Chapter Sixteen: After

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"Here, ___," Honey Lemon says gently. You hold out your hands and wrap your icy fingers around the hot cup of coffee.

"Thanks," you whisper. She squeezes your shoulder gently and steps away. You keep your eyes out the window. The sky is grey and everything has a blue tint to it. The rain pounds against the glass. Maybe it will break it and fill up the entire house. You press your finger to the glass and let out a deep breath. You feel like you're already drowning. Your breath fogs up the window, so you wipe it with your black sleeve.

"___," Aunt Cass says. You turn and look into her tired green eyes. She hands up another cup of coffee and says, "Can you take this to Hiro?" You nod and step around her. As soon as your foot hits the bottom step, you see Hiro. He's sitting on the stairs.

Barely glancing up at you, he says, "I won't eat anything."

"I just brought you coffee," you say. "So are you going to drink it?"

"No," he says sternly.

You shrug and dump the coffee into one of the potted plant on a small side table. You then dump yours out. "I don't want it, either." You stack the cups together and set them down before sitting next to him.

"Are you going to be around after today?"

"What? I mean, yeah, I'll be around."

"Why?" He asks harshly. "He's gone. He's not coming back."

You swallow and nod. "I know, but that doesn't keep me away. You guys are my family."

Hiro laughs dryly. "Right."

You close your eyes. "Look, I know what you're feeling. You're angry."

Hiro glares at you. "You don't know anything," he says sharply. You blink in surprise as he stands up and marches into his room.

"I don't know anything?" You ask, standing up to follow him. "I was there, Hiro."

"Can't you just leave me alone?"

You continue, anyways. "I watched him walk right into that building. And you know what? He didn't even stop himself. He knew, and I knew, that he wasn't coming back-"

Hiro turns. "Then why didn't you go with him? Why didn't you take his place? I would much rather be at your funeral than his. He had so much going for him and you didn't. So why didn't you take his place?" His eyes are burning with anger. You're taken aback by it.

You break away from his gaze and look down. Keeping your voice low, you say, "You don't need to tell me how I messed up. I know. If I could go back, I would go in there, too, so he could be safe and you wouldn't have to ever see me again." You turn towards the steps. "Don't worry about having to see me again. I won't be back after today. I'm sorry, I didn't know that you hated me so much." You grab the cups and slowly walk down the stairs. Everyone looks at you once you reach the bottom. You're not even embarrassed when you realize that they heard your fight.

"___," Honey Lemon says gently. She reaches hand out for you.

You close your teary eyes and shake your head. "Please don't." She steps away and lets you go into the kitchen. You put the cups in the sink and grab your duffle bag out of the closet. You don't bother grabbing Tadashi's umbrella before heading out into the rain.

As soon as you sit in your small car, you toss the bag in the passenger seat. You angrily punch your leg and then start sobbing. Your tears are loud and messy, but you can't stop them. You don't have the strength to do anything but weep. "I can't believe you did this to me," you whisper to the air. "You left me without even turning back." You angrily hit your hand against the dashboard. "You left me!" you shout, hitting it again and again until your fists throb. "You didn't even look back!" You rip open your bag and pull out the yellow cardigan. "Why'd you leave me?" You bury your face into the fabric and cry for him.

Once you're out of tears and your eyes are completely dry, you start the short ride home.

"You know, I'm probably going to marry you one day."

You rolled your eyes at Tadashi's words. "Yeah, right."

"I am. Seriously. As soon as I graduate from SFIT, I'll get a good job, and then I'll marry you. You'll be right beside me."

"Have you even thought about this? Like, thought this through?"

"Are you kidding? I always think about you."

"And what if I haven't graduated yet?"

Tadashi sighed. "I'll wait, I guess."

You laughed. "And you're willing to wait?"

Tadashi smiled and kissed you gently. "For you, I'd wait a million years."

Your heart melted. "It's a good thing we'll never have to wait a long time then, huh?"

"A very good thing," he agreed, his hand finding yours.

You sit on the couch back in your apartment. "Are you waiting?" you ask him. "I know you won't answer me, but I'm going to talk, anyways." You fall back until your head lays against the arm of the sofa. "I guess we can't get married now. Or have a family, or grow old together. . ." You let out a tearless sob. "I'm trying to not be mad, but it's so hard. You left me. Us. And now Hiro won't even look at me and I've completely shut my friends out. What am I supposed to do? Without you, I'm lost. You were by my side everyday, and now you're not. I only wanted to make you proud. All you wanted was to graduation from SFIT. I guess neither of us are getting what we want, then." You shut your eyes and turn over on your side. Before you fall under, you grab his cardigan and wrap it around your shoulders to keep you warm.

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