Disclaimers: Everyone belongs to whoever has legal claim to them. I get no money for this, so please don't sue.

Author's note: This takes place five months after "The Darkness", and is told in Richie's POV. Please review! I accidently removed this while I was trying to remove a different story. So if you've already read it, it's the same story. If you haven't read it, jump right on in!


"Richie?" Why did she have to be talking to me? This would be some much easier if she would just leave me alone.

"What?" I demanded.

"You're angry with me." I rolled my eyes and leaned back against the car.

Another one of Mac's stupid girlfriends. This one was a therapist. And somehow over the course of one meal she had decided that my temper and stubbornness were due to my 'lack of a stable family environment during childhood'. That brilliant deduction hadn't particularly bothered me, it was a vague generalization based on stereotypes, but in my case it was partly true. But when she decided that I needed a stronger feminine influence, and she was the one to give it to me, I had snapped. I shot up from the table knocking my chair and a couple glasses over, and went straight for the front door. I leaned on Mac's T-Bird and resolved not to move until Mac came out to lecture me and take me home. I would have walked, but if you take me anywhere outside the city I get totally turned around. After a couple minutes I heard the door open and a pair of high heels click down the front walk. She started talking to me, but I have no clue what she was saying.

"Richie?" she finally asked.

"What?" was the only response I could come up with.

"You're angry with me." She said. It was almost like she had just noticed.

"Wow, you're good. But then again, I was never that good at being subtle. Maybe if I had a good feminine role model in my life I'd be better at it." I couldn't resist throwing that in.

"I didn't mean to offend you." She didn't mean to offend me!? She's known me for, like an hour, and she spent the whole time picking apart my brain and telling me everything that I've got wrong with me! That's not supposed to be offensive?

"Yeah, well you did."

"Duncan just told me about Tessa." She took a step towards me, and I took two away from her. "If I had known how you felt about her, I wouldn't have said anything." I think that was her attempt at an apology, but all she did was make me more angry. So what if she wouldn't have said anything? She would have thought it. I'd seen her type before. All they do is pity you and constantly try to make you feel better about yourself. I felt just fine about me. I didn't need any mom-wannabe trying to help me out.

"What does Tessa have to do with anything?" I think I said that, I don't remember wanting to say that, but I think I did.

"You two had a strong and unique relationship. I'm not trying to take her place." There she went trying to touch me again. And what the hell was she talking about, 'trying to take Tessa's place'? She'd been dating Mac for three weeks, and she just met me! How could she take anybody's place? And Tessa's 'place' was not up for grabs. Tessa was still in possession of it!

"Thank you, I feel much better. How much do I owe you?" I reached into my back pocket and pulled out my wallet.

"It's on the house," she said with a wave of her hand. Was she joking? It took all the control I could muster, plus the threat of a sound thrashing from Mac, to keep me from slugging her! This woman was ridiculous! I swear, sometimes I really wonder where Mac finds these chicks. "So you want to come back in and finish dinner?" She honestly thought that everything was all right between us. That she had somehow made up for pointing out every broken shard of my life. I'm telling you, this lady really needed her head examined.

"I've suddenly lost my appetite." I was starving, but I wanted to get away from her. I brushed past her and started walking down the street. Where I was going, I had no clue. How I was going to get back home, no idea. But at that moment I didn't particularly care. I just wanted to be alone.

I don't know how long I walked, but I had successfully disoriented myself. And now I had no clue even as to what general direction I had to walk in to get back to Seacouver. I had also succeeded in finding Washington's creepiest looking cemetery. I slid through a gap in the iron fence. It felt a little morbid being there, but it also felt right for my mood. I sat under an old tree and pulled my knees to my chest. My vision began blurring with unshed tears. They had been threatening to spill over since that woman mentioned Tessa. I really hated crying, and I'd be damned if I was going to break down in front of her. But now that I was alone, I gave in. For some reason I was still embarrassed. How sad am I? I'm embarrassed to cry in front of myself. The first time I had cried in front of Tessa and Mac, I hadn't even known them for two weeks. I felt so stupid. I still felt stupid when I thought about it. Suddenly I really wanted to talk to Tessa. I don't know if it was because of what Mac's girlfriend said, or because of where I was, but I had to talk to her. Right then and there. I looked up at the sky through the bare branches of the tree. It was actually really pretty. There were no clouds and, because I was outside the city, the stars were really bright. I could even make out a few constellations, a big feat for a city kid.

"Here goes nothing." I sighed, and wiped at my eyes. I really didn't know how to start. 'Get over it, Ryan,' I told myself. 'It's not like you're praying. You're talking to Tessa, you know how to do that.' I closed my eyes and started. "Um, I know you probably can't hear me. But a couple years ago I knew immortals didn't exist, so anything's worth a try now." I sounded so stupid. If I had walked down the street and heard me talking to myself in a graveyard I would have laughed. Why exactly did I want to talk to Tessa, anyway? What exactly did I want to tell her?

"I'm sorry." What was I talking about? What was I sorry for? For trying to talk to her after she'd been dead for five months? Was I sorry that she was dead? That I was alive? Was I sorry about that night? Was I sorry that that stupid kid had a gun, and hadn't been too stoned to use it? I started crying again. Trying to figure out what I was apologizing for brought back horrible memories.

"I'm sorry." I said again, but this time I knew why. "I know that if you were here you'd say the same thing Mac does: It's not my fault. But I still feel guilty. I can't help thinking that there was something I was supposed to do, something I could have done to help you. And it just kills me that, even if I came up with an answer now, it's too late." It felt good to finally say how I felt. Angie had once told me that girls had diaries to express their feelings, so I wrote down everything I could about that night. I still had all the pages stashed in a book at home. It had helped, but this was working better.

"I miss you. You meant so much to me. I had this idea, that if I did everything right, I could make you and Mac proud of me. Then I could have one 'family' moment, if only for a second. I know that it was all some stupid dream every orphan has, but man, I really thought I was going to get it. Pretty stupid, huh?"

"No." I hadn't expected to get a response, and when I did, I nearly jumped out of my skin. But when I looked up and saw who had spoken, I nearly fainted.

"Tessa?" I whispered.

"Oui, Richie." It felt so good to hear her voice, and see her again.

"Oh God, Tessa!" I was sobbing now, but I didn't care.

"I was proud of you, Richie. I still am. I couldn't have loved you more if you were my own son." She reached out and lightly brushed my hair off my forehead.

"Tessa, stay. Please." I begged.

"I can't love, I must leave. But I want you to do something for me before I go." Her voice was soft, and reassuring. I would have done anything for her at that moment, but not if it meant she would leave.

"If I don't, will you stay?" I asked.

"I wish I could, but I can't." Her voice wavered slightly as she began to cry. "Please say it." She didn't have to tell me what she wanted to hear, somehow I knew. I reached out and embraced her. I felt that if I held her tight enough she couldn't leave. "Richie, I must go." She whispered in my ear. I squeezed my eyes shut. I had never had anyone to say it to before, and she had never had anyone to say it to her. This was the last chance for either one of us.

"I love you, mom." My voice cracked and I opened my eyes. I was back under the tree hugging my knees. I took a few minutes to collect myself before attempting to find my way back. Hopefully I would be done crying, and my nose wouldn't be bright red by the time I got there. I didn't know what had just happened, but I knew I wasn't ready to tell Mac. As I walked back, I worked out an apology for Mac's girlfriend. I was going to have to apologize, even if I didn't want to; he would make me. But I didn't mind, Tessa would have wanted me to.