He had an excuse at the tip of his tongue, should he ever need it. He'd had it ready since the first photo: it was a class assignment. Pathetic, see through in the wrong circumstances, but good enough to avoid the "you're stalking me, I'm going to make a commotion and call the cops" confrontation, at least for a moment. He hadn't had to use it yet, but, it had only been a few weeks. This was about the most passionate Zeke had gotten about something ever. And even then, it was a stretch of the word. Focused was better. And ironic, given the context. The thoughts swirled in Zeke's mind, even now, without a camera in hand. It was a Saturday morning, and the young man had just woken up. He lay in his bed and thought about the sad classmate that he'd been taking photos of. It was creepy. It was definitely creepy. There was no denying that. But there was something in the photos of the sad boy that Zeke found appealing. Was it the unwitting expression? The raw, unguarded emotion? Was it how facile the situation seemed from afar? Was it something entirely different? Was it because these moments were private, closed to Zeke, but he still tread past that taboo and took them? What was it? Something that couldn't be answered from where he was, so the young man stood up, and crossed his small apartment to the kitchenette to set the coffee maker going. He stared at the machine, bleary eyed, then turned around and went back to his room, to the small bathroom attached to it, and showered. He was going to be developing the photos from this week today. Can't afford to be lazy on Saturdays. He dressed, simply: jeans, sneakers, a t shirt, a sweater; and he returned to his coffee. Zeke drank it black, mulled over it until the mug was empty, filled his pockets (phone, wallet, cigarettes, lighter, keys, rolls of film), grabbed his camera bag and put it on his shoulder, and left. The campus was only a few blocks away from his apartment. Even though he was a graduate student, Zeke still lived close by, in the apartment he'd had as an undergrad upperclassman. It was just easier like that. It wasn't all too uncommon, and a bus still rode around on the weekdays. Today was brisk, chilly, and grey. A fine day to walk. Not many other people were out, meaning that not many other people would be bothered by his smoking. He slipped a cigarette out of the pack in his pocket, took out his lighter and lit it, and smoked as he put the lighter back into his pocket. The walk gave him a chance to think without thinking: about the pictures that he had taken, about his actual assignments, about which photos he should submit, and which he should keep. Art was tricky work. The darkroom was empty when he got there. Zeke set to work right away. Wash hands; apron on; step inside; remove the film from the canister, treat it, set it to dry. He'd only been working with film for a few years, but already Zeke was confident in his hands as they went through the process of developing the photos and, after that, when he could see, playing with exposure time and comparing effects. It wasn't a short process, but it was enjoyable. Zeke found serenity in it, and almost missed it when he had finished all of his work. The photos were up, hanging and drying. There wasn't anything left for him to do, so he packed his camera and stepped outside. The day hadn't changed much. Zeke lit another cigarette. It was mid afternoon; too late for lunch, too early for dinner, but he hadn't eaten yet. So he started to the nearest eatery- was that too fine a name for it? It was, after all, more of a cafe than anything else- when it happened. There he was, again. Was he- what, waiting for a bus? It was possible. Or not. He was the only one there. A few people sat or walked along the green, but the boy was alone again. Was Zeke too close to take a picture? Would the subject notice now? He might, if he looked the right way. There wasn't much of interest beside him. But he seemed so absorbed in his own thoughts... Zeke dropped the cigarette to the sidewalk, and put it out with his heel, crushing the sparks. He'd reloaded the camera before leaving the dark room, and fumbled to open the bag. He could get a wonderful shot, if he was fast enough. Open bad, pull the camera out, raise to face, fiddle with the focus until it was just right, and... click. Click. Click. After the shutter clicked in the last photo, he noticed a change. The boy wasn't looking aimless any more. His sad look had vanished, replaced by something more guarded, and he was looking towards Zeke. Damn it all. He'd noticed at last.