He dates girls that look nothing like her. He doesn't like distractions.

Raven-heads with green eyes catch his attention. Brunettes with hazel eyes and small frames capture his eye.

(They aren't her.)

He sometimes is asked by the occasional blonde and fervently turns them away.

(Because what if her name slips from his tongue?)

His thoughts evade normalcy. And instead, they drift to her.

She's doing well, he hears. Dating some guy from Brown that caught her eye; he's happy for her, he tells himself. He wants her to move on from him, he tells himself.

He's always been a horrible liar.

...

She doesn't call anymore. He supposes that he deserves that. He was harsh to her, last time they spoke, he remembers.

Because high school never ends, right? She'd told him that with a quivering bottom lip - he remembers that those blue eyes could make him do anything.

(They still can.)

He dates, but doesn't settle. They ask him why, Dan?. They don't want to know, he says to himself.

He can't say what's easiest to say. It's not you, it's me.

It's not him, either. It's her.

...

He is reminded everywhere he goes.

Hello there, angel of my nightmare --

He turns off the radio with a frown, hands suddenly drumming urgently against the steering wheel. His eyes are wide but don't show anything - he's fooling himself.

...

He has nightmares of her, he knows. He'll wake in a sweat and forget the dream but he's sure it's her.

The only one he can remember is the one where she is gone, and he is crying her name, screaming her name, wishing her back into his arms. He curses because she's gone and he's lost her.

(His life is that nightmare.)

...

She meets him with contempt in her angelic blue eyes; he remembers when he could brush a stray lock of blonde hair from her face, and she'd giggle at him, press her lips to his in an adoring kiss.

He is back to reality and she is glaring at him.

(He misses her.)

She doesn't even say his name at van der Bass-Humphrey dinners. It's always awkward, because they ask the same questions and she answers them the same.

He's quiet because she wouldn't answer him.

...

He asks and she frowns at him.

I don't miss you, she says.

He wishes he can tell himself that she's lying - that she thinks of him every day, that she really does want him back.

But he broke her heart first, he remembers. She's not lying.

(He doesn't cry, even though she is worth all his tears.)


A/N: Um, God. I dunno. I love, LOVE Derena. To pieces. I wrote this, allusions to what Dan said to Serena, 2x25, about high school being in the past, and them being in the past, too. I know it's not the case anymore, obviously - but all these spoilers for season three, and little to none Derena action? I'm going to cry. ;~;