A/n: This is a story I've been thinking about for some time now but it took me awhile to figure out how best to put my ideas together. I'm pretty happy with the result, it's a little different, but I think y'all will like it.

Long Lost Fathers and Other Strangers

Chapter 1

"So, Owen's party tomorrow night sounds like it'll be fun," Keely Teslow said to her boyfriend as they walked home from school hand in hand.

"Knowing Owen it'll be completely over the top," Phil replied, using his free hand to flip up his jacket collar against the bitter January wind. "But it should be entertaining to say the least."

They walked along, talking about the upcoming weekend until they reached the edge of Keely's ornament cluttered front lawn, where Phil spotted something strange. "Hey, Keel, who's that guy sitting on your porch?"

Keely turned her attention towards the house and a look of complete shock crossed her face. "That's...my dad."

She could hardly believe the words even as she said them. When her father had walked out without so much as a goodbye when she was five, she never expected to see him again, but now here he was, twelve years later, sitting on her front porch as if he'd never left.

Phil practically had to drag Keely the last few feet to the porch and when they reached it, her dad stood up. He was tall, with unruly blond hair and a good deal of beard stubble that made him seem rugged. As Phil quickly studied him, his long-held suspicions that his girlfriend got her looks from her father rather than her short, brunette mother were confirmed.

"Hey, kid," he said to Keely, with an awkward sort of grin.

"Hi, Dad," Keely replied, tightening the death grip she had on Phil's hand.

Dad. It was such a strange word to Keely. Since her father had left when she was so young, she never really knew what it was like to have a dad. Most her life she had had to adopt father figures; first there was Mr. Sullivan, a kind old gentleman who live next door to the Teslows and would tell her stories about being in the air force during World War II. Then there was Tia's dad, who was always happy to help her with her math homework and most recently there was Lloyd Diffy, who never failed to treat her like a second daughter and had even once taken her to annual Pickford father-daughter dance since she'd never gotten to go and Pim flat out refused.

It seemed sort of surreal, now, having her real father standing on her front porch after all those years and she couldn't think of anything to say to him.

Phil looked over at Keely and quickly decided it was up to him to break the awkward silence.

"Phil Diffy," he said, extending his hand.

Keely's father shook it. "Jeff Teslow." Then, noticing the occupation of Phil's other hand, he asked, "Boyfriend?"

"Slash best friend slash fashion consultant," Phil replied, desperately trying to lighten the mood. It didn't work.

Phil nudged Keely and she finally seemed to snap out her daze. "Do you, uh, want to come it, Dad?"

"Sure."

As Keely unlocked the door, Phil whispered to her, "Hey, Keel, I can't feel my fingers."

"Oh, sorry," she replied, loosening her grip on his hand.

"Thanks, sweetie."

Once inside, Phil and Keely set down their backpacks and sat down on the couch while Jeff settled in an armchair.

"So, Keely," Jeff said, "how have you been?"

"I've, uh...I've been good," Keely answered, rather uncertainly.

"That's good. How's school?"

"It's okay. I'm graduating this year."

"Really? Already?"

"Yeah. I'll be eighteen in May."

"Wow. Eighteen. Time sure does fly. It seems like only yesterday you were a cute little pigtailed five year old."

"That's because I was five the last time you saw me."

An awkward sort of silence followed and Phil desperately tired to think of something to say to break it. He was saved the trouble, however, by the phone ringing.

"I'd better get that," Keely said, getting up.

She left and instantly Phil wished she hadn't because now he was left alone with her father. Neither of the looked at each other or said anything for a couple of long minutes.

Finally, Jeff said, "So, how long have you two been dating?"

"Almost two years."

Jeff raised his eyebrows, Phil's answer taking him by surprise. He had expected a few weeks or a couple of months, but certainly not two years. "Two years, wow. You and Keely must be pretty close."

"Yeah, we are," Phil replied, not feeling the need to elaborate.

They both fell silent again but luckily, Keely came back shortly after.

"That was Mom," she said, sitting back down next to Phil and slipping her hand into his, "she said she has to work late so she won't be home for dinner."

"Well, that's okay," Jeff said, "why don't you and I go out to dinner, Keely? We can spend some time catching up."

Keely shot Phil a look and he could tell she was not at all comfortable with this idea. He thought fast. "Why don't you both come over to my house for dinner?"

"Are you sure?" Jeff asked.

"Of course. It'll be no problem."

Jeff shrugged. "All right."

They all got up and as they headed to the door, Keely kissed Phil on the cheek and whispered in his ear, "Thank you." He smiled in return.

The three walked the short distance to the Diffy house in silence, Keely trying to sort out her thoughts, Phil walking beside her holding her hand and Jeff following close behind them, hands in his pockets.

When they walked in the back door, Barb greeted them with a cheerful, "Hi, Phil, hi Keely," without looking up from the salad she was making.

"Hi, Mom."

"Hi, Mrs. Diffy."

"How was--" She cut herself off when she looked up at them and noticed Jeff.

"Mom, this is Keely's dad," Phil supplied.

"Jeff Teslow," he said, offering her his hand, which she shook.

"Barbara Diffy."

Barb looked at Phil, who just raised his eyebrows in response, then at Keely who looked like she was on the verge of tears.

Lloyd wandered into the kitchen without noticing Jeff and said, "Honey, do you remember what channel Who Wants to Marry Martha Stewart? is on?"

"Lloyd, this is Keely's father, Jeff."

As Jeff shook Lloyd's hand, he said, "You know, I love that show. I'm sort of a closet reality TV junkie."

Lloyd laughed. "Aren't we all? You want to watch?"

"Sure!"

The two men headed off to the living room and Phil turned to his mom. "Hey, Mom, Keely and I'll be up in my room if you need us."

Barbara understood. She nodded and the two headed upstairs.

In his room, Phil sat down on the edge of his bed and gestured for Keely to sit next to him but she didn't. She started pacing up and down.

"I can't believe it, Phil! I can't believe he would just show up out the blue like this, after twelve years of ignoring me! Twelve years! Twelve years of wondering what he was doing, why he left, if he was thinking about me, if he even cared about me! Do you know I used to write to him? I wrote him long letters and told him all about school, my friends and my cat, about how much I love music and how I want to be a reporter. You know what I got back? Three postcards and a couple of birthday cards nowhere near my birthday! I spent twelve years thinking my father didn't even remember I existed and now he just shows up and expects us to be all close! Yeah, well, I don't think I can do that!"

She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and sat down next to Phil. "I don't know if I can forgive him after everything. I want him in my life because he is my dad, after all, but I don't want to get close to him only to have him leave all over again. I just...I don't know what to do..."

Keely couldn't fight back her tears any longer. She buried her face in Phil's shirt and let herself cry. Phil wrapped his arms around her but didn't say anything, becuase, he knew, she didn't need him to. All she needed right now was for him to hold her, something he was particularly good at.

As he gently stroked her hair, Phil couldn't help but think that he did not like this situation with Keely's dad at all. Keely was in pain and, for the first time since they'd known each other, Phil was powerless to fix it. It was not a feeling he enjoyed.

A few minutes later, Phil herd his mom call them to dinner. Keely looked up at him and he used his thumb to wipe away a stray tear from her cheek. "Are you going to be okay?" he asked, handing her a Kleenex.

She nodded and blew her nose. The two headed towards the dinning room, but at the top of the stairs, Phil stopped Keely. He leaned over and whispered to her, "Just remember, no matter what happens, I still love you."

"Thanks," Keely replied then, to show him had a cheered her up a little, she added with a smile, "Philly-willy."

Phil smiled to himself and shook his head as he followed her downstairs.

Dinner was uneventful and a bit subdued. Lloyd and Jeff chatted about their favorite reality TV moments while Pim told whoever would listen about her latest battle with the Fashion Zombies. Keely stared at her plate, avoiding eye contact with her father and Phil and Barb ate quietly, both silently worrying about her.

After dinner, Phil told Barb he was going to walk Keely home and he, Keely and Jeff shared another silent walk back to her house.

When they reached the front yard, Jeff said, "Well, I'd better get going. I'll come by tomorrow or something, okay?"

"Yeah, sure, Dad." Keely replied, quietly.

After a long awkward moment during which Keely and Jeff looked at each then quickly looked away, Jeff headed towards his pickup truck parked at the curb while Phil and Keely headed towards the house.

On the porch, Phil said, "It's certainly been one crazy day, hasn't it?"

"Yeah. I don't know what I would have done without you today, Phil."

"Hey, I've always got your back, remember?" He pulled her into his arms. "I love you."

"I love you too."

As she kissed him, Keely let herself forget briefly about the events of the day and lose herself in the moment.

At the curb, Jeff started up his truck and glanced over his shoulder at the house, where he spotted his daughter in the middle of a rather passionate kiss with her boyfriend. As he put the truck into gear and pulled away from the curb, Jeff Teslow suddenly had a very strong dislike of Phil Diffy. It was a feeling he hadn't experienced earlier in the evening but after the scene on the porch, he didn't think he had ever utterly disliked anyone so much in his life.

A/n: Reviews are very, very much appreciated as this is a brand new story and I'd like to know what was good about it. So tell me what you think! Next chapter should be up real soon, I promise!

--Sam Mulder

D/c: Disney owns all things PotF, I just borrow them.