i Will I always be there for you?

When you need someone, Will I be that one you need?

Will I do all my best to, to protect you?

When the tears get near your eyes

Will I be the one that's by your side?

Will I be there when you call me in the middle of the night?

Will I keep the rain from falling down into your light?

I promise, I promise

I promise I will

Will I take tender care of you?

Take your darkest night and make it bright for you

Will I be there to make you strong and to lean on?

When this world has turned so cold

Will I be the one that's there to hold? /i

Don sat in stunned silence as his dad and Flippy went back to bed. Maria put back on her shirt and mumbled something like i can't put up with this crazy shit. /i He didn't pay attention as she left the house. He stared down at his hands, the duck tape shining against the pale light of the lamp. His whole body was shaking and he felt like he was going to puke.

He got slowly and fumbled with the front door. The street was dark as he walked across it to a pale blue house across his. He stumbled along side the house until he found i her /i bedroom window. Tears threatened to fall as he tapped his duck taped hands on the window. A sleepy-eyed brunette popped into view and her eyes widened when he held up his hands. She motioned him to go to the backyard and he nodded. He walked back there, grateful they didn't have a fence. He scanned the tiny backyard and sat down on the picnic table. A few seconds later, he saw her come out with a white box in her hands. He knew this box very well, as it held the first aid supplies she used to nurse his wounds. She was dressed in a white tank top and black sweats. He grimanced for having woken her up.

She sat down next to him and sighed. "What happened this time, Donnie-boy?"

Don shrugged his broad shoulders and mumbled, "Dad caught me and Maria on the couch, and I had knocked over a lamp. I said I dropped it and he started ranting about how I couldn't hold on the football. Then..."

He held up his duck taped hands and she rubbed his back. He cleared his throat of the tears choking it and said, "Look, Steph, I'm really sorry for-"

"Don't, Don," she said softly. She placed a comforting hand on his taped one and whispered, "None of this is your fault. Your father is a drunken bastard stuck in the past."

She set down the box and opened it. Pulling out a pair of scissors, she cut through the strips of tape and freed his hands of the tape's vise grip. Don let go of the ball and let it fall on the ground. He heard Stephine sigh and ask, "Are you hurt?"

"Nah," he said, flashing her a false grin, "I'll be fine in the morning."

She looked into his eyes and suddenly he couldn't breath. She ran her fingers through his hair. She smiled slightly. "You don't have to be strong all the time, Don. Let me comfort you. Let me in."

Tears flooded his eyes and he leaned on her shoulder. He held them back and choked, "He hates me. I don't understand. Does he see how hard I try?"

He felt her fingers run through his hair and her soft voice. "Don, he's too far gone. You're reaching for something you'll never get. I never understood why you moved down here. This whole town is obessed with something so i stupid /i . And no one sees the pain you boys go through for this sport."

Finally he let his tears fall and soak her shoulders. She wrapped her arms around him and he remembered again what it felt like to be loved without conditions. She whispered softly in his ear as he sobbed out all his frustations on her shoulders. Finally his tears subsided and he cleared his throat akwardly. She took his hand and said, "Come on. You can stay with me tonight. You don't need to be alone."

They walked inside quietly and to her room. She laid down on her bed and patted the space beside her. Don took off his shoes and laid down next to her. She wrapped her arms around him as he laid his head on her chest. Her heart beat was slow and soothing.

"Goodnight, Donnie-boy," she whispered.

"Night, Steph."

i Will I be there when you call me in the middle of the night?

Will I keep the rain from falling down into your light?

I promise, I promise

I promise I will

Will I be there when you call me in the middle of the night?

Will I keep the rain from falling down into your light?

I promise, I promise

I promise I will /i

Don parked the car in the driveway and his dad grumbled drunkenly, "Fuckin' finally. Need to get away from your fumblin' ass. Fuckin' disgrace!"

He slammed the door shut and Don just sat there. The lose had made him sick to his stomach and the drive home only made it worse. Tears slid down his face when he saw the broken window. The state ring felt cold and slick in his sweaty palm and he tucked it into his jeans.

He stepped out of the car and saw someone coming towards him. It was Stephine. She appoarched him slowly, her hands tucked into the pockets of her jacket. Her eyes widened when she saw the window and looked at him.

"Your father?"

Don walked to her and buried his face in her neck. He heard her gasp and wrap her arms around him tightly. He couldn't speak, the tears just flowed from him. Stephine rocked him, which made him cry harder. When he tried to pull away, she whispered, "No, Don. Let it out. I'm so sorry about tonight and about your dad. I hate him for what he puts you through."

Don pulled away slightly and looked at her. He sniffed loudly and asked, "Why do you care so much? Am I even worth it?"

She surprised him when she leaned forward and kissed him softly. It took him a second to react, he was so stunned. He tightened his grip around her waist and felt her run her fingers through his hair, gripping it at his neck. He ran his slightly chapped lips over her soft, tender ones and heard her moan. She pulled away slightly and whispered breathlessly, "I love you, Don Billingsley. Ever since I first met you, all those years ago. And I love you i because /i you are worth it. Don't i ever /i doubt that."

Tears slid down his cheeks and he cried, "I love you, too, Stephine Morris. You're the only one who's ever given a damn about me."

She grasped his hand in hers and said, "Come home with me, Donnie-boy."

They walked, hand in hand, back to her home. Don smiled softly in the dark. i She loves me. /i

i Yeah

And I love you more every day

And nothing will take that love away

When you need someone

I promise I'll be there for you (there for you)

I promise

Will I be there when you call me in the middle of the night?

Will I keep the rain from falling down into your light?

I promise, I promise

I promise I will /i

Don wanted to fade away right there. His shoulder was throbbing and sweat was pouring from every pore of his body. He just sat there...in shock. They had lost. They had lost the Texas State Championship. Instead of going home as winners, they would go home as losers. The thought made him physically ill. He saw his dad leaving the stands, not even giving him a passing glance. Don fell on the ground, not wanting to be there anymore.

Suddenly he felt a knocking on his helmet. He looked up and saw Stephine standing there with his dad in tow. She knelt down and took off his helmet. She smiled through the tears in her eyes and whispered, "I'm so proud of you, Don."

Tears flooded his eyes once again and he leaned into her neck. He felt her arms go around his waist and her comforting whispers. Then he felt someone patted his back softly and choked whispers of "I'm so sorry, son. I'm so sorry. I never meant for you to think I didn't love you."

Don let every feeling out as Stephine and his dad comforted him. And right at that moment, Don Billingsley knew what it meant to be truly loved.

i And I promise (and I promise)

I promise (oh I promise you)

I will be there when you call me (when you call me)

I promise (I promise)

I promise I will

The End /i