A/N: This is just a future one-shot, Phoebe-centric. I hope you enjoy!
Phoebe often found herself wondering. Not so much about the here-and-now, and not so much about the future, either. Mostly about things that would never be changed and people who were destined to stay as mere memories in her cloudy mind.
As she stood idly in her parents old house, suitcase in hand, she was wondering. About everything she told herself not to wonder about. She hadn't returned to Hilwood since her sophomore year of college and she hadn't expected it to look so… unchanged. Her childhood home still stood high in its urban neighborhood, standing as one of the tallest ones on the block. Her parents had the same furniture. The skies were still cloudy-with-a-chance-of-rain and the ice cream truck still ran every day, at around noon. It still played tinkling music from the wrong season. She sighed.
"It was good to see you, honey," her mother cooed as she hugged Phoebe tightly. "We'll be happy to have you back anytime."
Phoebe nodded and hugged her father as well, before thanking them and saying her goodbyes. Once the door behind her was shut, she let her shoulders slump just a little lower. She couldn't stop herself from wondering…
Almost against her own will, she threw her stuff into her car and pulled a risky U-turn. All she would do was stop by his house. That's all. No ringing the doorbell, no getting out of the car. Just a peek. Her old car spat and sputtered as she let her speed run higher and higher. Stopping by his house was almost like a guilty pleasure to her, like eating a whole bag of Oreos. She was just going to stuff her face while no one was around, and neglect to tell anyone about it. It doesn't mean she wouldn't feel awful for doing it.
She turned her radio down as she neared his house, as if he would be able to hear it from inside. If he was inside, of course. If he still lived here.
At last, that familiar red brick house came into her view. Her lungs constricted as she saw that window, his bedroom window, looking out onto the sidewalk with the permanent hopscotch chalk etched into it. Her mind wandered back to when he would talk to her through that window when he was grounded, and then that one time when he got so mad at her that she had to throw rocks at the window to get him to talk. She remember when he led her onto the roof just to tell her that he loved her.
Feeling tight in her chest, she stared down at the front door. Phoebe tried desperately to fight that feeling that seemed to surface when she looked at it. It was just a stoop, after all.
"Don't leave, okay?" he pleaded her as she fumbled anxiously for her car keys. "He didn't mean it. I promise."
She let her hands go limp inside her purse, deciding that her shaking fingers were not capable of finding her keys. She squeaked quietly, "I… he's right, you know."
"He's not right," came a cold reply. "My brother has no idea what he's talking about. He's just an ass, Phoebe. He thinks everything he says is funny."
"Yeah, well it's not," she replied suddenly, her voice shrill and tight. Slipping her hands out of her purse, she clenched them hard at her sides as she stared up at him. Her throat closed uncomfortably as she continued, "I-I just wanted your family to like me…"
"They do!" he exclaimed, reaching down to grab her shoulders. "Jamie-O makes fun of the people he likes, I swear. Phoebe… don't cry, okay?"
"I'm not crying," she lied, even as he wiped away a trickling tear. "Do you really think that-"
She had no time to finish the sentence. The grip he had on her shoulders intensified as he brought his face just inches away from hers. She barely had time to gasp before his lips pushed against hers, forcefully at first, but then gentle and tentative. Their first kiss.
When he finally pulled away, he muttered, "Don't let him put thoughts into your head. I'm not going anywhere."
Phoebe barely noticed that her car had come to a complete stop in front of his house. The veins in her knuckles were prodding out of her skin as she gripped the wheel, and it hurt to unfurl them from the grip. She could have sworn that she could still see them standing there under the buzzing porch light, sixteen years old and horribly naïve.
And suddenly, she saw the slightest bit of movement in his bedroom window curtain. On instinct, her foot was pressing hard down on the gas and she was tearing out of the neighborhood as fast as she would allow it. She didn't even think twice as her car whizzed past Gerald Field and out onto the highway, away from Hilwood and away from his memory.
Phoebe decided that she needed to stop wondering.