It's Never Too Late

Summarry: Alternate Universe. Melinda Gordan is beginning her first year of collage. She's a long way from home, trying to escape the past. She made a mistake once, and she doesn't think things will ever be the same for her. Jim Clancy is in his third year there. He is the campus resident advisor. From the first day he sees her, he can tell she's different from all the rest and has a story to tell. The question is...will she tell it to him?

***

Melinda Gordan pulled into the parking lot of her new home for the next four years.

She's from New York, and now here she is in sunny California.

She was an awful long way from home, but that's how she needed it to be sadly.

She got out of her car, and made her way to the registration desk at UC San Diego campus.

"Hi!" Said a girl full of cheery optimism that Melinda had once had. "What's your name?"

"Melinda Gordan." Melinda replied simply.

The girl seemed a bit put off by Melinda's unenthusiastic responce. "Okay....Um," the girl shuffled through some cards. "Oh, here!" The girl brightened. She always loved finding things. "Melinda Gordan. Oh, you're from New York?"

"Yeah," Melinda replied in the same dull life-less voice.

"Oh my God! I LOVE New York!" The girl gushed. "I went there once when I was a kid. Aw, it was so much--"

"Fun, yeah. I get it. So much fun," Melinda snapped. She saw the hurt look on the girl's face and sighed. Melinda was angry at the world right now, but this girl hadn't done anything to deserve her coldness. "I'm sorry. I....I pretty much hate my life right now, and you seem to love yours...and well, it kinda ticks me off with jealousy to tell you the truth," Melinda said bluntly.

The girl softened. "Oh, well I'm sorry. You're in the right place for cheering up though! UC San Diego is wonderful."

Melinda smiled slightly. "Thanks, but I don't think the cheering up's gonna happen," Melinda took the card from the girl and turned to walk away.

"Melinda!" The girl called after her.

Melinda hesitantly turned around.

"I'm Becky." Becky smiled. "I round everyone in, and tell them where they need to be. I'm on the second year here. Um, whatever happened to you to make you so sad, I'm sure it can be healed with time."

Melinda just shook her head. "Becky, something happened that forever changed me. I'm never gonna be the same," Melinda turned back around to walk away.

"Melinda!" The girl called out again. "You're gonna wanna go to Room 12, on the fifth floor."

"What's there?" Melinda asked without turning around.

"Our Resident Advisor. Everyone has to check in with him." Becky said.

Melinda just kept on walking.

Yay, Melinda thought glumly. Another stupid face I have to meet. More cheeriness to swallow, Melinda almost gagged at the idea. She just wanted to go to her dorm and lie down and just never wake up again.

***

A few minutes later, she made her way up to the RA's office.

She sighed and took a deep breath. "Lets get this over with," She muttered.

Melinda knocked on the door.

"It's open!" She heard a male voice say from inside.

Melinda hesitantly opened the door.

A young male that looked to be about three or four years older than her looked up at smiled warmly at her. "Hi. I don't think we've met. Come on in,"

"Um, I'm good right here," Melinda responded from her spot at his doorway. "I'm supposed to meet you or something? I'm new here."

Jim was a little bit put off by her attitude, but just shrugged it off as nerves. Collage scared everyone. "Oh, okay. Yeah, I'm the resident advisor here. My name is Jim Clancy."

Clancy, A shudder went through Melinda. It was that name that she came here to forget about....

"Clancy Adams!" Melinda shrieked happily. "This is gonna be the best time of our lives!"

"You know it, Gordan!"

Tears stung Melinda's eyes.

"Are you okay?" Jim asked concerned.

Melinda slowly backed out of his doorway. "I need...." A tear rolled down Melinda's face. "I need to go. I'm so sorry."

Jim followed her and gently grabbed her arm. "Hey," Jim's voice was gentle and soothing. "why don't you come inside my office for a little bit, okay? You look like you need someone to talk to."

Melinda laughed bitterly through her tears. "Oh, talking makes it worse! It makes it real." Melinda covered her face with her hand, as more tears rolled down her face.

Jim looked at her with empathy. Whatever it was, it looked like it was breaking this girl apart. He knew from experience that you couldn't bottle stuff up, it'd only hurt you in the long run. "I know you don't know me, and this probably seems uncomfortable for you. Is there anyone that you do know here?"

Melinda shook her head.

"Well, look. I can't just let you walk out of here as upset as you are." Jim told her gently. "Do you wanna just come in my office and I could call someone from home for you?"

More tears rolled down Melinda's face. "There's no one you can call for me, okay? I can't believe I'm even telling you this, but everyone back home hates me. There is no one."

"I'm sure that's not true," Jim replied. He did feel bad for this girl though. He couldn't imagine what it would be like to feel so alone in the world and have no one to call.

"It is," Melinda insisted. "It was my fault. My stupid mistake. I'm stuck in this mess by myself. I did this to myself. Now, please let go of me. It's embarrassing enough that I'm crying my eyes out in front of a complete stranger."

"What's your name?" Jim asked kindly.

"Melinda Gordan," Melinda choked out.

"Okay," Jim said simply. "You're Melinda Gordan, and I'm Jim Clancy. Your resident advisor," Jim smiled at her. "I'm not a stranger anymore. You can talk to me."

"Okay," Melinda spoke through her tears. "but is this like confidental?"

Jim smiled warmly at her. "Anything you say to me will never leave this room. I'd like to be your friend,"

Melinda nodded. "Okay,"

Jim put an arm around Melinda's shoulder and led her into his office.

"So, this is your dorm room and your office?" Melinda asked.

"Yeah," Jim nodded. "my room's bigger than the others cause of all the counceling I do in here. You can have a seat on the bed. Do you want any soda or anything?"

"No, I'm good. Thanks," Melinda said. "I'm sorry, Jim...I don't think I can talk about this."

"That's okay," Jim said. "you don't have to talk if you don't want to. You can just sit here and take the time to collect yourself. You can tell me anything you want to. You don't even have to tell me the whole story. Just," Jim reached out and brushed a strand of hair behind her ear. "tell me why you're crying,"

Melinda didn't say anything and for a few minutes she just continued to silently cry.

Jim didn't say anything. He didn't try to hug her, he didn't try to invade her space. He just sat across from her and patiently waited until she was ready to begin speaking.

"Someone died," Melinda spoke after a few minutes. "and it was my fault,"

"You were close with this person?" Jim asked her softly.

Melinda let a watery smile out. "He was the best. He was like a brother to me, and my bestfriend loved him so much."

Jim nodded. "My brother died,"

Melinda looked up at him with tear-filled eyes. "I'm so sorry,"

"I was very close with him and it hurt like hell when I lost him," Jim replied, his eyes stricken. "He got involved in a bad fight...one of the kids turned the knife on him and he bled out." Tears were glistening in Jim's eyes. "He died right in my arms....I've never told anyone that before."

"Clancy..." Melinda looked up at Jim. "that was his name. Clancy Adams."

"Oh," Jim looked at her sorrowfully. "that's why you started crying when I told you my last name,"

Melinda nodded. "He died in a car accident, and everyone blames me. It was my fault. I was stupid,"

"How was it your fault, Melinda?" Jim asked her gently.

"Because I let him drive," Melinda could feel tears entering her eyes again. "I let him drive drunk."