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The Unexpected Love

Written by: Amalea

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"Seventeen," Lilly Truscott thought to herself, "Seventeen and… single, pathetic, alone… seventeen and miserable."

Cheery would hardly be the word to describe Lilly's holiday season. This year had been a living hell for the most part. Her senior year of high school, nothing had been going right, and she had absolutely nothing to show for herself.

Turned down by her first choice college, her future was looking bleak.

Her mother had left town for a business trip the week before, apologizing profusely for her absence during Christmas and inviting Lilly to accompany her. Lilly declined her offer immediately. She did not want to spend the entirety of her Christmas break in some boring town on the other side of the country.

Her best friend Miley had offered her the chance to spend the holidays with her and her family at their house, but she had also said no to this offer. Lilly enjoyed having the house to herself, it gave her time to think about things and to get things done. She did, however, promise Miley she would come to the Stewart's Christmas Eve get-together that night.

So that night, as she prepared for the party, she tried to make herself appear happy, she tried to make herself appear presentable. It was easier than it should've been, pretending to be something you're not. She was used to the façade she had to put up on a regular basis. Becoming happy-go-lucky Lilly in front of her friends when really all she wanted to do was go home, bury herself under her covers in the dark, and cry.

Christmas was supposed to make you happy, it was supposed to be a time of cheer. When you were seventeen and feeling very much alone, neither applied.

Sighing, Lilly put on a pair of jeans, she put on her favorite green shirt, and pulled on a coat and shoes. When she was finally ready, she grabbed her presents for Miley and Oliver and headed out the door.

The walk to Miley's house was peaceful, it was a cool night, the sky was clear, and stars could be seen for miles. Standing in front of Miley's door, she took a deep breath, plastered on a smile, and knocked.

She loved her friends, really, and spending time with them was always fun, but Oliver and Miley were together now. No longer just her two best friends, they had practically become one entity… Moliver. She could be a little bitter about this sometimes, yes, but she thought they were perfect for each other. In fact, it had been Lilly who had gotten them together in the first place. It was just that, on nights like these, when she was feeling especially single, the last thing she wanted to do was hang out with a bunch of couples.

"Lilly!" Miley squealed, giving her friend a hug after opening the door, "Since when do you knock anyway?"

Oliver was close behind, and smiled at Lilly in the doorway, "Hey Lilly, merry Christmas."

"Hey guys," Lilly laughed and held out two presents in her hands, "For you!"

"Alright!" Oliver yelled, preparing to tear open the wrapping paper.

"Oh no! You have to wait until tomorrow!" Lilly said, reprimanding him, "It's only Christmas Eve. All Lilly Truscott presents must be opened on Christmas morning."

"Of course, Oliver, how could you forget Lilly's number one Christmas present rule?" Miley asked teasingly, nudging him in the side.

Oliver wrapped his arm around Miley and sighed, "Fine, I suppose I'll just wait in anticipation."

Lilly laughed, "I suppose you will."

"Well, let's get to this party, plenty of people are here. Time to mingle, I suppose?" Miley suggested before turning to walk into the living room. Lilly followed.

After an hour of greeting people and exchanging mostly pointless banter, they all settled down to watch the Christmas classic, It's a Wonderful Life.

Lilly watched as couples broke off, and sat with each other around the television. Boys with their arms around their girlfriends, girls leaning their heads against their boyfriend's shoulders. It was an adorably romantic sight; one that made single Lilly want to puke. She sat for the next half hour, unable to concentrate on the movie, only focused on how, in a room full of people, she felt so totally alone. She wished for once she could be the one experiencing the feeling of having a boy hold her close.

Feeling a rush of tears to her eyes, she quietly got up and snuck out the back door. Lilly took a seat in a secluded area outside of Miley's house where she could see the beach, and the tears began to fall freely.

"Lilly? Is that you?" a voice asked from behind her.

She quickly tried to wipe away the tears, but she knew it was useless, even if she wiped them off the redness of her eyes would still show.

"Yeah," Lilly responded, her voice slightly cracking. She coughed in an attempt to cover it up. Turning around, she discovered Jackson standing behind her.

The nearly twenty year-old young man stood there, looking slightly confused. He pushed his blond hair, which had grown slightly longer and more unmanageable since the last time Lilly had seen him, out of his face. "Why are you sitting out here? Isn't Miley's party inside?"

"Yeah, it is… I'm just out here because… well, I felt like it," Lilly said, clearing her throat once again.

Jackson, while not always the most observant person, noticed something was up. He took a seat on the ground next to her, "Are you alright?"

Lilly tried to turn her head slightly more to the left, where maybe Jackson wouldn't see her red eyes and tear-stained cheeks. "I'm alright."

Jackson sighed and gently grabbed Lilly's chin with his hand, tilting her face toward his own, "Then why are you crying?"

Denying the obvious would be silly, and Lilly was suddenly in a very honest mood. Looking up into Jackson's clear blue eyes, she felt like she had potential to be herself. She had a feeling that maybe if she said what she was thinking, Jackson wouldn't laugh. Where that feeling came from, exactly, she was unsure. For the past however many years she had known him, he'd notoriously made fun of her every chance he got.

"It's just…" she began, and looked down again.

Jackson's voice was soft, "Talk to me, Lilly."

"I'm tired of being alone," she said briefly.

"Alone? You've got all your friends… and your mom. What do you mean alone?" Jackson asked her.

"I don't know… I mean, not like alone in that sense I guess. Ugh, I don't know…" Lilly said, then took a deep breath. "Boys."

"Boys?"

"I want someone who cares about me, you know? Not like in the sense that Miley and Oliver care about me, or how my mom cares about me. I want someone who sees me and really just wants to spend time with me. I want someone who understands me. Someone who loves me, you know?" Lilly spilled, and looked up at Jackson once again.

Jackson laughed, "You want a boyfriend?"

Lilly's face fell back toward the ground, "Never mind Jackson."

"No, Lilly, I just mean…" Jackson realized he had upset her and immediately stopped laughing, "There are thousands of guys I bet that are dying to be with you. You're a cute girl, you're funny, you're smart. Who doesn't want that?"

"At the rate I'm going, I'd say about everyone. Or you're a liar," she muttered.

Suddenly she felt an arm wrap around her shoulder. Her body tensed at first, but seconds later she relaxed completely. She felt totally comfortable in this position. With the warmth of Jackson's arm around her, she wanted to stay where she was forever.

"Look Truscott. What I said was true. Any guy in their right mind would be lucky to date you, maybe you just have to open your eyes a little. You're very loved."

Lilly smiled to herself. Maybe she was reading a little too much into what had just been said, but seconds later she found herself with her arms wrapped around Jackson's back and her face leaning into his shoulder. Jackson just held her, and didn't say another word.

"Thank you," Lilly whispered, closing her eyes. Sitting there in Jackson's arms, she finally felt like maybe she wasn't as alone as she thought.

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A/N: So yeah, a little piece of Christmas fluff I wrote really quick. It's about 2am so I don't know how good it was, but I hope someone enjoys it. Please review if you read, and Merry Christmas!