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After The Dance

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The pint of Ben and Jerry's chocolate chip cookie dough in her hand, Felicity entered Kelvin Hall and hurried to her dorm. But she'd barely walked through the hallway when a familiar voice stopped her. She turned to find Noel standing outside his dorm room door. As much as she liked him, he was the last person she wanted to see.

She cringed, remembering the horrible, humiliating incident during the carefully planned Halloween part. Because of her stupidity, she'd told one of her dorm mates to take whatever tapes she could find to use for music at the party. Little did she know that one of those tapes was her voice letter to Sally. During the party, which up until that point had been going very well, the music suddenly stopped and she heard her voice, telling Sally her deepest, darkest secret-the one she never intended to share with anyone.

And then the inevitable happened.

"Hey, I heard about the…"

Damn, even Noel knew about it, and he'd been at the hospital with one of the party guests. She couldn't look at him and instead simply nodded. "Could we just… not talk about it?"

"Yeah, sure."

"Thanks for the chocolate… for the party. It was prefect. I-." She tried to smile, but threatening tears replaced any other emotion that she tried to conjure up. "I-I need to go."

"Yeah, well, I guess we'll just have to take a rain check on that dance, which is… okay."

She nodded absently and turned to run through the hallway pushing the crowd aside. She could feel everyone's eyes upon her and it was just a matter of time before the entire student body of the University of New York knew about her secrets to Sally.

Her chest began to hurt and she felt dizzy. Desperate for a place to sit down, she plopped down on the staircase, her feet flat on the floor. And then she reached for her solace, opening the pint of ice cream. She was barely on her third scoop when the spoon fell from her hand landing with a clank on the floor. The carton followed, tumbling down the steps. Her arms hugged her chest and she began to sob.

Around her she could see blurry visions of kids moving this way and that. None of them paid attention to her as though sobbing in the middle of Kelvin Hall was completely normal.

But then she felt a hand on her shoulder.

Slowly her head raised and she found herself looking into Noel's eyes. He smiled but said nothing, extending his hand. She took it willingly and rose to her feet. His hand still in hers, he led her to his room and shut the door.

"Here's your ice cream. I'll get you another spoon."

But she shook her head. "No thanks. I don't want any anyway."

"It'll be all right. It was on its side and it's still frozen so-."

"I said I don't want any!" she yelled, beginning to cry again. "God, I'm sorry. Here I am yelling at you when I'm the stupid one!"

"You're not… hey, look at me. You're not stupid, Felicity. You're intelligent, and beautiful and…"

"I'm an idiot, Noel! How could I have been so stupid?"

"Felicity-."

"The tapes were right there, Noel! Right there! I didn't care what music she took but why did I have to leave my tape to Sally-." Her voice broke and she began to cry again. God, would this guilt and humiliation ever stop?

He moved closer to her, wrapping her into a hug. She gave no thought to the fact that she was alone with him in his dorm room. Instead she leaned into his embrace, pressing her face against his chest. "Thanks Noel. You're my only friend."

"That's not true. You have lots of friends. You have Julie and-and Ben… and anyone who judges you because of this isn't really your friend. Your real friends know the real you."

"I'm sure Ben hates me. God, what if I had said-."

"Look, I don't know what you said, and truthfully. I don't want to know. It's none of my business, or anyone's. But trust me; this is all going to blow over sooner or later. I've been an RA long enough to know that when the next big scandal comes down, they will have forgotten all about this."

She drew back and looked at him. "Really?"

He smiled and nodded. "Trust me."

His comment earned him a hug. "Thanks, Noel."

"Well, I guess I should let you go back to your dorm. I'm sure the hallway has cleared out by now." As he drew out of the hug, the opening strands of her favorite song began to play.

"Wait…"

"What is it?"

She sighed, her eyes turning dreamy. "I love this song."

A smile curved on his lips and he rose from his chair, extending his hand. "May I?"

Hesitantly she went to him and took his hand. His arm went around her back and they began to move slowly to the music. It was so easy to press her face against his chest and close her eyes, ridding her mind of everything except this moment.

The song ended and another began, but neither of them made an effort to pull away. She had no idea what the next four years held in store for her, but she knew that finally, someone cared about her. And that was the best thing that could have happened to her.

THE END