Chapter Two

It had been a week since Anna had returned from her walk all cried out and prepared to tell her parents that she'd move back to California with them, on the only condition that Swifty came along this time. They'd readily agreed and packing had begun almost immediately and she'd spent most of the week trying to explain to her parents that everything didn't need to be packed, that there wasn't a point to taking everything with them. But they wouldn't heard of it and everything had been shipped to California the day before they left.

Tearfully she'd hugged her aunt and uncle at the airport with the realization hit her that this would be the last time she'd see Pittsburgh. She'd slept most of the plane ride from Pennsylvania to California but as the plane touched the ground she was awake and finally able to make a decision regarding the internal battle she'd been having for most of the week. She'd been debating whether or not to make her presence known to Seth and everyone else, or if she would try to keep to herself. But finally she'd decided that eventually word would get back to them and they would immediately assume that something was wrong. And if she was going to have to see them then she was going to attempt to keep the secret for as long as possible, naive as that may sound.

And that was how she'd ended up at Seth's door with her dad waiting in the car, she couldn't drive anymore they'd taken her licence away when she'd had brain surgery (it was standard procedure), so he'd wait until she gave him a single of some sort. She can hear the doorbell echoing throughout the house while she waits, secretly she hopes that Seth won't be home and that she can leave a message with the housekeeper or something.

It's Sandy who opens the door and he looks more then a little shocked to see her standing on the doorstep, "hey, Mr. Cohen."

"Anna, what a surprise! I had no idea you were back in town, come in." Sandy steps aside to allow Anna to pass through, she waves to her father before stepping across the threshold. "How are you?"

"I'm good, thanks," Anna lies with a smile.

"That's great," Anna states as he gently leads Anna toward the kitchen, "Kirsten, look who I found."

"Hey," Kirsten's tone is warm as she wipes her hands on a towel before pulling Anna into a hug, "it's so great to see you. Are you back for a visit?"

"Actually, no, I'm back for good," Anna responds, "Pennsylvania was to cold."

"I'm sure," Kirsten laughs. "Well, the boys are on their way home for dinner, which I'd love for you to join us for. I'm making beef tenderloin with balsamic sauce, wild mushroom and potato gratin and shrimp with tomato chutney."

"Wow," Anna stares, things must have changed because she's suddenly reminded in a flash of the disastrous Thanksgiving and Kirsten's obvious inability to cook. "I'd love to stay if it's not to much trouble and there's enough food." She's forcing herself to do this, to see Seth and get it over with.

"There's plenty," Kirsten states with a smile, "the girls were going to join us but something came up."

"Now, do the boys know you're back?" Sandy questions.

"Actually, no, I thought I'd surprise them."

"That you will," Sandy laughs.

Anna is helping set the table when Seth and Ryan can be heard in the entrance way, Seth is obviously in the middle of some story, "and then she gives me this look that was so..." Seth stops at the doorway, "Anna."

"Anna? What's Anna have to do with..." Ryan is a step behind but he stops as well when he spots her, "Anna."

"Hey," Anna smiles brightly, setting the final plate before approaching the boys.

Ryan comes out of his shock first and hugs her briefly, "hey. It's great to see you."

"Yeah, it's really good to see you too," she pulls out of Ryan's embrace before facing Seth, "surprise."

He takes her in, speechless at first, immediately noticing that there was something different about her. She looks lost in her bright pink hoodie and there's something in her tone that he doesn't recognize, but her smile is the same and when he finally steps forward to hug her he can still smell the bubblegum and vanilla that he would always associate with her. "I should Seth Cohen speechless," Anna laughs, "that's one for the books."

"Wha...What are you doing here?" Seth finally manages to ask.

"I'm moving back," Anna replies, "and your mom invited me to stay for dinner."

"Back, back?" Seth clarifies, "life, for good?"

"For the rest of my life," Anna admits, her smile faltering for a minute at the comment.

"Don't look to excited about it," Seth teases.

"Why don't we all sit for dinner?" Kirsten suggests.

So they make small talk through most of dinner, filling Anna in on the basics of what she'd missed while they were going. But most things were skipped, edited for parental content but the boys figured that Summer and Marissa would be more then happy to fill them in when they saw her. "Will you be going to Harbor again?" Seth asks while Sandy dishes out ice cream.

"Actually no," Anna shakes her head, "I'm done with school."

"Done? A semester early? I would have moved with you to Pittsburgh if I'd known that was a possibility." Seth states.

"You'd have had to deal with the snow, and I don't really see you in a snowy environment," Anna laughs.

"Well you better start picturing it because I've got an application into Brown," Seth responds as he accepts his bowl of ice cream.

"Brown, Seth that's great," Anna smiles, "good for you. How's Summer taking that?"

"Actually, she's got an application in to Brown too."

Anna arches an eyebrow, "Summer?"

"Apparently she did well on her SATs."

"How well?"

"Well, you know I'm not exactly sure..." Seth mumbles.

"She beat Seth," Ryan smirks.

Anna's jar drops, "really?"

"We don't talk about it," Seth states, pouting into his ice cream while the rest of the table laughs. "I can't wait to see Summer's face when she finds out that you're back," Seth states finally done pouting.

"Yeah," Anna nods just as her head feels likes it's going to explode at the onset of a familiar headache, the ones Dr. Brice had warned her would return. "I can't wait to see her," Anna forces out cheerfully, her hand moving to her temple, cursing herself for not thinking to grab her pulls before leaving the house.

"Are you okay sweetie?" Kirsten is the first to notice the slightly glazed look in Anna's eyes.

"Yeah," Anna's voice comes out weak, "I'm just getting a migraine."

"Maybe it's just a really bad brain freeze," Seth suggest while Ryan stares at her with a look of curious concern.

"I don't think so Seth," Anna offers him a minor smile.

"I can take you home." Ryan offers.

"Thanks, I should probably get some sleep. I'm sure I'm just jet lagged."

They're halfway to Anna's house before the silence is broken in the Range Rover, Seth had ended up staying behind because Summer had called talking a mile a minute. "Well, say whatever it is you have to say." Anna turns her head slightly, the motion only serving to aggravate her headache.

"What?" Ryan asks, "I don't..."

"Of course you do, Ryan, your brooding silence means you've got something to say. So what is it?"

Ryan's silence lasts a moment longer before he asks, "why'd you come back?"

"Not happy to see me?" Anna dodges the question she knew he'd eventually be the first to ask. She'd known that Seth would just accept that she'd come back to Newport, and the Cohens wouldn't pry, but Ryan had a natural suspicious nature and he'd want answers.

"Of course I am," Ryan states, "you know I am. But there's more than you just decided to come back, isn't there?"

"Everyone always has reasons for doing the things they do."

"So that's a yes?"


"Any chance you'll tell me today?"

"Not today."