Alex Chen Goes To Lane Academy

-by bfmusashi-

Chapter 17


Ahem. I know this is corny, but since I've been away for…lol, an abominably long time (see the author's note below for my pathetic excuses!) I figured I'd start doing little fill-in thingies like this to remind people of what's happened in the previous chapter. Sorry for the long delay, guys. :) Anyhow…

In the last dramatic chapter of Alex Chen, Alex and Cammy enjoyed a wonderful afternoon on the grasses of the Lane campus, complete with ice cream and Alex's ice cream melting on his pants. Alex shares a couple things with Cammy, including the problems with Kelvin and his recent escapades with Sherry. Cammy exchanges a few words of wisdom with Alex, reminding him to be mindful of Kelvin's emotions. Later, the two of them cross by the Lane Stadium, where they unexpectedly run into the one and only Shin Jung Jae, boyfriend of Sherry Wong. Shin, a ridiculously huge fellow who isn't too big on words, gives Alex a nasty threat—to watch himself and to stay away from Sherry, even if the rumor of the two of them making out in the elevator is false. Alex leaves the encounter with the nasty feeling that he may be in over his head.

Is Alex flirting with the wrong crowd? Will he take Cammy's advice and be mindful of Kelvin's emotions?! Will Sherry ever confront Shin about their failing relationship?!! Do Alex and Kelvin make an unsettlingly great couple, or what?!!! READ ON TO DISCOVER THE SHOCKING ANSWERS!!!

As the days passed by, I put the confrontation I'd had with Shin aside and began to focus more than ever on my schoolwork. Since the initial "easing-into-college" period was just about finished, the teachers had started to dump on us all at once. Perice had gone full speed ahead, assigning pages and pages of Aristotle and Socrates each night with no signs of ever letting up. Walker was keeping me busy on the biological side of things with numerous labs. I was getting lots of work in my other classes, too—my English teacher, Professor Gunther, began giving us less and less time to read books for class, and my East Asian History teacher, Professor Heller, employed us into an odd series of assignments that revolved around the "cataclysmic" failures of the ancient dynasties of Asia. I took it that he actually didn't like Asian history that much.

Still, I almost welcomed all this additional work. It gave me something to focus on, something positive to pour my energies into, and believe me, I needed something to do. Kelvin had been giving me his silent treatment for almost a month now, and things looked like they were getting worse day by day. The thought of the threat Shin had given me still lingered in the back of my head, but at the same time, my crush on Sherry just didn't want to go away. Every time I saw the girl I was reminded of how gorgeous she was, and all thoughts—be they of Shin, schoolwork, Kelvin, or whatever—went out of my head. I was really looking forward to the dance that was coming up at the end of the month. Fliers for it were appearing on campus bulletin boards, and I marked the date on my calendar out of anticipation. This would be my chance! My chance for what, you ask? Actually, I didn't know, but I knew that it was a "chance" for something, and I wasn't going to let it pass me by.

The dance was being held at the Hamilton House, sort of an open community center on the west beach of the lake, a short walk from the main Lane campus. I figured that I'd have to get a bathing suit for the event, so one night, three days before the night of the dance, I ran down to Evanston's Wal-Mart to go grab one. It was pretty late—almost midnight, but I had been caught up with homework for the entire day and had only just remembered at about eleven thirty. Since I was also kind of hungry at the time, I decided to stop off at a nearby open-all-night Taco Bell and clog my arteries with salsa and grease for a half-hour. It was almost one in the morning when I set off back to the dorms.

I was walking through the streets of downtown Evanston when I realized absently that Franklin Hall was a bit out of the way from where I currently was. It had taken me about fifteen minutes to get to the Wal-Mart from Franklin Hall, and I didn't think much about having to cross my way through the crowded Evanston streets (which were still very filled with people at this time of night) and jog all the way back to my dorm. I knew that a group of fraternity and sorority houses (some of the only ones on campus—Lane Greek life wasn't very big) was located a much shorter distance away, on the very outskirts of Lane. If I walked through a couple alleyways I'd reach them, and then if I went across the nearby field that bordered them, I'd directly come up upon the back entrance of the Franklin Hall dormitory. It sounds complicated, but it was really a handy little shortcut that one of my classmates had shown me a couple days ago after lunch when we were trying to get back to campus in time for class. I figured that I might as well take it—I was feeling sleepy after eating all those tacos, and at the moment, I wanted to walk as little as possible. Making a left down Clarence Street, I walked a little ways and then ducked into a narrow alleyway that ran south, whistling to myself as I went along.

I was about halfway down the alleyway when I realized that maybe this hadn't been a good idea. The alley had gotten extremely dark, and as I moved further and further through it the warm lights from the busy city street in back of me began to fade away, replaced by foggy blackness. I felt uneasy. I won't lie, I've always been a little scared of the dark—moreso when I was a little kid, but old fears never really go away, and as an adult, I had never been able to shake off feelings of nervousness or uneasiness whenever I was obscured in the dark. I suddenly felt very cold. Looking back behind me, I contemplated the dim shine coming from the streetlights, took a deep breath, and was reassured by the sounds of passing cars and people casually chattering as they walked down the street. I was being silly. This was downtown Evanston. People were outside everywhere. There wasn't anything to be scared of. I turned around and kept walking back down the alleyway, following the pathway my classmate had shown me. I did, however, stop whistling.

I had walked the length of the alley, gone left down another one, and then turned right one before I realized that I had taken a wrong turn somewhere. I was supposed to come out onto a side street which bordered the fraternity and sorority houses—instead, I had somehow found my way into a cul-de-sac, and the alley had gotten so black that I couldn't see very far in front of me anymore. Darkness really does something to screw up your perception. I looked about me for any possible landmarks I might have seen during the time my classmate had taken me through this shortcut, but unfortunately for me, that had been during the day, and everything looked different at night. I bit down on my lip, feeling uneasy again. There was something about being stuck in a dark, narrow space that just ate away at my nerves. Sighing, I decided that I'd quickly retrace my steps and try turning right where I had turned left, or vice versa. I walked down the alleyway with a quickened pace, all too aware of the fact that it had suddenly gotten quiet—and when I say quiet, I mean quiet. The sounds of passing cars and conversation that had reassured me before were now only faintly audible. All I could hear clearly were the loud sounds of my footsteps, scraping heavily against hard concrete. The sounds echoed off the walls of the cramped space, boring themselves into my head. I began to sweat.

I walked on for several seconds. For some odd reason, the alley suddenly seemed to have increased in length. Either that or I had missed a crossroads point somewhere. Doubling back, I looked around and saw that I hadn't. My mind must be playing tricks on me, I thought. Or maybe I was just too nervous. I began walking even faster—I was almost jogging now, actually—and was relieved when the light of the moon came out, shining down on me and illuminating the area around me just a little bit. I was even more relieved to see a familiar spot of graffiti on a nearby wall—this marked the point where I had turned left. Retracing my steps, I turned right this time. Much to my dismay, however, this led only to a dumpster and another cul-de-sac. I began getting frantic. Something was screwed up here. Maybe it was because I couldn't see clearly; maybe it was because I didn't exactly remember the directions my friend had shown me when we had walked through this mini-maze in the daytime. Was I lost? How could I get lost in an alleyway, of all places? And in the middle of the night, too? Well, there was only one thing to do. Screw the shortcut—getting to the dorm a few minutes early wasn't worth this. I was getting back on the main street. All this wandering through dark alleyways was messing up my mind.

I ran back the way I had come, making a hasty spin at the crossroads point and hurriedly dashing up towards where I believed the entrance to Clarence Street was. The harsh ringing sound of my footsteps was reverberating in my ears, and I thought I could feel my heart pumping fast in my chest. I wasn't just nervous anymore, I was scared. Sweat was running off my forehead, and my hand, tightly gripping the shopping bag with the swimsuit that had gotten me into this mess, was perspiring greatly. I shouldn't be here, I thought to myself. I shouldn't be wandering around dark alleys at one in the morning. It wasn't safe. It wasn't safe at all. A million horror stories of people getting mugged, raped, or killed in these kinds of situations ran through my head as I scurried along, and although I tried to relieve myself by saying that I'd never have something like that happen to me, the nagging thoughts wouldn't go away. And the darkness wouldn't go away either. The moon had either moved or decided to stop shining on me—I didn't know which—but everything was too dark once more. I hated it. Oddly enough, I suddenly began to remember certain scenes from my childhood out of nowhere—when I had been little, I used to be so terribly scared of the dark that I wouldn't go to sleep in a room when the lights were out. It always drove my parents nuts. When I finally did manage to go to sleep, I'd see crazy visions—creepy images of hideous men with knives or giant monsters with fanged masks. An unhappy side-effect of having too good of an imagination, I suppose. As I'd gotten older, I'd been able to shake these images away, but the memories still remained. And now, of all times, I was remembering them.

I suddenly stopped in my tracks, breathing an enormous sigh of relief. The lights of Clarence Street were up ahead, and I could once more hear the sounds of moving cars. Finally. I could run back up and be safe in downtown Evanston, safe to mingle in all those loud, chattering crowds of people. I'd be out of this alleyway, out of this nauseatingly dark place. Grinning to myself, I wiped away a bead of sweat, jogging down the pathway towards the streetlights. I'd been right. There wasn't anything to be scared of. I had just gotten a little confused and lost in the dark, and my imagination had gone crazy for a couple minutes. I'd be okay now, though. Nothing to be scared of. The dark was just the dark, after all.

I nearly crashed into a hooded figure leaning against the wall a couple feet away from me.

"AHHHH!" I yelped, falling backwards and hitting my head against cold stone. Breathing heavily, I stared up at the figure in bewildered disbelief.

"What's up, cuz?" the figure said, bending to peer down at me. The voice was deep and slurred—I didn't recognize it. It was also too dark for me to try to identify the speaker, but I did notice that he—I was sure that it was a male—wore a hooded sweatshirt and seemed to have a bandana tied around one of his arms. I gulped.

The bandana was green.

"N-Nothing," I stammered, struggling to get to my feet. I had dropped the bag with my swimsuit in my surprise; uneasily I bent down on my knees and picked it back up. The hooded guy seemed to be watching me closely.

"I-I…er," I sputtered, "I… Sorry, you just, uh, kind of…scared me. I was running and…"

"Not good to run in the dark," he cut me off. I looked at his face uncomfortably. He was black, from what I could make out, and he seemed to be smirking at me. "You could hurt yourself."

My heart missed a beat. I tried to respond, but my mouth had decided to stop working. I nodded instead, and then frantically broke out into a sprint before anything else could happen. Running as fast as I possibly could, I dashed out of the alleyway without looking back, my lungs bursting with silent screams. The bright streetlights of the Evanston sidewalk blinded me as I ran out of the darkness I had been stuck in for so long. Dumbly putting my hands up to shield my eyes, I slipped on a wet spot on the ground, slid to my right, and crashed head-first into Tim Maldrete, my RA, who just happened to be walking down the street with a coke in one hand and fries in the other. The coke went sailing out from his fingers in our collision, drenching my head and sending ice cubes flying down my back. I groaned and flopped onto my ass, dizzily staring up at Tim. He looked surprised, staring at his hand as if he wasn't quite sure what had just happened to his coke. Then he saw who I was and rushed down to help me.

"Jeez, Alex! Are you okay?!"

"He was wearing a green bandana?" Tim asked as we walked down the street back to the dorms.

"Yeah," I said miserably, wiping the last remnants of sticky sugar off of my forehead with the paper towels Tim had gotten for me. "He scared me half to death."

"Hmm," Tim said. "Might've been a Tong."

"That's…that's what I was thinking."

"Well," said Tim, looking troubled, "if you really think he was a Tong and not just some…random guy who likes to hang out in dark alleyways, then we could report it to the cops. There's probably not much they can do, though. It was dark and you couldn't get a very good description of him, and he's probably long gone now anyway."

"You…you think he was a Tong member too?" I asked uneasily, grateful for his company. "I mean, I wasn't really sure if he was or not. All I remember was Professor Walker—er, my bio teacher—he got mugged recently, and he said…"

"I know," Tim said. "I heard about it. There are a lot of those guys in Evanston these days, to be honest with you. It's kind of depressing. Evanston isn't a bad town, and it isn't even that big of a town, but we still have to put up with gangs and such leaking in from Chicago."

"I see," I said. "So…should we go tell the police, then?"

Tim looked me over for a moment. "You look pretty frazzled right now. Maybe you should just head back to the dorms and get some rest. If you like, we can go, but they won't be able to do much. The guy didn't actually mug you or anything, you see, so there's nothing we can say other than the fact that he was wearing a green bandana and hanging in an out-of-the-way place. It's kind of insubstantial. There's really not even enough to file a report on there."


"And, well, Tongs aren't the only ones that wear green bandanas. Who knows? Maybe it wasn't a Tong. Could've been just some random guy jerking off in a dark alley." He grinned a little and punched me in the arm.


"Hey, there are some people who do that!" he said.

I didn't reply. He had reminded me of Kelvin.

"But if you want me to," Tim continued, "I'll tell campus police about it and they can get in touch with the town cops."

I shuddered. "I guess. Whether he was a gang member or not…it sure was scary."

"Mm," Tim said. "Look, Alex, don't go wandering down any more dark alleys at this time of night. That's just looking for trouble."

I nodded sullenly, gripping my swimsuit bag tightly. I didn't think I'd be going out in town for a while after this. I stayed silent until we were back on campus and nearing one of Franklin Hall's side entrances. I felt greatly relieved to be back in "safe territory" after my unsettling experience in town.

"I've got to head over to Walters Hall," Tim said. "You should probably relax and get some rest. You'll be okay, right?"

"Yeah… I'm fine."

He walked away. I started moving towards the dorm, feeling exceptionally tired. Suddenly a finger tapped me on my shoulder and a voice shouted out my name. I screamed, jumped a couple feet in the air, fell on my ass for the second time that evening, and semi-pissed myself.

"Alex?" Sherry exclaimed, looking down at me. "Are you all right?"

"My GOD," I gasped, struggling to get back up on my feet. My knees had turned to jelly in the past hour and I was having trouble supporting myself. "Don't DO that! I thought you were… Er… Just don't sneak up on me like that, okay? I could have accidentally killed myself!"

Sherry gave me a puzzled look, then smiled at me playfully. "Okaaay then… Sorry I scared you; I was walking this way and thought I saw you. I've gotta tell you something. Guess what happened…oh, two hours ago, Alex!" She looked at her watch and looked back up at me expectantly. She seemed excited.

"Uh…. I'm not good at guessing games," I said weakly.

"I'm done with Shin," she said. Her smile was unusually bright.

Woah. I looked at her in disbelief.

"Or, well, according to him, we're just on a break, I guess," she said, "but, well… For all intents and purposes, we're done. I don't know when he's going to consider it an 'official' break-up, but, as far as I'm concerned, it is."

"That's, uh, wow," I said, my lips becoming dry. I wasn't sure whether to congratulate her or to tell her I was sorry. She didn't seem too upset though. "I…uh… I'm speechless…"

Sherry laughed. "Yeah. I was too. Or, well, actually, I guess I can't say that, because I was the one who demanded that we take a break, not the other way around. He was the speechless one."

"So, uh… How do you feel about this? How does Shin feel?"

"He isn't happy," Sherry said, whimsically looking away. "He is…quite angry, actually. But to tell you the truth, I'm surprised he didn't see it coming. He brought it upon himself. We were supposed to see each other tonight, and earlier, I had been thinking about this whole thing, about me and Shin. I remembered all the things you used to tell me…you know, about him, well, sort of…taking advantage of me, I guess. And I thought about the things some of my other friends had been telling me. And I don't know… I just stepped back for a minute, I think, and looked at the whole situation. And I realized that it just…wasn't…worth it. He's not the same Shin I used to love. He's too…different now."

"Wow," I murmured. Scratching the back of my neck in bewilderment, I looked around for a place to sit. "I gotta sit down for this."

"Haha, yeah," Sherry said, sitting beside me and cupping her arms around her knees. "I guess… I guess I just got the courage to admit to myself what I'd been afraid to consider for the longest time. And this was all before I saw him tonight, by the way."

"So what happened when you two were together?" I asked.

"Well, I decided I would give him one final chance," Sherry said slowly. "One final chance to prove that he was still the same Shin that I remembered from a year ago. One final chance to show me that he…you know, still loved me and cared for me as much as I cared for him. A chance to show me that he wasn't just using me."

"I see. And?"

Sherry laughed softly. She looked very passive, but oddly relieved at the same time. "He blew it. I kind of expected him to. The second I saw him, he was all cold and angry at everything, as always. Didn't even stop to…well, give me a hug or anything… He just grabbed me and wanted me to come with him. So I pulled away and told him that enough was enough. That I wasn't going to take any more of this."

"Man. Nice work," I said.

"Mmm," she said. "And he got all defensive all of a sudden, and demanded to know what I was talking about. And I told him that he should know what I meant, that he's been treating me terribly lately, and that I didn't deserve that kind of thing. Then he started denying everything, and making up these excuses, and saying he deserved second chances and all that other stuff. But I said I'd given him second chances…and third chances, and fourth ones…and he'd blown them all. So then I said that things were finished between us, and he got kind of emotional, surprisingly, and asked me to please forgive him. It was strange."

"I…never thought he'd be one to do that," I said.

"It was unlike him, yes," Sherry said. "But I didn't want to give in to him. I'd given in to him too many times before to do it again. I said no. Then he asked me if we had to consider it an 'official' break-up…if it could just be, like, us going on break for a little while. And I told him whatever, he could call it anything he wanted, but I was through. And then…well, then I left him. Walked away."

"Woah!" I exclaimed.

"Didn't look back, either," Sherry smiled. "I guess it sounds kind of corny, but I feel…free right now. Like a big weight's been lifted off my shoulders. I haven't felt this carefree in a long while. I guess Shin's attitude was weighing me down a lot more than I first thought. And if I see him again, which I'm not afraid of, I think I'll tell him that."

I licked my lips. "So…uh, how does it feel to be single again?"

"Surreal," Sherry said. "It always feels weird after a relationship, knowing that you can start paying attention to other people and you can let other people get close to you again."

I choked silently on that last sentence of hers. Funny how she was letting other people get close to her without even knowing it.

"I think I might be done with guys for a little while now," Sherry continued. "Maybe I'll try keeping the stress out of my life for as long as I can this time."

Damn, I thought to myself. She had finally decided to break up with her boyfriend, and now she was "done with guys?!" What terrible logic, especially when there were so many great guys to go for—namely, me, myself, and I!

"So, I just thought I might let you know," she said. "After all, I think it was partly because of some of the things you pointed out to me that made me want to break up with Shin."

"Ahaaa…" I mumbled nervously, hoping to God that Shin wasn't listening in on us in some nearby bush.

"But anyway, what have you been up to tonight?" Sherry asked curiously. "You seem kinda jumpier than usual."

Jumpier than usual? I was jumpy normally? "Uhhh… Not that much. I was down in town…got a swimsuit for the dance." I pulled it out to show her.

"Oh, that's right!" Sherry exclaimed. "It's in three days! You psyched? I definitely am. First really big party of the year, I think. So many people are going to be there! I can't wait to just break free and relax. I think it'll definitely do me some good."

"Yeah, same here," I said. "I'm looking forward to it a lot."

"We'll have to hang out before and afterwards," Sherry said excitedly. "You and me… Maybe I'll introduce you to some of my friends."

SCOREEE, I thought to myself. "I'll be looking forward to that too."

"Well, I'd better be going, then. It's getting awfully late," Sherry said. She yawned, and then, suddenly, to my utmost surprise, turned over and gave me a quick hug. "Night, Alex! Thanks again!" She stood up and walked away, waving sweetly to me from the distance. I just sat there with a dazed look on my face. She hugged me! My goodness. Had that really just happened? Incredible!

I slowly got up and patted myself all over to make sure that I was real and I wasn't just dreaming all of this. I couldn't believe my luck; it almost made the whole fiasco in the alleyway earlier this evening worth it. Grinning to myself, I walked up towards the doorway of Franklin Hall, and then jumped out of my skin for the third time that night. Kelvin was leaning against the side wall of the building, his guitar by his side and a napkin that he had apparently used for weed lying on the doorway stairs next to him. He was smoking a fat joint and letting the silvery waves emanate from his mouth and float up to engulf the front of his face. Shadows covered him, making him look creepy as hell.

"K-Kelvin," I stammered, looking at him uneasily.

He paused to look at me silently, then gave me a backwards nod. He seemed either dazed or high, or probably both.

"You scared me," I said, expecting a reaction. Kelvin grunted something apathetically, then leaned his head back against the wall and continued blowing smoke.

I began to get suddenly annoyed. I don't know what made my temper sizzle. It might have been the unsettling events that had occurred earlier that night, and it might have also been the fact that I was already feeling very resentful towards Kelvin—for giving me his unbearable silent treatment, for acting like a jackass, and for now just standing there, in such a….infuriating manner. The twisted idea that he had been spying on Sherry and me from his little hiding spot popped up into my head without warning, and I think it made me even angrier. I clenched my fists, walked up to him and shot him a glare. This guy had been acting like a bum for the past month, and I didn't have to tolerate it any longer. I had already tried to make amends. He was the one who wasn't doing his part, and just like Sherry had refused to put up with Shin, I didn't have to put up with Kelvin anymore.

"Well?" I said angrily.

He looked at me with a dumb expression. "Well what?"

"Aren't you going to say something? Or are you just going to lean there and…and act all shady?"

"I didn't think I was acting shady," he said, pausing to let off smoke. "In case you don't remember, dude… I come out here from time to time… To smoke, you know."

"How long have you been here?" I demanded, probably a little too snappishly.

"Long enough," Kelvin answered. He looked very tired. "I saw you two, if that's what you mean."

"You were spying on us, weren't you?" I snapped, sticking my finger in his face.

He scoffed at me and pushed my hand away. "Stop pointing, dude. I wasn't 'spying' on you… I was here before you."

"But you were watching us, weren't you?" I said through gritted teeth. Somehow, his uncharacteristic nonchalant attitude was making me pissier by the second.

"Yo, why are you acting so stuck up all of a sudden?" Kelvin asked, staring at me. "I mean, for real, it's a free campus, isn't it? I can be where I want to be and look where I want to look without asking you for 'permission,' can't I?"

"I'm acting stuck up?!" I repeated incredulously. "YOU'RE the one who's been acting like a…like a…"

"Like a what?" he asked, his shoulders beginning to tense up.

"Like some…some snobby, whiny kid who's not getting what he wants and insists on being a complete…a complete BITCH about it!" I blurted out, struggling as I tried to find the right combination of obscene language. "Ever since the beginning of last month you've been a total ASSHOLE, okay? You won't talk to me, you won't let me talk to you, whenever we DO talk it's only in two word conversations, you're always acting cold and unfriendly around me but with everyone else you're just fine! What's up with THAT?!"

"Uh huh," Kelvin snorted. "Okay. So I've been a complete bitch, huh? You ever step back to take a look at yourself, boy?"

"What are you talking about?"

"Jeez, Alex!" Kelvin yelled. "I dunno if this ever really occurred to you, what with all the blood that must be going to your brain every time girls actually talk to you now—"

"Hey!" I interrupted. "Watch it!"

"—but if you haven't noticed, you've been acting like a dick yourself," he continued. "I mean, look at you! You should see how you walk around campus these days! Like some fuckin' big shot or somethin'! And you're always fuckin' BOTHERING me about myself! Maybe if every five seconds it wasn't 'Kelvin, what's wrong,' or 'Kelvin, talk to me,' then I'd actually bother to SAY something to you. But you're always up in my goddamn space, you're always so freaking nosy, you're always walking around these days like you're better than everyone else and expect all your friends to kiss your ass."

"That's ridiculous," I spat. He was just making up lies now. "How…how the hell can you say all that, anyway? Where do you get this stuff? How have I been acting like I'm…I'm BETTER than everyone else? Nobody else tells me this. Teddy and Bruce don't say anything."

'That's 'cause they're too nice," Kelvin retorted. "I'm not. How have you been acting like you're better than everyone else? Shit, man, you're doing it right now! By fuckin' coming up to me when I'm just standing here, minding my own business and getting blazed, and proceeding to bite my damn head off for…what was it? 'Spying' on you and what'sherface? Oh, give me a fucking BREAK, Alex. I said that I do not CARE what you do with her, but lemme tell you, ever since you got stuck in that…that…elevator with her or whatever, you've been acting—"

"Shut up!" I yelled, cutting him off. I was practically burning by now. "Just SHUT UP for a second! You keep talking about me, me, ME! What about YOURSELF, dammit?! What about YOUR behavior? What about this whiny silent treatment that you've been giving me for no reason whatsoever? For NO REASON WHATSOEVER?!!"

Kelvin shook his head angrily. "Maybe if you stopped dicking me so much, I'd tell you."

"Then TELL ME!" I yelled, flailing my arms up in the air. "What is it, already?! You jealous because Sherry's talking to me and not you?! You jealous 'cause she's become MY friend and not yours?!"

"There you fucking go again!" Kelvin shouted. "ASSUMING shit! You asked me how you've been acting like you're better than everyone else? For saying shit like that! For assuming! For not even giving me a CHANCE to respond before launching into your goddamn little assumptions of 'Ooh, I have Sherry Wong so I'm better than you, hah hah hah!'"

"I've given you chances!" I shouted back, feeling for a moment like I was quoting Sherry Wong. "Lots of 'em!" You…you've BLOWN every single one of them! How the hell is this MY fault?! You're the one that got mad at ME! Why don't you just come out and say whatever's bothering you?!"

Kelvin took a deep breath. "It's not that easy, you dumbass."

"Oh, please," I said bitterly. I suddenly remembered that tiny picture he always kept in his wallet, the one I had seen him looking at several times before. The one that seemed to be a picture of Sherry Wong. I opened my mouth, and suddenly a whole string of incredibly nasty words poured out automatically, with me unable to stop myself. "What's the deal already? That you knew Sherry or something before, and you were too scared to admit it to me the first time we met? Huh? Is that it?! What, did she…did she DUMP you or something?! For being so damn obsessed with masturbation and sex to ever pay attention to HER?!"

Kelvin suddenly jumped forth from the side wall, pushing me forward with both hands. I stumbled backwards and nearly fell, catching myself at the last minute. Stunned, I stared up at him. He looked furious and was practically quivering with anger. I looked at his eyes. They were red.

"Listen, you salad-tossing shit sucking son of a bitch," he spat, venom lacing his voice, "Don't….act….like…you…know…me. Don't act like you FUCKING KNOW ME. 'Cause you don't know SHIT. YOU DON'T KNOW SHIT."

He grabbed his guitar and took a step towards me. I backed away, afraid for a moment that he was going to strike out at me with the thing. Then, cursing under his breath, he shook his head and stalked off. I didn't know where he was going, but as my anger slowly began washing away as quickly as it had come forth, I got the dreadful feeling that I had somehow screwed things up terribly.

The sound of a window opening from one of the floors above me caught my attention. I looked up and saw Bruce's roommate—the one that had caught me and Bruce dancing together in his room—poking his head out from a window to look at me. He stared down at me idiotically.

"Well? What the hell are YOU looking at?" I yelled at him.

"Jeez, man," he said slowly. "All that screaming woke me up… Did you guys, like…break up or something?"

I threw a rock at him and stomped indoors, feeling the worst I had felt in a very long time.

Author's Note: Hi, guys. Did you miss me? :D Yes, I know… I made that whole horrible little speech last time about how I was "most definitely going to update sooner," even going so far as to say that I would now try to do the updates-every-week thing. Good lord, I am so full of crap, lol. I apologize for not updating in two months. All I can say is that back when I wrote that silly little message, I had forgotten about the AP tests and SAT IIs that were awaiting me that month, and all the work I had to do seriously pushed my writing on hold. In fact, the only thing I've written in the past two months has been a short story (SHAMELESS PLUG: It's called The Thief's Theme, and it's up on Fictionpress. Go read it.) for my writing class, so once again, I am very, very sorry for the extraordinarily long delay. It's summer now, so hopefully I'll have more time for updates what with the lack of schoolwork. I'll try to write more, I promise! Please bear with me here!

Anyhow, though… I hope this chapter, where like three or four dramatic conclusions finally occurred, made up for all that waiting. As of now, Sherry Wong is single again, and is apparently going to "hang out" with Alex at the dance. Aside from that, the confrontation that was bound to happen between Alex and Kelvin finally occurred, and, well, as you probably saw, the results weren't pretty. Anyone want to take guesses on what's bothering Kelvin? I'm interested to see what you guys might think. A word about his rather interesting interpretation of Alex's recent behavior: Remember that you're reading this story from Alex's point of view, and what he sees, feels, and describes about himself may not necessarily be the truth. It's just how he sees things. Since Alex is the one telling this story, it may very well be true that he's been acting "stuck up" for the past couple weeks. Just something to think about.

The next chapter should feature the beginning of the Halloween dance. It'll be memorable.

mgzmcp: Hey Denise! I'm so glad you're actually reading my story. I hope this chapter satisfied you, and don't worry…the whole plotline between Kelvin and Sherry Wong is most definitely going to be explained and resolved in future chapters. And yes, I'm aware that Jun wants me to add in a sex scene. He may or may not get his wish. :)

Clodhopper: JEEZ, I missed you! I was wondering where you'd gone off to! I'm definitely glad to see you again, and I'm also happy that you got a chance to catch up on the chapters and enjoy them. I hope it wasn't too hard getting back into the swing of things! And yeah, Maria's name probably should have an accent on it, since she is fairly hardcore Spanish, but I'm way too lazy to make it accented every time I type it, so oh well.

Zio: Glad you liked the chapters with Alex getting drunk, as well as the descriptions of Perice! There's going to be more of the philosophy class showing up soon, as well as some stuff on Alex's other classes. I'm trying to alternate cycles of chapters between descriptions of schoolwork and descriptions of Alex's life with his friends on campus, so some more stuff on class will come up in the near future.

Wandering Aimlessly: I liked Alex dancing too. Which is why I'm having him go to a dance in the next chapter. XD You don't want to miss it.

draydray: Oh gosh, since you're away in band camp or whatever you're missing my newest update. That's so sad! You should steal a computer over there so you can read it in private sometime. :)

nynaeve77: I'm glad you like Alex's mom. That seems to be a common sentiment shared by a lot of people. I'm going to do more with her later—she hasn't been in a chapter for a long while. I was actually planning to insert a short scene with Alex talking to his mom on the phone in this chapter, but this chapter was long enough so I figured I'd cut it short.

BuffLie: Well, I'm afraid this chapter doesn't do too much to explain Kelvin's behavior…but maybe you'll be able to pick up a few hints here and there! At least this chapter features Kelvin in it, huh? And he is kind of insane in this one, albeit not in the perverted-yet-likeable way he was before. :)

Lady of Knight: Haha, yup, your reaction to chapter four is more or less the reaction that EVERYONE'S had. I'm glad you liked the chapters, and thank you very much for all those nice reviews. I've gotta get started on reviewing some more of your stuff… Arghh, there's so little time, sigh.

blaznchino: Well, I remembered your comment about how it was hard to get back into reading this story after a long delay, so I decided to add the little "Previously On Alex Chen" section in the beginning. Hope it works, and I hope you enjoyed this chapter.

Jeez, so many reader shout-outs this time. Okay. Enough for now. Turn off your computer and go to sleep!