A sob broke out of her, and after that, there was no stopping it, and she found herself crumpling. Her phone fell from her fingers, but still she couldn’t stop crying, her sobs as wild and uncontrollable as the fears strangling her.
I can’t lose him. I can’t. I can’t.
Saint M, please, I can’t.
Don’t let God take him away from me.
Time passed by, and before she knew it, he was there, striding inside her room, his shadow falling over her as he crouched down to her level.
The quiet heaviness in his tone made her head jerk up. “Professor—” And then she saw that it was back, bleakness once again darkening his eyes, and her trepidation turned into full-blown panic. He had been hurt so much – so, so much – that the thought of her causing him more pain was unbearable.
She shook her head frantically at him. “It’s n-not what you think—”
“Ssssh.” He tried to pull her towards him, but she scrambled away, knowing that to let him embrace her, even if it was what she badly needed, was to let him think he was right.
“It’s not what you think,” she repeated doggedly.
“You said you were scared.”
And so she did.
But the way he said the words, the way his face turned completely expressionless as he spoke—
It told her that it was really as she feared, and another sob wracked her body.
“You don’t understand,” she choked out. “You just don’t…”
“Of course I do.” And the dullness in his voice had her crying harder. “And I promised you, didn’t I?”
“I won’t force you to stay. In spite of all the precautions we’ve taken, there’s still a chance for you to get infected—”
She grabbed his face with both hands. “Listen to me!” She saw his jaw clench, saw the way his body turned rigid, and she knew by now what it meant. He was preparing himself, in case she left him, and her heart broke all over again.
“I am scared, Professor,” she whispered tremulously. “But it’s not what you think.”
She shook her head. “I’m scared for you. I’m scared that I’ll lose you. And I can’t. I just can’t…I want you to live forever. I need you to live forever—” And then she could no longer speak, crying so hard she could only let her lips move.
Don’t leave me.
Don’t leave me.
Please, please, please don’t ever leave me.
The professor woke up to find her gone.
And his first thought was, I should’ve expected it.
He couldn’t even blame her. She had every right to run, with all the baggage he carried. He was her teacher, he had HIV, and the last girl he had a relationship with had killed herself because he was a prick.
So no, if he had to be fucking honest, a part of him had long expected this. If anything, he was actually surprised she lasted this long and got this far. So now, the question was…did he run after her or let this stand as a lesson for him?
He walked into the shower, hoping the hot blast of water could help clear his head, but all it did was let memories of last night infiltrate his mind.
It had been the first and only time he spent the entire night with a woman and not touched her, and while Matthijs wanted to think it was because fucking a girl crying her heart out held no appeal, he knew it had been more than that.
Last night, listening to her cry and knowing that her tears were all for him, it just hadn’t felt fucking right to touch her in any way that wasn’t pure. All he had been able to do was hold her, kiss her fucking hair, and murmur idiotic nothings to her ear.
Maybe he had been wrong about her, he reflected humorlessly. The power she wielded over him from the moment they met…it had once made him think of her as his downfall. But maybe it was the other way around, and she was his soul’s salvation, with her ability to turn a sinner like him into a…well, a saint would be cutting it too fine, so maybe she had just enough power to turn him into a eunuch?
Then again, none of it mattered now, did it?
She was gone, and it was time for him to move on.
Stepping out of his bedroom, the professor forced himself to stick to his usual Sunday routine and headed down to the kitchen. His movements were purely mechanical, preparing his breakfast shake and the assortment of pills he had to take.
This, he thought broodingly, was how life was going to be, from here on.
It was when he was on his way to his personal basement that he heard it.
Music streaming from the garden, and the professor absently rifled through his memory banks for the title of the song.