We got a meeting with Butler within twenty minutes; he had apparently been in the area, maybe even waiting for our report. We gave it to him, leaving nothing out. Or rather, they gave it to him. I didn’t say much, and I don’t really remember what happened. I just remember that by the time we finished, the sun was almost completely gone, and we were back at the dorms.
I really needed that shower.
I stumbled through the lobby, ignoring my friends’ attempts to guide me by the arm. I didn’t jerk out of my fugue until I bumped into Emily, standing between me and the elevators.
“Whoa there,” the RA said in a friendly tone, holding me at arm’s length. “You alright?” She frowned, looking me up and down. “You smell like a sewer. What were you up to?”
I sighed, some of my wits returning to me. “I…it’s not important. I need to shower.”
“He’ll be fine,” Ling promised with a smile, grabbing my hand. “I’m sure I’ll be able to get him very clean.”
It took all my willpower not to jerk away. Was she serious? It was a nice offer, but more creepy than anything. Where did all this come from?
But Akane grabbed my other hand and glared at Ling. “No. He’s not going anywhere with you.” She didn’t say anything else, and Ling just rolled her eyes.
“I…I…” I managed to get to the elevators (Laura and Adam were holding them open for us) with the girls still attached. We sped up to the ninth floor without delay, Ling making incredibly obvious ‘subtle’ suggestions and Akane denying her with monosyllabic stoicism. Neither of them released me.
Silver and gold, what was going on? Since when were they actually interested in me?
By the time we reached my floor, I had broke into a cold sweat. I couldn’t move. What was I supposed to do? It’s not like I could just ignore them, and even though I did like them both, kinda, this was really not the time to be making that kind of decision. Adam and Laura quickly tired of waiting, and headed off without us.
Rather than answering their flirting, I just kept my mouth shut and stumbled out of the elevator. I managed to reach my door without doing anything too stupid, to find Adam coming out.
“I’m going to be staying with Lily tonight,” he informed me. “I’ll be back tomorrow for lunch.” He hefted his backpack over his shoulder—I had no idea why he needed his guns, but decided not to ask—and headed back to the elevators. I seized on the opening he had given me.
“Ah, sorry girls, I think I just need to sleep. It’s been a long day.” I disentangled myself, ignoring their increasingly loud protests, and slipped into my room. Thankfully, Adam had left it unlocked. “Have a nice night.” I locked the door behind me.
And turned around to see Laura laying on my bed.
She was on her back, propped up on the pillows, reading one of my monster magazines as though she belonged there. I had my bed set up so that the pillows were next to the window; that way, I didn’t have to turn around to see an intruder. It also meant that Laura didn’t have to turn to speak to me. Some distant part of my brain noted that I would probably need to wash my sheets to remove the smell of the sewer.
“You sure are popular,” she said calmly, wiggling her bare toes. She flipped the page, as though she were actually reading it.
I swallowed. “I guess…they’re trying to make me feel better.” I shook my head vigorously. “But it’s just confusing me more. I don’t need flirting right now.”
“I’m well aware of that.” She put the magazine down on the short dresser in arm’s reach. “I know what it’s like to lose someone you love.” She gave me a level gaze, though I noticed that her hand inched towards her necklace before she could stop herself. “I know exactly what you need right now…and I’m willing to give it.”
It took me a second to realize what she meant. A beautiful girl sitting on my bed in a locked room…her face was calm. She was prepared.
I stepped forward slowly…then I took another step and another. And then I was there, and she was close enough to touch.
Laura smiled sadly—pityingly, really.
She was right. I needed this.
I collapsed on top of her, my head in her lap, and cried.
I don’t know how long I cried. I don’t know when I ran out of tears, but I kept crying anyway. There was nothing else in the world except for Laura, gently brushing my hair and whispering that everything would be all right.
Behind the Scenes (scene 110)
Yes, very short, I know. But it was originally supposed to be part of scene 108 (Apocalypsis) until I realized that it made no sense for pacing purposes. Even short as it is, it works better here.
Extra update Wednesday.