Chapter 15: Alex and the Rose
I frowned at the math equation as I sat at my desk trying to figure out the complexity of the problem before me. I sighed, and thumped my head against the surface of my desk.
“Ow,” I said, as I felt a small pain in my forehead. It was barely noticeable. I lifted my head, looking back down at the math homework. I wish someone was smart enough to invent a time machine so I could go back in time and find the person who came up with math – so I could beat them with my math homework. Maybe then they’ll decide math is just a waste of time.
Who am I kidding? We need math. No matter how much it sucks!
I tapped my pencil against the desk, staring blankly at all the problems in front of me. Not just the math equations, but my relationship with Jordan and the person that’s trying to kill me. I just can’t figure out why Jordan dislikes Alex so much! He has never done a thing to him. At least, not that I’m aware of anyway. Was Alicia right? Was Jordan jealous of me and Alex relationship? Did he think Alex was trying to take me away from him or something? Or was he really just worried that Alex might break my heart? Whatever the reason, our fight had left a big gaping hole in my chest; one that I felt couldn’t be filled until someone apologized. I felt bad that I lost my temper with him, but at the same time he needs to understand that this is my life and I can hang out with whoever I want. And I even though I want to talk to Jordan more than anything, I wasn’t going to be the first to apologize this time. Jordan had crossed the line when he started treating me like a child that needed scolding because I let a boy stay in my room. I mean, it was no different when I stayed with him that one night. The only difference was that I had shared a bed with Jordan, whereas with Alex, he had slept on the floor! So what was the problem?
I blew out another sigh and gave up trying to figure out my friend. It’s getting me nowhere and I’m only building up more rage about the whole thing. Best get back to the math problems.
But what about the intruder? I felt cold as I relieved that horrible moment when I felt unsafe in the confides of my own bedroom. I mean, who’s to say they won’t come back and slit my throat while I’m unconscious? That would definitely get the job done and they wouldn’t have to worry about me anymore. Feeling paranoid, I started looking around my room, making sure there wasn’t anyone hanging around in the corners, or standing behind me. I felt relieve course through me when I realized that I was still alone in my room. I am definitely sleeping with the light on tonight.
I will figure out who’s behind all this! And when I do, I will look them in the eye and ask why? Why did they do all this? With the bloody messages and killing the rabbit and the candy lady. Why do you want me dead? Aside from being ordered to kill me, that is. Why me? That last question was my favorite because I felt it to be the most important. Though I figured it was more directed at God then to the person that was trying to get rid of me.
Jeeze. All these questions and yet I’m not getting anywhere with this math problem. If you would just man up and apologize to Jordan then maybe you would have someone help you with your math homework. My subconscious said.
Will you just shut up already, I snapped. I refuse to be the one that apologizes first.
My subconscious didn’t reply. Huh. That’s a first. Maybe I should stand up to her more often.
A week went by as I continued to avoid Jordan. It wasn’t easy. Actually it was downright horrible, but I refused to be the one to apologize first. I mean, what was there for me to apologize for! I didn’t do anything wrong. In my mind, it was all on Jordan. So every day that went by I waited for him to approach me and to say the two words that I was longing to hear. So you could understand my dismay when he didn’t. Yes. I could see the guilt plain as day on his face, but that still wasn’t enough. My subconscious told me to man up and apologize, but what about him?
I was relieved that it was Wednesday and that most of my classes were with the fire users. Of course, most of my classes included the air users as well, but I tried not to think about it too much, for it would often leave a huge lump in my throat. When I had decided to give Jordan the silent treatment and to avoid him until he apologized, I started sitting in the back with Alex, whom to my surprise, didn’t mind in the least. To be honest, Alex actually seemed kind happy about it. He did seem curious as to why I was suddenly sitting with him and not my friends, but to my gratitude, he didn’t ask questions. I wasn’t ready to tell him that the reason we weren’t sitting together was because of him. But I didn’t blame Alex. It wasn’t his fault that my friend didn’t like or trust him. That was all Jordan.
During classes, I would occasionally spot Jordan turning around to look at me, I guess to make sure I was still alive while I sat next to the enemy. He would give me a wistful smile before turning back around in his seat.
And even though I did miss Jordan terribly, I also missed my other friends as well. Our group was quite aware that something was going on between Jordan and me. Of course, it was obvious since I didn’t sit with them during class or lunch time. Not to mention, the palpable regret that everyone seemed to feel when Jordan or I even glanced at each other. It still didn’t stop my friends from talking to me. It was while Alex and I were on our way to our next class that Gabrielle, Scarlett, and Mia would stop me in the hallways just to chat. Alex, feeling a bit uncomfortable and awkward at being around my friends, would excuse himself from our little group, promising he would save a seat for me when I would get to class. And even though talking to my friends always seemed a bit short, I appreciated them for not asking questions about Jordan and understanding why I needed time. Though part of me suspected that he already told them the reason behind our separation. I laughed quietly to myself as I walked down the hall. I made us sound like a couple that had just split up or something. Maybe dad wasn’t so far off about N’Sync’s being a lot like marriage. Of course, being N’Sync to someone is a permanent thing, but I knew Jordan and I would make up sooner or later. I just didn’t know when. The thought of not knowing when I will be reunited with my N’Sync suddenly made me frown. I wish he would hurry up and apologize already. Although I did secretly love sitting with Alex. He was often quiet and didn’t need to fill the silence with constant chatter. It was nice.
And even though curiosity was probably killing him, Alex still didn’t ask me what was going on between me and Jordan. It wasn’t until next Monday during lunch that I asked him why he hadn’t been asking questions about my N’Sync and me.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I just figured if you wanted to talk about it then you would have brought it up.” I stared at him blankly. Alex frowned. “Was I supposed to ask?”
“No,” I said. Then I wondered if maybe I did want him too. I mean, these last couple of days of not talking about it has been eating me up. “Well, yes. Maybe.” I sighed. Why do I suddenly feel so exhausted? “I don’t know.”
“Okay,” Alex said, clearly confused. “Do you want to talk about it? Because frankly I’m tired of you moping around and staring at you’re N’Sync with…longing. It’s kind of creepy.”
“I’m sorry,” I said. “It’s just I’ve been waiting and waiting for him to apologize and he won’t do it!” Alex didn’t say anything as I let out some steam that I had been keeping pent up for the last week in a half. “It’s just so frustrating.”
“So…” he said, with hint of anger in his voice. “The only reason you started hanging out with me was because you wanted to avoid Jordan.” I stared at Alex, who was looking back at me with a blank expression. Even though he seemed like it didn’t bother him – it really did. “I guess that’s all I’m good for, huh?”
“No, it’s not.” I said. Alex seemed unconvinced. How could I explain this to him without hurting his feelings? “I invited you to hang out with me and my friend’s multiples times and you always declined the offer.”
“That’s because your friends don’t want me around.”
That was true, though I wasn’t going to admit he was right. “Look, I didn’t mean to make you feel like I was using you. I just always figured that you prefer being alone. That’s what you told me anyway and I was just trying to respect your wishes.”
“And you thought immediately that I don’t want you around?”
“Well, no, but I figured—“
“Spencer, I like having you around because you accept me for who I am. You’re also the first person that believes I won’t be the next coming of my father.” He paused, lost in thought. “Which is really nice because for a while there I thought everyone was right.”
I put my hand on top of his. He looked at me in surprise. “How about you and I meet later up on the roof? I need something to do besides homework and being depressed over my best friend. What do you say?”
“That actually sounds like the best thing you’ve brought up since you started sitting with me.”
“I won’t talk about Jordan and I promise I won’t ‘mope around’ while we hang out. Deal?” I held my hand out to him, but instead of taking it, he smacked it playfully. I giggled.
“It’s a deal. And if you even look slightly depressed I am out of there.”
I was really excited about this afternoon. It had been awhile since Alex and I hung out together on the roof. I was desperate to make it up to him because I knew how much it took for him to accept me into his life and let me be a part of it. And maybe one of us will be brave enough to make the next move. I don’t know, like, maybe he’ll take me into his arms and kiss me. It definitely kept my mind busy with all the different fantasies swarming through my head. Of course, it changed when I had to go to my regular training with Mr. Grey. The only time of the day I can’t ignore or avoid Jordan.
When I was dressed in my usual sweats and white tank top, I approached the blue mat and stood face to face with Jordan. We were both holding our weapons as we waited for Mr. Grey to give us the word. All week Mr. Grey had been teaching us how to fight with our weapons, and I hated to admit it, but Jordan always kicked my ass during these sessions. But there was something about today. I was completely on a role as I wielded my Sais and used them flawlessly against Jordan and his Chinese sword. All my pent up anger and rage was suddenly being taken out in practice as our weapons clanked and clattered against each other in battle. I could the see the concern and bemusement on Jordan’s face as I started attacking him, kicking and punching him whenever I got the chance. There was one point where I punched him so hard in the face; it sent him flying into Mr. Grey’s desk.
When Mr. Grey called it quits and told us we were dismissed, he started gathering up the blue mat and putting it away in the storage unit. I was just about to escape when Jordan stopped me.
“Hey, um, that was some good fighting today.” He seemed hesitant as he took in my blank expression. He cleared his throat, clearly uncomfortable. “So I’ve been wanting to talk to you for a while, but I wasn’t sure if you were ready—“
I cut him off. “That’s funny because I have been waiting for you talk to me all week!”
“Then why have you been avoiding me?” he asked, confused.
“I don’t know.” I snapped. “You figure it out.”
I tried not to look at the pain that seemed to fill his eyes. If I did – I would probably give in and apologize first. But again, what did I have to apologize for?
I was just walking away when he said, “I’m sorry.” I stopped in my tracks. There it was. The apology I had been waiting to hear for almost a week in a half now. So why was I so reluctant to accept it? “I shouldn’t have been so hard on you about the whole Alex-staying-in-you’re-room-thing. I just have a hard time trusting him, is all.”
I turned around to look at him. He seemed a bit weary. Probably because of the cold look on my face. “Why? He has never done a thing to you!”
“I know it’s just—“
“It’s because he’s Azazel’s son. I know.” I said, sharply.
He cringed at the name, but didn’t scold me for it.
“So,” he said, hesitant. “Are you going to forgive me or are we going to have to suffer through more weeks apart?” his voice sounded so small, like a child’s.
More weeks apart was the last thing I wanted, but at the same time I wasn’t ready to forgive him yet. Why?
“I don’t know, Jordan. I think I still need time to think.” Again, just like a married couple.
“Oh. Okay.” And with that said, I watched ruefully as my friend walked away, his head bowed as if in shame. I felt tears fill my eyes. Why did I have to make everything so complicated?
Alex and I were sitting on top of the academies roof, just sitting and talking about things that were – well, not normal – but close enough. It was just nice to talk and laugh about the stupidity of some of our classmates. It was also nice not having to think about Jordan and how much I probably hurt him. For a slight second I felt a pain in my chest for my friend. Oh, Jordan. Why did it have to come to this? Eventually, I became distracted by Alex and his smile, which was as radiant as the sun. He had the most beautiful smile I have ever seen.
“What?” he demanded. I watched in amusement as he started touching his face. “What is it? Is there something on my face?”
I laughed. “No. It’s just you have a very beautiful smile.”
Alex – probably not use to compliments – blushed a light shade of pink. That color actually looked really pretty with his black hair. “Um…thanks.”
We were sitting across from each other with our legs crossed, both of us constantly shivering from the cold.
I scooted closer to him and grabbed his hands. He seemed bemused as I made him cup his hands together, his palms facing upward.
“What the hell are you doing?” he asked, emotionlessly.
“I wanna show you something.”
He waited patiently as I drew all my power from within and watched with deep satisfaction as a rose sprung from Alex’s palm. He looked taken aback as I quickly picked the rose from his palm and handed it to him. He took it wordlessly.
As Alex examined the rose, I suddenly got the courage to stretch my hand across the little space between us to stroke his cheek. I was shocked by my sudden tenderness. He looked away from the rose and back at me.
“You’re like this rose,” I said as a way to distract him. I took it gently from his hands. “Beautiful and full of life, but at the same time, hard to touch and hold because of all the thorns.”
If he was shocked by my words he didn’t show it. He just continued to look at me, his face unreadable. “Spencer…”
“I have grown a thousand plants back home and they still remain today,” I lifted the rose between us. “This rose will probably last a long time.” I handed it back to him. “I want you to have it.”
He took the rose and stared at it for a long time until he finally hugged it gently to his chest. “I’ll take good care of it.”
I smiled and leaned in to kiss him on the cheek. He didn’t move when I pulled away. “I probably need to go. I’ve got homework waiting for me.”
“Will you sit with me tomorrow?”
His sudden question had me stopping in my tracks. I looked back at him and saw him staring at me with a hopeful expression. I couldn’t help the smile that spread across my face, or the fact that my heart was beating a thousand miles per minute. The fact that he wanted to sit with me in class made me wish I could fly.
I kept flapping my arms, hoping that I might fly into the air as I walked through the courtyard. Nobody – at least that I was aware of – was outside to see me. And even if they did I probably wouldn’t care because I was in love. There I said it. I was head over heels, deeply and madly in love with Alexander Torchwood. There was just something about him that made me feel like I was the most beautiful girl in all of Eden. Maybe it was the way he looked at me while we sat across from each other on the roof. I could still hear his carefree laugh and see that gorgeous smile on his face as we talked and made fun of the rich kids, while also mocking those that thought they were better than everyone. My favorite part of the evening is when we would both look down from the roof, and every time somebody would walk by, we would gather up snow balls and drop them on the person heads. Then we would duck down, while trying are hardest not to laugh as we heard the person complaining from down below. It truly was the most fun evening I’ve had in a while. And that’s saying something since I haven’t had much to laugh about recently, seeing as I might be losing my best friend and I’m a target for some loony’s enjoyment.
I had just about made it to the dorm when I felt something – like eyes watching me. I felt Goosebumps (something that had nothing to do with the cold) as I scanned the campus around me. There was no one in sight. So why did I feel like I was being watched?
This was getting ridiculous. If they want to kill me, then now was the time, with no one around, to take their shot at me. Part of me was kind of hoping they would. I was just dying to see the face that was haunting my every footstep. I wanted them to try and hurt me.
“Spencer,” I screamed at the sudden voice and turned around to see Jordan looking at me weirdly. “What are you doing? It’s like thirty degrees out here.”
Really? I hadn’t noticed. I must have been more scared than I realized. “Oh, right.” Jordan raised an eyebrow at me in puzzlement. “I was just, um, admiring the building. Have you ever noticed how big it is?”
Jordan took one look at the school building before answering, “It’s pretty big.”
I just nodded in agreement.
“Now what are you really doing out here?”
“What do you mean?”
“Oh, cut the crap. You looked completely terrified when I approached you. It’s like you were waiting for someone to ambush you.”
Damn he’s good. I forget sometimes how well my friend can read people. “That’s because I was.” I replied. I shuddered. Again, it had nothing to do with the cold. “I felt like someone was watching me and then this really creepy feeling came over me. I didn’t like it. And I thought if I waited for them to make a move maybe I could find out who’s trying to hurt me.”
“Well, doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. Whoever is after you is going to make sure that you never find out their identity.”
“That sucks because I had some questions to ask them. A lot of the questions starting with why!”
Jordan chuckled. “Oh, miss you.”
I could feel my heart softening at his words. “I miss you too.” I said. “More than you know.”
“So,” he said. “Does that mean you’ll forgive me?”
I gazed at my best friend and the hopefulness on his face. I sighed inwardly. Oh, what the hell! “Of course. Being away from you for too long kind of sucks.”
“Good,” Jordan said, his smile radiant. “Then you’ll sit with us again.”
I bit my lip. Oh, crap.
“What?” Jordan asked as he took in my conflicted expression.
“Well, I already promised Alex that I would sit with him tomorrow.” Jordan grimaced, but didn’t protest. Wise decision my friend. “As a matter-of-fact – I’m going to be taking turns sitting with you and Alex.”
“Because, despite what you may think about him, he’s lonely. And I don’t want him to feel like the only reason I sat with him was to avoid you because that’s not true. I enjoyed sitting with Alex and even though I missed you like crazy, it was a nice change.”
“So, let me get this straight. You’re going to take turns sitting with us. Every day.” I nodded. He groaned. “Alright. If that’s what makes you happy then I’m for it.” He pointed a warning a finger at me. “But I will watch him.”
“Whatever makes you more comfortable,” I said as we made our way into the warm confines of the dormitory building. “Just don’t constantly stare. I don’t want to have to explain it to him.”