"Leah?"

"Yeah?" She breathed.

"It's good to have you home."

"It's good to be home."

"Really?"

"Yeah. Really."

Conner leaned towards Leah. Leah felt herself start to gravitate towards him too.

"We should really get some sleep." Conner whispered.

"Probably."

Leah was mere inches from Conner now.

"You have to see your dad tomorrow. You'll need your strength for that."

"I don't want to think about that right now."

"What do you want to think about?"

"Nothing. For once, I don't want to think."

Conner pulled himself away and laid down.

"Leah, I know I screwed up and I lost you. I'm not willing to do it again."

"No, I get it. I'm sorry."

"If we do this, we do it right this time, yeah?"

"Fair enough."

Leah picked at the comforter while she waited for Conner to say something. The silence seemed to stretch on forever to Leah.

"You still do that when you're nervous, huh?"

"Do what?"

"Pick at things. You used to do it with your jeans and sweaters all of the time."

"I guess I still do."

"You still chew your nails?"

"Get an earful from my mom about that?"

"She's not the most subtle person I've ever met."

Leah laughed. Subtle was definitely not a word that would ever be associated with her mother.

"Shh. We're going to get scolded by her if you keep laughing like that."

"I'm sure she'd scold us for being up past our bedtime in our thirties."

"More worried about her scolding us for sleeping in the same room."

"She'd probably jump for joy."

"More like call me a scoundrel and swat the back of my head."

"I'd almost forgotten about that!" Leah squealed.

"Shh. God, you really want me to get a beating don't you."

"Sorry."

Conner laughed.

"I don't think you are. You got us caught back then too."

"You're the one who got us caught."

"No way, that was definitely you. Miss, I can't keep quiet to save my life."

"You're the one who tripped going UP the stairs."

They both started laughing.

"At least your mom let me crash on the couch afterwards."

"Well, she wasn't going to let you walk home drunk after you barely made it down the stairs in one piece."

"I could never figure out why she didn't call my parents."

"Because I asked her not to." Leah murmured.

"Why?"

"I knew about...stuff back home. I knew it wasn't good."

"Well, thanks. You didn't have to do that."

"I wanted to. It was my fault anyways."

"Your fault?"

"I dragged you to the party, and you only drank because of those football jerks."

"They didn't force me to drink."

"I heard what they said, Conner."

"You heard that?"

"They weren't the greatest whisperers in the world. Pretty clear when they say, things like 'Have a drink buddy, play a game or two unless you want us to play a game or two with your friend there.' It was my way of paying you back."

"You didn't have to pay me back, Leah."

"I know. But I wanted to. We always had each other's backs. It was just what we did."

"I'd still have your back. If you needed me to."

"I know."

"Why did you never tell me? That you knew what they said, I mean."

"I had dad take care of it. Remember the football team "volunteering" to clean up after the spring carnival?"

"Yeah?"

Leah smiled wickedly.

"Your dad did that?"

"Yup. Decided that they needed to clean up their attitudes while cleaning up trash. They all had to write me apology letters too."

"Tell me you kept those."

"Obviously."

"Where are they?"

"I'll show you tomorrow. I'm suddenly just exhausted."

"Oh no, you don't."

Conner pounced on top of Leah and started tickling her. Leah tried to roll away and ended up toppling them both off of the bed. Leah landed on top of Conner, both of them chuckling.

"Didn't expect you to roll."

"Didn't expect you to come with me."