He and I were sitting on the back steps to my backyard in silence. My younger brother was happily playing with our German shepherd, throwing around a bone, oblivious to the tension between his older sister and his favorite buddy. It was difficult enough as it was, knowing that my mom and younger brother had already treated him like part of the family. Trying to sort our feelings for each other so late in our relationship was bound to cause more problems then necessary. But I knew that going on the way we were, avoiding eye contact, talking as little as possible, and just avoiding each other entirely, our friendship was deteriorating and if we didn't deal with it, we'd become strangers.

"Look, Casey. We need to get this out. We've been friends for a long time now and I don't want anything to come between that." He started. I could feel the large lump growing in my throat as he sighed and ran his hands through his hair. Absentmindedly, I stared at his grown out hair. The last time I ran my hands through his hair, his head was resting on my lap and we were watching movies. That was months ago. For the life of me I couldn't get out the words that I wanted to say. My mouth was dry and my throat constricted to the size of a noodle. I wanted to tell him so much but at the risk of what? If I told him that I had fallen in love with him I could possibly ruin the only friendship I ever valued.

"Brian…" was all I could muster in a mere whisper. I wanted to cry. I wanted him to understand that my feelings for him were complicated and that I just wanted him to know exactly how I felt.

"Not a day went by that I didn't think of just going up to you and…" I tried. I sighed, unable to really tell him how I felt. "I just- I want things to go back to how they were, but at the same time I really need you to understand what I'm going through…" I let out.

"You know things aren't ever going to be the same. We need to make out where we are right now and get through it. You're my best friend Case, and it never crossed my mind what would happen if you weren't in my life," he said, placing a hand at the small of my back, rubbing it soothingly. Obviously he didn't know that his touch unnerved me even more and made me want to cry even more. I was watching my brother David run around with Fletch at his heels trying to not the let the simple contact distract me.

"I don't know what I'd do without you here, either. I mean- you were the only one that was there for me when my parents split and you've been such a great influence on David," I closed my eyes. This isn't where I wanted the conversation going. In the bottom of my heart I wanted him to say that he loved me, but with every touch, every hug, every innocent kiss on the cheek, I knew that as much as I wanted to say he could be mine, my life wasn't a fairytale.

"There are things that you just can't and will never understand Bri. We're never on the same page anymore and we seem to just be drifting further and further apart," I said, a little frustrated.

"How can we be on the same page Case? You never tell me anything anymore!" he said, flailing his arms out. David stopped abruptly, startled by Brian's raised voice. He stared at us for a moment before I gave him a reassuring smile signaling him to continue playing.

"What do you want me to say, Bri? Half the time when I want to get you alone you seem to always be distracted! And the other half you're always saying that you're not up for it! God, Bri! This is difficult for me! I can't lose you and I will do anything to keep you, even at the risk of-" I stopped catching myself before I let anything slip.

"At the risk of what?" he asked, urging me on. I shook my head and let my head hang, allowing my hair to fall and cover my tear stained eyes.

"This is what I mean, Casey. You can't even tell me now what's going on in that head of yours! You know, Leslie told me that you were jealous because I was spending so much time with her. Is that why you've been so distant?"

Leslie couldn't have been more right even if she tried. I swallowed the increasing saliva, trying to spare me some time. I didn't know how to answer that. It was the truth. But again, revealing anything was just too damn risky. How I desperately wanted someone else to handle this for me. I should have just had my mother tell him.

"Casey, I swear that if you don't say something right now I am going to leave," he threatened. I instinctively shot my hand out and grabbed his forearm.

"Don't leave. Just give me a second. I need to get this right," I told him, "This is the first time in a while that I've been able to get you alone and I'm not going to screw this up," I finished. I mustered up all the courage I had, what little I had to begin with, and looked up into his storming eyes. They were filled with so much… of everything. I could see the concern he held for me, the curiosity of what I was about to tell him, and predictably enough, the dread of knowing what was about to leave my lips. That last emotion I was able to pick from his all-telling eyes gave me that last kick of encouragement.

"I know you know I've harbored feelings for you for these last couple of months. And to tell you the truth, Leslie was right. I was jealous of the fact that you spent all your time with her rather than your best friend. But once I realized that you were serious about her, I couldn't really say anything. Seeing you happy makes me happy, Bri. You have to know that. I wouldn't do anything to jeopardize your happiness," I quickly added. He nodded his head slowly, waiting for me to continue. I dropped my head once again, my little ounce of courage was beginning to deflate, "But being around you all the time just made me see you in a whole different light. And what killed me the most was that I knew deep down you never felt the same. Now, this confession of mine isn't some ploy to take you away from Leslie; that much I know. I know you're happy with her. I just need to let you know that I love you, otherwise-" I stopped again once and I looked up at him. There was a flicker of hope inside me when he looked at me that maybe, just maybe he had reciprocated my feelings all along. But when I saw the regret accompanied by sympathy ever present in his eyes, any hope was crushed. So I continued. "I just wanted to tell you now because- because mom decided that we're moving at the end of the week and I couldn't leave knowing that I didn't tell you how I felt. I know, I know 'what good what it do', but I just-," for the umpteenth time I was cut off but not by my own volition.

David had let out a piercing scream and my head snapped in his direction. Immediately I ran to him, with Brian at my heel. I quickly did a once over to make sure no limbs were out of place and hurriedly gathered him in my arms. I sat there, with David in my arms sobbing his heart out and holding his forearm. I rocked him in my arms whispering in his ear that he was going to be okay and that 'CiCi' was here. Brian had knelt down in front of us and gave David a breathtaking smile.

"You're gonna be okay, buddy. You're a big kid now, right?" he asked. David sniffled and nodded before slowly extracting himself from my arms.

Reluctantly I let him go and allowed him to stand on his own. "Thanks CiCi I thinks I'll be okays now," David said bravely. And at that moment I knew that he'd be ok. The determination set in his tiny beady eyes told me that I no longer needed to always be there for him. And that I truly didn't need Brian. I smiled at my little brother for helping me in more ways than he'll ever know.

"Let's get this tiny scrape all cleaned up and then after that, how about you take Fletch inside? Then you can play the Wii? How does that sound?" I coaxed David. David beamed at me and frantically nodded his head. I chuckled and let him lead the way back into the house.

Brian grabbed my arm as I was about to follow and turned me around to face him, "Case, I'm-,"

"Don't Brian. Your apology is worthless to me and to you. We both know that nothing will come of it. I just wanted to let you know for my own satisfaction. After this week we'll go our separate ways and that'll be that. It's ok. I've finally accepted it and I'll get over it eventually," I said bravely before going into the house. I heard him sigh dejectedly behind me but followed nonetheless. After getting David all patched up, I gave him a quick kiss and let him into the den.

"Casey," Brian finally said as we sat in the kitchen staring aimlessly, "There were so many times that I wanted to tell you. I wanted to just grab you and hold you and kiss you. When we first met you had this fire in you and I was undoubtedly drawn to it. I just never wanted to ruin the very first friendship that I made here at Glen Oaks. You have to know that I've always thought you were breathtakingly gorgeous," he continued. By this time the tears were freely falling and I had carelessly wiped them across my sleeves, "I broke up with Leslie about two weeks ago. You just never knew because you were always avoiding me. I wanted so many times to tell you how I felt but I was always so scared. This," he said while pointing between him and me, "is rare. People don't have what we have. And I didn't want to lose it." He got up and crossed the kitchen in three quick strides, wrapping me in his arms. I hesitated at first but then wrapped my arms around his waist and clung to him.

"Why didn't you ever tell me? God, I waited for forever to hear you say anything resembling that you had feelings for me," I mumbled into his chest. Then we wouldn't be where we are now. He pulled back slightly and looked at me. His eyes roamed over my features, taking in every contour, every imperfection, every flaw, and everything he could let his eyes feast on.

"I want to remember this. I want you to always remember that I've always loved you. And I always will. We may not be together but know that tonight did not happen in vain. I love you, Casey. I love you," he finished, tightening his arms around me. We stood there for what seemed like hours before he lowered his lips to meet mine in a bittersweet kiss.

The first and last kiss we would ever share.

I moved out that following weekend, knowing that that night would be the last night I would see him. But I left with the satisfaction that though we would never see each other, we both knew how we truly felt and that although I would now wonder 'what if we told each other sooner' our friendship regardless, was the best thing to happen to me at Glen Oaks. And our friendship though tattered due to distance, would be forever.