Disclaimer: We all know the drill... Saban everything, me nothing. I am definitely not being paid for this...
Notes: After graduation from high school and after Ranger obligations were over. This fic is completely and totally unrelated to any of my other fics.
Tears glittered in Tanya Sloane's eyes. She was glad for the darkness that surrounded her and Adam, that he couldn't see her face very well. "Good night, Adam. Good luck in school."
"Thanks," said Adam softly, running his hand through his hair. "You too. I just can't believe I'm leaving for UCLA tomorrow."
In spite of herself, Tanya smiled. "You'll do great, Adam. I know you'll enjoy learning more about literature with that English major of yours."
"I hope so. You're leaving tomorrow also, right?"
"Yes, tomorrow I move into my dorm, and then classes start in five days to give us time for orientation."
"It's amazing that you got into San Francisco Conservatory, everyone is very proud of you. Well, I need to get home to finish some last minute packing for tomorrow. Good luck with your choir auditions."
At that, Adam squeezed Tanya's side once more and then started down the driveway toward his car. Picking up her purse, Tanya quietly let herself into the house and closed the door. Standing on her tiptoes, she watched through the small windows in the door as the taillights on Adam's car disappeared down the road. "Good night, Adam," she whispered to where the lights had been. Taking a deep breath, she headed into the kitchen to cut the stem on the rose he had given her that evening and place it in water.
"Hon, you're home" her mother greeted her as she entered the kitchen. "How was your date?"
Tanya nodded quietly. "Well, he's gone. He's headed for UCLA tomorrow. I hope he enjoys it there." There was no rancor in her tone, only a quiet sadness.
Nantale Sloane nodded and observed her daughter. Normally, she would have pressed for details about why her usually sunny daughter was so down, but somehow, she could tell that Tanya didn't want to talk. She let Tanya go about her task unhindered, and quietly went to go alert her husband to the possibility that Tanya might want to be left alone for a little while.
At last, Tanya got the rose clipped and put into a vase. Going upstairs, she ran herself a hot bath, sprinkled bath salts liberally over the water, and submerged herself. Even now, alone, the tears did not come. It was an ache too deep to simply purge by crying. It's not as if you didn't know this was coming, Tanya reminded herself. She had noticed Adam growing more and more distant over the summer, and when she had pressed him to ask about their future, he would immediately change the subject with a quick "We can discuss that later."
By the time early August had rolled around, without being told, Tanya had known. Known and denied it to herself again and again, but finally she could deny it no longer. After several lengthy conversations with Kat, Tanya had realized that she needed to talk to Adam about it. It was time. She could not bear to be left hanging any longer. Adam was trying to protect her, she knew, but he was going about it the right way.
A few nights later after a movie, the couple had been walking in the park, holding hands, kissing occasionally when they found themselves in a more secluded area. Tanya had finally found the courage. "Adam?"
"About the fall...what do you think about dating other people?"
Adam had blushed, but been surprisingly calm about the situation, even coming out of the blue as it was. "I think it might be a good idea."
Tanya had swallowed hard. "I think so too. We'll be at schools several hours apart and we'll be meeting all sorts of new people." If that's what Adam wants, she had thought, I don't want to stop him. It might be good to date other people anyway.
They had talked then, agreeing to keep in touch and date when they were both home, just not exclusively any more. The discussion had ended with a hug and soft words before Adam drove Tanya home.
In a sense, it had been a relief to have the decision made. At least then she knew what was going to happen, and after the tension and guessing of the past month, she supposed that was better. Yet convincing her heart had been another matter. That night, after closing her door and slipping into her bed to sleep, Tanya had let the hot tears escape down her cheeks for the first and last time. Her boyfriend. Not hers anymore. For one of the first times in her life, Tanya felt a spark of jealousy. Whoever dates him had better be good to him, she had thought before slipping into sleep.
Coming back to the present, Tanya sighed. "Don't torture yourself, girl," she muttered aloud. "You'll still be in touch with him, and there'll be a great campus full of new people and classes to explore." The water in the bath growing cold around her, Tanya stepped out, after drying herself and pulling her pajamas on, she headed for bed. She needed the rest. Tomorrow was moving day.
Morning sun shone through the blinds. Tanya groaned and pulled herself out of the bed. Silently, she glanced around her room at the boxes scattered everywhere. A cold thrill of fear and excitement ran through her. Today, she thought, I meet my roommate, and I start a new life. A soft knock startled her. Her mother's head poked around the door. "Honey? Are you up yet? Your father's ready to start loading the van while you get ready."
Tanya yawned. "All right, I'm up. Tell Daddy he can come in and start." She slipped out from under the covers to head for the bathroom, taking the clothes she planned on wearing that day with her. They had been carefully selected: her favorite blue jean skort and her favorite yellow baby tee shirt with the tiny flowers on it. Tanya showered, dressed, and pulled her hair into a ponytail. Then she went downstairs to cook herself and her parents some breakfast.
By the time the Sloanes arrived at the Conservatory, everything was in an uproar. Boxes were being hauled into the assigned dorms by harassed, weepy parents and new students, who ranged from looking excited to looking downright terrified. Mr. Sloane parked the van in the spot gestured to by a girl who looked like an older student, possibly some sort of Residential Assistant. Clambering out after being trapped for what felt like ages in the crammed vehicle, Tanya had no sooner shut her door than an eager young woman wearing a shirt with the school insignia on it approached her. "Tanya Sloane?"
"Sharon Landau. I'll be your RA this year." Sharon gave Tanya a friendly smile. "Are these your parents?"
Tanya smiled. "Yes."
Sharon introduced herself to the elder Sloanes.
Mr. Sloane smiled at the energetic young woman. "Pleased to meet you, Sharon. This is my wife, Nantale, and I'm Gabriel Sloane."
"Well," said Sharon after a pause, "Why don't you all follow me? We can get Tanya checked into her room, and then we can start getting her things up to it."
At last, Gabe Sloane hauled the last box into Tanya's room. "Well, honey, I think that's the end of that, thank heavens. Are you ready to start getting things unpacked? Do you want us to help you?"
"Yes to both," said Tanya nervously. Now that she was actually here, she was beginning to feel very nervous and tired about being left all by herself without anyone she knew. Just then, a brunette girl with long curly brown hair and a red t-shirt peeked around the door. "Room 302?" she inquired.
"Yep," replied Tanya. "You must be Elyse. I'm Tanya."
Elyse walked into the room. She was a tall girl with a decent build - not fat, but certainly not thin either. "Tanya" she repeated. "I'm glad to meet you."
Nantale Sloane extended a hand. "I'm Tanya's mother, Nantale, and that's her father, Gabriel." Elyse shook the offered hand and smiled shyly.
"Are your parents going to be bringing up your things?" asked Tanya.
Elyse nodded. "They should be up in just a minute." No sooner had she spoken than a man with dark hair appeared with a box, followed shortly by a tall woman with cropped curly hair. After setting down their burdens, they noted the other occupants of the room.
"Gillian Lamont," the woman spoke, giving a friendly smile to the Sloanes.
"Michael Lamont," added the man. "You must be Lysie's new roommate."
Tanya nodded. "I'm Tanya, and these are my parents, Gabriel and Nantale."
More hand shaking commenced, but soon both families were faced with the monumental task of unpacking and shoving all the accumulated possessions into the tiny allotted space. After a time, however, the room began to look more inhabited and less disorganized. Finally, Tanya began to arrange her pictures of her friends in their frames on top of her shelf. Elyse came over to look. "Who are they?" she asked.
"Well, from left to right, they're Tommy, Katherine, Rocky, Jason, and Adam. All of them are good friends of mine from home."
Elyse perused the rest of the pictures. "Katherine's your best friend, isn't she? Where's she going to college?"
Tanya was mildly surprised, but answered affably. "Yes, Kat's wonderful. She's actually a ballet dancer. She's in England this fall studying at the Royal Academy."
Elyse smiled. "I have a friend that dances for the company there as a principle."
"Really? How did you two meet?"
Elyse carefully took out one of her own photos. It showed a lovely, dark-haired girl. "Marian's one of my best friends. My father was working with the Royal Music Conservatory, and we met."
Tanya salted this bit of information away to remember to write to Katherine and mention Marian, and she was impressed. "Your parents are musicians?"
Elyse nodded. "Mom is a cellist, and Dad is a pianist."
"What are you majoring in?"
"I play violin, and I'm going to major in Performance. What are you going to do?"
"I sing. I'm going to be double majoring in Music Education and Performance. I hope to make it in performance, but you know how the music world works. I like children, and if I can't make it performing, I'll teach others how to." Secretly, Tanya was awed slightly. Elyse must be incredible if she was only majoring in performance, since getting any sort of exclusive performance job was fairly iffy for even the best students.
"Is that your boyfriend?" Elyse was staring at a photo where Adam had his arms wrapped gently around Tanya at a table in the Youth Center. Tanya instantly felt a pang.
"Sort of," she began by way of explanation. "He's going to UCLA, and we both felt it would be better if we were able to date other people." Her words felt hollow as the ache in her heart reasserted itself.
Elyse examined her new roommate's face carefully and decided not to press the issue. She wasn't so sure that Tanya was happy about the decision, but knew this was neither the time nor the place to ask such an intimate question. "Are you registered yet?" she asked instead.
Tanya shook her head. "No. Are you?"
"No. Want to walk to the registrar's office together?"
"Just let me say good-bye to my parents, and then we can head over." Tanya walked over to where her father was finishing the hook-up for her new computer. "Daddy. I'm going to go get my schedule."
Gabriel Sloane straightened. "Well, I'm done. I think your Mom and I are going to take off in a few minutes, hon." He reached out to hug his only child. "I love you."
Tanya felt tears come to her eyes. "I love you too, Daddy." She hugged him hard. Then she reached out and hugged her mother. "I love you, Mom. Safe trip home."
After one last good-bye, Tanya watched her parents leave. Looking out the window, she saw the van pull away, and barely choked back a homesick sob. Elyse was wisely silent until Tanya left her post at the window. Then the two girls headed for the administrative building.
Adam sat back at his desk chair in final satisfaction. The room was neatly arranged, and the year was ready to start. He liked his new roommate, Jonah, a tall, dark blonde boy with grey-green eyes that reminded him of Billy who was, to continue the similarities, an engineering student. Jonah had struck him as interesting and kind, though not nearly as introverted as Adam. "Hey, Adam?" queried Jonah from across the room.
"You want to go out with a couple of us? We're going to go get some dinner."
Adam wanted to stay in the room and get adjusted, but he knew he also wanted to find some friends. I've got to get to know people, he reminded himself. Such a golden opportunity to be introduced and hang out did not come the way of the reticent teen every day. "Sure."
Jonah grinned. "Cool. They should be up in a few minutes. I think it's Aaron, Liz, Conrad, Karen, Andy, and Jessica that are coming."
"How do you know so many people already?"
Jonah blushed slightly. "I took a summer school session for incoming freshman. Most of them were there. Aaron's majoring in engineering like me, Conrad's in business, Andy's a double in history and political science, Liz is in education, Karen's a major in political science and communications, and Jessica's an English major."
"Wow," commented Adam. "How many people were in summer school?" "Not too many," said Jonah. "Some of us just had to get some requirements in so that we wouldn't have to do course overloads first semester."
At that moment, a lively group of teens entered the room. "Jonah!" called a redheaded girl dressed in shorts and a green tee shirt.
"Hey, guys. I want you to meet my new roommate, Adam Park. He's coming with us to dinner."
"Cool," commented the redhead. "I'm Karen. That," she said pointing to a slender brunette with short hair and a white tank-top, "is Liz, and Jess is the one with the dark hair and red shirt." Each girl smiled at Adam. "Then," continued Karen, "Conrad is the blond wearing khakis and the polo shirt, Andy's over there" she indicated a brown haired boy with longer, wavy hair talking to Jonah, "and that one with the UCLA jersey is Aaron."
Adam found himself trying to remember all the names, but surprisingly, he was enjoying the company. He hadn't realized how much he'd taken Rocky, Jason, Tommy, Billy, Kat and Tanya for granted. "Nice to meet you."
"We ready to leave?" inquired Aaron. Everyone nodded. Trekking out of the dorm and piling into Karen's car, the group continued in animated discussion. Adam surprised himself again by actually contributing a few comments. This is fun, thought Adam. Sort of like being at home again.
By October, Tanya was at last beginning to feel at home with her schedule and form a tight group of friends. The only small dark spot in the whole experience were Adam's regular emails. He had apparently located a good group of friends through his roommate, and while Tanya was glad that he was happy and gladder still that he hadn't gotten in with a group into heavy drinking or other such activities, she had noticed a disquieting number of sentences beginning with "Jessica said" or "Liz told me". Tanya had a hard time admitting to herself that there was a little jealousy at those. She knew that rationally, there was no reason for her feelings. She and Adam weren't boyfriend and girlfriend anymore really, yet it still bothered her mildly.
No, she told herself, I am not going to worry about this right now. Tanya walked down the hall to go talk to her friend Shannon. Shannon's boyfriend had dumped her recently, and Shannon and Tanya had had fun joking about starting a "freshman singles club" and scouting out potential replacements for their now ex-boyfriends. Despite this, Tanya missed Adam in such a way that she did not even admit it in her deepest heart. Carefully denying and ignoring such thoughts, she had managed to convince herself that she was over Adam. Finding that Shannon was out, she walked back to her room just in time to hear the phone ring.
"Hello?" Tanya answered breathlessly.
"Tanya?" said a familiar voice.
"How are you?"
"I'm fine. I love my classes, and most of my profs are wonderful."
"Listen," came Adam's voice over the phone, "I heard you had a three day weekend in a couple of weeks."
"Well, Aaron lives out by you and he has to go home that week to complete a project he started in his neighborhood last summer. He'd be coming back here that Thursday, and I was wondering if you wanted to come visit."
Tanya did a little dance in her head. Adam still wanted to see her! Stop it, she commanded herself severely, he's just a friend. If it were Rocky out here, he'd make the same offer. "I'd like that. Would someone be able to take me back?"
"Well, Karen could drive you half-way, and then you could take the train back to San Francisco. Would that be all right?"
"Yes. Then I'll see you in a few weeks?"
"Yeah. When does your last class end on Thursdays?"
"One o'clock. Aaron can pick me up then?"
"Definitely. Looking forward to seeing you, then. 'Bye."
"Good-bye." Tanya hung up the phone as if in a trance. Elyse, who had walked in on time to hear the last part of the conversation arched her eyebrows at Tanya. "Adam?"
Tanya nodded. "I'm going to go visit him over that three day weekend this month."
Tanya waited nervously outside the dorm with her duffle bag. At last, a small blue car pulled up with a clean-cut looking young man in it. "Tanya Sloane? Go ahead and just toss your bag back there."
Tanya opened the door and carefully placed her things in the back. "Aaron?"
The teen smiled at her. "Yes. You're Adam's friend from Angel Grove, right?"
Tanya nodded. Aaron was friendly, and once they got into a good conversation, the ride passed quickly. At last, they pulled up in front of a large dormitory.
"Wow," exclaimed Tanya. "Is this where you live?"
"Yep, I live on the fourth floor, and Adam lives on the tenth. Liz, Karen, and Jess live here too."
Just then, a familiar figure came through the doors. He'd cut his hair, but Tanya knew him instantly and jumped from the car. "Adam!"
There was a moment of awkwardness before they hugged. "Tanya! It's good to see you," said Adam in his usual reserved manner. "Let me introduce you to Jonah, my roommate." Adam motioned to the young man standing beside him. "Jonah, Tanya, my, uh, friend from home."
Jonah put his hand forward. "Good to meet you, Tanya."
Tanya took the proffered hand and returned the pleasantry. Her mind, however, was not on Jonah, but rather on how Adam had just introduced her. Friend? It stung in the area she'd avoided for several months, but Tanya reassured herself that she was fine with being friend. Besides, how would she have introduced Adam? Probably the same way.
Several girls and a couple of guys bounded through the doorway, interrupting Tanya's thoughts. "Adam! Is this Tanya?"
Adam nodded, blushing a little. It still took a moment for him to adjust to his friend's effusiveness in contrast to his restraint. "Tanya, I'd like you to meet Liz, Andy, Conrad, Karen, and Jessica."
Tanya exchanged the typical pleasantries with all of them and released the breath she had been holding. They all seemed like interesting, fun people. It surprised her a little that Adam had found a niche in such a robust group, but then she remembered that Rocky had also exhibited similar personality traits, as had Aisha. Adam just was always the quiet one.
After moving her bag into Karen and Liz's room and getting settled, Tanya headed down a few floors to go hang out with Adam. Finding him typing on his computer, she lightly put her arms around him. "Hey."
"Hey," replied Adam. "How do you like Andy, Jonah, Liz, Karen, Aaron, Conrad, and Jess?"
"They seem lovely," replied Tanya truthfully. "What are we doing this weekend?"
"Well, I figured that tomorrow we would all hang out in the afternoon, go to dinner somewhere, and then we have tickets, including one for you, to the play the theater department's putting on, "The Taming of The Shrew". Then on Saturday, we can go out and play Ultimate Frisbee if you want, or I can show you around campus. For the evening, let's just play it by ear, if that's all right? Sunday, you'll have to leave fairly early, so Karen can get you to the train station. But all that's flexible, it's up to you."
"Sounds good," said Tanya. He's always so polite, thought Tanya to herself. At that moment, Jessica and Andy came in.
"You two want to come to the coffeehouse tonight? It's open mic and Andy's going to play a song he wrote."
Adam looked at Tanya. "Do you want to?"
Tanya nodded. "That would be fun. When do we need to leave?"
"Pretty soon," replied Jessica. "Seats fill up fairly fast."
Adam smiled. "Shall we, then?" The four teens departed.
By the time she was back on the train to the Conservatory Sunday afternoon, Tanya at last had time to think during the long ride. She had liked Adam's friends, but it had been a hard visit at the same time. Adam had been sweet and very considerate to her, but she had realized through his treatment of her that he no longer considered her a girlfriend. The realization had been painful, though at the same time, Tanya felt free of obligation beyond friendship to her ex-boyfriend. She had wanted to cry, but now, she knew this was the best thing. The visit, she figured, would allow her to get on with her life and relegate that segment of her life to the past. Still, it had stung.
The train pulled into the station, and Tanya slowly disembarked and caught a shuttle bus back to the campus. Walking into her room, she found Elyse reclined, reading.
"Hey," Elyse greeted her, "How is Adam? How was your visit?"
Tanya forced herself to smile. "It was good for a few reasons," she said thoughtfully. "I think I'm finally ready to really accept that he's a good friend instead of my boyfriend now. Plus, I had fun."
Elyse caught the pain behind the statement, but knew that Tanya had to work this out on her own. If Tanya needed her, she'd be there, but she could do nothing else. "Ready for class tomorrow?"
Tanya groaned. "No, and I have to have that full workbook of theory exercises done. I'd better get to work."
Back on her normal schedule, Tanya found that she had more than enough work to keep her completely occupied. She went out with friends, and had her first solo recital. One day in November, Tanya was sitting downstairs in her dorm's lounge, studying for a test. "Tanya!" a voice greeted her.
Tanya looked up to see a tall, light-haired young man smiling at her. "Matt, hi."
Matt looked down at the books in Tanya's lap. "Studying, huh? Musical theory?"
"Yeah, not much fun."
"Who do you have for the class?"
"Dr. Ankar. You?"
"Same here. She's pretty tough. I wish I'd gotten Dr. Calahan, I've heard he's a little easier."
Tanya groaned. "Yes, but I'm learning a lot that I wouldn't have otherwise. How are you?"
Matt took a seat beside her. "I'm great. I was wondering, on Friday, do you want to go see a movie with a couple of us?"
"What are you planning to see?" inquired Tanya.
"We were thinking about going to see 'What Women Want', but we could see something else if you wanted."
"No, that would be great! I've wanted to see that for some time. This Friday?"
"Seven o'clock we're all meeting in the lobby for the seven-thirty show."
"Great!" said Tanya smiling. "I'll see you then."
"You know Matt totally has a crush on you" stated Shannon, sprawled across her bed. Tanya was sitting in the desk chair.
"No, I'm serious. Do you like him?"
Tanya giggled softly. Shannon reminded her of Kat so much at times. "He is a sweetie. And he invited me to go out Friday with the group to a movie."
"See? I rest my case."
"Shannon," protested Tanya, "It's with a group! It's no big deal."
Shannon grinned and threw a stuffed animal playfully at Tanya. "Just make sure you sit next to him."
Friday after class, Tanya carefully fixed her hair and makeup, and chose a pretty yellow sundress with a matching cardigan for if the evening got chilly. In the lobby were Shannon, Elyse, Matt, Angie, and Robert. "Tanya!" called Matt. "Over here!" The group proceeded to head out to the shuttle stop.
Once they arrived at the theater, they bought their tickets and took their seats in the cool, dark theater. Tanya was seated between Matt and Shannon. Semi-distractedly, Tanya watched Mel Gibson as he fell over backward in a chair after reading his daughter's mind. The movie was funny, but Tanya was nervous about what Shannon had said about Matt. Matt was cute, and pretty nice, but a boyfriend? What about Adam? At that thought, the old hurt flared in Tanya's heart. Adam won't care if I date someone else, she thought. He's made it plain that he doesn't care for me like that.
Tanya stiffened as she felt Matt's arm brush against hers. Then she felt his hand lightly cover hers. Her heart fluttering, Tanya turned her palm up to intertwine her fingers with his. Any attempt to follow the plot was abruptly lost at this new development.
After the movie finished, the group stood. Shannon, noting Tanya and Matt's hands, winked at her friend. "Um, guys?" said Matt.
Shannon grinned. "Yeah?" she answered for the group.
"Mind if we go for a walk?"
"Well," said Shannon, "I really have to get back to the conservatory. I promised I'd work with Julian for a half hour tonight on her recital pieces." All of the others chimed in with similar excuses.
"Tanya?" asked Matt.
Tanya nodded. "I'd like that," she said gently.
Elyse brushed by. "You'll have to give us a full report when you get back," she whispered in Tanya's ear. With knowing smiles, she and the others departed.
San Francisco's park was somewhat different from Angel Grove's. Holding Matt's hand, the pair meandered along in the moonlight, talking. "Listen," said Tanya at a lull, "is it going to bother you that I still keep in touch with my ex-boyfriend?"
Matt smiled. "Adam? Not at all. He sounds very nice, actually."
"He is. So then we're a..."
"Couple?" finished Matt. "I'd like to be. As long as you're all right with that."
Tanya nodded. "I'd like to be too. I hate to cut this short, but Chorale has an eight AM rehearsal tomorrow morning. We really ought to be heading back."
All the way home, Matt held Tanya's hand gently, and as the shuttle dropped her in front of her dorm, he leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. "See you tomorrow after your rehearsal?"
"Yes. Good night."
Tanya floated up the stairs to her room. Elyse and Shannon were sitting on the bed, obviously waiting for her. "Shannon, I thought you were helping Julian," said Tanya with a knowing grin.
"Done. Besides I had to find out what happened. Are you and Matt..."
"Together? Yes..." A slightly goofy grin spread across Tanya's features.
Elyse finally couldn't resist. "What about Adam?"
"Well, I suppose I'll email him and my other friends in my next update. But I've GOT to write Katherine first."
"Oh, this came for you," Elyse held out a pink envelope. Seeing the postmark, Tanya tore it open, scanning the letter. It was from Kat, of course, all the rest of her friends emailed. Looking up, she noticed the other two girls staring at her expectantly.
Shannon couldn't restrain herself. "Did he kiss you?!"
"It's only the first date! But if you must know, he kissed me on the cheek when he said good-bye."
A chorus of "awww" greeted that. Tanya blushed slightly. "Well," said Shannon, "I have to go to bed, we have a Chorale rehearsal at eight. Good night, Tanya, Elyse."
After getting ready for bed, Tanya sat down at her computer to check her email before going to sleep. "Mom, Mom, Rocky...Adam..." she muttered to herself, reading down the list. Opening Adam's email, she found nothing terribly extraordinary about it. As was usual, she hit the 'reply' button, and began writing a response. As she came to the end of a paragraph, she hesitated. Should she tell him about Matt? Why not, she wondered to herself. He's going to find out sometime, better from me than second-hand.
Adam yawned sleepily. It was three o'clock in the morning, but he was still trying to finish a last page on his paper examining the religious symbolism in Flannery O'Connor's "The Violent Bear It Away". Bored and tired, Adam decided to check his email by way of giving himself a break. Opening the folder, Adam clicked on the new email from Tanya and began to read. "What?" he gasped aloud, barely conscious of Jonah asleep across the room. "Oh!"
A couple weeks after hearing no response to her email, Tanya had finally given up on hearing from Adam. It bothered her, she thought silently, and even Matt couldn't quite take her mind off the niggling feeling that something was wrong. Getting in from her class on a Monday a, as Tanya opened the door, she could hear Elyse talking to someone presumably on the phone. "No, I'm afraid Tanya's not here."
"Here I am," said Tanya. Elyse turned.
"She just came in. Here she is." Elyse handed Tanya the telephone and mouthed "Adam."
Tanya felt a cool shiver run through her body. Adam never called unless it was important. "Hello?"
"Tanya?" said a softly forlorn voice.
Out of the corner of her eye, Tanya saw Elyse slip out of the room and close the door behind her to give Tanya some privacy. "Are you all right?"
Adam swallowed hard. This was worse than he'd ever thought it would be. "You have a new boyfriend?"
"Yes," said Tanya, surprised at the sadness in his voice. She crossed the room and sat down on her bed. "His name's Matt."
"You mentioned that in your email." Adam had never been good at expressing his feelings, but he wanted to, desperately now. Breathing deeply, he sighed. "I miss you."
Tanya was glad she was sitting down. She had been expecting a lot of things, but not the horrible pain that had come through the statement. "But...you wanted to date other people."
"I know." There was a lengthy pause. "I just never realized how much I was going to miss you. Tanya, you were wonderful, and I never had any idea how much I...love you."
Tears sprang to Tanya's eyes. They were the words she'd longed to hear for ages, and yet now they came too late. She knew well how much it was costing quiet Adam to confess this to her. "Well, I..."
"I hope he's good to you."
Tanya choked back a sob. "I think he will be. Adam, you wanted to break up though. I could tell it right after graduation. You got so...distant."
Adam's voice ripped through her. "I know. I did think that was the right decision at the time. Now, though...well, I need to go."
"Good-bye," said Tanya softly, replacing the phone in its cradle. Well, she thought, that's over with. She felt terrible about hurting Adam, for despite all, she cared about him deeply. She had had no idea that he would be so upset. Unable to finally control it any longer, Tanya threw herself on her bed and sobbed into the pillow.
Tuesday night, Tanya had had a date with Matt, which she canceled. Her feelings were in too much turmoil to be fair to the other young man. Which was why she was surprised to hear a knock on her door and find Matt standing on the other side. "Matt? What brings you here?"
Matt looked at her gravely. "May I come in?"
"Sure. Have a seat, if you'd like."
Tanya sat down beside him and reached down to hold his hand. Matt gently disentangled his hand from hers. "Tanya, we need to talk."
"Why?" Tanya had a feeling that this was not going to be good.
"Tanya," Matt began, "You know that friend of yours you were telling me about, Katherine?"
"Yes, what about Katherine?"
"How she was pursuing a guy who was in love with another girl, only he denied it to himself and dated your friend anyway?"
Tanya nodded wordlessly. "Here's the thing - it's the same situation. You still love Adam."
Tanya stared. "No, I don't."
"You talk about him near constantly. And whatever that phone call you got from him was about, it really upset you, enough to cancel our date this evening. No, shh," he said softly as he saw her about to deny it. "It's true. You're a great girl Tanya, but I don't think we can be more than friends."
Tanya could feel herself close to dissolving into tears for what felt like the millionth time that day. She had been infuriated with Tommy for the whole Kat situation, and now she was guilty of the same crime. "I'm sorry, Matt."
Matt flashed her a ghost of a smile. "It's all right. You didn't realize. And I do hope when you're ready, we can be friends." With that, Matt exited the room.
Unable to do anything else, Tanya burst into passionate sobs.
The ensuing weeks passed in a blur of homework and secretly shed tears, coming up to the final week before Christmas break. To all outward appearances, Tanya was doing fabulously, but inwardly, she was conflicted. I will not go back to Adam, she told herself furiously. He treated me so distantly those summer months! And when I went to visit him, he just treated me barely like a friend. Damn him! She swore to herself. How dare he call me up and dump all that stuff on me. What right does he have? She had refused to write him, and the one time he had called, she had thankfully been at Shannon's performance.
Still, the fair part of her insisted that she could not just leave him hanging. Even after the phone call, they had vowed to be friends, and friends did not just ignore each other for weeks at a time. Resolutely sitting down at her computer, Tanya forced herself to type Adam's email address in. Her gaze steely, Tanya began to type the latest news and ask the same trite questions - how was school, was he coming home for Christmas break, but then stopped and deleted the whole thing. It didn't feel right. Exhausted, she began to write what she felt. Her finger slipped over the keyboard in her haste to get the words down, pressing the "send" key. "Oh, NO!" Tanya gasped frantically. It was too late.
Opening his email that evening after getting back from class, Adam was surprised to see an email from Tanya in the box. His ex-girlfriend had been strangely silent for the past month or so, and only through Rocky had he found out that she and Matt were no longer an item. Not wanting to admit it even to himself, he had been pleased. Not that Tanya was hurting, but that maybe, just maybe, if he could get up his courage, he might have another shot. Nervously, he opened the email and read:
I miss you. I miss you. I miss holding your hand, I miss being with you, I miss your voice. I miss all those wonderful things we used to do together, but most of all, I miss that which is uniquely...
From the lack of signature and the trailing sentence, Adam could tell that the email had been sent accidentally. At the same time, a warm glow began to envelop his heart. She misses me, he thought. She misses me. Oh, how I miss her! And he did. He missed his sunny, sassy, sweet Tanya desperately. I was such an idiot to let her go in the first place, he thought. Reaching up and checking his planner, he confirmed that she would be home in only a week for Christmas. He only had two more exams, and then he would be going home. A plan began to form in his head.
Tanya finished packing her suitcase for the break and looked over at Elyse. "Ready?" she asked. Elyse and she were going to ride together to the train station, and then take their respective trains home.
Elyse sat on her suitcase, and with considerable effort, managed to zip it. "Yep," she panted. "That's the last of it. Tanya?"
"Good luck with Adam." Ever since Elyse had heard the story of the infamous 'accident' email (in her opinion, it was no accident!) Tanya had sent Adam and seen the reply he'd zapped back, consisting of one sentence: We need to talk, Tanya, in person, she'd hoped for the best for her roommate and friend.
"Thanks," whispered Tanya. She had prayed every night since getting Adam's reply that somewhere, there was a little bit of Christmas miracle for her and Adam. Butterflies beat in her stomach as she carried her suitcase out to the waiting shuttle, and then sat down beside Elyse. Please, God, let this work out. I miss Adam so deeply.
At last arriving in Angel Grove's train station after a long ride, Tanya collected her suitcase and exited the car. She had thought that the butterflies had been bad back when she had left school, but this much nearer to Adam, they were infinitely worse. Walking up the platform, she spotted her parents standing. "Mom? Daddy!" Running now, she flung herself into her parent's welcoming arms.
"Honey, it's good to have you home," said her mother joyfully. "We've missed you."
"And I've missed you! How are you?"
Gabe smiled. "Just fine. The phone has been ringing nonstop for you, by the way! Katherine just got in last night, and Rocky got back a couple of days ago."
Tanya bounced alongside her parents as they continued to fill her in on happenings around Angel Grove and the African Anthropology conference they'd just attended. By the time they arrived at their home, Tanya had learned that Jason was starting his own dojo, and was doing marvelously. She was glad to hear it. All of her friends were apparently doing well in their chosen paths. After being reminded to call Katherine at the earliest possible convenience, Tanya was allowed to head upstairs to unpack.
Dumping her suitcase on her bed, Tanya discovered a strange lack of motivation to begin to tackle the task. She didn't feel like calling Kat just yet either. Glancing out the window, she noted that while the sky was beginning to darken, it wasn't dark yet and she felt like taking a walk to calm herself. Grabbing a jacket out of her closet and telling her parents where she was going, she walked out of the house.
It was colder than usual for California weather. The streetlights were decorated with fake pine boughs, and the lights covering houses festively twinkled beautifully in honor of the season. Tanya meandered slowly, walking around, taking in the beauty. Now if only, she thought, there was some snow. After living in the African plains for years and then moving to California, Tanya had little experience with snow. However, all of the pictures of Christmas decorations she had seen were the idyllic ones with just the perfect lights and snow. It never will snow here in Angel Grove, she mused continuing to walk as she came to the park. The park was decorated as well, and full of larger scale figures of lights, fake nativity scenes, and other holiday sundries.
Silently, Tanya lowered herself onto a park bench to observe the decorations. At the instant, she was not feeling at all festive, despite the obvious cheer the holiday items around her were meant to inspire. "I just have one wish," she proclaimed to the darkening sky, "I wish that..." and then she couldn't get the words out, as a lump in her throat choked her. She took a deep breath, only to hear an answering voice say softly:
"What do you wish?"
She had been so wrapped in her own thoughts that she hadn't noticed that she wasn't alone anymore. The voice was familiar. Suddenly, her eyes went wide. "Adam?"
Adam looked down at Tanya. "T...Tanya." He sputtered for a moment, turning red. He had been planning for days what he would say when he saw her, but this was so unexpected. All he'd wanted to do was take a walk before going to find Tanya, but apparently, something else was at work here. The shy boy took a deep breath, and before he lost his courage entirely, hurried out: "Iloveyou, Tanya."
"What did you just say?" A look of hope and joy was growing on Tanya's features.
"I love you, Tanya."
An enormous smile lit Tanya's face brighter than anything in the park. Adam pulled her into his arms. "Can you forgive me? I know this is going to be hard, with us going to different schools...but I never had realized..." he stammered.Tanya looked up at him. "Adam..." she began, but was interrupted as a small cold flake fell on her hand. Looking up, both of them stared heavenward. Out of the blackness, small white flakes fell lightly. Tanya laughed softly. "This is like something out of a movie, old loves running into each other at Christmas - all we were missing was the snow that always seems to fall at such moments."
Adam looked up at the sky. "Wow," he said softly, awed. "It almost never snows here."
"It's a Christmas miracle," Tanya whispered.
Adam looked in her face. "What was your wish?"
A tear trickled down Tanya's cheek. Reaching up, she gently pressed her lips to Adam's. For what seemed like an eternity, they stood, doing nothing but drinking in each other's presence and the joy that enveloped them.
The snow continued to fall lightly around them. Finally Tanya spoke again into the silence. "My wish came true."
Only someone standing right beside the two could have heard Adam's answer. "Mine too."