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SPOILERS: The Past Comes Back To Haunt You

Heightened Trepidations
The Affects of 'Like Liking' Somebody Part 3

By e-dog


The door swings open and Cindy is clearly bewildered by your presence. "Um, hi?"

"Hi," you say, your own arms hugging you as if suffering from a bitter cold. "Mind if I come in?"

"No, not at all!" Cindy says, moving out of the way and ushering you inside. "I'm surprised you're here, of course, because sometimes I'm not even sure you like me. . ." She pauses, then derails from her last train of thought. "Um, where are my manners? Let me take your coat."

"No, I won't stay long," you tell her. "I just. . .Look. That guy. Jamie. I'm sure he's nice and all, but honestly, I wouldn't call him. Or agree on a date or anything. Getting too involved with your story is dangerous and I've seen what can happen to reporters who let that happen and it's not just reporters. Cops too. Cops have an infamous history of getting too involved with their cases, to the point of letting all life just get away and growing extremely closed minded and alone and if I'm talking too much, please stop me."

"You're not talking too much," Cindy says.

"Okay, I just wanted to tell you this because you asked and I kinda blew you off and you know what? I also thought it was presumptuous of Claire to even suggest that the guy 'like likes' you at all, since I feel you're a bit naive sometimes and too trusting and. . ."

"Okay, now you're talking too much," Cindy jests.

You cringe a little. "Sorry, that sounded bad. I didn't mean to say. . ."

"That I'm too young? You say it all the time," Cindy reminds you. She doesn't sound bitter, surprisingly. Just accepting that you'll never see her any other way.

"Just take my advice and don't go out with him," you finish up. "Besides, he hasn't known you long enough to 'like like' you anyway."

Cindy mulls over your little speech a moment, then simply says, "Okay."

"Okay?" You were expecting her to ramble, but you'll accept modest, one word replies whenever you can get them.

"Yeah, okay. I'll take your advice," she smiles.

"Good," you nod. "I better go."

"Sure," Cindy leads you to the door. You stand in the threshold and she says, "Thanks for stopping by. You didn't have to."

"I wanted to," you tell her, half smiling. "Night. Again."

"Night," she says, but just before she can shut the door, you keep her from doing so. Another one of those times you keep talking when you know you shouldn't.

"Cindy," you say uncertainly at first, but you stand taller and strengthen your voice. "And I do like you. I know it seems like I don't, but I do like you."

Cindy's eyes seem to brighten and her voice sounds almost too hopeful as she states, "Oh, I don't know. You showing up here tonight might make me think you like me just a bit more than 'like'."

You have to smile. "You mean, I 'like like' you?"

"So, you do 'like like' me!"

"No, I did not say that," you tell her firmly. "I said 'I like you'. 'Like like' would imply more than 'like', but less than. . .'like like like'. And I don't think I've ever said 'like' that many times in one sentence."

"I don't think I've ever heard of 'like like like'," Cindy admits, her expression scrunched up in that cute, befuddled fashion. Cute. Now that's something you would agree is cute and this realization only sends you into a mild panic.

"It's a new thing. All the rage with the kids now, you should keep up," you joke nervously, patting her on the shoulder and backing away. "Night, Cindy."

"Night, Lindsay," and with that she shuts the door.

After a moment's contemplation, you smack your own forehead, mutter 'idiot' to yourself a few times and sigh deeply. So, your unnatural fears have been quelled for now, but you still can't find the volition to go home. You just stand there, muttering to yourself and wondering when the hell you got so afraid of the word 'love' and all its implications.

Love can mean many different things, you know this. Love doesn't have to mean anything romantic at all, but you've been avoiding it. Replacing it with the word 'like' in all its varied forms and the frustrating part is that you don't even know why! You're not in love with anyone and to be afraid to say it is just silly, especially when it concerns Cindy.

You're nearly certain you'll never go as far as saying you love Cindy in any capacity, but when you hear a scream within her apartment, your mind only thinks of Jamie and his maybe 'like liking' her. His maybe 'like liking' her brings on an incredible rage as you remember his breaking into Cindy's car and if he broke into her car, what would keep him from doing the same with her home? He could climb in through a window or something. He could hurt her at anytime.

Well, this time you're here to stop him and you will stop him.

Hmm, jealous much? Overprotective? Oh, you bet your ass you are.

You kick the door in, gun extended and watch Cindy literally jump out of her chair, bits of white fluff flying everywhere. There is another scream and it is because of an intruder, but you're saddened to realize the only intruder in this apartment is you.

You squint your eyes, then process all that you do see. The bits of white fluff? Popcorn. A tv flickering with light and sound and the scream of a woman from a horror film. The scream you heard, it wasn't Cindy and Jamie isn't here. You lower your gun, searching your mind for an explanation as to why the hell you just destroyed Cindy's door and pointed a gun at her.

All you can manage is, "I heard a scream?"

"Movie." Cindy points at the tv. She stands up and looks beyond you. "My door! It's gone. . ."

"Sorry," you mutter, rubbing your eyes. The door's chain lock is busted, there's a nice chunk missing where you kicked it.

"It's okay," Cindy sighs. "Breaking down my door only proves that you really do like me. It's an odd way of saying it, but I'll accept your concern in whatever form it presents itself."

Yes, you are concerned for Cindy's well-being and only now can you truly answer Claire's question with any kind of certainty or lucidity. What are you afraid of? Losing Cindy.

And you don't really know if it has anything to do with 'liking' her or 'like liking' her or even 'like like liking' her, you just know that you'd feel responsible if anything ever happened to her. You'd feel as if you couldn't protect her and failing to protect her is comparable to failing at your job. You failed at your job to protect her from Jamie.

It's men like Jamie, whether they be of sound mind or not, that worry you most and those men are everywhere. They are everywhere and anywhere and Cindy is just one very rambunctious, headstrong girl who has this knack for seeking out trouble. You can't watch her all the time and you want to watch over her so bad that it hurts. It hurts unlike any pain you've ever felt. It's the kind of hurt that only results from 'like liking' someone, but Claire did say you would never admit how much you really do like Cindy.

At least not out loud, not yet.

You watch Cindy inspect the door, frowning at the damage.

"I'm sorry, I overreacted," you mumble, walking toward her. "I'll call someone right now to fix that. I won't leave till the lock is replaced."

"You don't have to stay," she protests lightly.

"I want to," you say firmly. "I won't go. I can't go."

"You can't go?" she says, eyeing you curiously.

"I mean. . .this is my responsibility. I kicked in your door," you say hastily, a flush of an embarrassment washing over you.

"How about this. I'll call, you can sit and wait with me?" she suggests. "We can finish my horror flick?"

"Okay," you nod. "I really am sorry about the door."

"Oh, don't be. It's just a door. You know. My only barrier from the outside world, no big," Cindy says, her nonchalance very sincere, not a trace of sarcasm in her words. She really is too trusting, you think. She walks over to you and squints her eyes elfishly, "You really were worried, weren't you?"

"Worried? Oh, no. I mean, not really," you say, half mumbling. "I heard the scream...I just reacted, that's all."

Cindy grins, seeing through your line of crap, then pulls you in for an unexpected hug. "Well, worried or not. Thanks for saving me from Jack the Ripper."

You chuckle, admiring Cindy for her humor and grace. She never seems to get outwardly angry, her outlook on life not quite as jaded as yours.

You should probably let her call the landlord to get that lock replaced, but you really like this. You like being held.

You like holding on to her and you'd really like to sustain this contact for as long as humanly possible, because when you are holding on to her, you know where she is and you know that she's safe.

The End

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