Summary: When she wound up pregnant and they got married he told her it would all be ok, it wasn't what they planned, but he loved her and would never leave. He never dreamed she'd be the one walking away…

Author's Note: 'Sweet Home Alabama' is my favorite movie and I've always wanted to write some sort of fanfic about it. After hearing the song 'Gone' by Daughtry, I found inspiration and wrote this little one shot! It's post-Mel leaving, pre-movie, hope you like, reviews are appreciated!

Disclaimer: They aren't mine, so don't sue because I'm poor as dirt!

The light from the house spills from the open door onto the porch where he sits with a six-pack, a bottle of Jack and a pack of cigarettes. He doesn't want to think right now, he wants to get so drunk that he forgets everything.

After smoking several cigarettes, downing the six-pack and chugging half the bottle of whiskey, Jake feels better, calmer, and very drunk. Hell, he doesn't even remember why he felt shitty in the first place! He slowly gets up from the porch steps, stumbling into the house, drunkenly calling his wife's name.

She doesn't respond and he stumbles into their bedroom, hoping for some late night fun with Mel. He flips the light on, suddenly forced to remember the reason for his drinking. The bed is empty and neatly made, the clothes she left behind along with the hastily scribbled goodbye note lay on the floor where it fell from his shaking fingers.

Oh yeah…he almost forgot, she's gone. Told him she couldn't stay, that it was over, all in a fucking letter. He got home from work to find an empty house and a long gone wife. He sobers up fast, feeling a painful ache in his chest. Since that first kiss at ten years old, she said they'd be together forever. When she wound up pregnant and they got married he told her it would all be ok, it wasn't what they planned, but he loved her and would never leave. He never dreamed she'd be the one walking away.

In the days that follow Melanie's departure, Jake pretends he's fine whenever anyone asks. He ignores the sympathetic looks and makes a point to tell his buddies that he doesn't want to talk about it. It's better to keep everything inside and only in the darkness of night when he's all alone does he allow the pain. It takes him three weeks to cry. He doesn't touch her side of the bed ever, but after 21 days of sticking to the left side, he turns his face to her pillow in a drunken haze and breathes in her scent. He lets the tears come then, tears of hurt, betrayal, loss, regret, guilt. He'd give anything to have her back, but from what he's heard from Earl and Pearl she's doing ok and has no plans to return.

Three months go by without a word from her. Then, the papers come in the mail. He doesn't sign them, not ready to give up just yet. In the back of his mind, the place where his secret thoughts hide, he still thinks she's coming home. She'll give up her new life and come back, just like she's supposed to. He even gives up smoking, a habit she always hated, so she'll see he wants to change for her, make them better. He's barely 20 but he knows she's the only one for him, she always has been.

A year goes by and he still can't get used to life without her. He decides to take a chance and go find her, bring her back where she belongs. He doesn't tell anyone where he's going, he doesn't want anyone to talk him out of it, tell him to leave well enough alone. He finishes the last of his packing and looks around the room to be sure nothing is missing. Satisfied that he has everything needed for his journey, he grabs the plane tickets and heads to the airport.

Even before the plane touches the ground, he is stunned by the huge city. New York is so different from Pigeon Creek that Jake feels like he's on some other planet, in a whole new world. He tries not to be intimidated by the chaotic, fast pace of the city, but coming from a town with one stoplight doesn't quite prepare him for the crowded, busy NYC streets.

He manages to find the address written on the back of an envelope, the one that his divorce papers came in. It's a pretty small apartment and in Jake's opinion located in a rough area, then again, the closest he's been to a rough neighborhood is the trailer park with the bulldogs chained up by the entrance. He stands at the door, ready to knock, but his hand refuses to cooperate. He isn't ready to see her yet. He needs to prepare and think and plan. He can't win Melanie back with some half-assed speech and apology.

He walks away from 236B deciding to grab a bite to eat before he figures anything more out. The sun is bright and Jake takes the warm weather as a good sign. Mel always used to say the best things happen in summer. Then they would share a smile, both remembering their first kiss had been in the heat of summer, summer was their time.

He chooses a pizza place a block away from her building and sits in the corner. He doesn't know what to do, nothing he thinks of sounds good enough. Melanie left because she wasn't happy, that much he understands. So the question is, what can he do to make her happy?

His jumbled thoughts are interrupted when he sees a small blond walk through the door. Melanie. She's smiling and laughing at something her brunette friend has said. She looks beautiful and so free, he doesn't even remember the last time she looked so happy. Suddenly the bite of pizza in his mouth tastes like sawdust. She's happy because she isn't stuck with him, in their hick town, pregnant with their mistake. In a sudden moment of clarity, Jake realizes Melanie is better off without him right now. Nothing he can give her is enough to make her happy. He throws away his half eaten slice of pizza and leaves the shop quickly, praying she won't notice him.

He goes straight to the airport, taking the next plane back to Alabama. The plane ride passes quickly, a blur of plans and ideas running through his mind. As he drives home, Jake can't help but think of ways he can change and improve. He needs to make something of himself before he can even think of asking Melanie for another chance. He needs to become the kind of man she deserves, the kind of man she can be proud of.

Jake tosses and turns in his bed until the early hours of the morning. He thinks only of Mel, never imagining that six years will pass before she will walk back into his life.