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(Not) the last goodbye

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Lindsay was laying in her bed, holding her teddy bear and staring at the ceiling. She couldn't sleep at all since her parents had brought her back home after discovering she'd skipped the summit and followed the Grateful Dead instead. Lindsay knew she'd never forget that awful moment when she looked at the crowd of deadheads behind her and recognized the worried face of her mother... and the angry face of her father. She couldn't decide what was worse - her father's rage or her mother's disappointment. Maybe the fact that they could never trust her again was the worst. Of course, Lindsay was ready to be grounded. No TV or phone, no friends, and a lot of housework. But when they started acting like she was a lost cause, hopeless... that hurt her like no other punishment could.

But summer was almost over and her last school year would start in a few days. Maybe then it would be better. If she kept her grades high, her parents would calm down about their 'you-are-wasting-your-life-for-nothing' concerns. Besides, she could hang out with her friends again. She didn't see them for almost two months and missed all of them very much. Lindsay even missed those who were probably still angry with her. "Stop," she said to herself. Lindsay tried to avoid things which could make her feel even worse.

Lindsay fidgeted a little. It was 2 a.m. already, but she still couldn't sleep. She closed her eyes and forced herself to count sheep. "One sheep, two sheep, three..." But then she heard a strange noise. It sounded like someone knocking on a window. Lindsay rose up and saw Nick, standing on the other side of the glass.

It was so unexpected that Lindsay couldn't believe her eyes at first. Was she already asleep and dreaming? But it all seemed so real. That was a strange feeling of deja vu. She went to the window and opened it.

"Nick? What... What are you doing here?"

"Hey... I just... Please, open your door, okay?" He didn't wait for her response and went to the Weir's kitchen door. Lindsay felt something between confusion and annoyance, but slipped from her bedroom and moved to a kitchen. She opened the door quietly and let Nick in.

She had some pretty mean words at the tip of her tongue, but Lindsay restrained herself. Something was wrong with Nick. He was trembling like a leaf in the wind and looked horrified. Lindsay was sure he wasn't stoned. She felt anxiety rise in her.

"Oh my God, Nick, are... are you okay? What happened?"

Nick tried to smile but failed. He made a few steps and almost fell on a kitchen chair. Placing his arms on the table and hunching over like something heavy pressed on his shoulders, he finally looked at Lindsay.

"I... I'm sorry, I don't want to do something like that... again," he chuckled nervously, "but... but I couldn't call you, you know, so it's my last chance... My last chance to tell you goodbye. They're sending me to the army, man. Game over."

Lindsay was stunned by his words. She felt her ears flush like his words had actually hurt them. Without hesitation, Lindsay moved towards Nick and grabbed his hand.

"How... how's that be possible?" she asked with a trembling voice. "Are you... are you..."

"I'm eighteen." Nick's voice sounded dead. "My dad forced me to sign a contract."

"Why did he do this?" she wanted to ask, but it wouldn't help anyone. She knew Nick's father's character pretty well, and she didn't want to ever be in Nick's shoes. Instead, Lindsay said, "Maybe we can still fix this, okay? I can talk to my father, and he can talk to your father and-"

"Thanks, Linds," Nick interrupted her, "but it won't work. I leave town in the morning and... and I really screwed up, man. I can't just hide somewhere or... or run away... or ask for help. I gotta pay for all the times I've messed up."

"How long... how long do you stay there?" Lindsay felt like her eyes were filling with tears. It was so wrong, so unfair. She wished she had more time to change this situation.

"For two years. If I don't shoot myself first." His smile was bitter. Nick dropped his head on the table.

Lindsay wanted to comfort him desperately, but what could she do? Last time she kissed him, and they ended up with a faulty, awkward relationship. One thought tormented her. "If I hadn't kissed him then everything between us would have happened more slowly, more naturally." Lindsay pushed the regret from her mind. She sat near Nick, hugged his far shoulder and put her head on the closer one.

"You shouldn't think about such horrible things, Nick," whispered Lindsay. "Maybe... maybe it won't be as bad as you think? And those two years will pass quickly... hey, all of us will call you and write letters and even visit you there if we're allowed. We all stand by you, okay? Me, and Kim, and Ken, and Daniel, and Sara..."

"Oh, Sara," Nick moaned, suddenly lifted his head. His eyes were red and wet. "You know, she supported my dad, she said 'Oh, Nicky, it's great, it's the opportunity to see the world,'" he mimicked her excited voice. Lindsay gasped in surprise. Sara seemed to be into Nick so much, how couldn't she know about Nick's attitude towards the army?

"She's the biggest mistake I've ever made," Nick continued and then corrected himself, "Well, the second biggest mistake. You know, I... I lied to you. Sorry. I really, um, dated with her to... to make you jealous. But I failed, just like I always do." He hid his face in the palms.

Lindsay released a nervous chuckle. It was an inappropriate time for confessions, but when would they have another? And if it were kinda reunion, it would be the most hopeless and desperate in the history of relationships. But... let it be.

"No, you didn't," said Lindsay, touching his hair. "I was... Honestly, I was hurt when I thought I lost you... your friendship and... other, you know. I... I missed you all this time."

Nick looked at her. "Really?"

Lindsay nodded. Tears rolled down her cheek.


They blinked from the bright light.

"What the hell is going on?" Mr. Weir stood at the entrance to the kitchen. His voice trembled with anger. But when he noticed tears streaming from both Lindsay and Nick, his tone softened. "For God's sake, kids, what happened here?"