A/N: Can I just say wow? Thanks for all the reviews guys, I really appreciate it. Sorry for not getting this out sooner, but with the holidays and my birthday coming up, things have been pretty busy. Anyway, this chapter I was never really that satisfied with, but stayt tuned for the last chapter, that's the big one. So happy holidays and thanks again, you guys rock.
2: Seems Uncertain
Willow was sitting in the third row in one of Washington University’s many lecture halls, listening halfheartedly as Dr. Fane taught class, the minutes passing ever so slowly.
It was a bright, sunny Thursday afternoon, but she found no real joy in the beauty of the day. She was tired, her normally vibrant green eyes were glassy and red, her face seemed even paler than before, and not one witty comment from Dr. Fane could bring a smile to her face. She missed Richard, she missed their house. Well, really it was his house, but she didn’t feel like arguing over semantics.
The last two days had been spent in the mild comfort of a moderately priced St. Louis hotel. She could have asked a number of her friends for a place to stay, but each had their downsides. Sylvie and Gwen were two of her best friends since moving to the city, but Sylvie was especially close to Richard and she didn’t want to take any chances that he might show up at her house. Jason was surprisingly enough a confidant of hers, but he lived at the Circus and she had no desire to run into Anita. She had nothing against the woman personally, she had always been relatively polite when they met, but she was too much of a reminder of everything that was wrong between her and Richard. The only upside of staying at the Circus would have been Jean-Claude’s presence, after all, Richard stayed as far away as possible from the Master of the City. She wouldn’t run the risk of running into him there.
So she found herself at a hotel. It was nice enough, but it wasn’t homey. The walls were a stark, barren white, the mattress was hard and uncomfortable, and the room smelled of cleaning supplies and the maid’s perfume. But it was only temporary, until she found an apartment for herself. She just hoped that didn’t take too long.
A glance at her wristwatch told her it was now two o’clock. Looking to the front of the classroom, she forced herself to pay attention to Dr. Fane’s words and found herself a little relieved when she heard those words she had been dying to hear.
“We’ve run out of time,” Louie said with a grin. It wasn’t unusual for one of his lectures to run over. His class was one of the most popular at the university and the subject matter always incited a rousing debate between him and his students. “We’ll pick up where we left off on Tuesday. No homework this weekend, but I want you all thinking about your thesis for your term paper. You need to get started soon.”
With that the class stood nearly as one, eager to be done with the school day. Willow stuffed her notebook in her shoulder bag, standing and smoothing down her ankle-length black skirt and straightening her slightly skewed peasant blouse. Hoisting her bag onto her shoulder, she started down a couple of stairs before reaching the main floor. There were only a handful of students remaining, two at Dr. Fane’s desk, speaking quietly with the professor. Seeing that Louie was engrossed in the questions of his students, the redhead tried for a quick escape, ducking her head and picking up her pace.
“Miss Rosenberg—” she heard her name called out and reluctantly lifted her head. The two girls that had been talking with Louie were now on their way out and Dr. Fane was looking at her with an expression on his face she wasn’t sure she wanted to interpret.
Clearing his throat and glancing awkwardly at the three people still loitering about, gathering their things and chatting amicably, Louie gave her an apologetic look. “May I, uh, speak with you for a moment?”
The tiny witch took a deep, steadying breath and nodded once, gravely. She shuffled her feet before forcing herself to take a step forward, watching out of the corner of her eye as the threesome laughed and headed for the double doors and into the hall.
Seeing that they were now sufficiently alone, Louie waved a hand to the spare chair to the side of his desk and Willow sat down tentatively. Dr. Fane perched on the top of his desk and clasped his hands together, sitting them on his lap.
He glanced down at her, seeing how exhausted she seemed, and smiled sympathetically.
“How are you doing, Will?” he asked kindly, worry in his tone. At this moment, they were not student and teacher, but friends, and he wanted her to open up to him.
“Um, okay, I guess,” she stammered, unable to look him in the eye, instead shifting uncomfortably in her seat. “How are you? And Ronnie, is she well?” she asked, forcing a light tone into her voice.
“Willow,” he sighed, not allowing her to avoid the topic at hand. “How are you really?”
“Not so great,” she admitted weakly, her voice shaky. “It’s just been a hard couple of days, you know?” She snorted, rolling her eyes to herself, “What am I saying? Of course you know, Richard must have told you. He tells you everything…”
“Yeah,” he smiled sadly, “I know.” He reached out, placing a gentle hand on her shoulder and she glanced up at him, her eyes teary.
“How—” she started, stuttering a bit, “how is he?” she nearly whispered, if not for his advanced hearing he may not have heard her.
“He’s…pretty bad, actually,” he answered truthfully, causing her to look at him in surprise.
“Why?” she asked, her tone a mixture of incredulity and a tinge of bitterness. She had a reason to be depressed, but she had expected him to take it more or less in stride. After all, she wasn’t what he really wanted anyway.
“You left, Will,” Louie shrugged, squeezing her shoulder for a second. “Any man with a brain in his head would be upset to lose you.”
“And that applies to Richard how?” she chuckled sardonically. Louie shook his head, a reluctant grin on his face.
“He can be a little thick-headed at times, I’ll admit,” the professor smirked, his hand dropping from her shoulder. “But seriously Will, he’s miserable.”
“I just don’t get him,” she murmured softly, all the laughter gone from her usually upbeat voice. “I understand that he’s not happy I left, but what did he expect?” she said, looking imploringly at her teacher and Richard’s best friend. “I can’t do that anymore. I can’t just be the one he settled for. I’ve done it before and I hated every minute of it.”
“I get that,” he agreed, his voice concerned as he watched her breathing deepen in effort to control her emotions. “And I think he gets that now too. He’s a little late, but he gets it.”
“I—” the redhead started, before snapping her mouth shut. He watched as she started to clam up and he frowned, knowing from experience that there was no way she was going to talk with him now, not once she decided to shut him out. Sadly, he saw her straighten her back and look up at him with a blank expression. “I really can’t do this right now,” she declared, her voice still small and timid. “I’ve got a class to get to in five minutes.”
The young witch stood, as did Louie, and turned to the doors. She glanced over her shoulder and offered the professor a small smile. “I’ll see you on Tuesday, Dr. Fane.”
He watched with tired eyes as she strode toward the doors, her steps slow and unsure. Just as she was about to push the door open, her hand pressed against the rather thin slab of wood, he called out to her, the plea in his voice obvious.
“Will—” he entreated, waiting until the redhead glanced his way. She looked so worn down, so disheartened and he, at that moment, wished nothing more than for his two dear friends to be happy once more. “Go see him.”
When she looked like she was about to protest, he raised a hand to stop her. “You two have issues, I know, but…just go see him. At least one last time.”
She sighed, her pain bare for all to see, and held his gaze for a long moment before nodding, the barest of movements. “I’ll think about it.”
End: Seems Uncertain.