The first Friday of October, I got it in me to surprise Xander. I'd watched him for two weeks, and I knew him well enough to know when something was bothering him. He'd grown distant since the return in the fall, pulling away and withdrawing himself. He'd even avoided the party scene, a sure sign something was wrong.
I hated the thought of him being upset. Mostly I hated thinking that I couldn’t make him happy. That he hadn’t even come to me to make him happy. I liked to believe that there was a part of Xander that saw in me what I saw in him. That he wanted me the way I wanted him. Maybe I didn’t have a lot to offer, but I'd fallen certain I would give everything I had to Xander.
His house was still and silent, but the door was unlocked. I let myself in, moving slowly through the shadows. My eyes began to adjust to the darkness as I started up the stairs towards his room. "Xander?" I called his name softly, to no reply. But at the end of the hall I saw a thin trail of light filtering from the bathroom door. Biting down gently on my bottom lip, because even I couldn’t control what thoughts my mind conjured, I started off for it.
"Xander." His name fell from my lips once more as I came within a foot of the door. In retrospect I was certain that all the hell I'd ever seen couldn’t have prepared me for that precise moment. With trembling fingers I reached out to push open the door tentatively. The echoing creak seemed so much louder than it was.
And immediately a scream fell from my lips. I tried to turn, to move away, but of course I was trapped and frozen motionlessly. Xander raised his head, weakly trying to meet my eyes. But my own gaze was fixated on the rivulets of blood streaming from the delicate skin of his pale wrists, dripping carelessly into the white porcelain sink.
"Oh God," I murmured. "Xander..."
"Reina," he whispered hoarsely. I cringed at the raw anger in his tone. "Get out of here." I did the opposite, taking a step into the small bathroom, where the light blue walls seemed to keep getting smaller. Xander was within touching distance, but I couldn’t bring myself to reach to him. That killed me. He'd let his crystalline gaze fall away from me again, watching the rainbow of blood swirl away down the drain.
My eyes did a quick sweep of the bathroom until they fell upon the razor itself, resting so carelessly on the counter. Squeezing my eyes shut, I reached over to grab it.
"Reina!" Xander cried roughly, but I picked it up nonetheless. And when my own blue eyes reopened, I clutched it tighter and ripped it across the bare skin of my own exposed wrist. A small cry escaped my lips as I let the blood-soaked blade tumble back into the sink. Stumbling back a bit, I collapsed onto the toilet as thick crimson liquid began to bubble up and out.
"Reina," Xander gasped. He suddenly seemed so much clearer. His eyes were no longer glazed over, his body no longer rigid. "What the hell were you thinking?"
Through my own silent agony, my own deafening clarity, I somehow managed to look up at him and smile. "You bleed, I bleed," I told him. "I wont lose you, Xander. It'd kill me."
Working quickly to wrap up his arm, Xander bent down to face me at eye-level. He took one of my hands in his, and with the other, he reached up hesitantly to trace my jawbone. "You wont lose me," he whispered in that horribly broken voice of him. The one that shredded hearts and souls all at once.
"Then why are you-" I never got to finish, to fully ask him the one question to which I so dreaded the answer, for at that moment, Xander Ocher bent forward and kissed me softly on the lips. When he pulled away, I let out a nervous breath that quickly turned to a shaky laugh. For a fleeting moment, I forgot about the tormenting pain pulsing upon my wrist or the misery that I held buried in my heart. Nothing existed but me and Xander and this solitary moment I would hold to forever.
"Come on," he said gently. "Let's get you cleaned up." We were both silent as he worked, cleaning out the shallow cut and then bandaging it. All the while I watched him intently, watched his beautiful angel eyes fill with an incomprehensionable sorrow.
"I dont ever want you to do this again," Xander told me firmly. Like he was talking to a child. I almost resented that. He was all serious, his eyes heavy upon me.
"Then why do you?" I demanded quietly. "What took you to the edge?" Xander was silent for a long while, looking straight at me. I got the feeling he was seeing through me to a place I could only imagine. His safe place. I waited until he snapped back into himself, his gaze clearing again.
"What do you see," he asked, "when you look at the stars?"
I frowned, trying desperately to grasp the relevance. Then Xander kissed me on the cheek, squeezed my hand gently, and stood up. "Go home, Reina," he muttered from the doorway. "Kiss your dad. Tell Wynter you love her. Hell, say a pray for me if you think it'll get you somewhere. Then crawl into your bed and do your best to forget this night."
Needless to say, I did not forget. In the shadowy confines of my own room, I removed the bandages and stared wistfully at the wound. How long would it be until it scarred over? How long until it faded?
Until then, it would be a constant reminder of the pain I concealed. The longing for something more, something real. The desire to feel Xander's lips against mine once more.
I told myself it didn’t mean anything. Xander was a notorious player. Surely he simply knew it would calm me down. Surely it was meaningless to him, like all was meaningless to him. The vibrant gleam in his eyes was sure to haunt me. Shaking out my blonde hair I went to lay down. But I did not try to forget. No, I wanted to cling to that moment forever. I never wanted to let him go.