Facing the music of her heart: Part II

By S.J. Graham


Summary: Now that Felicity has made her true choice, she has to head back to school and face up to the consequences of her actions, as well as try to make things right with her best friend. If that's possible.

"Dear Sally . . . I can't believe that I'll start my sophomore year tomorrow. The summer seemed to just fly by. I know that's probably due to Ben, but part of it may be because I am sort of dreading running into Julie or Noel now that I'm back here in New York. I really missed them. That last conversation I had with Noel over the phone was really awkward. I needed to find some sort of closure with him, but there was still so much tension between us. I really did miss him over the summer, even after that horrible night in Paris. And I did manage to tell him that much anyway. But he was very closed off towards me. Which I completely understand, after everything that's happened. I just hope we can become friends again."

The first two days back at school were insane. Getting registered, finding all of my books, getting to know my new advisees. It was crazy. I didn't even get to see Ben until Thursday night. Which turned out to be great, by the way. He called around 7 or so and asked if he could bring a pizza or something to my dorm room.

As we sat on my bed, going over each other's class schedules and munching on pepperoni pizza, there was a knock at my door. I glanced at Ben, who'd managed to get a smudge of pizza sauce on his chin. Getting up, I grabbed a napkin and wiped it off for him. I couldn't help thinking how wonderful he as as he smiled up at me like that, his blue eyes bright with amusement. Before I could go answer the door, he grabbed me around the waist and pulled me down onto the bed for a rough, passionate kiss.

"You taste like pepperoni," I laughed quietly, wondering if the visitor outside my door might go away so that we might be alone for a little while longer.

His breath was warm on my cheek as he tightened his arms around me and breathed softly, "You smell wonderful, yourself. New perfume?"

I giggled, and he pressed his warm lips to the pulse at my throat. The passion that Ben and I had shared over the summer astounded me. No, we hadn't actually gone all the way. We had both agreed that we needed time to just hang out together and know each other on a more intimate level before we reached that point in the relationship. But when he touched me and kissed me, feelings seemed to come alive inside that I didn't know I could feel. But I forced myself to hold back, and he respected my decision. He was so sweet about it, and the patience he'd shown me gave me hope that this wasn't just a rebound sort of thing for him. I actually believed that Ben truly cared for me, in much more than just a friendship sort of way. It was invigorating to know that.

I reluctantly pulled free of him to answer the door. Standing there outside my room was a tall girl who I hadn't met before. I smiled at her, "Hi."

"Hey, you're the RA, right?" She asked coldly, her gaze falling on Ben who had risen from his spot on the bed and was coming forward.

"Yeah." She acknowledged quickly, "Listen, could you tell me why there is a dog on the elevator? I think that would be like totally against dorm policy or something."

"A what?" I came out of my room and headed down the hall towards the elevator. The floor lobby was filled with students and their parents, saying their goodbyes and bringing the last of their things into their new home. It was noisy and crowded. I thought absently that it probably wouldn't have been hard for a dog to get into the building with everyone holding the door open constantly while carrying their boxes and luggage in.

The elevator door was closed, so I hit the button impatiently and waited. In a few moments, I heard the familiar "ping" and the door opened slowly. Several people got off, most of them staring down at something on the floor that I couldn't quite see. When they all were finally off, I found him.

It was a tiny, long haired Chihuahua. And it was urinating on the elevator's worn green carpet.

"Oh great." I turned, and found that Ben had followed me out of curiosity. He started to laugh.

"Well, looks like somebody couldn't wait to find a fire hydrant."

I sighed and entered the elevator, looking down at the terrified, shaking dog. He looked so pitiful that I had to reach down and pick him up, "You silly thing. What are you doing here?" I asked him softly. He wore a faded blue collar with a tag on it that said "Mitzy". There was no phone number or address of his owner. The poor dog was still trembling like a leaf in my arms and I turned to Ben, "Will you get some paper towels from the bathroom? I'll get this cleaned up."

He smiled and started shaking his head as he headed off towards the bathroom.

An hour later, after making about a dozen phone calls to find out what to do with Mitzy, I began to finish unpacking. Animal Control said that they could come pick him up, but there was no guarantee that the owner would be found. And if not, then the animal might be put to sleep. I couldn't stand the thought of that, so I called the Head RA for our dorm to ask what to do. He had suggested trying to find someone that I knew who lived off campus to take the dog while I searched for the owner.

So I asked Ben. He had said that Sean might not like it, but he'd ask anyway as soon as he got home. Ben had left a half hour ago, and promised to be back later, when he got an answer from Sean.

I glanced over at the dog, who had made a comfortable place for himself between two throw pillows I'd tossed on the floor. He was looking at me sadly, almost in a condescending way as I hung up the last of my clothes in the tiny closet. I put my hands on my hips and smiled at him.

The phone rang suddenly, startling me. I reached over to the dresser and picked it up, "Hello?"

"Felicity. It's Noel." His voice was softly appealing in my ear.

"Oh! Hi! How's everything going so far? How do you like your new place?" I asked quickly.

" It's great. Um . . . do you think I could come over? I'd like to talk."

I was a little surprised. And pleased. Maybe this meant that Noel was eager to be friends again. It would make things so much better if we could patch things up. But he would have to know about Ben and I. I decided that waiting to tell him might not be such a good idea. I had seen his angry outbursts before in person. If he were going to do it again, I'd rather witness it over the telephone line.

"Noel. I have to tell you that Ben and I are . . . well, we're dating."

"Oh. . . well, I pretty much figured that out. But that's not what I wanted to talk to you about." His voice was slowed with some serious emotion, and I felt sad suddenly, "Felicity, I miss being friends with you. I miss talking to you. Is there any way that we can bring that back? I mean, I know I was horrible to you in Paris. You have to know that emotionally, I was a wreck that night. It just seemed like one thing after another was going wrong. And what you said just topped off everything." He paused, cleared his throat and continued quickly, "You mean a lot to me. Still. And I've discovered that being friends with you is extremely important to me. I know that you're with Ben now. But, if you can forgive me. . . I'd love to be your friend again."

I smiled and breathed a sigh of relief, "I'm glad."

Sally, I can't tell you how much being back at school means to me. The sights and sounds of New York just seem to light everything up around me, and make me feel totally alive. It's like walking into the light of the sun after being in a dim room for hours. It's stunning and I can't keep myself from smiling."

Noel and I did end up meeting each other over lunch one day. We had a long talk, about everything that had happened and when we left each other that afternoon, I'd never been more sure that I could be friends with Noel, as well as date Ben. He seemed extremely understanding, under the circumstances. I told him basically how I felt about Ben, and it was like a flash back to when Noel and I first started to talk to each other. He had been such an incredible listener, no matter how much I went on about everything.

Sean had agreed to keep Mitzy at the loft until the dog's owner was found, as long as Ben took care of it. I was so relieved when Ben told me. Keeping the dog in my dorm would have been a total disaster, not to mention completely against the rules. Still, I did sort of grow attached to the little dog and promised Ben that I would do my part by coming over and walking Mitzy a couple times a week. My class schedule was going to be pretty grueling. But after working for Dr. Kessler during the summer, I might have an edge over my classmates. I wasn't worried about that. What I was concerned about was Julie.

I had run into her at the entrance to the campus library as I was on my way to meet Ben. She looked startled to see me, and I could see the anger flash in her eyes as she tried to avoid me and walk by, "Excuse me PLEASE." She said coldly.

"Julie…" I touched her arm before she could pass, trying to find the words to mend this rift between us. My guilt was still there, yes. And it didn't make it any easier, knowing that she may discover the relationship that Ben and I shared now. But I had to try.

"Julie, please. It's been months. Can't we talk?" I asked her.

She turned her head away, "I don't think so. I don't really have anything else to say to you."

I shook my head, closing my eyes. There had to be a way to get to her. We ad been the very best of friends, and had relied on each other constantly for support. Now she wanted nothing to do with me. I know that I deserved her contempt. What kind of a friend would start dating your ex-boyfriend only weeks after he broke up with you? It was awful.

She looked at me then, and I could see a weariness in her expression that I had never seen before. Her summer had not been all she'd hoped, obviously. I wish that I could say something, anything to make her believe that I wanted to be friends again. But I felt that anything I might add would probably be wasted. She wasn't ready to make things right between us. And that hurt.

"Goodbye Felicity." She said, stalking past me. I watched her leave, and wondered whether or not she would ever be able to forgive me for my actions. I felt like crying at that moment. Everything else had been going so well, and working things out with Julie would have made it all perfect.


I looked up from the medical textbook I was reading and looked at Ben who was sitting across the table from me in the library. He looked so adorable in his light blue denim shirt and pale khakis. His short hair had lightened considerably in the California sunshine during the summer and seemed to make his eyes an even more startling shade of blue against his tan face.

I smiled at him, "Yeah?"

"Tell me something." He said seriously, lowering his voice.

"What's that?"

"Where do you think this is going between us?" His gaze on me was questioning, and almost hopeful. It had never occurred to me before, but I couldn't remember a moment between us this serious since I met him on the porch of my parents house at the beginning of the summer. Every day, every night with him had been filled with laughter and easy affection. But now, he was looking for something else. And I knew exactly what it was.

"Ben, I . . . care for you. More than I ever have before. But I realize that we are young and we have a lot of growing up to do." I reached across the table and took one of his hands in mine. It was important for me to make this clear to him, and I knew that he could sense that as well. I met his gaze fully, and without regret.

"I can't imagine being with anyone else. You make me very happy." I said softly.

His smile was all the encouragement that I needed. The image of it seemed to stamp itself into my memory, and I knew for certain that this moment would live with me for a very long time. The moment that I knew for sure that Ben was the one for me, and I was also the only one for him.

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