It was cold.
It was very cold. Either because she had been sitting in that same bench, hearing the sound of the nearby fountain, staring at the same star for more than half an hour or because she had, in a moment of rash stupidity, forgotten her orange and blue jacket in her room. But Liz wasn't about to go back. Not now. Not in a while.
"Not ever," she whispered as she placed a strand of her long auburn hair behind her ear.
And now she was talking to herself. Great.
Liz hugged herself more tightly, if that was possible, without diverting her pained gaze from the single star she had been contemplating. It wasn't something she liked to do –sitting still and doing nothing while her behind froze–, but, somehow, it was keeping her from crying her heart out. And Liz wasn't about to let that elusive peace go.
"Y'know, ever is a long time," a smooth voice said.
Liz turned, startled, and fixed her green eyes on the guy standing awkwardly next to her. Her heart was still racing frantically against time when she could focus enough to look at him. He seemed very familiar in the way of somebody who she had seen more than a couple of times but had never paid enough attention to remember. He had his hands in his pockets in that fashion that guys seem to have and was shifting between looking at her, smiling, and looking up at the dark night sky.
Quickly, Liz reassumed her past position and firmly ignored the guy. She wasn't going to lie, having a dude standing right next to her –an unknown dude for that matter– was creeping her out. But she had set her mind on not going anywhere and she wasn't going to go.
"The stars are beautiful tonight, aren't they?"
Again, Liz looked at him, who was now sitting on the same bench, and, for a brief moment, his light brown eyes caught hers and he smiled. It was a cute smile, one that would make any teenage swoon and turn into a puddle of goo. Liz didn't like it; mostly because she had been interrupted and brought back to reality rudely. But she wasn't about to say that.
"They are just as shining as always," Liz said in her most disinterested tone.
He laughed contagiously. "No, I'm quite sure today they are shinier that ever."
Liz sighed in a rather exasperated way. She really had no reason to be as frustrated as she was; and, very deep inside, she knew that –only it was a little too deep to be recognized. So she settled for staring at his mischievous brown eyes decidedly, half-wondering why they looked so smug.
"Do I know you?" She asked.
Liz was almost certain that she recognized his handsome face, but not quite.
He smiled a little. "I don't think so."
"Then why are you talking to me?"
He smiled a little more. "You're talking to me."
Liz blinked a couple of times trying to process what he had just said and, decided that se was offended, she stood up and started walking away from that obnoxious jerk. Nervous, she heard him following after her.
"Hey, hey, wait," he said as he caught with her pace and walked casually next to her, his hands still buried in his pockets.
"Why are you following me?" Liz snapped, half hoping that would make him go away.
"Look, I'm not stalking you, ok?" He replied this time, sounding serious. Liz looked up at him, wondering what was up with the guy. He looked back. "Just making sure you don't get mugged in the way."
She smirked, even though she didn't want to, and what she had just named his "boyish charm" came back. She wasn't stupid, though –a guy telling her he wasn't a stalker by no means convinced her that he wasn't, in fact, a stalker. However, the sight of his school I.D. hanging from his neck and the police officer driving around campus gave her some sense of security.
"I think you are a stalker," Liz stated with some humor, looking at the nearing dorms instead of at the guy.
"I just told you I wasn't," he replied, clearly not taking her seriously.
"You came up to me unexpectedly and creepily even though we don't know each other, you even followed me and refused to go away. I think that's illegal in some states. As a matter of fact, I think the dictionary calls it stalking."
The dictionary didn't call it stalking; but, he didn't need to know that, or so Liz decided.
"Chivalry is not dead, just cruelly ignored," he said to no one in particular, but he didn't seem too offended. Then, he turned at Liz and smirked. "I'm Erik. We have in Physics together"
Liz doubted if to 'smirk' back or not, but ended up doing it just because he seem to be trying hard not to look like a stalker. "Kassandra," she introduced herself.
Liz cringed. "It's actually Liz."
Erik rose at eyebrow at her looking confused and judgmental. "How in the world do you shorten Kassandra to Liz?"
"None of you business," Liz snapped again, being unnecessarily rude, as she knew.
"Are you usually this moody or do you just not like me?"
Liz opened her mouth, about to tell him she despised every fiber of him, before realizing that she had no reason to hate this guy besides her being already emotional. So she shut up and kept walking, wishing for the dorms to come faster, or for him to go away. It would actually be nice if he just went away.
She wanted to be alone.
"What's wrong?" Erik asked, once again startling her.
For a second, she toyed with the idea of telling him; but she went against it.
"I was trying to remember you from Physics. I don't pay much attention," she half-lied. "Wait, weren't you the one who kept throwing paper balls at Jessica the other day?" Liz asked, actually shocked that she did remember him. He nodded. "You had a different haircut or something?"
"Yeah, I cut my hair as a sign of maturity," he laughed at himself.
And even though Liz didn't know this Erik personage very well, she was fairly certain that he hadn't matured the least bit.
"Are you a freshman?" She asked before realizing she had done so.
He chuckled, as if perceiving the reasoning behind her question. "Only in heart. I've actually been here long enough to be a junior."
She blushed, and almost hoped he either couldn't see it or thought it was because of the weather.
"Sorry," she said as she rubbed her arms to get some heat into her, even when she was fairly sure it wouldn't work.
"Forgot your jacket, huh?"
Liz eyed him. "So did you," she said sarcastically.
They kept walking in silence, approaching the dorms that seemed to get farther with every step they took. The police officer went by them twice and nodded to Erik as if to say that he was watching him.
Erik laughed nervously when the police officer was far enough to not hear him. "Do I look like a stalker?"
And, for the first time in what had been a very long month, Liz laughed. Clearly and prettily, she laughed. She saw Erik looking at her taken aback and she smiled sheepishly.
"Sorry, dude, but you are kind of following me," she said, lying willingly.
The fact was that Erik didn't look like a stalker at all. Actually, Liz thought, if given a horse and armor, he could have very well been prince charming. Too bad she had never liked Disney stereotypes too much.
"Whatever," he replied nonchalantly.
And then they fell into silence again.
"So…" Liz started, uncomfortable with the quietness of the night for the first time.
Erik just kept walking next to her, hands still in his pockets, his gaze locked in the darkened horizon.
Liz frowned after a second, finally coming up with something to say.
"So, why were you alone at the fountain?"
"Why were you alone at the fountain?"
Liz felt the familiar pain in her heart, but didn't answer. Erik must have realized her tension because he didn't wait for an answer before replying.
"I was just feeling reckless, so I decided to take a walk," he said, and Liz could feel his brown eyes fixed on her. "And then I saw the pretty little girl I had seen around so much, alone, and defenseless, so I decided to go protect her."
Liz chuckled at his self-satisfied tone. "Well, how presumptuous of you, assuming that I don't know how to fend for myself like that."
"Presumptuous? Is that what we call it now? I could have sworn the word you were looking for was 'nice'."
Liz smiled and he smiled back, flaunting all his charm. Little Mr. Show-Off. And something about that smil made Liz warm up inside.
"I just wanted to be alone," she said after a while of clinging to the fuzzy feeling. "I haven't had a good week."
"School? Family? Boyfriend?" Erik asked rapidly surveying her.
Liz looked at him out of the corner of her eyes, but didn't answer until they were standing in front of the dorms. Was he asking her if she was attached? Smooth.
"Family," she replied smugly, satisfied with the fact that her answer gave nothing away about her relationship status.
"I'm sorry," he said but didn't push further.
Surprised, Liz realized she had wanted him to ask more. She wanted to tell him all that was bothering her: the fight with her mom, the distanciation of her dad, the continuous problems with her cousins. But he didn't ask and she didn't say.
"Thanks for forcing yourself upon me and walking me here," Liz found herself mustering after a moment of silence.
Erik smiled again, showing the superiority of a proud seven-year-old. "Any day, sweetest darling," he said at the same time he did a flourish.
Liz blushed. This was the most strange guy she had met in a while, stalker or not, and, reluctantly, she could admit that he was interesting.
"You're weird," she said, more out of nervousness than anything.
And then, Erik did something that sent her heart thundering in her chest. Still bowing, he looked up and his intense brown eyes locked with her green ones. Never before had she been so flustered and out of words, and she couldn't tell if she liked it or not. It lasted as much as two seconds, but it left her disoriented. Next thing she knew, Erik had straightened himself up.
"Well, I'm leaving you now, Liz. G'night," he said, stuffing his hands back in his pockets and walking toward the men's dorm.
Liz watched his retreating figure and, almost unconsciously, screamed after him.
"Hey, Erik!" Erik turned swiftly and walked backwards. Liz smiled. "See you in Physics tomorrow."
He smiled back and winked at her.
Okay, so maybe he wasn't a stalker after all.
N/A: Why am I writing a new one-shot when I should really be writing for "Struggles"? Yeah, I don't know either. This is an idea my friends and I had while walking around campus, so I decided to write it. Just fluff, but I had fun :D
So, what did you think? Like it? Not like it? Huh? Huh?
Anyway, for those of you who actually have read "The Struggles of a Writer" I'm hoping I'll be updating soon. Truth is, I have a chapter written, I just don't like it grrr
As always, any comments are LOVED. Make me happy :D
Cookies and Ice Cream,