If you're reading this, I'm dead. If Adrien isn't here with me, kill him.
That's all it said. Rémy got home to the letter under his door in an envelope that had already been opened, written on paper that had been folded multiple times. He waited a week, thinking and hoping it was a mistake, hoping every time his front door opened it'd be Damien, slapping Adrien on the back good naturedly for coming home. But it wasn't. Ever. It took Rémy another month to decide how he felt about his boss's dying request.
Adrien was his only friend, but he'd changed and Rémy hated him for it. He'd been left behind for that damn girl, and he hated her too, if not more. Yes, he decided, he'd kill Adrien. He'd do it, but not for Damien, for himself. He wouldn't be second best anymore, not to anyone. And he'd kill the girlfriend, too. Only to himself did he admit how underhandedly he'd have to go about it. Rémy knew he'd never stand a chance against Adrien in a fair fight… but it didn't matter. He'd do it. If Damien was alive, he'd be proud, and as Adrien took his last breath, he'd regret leaving his only friend to waste away alone, for thinking he was too good for it. Rémy wouldn't let him run from who he was, the fucking coward. He'd find them.
They we living in Dallas because that's where they landed after saying two weeks in Florida, slowly knocking off the states Alin's curiosity led them to. The sky seemed bigger in Texas, the clouds whiter.
Leo was with them. When they'd been staring goodbye to their first home, Alin's car packed with nothing but what they wanted, he came back, slinking towards them slowly with his head down, cautious. She threw her arms around the animals neck and cried into his fur. When she was done strangling him, Leo crept towards Adrien who bent down on his knees and scratched his mutt.
"Where you been, huh?"
Leo liked Florida, loved the ocean, but it wasn't right for them, so they moved on. Alin felt like Dallas was the cleanest place she'd ever been to. She felt like they could rest here for a while, known only to each other and a few friendly neighbors who wondered about the young couple.
Alin was reading in their bedroom in the plush chair by the window. She hadn't noticed the sky darken, didn't realize she was straining to see in the twilight. Leo was hiding under the bed because he could feel it in the air.
Adrien's head shot into the room, his face shadowed and smiling with a secret.
"Come on," he urged suddenly, making Alin's heart jump.
She put her hand on her chest. Leo crawled out from under the bed and hopped on top of it, burrowing into the covers and then sitting up, the comforter looking like a cape around his shoulders.
"Where?" She asked.
"There's a storm coming," Adrien said.
She left her book on the chair and went to him, in her summer shorts and a open knit sweater with stitches of every size, some big enough to fit lemons through. He touched her hair, which was curling softly out of a ponytail around her cheeks, and leaned in to taste her lips in a peculiar way he had before pulling her much closer, kissing her so thoroughly that he had to support her fully, pushing himself against her when her keens gave.
"Lets stay here," she whispered.
"No. Come with me."
He let her go so she'd be more motivated to get dressed. When Alin had jeans on and asked Leo to come, he laid down so she told him to be good and raced downstairs after her husband who was waiting outside.
"Where are we going?" She asked, jumping down the porch's steps, excited because he wouldn't tell her anything.
"A field," he said.
He kept his eyes on the road, but petted the back of her neck softly while they cruised in fifth gear out of the city. After pulling onto the side of the road fifteen minutes later, Alin followed him into the grass. He laid the blanket they kept in the trunk out when they were far enough that the cars looked like toys in the distance, and motioned for her to sit down like he was holding a door opened for her. Smiling, she obliged him, and he sat behind her, pulling her between his knees as they watched the sky over the city in the distance darken, feeling the rain that had already fallen where they were soak through the blanket on their now bare feet.
Alin was playing with a blade of grass, running it over Adrien's toes when the sky flashed.
"There," he said.
"I missed it."
Thunder rumbled and they watched until the sky cracked opened with the purest, fullest lightning Alin had ever seen.
"Wow," she said.
They watched and Adrien rubbed the goosebumps on her arms, held her tighter when the thunder boomed into their ears so loud she flinched.
She was sitting on the swing he'd hung on the porch, peeling a Brayburn apple the way he'd taught her with the pocket knife he insisted she keep near. Her tongue was sticking out in concentration, but this time, she didn't cut herself, and the peel in one thin curled ribbon of green and red dropped onto the wood by Leo's nose.
"Ha," she said.
Adrien ran to the grocery store while she'd been in the shower, and they were awaiting him patiently. When he walked out of the store with a paper bag and a bouquet of purple flowers that all smelled amazing, he didn't notice Rémy move away from the building after him. He was thinking about planting mint and basil, tomatoes and peppers, wondering if Alin would want to stay where they were to watch things grow.
Their place was close; Adrien preferred to walk. He paused at the last building before hitting the sidewalk of their neighborhood and glanced behind him.
In the distance, Alin heard a gun shot, but didn't acknowledge it. She was in a world where it might have been a car backfiring, anything at all, but nothing dangerous, nothing that could leave her love's blood draining onto the clean sidewalk. Leo knew better. His ears shot up before his body, and he barked at the sound.
Alin pet his head, "It's okay, buddy! Daddy'll be home soon," she said, rubbing his soft ear, "Right?"