Roughly two years, twenty-six chapters and 480 reviews later...finally, this story's done. It's always been my favourite one to write, and I am so damn glad it's all come together and most importantly it's worked. People actually like it. Woo!
I don't have time to answer all the reviews individually :( So thank you all very much, not just for the reviews from last chapter but for the reviews for every damn chapter! Thank you all for being so patient and supportive and all that nice fuzzy stuff. And I totally understand all your comments about his hair; I so did not want to cut that. And ThePotionsMiss: Whale Beach? Not really. I know it exists, but I've never been there.
Okay. So. Last chapter. Read on?
This one's for...well, everyone. I apologise in advance for mistakes/crap.
"What do you want me to do with it?"
My face is blank. I can see it in my reflection, and she probably thinks I look a little stoned. "Whatever. I don't know. Just..." Salvage it. Salvage me.
"Um, okay." She shrugs, her own hair (pink and blue) swishing slightly and ties an apron around my neck.
Tie it tighter, I want to say. Choke me.
Kiera's funeral is held on the following Saturday morning. It's held in this little church, right on the edge of town, near a gorgeous park. And I wish, I bloody wish they were holding it outside in the sunshine, in the life. She would have liked that. Not this stupid stuffy church, this building with these walls. No, she would've liked to be in the open. Free.
God. She's never going to be free. She's going to be trapped in a fucking box for the rest of eternity.
I bring mum; I have to. In case I go fucking insane, y'know? Something there to catch me. Not like I can rely on Kaede anymore, right? And I kind of wish I was still okay with Leigh, still friends with him, so that I could've brought him too. He would've...I mean, god, they were friends. She liked him. Her first crush, and she never got to live it out or tell him or hell, just gush over him. She never got enough time to gush over him. Over anything. I wonder if she'd like my hair.
I wonder if she'd like the fact that her funeral is taking place in a stuffy old church instead of the park, like she's always wanted. What were her parents thinking?
It doesn't matter, I guess. In the end it's still the same. A celebration of her life, of her death. At eleven. Jesus.
"Honey?" I think I see mum look at me from the corner of my eye, but I'm not sure and I don't care enough to check. I stare at the rows of cars blankly, lining the road. They're all here for her funeral, I guess. It's nice that she had so many people that cared for her? I wonder if she knew. I hope she knew. I hope she knew just how much we all loved (love) her.
She better bloody know.
Mum takes my arm and guides me inside the building, through the little wooden doors. Because the church isn't all that big it's fairly packed; the pews are crammed.
And oh god, a coffin. A fucking coffin. Her.
No. This isn't fair. This isn't...how does she even fit in that?!
It's white, pure white (like snow, like her soul, like her) and covered, literally covered with flowers. All colours, all types, so bright and beautiful and oh god she would have loved to see this, would have thought it was so damn pretty. Just like her. She deserves it.
And she's there, she's right there in that stupid fucking box, her poor body hidden underneath all those beautiful flowers, alone and dead. She's dead. She's going to be buried under a pile of dirt leaving nothing but memories behind.
Mum leads me to a pew, pushes me down and thank fucking Christ because I'm not sure I would've been able to stand any longer. My knees are weak, my heart is weak. I feel like I'm going to faint. Faint, and ball my eyes out. I can see the back of Emma's head, her honey blonde hair shining in the church, next to her parents in the front pew. I want to ask her if she's okay. Please be okay.
One of us needs to be.
But the priest, the Father or whatever, whoever, the hell he is steps up to the podium with this grave look on his face (ha, get it? Grave. Fucking grave) and the whole church falls silent. There's a woman beside me sniffling, a little girl beside her. The girl just looks confused. Lost.
Join the club, kid. Join the fucking club.
He opens his mouth, words flow out. About Kiera, her light, what joy she brought to everyone's lives and I wonder if he even knows her, if he even really gives a shit. They must do so many funerals. At what point do they stop caring, does it become just a job to them? Mundane. Rinse and repeat, right?
I hang my head, press it against mum's warm shoulder (listen to her flutering heart) and cry.
It's over too soon. And at the same time not soon enough. People move, swarm, in this huge crowd to see the coffin, to see where poor Kiera (my baby girl) is going to spend the next hundred years. Thousand years. And I can't take it anymore, I can't hear how fucking brilliant she is because I already know, I can't hear any of it anymore.
I burst outside, through the doors, and collapse on the rickety stairs. Kiera, Kiera, fucking Kiera. Kaede.
Oh, Lord. How are we meant to do this? How is any of this supposed to make sense? How are we meant to be okay? All this shit happens, this shit, I lost the two most important people to me in the space of one day. I lost fucking everything.
My eyes hot with tears, I glare out at the park coz god I need to be angry at something. Anything. Please. Let me scream and yell and cry and please in the end let me feel okay. Let me want to be okay. It takes me a full minute of half-hearted staring to work out that somebody is sitting in the nearest tree. Not just somebody, but Leigh. I'd recognise that outfit anywhere. And I'm kind of glad that he's wearing it; Kirea loved it. It's fitting.
I bite my lip, the great struggle starting. Should I talk to him? Try to? Is it worth it? Without really authorising it, my legs start moving of their own accord and I find myself under the tree before I've even worked out what I'll say to him. I just have to say something. He can't do this alone. We can't do this alone. That's what friends are for, right? Stealing the people they love. Right.
He looks down, his face totally blank, and his eyes flick back to the bright blue sky. Blue like Kade's eyes.
"L-Leigh..." I choke already, way too soon and Jesus had I known this is how it'd turn out...fuck.
"She really liked my nails." He says and he doesn't defer from the sky. "And my dress. She...she liked everything."
"Yeah." I whisper, my hand on the smooth bark. It doesn't even feel like bark. Maybe it isn't. I don't know much about gum trees. "She did."
She thought he was damn adorable. Hell, she found everything adorable. She was adorable. And now she's on her way to a hole in the ground, and she'll never find anything adorable again.
"I didn't know." He says quietly, looking at his knees and I can see how hard he's gripping that branch. "I swear I didn't. If-if I had..."
I swallow, and I want to bloody cry again. "I know you didn't, Leigh. I know."
He inhales so deeply I almost feel it and his entire boody shudders just once. "You, you shouldn't have cut your hair. K-Kaede liked it long. M-Maybe that's why he ch-ch-chose - "
"Leigh, don't." For your sake. For our sake, please don't. "He didn't choose anything."
Except to shatter my heart into pieces. Ha. That was a conscious fucking decision. And I can already feel the tears start to build. I blink them back, bitter and upset. He hangs his head, dark hair almost hiding his face. Almost. Not enough to shield the single tear that rolls down his pale cheek. It clings to his jaw, his chin, and I have to look away because it hurts.
God. I wish this never happened.
I fucking suck at this love shit.
"Yeah, well I wish we never met you." He whispers and I only just hear it but fucking hell the words kill. They slam into me, each syllable echoing through my head in the worst way, and it hurts so much.
I wish we never met you.
I bite my lip, rip my lip to fucking shreds, and tears spill out, hot and horrible and I want to die right now. "Y-Yeah." I can't breathe. It hurts too much. It all hurts too fucking much. I don't want to breathe.
"You made him happier than I ever could." He continues in the same fragile whisper and another tear joins the first. He wipes them both away with the back of his gloved hand, smearing the damp over his cheek until it shines in the sunlight. "A-And now you've broken up, and I'd give a-a-anything to have you back t-together if it meant seeing him that ha-happy again."
He breaks down fully, his shoulders shaking profusely and I stare at him in stunned confusion, before coming to my senses. I scale the tree in record time and pull him to me in one move, not caring if he protests or hits me or anything. He doesn't do anything though; he just cries. Sobs to himself, arms limp by his sides and I hug him hard because he has to know I'm here for him, no matter what's happened. I'm here, I'm his friend and I'm not going anywhere.
"I miss her." He cries and his tears are saturating my shirt, my skin underneath and god it hurts. My throat clumps up and I can't speak, but I know because I miss her tooo. So, so much. And I don't know what we're meant to do, how we're supposed to cope. What we can do.
He cries against me for almost twenty minutes, but I don't care. I'd stay here with him for all eternity if it meant he'd be okay.
And now you've broken up and I'd give anything to have you back together, if it meant seeing him that happy again.
Apparently he wasn't happy enough.
Leigh pulls away and looks down at Emma, tears still streaking down his face and no, just leave me alone please. Not now, Emma.
"Jack? C-Can...can I talk to you for a moment?"
I sigh heavily and Leigh sniffles, rubbing his cheeks and I don't want to leave him yet. I can't. Jesus "It's okay." He mumbles, and his expression is so heartbreaking. "I, I have to go anyway. K-Kaede..." He trails off, sensing my discomfort I guess, and shakes his head. "I'm really s-sorry about Kiera."
"I know." I know. And Jesus, so am I. I'm so, so sorry. For everything. I want to tell him that, I need to tell him that but my dumb fucking tongue ties and I can't breathe a goddamn word.
He disappears. And I want him back.
I climb down reluctantly and she's been crying too. She is crying. Of course she is. It's her little sister's funeral. God, how dare I not want to speak to her. I am so goddamn selfish. Maybe that's why Kaede left me. She looks horrible. Regal, pretty, but terrible. Her hands twist anxiously, her hair loose and ruffled. "Thank you for coming."
"Of course." I try to smile or something before we both bloody explode with despair. "I mean, I had to. I loved her. Love. I love her." And I'll never forget her. Ever. Not for a single goddamn second. Nothing will ever take her away. Not even her death.
"I know. God, Jack, this past week has been hell." And she literally collapses in my arms. And cries. And god, I am so tired of crying. I'm so fucking exhausted with it .And I can't seem to stop. I hold her because I just want to help. In any way I can and I feel so horribly guilty for her. If, if I'd never befriended the angels, never wanted Kaede...she still would have died.
It's not my fault.
It's not his fault either.
"God." She whispers, nuzzling against my neck. "This, just, Jesus...Jack..." She shudders and I open my mouth to tell her it's okay and I'm here, but her lips cuts me off.
I jerk back at once and stare at her in shock. "W-Wh..."
"Jack, please." She whispers pleadingly, taking my head and what the hell?
"Em - "
She crushes her mouth to mine in a frantic kiss and I shove her away. What's wrong with her?
"Jack," tears are still streaming down her face, "just once, please, god, I - I, you have no idea - "
"No, you need help." I cut in quickly and this can not be happening, no fucking way. Jesus, I wish Leigh hadn't left. "Em, look, maybe you should just - "
"I love you." She blurts out and no, don't do this, please not now. It's Kiera's funeral. "I love you, and I, I, I've been thinking that in maybe we could give it ano - "
"No." I take a horrified step back and she can't be serious. Why is she doing this?! "Emma, you're upset, you don't know what you're saying. We're friends, okay?" So cut it out? Please? Because this is getting weird. "I..." I swallow and I know this is going to hurt her but I have to do this. "I don't love you. You, you know that." So stop. I know grief makes people do stupid things they wouldn't normally do, but this is ridiculous.
"You don't know that. Jack, please - "
"Emma, stop!" I yell a little too loud, a little too sharply, and she freezes in shock for a moment, her red lips in a wide 'o'. "Emma, look, this...this is stupid. I know you're upset, I know, but do you really think this will make it any better?"
Make it suck any less. Bring her back. Bring him back.
Her lips finally close, slow and shaky, and the moment they touch fresh tears spill from her eyes, smearing mascara. Why do women even wear it to funerals, if they know it's just going to mess up?
"I can't take this, Jack." She sobs, her frail frame trembling and I really, really wish Leigh hadn't left. "I can't. It's too much. She, she was eleven."
"I know." I murmur, because that's all the fuck I can do. I can't do anything. And I hug her again, ignoring the unpleasant taste of her in my mouth, because right now I need to move past that, or something, or fuck I don't know. I'm probably doing this all wrong. How am I meant to know? I can't seem to do one single fucking thing right lately. Even the things I have no control over. Like being human. And if he knew what the fuck was going to happen, knew that it would eventually come to this, why the hell did he start it? Why make me feel this way for him, if he was just going to rip my heart out and stomp on a bit?
Why couldn't he have just left me alone? My life was better off without him. Before him. Before him, and his stupid lips, and hands, and soul. Before I knew how much I care about him.
And god, I can't think about that now. This is Kiera's funeral, her fucking funeral, and this is not the time or place. I should think about her. Not him. Not his goddamn eyes.
I hold Emma closer, rest my chin on her head. Mum comes up eventually, cautious and holding wine. I take it from her before she can argue, and down the whole lot.
I hate my apartment. Fucking hate it. What's to like? It's so boring. Ha, just like me.
I bath. I eat. I lie down on my bed and try to forget the feel of Kaede pressing into me, wrapped around me, head nuzzled somewhere near my neck fast asleep. Just breathing, just us.
I can't forget, of course. I end up rolling onto my stomach and burying my head in my pillow. Try to imagine that faint musky smell is him, but it isn't. Nothing is.
I force myself to go to work on Monday. I don't want to, I don't fucking want to but I need to. I have to get out of this stupid goddamn apartment and away from myself. Distract myself with anything.
"Good morning!" Candy cries out happily. I ignore her. I feel like I haven't slept in centuries. Maybe I haven't. I don't think I care anymore.
I turn on the computer, sort out files. Pay no attention to the clock because I know the time is crawling anyway. Maybe I was a bastard in a past life or something, and it's all coming back to get me. Karma or something. Or maybe life just fucking sucks and love sucks harder. More. Whatever.
"Hey, Jack. You still sick? You don't look so well."
Go away, Dawson. Plase. He's too happy, full of too many questions. I mumble a vague reply, something I don't even know, and he hands me a folder with a cheery chirp. "Nice weather. Reckon it's gonna rain soon."
Great. Leave now? Let me be all stupid and emo because my friend's dead and the love of my life don't love me. Ha. Before you know it I'll be all a-cutting and wearing eyeliner.
"So, is Kaede coming in today?"
Oh, Lord. He had to do it, didn't he? Can't go five fucking minutes without mentioning him and could he please not mention him, because I need to get him out of my head. Out of my heart. And it's not going so well and it doesn't help if people keep bloody talking about him.
Because I miss him, I need him. I need him. I can't go this alone. I don't know how I make my voice work. "He's not...he's not coming in again."
I can practically feel his surprise. "Oh. Uh...why? Heh, I didn't scare him off, did I? Or did you have a fight or something?"
"Are you breaking up with me?"
Ha. "Something like that." I mumble, bitter and hurt and this is awful. Something like that. Yeah. Fucking broke my heart.
He's quiet for a long time. So long I actually think he's left. But eventually he speaks and his voice is soft but decisive. "You weren't just friends, were you." It's not a question. And oh bravo, took you fucking long enough to work it out. Not that it matters. We're fucking 'just friends' now, aren't we? God, we're not even that. And I can't have this conversation with him. Jesus. I grab my bag and I have to get out of here, I have to go home and get wasted and forget all this fucking shit. Get away.
"I'm going home.' I mumble, pushing past him and I think he says something, maybe calls me back but I don't hear a word. All I hear is my own footsteps, and Kiera's fucking beautiful laughter. Kaede's smile.
Oh, yeah. Alcohol is definitely in order.
Fucking...all of them. Where do they get off on this shit? I can imagine God kicking back, all "oh yeah, let's fuck Jack up, let's fucking kill him." This is why I don't believe in God. Coz he's a fucking asshole.
I stare at the paper and why can't I stop drawing him? Why is it always his face, his fucking eyes and lips and this isn't fair. Isn't fair. I'd rather draw Kiera. Beautiful sunny little Kiera. With her eyes and oh god I can't draw either of them. I can't. It hurts too fucking much and I can't, I can't do it. I try, I do. But my hands shake too much. The pencil skids and I end up balling my fucking eyes out.
I scrunch up the sketch, rip it to fucking shreds and oh Lord, how is anyone supposed to do this? Emma loved me. And I broke up with her, and...if this is what I put her through then I'm so, so sorry. I didn't..I never thought it'd be so agonising. Never thought anything could be so painful without death involved. And at the funeral (Kiera's funeral) she...now what? I should call her and let her know I'm not angry. Ask if she's okay, and would she please refrain from kissing me again.
I snort bitterly. The girl I don't want wants me. The boy I want doesn't want me. How fucking typical of my luck. My life.
"You look like shit."
Feet. Hm. Feet.
Wait, feet. I look up slowly, immediately recognising the long legs with a sickening feeling in my gut. Immediately recognising him.
What is he doing here?
"Kaede?" I whisper stupidly and he looks down at me solemly, his blue eyes every inch of mellow. And god, I missed his eyes. I fucking missed him. "Wh..."
"Jack." He says quietly, and that makes this seem too formal, too...important. Why does he look so serious?
I bite my lip and god, why does he have to be here? Doesn't he understand that it bloody hurts? If I can't be with him I can't see him at all, I just can't, it hurts too fucking much. Did he come back just to rub it in my face? To what? To see if I'm in pain? Well, congratulations, you fucking win, I'm in pain. More pain than I know what to do with and why the fuck does he have to come back when I have the biggest bloody hangover? "What?" I mean for it to sound harsh, gruff, angry. To sound like I want him to fuck the hell off ASAP but it comes out weak and broken, lame and hurting.
"I need you to come wtih me somewhere."
I stare up at him in surprise. That's why he came back? To...to ask me to accompany him somewhere? Not because he misses me. Not because he cares about me. Not because he just wanted to see me, wanted to make sure I'm okay. Because hewants me to go with him somewhere.
"No." I say flatly and god, I hope it hurts. I hope it bloody hurts. Because it's not fair that I'm the only one that's in pain, that I'm the only one attempting to deal with a broken heart. I want him to hurt, fucking hell, I want him to miss me. I want him to love me. Why does he have to be here?
He sighs, and holds out his hand. His beautiful hand. "Jack, please. This is very important. It'll only take a few minutes." He hesitates, something flashing through his beautiful blue eyes. "I can't do this without you."
I. Hate. My. Heart.
Do what without me? There aren't a lot of things that would make him look this nervous and unsure. Unless...
"Are we going to see Matthew's grave or something?" Because...because I'm not sure if I could handle that. Not another grave, not his grave. No.
He sighs quietly air escaping from between his lips. "Just come."
Is that a yes? God. Yes, that's a yes. We're going to see Matthew's grave. His grave. Y'know, where Kaede put him. That guy he loved more than me. I don't want to. I can't. But his eyes, his beautiful tragically pleading eyes and before I know it, before I can stop myself, my hand slips into his. And god, his fingers are warm and lovely and him. He pulls me close, puts his arms around my waist causing me to tense. He's right there, here, like he used to be. I let my face as close to the crook of his neck as I dare, breathing in his gloriously familiar scent and my lips ache to brush against him, his warm smooth skin and beg him, beg him to take me back. I squeeze my eyes shut because this is too much, he's too warm and delicious and him and Lord have I missed him. So, so much.
This is so unfair.
"Just...you have medical insurance or something, right?"
"W-What?" My eyes snap open and he bites his lip awkwardly (want to kiss), his eyes kind of shifty. I start to get a Very Bad feeling. "Well...I've never done this with a human before. So I'm not quite sure what will happen."
What will happen...never done what with a human before? "Kaede, what are we doing?" Coz I am not liking how nervous he looks. Not at all, folks!
His tongue darts out to his lower lip. "I can't explain. You should be fine. Well...you might lose a few limbs or something...or um, explode...but that's the worst case scenario." He adds hastily as my eyes widen and jaw finds the floor. Explode? Explode?! Screw this! I struggle, trying to get out of his grip and he holds me tighter and no. "Jack, please. I need you. Just fucking trust me, okay?"
Trust him?! He, he broke my heart! Made me fall for him and then took it all away and hurt me (killed me) and -
Oh god. That tone. Whispered, pleading. Him. He presses his face into my shoulder (so close) and his arms, both of them, encircle me again tightly. Protect me. "Just close your eyes." He whispers in my ear and why do I have to love him so much? Why do I have to care? Why do I still trust him?
I close my eyes. Hold onto him tightly. Wish I never, ever had to let go, wish I never have to again. Please, even if it's only for a few seconds and even if I explode...just let me hold him.
Oh, evil wind. I feel the Vortex of Windy Death around us, whipping my short hair and I claw him tight as the wind changes, and then oh god it's like there's no air at all and I gasp, my lungs and my chest and oh god it hurts, where's the air and oh god, explode, explode, explodeexlodeexplodeexplodeexplode -
Oh, so warm. And comfortable, like snuggling under the covers on a cool rainy day and...where am I? Where am I?! I look down, I try to but I don't exist! I don't fucking exist! Where's my body? Where the hell are we?! Where's Kaede?! What the hell has he done?! Oh, god, I exploded didn't I?! I'm dead! Where's my body?! Why is everything so white?! There's nothing, nobody but blinding white and my body, my limbs, where the -
"Jack." Kaede's voice and oh Lord, Kaede's voice, but I can't, I can't see him. I can't see me! "Calm down. You're fine. You didn't explode."
Oh, gee, well that's a fucking relief! Now where's my body?! Where is he?!
"You don't need a body for where we are. All you need is your soul."
Well, I would like my body thanks! I didn't realise bodies were bloody optional! Where we are...wait...where are we?!
"Stay here." He pauses and I would scowl at him if I had a face, if I had anything. Stay here? I don't exactly have anywhere else to go, do I?! Not like I have any choice in the matter! "I'll return as soon as I can."
Oh, sure, leave me. Typical. But he doesn't reply. He's gone. He left me here alone. Wherever here is. And this definitely rates among the weirdest moments of my life. I'm currently floating around an endless white...area...with no body. Oh, why did I come, why can't I ever just say no to him? And what does any of this have to do with Matthew? Should've stayed home. Wy does he hae to be so...ugh. Him. Beautful him. And god, I hope he doesn't make a habit of this. Turning up unexpectedly and making me spend time with him. Making me realise how much I fucking miss him. How much I want him back, need him. God, so much. More than I ever thought was possible. I want to hold him, kiss him, never stop. Never let go. This is so unfair. And god, he can't make a habit of it. Because it'll bloody kill me.
"I can hear you, idiot."
K-Kaede?! He's back?! Already? And wait...he can hear me?! If I had cheeks and blood I would blush! At least he knows I miss him, I guess. Maybe it'll make him feel guilty or something, make him fucking care for once.
"...I can still hear you."
Oh, shut up. Can we...?
"Yeah." And he sounds strangely weak. Tired. Like in the few minutes he was missing he fought a wild bear or something. "Let's get out of here."
Thank you. Let's go back and you can leave me alone.
Everything, the horrible blinding light disappears all at once, plunging us into darkness but before I even have time to comprehend that change it's the wind, all at once and I'm going to be sick and then before I know it I'm groaning on the front lawn, on the stupid wet grass.
What the freakin'...oh, sick. I sit up slowly, blood rushing to my head. Oh, not fun. Not fun at all. I look up, see Kaede a few metres away, still on his side. His eyes closed. Oh, shit.
"K-Kaede?" I shuffle close to him and take his shoulder and oh please be okay! "Kaede? Please?"
"Mm?" His eyes flutter, he winces and they fall shut. "Ow. I dont feel so good."
"Where? Are you sick?" I ask worriedly, brushing his hair away from his eyes. "Kaede?"
"I'm okay." His hand comes up to push mine off his forehead, and I shiver at the touch. Why do I still want him? Why is that all I want to do right now is lean over him and fucking kiss him? "Your limbs?"
"Huh?" I glance down at myself in confusion until I remember. Oh. "They're fine. Are you really okay?"
He sits up slowly, his eyes cracking open with another wince. "Yes."
I help him to his feet, he tilts his head back and oh my Lord his beautiful, kissable neck.
"So um..." I clear my throat and twist my hands, mostly to distract myself from him.
He sighs and looks at me properly, shaking his head. "I don't know how to explain it to you. I suppose you could call it Heaven, or at least part of it."
Wh...Heaven? I was in fucking Heaven? What the...Heaven?!
"W-What?!" I stammer and my brain is still having a little trouble trying to process the part where I WAS IN BLOODY HEAVEN. "Why?!"
He smiles grimly, his gorgeous blue eyes darkening slightly. "I cancelled my subscription."
"I quit, Jack."
Oh. What the fuck else am I meant to say? Oh, that's great, I'm super happy for you, best of luck with that? By the way, thanks for breaking my heart for no reason? I mean, I...I am happy for him. I think. I...fuck, I don't know. I try to smile, try to manage something, but I know it doesn't work and probably ends up only making my misery even more obvious. "That's...that's good, Kaede." And my voice kind of cracks on his name, and I try not to notice. I hope he does notice. Hope he knows what he's done. What he's done to me. "I, uh..." I want to say 'congratulations' or something along those lines. I want to tell him I hope he does well, that it's all okay, that...god, anything.
I want us to be okay.
I look at him for as long as I can, but then my eyes start prickling and I know I have to go before this gets bad. Before I cry, and beg him to take me back because I need him, I love him. I fucking love him. So I turn, and I take one step and his fingers, warm and him, close around my wrist and no. Don't do this. Please. I can't stay here with him, I can't act all full of beans and sunshine for him, when all the hell I want to do is kiss him.
"Kaede...don't." I breathe, and I kind of shudder. Because I'm a fucking wuss, of every shade, and I can't do this. "Just...don't. Please? I'm s-sorry. I'm happy for you, I, I really am and I...I hope it all works, but just...please." Let me go. Let me run, let me hide, let me get completely wasted so I don't have to remember how beautiful his eyes are. How beautiful he is.
"Jack." He says softly, and the tone damn near breaks my heart. Again. "Stay."
"I can't." I say honestly, and I turn around, avoiding his eyes, trying to twist my wrist free. He releases it, and before I can speak, tell him to go away, he cuts in with an exasperated sigh.
"You are so fucking dense sometimes."
I blink, look up, startled. What the hell? A flash of anger swamps me, takes my mouth. "Yeah, well you're a fucking asshole sometimes." I spit, and he throws his arms up with a scowl.
"Why the fuck do you think I quit, idiot? For kicks? Strangely enough spending eternity being tortured in some hell dimension isn't exactly my idea of a good time, and funnily enough I have been trying to avoid it for a damn long time."
"So then why quit?" I snap angrily and I'm not even sure why I'm angry, all I know is he randomly attacked me and said I was dense sometimes and so is he. At least I'm bloody honest.
"Because I'm so fucking in love with you I couldn't see another way around it."
And the words hit me like a bloody ton of bricks. A ton of bricks times infinity and god, did he really just say that? I stare at him, I gape at him like a complete moron, a dense moron, and he glares back, his jaw set firmly and I...I...
"Huh?" I squeak, and I may or may not be flushing. What? If...if he loved me...why did he...why would he do that to me? Why?
He sighs, and his face is grave. "It's a bitch, Jack. I know it is. It's a fucking awful situation to be in, so I eliminated the major problem. My job. Me."
"B-B-But..." I splutter dumbly and I'm still stuck on his previous sentence, it's just running over and over and over in my head and none of it is sinking in, making the slightest bit of sense. He...he loves me? But...he said...and Matthew, and...huh? "H-Hell, and - "
He snorts bitterly. "Being without you is hell. As overly corny and downright lame as that sounds. The truth is...I can't do this without you, Jack. I can't do any of this. This planet completely fucks me over, and sometimes I really honestly thought I wouldn't make it through. You were the only thing that kept me grounded, made me okay, and..." he shakes his head. "I think I fell in love with you the bloody moment I met you. You're the biggest dork I have ever come across, and you're everything I'm not normally attracted to, but fucking hell there isn't a part of you I don't adore. And ever since then...it damn near killed me every time we cracked, the first time I thought I'd scared you off. I wanted you so fucking much, and I would have done anything to get it."
"But..." I say weakly and I feel weak. I feel dizzy. I feel...the moment he met me...made him okay...and I'm still lost in his words somewhere. "Matthew..."
"I loved him." He says quietly. "And being with you made me think about him a lot, and that's when I realised I couldn't let the same thing happen twice. I can't...I can't do that to you, Jack. Any of it. You mean too damn much to me. You mean everything to me. I'd rather go through this life, as a human, without powers, without advantages, knowing when I die I'm going to hell, than go through one more single fucking second without you."
And that's nice. It's more than fucking nice, it's...it's...and god, I smile. I don't smile, I grin. And it's like every bad moment in the past two weeks is wiped from my brain, even if it's just for one second, and I am so fucking happy. I practically explode with joy, and god I just want to lunge at him and kiss him senseless, hold him and never, ever let go. Be with him for the rest of my life and I feel giddy, I feel insanely wonderfully giddy and I have to force myself not to glomp him.
He loves me.
He loves me.
He...he quit for me. And I'm so bloody happy right now I could just die. "Th-thanks." I flush uncontrollably, head still kind of spinning and he loves me. He fucking loves me.
He raises an eyebrow. "That's all you can say? Thanks?"
And I laugh, it bubbles forth and spills out of everywhere and I laugh. Like an idiot, like an idiot hyena and I just can't stop. And I'm grinning from ear to ear, more than I thought was possible, and my face is burning and hurting and he loves me. "I think you've actually rendered me speechless."
He smirks, a wry smirk I missed so much, more than I ever thought was possible. "Fine by me."
And he kisses me.
Takes my head, my face, soft hands firm on my jaw, and kisses me gently and I melt into him. It's only been a week or something (I don't know; the days all kind of bled together) and that's far too long. Far too long without him. He wraps his arms around me, secure and him and I want to fucking cry again.
When we pull apart I press my forehead against his, nuzzle his face, and laugh embarrassedly. "We are so fucking corny."
So ridiculously so. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
He snorts, running his fingers through my hair gently. "Speak for yourself. God, I wish you hadn't done this." He adds in a murmur, kissing the top of my head gently and I know he's talking about my hair.
I wince. "Yeah. Look at the bright side; at least I don't look like such a girl? It'll only take a few years to grow back."
"A few." He snorts again, and kind of smiles a smile that makes my heart flutter and my stomach giddy, and makes me so fucking warm inside. "Aren't you lucky I'm sticking around then."
I giggle like a fucking schoolgirl. A happy schoolgirl. And I want to shout it, I want to yell it, I want to scream it to the heavens and rub it in everyone's faces. "Hell. Yes."
"It's not going to be easy, you know." I add quietly, because this issue is a little more serious. I fiddle with his shirt, kind of tug on it and look up at him as much as I can while we're this close. "You being human now. You have to get a job, and a car, and all that shit. You can't zip off to any place in the world anymore, and you can't fly."
"I know all that, Jack." He sighs, his hand rubbing over my back gently. "The only thing I'm really worried about is where I'm going to stay. I obviously can't afford the rent for that place now."
"Can't you just ask Leigh to keep swindling the rent people like before?" I ask confusedly. "He'd do it for you. Hell, he'd do anything for you."
He shakes his head. "I know he would, but I don't want him to. And I don't want to stay; I don't think it's a great idea, particularly if we're still going to stay together."
"Yeah." I agree softly, understanding his point. The more time he spends away from Leigh the better. Not just for us, but for him. Then hopefully it'll be easier for him to get over Kaede, so he doesn't have to suffer so much. "So then now what?"
He shrugs awkwardly. "Guess I'll have to get a job first, work that bit out or something. Find somewhere that isn't going to cost a fucking fortune. Of course, the whole lack-of-qualification doesn't help with the job thing."
"I dunno," I snicker, "you could work in a morgue?"
He rolls his eyes and god, I missed this. I missed him. I missed us. "Real clever."
And something kind of hits me, sneaks into my brain and begs me to consider it. And bfeore I know it I'm biting my lip nervously, shifting my weight from foot to foot hopefully. "Kaede...you know...I mean, it's not like...you can always stay with me...if you want. For a while." I suck in a breath, because it's a big step, a big fucking step. We spend a lot of time with each other, but it's still very diffreent to living together.
And I don't know if we're ready. I don't know if he's ready, if I'm pushing this too far too fast already, if I'm about to totally scare him off. And I see his eyes widen a fraction, and immediately fly into panic mode.
"I mean, you don't have to it was just a suggestion, I realise you probably don't want to spend all your time with me and putting up with me and that's cool, I mean, I understand, I was just, I, it's okay and - "
"Jack, shut up." He cuts in shortly, and he looks...unsure. Adorably, adorably unsure. Like this scares him as much as it scares me, and oh god it's nice.
He loves me.
His tongue darts out, wets his lower lip and he looks nervous. And he is just as scared as I am about this. He's taken the biggest step of his whole life; he quit. He has to readjust to the world in a way he's never had to before; he's human now. One of us. He can't get away with anything anymore, and he still wants to be with me, and fucking hell it's scary. For both of us. For him it must be terrifying. "Are you sure?"
I blink. Am I sure?
I'm not sure at all. I am not going to bet my life that this is going to work, because knowing my luck it might seriously stuff up at some point. And letting him move in may be a mistake, may be our doom all over again. May end up killing us both. But we'll never know unless we try, will we? And we've survived this far. I mean, god, he's accepted my haircut. I think he can just about accept anything about me now. So no, I'm not sure. It's one hell of a risk.
And as long as I have him I'll take that risk. He's worth it. We're worth it.
So I nod, smile hesitantly and yeah, we are so damn corny.
"Kaede!" We both jump at Leigh's voice and spin around to see him standing there arm thrust out pointing in the direction of a stoic looking blonde woman. She seems even more alarmed to see us and Leigh's mouth is already running. "Kaede, what the hell is going on? This stupid girl just showed up and started rambling about how she's my new partner and I told her she isn't coz I already have a partner but she won't listen and..." He trails off, grey eyes widening a fraction. He takes a feeble step forwards Kaede, and he looks aghast. "W...You...you're human."
The blonde girl raises her eyebrows and I very nearly grimace because this...oh, this is going to devesate him. Kaede's human. He made the ultimate scarifice...for me. Kaede licks his lips and glances at me almost helplessly. Like he doesn't know how to explain this. My fingers find his, his warm open hand and I feel him relax a little. He faces Leigh with a deep inhale. "I quit, Leigh."
The angel's face pales, pales, and he takes a step back and oh god, I want to hug him. "B-But...why? You...you can die now!"
"But why would you...why..." HIs eyes dart to me, find me, and I atually see the realisation hit him. "Oh." He says weakly. "You...oh."
"Excuse me," the blonde interrupts rudely. "Do you mind telling me what is going on? Who the hell are you?"
"I'm his ex-partner." Kaede replies, giving Leigh, poor Leigh, a reluctant look.
"And you are...?" She looks to me expectantly but before I can introduce myself Kaede intervenes.
"My boyfriend, I suppose. As girly as that word sounds."
Boyfriend. I'm his boyfriend. His lover, his partner, his bloody boyfriend. And he said he loves me. He loves me. And I am grinning, beaming, all sunshine and rainbows and puppies and oh my god I'm his boyfriend! Again!
And before all the joy can leap from my brain to my mouth Leigh's face is pressed into my chest, his arms around my waist squeezing tight and I blink down at his dark head, baffled. And glad. It's been so long since he's willingly touched me, too long and I missed him, all of him. Even the crazy parts. Especially the crazy parts.
"Don't you hurt him." He whispers, clutching my shirt. "Don't you...don't you dare hurt him. Or I'll add your name to the List myself."
"I won't." I whisper, and I know it's a stupid thing to promise, I can't guarantee shit but I promise I will try. I will try to my very damn hardest because I am not letting this boy down again. And I am not losing Kaede. Ever. God, ever. And Jesus, Kiera would be so proud. I hope she can see this, she better bloody be able to see it so she can see how damn pretty the world can be. And god, I wish she was here for this.
When Legh pulls away his eyes are damp and Kaede snorts. "Wuss." But his gaze softens and Leigh gives him a shy, awkward kinda smile before Kaede turns to Blondie. "Don't give him any sugar. Or caffeine. And do not, under any cicumstances, let him cook."
"Kaede, you are so mean! I can cook fine!" Leigh yells as Blondie's blank expression suddenly changes to one of shock.
I snicker at Leigh's outraged shriek. "You get used to it." And in the end, it's not so shocking. And then it's eventually the best damn thing.
"Right." Blondie quickly sobers up, giving Leigh a Look. Ooh, scary blue eyes. Their partnership is gonna be interesting, to say the least. "Let's go then; we have a job to do."
Leigh pouts adorably, sighs and gives Kade a long quiet mournful look. Kaede snorts, folding his arms. "You'll see me again, mutt. Just go."
A slow smile spreads cross the little tyke's face and he giggles, blushes and vanishes. Blondie rolls her eyes and follows suit. I snigger all a-devious like. "They are gonna tear that place apart."
He smirks and pulls me close, kissing my forehead. "Good thing I'm moving out then."
Oh god, yes. A world of yes! A pretty one, with all those pretty things! So much. I get to have Kaede every day! Get to wake up in his arms and be with him and he loves me and...Awesome Overload! I can't wait to tell mum.
"We should go inside; I think it's going to rain soon." He remarks ildly against my hair and I kinda smile like a total moron.
"I dunno, kissing in the rain is kinda hot."
"Sure, until you remember you're going to get triple pneumonia and die."
Eep! I squeal and he kind of laughs, relaxed and beautiful and is it too corny to say that I might be sorta wrapped around him? His mouth crushes to mine, his tongue and his lips and his moan. God.
I freakin' rock at this love stuff.
So. Much. Corn. And major abuse of the word "beautiful".
In any case, it's finally over and knowing me I will most likely come back and change some things because of course there are parts I'm unhappy with, edit some things coz there are a million mistakes, all that jazz. Until then this will do? As for Emma's little freak-out...it does happen, trust me. Grief makes you do wacky, dumb things. I'm practically an expert on that.
So it's over. Thank you all so very much for sticking with it for this long, and for putting up with all the madness :) Could've have done it without y'all.
Dirty Angel Toes