The bedroom is almost silent. The ceiling fan above him is whispering away on medium, and Leslie's breathing against his back is soft and regular. Slowly, and without moving, Rob opens his eyes, and stares up at the numbers his alarm clock projects on to the ceiling. 3:08 AM. It's warm under the covers, and the last thing he wants to do is get up. Still, there's something that feels different; a feeling so strong that its managed to wake him out of a sound sleep. What?
He shifts carefully from in-between Leslie's arms—she is a light sleeper—and slips out of bed. The window's blinds are partially open, and the street lamp from outside shows him what a mess the bedroom is. Articles of clothing are scattered over the bedroom's sparse furniture, and he stares bemusedly at one of Leslie's shoes, suspended by its heal from the top shelf of his book case. The only flat surface which appears to be clean, swept clean in fact, is the top of his desk. Even once he's picked up everything that's on the floor, and the desk is covered with books, papers, and pencils, will it ever again be possible to think about studying when he's sitting in front of it?
He stands unmoving for a moment, cautiously listening to her breathing behind him. There is no change for several seconds, but just as he decides that it is safe to move away from the bed, she stirs, mumbles something which sounds like, "Sponge cake," and begins to snore.
Grinning, Rob picks his way through the remains of his room until he reaches the window, lifts one of the blind's slats, and looks down at the street below. Nothing. If he waits long enough he'll almost certainly see one or two cars go past, there's always traffic this close to the university, but for now the street is deserted.
He turns away from the window, and steps towards the door leading to the living room. Just a few hours before he had carried a struggling and laughing Leslie through that doorway. Shrieking in mock terror, she had somehow managed to catch the open door between her two thrashing feet, pulling Rob off balance, and landing them both on the floor in an untidy heap. Wriggling free, she had jumped to her feet, closed and locked his bedroom door, and then stood triumphantly above him, one shod foot planted firmly on his chest.
The door isn't closed anymore. It isn't open much, just enough so that Rob can now see a sliver of light from the living room beyond. He freezes in place, staring straight in front of him, but no longer concerned with the bedroom door that shouldn't be open. The smell; that's what has him stumbling around his bedroom in the middle of the night. A unique fragrance that he hasn't encountered since...
What should he do? He has no doubt of who'll be waiting on the other side of the door Leslie had locked, but what will happen to him if he walks through into the room beyond?
"Rob." The soft voice comes from the living room, not from the girl sleeping on the bed behind him.
He hesitates for a moment, still unsure if he dares to walk forward. There are a million questions he wants to ask, and a million apologies he's never spoken aloud. The fact that she is here is amazing, and unbelievable, and most of all terrifying, but it's also incredibly unfair. He would've given anything in the world, including himself, to bring her back after the accident had happened almost a year ago, but now?
There's been no further sound from the living room, and it suddenly strikes him that this is almost certainly a fleeting opportunity. Something which, unless it is snatched up quickly and eagerly by both hands, will fade into the nothingness from which it came. How often do ghosts call out your name, and then sit patiently waiting for you to pull your thumb out of your ass and answer them? What if she's already gone and he doesn't even get to see her? He lunges forward, pulls the door aside, and stops.
She is sitting on his stained and battered couch, leaning slightly forward, with a gentle smile just touching her eyes. He knew he would find her there, and yet seeing her takes his breath away. He begins shaking all over, and feels as though huge and harry bugs are dancing in his stomach.
"Hey!" Her smile vanishes, and she quickly stands, covering the distance between them in a few long strides before he can even think of moving. "Shhh..."
When she touches him, sliding her arms around his waist and pulling him close, there's no dazzling flash of light, no unearthly sensation, but the bugs in his stomach go away, and he doesn't feel like throwing up anymore. He expects her skin to be cold and stiff, or perhaps misty and unsubstantial, but it is neither. Her body is soft, and warm, and undeniably alive. None of this makes any sort of sense, but Rob is beyond caring. She's here, she's alive, and he never wants to let her go.
She giggles quietly, and her moist breath tickles his neck. "I think we'd better close this door before your sweet amour wakes up and finds me here. You'd think the poor girl would be completely worn out, but the light's probably starting to bother her."
Meghan pulls insistently at the arms he's wrapped around her, and he reluctantly lets her go. She steps past him to the bedroom door, glances inside for a second, and then softly closes it.
"Good." She walks around Rob until she's facing him again, and looks up into his eyes for a second. Her own eyes are hazel, and have a mischievous gleam. "Got blond?"
He flushes red, remembering the private word game they had shared in high school, and what it meant. Her smile has returned, and he reaches for her again.
Still smiling, she dodges his hands, and returns to sit on the couch. "Okay, you're a guy, so I knew we'd have problems as long as you weren't dressed." She makes a meaningful gesture towards his waist, and he doesn't have to look down to know what she's talking about. "Put this on."
She's holding out his robe, the one he had last seen hanging over the bathroom door. Numbly, he walks to the couch, takes the robe from her, and puts it on.
Meghan's still smiling, but a bit of sadness has crept into her eyes. "You always were incredible, and I certainly wouldn't mind, but there are limits, Rob."
"Limits?" His voice sounds hoarse, as though he's been screaming at the top of his lungs for hours. "What kind of limits?"
"Mostly time. We're allowed to watch for as long as we want, but once we're ready to go, staying here for any length of time takes more and more effort."
"Go ... Go where?"
She reaches up, takes his hands, and pulls him down to sit beside her on the couch. "Shit, you look more like a zombie than I do. Snap out of it!" Her right arm slips in-between him and the couch, and he's surrounded by her fragrant warmth again.
"Why are you here?" he manages.
"Because I'm a greedy bitch, and I wanted to say good-bye."
"God," he laughs, "it really is you, isn't it?"
Meghan's eyes sparkle, and she twists her mouth into a comical shape. When she speaks, her voice is mockingly deep. "Well, a reasonable facsimile at least."
Mr. Moore had taught them both English their junior year of high school, and his way of speaking had been mocked by every student, and a few of the faculty, that knew him.
Meghan's eyes catch Rob's, and they both speak in unison. "Mr. Rotund!"
When they both manage to stop laughing, Rob dares to ask, "That's the only reason you came back then, because you're a bitch?"
"Hey!" She gives him a ferocious punch to the ribs. "Watch it."
He smirks at her while rubbing his ribs. "You're the one who said it."
"I think I liked you better when you couldn't decide whether to be a zombie or a puppy dog. You must be waking up."
Rob reaches for her hands, and when she gives them to him, he holds on as tight as he can. "So," he whispers, "now that I'm awake, is this when you vanish?"
"Not quite yet," she says. Her eyes leave his, and for a minute there's silence between them. "She makes you happy?" she finally asks, nodding towards the bedroom door.