I open the window on the walkway side and lean out of it, lighting a cigarette. Fuck you nicotine patches. You fail.
Alex appears out of the room further down where Hadley should be and walks towards me, his hands in his pockets, shrugging his jacket into a comfortable position.
"Hey," he greets me, though he doesn't smile, the way he usually does when he greets me. I frown slightly.
"You okay?" I ask.
"Yeah, just pissed at Cayden. How're you doing? Apart from trying to smoke yourself to death," he reaches to steal my cigarette, but I hold it out of reach.
"I'd be better if I was allowed to have my cancer without arguing over it," I mutter, and he rolls his eyes, "I'm alright, I guess. Been better," I smile wryly and he nods.
"Good. Well I'm gonna go beat the fuck out of him, if that's alright with you. I'll see you later." I nod. Of course it's alright. I'd rather it was me beating the fuck out of him, but it's not like I can pack a punch. He turns to leave, but hesitates. "You're not gonna use Hadley as your rebound, are you?" he asks, looking back at me.
"I'm not gonna use anyone as a rebound if I can help it." Really, does everyone think so little of me?
He nods to himself and mumbles "good" before walking off. I finish my cigarette in silence, wondering if that was a subtle threat. When I'm done, I close the window back up and wander down the walkway to Caleb's room.
For some reason, I hesitate before knocking, like I expect Hadley to not want to see me or something.
"Come in, it's open," Caleb calls. When I walk in, he's hugging Hadley and I frown, unreasonably worried.
"Nothing you need to worry about," Caleb says and it just makes me worry more.
"D'you want me to come back later, or something?" I wonder, still frowning a little. Hadley shakes his head and sniffs like he's been crying. I sit on the edge of the bed tentatively, feeling kinda awkward. Hadley sniffles again and Caleb sort of pushes him away towards me. I put my arms out for him, and he hugs me, resting his head on my shoulder. Rubbing his back gently, I hold him to me, leaning my head on his slightly.
"Do I have to go home?" he mumbles into my shoulder.
"Not if you don't want to, Hads," I murmur.
"Like I said, my apartment's all yours, if you need it." He hums and I hug him a little tighter, enjoying how close he is.
"I can grab some stuff for you if you want? Your folks probably wouldn't even notice me," Caleb offers and I look up at him, hopeful.
"Could you grab my suitcase while you're there, too?" He nods and I smile. "Thanks." He gets up and grabs the key to the Saturn.
"You're not getting this back by the way," he grins and I laugh slightly.
"Believe me, that's fine. But I'll expect you to drive us back to mine."
"You'd let me drive that far?" he pretends to be shocked and I smile.
"I would. You'd have to ask Hadley too." He laughs.
"Maybe when he's not been crying. I'll go grab your stuff," he goes to the door and I nod, watching as he leaves.
"I knew you were a softie really," I whisper with a smile.
"Shut up," he mutters with a slight laugh.
"My lips are sealed. No one will know," I say, pulling back so he can see as I pretend to zip up my lips.
"Good," he smiles and I return it, pecking him on the cheek, ignoring the salty streaks of water there. "D'you reckon Mari's killed John yet?"
"Is it bad for me to hope that she has?" because I really hope she has. And that if she hasn't, that Alex will.
"Only a little bit."
"That's okay, then. I wonder how much Cayden is regretting what he did now..." I muse, smiling slightly as I picture Alex doing to Cayden what he did to those kids in the year above me all those years ago.