Gabriel could spot Alexandra Lomami in a crowd in a matter of seconds. His eyes were drawn to her, as they were today, amidst a throng of students making their way across campus. She was talking in her usual manner: animated, with broad, easy gestures and that constant half smile pulling at her full red lips. The mere sight of her sent a jolt through his spine.

He shivered, then looked away, only to dredge his gaze back up again. She kept her braided hair pulled back in a high ponytail. Today she wore tight jeans and a rain jacket over a loose blouse. Gabriel drank in the image, silently wishing he were able to get closer, to look her in the eye and say: "Hi!" Say: "How's your day?" He felt a heaviness sink over him. It wasn't a bad feeling per se; it was resignation.

"My God, can you be any more obvious?"

Gabriel started out of his daydream. Slowly he turned to his best friend, Vince, whose words were tinged with concern as well as a hint of fatigue. His friend made an irritated sound. "With the way you're staring, it's a miracle she hasn't found out yet."

"I'll be more careful", Gabriel said, managing a weak smile. By force of habit he adjusted his glasses with the tips of his fingers. They slid right back down his nose, as he tended to slouch. Vince quietly observed the gesture.

"You look miserable, Gabriel."

"I'm really not." Gabriel spoke to his lap, fighting the urge to search the crowd once more, and ultimately giving in. Alexandra was laughing at something her friends had said. Gabriel recognized Heather Lockwood, the gentle blonde Biology major, but he didn't know the tall, curly-haired brunette beside her.

"I'm just now realizing I've only got nine months left until graduation', he said. "After that it'll all be over."

Vince huffed. "What're you on about? You've been after this girl for three years. I seriously doubt graduation will end your stalker tendencies."

That startled a laugh out of Gabriel. "Right. But I won't be able to see her every day like this."

The wistful sigh following his statement made Vincent groan. "That's a good thing, Gabe. One-sided crushes just aren't healthy, not to this extent."

Gabriel quietly nodded, folding his long, bony fingers together. Everything Vincent said was true, but he didn't know the whole truth, and that whole truth was Gabriel would never not be deeply in love with Alexandra Lomami. How could he possible give up when his heart kept getting stolen over and over again? No, Alexandra was more than a one-sided crush. Despite the loneliness, the heartbreak, she was everything.