Sometimes she stands at the doorway of the school, looking blinding into the parking lot. She remembers. The cut of glass opening her skin, although there had been no pain. The explosion and fire singeing her clothes and hair. Mostly, she remembers the sharp glass, propelled violently, that rent her body in two. She remembers, in a hazy sort of way, stumbling around, looking for that missing part of her. At the same time, she remembers moving past him as he pointed a gun at her. She remembers being rejoined, two turning back to one. And her fingers brush the light scarf she keeps wrapped around her neck.
He used to watch her passively, observe her when their paths crossed and appreciate her hidden beauty. That was before everything went to hell and back, and he almost shot her in the head before losing his nerve and running like a coward, hoping there was a way to save her. Since then, he's sought her out, watched her from a distance, telling himself that he was simply looking out for her. He saw the hollow look in her eyes when she thought nobody else was around, saw the way she touched the scarf she never used to wear. And guilt ripped at him like a rabid animal, tearing at his heart, his stomach, his lungs. So he continues to watch her, protect her, and accepts his guilt as his penance.
She sits at her kitchen table, smoothing a piece of stationary against the wood surface. She knows that he knows that she wasn't herself, but the words she spoke to him that afternoon in the schoolyard haunt her (not to mention make her blush - did she really tell him to eat her?) and the three weeks that have passed since then ate at her, twisting her stomach until she sits in her kitchen, carefully composing a letter of apology on her personal stationary; this is not something to be written on plain ruled paper, as if without thought. She will slip it to him the next day, at the end of class, and she hopes he will forgive her.
History class, he decided, was unimportant, and he strode instead to the English room, knowing it was her free period, which she usually spent grading papers. He always detoured across the school on his way to the washroom that was next to the history room. He didn't even knock on her door, and the room was empty, save her, just as he knew it would be. Her eyes were wide as he locked the door, and she looked a little afraid. Her letter was clutched tightly in his hand, and when he reached her side, he stumbled down to his feet, looking up at her. His voice came out choked as he said the words she'd made eloquent in the three-quarters page of handwritten script.
Deciding she couldn't have heard him right, she shook her head, asking what he was talking about. Staring back at him as he met her gaze, seeming to search for something, he held up the letter she had written, and her own eyes widened as she realized his glistened with tears. She listened, and protested, as he told her that her apology was unwarranted, that it was he, not her, who was sorry, was guilty, was damned by his actions during those two days. Her eyes squeezed shut, and she shook her head, like a child, trying to block out his words. Didn't he see, she wondered. Didn't he understand the spite of the words that had passed her lips? She asked him this.
He couldn't answer, didn't have the words, the comprehension to think of her as spiteful, and he reached up instead, taking one end of the scarf she wore between his fingers. He both heard and saw that her breath caught, saw her tremble as he carefully unwound it, but she did not protest. Once the fabric fell away, his eyes closed of their own volition, pain and guilt lancing through him. Eyes open again, he lifted his hand to her neck, cupping her warm skin, feeling her pulse beat against his palm. His finger caressed the pale pink line, the evidence of that night. Apology passed his lips a second time, then a third, in a whisper as he sought to brush away the marks he'd left.
She sat completely still as he touched her, her heart pounding and fingers trembling. She met his gaze and recognized the guilt there, the same that she had felt for causing him pain. Her hand came up to cover his, and she whispered back assurances, telling him that it was okay. He saved her. She knew the truth, knew that it was his drug that saved them all, knew that he chose to run, to give her a chance at living again, instead of shooting her as he probably should have. She knew it wasn't his fault, that she had been a danger, to him and everyone else, and she had forgiven him the instant the parasite died within her, thanking him in her mind even as she vomited the creature up, spilling its gelatinous figure to the ground near his car.
One more apology, for the situation (although not his fault), not his own actions, passed his lips, and he leaned up, watching as her eyes fell shut, the line of her lashes dark on her pale cheek. He saw her chin tilt, felt her pulse jump against his skin, and his mouth brushed hers, softly, wiping their slates clean and bringing forgiveness in the gentle clasp of their lips. He began to pull back after a lingering moment, afraid of pushing too far, but she followed him, eyes still closed, and he finally let go of her letter, his hand coming up to cup the back of her head, fingers slipping through her hair.
Her head spun, and although her logical side insisted that it was wrong, she couldn't stop the thrill that raced down her spine at his touch, his kiss. It was what she imagined a drug would do, making her fuzzy and lowering her inhibitions. She parted her lips, ever-so-slightly, then moaned into his mouth when he took the quiet invitation. Although she had been kissed in the past, it had never felt like this, like her body was heating of its own accord, aching in places no man had ever been, and she leaned into him, her hands moving to tangle in his hair before a last burst of realism reminded her that he was her student, and she almost violently pulled away, face heating as she thought of what she'd just done.
His hands fell away from her, and he sat back on his feet, studying her with intelligent eyes. When she finally glanced at him, he reached forward again, lightly taking her hand, and made one of the few true promises of his life as he told her that he wouldn't let her pull away. He watched her expression change, and thought that she looked afraid - and exhilarated. Nervous and excited. He turned his head, keeping her gaze as he kissed her palm and fingertips, then stood. He whispered a goodbye, and stepped backward, holding her hand until her fingers finally slipped from his, the distance between them too great. He vowed to himself that it wouldn't stay that way.