Title: Return to Me
By: Susie Bones
Email: theyellowsubmarine_@hotmail.com

Summary: She comes back for her best friend's wedding and meets an unexpected someone. Fluffiness…and corniness too…please R&R!
Rating: PG

Disclaimer: They're not mine, all right. They belong to Craig Bartlett, the lucky guy…

Return To Me
Susie Bones
September 2002

She blew a loose strand of golden hair out of her face as she climbed out of her small, rental car.

Why am I even here? she wondered briefly. She had left this city to forget. She had left and had hoped to never come back.

And yet, here she was. She began to walk and eventually lost herself in memories as old, familiar sites greeted her. She was vaguely aware that she had no idea where she was going, but that was all right for now. Let her feet wander. She'd take a bus back. She was lost in her world of memories: the boys and girls she had grown up with (what were their names again?), both the good times she'd had and the bad, growing up in these streets, chasing after the Jolly-Olly man (and she wondered briefly if he was still around), going to the movies, playing baseball at Gerald Field…

And him.

A smile gently touched the corners of her lips, a smile full of pain, loss, and love.

She had gone away to forget him most of all.

England had not been far enough, she soon found. Instead of fading like most of her memories, he had somehow grown clearer. It had been most annoying to be in the middle of a new chapter, or writing a story outline and all of a sudden have his face bloom in your mind, causing a major distraction.

She sighed and smiled wryly. It was sort of funny, now that she thought about it.

Still, she never, ever would have come back. Not even for him. But, for her best friend's wedding.

She sighed. It seemed that just about everyone was getting married these days. Her editor, old school friends, new English friends…

She blinked and suddenly found herself in a familiar spot. The bench, were he had had confessed his love to that other girl. At the thought of that other, she felt a little spark of jealousy that even five years could not completely dull. She sat on that bench now and closed her eyes, remembering those half-forgotten memories, traveling back in time to relive them.

And how she missed those days! Those carefree days of childhood, when life is always wonderful and can get better, your only cares are the next baseball game (for she and the boys, at least) and if those snooty uptown boys will let you play this time.

Childhood, something she had tried desperately to explain in her novels and to herself. She ached for those days when being nine was the greatest thing in the world, even though you still had a few years to go before you could get into that new sci-fi movie playing at the theatre without an adult yet. Twenty-two was still a lifetime away when you were nine.

"Are you lost?"

She jerked her eyes open, mentally cursing whomever it was for disturbing her train of thought.

Her china blue eyes met his pale green ones for a second and she looked away.

"I am not," she informed him, a bit snippily. He looked so much like that boy, that long ago boy with the cornflower hair that it was eerie.

It couldn't be, she thought, He was a free spirit, last I knew of him. Free spirits ever stay in one place for long. It's like trying to keep a wild bird in a cage. Why do you think I left?


"You looked lost," he said, sitting next to her. She stiffened unconsciously, wondering if he was a fan of hers, even though people like her did not get murdered by their fans.

There was John Lennon, of course, but….

"What I look and what I am are two very different things," she replied primly. Something about him, how he resembled him so much, it brought out her…temperamental side.

"I apologize. You look familiar. Have we met before?" he asked curiously. They might have, she reasoned, if he was who he looked to be. It was no wonder he didn't recognize her. She had changed from the scowling, one eye browed little girl. It was a wonder what four year's worth of ballet lessons, a makeover and tweezers could do for a girl.

Woman, she corrected herself. No longer was she a girl. That was gone, along with childhood.

"You've probably seen my picture somewhere. I'm a writer," she said, with a careless wave of her hand, as if to brush away the comment. Then she peered closer at him.

"Speaking of looks, you look positively miserable," she added.

He sighed and leaned against the back of the bench.

"What I look and what I am are two very similar things," he said, with a slight smile.

She grinned, an action rare for her. She might smile, but grins were infrequent.

He could have made her grin.

"I'm sorry," she said, "Would you like to talk about it?"

He looked at his hands, which were lying palm up on his lap.

"I feel like I've known you for years," he muttered, a little wistfully, "You look so much like her…

"I love her, you see. We grew up together and had all the same friends. She picked on everyone, the school bully, always hiding behind her mask of intimidation, and threatening ness to cover up the real girl inside. She picked on me especially, pelting me with spitballs, calling me names, tripping me all the time, pushing me…" he sighed again, but this time a smile was more than apparent.

"Preschool, grade school, junior high school and finally high school. Everyone else saw it. They saw why she teased me 'specially. Even my best friend. But not me. I refused to see, I guess. And then came graduation. She was leaving in the morning for a school in another country. She came up to me and said, 'Well, we finally made it out of this place, huh?' I agreed, wondering if I would ever see her again. I have a strong suspicion I was in love with her then. And then, suddenly, she reached over and kissed me softly. 'They were right, you know. About why I teased you,' she says. But before I can reply, she'd gone. I haven't seen her since.

"My best friend is getting married tomorrow. I was hoping she'd come. But I haven't seen her."

His voice cracked slightly on the last word and it occurred to her that she herself was about to cry. She remembered that day with striking clarity. She remembered kissing him under the sweltering June sunlight. She remembered the look in his pale eyes best.

He blinked rapidly then, still not looking at her. It was him, then. She had found him, at last. After all these years, he had been returned to her.

She reached over and gently turned his face so he was looking directly into her eyes. She leaned over and kissed him softly.

"They still are right, you know. About why I teased you."

~ Ok, so it's not like anyone wouldn't know who those two were. My little fic where no one has a name. I was wondering what it'd be like to write one like that. It's easier than I thought. Sort of. Completely corny, I know. Sorry. Corny stuff…it helps my mood. I don't know why. But I'll stick with Love Me Do from now one. J Please R&R!!