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Mission 6: For You - Part B
Prem closed his eyes as he stood underneath the shower head soaking up all the warm goodness that the water was providing him. He turned the shower off and flipped his hair back brushing the excess water from his head. He then pulled the shower curtain to the side and stepped out onto the bathroom rug. The water dripped down from his refreshed body soaking the white rug underneath him. Prem looked about him and realized he had forgotten to take a towel in with him before he hopped into the shower. He scratched his head wondering what he should do. Prem opened the cabinets underneath the sink to see if there were any towels there for him to use and found them empty except for a single roll of toilet paper. He sighed and put on his boxer shorts and then stuck his head out of the bathroom to see if Heer was anywhere around. "Hello?" he called. "Anyone there? Helloooo?" He frowned when he didn't hear any answer. Prem decided to slip out of the bathroom and go to the closet directly next to the bathroom hoping to find some towels. He opened it and much to his dismay found it empty. Then again what exactly did he expect since the house was being packed up for the move tomorrow?
Prem was about to go back into the bathroom when he spied that Heer's bedroom door was open. He cautiously called out, "Heer? You there?" When he didn't receive a response he walked into her bedroom hoping she would at least have some towels in her bathroom. He walked directly into her bathroom only to find a pink bath towel hanging on the towel rack. Prem sneezed and realized he was going to catch a cold if he didn't dry off. He was desperate and just decided to go ahead and use her towel. He patted himself down and then walked into her bedroom as he dried his hair. He scanned the area noting all the packing boxes in her room. Some of them were sealed and marked while others were halfway packed and still open. As Prem let his eyes wander around he noticed her jewelry box sitting on her dresser. There was a silver colored chain that was sticking out causing the lid to sit open. He reached out to put the chain properly back into the box but ended up pulling it out inspecting the piece of jewelry. His eyes widen as he looked at it. It was a heart shaped pendent with an inscription on it. "Just what the heck do think you are doing?!" Prem turned in alarm and saw Heer with her hands on her hips fuming with anger.
Heer couldn't believe her eyes; he was in her room not only snooping around but was also half naked using her towel to dry himself. She wondered what kind of agent he was because he sure wasn't acting like someone who worked for the CIA. What infuriated her even more was the fact that he was staring at her with a stupid grin on his face. She had no idea way he seemed so happy to have been caught red handed by her. Heer then noticed that he was holding her heart shaped pendent in his hands. She immediately lunged after it, "Give that back. Has anyone ever told you it's not nice to take things that aren't yours?"
Prem moved his hand away just in time and started blocking her attempts. "It's really special to you isn't it?"
"Give that back. I don't want you touching it...an extremely close friend gave that to me," Heer shouted.
"Why can't I touch it? I'm the one that gave this to you," Prem answered.
"What are you blabbering about?" Heer replied extremely angry. "My best friend gave this to me before I had to move away."
"Wow, I can't believe it. It is really you. Pumpkin! It's me!" Prem exclaimed with glee.
Heer arched her eyebrows at him stunned for a second. "What did you just call me?"
"Pumpkin. It's me," Prem repeated. "It's me Prem...Prem Juneja...you don't remember me?" He then pulled he towel off his shoulders and turned around pointing at a scar on his back near his shoulder blade. "Remember this scar? I got it when I was trying to save that kitten. You were so upset cause some neighborhood kids were being mean and had chased the kitten up the tree. I climbed up the tree to save it. It clawed me up when I grabbed it. I freaked out and fell out of the tree. The darn kitten was fine but I broke my arm and fractured my shoulder blade because I landed on some small rocks. You were crying so much I thought you were going to run out of tears. You kept apologizing. It was after summer camp before we entered eighth grade." Heer continued to stare at him completely mute as she was still processing everything he was telling her. "Wait right here. I have something to show you if you still don't believe me...don't go anywhere," Prem said as he ran out the bedroom.
Leher stood in Prem's room waiting for him to come back as his mother had called him to come take care of something for her. Leher's eyes gently roamed around the room and gave a faint smile at how his room fitted the typical description of a boy's room. It was painted blue and had various sports posters hanging up on the wall. The bed was made but she could see that some of Prem's dirty clothes had been kicked underneath it. The desk was covered with various papers and folders and a half eaten box of Cheez-Its cheese crackers sat on top of the mess. Prem's school books were stacked high by the desk leg in a haphazard way and looked like they would fall any minute.
Leher turned her head when she heard the door push open. She was expecting to see Prem but instead was warmly greeted by his dog, a beautiful blonde colored Golden Retriever. "Hi Samson." The dog obediently sat down and allowed Leher to give him a good rub down. "I haven't seen you in ages." Samson affectionately titled his head and rubbed it against her arm and then licked her hand. "You're such a good dog."
"Hey sorry about that...Mom wanted me to take some things down from the top shelf of the pantry," Prem said as he entered the room. He patted his dog's head and then pulled his desk chair out and sat down. Leher sat on his bed and waited patiently for him to tell her what this meeting was all about. "So, um..." Prem started as he nervously looked down and scratched the back of his head.
"Is everything all right?" Leher gently probed.
"Um, yeah, it is. So...uh, I have this friend who wants to get something for someone but he's not quite sure what to give this person," Prem cautiously stated.
Leher looked at him knowing what he was telling her was a complete lie. It was quite obvious what he was talking about. He was trying to find a gift for Abby but he had no idea what to get her. Leher inwardly cringed that he had to come to her for this stuff. "Why doesn't your friend ask the person he's trying to get a gift for what they like?"
"Well, he can't do that because then it kind of ruins the surprise doesn't it? I mean if he goes and asks then she-um, the person would know right?" Prem replied.
"He can always ask in an indirect way. It's not like I'm telling you-I mean your friend to point to things and ask the person he wants to buy a gift for if they like it. It's called subtlety." Leher said.
"So like how would I do this...I mean my friend do this?" Prem inquired as he pulled some magazines underneath the papers from his desk out. "Like candy? Flowers? Clothes? Jewelry?"
Leher flipped through the magazines he had and replied, "I think it doesn't really matter...as long as the gift you give is from the heart. You don't have to spend a lot of money. If you really want to make it special just think about what the person means to you and maybe something special you share with them or they have shared with you."
Prem nodded his head, "Okay, I'll do that...I mean I'll tell him to do that. Thanks Pumpkin I can always count on you." Leher gave a tiny smile in return despite how she was feeling inside. They both turned their heads when they heard Samson start to bark at the door. "What's the matter?" Prem inquired. The door swung open and Abby walked in. Prem's eyes widen and quickly picked up the magazines that had been placed on the bed and opened his desk drawer and stuffed them inside. "Oh hey what are you doing here?"
"Am I interrupting something?" Abby inquired as she gave a displeased look towards Leher.
"Nothing...um, we were just talking about the science project," Prem lied.
"Oh, yeah that science project you guys have been working on," Abby said dryly.
"Well, I guess I'll be going then," Leher said with a forced smile as she got up and walked out of Prem's bedroom. She didn't know if she could handle being in their presence after what she witnessed in the afternoon. As Leher neared the foot of the stairs the front door opened and Prem's Dad walked in. "Hi Kiran Uncle," Leher greeted.
"Hi Leher, I haven't seen you over in awhile. Are you staying for dinner?" he asked.
"Oh, I was actually just going home," Leher replied. She turned her head when she heard Prem and Abby's footsteps coming down the stairs.
"Hi Mr. Deshmukh," Abby politely greeted.
"Hi Abby." Kiran slipped his shoes off and placed his coat into the closet as he continued to address Leher. "Why don't you stay for dinner? I miss your company. I'm sure Aunty wouldn't mind."
"I wouldn't mind what?" Kulraj asked as she entered the foyer where everyone was conversing.
"That Leher stay over for dinner. It's been awhile hasn't it?"
"Yes, dear, do stay over for dinner. I'll make your favorite...chicken curry," Kulraj enticed.
"We'll call your mother over for dinner. She hasn't come over in awhile either," Kulraj replied with a big smile cutting Leher off. She then motioned with her hands, "Come, I need a helper in the kitchen because these two are useless."
"Hey we try, don't we son?" Kiran objected.
"It wasn't my fault...Dad was the one who told me to put more salt," Prem defended. "I didn't know that you had already put some in. And I don't walk away from the pot like Dad does."
"Uncle has probably burnt at least one pot a month," Kulraj explained causing Leher to giggle.
"I remember that one time Uncle tried to make grill cheese sandwiches for Prem and I and he ended up burning the toast," Leher recalled.
"Yeah, and then he was telling us that it was still edible and all we had to do was to scrap off the burnt parts with our knife. That sandwich was hard as a rock too," Prem added. "We ended up sneaking over to Leher's house and made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for ourselves because Teji Aunty wasn't home."
"You almost made the children starve to death?" Kulraj gasped looking at her husband with accusatory eyes.
"It was still edible," Kiran defended.
"Dad, that was not edible. It was burnt all the way through even Samson wouldn't eat it," Prem exclaimed.
"I'm sorry Uncle but that was a fail," Leher replied.
I ate one and thought it was fine," Kiran murmured. His wife laughed loudly along with Prem and
Leher, while Abby politely chuckled.
Abby was getting a bit uncomfortable at how easily Leher fitted into the family atmosphere. Prem was smiling happily at the past memories he shared with his best friend and Abby worried that eventually he would come to realize what Leher probably meant to him.
"I heard that you have learned how to make chapatti," Kulraj said as she placed her hand around Leher's shoulder leading her towards the kitchen. "Why don't you help me out with that?"
"I'll call your Mom," Kiran said as he walked behind them.
Prem was about to follow them into the kitchen when he felt a tug on his hand. He turned and gave a curious look at Abby. "Why don't we go upstairs and play a computer game?"
"There is a computer down stairs in the kitchen office area," Prem replied as he moved his hand away and walked into the kitchen. Abby sighed as she watched his retreating back and wondered what to do next.
-----------------------------*~*End of Flashback*~*---------------------------------
Prem ran back into Heer's bedroom with something clutched tightly in his hand. "Look, you remember this right? It's the key that goes with the pendent. You remember right?"
Heer stared at the chain he held in his hand and placed her fingers on the key pendent that hung at the loop's end. She glanced back up and saw warm brown eyes smiling fondly at her. "How did you...this can't be..." Heer softly muttered in awe.
"Pumpkin it's me," Prem simply stated with a huge grin on his face.
Leher was laying on her stomach with her legs swinging in the air on the floor of Debbie's bedroom. She was looking through some Seventeen magazines trying to preoccupy herself while she waited for Debbie to come back. The past few weeks had been strange as Prem had started acting weird around her again. He always seemed to be busy doing something and he would run-off before she was even able to say a proper hello. Debbie advised her to just let him go. There wasn't any point for her to be sitting on the sidelines hoping that he and Abby would breakup sometime soon. There were tons of other guys in the class that she could date if she really wanted to. Leher just didn't see the point of dating someone for the sake of dating. Teenage life was already hard enough as it was and she really didn't want to invite anymore trouble into her life.
"I brought some chips for us and two cans of Diet Coke," Debbie said as she entered the bedroom.
"Thanks, but I like regular Coke. Diet Coke taste all chemically and weird," Leher replied.
"But it's less fattening," Debbie reasoned.
"Regular Coke for me. I'll take the calories. Anyways I never drink the whole thing. I only drink half," Leher replied.
"All right," Debbie said as she walked back into the hallway.
Leher followed behind as Debbie walked down the stairs and into the kitchen. "Where is everyone?"
"Mom had to go to the grocery store real quick...she'll be back. Dad doesn't come home until 6:00pm and I think Karen is over at her boyfriend's house," Debbie replied.
"Aaaah..." Leher simply answered. "So, I saw Prem today outside of the school library and he like ran off again."
"Leher, why do you let him do this to you?" Debbie asked with a frustrated tone. "You deserve so much more. Prem is being a complete jerk."
"I know he's been acting jerky recently but...I don't know...maybe something is going on and he just doesn't feel like he can talk about it right now," Leher sympathetically replied.
"Why do you even try to defend him?" Debbie inquired with confusion on her face.
"Because no matter what he is still my best friend. I mean we've been through a lot together. I can talk to him about stuff you know and he's talked to me about things too. I've known him since I was eight years old," Leher replied.
"So you can't talk to me about stuff?" Debbie quietly voiced out loud.
Leher noticed the hurt look in Debbie's eyes. "Debbie...that's not what I mean...I'm sorry...I can talk to you too...I..."
Debbie shook her head and placed her hand on her shoulder, "I understand Leher. Just I really hate seeing you like this. All I can say is...these are the options you have...Number One, you can just sit here and wait until Prem finally grows a brain and leaves Abby or at least starts talking to you again...Number Two, forget about him and find someone else to hang out with...Number Three, forget about him and just go and date someone...or Number Four, tell him how you feel about him."
"What?" Leher shouted in shock at the last option. "Tell him how I feel? Are you crazy? He doesn't like me like that. So why would I need to tell him about how I feel?"
"So then he can stop being an insensitive jerk around you. If Prem is suppose to be your best friend then he's not going to run away from you. You guys can work something out," Debbie reasoned.
"What fantasy world do you live in? It's going to freak him out. I don't want to lose his friendship and if I tell him I'll lose him," Leher replied with frustration. "I really don't know what to do. I'm so confused."
"You know what I just thought of something I think he is so use to having you around that he has taken you for granted. I say you should start ignoring him...if anything it will make him start talking to you again," Debbie said. Just like you told Prem that it isn't all about what Abby wants maybe you should start taking your own advice...it isn't all about what Prem wants...you have a say in this friendship too."
Leher slowly nodded her head letting what Debbie said sink in, "I guess."
Leher was taking a stroll through the neighborhood park just enjoying the nice cool weather. She smiled as people walked by with their dogs and waved at the little babies in their strollers. She was thinking about the things that Debbie had told her. Leher knew that Debbie was right. For the longest time she had always been there for Prem whenever he needed her, but now that he had a girlfriend he had completely disregarded her. He only talked to her when it was convenient for him. And when they did talk it was usually him going on about Abby or him indirectly asking for relationship advice. What kind of friend was he really? The more she thought about it the more upset she became. So caught up in her thoughts she failed to see who was approaching her.
"Hey Pumpkin!" Prem greeted cheerfully.
"Oh, um...hey," Leher replied without much enthusiasm. "What do you want?"
Prem jerked back a bit as he was caught off guard by her response. "Um, I was looking for you. Your Mom told me you went to the park for a walk." He then cupped his mouth and whispered, "I have something to show you. Let's go over there by the park benches."
Before Leher could say anything Prem was already walking towards a park bench that was sitting in front of a small nestled area of bushes and trees. She sighed and followed him wondering what was so important that he wanted some privacy.
"So, um...you know the thing we were talking about like a couple of weeks ago?" Prem nervously started. Leher gave a brief nod. She really wasn't in the mood to be talking about what he got his girlfriend. "Well, um...here," Prem said taking something out of his jacket pocket. It was a black velvet box. Leher stared dumbstruck that he was really going to show her what he got for Abby. She really could careless and she was starting to get angry. All the thoughts, confusions, and feelings that she had bottled up were now on the edge of coming out. Prem had no idea what was going through Leher's mind and had no clue that a storm was brewing in his midst. He opened the box to reveal a necklace that had a heart and key shaped pendent. "So, like...what do you think?" Prem asked as he took it out of the box for her to get a close up view.
Leher didn't know why but something inside of her just suddenly snapped. "Just what exactly is wrong with you? You know how I don't want to get involved yet you insist on dragging me back into all of this. What have I done to ever deserve this? You never once thought about my feelings have you? It's always been you...everything is just about you. I've always been there for you but when it comes to me you aren't there. You don't care about my feelings. You never really cared about me like the way I care about you..."
Prem stood there shocked at her explosive outburst. He was barely able to process all the accusations she was throwing at him. The one comment that caught his attention was when she accused him of not being there for her. "Never been there for you? I've always been there for you. Father's Day at the camp...what did I do for you, huh? When that kitten got scared and climbed up that tree and you were getting all worried about it...who climb that tree, huh? Me...I did that for you. I even broke my arm and fractured my shoulder blade. Because of that I didn't try out for JV basketball like I wanted to because my shoulder needed enough time to heal. I've never once told anyone about your secret. So don't tell me I haven't been there for you!"
"What about now? You're always busy chasing after Abby and every time I talk to you it's always Abby did this or Abby said this...blah, blah, blah...I don't care about Abby. You never ask me about my life anymore. Or maybe is it because you find me suddenly boring...I'm sorry I don't have an exciting life and my Mom isn't super rich like Abby's parents are...I'm sorry my house doesn't have a heated pool and a separate workout room!" Leher yelled.
"You really think that about me? That all I care about is money and I pick people to date because how much money their parents make? Great, nice to know how you really feel about me," Prem replied rather hurt.
"I could care less about the reasons you choose to date people. I told you I didn't want to get involved in your relationship," Leher said. "I have done nothing but stand by you and listen to all your stupid problems. You don't think it hurts me to see you do things you don't normally do or to start acting funny or weird around me for no reason. It's like you are ashamed to be friends with me."
"You think I'm ashamed of you?" Prem said as his eyes widen in alarm.
"Why else would you act that way around me? Oh, wait I forgot you said you didn't like me...yeah that's right I heard everything that day when you were talking to Leo and Keith. And here I was thinking you were my friend and I've been nothing but a good friend to you. And the funny thing is I was actually starting to fall in lo--" Leher stopped herself when she realized what she was about to say.
"Leher?" Prem reached out to stop her from turning away from him but she forcefully pushed his hand away. It caused him to lose hold of the necklace he was holding and it went flying into the bushes. Prem briefly turned his head back to look and when he turned around he saw Leher running her way out of the park. Prem didn't know what to do and paused for a few seconds. He glanced back at the bushes and then at Leher's figure moving further away from him. He decided he couldn't let her run away like that. He had to talk to her properly and started to give chase.
Leher was trying to control the tears that had welled up behind her eyes but in the end they came tumbling out. Her mind was rambling all sorts of things...Why? Why can't you see? I hate myself for liking you so much...why do I have to like you so much? Why did I ever fall in love with you in the first place?
Leher didn't know how long she had been running. All she knew was that she had run far enough that Prem was no longer behind her. She panted heavily and placed her hand on a lamp post to support her tired body. She looked about her and realized she was in the town square.
"Leher? Are you all right?" Prem's father was standing in front of her holding a white box labeled Daisy's Bakery.
"Oh...hi...Uncle...um, yea...I...just...decided to go for a...run," Leher weakly replied.
Kiran smiled. "Did you see Prem? He's been looking for you. I tell you...don't know what has gotten into him lately. He's been offering to do all sorts of housework for payment. He's been raking leaves, painting, and walking dogs for people. I guess he must be saving up some money for a gift. I don't suppose you know anything about that do you?"
"Um, no...I'm sorry Uncle but I um, just remember Mom wanted me to pick up something from the bakery. Bye," Leher said and quickly entered the small bakery store. She glanced behind her to make sure Mr. Deshmukh had walked away and to her relief he had. Just when she thought she could relax she saw Keith and Leo walking around in the store. She sighed when they noticed her.
"Hi Leher," Leo greeted.
"Hi," Leher faintly smiled.
"So, did Prem come and talk to you?" Keith inquired. Leo shot him a dirty look telling him to keep his mouth shut but he just ignored it and continued talking. "So where is it? Are you wearing it?"
"Wearing what?" Leher asked rising her eyebrows.
"The necklace of course. Prem found out that his parents were going to take him to London for Christmas break. He said he wanted to get you an early Christmas gift because they would be leaving the day after school ended. He was so excited today when he bought it that he decided to give it to you now. Leo and I were just talking about how the only gift he bought was for you. Can you believe it? He didn't even think about getting Abby anything," Keith replied.
My God," Leher exclaimed and ran out of the store leaving a very confused Leo
and Keith. Leher ran all the way back to
the park; back to the bench where they had the conversation. She searched through the bushes hoping she
would be able to find the necklace that had gone flying. She felt relieved when she found the steel
chain laying half covered in the straw underneath one of the bushes. She quickly picked it up and stared at the
inscription written on the heart.
closed her eyes and shed a tear. "I'm so
sorry Prem for doubting you. I'm such an
idiot." She wore the necklace around her
neck and then raced back home hoping that Prem would be there waiting for her.
Prem was frantic as he ran around the town square looking for Leher. She had a good head start before he ran after her; that it wasn't any wonder that he had lost her. He stopped at a crosswalk and ran his hands through his hair in frustration. Their fight was lingering in his mind and he hated seeing her so angry and the most upsetting part of it was that she blamed him. Part of him was mad at her as well but a part of him also realized that perhaps he had made her feel like he had taken her for granted. He was new to all this girlfriend-boyfriend relationship stuff that he really didn't know what he was doing. At the time he made his decisions he thought he was picking the right choices but evidently he wasn't. He was so confused.
"Prem?" He looked up to see Abby walking her way down the sidewalk with a group of her friends. "Oh good you are here. We were just heading over to Pops for some milkshakes."
"Not now Abby, I have to go," Prem replied.
"Where are you going?" Abby shouted as Prem took off.
Prem decided the best thing for him to do was to go back home. Eventually Leher would have to come home and when she did he would be waiting at her doorstep. He needed to fix this. As Prem rounded the corner making a left onto Oak Street his eyes narrowed as he saw two black cars parked in front of the Singh household. Then it suddenly hit him when he saw two men dressed in black suits. He felt as if the wind had been knocked out of him and he heaved to a stop needing to breath. He recalled his own memories of men in black suits and they were not pleasant. These same men had dropped him off at his Aunt Kuljeet's house where he was emotionally tortured for several months before being kicked out and placed at the doorsteps of a foster home. Fear gripped Prem's heart as he watched two men in black suits conversing and checking their watches. He was screaming in his head that this couldn't be happening. He couldn't be saying goodbye to her like this not after their fight. Prem stood there rooted to his spot as everything played out before him. His eyes were witnessing everything in slow motion. Leher and her mother were being directed towards one of the black cars. There were two men following behind them wheeling two large suitcases that they placed in the back of the first vehicle. When Prem saw the brake lights flashed as the car turned on he snapped out of his immobile state and ran towards the black cars. "Leher!" he called out.
Leher sat in the back of the black Ford Taurus with her mother completely and utterly stunned that this was happening to her and so fast. The witness protection program agents had been ordered to take them back home to Washington, D.C. as soon as possible. There was a break in the case and for their safety they were going to be moved to a safe house until it was confirmed that the suspects were arrested. They had been spotted not more than 100 miles away from where they were living and Leher's father didn't want to take any chances with his family. He wanted them to move right away. There was already a cover story put in place that a family emergency occurred with Leher's uncle and so Teji needed to go and visit her family right away.
Leher sat in a daze while her mother tried comforting her knowing how traumatic all of this was, especially having to leave her friends and letting go of the friendships she had made. "I'm sorry. But we have no other choice."
Leher curled into her mother's shoulder and started crying. "Why couldn't I say goodbye to Prem?"
"Is it just me or is there a kid chasing after the car?" one of the agents sitting in the passenger seat asked as he stared into the right side mirror.
"Yeah, he is," the driver replied.
Leher immediately jerked away from her mother and looked out the back window. "Prem! It's Prem. Mama, please let me say goodbye to him at least. Please."
"I know we are on a time schedule but can't you at least stop the car and let her say goodbye to him? He's running behind us and believe me knowing how he is...he is not going to give up so easily," Teji said to the agents.
Prem ran as fast as his legs could carry him. He was breathless and didn't know how much longer he could keep up with the pace he had set for himself. The second black car was slowly following behind him as he was blocking their way. He suddenly tripped on his own foot and went crashing down onto the hard asphalt road. The car behind him skidded to a stop so they wouldn't run him over. An agent got of the car and shook his head with frustration, "Kid, stop running in the road!"
Prem lifted his head and watched in anguish as the black car carrying Leher drove out of his sight. He laid there on the road feeling completely helpless. He really didn't have the strength to move anymore. He felt a firm hand turn him over and saw the stern but concern face of a witness protection agent looking at him. "Kid? Can you hear me? Are you all right?"
"I fell down chasing after a car with my best friend sitting inside and you almost ran me over, how do you think I'll feel?" Prem heaved breathlessly.
The agent smirked at his comment amused that he could still say something with such biting sarcasm. "Come on, up we go. You can't be laying on the street," the agent replied as he extended his hand and help Prem get to his feet.
"Prem!" Leher yelled as she ran towards him.
Prem was stunned to see her in front of him. Leher hugged him tightly unable to control her feelings as she had seen him take the tumble. "Are you okay?" she asked.
"Yeah, I'm fine," Prem replied despite feeling some pain in his knees.
"I'm so sorry Prem. I'm sorry I jumped to conclusions like that. I ran into Leo and Keith and they told me...and your Dad told me about you doing odd jobs to get the money...I'm so sorry I ever doubted you. I'm such a bad friend..." Leher rambled.
Prem vehemently shook his head, "No, you're not a bad friend. I'm the bad friend. I'm sorry Leher. I'm sorry." His eyes were getting watery and he couldn't control himself as tears began to fall down his cheeks. "Don't go...stay...at least until school's over...we still have exams...what about your exams? You can stay at my house."
"I can't Prem. I'm sorry I can't...I want to but I can't," Leher replied trying to blink back her tears without much success.
"What am I going to do without you?" Prem asked.
"You'll be okay. I'll pray for you," Leher answered. She then took the necklace he had given her off and began manipulating the chain until she was able to slip the key pendant out. She then handed the key to Prem, "You keep this and I'll keep the other pendant...that way we will always have something to remember each other with. Thank you for the gift Prem. I love it."
They both turned their heads when they heard the car that Leher had been sitting in was slowly backing up down the road towards them. "I have to go." Prem nodded and swallowed uncomfortably as he watched Leher turn away. Leher closed her eyes shedding a few tears as she thought to herself...Thank you for being my best friend...for being my first love. As she took a step forward she gasped as she felt her arm being pulled back and then Prem engulfing her into a tight hug. "I'll always remember you, Pumpkin. I'll never forget you. You'll always be my best friend," he whispered into her ear.
Leher cried into his shoulder after hearing those words from him. "I'll never forget you either," she managed to say as she pulled away. She then gently wiped the tears from his cheeks. "Don't let Leo or Keith catch you crying." Prem gave a watery smile in return and then slowly let her go. He walked onto the sidewalk and watched as the two black cars drove away feeling as if a part of him had just died.
-----------------------------*~*End of Flashback*~*---------------------------------
"Prem?" Heer finally uttered with a mixture of acknowledgment and disbelief. She gasped as she was suddenly engulfed into his tight hug.
"It's like a miracle...like one and a million chance that we would meet like this again," Prem continued rambling with glee. He pulled back and smiled brightly at her. "Wow, no braces...acne cleared up...and you've gotten taller...totally different...I mean you look really good. What about me, huh? I'm not so skinny anymore. I've got muscles now..." Prem flexed his right arm for her to see his biceps. "And look I even got a six-pack," he continued as he pointed to his washboard abs. "I try to stay fit because of the field work I do...wow, this is unbelievable! So, Heer Maan is Leher Singh or should I say Leher Singh is actually Heer Maan?"
As Prem continued talking with excitement, Heer slowly realized that he was still standing in his boxer shorts. "Prem..." she said as he hugged her for the fifth time. He pulled away with his arms still holding onto her shoulders giving her a tender expression waiting for her to speak. "Um, you're still in your boxers..." A sudden look of shock and embarrassment flashed across his face and he quickly stepped back and placed his hands in front of him. "Um, oh-ffff...um, let me go...um...bye..." Prem babbled and ran out the bedroom. Heer glanced at the doorway and started laughing hysterically at his reaction. The look on his face was absolutely priceless. She walked over to the hallway bathroom and yelled. "I ordered pizza for dinner...I'll be downstairs in the living room. Don't take too long or the food will get cold."
"I'll-I'll...bbe right there," Prem nervously shouted. Heer smirked as she heard him mutter to himself, "Can't she leave a guy in peace while he's trying to get dressed?"
"I heard that," Heer replied.
"Why are you eavesdropping on me?" Prem shouted. "And why don't you have any towels in the closets or at least one in the bathroom? You knew I was going to be staying here."
"Well, most people ask where the towels are before hopping into the shower. Thank goodness you had enough sense to put your boxers on otherwise this would be much worse," Heer teased.
"Pumpkin, shut up!" Prem replied.
Heer smiled to herself enjoying their banter. It had been such a long time since she had heard her childhood nickname and it felt so nice to be hearing it from him again. The bathroom door swung angrily open and Prem reemerged wearing a white t-shirt and black track pants. He gave her a miffed look and then started heading for the stairs. "Well, didn't you say the food would get cold?" Heer just smirked and followed him down the stairs.
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