The dawn of the spring semester is generally a cheerful occasion, regardless of the individual campus one analyzes. Though the prospect of returning to classes looms just over the horizon, there is the promise of new friends and lovers that will be met over the coming months. There is also the joy of re-joining with friends that were scattered to the winds in their own treks home. It is this unique combination of new and old that manages to overpower even the crushing ennui of facing more tests and papers. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and not every reunion is a welcome one.
Alex was halfway to his floor when he sensed a very familiar mind. It was three floors up and several doors over, but the minute he touched it he knew who it belonged to. Alex contemplated turning around and going back to his car. He had very little stowed away in the trunk, and nothing that was perishable. A few hours out of the air-conditioning wouldn’t do any lasting harm.
Ultimately he decided against it and resumed his upward journey. He might have gone for the run if he hadn’t felt the steely determination in the mind that was waiting for him. She wasn’t going to leave. She knew he could sense her before she saw his face and she was determined to wait right where she was until he gave in and went to his room. Alex knew damned well that once she was set on something there was no turning her around. Besides, better to get this out of the way as soon as possible.
Alex stepped out of the stairwell and shifted the box he was holding. It wasn’t particularly heavy, not to someone with frequent physical conditioning at least, but he felt compelled to do something with his hands and the box was the most convenient item to fiddle with. She was sitting in front of his door, looking down the hall at him. As he drew closer, she pulled herself to a standing position.
“Hey,” Selena said softly.
“Why are you here?” Alex’s tone was harsher than he might have chosen under different circumstances; however, this was an occasion where a gentle approach would only do more harm than good.
“I was hoping we could talk. I tried to call you over the break.”
“I know. I ignored the calls.” Alex brushed past her and unlocked his door. He struggled with a moment of internal debate as he twisted the knob: should he keep Selena in the hall or let her in? If he let her in then things could take the wrong turn and get complicated, but if they stayed in the hall the neighbors who were returning would see far more of his personal life than Alex was comfortable with. He walked in and set his box down, leaving the door open behind him. Selena could make her own decision on what was best for the conversation.
There was a click as Selena shut the door. Alex sat down in his computer desk chair and swiveled around to face her. The bed would have been more comfortable; but it also would have been vastly more dangerous.
“I wanted to tell you that I’m sorry,” Selena said, shifting in place. She didn’t make any motion to sit. This wasn’t supposed to be comfortable for her; she understood that much already.
“You’ve already said that, multiple times,” Alex reminded her. “I understand that you’re sorry. I’ll probably even be able to forgive you one day, once I’ve gotten some distance from all of this.”
“Alex, it was a mistake and I know it. I came to you after it happened and told you everything. Please, I really like you. I don’t want things to end like this.”
“That might have been something to keep in mind before you fucked Allen at Thomas’s party.”
Selena didn’t draw back at the crude comment, she merely nodded her head. Later, many hours and miles from this moment, she would sob muffled tears in the dark of her room. It wouldn’t be because of his harsh words, or because he reminded her of her sin. It would be because she’d done something so horrible that the gentlest boy she’d ever met could act that viciously towards her.
“It was a mistake,” Selena repeated. “I was drunk, and you weren’t there, and...”
“And you cheated on me,” Alex finished for her. “We’ve had this fight, like, five times now, Selena. I know you feel bad about it, I really do, but I don’t want to be with someone I can’t trust.”
“You can trust me! I told you everything that happened the very next day!” Selena’s voice was rising; she was losing her calm demeanor. Alex felt a rising urge to comfort her. His instincts hadn’t gotten the memo that the girl he’d spent nearly a year nuzzling was now no longer to even be touched. He needed to end this before desire and love overcame basic reasoning.
“I’ll admit, you did tell me the very next day,” Alex agreed, rising from his chair. “But I have to wonder, was that because you couldn’t bear to lie to me, or because you knew it would only be a matter of time before I sensed all the guilt leaking out of you and decided to dig deeper?” His eyes bore into her almond-colored irises. He wasn’t looking for any twitches or glances: he didn’t need such tricks to know the truth. He simply wanted to look into those eyes one last time before he banished them from his life.
“I didn’t want to lie to you,” Selena said forcefully. Her tone was even, her body language secure. Alex could have believed her; hell, he wanted to believe her. It would have given them some place to work from, shaky and unstable but not impossible to fortify. It would have been hope. Alex didn’t believe her, because he could sense the worms of doubt wriggling through her mind. She didn’t really know for certain whether she would have come clean had her boyfriend not been telepathic. It was understandable; that kind of moral dilemma is tested in the doing, not in speculation. However, the fact remained that she didn’t know what she would have done, which meant Alex knew what he had to do. Relationships were built on trust, trust that he simply no longer possessed.
“I don’t believe you,” Alex said. There was no anger in his voice, no fierceness, only a cold sense of detachment. “I don’t trust you. Right now, I don’t even like you. It’s over. One day maybe we can be civil to one another, but we are never going to be together again.”
“Never. Stop calling me. Stop dropping by my dorm. Don’t even talk to me. There is nothing left between us. Now get out.”
Selena stared at him for a moment, her mouth opening once but closing before any sound escaped. She turned and walked over to the door, pulling it open slowly, as if waiting for him to stop her from walking out. He didn’t. It was only willpower and pride that kept her from taking one last glance back as she left the room and walked carefully down the hallway.
To his own credit, it was nearly a full minute after the door closed before Alex’s first tears began to fall.