaleah understood the sense of this, but she still was scared. A knot tighten in her stomach and she felt like she might get sick.

"Why are you taking me here?" Kaleah asked through sobs.

"Because no one else will." Alex grabbed Kaleah's hand and squeezed it. "And because I love you and hate to see you so sad." She urged Kaleah once more towards the graveyard and reluctantly, Kaleah slowly followed after her. Alex attended the funeral and knew exactly where the tombstone was. Kaleah approached the concrete stone cautiously. It said her father's name on it, and seeing it made Kaleah feel like someone had taken a knife to her heart. Alex rubbed Kaleah's back and pushed her one step forward. "I'm going to be over here. Take as long as you need." Without another word, Alex stepped away.

Kaleah took one more step towards the tombstone. She noticed an empty space right beside it, big enough to fit another coffin and tombstone. Kaleah eerily realized that when her mother's time came as well, she will be buried here beside him. But she couldn't think about that right now. As quickly as that thought entered her mind, she shook it out. Kaleah stared down at where her father was buried so many feet below where she was standing. Alex was right...this was a good idea for her to accept his death. It hurt...oh boy, did it ever hurt. But she needed this. Kaleah folded one arm over her chest protectively, as if that would make her pain go away. As she stood there, staring at the gold engraved letters that read her father's name, Kaleah wept hysterically. She wanted nothing more than her father right now...the only thing in this world that she can't have.

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