I ran away again. For the last time, I hope. It's been three years since I re-entered the lives of the Winthrops, two years since I left them. Time really does fly— or at least go very fast, because it almost seems like yesterday when I swiftly packed my belongings up and left Winthrops Estate, never looking back.

Two years ago at Winthrops Estate

"Where did you go? You made me sick with worry!" Indeed, he was standing with his shoulders hunched, shivering. I felt myself going warm and didn't try to ignore it. Why should I, when the I have finally allowed myself to see the truth?

"I'm alive, there's nothing to worry about, ok? I'm fine" I assured him, surprising myself with the gentleness in my tone. He gazed at me, anxiety still in his eyes. He would suffer no longer— I promised that I would fix things after the talk with Roberts.

He narrowed his eyes and I already knew what will say. "You know something."

"Everything. I met Zephyrson Roberts. Found about… about before. Our past lives."

"Really? You know all about it now?"

"Yes, Zander. I know all about it." No more crying, I told myself firmly. I'll just hurt him if I let those tears fall. I would be stronger now. For him first. Then for myself. There was no use berating the past, my selfishness and stubbornness. I hate what I've done, but crying about it won't do anything. And then I feel a wave of remorsefulness hit me. Easier said than done. I would suffer and regret the enormity of my mistakes. I would be saddened forever by the fact that I refused to cherish the unconditional love that this wonderful person gave me.

He blushed. "You don't have to be sorry. For what he did—"

"No, but I am, all the same. I was him, wasn't I?" I looked at him fearfully, wondering if he realizes how undeserved I am of his love. Perhaps he will decide to let go. And I will feel the loss…

…But then his face broke into a radiant grin.

"Hey. At least you're not a guy this time!"

"No. Now I'm old enough to be your mother," I retorted. Leave it to me to darken the day. Zander can be the Sun if he wants.

"Don't go," he breathed suddenly, understanding my intentions before I have even thought about them. He launched himself at me, making me collide with the wall in the process. I clutched his arms, frowning. "Don't go please. Not again."

"I don't want to, you know. I really don't," I said, touching his face with one hand. "But I have to. Please don't be scared." He pleaded silently, and so did I. He let go. I looked at him and suddenly saw him for what he is. A seventeen year old kid with a soul much older, eternally in love with someone that truly doesn't deserve him. I felt love surge fierce and boundlessly in my heart, and welcomed it with open arms. He saw it and his eyes widened in joyful astonishment. I smiled back weakly, not forgetting what I still have to do.

It's funny, I thought. How strong a feeling guilt can be. I wondered how many lifetimes' worth of guilt I was feeling. What if I have been rejecting him ever since my soul came into existence. I feel something like vertigo rising somewhere in my subconscious and quickly hold back the thought.

"I'm going back to where it all started last time. I… I love you. Good luck Zander."

Of course I kissed him. It still felt as odd as I expected, kissing someone who was barely an adult (well he will be turning eighteen soon, but still…), but judging by the look on his face after I retracted my mouth from his, he must have at least found it tolerable. Well, I thought hazily as he crushed me in an even stronger embrace, maybe it was a bit more than tolerable. I smiled at this image of him— all red in the face and shiny eyes, a metaphor of youth. I allowed myself the weakness of sharing a few more kisses with him, chuckling when he kept his face glued to my forehead when I tried to disentangle myself from him.

And then he reluctantly let go again, running away to his room. I sighed and leaned back against the wall, clinging desperately to the notion that I would be doing him a favor by this plan— for the first time, I'm doing something for someone else. Something good for someone else. If this isn't the way to start, what is?

So I left him with his parents. I took a look my watch. It was 7:30 p.m.

— Present day (the year 2022) —

Brenton and Deborah really did get divorced, as I found out from various tabloids. But it wasn't my fault and I'm glad about that. I also heard that Zander graduated high school with great success. Instead of following in his father's footsteps however, he started doing what he had always wanted to do: acting. I've seen all the movies he's in. Each time I leave the cinema, I think: 'There you are again, my Zander. Impressing me again and again. Impressing me even if it's only through something else that I see you." Not amazingly then, his name is everywhere and everybody worships him. I look on proudly, bursting with repletion with the knowledge that it's me: invisible, unknown Nikki Vicario that has his love, not anyone else. Now and then, I experience bouts of mild jealousy on seeing pictures of him with other people, but I think about us, about our pasts, and I'm alright again.

As for myself, I have become something like an odd-job person. It suits me well. Sometimes I'm a freelance writer, at other times, a backup singer.

I will never teach again. Not when I have so many things to learn myself.

My hair is cropped short now, I look like a cross between a 1920s flapper and a 70s punk-rocker. If you see me now, you may not recognize me. People think I'm 'weird' but I don't care. My heart and mind is lighter with the recognition that I choose my fate. I will continue to make mistakes that I may regret later, but the hope of redemption should never be underestimated.

I feel that I'm a worthwhile person for the first time in my life. It's a nice feeling.

No one can define me. No one can define any one else, even if they try to. I can dance to the Devil's tune one day, and I can sing a hymn praising God, meaning every single word on another. I am a heterosexual woman. I am a homosexual man. Now I'm voracious of life, now I'm melancholy and shrouded in darkness.

I'll always be in love. It's comforting to think that Zander's spirit is the eternal constant in these lives beyond lives.

I don't want to ever let him down again, but who knows what the future holds in its quicksand hands?

I walk into my apartment now and open my drawer to drop my keys into it. I see a single white rose with a tag saying '1 year 11 months 365 days'. For a second, I'm blinded by fear and I hurry next door.

"Hey Stacy! Did you see anyone at my place?"

"Sure, honey. Your man came around this afternoon. Why didn't you tell me about him? Was it 'coz he's kinda…" she coughs uncomfortable. "Well, he was wearin' a bolero and a big pink hat, I didn't know what to think. Then I thought 'maybe this was why she didn't tell me about her man, ol' Stace, 'coz he's pretty damn uh… unique. "

"I… what color were his eyes? Did you see?" I ask quickly, turning on my heels.

"Uh, one blue and one green?" Blue and green! "Come to think about it, he looked a lot like… oh my gosh!" But I'm already striding back to my apartment, my heart beating a mad tattoo inside my chest.

At precisely half past seven, my doorbell rings. I look through the peephole and see my heaven.

I open the door.

A/N: Yay! imaginary -party food and sounds of firecrackers- Finally finished! I can't believe it took so long, but it did. I have a feeling that people were expecting an intimate scene of some kind… hehe -embarrassed laugh-. Thanks to everyone who has ever reviewed this story, but special thanks goes to Spawn of Hell, Infinit1, Oneirocritik, daphnegray78, Amaya Windsong, poetic abortion Cloudburst, graffiti-skies and Poisonkiss for their regular support. My new story is called 'The Accident' and is going to be very different to this one. Thanks again to everyone who reviewed this story. Hope you all enjoyed reading it!

And to The Jester and celtic dreams: I've finished it! I've finished it! You can stop spying on my online activities now lol!

kazahana: thanks for pointing out the mistake! Me and my math gah! Anyway, thanks again for that! : )

kazahana: Arghhh!!!! lol! Thanks! Again! : D