xx. Parting

"Have you seen Thalia?" Pace asked Almirah as he sat down in their Biology class.

"No," she answered uncharacteristically quietly. "Pace—"

"Maybe she's not here today," he muttered. He hadn't seen her in the halls before class, and she wasn't there yet. She usually wasn't late, and it wasn't like her to skip.

Tyson walked in, and Almirah moved her chair aside to let him through. "I thought you weren't coming," she joked at her boyfriend.

"It's the last week of school—"

"Last day," she reminded him. "June 28th."

"Whatever. I figured the least I could do was come to class for the last day of my junior year."

"Wait—" Pace interrupted. "It's Thalia's birthday! Is that why she isn't here? Because I was going to call her last night at midnight, I swear, but I fell asleep."

Almirah and Tyson exchanged glances. "Pace—" Tyson started, but Pace was staring at the door, chewing his lip and clearly willing Thalia to be just on the other side.

"I'll do it," Tyson said to Almirah, who was fishing a piece of paper from her purse. She smiled at him and sat back in her chairs, arms crossed tightly, looking like she was about to burst into tears.

"Hey, man." Tyson nudged Pace with the corner of the paper. Pace turned, and took the paper hesitatingly.

"It's from Thalia. She left it for you."

"She…left it for me? As in, she's gone?"

"Just open the letter."

Pace's eyes ran over the letter quickly, widened, and went back again a second, slower time.

"When did she tell you? When did she know?" he asked, swallowing hard.

"A couple of weeks ago, maybe. No—two Sundays ago." Almirah was so quiet Pace could barely hear her, and in the back of his head, he realized with some shock that it was the only time he could remember leaning forward to catch her words.

"That's the day we went to the park together," he said to himself. "Is she coming back?"

"Not as far as we know," Tyson said, and Almirah tightened her arm fold.

Pace looked them straight in the eyes and said, "Why didn't she tell me?" And as he did, they saw something no one had seen in a very long time: a pair of soulless brown eyes.

--

a/n: SO IT'S OVER. don't hate me too much, okay?

anyway, a brief summary of what's going to happen now!

"Pace, smoking" is a much longer, slightly differently formatted story about Pace and his lover Mikaere some three years later or so. it's told from Mikaere's point of view. some character descrip can be found on my profile, although it's slightly bare. PM me if you want some more (i'm just rushing the a/n because my dad's making me go to bed).

In Touch is in the form of letters from Thalia to Pace, spanning time from "now" to the end of "Pace, smoking." hopefully it'll explain a lot of questions left unanswered by this story. (if you have specific questions you want answered, tell me and i'll write them in! it'd be easier than trying to remember everything that i planned, especially since i have two different POVs to worry about now.

in any case, i think i'll work on In Touch for a while first, while figuring out how much Thalia's disappearance impacts Pace and what changes he makes. then i'll start "Pace, smoking" and post that. In Touch will be posted last, in keeping with chronological story-time.

thanks for reading this! special shoutout to MODCINI, whose great reviews and special interest (and facebook messages) kept me afloat all throughout the writing process.

until next time! ~a