Chapter 15

I screech my car to a halt once I reach Resurgam and stumble out of the driver's seat, anguish and sorrow burning out the last of the rage that had once been enflaming my heart. My knees collapse underneath me and I sprawl out on the blacktop, my head leaning against the exterior of my car as I let the sobs take over my body. After several minutes pass by, I realize that I can't stay there forever without somebody noticing, so I shakily rise to my feet and stagger towards Resurgam.

When I near the front door, I see my reflection in the glass, and abruptly veer off to the side. My eyes are red and swollen beyond recognition, and there is such grief on my face that I can't bear even looking at my own reflection. So instead, I totter around to the back of the hospital, where there is much less activity, and curl up against a corner formed by a wall and a side of the building.

A cold gust passes through me and I shiver as my stomach abruptly growls with hunger. I pull out the cell phone in my pocket and notice ten missed calls and fifteen new texts from Kestrel. Scowling, I ignore them and check the time. 6:30. I'm supposed to be at Mimi's right now. I feel the tears returning, and I let out a soft, strangled sob as I throw my phone at the soft ground beneath me and bury my head in my arms.

After a long time of just sitting there, I begin to hear footsteps in the distance and I immediately freeze, my sobs dying down to nothing in a matter of seconds. Ideas of who it could be pop up one by one in my mind. Kestrel? Some kidnapper who heard me crying? The stalker dude who took pictures of me earlier? Oh God, why couldn't I have been quieter? I'm such a crybaby! The footsteps draw nearer and I squeeze my burning eyes closed, preparing for the worst.

"…Cecilia?" The voice is familiar. Too familiar. My heart skips a beat. No, not him… Please, anybody but him The person stops before me, picks up my phone, and then kneels down. I feel a hand gently take my cheek and lift my face up.

For a heartbeat, all I can see are red irises.

"Cecilia! What are you doin– are you crying?" CR-S01 exclaims, his expression concerned and confused. I pull away and duck my head down again, not daring to look at him. No matter how hard I try to hold them back, my tears begin to come again.

I sense CR-S01 beginning to struggle, not quite sure what to do. "Sheesh, why did I get myself into this kind of situation...? " I hear him mutter exasperatedly to himself before he turns back to me and awkwardly says, "Cecilia… don't cry, okay? You've already been through a lot of pain, and even more grieving won't do you any good." When my sobs don't subside, he sighs and continues, "Why are you crying? Maybe telling someone will help."

My eyes glance up at him, but only for the briefest moment. I shake my head. "I can't," I whisper, my voice muffled. You'll think I'm a child.

CR-S01 hesitates, but then exhales. "Well… that's understandable. Let's at least get you home, okay?" He places his hand on my arm to help me up. It's surprisingly warm. I abruptly withdraw in shock, but I immediately regret it when I see him blink at me before standing up straight. "Sorry," he murmurs, glancing away. I want to say something, but my lips wouldn't budge. So instead, I attempt to get up by myself, only to have my knees buckle underneath the weight. I let out a groan of pain from my embarrassing collapse. CR-S01 remains indifferent as he takes my hand and pulls me up.

"Did you drive here?" he asks as we walk back to the front of the hospital.

"Yes." My voice is weaker and shakier than I had anticipated.

"Can you show me where your car is?" His voice is gentler than before. I glance up at him and notice he is looking at me. His gaze is soft and seems to burn into my eyes. It's exactly like how Kestrel used to look at me whenever we were together. Holding back the rush of tears that threaten to break through again, I nod and point to a black Lexus – my father's old car.

"Ah." He seems to recognize it, but doesn't say anything as he and I make our way through the parking lot. "I'll take you home. You don't look like you're in any shape to drive right now." I nod and hand him my car keys before crawling into the passenger's seat.

CR-S01 pushes the "Go Home" button on the car's GPS, and then starts up the engine and backs out of the parking lots. I stare out the window, my eyes lifeless and my arms hugging my knees. In the reflection of the glass window, I occasionally spot him glancing at me with a concerned look on his face. The entire ride there is silent, but I'm grateful for it. Obviously, I wasn't in the mood to have a pleasant conversation.

When we finally pull up into my driveway, I notice for the first time how dark it is outside. We both get out of the car at the same time. I walk over to stand next to him.

"Thank you," I whisper, looking him in the eyes. A genuine smile finds its way to my lips. "For everything."

CR-S01 looks at me with a slightly taken aback look, but then glances off to the side while muttering a sheepish, "It was nothing." Underneath the moonlight, I can see his cheeks blush a little, and I stifle a laugh at how cute it looked.

A thought suddenly strikes me. "How are you going to get home?" I ask. "You can't possibly walk all the way back. It'll be midnight by the time you get there."

He shrugs. "I'll take a bus or something. It won't be a problem." He looks down at me again, and I see the faintest hint of a sad smile flicker across his face. "I should be leaving now. See you tomorrow?"

I stare at him, dumbfounded, before snapping back to my senses and laughing awkwardly. "Yeah, see you." I wave good-bye and watch him walk off until he is swallowed by darkness.

That night, I lay in my bed, unable to sleep. All I can do is think about what had happened today. Whenever I close my eyes, I would be taken back to the events that had occurred. Whenever my mind crosses Kestrel, I would cringe, but when I am reminded of CR-S01, I would immediately relax. Why is that? Just this morning, I was head over heels for Kestrel, but now just the thought of him makes me have the urge to tear something apart. Am I that able to hate him? Could I get over love so easily? Was it even love in the first place?

And then my thoughts drift to CR-S01. I close my eyes and relive the way he had so awkwardly tried to comfort me. It was apparent that he didn't have very much experience in that sort of thing, but the fact that he had still tried, that he cared, made my heart flutter. And then the warmth of his touch, the way he had blushed when I'd thanked him… I couldn't take it anymore.

"Godammit!" I cry, abruptly sitting up in bed. "What the hell is going on with me?" My hair is a nice replica of a bird's nest and my nightgown is tussled, but I can't care less. Who was going to see me, anyway? I slip out of bed and check the time – 3 a.m. – before tip-toeing from my bedroom to the music room.

When I close the door to the music room behind me, I let out a melodramatic sigh of relief. The walls were sound-proof, which my parents had installed after several incidents of being woken up in the middle of the night from my practicing. I sit in front of the grand piano and uncover it, smiling at its polished black wood and glossy keys. Whenever I was upset like this, I would always come to the piano and play a few pieces to ease my mind.

I set my fingers carefully on top of the keys and began to play whatever they willed to play. Surprisingly, I find myself playing my favorite Chopin nocturne – Opus 9 No. 2 in E flat. It is a slow, beautiful piece of music, and had nearly brought tears to my eyes when I'd first heard it. Fits my mood perfectly, huh?

At first, I force myself to really focus on what I am playing, but as I near the middle of the piece, my mind begins to drift off, as it usually does. I see myself playing on a stage, my final performance… and I am suddenly reminded of Kestrel's words. I'm going to be sitting in the very front row, clapping the loudest. I abruptly stop playing and stand up, scooting the piano bench several feet away from me as I do so. Cecilia… I can't hide it anymore. And I can't stand to be away from you for so long. I love you… I always have, and I always will. My hands clench into fists and I feel the familiar sensation of tears burning in the back of my eyes. "Everything you said… they were lies, weren't they?" I hiss, feeling myself beginning to shake. Caught up in my anger and hurt, I cover the piano back up and return to my bedroom, where I throw myself on my bed and beat my pillow against the mattress, envisioning it as Kestrel's face with every punch.

When all of the anger I could ever muster is taken out, I am left exhausted and lost, not feeling any better than I had before. I cave in and crumple on top of my sheets, not bothering to pull them over me. Tears stain my cheeks and leave my eyes sore and puffy, but no fresh ones are reproduced. Do I not have any more tears left to shed? I wonder as I close my eyes with a sigh. I imagine CR-S01 next to me, comforting me, telling me it will all work out in the end. And to my ultimate surprise, I find myself smiling.

Right before I fall asleep, one last question lingers in my thoughts.

What's wrong with me?