Chapter 18: Evermore

I am at peace. The cacophonies that once surrounded me suddenly vanished and I am left in a sea of white. I don't hear anything, don't see anything. I can't even hear the sounds of my own breath. Is this what it feels like to be dead?

All of a sudden I am washed away in a sea of memories. Mom… Dad… Fred… I hear laughter. I hear crying. I watch myself on the first day of school, nervously walking up the front steps, my mom's hand in mine. I see me reading to my mom in bed. I see Fred and my lemonade stand. The amusement park. Grocery shopping. Fred's forehead touching mine. My mom upon her last breath. And then…

I see a shadowy man. Throughout the constant incoherent voices echoing as I am watching my life flash before my very eyes, I hear a distinct voice. It was my mom's voice, infused with my own.

"Soulmates each make up a half of a whole. So your pain is my pain. We share everything now; our future and our past."

Our future and our past. The word 'past' continued to echo in my head like a broken record as I am watching the memories of a child that is not my own. A mom dying, but not my own. A figure crying themselves to sleep, but it was not me. A whirl of color and lights spinning round and round in the mansion's grand foyer, but they weren't through my perspective. A man kissing a woman. And then another, and then another. But those women weren't me. Echoes of someone singing "The Rose", but it wasn't my voice.

It's the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live.

"DARIEN!"

A gush of light clouded my vision and I am suddenly blinded beyond belief. I hear myself scream and a voice shouting my name over and over.

And then…

I see my hands. I begin to hear the sound of rain pounding harsh against a gravel road before I could feel it seeping through my skin. I blink rapidly again and again. The constant flow of memories inside my head has faded and I have returned back to one normal vision. However, my surroundings seemed rather distant, like all colors have been smudged and faded. Not everything seemed clear.

I am not in Darien's mansion anymore. Instead, I am outside, drenched in rain. The smell is stagnant with something burning. I urge my legs to let me get up so I could search my surroundings. I am still dazed. Where in the world am I?

The pain that swelled in my chest and spread throughout the body was long gone; I am only feeling weariness and chills rippling through my bones. Suddenly, my ears perk up when I hear distant cries. I spin around to see something large and ablaze, black smoke billowing into the murky sky. The cries only came from one person, but they were all too similar. I find myself staggering forward toward the chaos.

"Father! Father!" I heard the voice cry. As I drew closer, the air reeked of burning flesh. I am getting a clearer vision and it was a sight so haunting, I froze right in my tracks. Yet, I couldn't pull away. An squashed old fashion car was tipped upside down, its windows smashed. Next to it, another car was wretched just as badly. Both cars were ablaze. Inside the driver's seat of the upside car, a faceless man was burning, his flesh was searing away. It was too painful to watch yet I still couldn't tear away. I was too horrified.

"Father!"

I am glancing a few feet away from the wreck and I see a defeated, ragged man. He was cut up so badly; mud, dirt, and blood caked his whole body Anyone wouldn't have been able to recognize him, but I knew right away as soon as I saw those chocolate eyes.

"Darien!" I scream, but he pays no attention to me. He is helplessly on the ground, reaching out toward his faceless father, shouting for him over and over. Another middle-aged man is staggering toward Darien on his hands and knees. He is looks just as bad and bloodied up as Darien, but he is not screaming in pain. Instead, he is determined to reach toward Darien. At that moment, I realized the man approaching Darien: Fred's grandfather. I somehow winded up trapped in a memory of Darien's past.

I could see the man reach out toward Darien, placing a bloodied hand on his trembling arm. Darien looks alarmingly at the man. "L-look what you did." There was a quiver in Darien's voice. "Why did this happen!?"

I feared that Darien would grow more hysterical. But the man looked him straight in the eye and asked him, "Do you want to live?" There was a sudden eerie groan of a piece of metal from the car as the chunk crashed to the ground. The blaze ignited even larger causing me to tremble. The burning body that was once Darien's father was lost in the fiery depths forever.

Darien shouts for his father once more and pitiful tears are streaking down his face. "Do you want to live?" the man said again. He is also weak and trembling, but I knew that he wouldn't die. Not unless he transfer his power of immortality to his new recipient.

"I don't… I don't want to die… I will do anything, just don't let me die!" I hear the tear-stained Darien say. He is wide-eyed and desperate. The trauma was too much for him to take.

"Take my hand. I will give you a power of immortality. With this you will be able to live forever." I watch as the middle-aged man stretches out his hand. A frightened Darien contemplates it, squeezes the rest of his tears from his eyes, and slowly reaches out a shaky hand.

"Don't do it!" I screamed, hoarsely. I plunged my weary body into Darien's before he touched the man's hand. My body ached furiously as I landed painfully on the gravel surface. Darien struggles out of my arms. The two men both starred at me, stunned at the sudden interruption.

"Don't do it, Darien." I heaved again. "It's not worth it." I must've looked crazy with my disheveled hair and sloppy drenched clothes clinging to my skin. Darien stares at me and finds the strength to balance himself on his knees. "Who—"

"I demand that you tell us who you are!" the middle-aged man spat; he was showing a mixture of disgruntle and rage that his plan had been interrupted. However I paid no heed to him and grabbed Darien's shoulders. It was odd, seeing the same Darien staring at me without recognition, confused at who I was. He never aged a bit.

"What do you want from me? L-let me go!" Darien demanded. He attempted to shove me aside but was too beat up and bloody to move me an inch.

"It's me! Alice!" I cried, but I suddenly realized that my name means nothing to him. Of course he wouldn't know who I was. Although he had the same face, the same voice, he was the Darien of the past. He hadn't met me yet. Darien, still squirming away from my grasp, was now attempting to reach the man's bloodied hand. "I need…. that power…!" he gasped.

How could I make him understand?

And so I did the first thing I could think of. I grabbed his heavy scratched up head, bent down, and kissed him. I could feel him suddenly still in my arms, but I know he is immobilized with shock. Then I can feel him trying to pull away from me again, his eyes bloodshot and ready to take down his obstacle, but I drown his muffled cries with another deep kiss. I close my eyes and try to convey all my feelings to Darien. That if he accepted the curse, he'd be miserable. That I loved him enough to do anything to keep the curse from reaching him.

Darien becomes limp in my arms and I break apart. We are staring at each other, lips slightly parted. He studies me now, probably too stunned that this crazy, drenched woman comes and kisses him out of nowhere. Before he could say anything I speak up.

"I'm your soulmate, Alice Hamilton."

"Soul….mate…?" He drinks up the word, mystified.

"Yes, listen to me. Don't accept the curse whatever you do. It will only bring you misery."

"H-how do you—"

"Because I am from the future." I smiled wearily and I left him on the ground, speechless. I limp over the other man now and crouch down before him. I stretch out my arm toward him.

"Take me instead," I say, unwavering. Fred's grandfather looks at my hand and then up at me, suddenly unsure. "I have to save him," I explain, "No matter what." And you, too, will be free.

I watched as he slowly takes his shaky hands into mine. At the moment I felt his cold, wrinkled hand, time seemed to stop. We stood there, hands touching, and nothing is happening. And suddenly, a burst of energy seemed to well up inside me, causing me to double over.

Suddenly, I feel like something inside me literally breaks and I feel like I am literally being ripped in two. There is a roar in my ears, but I know I am the only one that's hearing it. My body grows hot, like I am on fire, but I kept grasping his hand. I was far from letting go. I find the energy to look over at Darien who was now watching me, mouth ajar. I managed one last smile at him before I was suddenly engulfed in a radiant light. Then I vanish, leaving nothing in the past behind.


Alice! Alice!

Darien's voice kept repeating over and over in my head again. Wake up!

My eyes flutter open, but everything is still blurry. There is no more patting against the gravel road. There is no more roar of the fire. No more smell of burning flesh. "Alice!" The voice had a feeling of relief, like he just got over his grief. My vision fully adjusts and I am well aware that I am lying on Darien's lap, his head peering above me.

"Hey…" I whisper, hoarsely. Nearby, Fred appears in view and he bends over now and takes my hand. "T-thank God. It's a miracle." Lydia appears in view as well with a tear-stricken face. "A-Alice," she sobs, "You're a-awake." She wipes her nose on her sleeve.

I am cradled in Darien's arms as he pulls me in a deep embrace muttering my name over and over again. "The curse," I say over his shoulder. "I think it's gone. It worked." I recall accepting the curse from Fred's grandfather. I remember the feeling like something has been ripped in half. It was like the burden of the curse was somehow too much to carry for one body that it finally broke.

"Yes," Darien murmurs, "Yes, I can feel it."

Against his chest, I could hear the rhythm of Darien's heartbeats. Only this time, the two hearts beat separately.

I wake up and find myself tucked into a large bed. Lydia instantly hurries at my side and explains that I collapsed from exhaustion after I woke up. Apparently, Fred shot me right in the heart, but for some reason when I woke up the bullet wound suddenly vanished before their very eyes. No one could explain why.

Darien enters my room not long after Lydia left to tell him that I was awake. He grips my hand and tells me, "So, something happened back there. I can feel it. What happened while you were… unconscious?" I knew he meant to say 'dying'.

I explain to him how I was able to peer into his past memories and somehow ended up stuck in the memory of the car accident. "I don't know exactly… but when Fred's grandfather transferred the curse to me, it was as if my body couldn't take it. Like my body was trying to reject it."

"Maybe it's because I transferred it to you first," he interrupted. I stared at him.

"What?"

"I kissed you so that I could transfer the curse to you," he said, "I… didn't want you to die." I contemplated this for a while.

"So…" I answer slowly, "if I already had the curse when I was stuck in your past memory, that means once Fred's grandfather gave me the curse again, that very same curse… I accepted it twice?"

Darien nodded. "It appears that you've hindered the curse's time and space." He put on a smug smile. "You broke it by accepting it twice in two different places at two different time periods."

"How is that…?"

Darien reaches out and rustles my hair. "Because you're unique. You're my soulmate." I let out a laugh and tears of joy came streaming down the sides of my face. Lydia arrives bringing a tray full of sweets. I breathed in the waft of oven-baked goods and suddenly my mouth began to water. I didn't notice how hungry I was.

"Thanks Lydia!" I exclaimed, reaching out for a tart. Darien took his own plate of sweets with his fork and bit into a strawberry tart. "You know, Pierre has been very happy for the past couple days," Lydia said. I looked at Darien questioningly.

"It's because I finally feel like I get enough energy from what he cooks for me," Darien answers. He plucks another bite of tart in his mouth. "Ah, delicious." I beamed at him. Darien is able to get energy from food now. That must mean…

I eyed him curiously, "So, does that mean you don't have to steal the souls of other women anymore?" He smiled at me, deviously. "Well, it depends," he answered matter-of-factly, "Sometimes women are so intrigued by my good looks and—well—it may be hard to refuse them if they provoke me."

"Hey!" I retort, smacking him playfully on his back. He fails to dodge. "Only joking," he teased.

And then, I realize that it really happened. The curse really was broken. Everything was going to be ok now.

"By the way," Lydia handed me a note. "This is for you." Her eyes suddenly seemed saddened, her lips pressed in a thin line. I set my tray down and studied the scrawled note. I immediately recognized Fred's handwriting.

Dear Alice,

I was going to wait until you woke up to tell you this, but I fear that if I did, I wouldn't be able to leave you again. I think it would do us both some good if we separated for a while. After all, it was me who shot you out of rage and I blame myself completely. All the apologies in the world couldn't forgive me for what I've done. So I've made up my mind and I've decided to quit school to join the army. I believe it will do me some good. By the time you read this, I will be long gone. Don't try to find me. I will be fine. After all, I am still immature and a sorry excuse for a man. I don't want you to see me like this.

This may be a long shot, but I'm planning on returning as a better person. I want to be someone who can protect, someone whom people can rely on. My actions toward you have been futile and I only ended up hurting you. When I return, I don't expect you to wait for me. I know you've already chosen him over me—I've known you long enough to figure that out. I would be lying if I said I'm not taking it hard at all. But no matter what, you still hold a special place in my heart. I hope that, even after all of this, you'll still think about me every so often. I know during those sleepless nights, thoughts of you will be my comfort. I hope he takes good care of you. If I come back finding he's treated you poorly, I swear I'll definitely take you far away from him. Anyway, be happy.

Love your best friend,

Fred

A tear slipped down from my cheek and clung to the bottom of my note. Fred. He was gone. My best friend was gone.


I fiddled with the hair pins so that the curls would obstruct them from view. I looked meticulously in the mirror, examining every inch of my face. I shrugged—it looked good enough.

It has been many months since the curse was broken and outside laid a blanket of white snow. I was glad the sun was out and that the heavy snow that was forecasted for today fell the previous night. After all, a snowstorm would be very unpleasant on the day of a wedding.

I heard my name being called and I rushed into the other room. My mouth opened in amazement. "Wow, you look absolutely gorgeous!" I studied Lydia, the blushing bride, in her satin, pure white dress. I secured the veil on top of her head with the rest of my bobby pins and beckoned her to the full length mirror.

"Just look at you," I said, my eyes sparkling. "Charles would not be able to take your eyes off you!" I watched Lydia in the mirror as she blushed severely. "Do you really think so?" she said in a hopefully small voice. I fastened my arms across her waist and leaned my head against her.

"I'm so happy for you," I tell her.

The ceremony took place in a simple church. It was a small ceremony with only Lydia's and Charles' close friends and families in attendance. The reception took place in the grand foyer of Darien's mansion. After being introduced to Lydia's parents and getting a few bites of dessert, I made my escape to find Darien.

I finally found him alone on a balcony, overlooking the frosty garden below. He seemed to be deep in thought. After gazing at him for a few moments, I picked up my skirts and rustled my way over to him.

"Hey," I greet him, poking him on the cheek.

"Oh, Alice." I stand beside him, taking in the view. The garden was covered in a thick layer of white and icicles seem to stick over the frozen fountain. In the sunlight, the whole garden shimmered like a winter wonderland. I bundled up next to him and we stared off into the distance.

Darien broke the silence. "So do you still think about him?—About your best friend?" To be honest, yes. I thought about him a lot. I wondered every day what he was up to, if he was safe. I prayed that I'd get the chance to see him again so I can tell him the things I never got to. Like how I appreciated all the work he did for me and my mom. Like how I knew he cared about me so much just as much as I did to him. Most of all, I wanted to tell him he still meant so much to me and that he, too, had a special place in my heart.

I nodded. "Yes, I really miss him. I think about him every day. But I know he's out there doing a good service for the people. I believe in him. He is Freddie, after all." An image of him popped into my head. It was the image that I remembered the most because he would always smile the same way when he was happy: that big toothy grin. A silence overtook us once more.

"So, what are you thinking about?" I decided to ask.

"Hmm? Oh, the future, I suppose." His voice sounded distant, still lost in thought.

"Am I in that future?" He turns towards me now. "Of course! Why wouldn't you be?" He takes my arm and brings me closer. He murmurs in my ear, "I plan on growing old with you. Will you accept that?"

I blush deeply. "Of course," I answer. I look at him teasingly, "But marriage will have to wait." His brow's furrowed as he frowned deeply.

"What's there to wait for?"

"I plan on going to college. I don't want to be stuck at home doing nothing all day. I want to go out there and make a difference."

"And what exactly is the job you plan to achieve?"

"I…I'm not sure," I reply, shaking my head, "I'll have time to figure it out I suppose." I turn to him now. "Come with me."

"What?"

"College. Come with me. You can give up your life as the Newport thief and live like a normal guy now. After that, you can get a new job, earn your own living, and then pretty soon you can start a normal family…"

"Will you be at my side?" he interrupts.

I bury myself in his arms. "Of course." I take in his sweet fragrance, the massive warmth of his body, his soft breathing, everything. His cool lips lingered to brush the tip of my forehead, down my side of my cheek, before finally landing at the base of my mouth. His kiss tasted sweet and fresh, like peppermint. I love you, his kisses seemed to say—there didn't need to be any words. I pressed deeper, my hands exploring his hair, clutching the side of his clothes. I wanted to take in everything that was him.

Darien. He was my soulmate. And the both of us were finally free.


Author's note:

Hey everyone! Thanks for taking the time to read my story. I'm sorry the last chapters seemed kind of rushed. You see, school is about to start up for me soon and once again, I'll become a busybody that puts their story on hiatus for a year or so. I just really wanted to finish it. Anyway, this story was actually cooked up over 3 years ago! Then I had this long hiatus, mostly because I didn't know how the story was going to end. I was actually on the verge of giving up on it, but then I finally got the time, the ideas, and (most importantly) the motivation to finally finish this thing. But, had I had more time to finish, I could have probably worked on further character development and extra scenes or something.

One of the things you may (or may not) be wondering is "What happened to those other girls like Miranda?" On a quick note, stealing their souls was, unfortunately, permanent and so they'll never be the same person again. But I believe that Darien hasn't really stolen their souls completely and there is hope that with more memories and experiences that happen in their lives, they'll eventually become a new and (hopefully) better people. I would probably have included that explanation with a scene somewhere toward the end of the story if I had the time.

Believe it or not, this story kind of has a little history. One random day in high school, some short guy came up to me asking if he could "have my soul." Now any normal person would have been weirded out I guess, but for some reason I ask why he needed it…. He answered that he was collecting souls so that one day he could give it to his girlfriend…. Okay….? So I can't remember if I actually "gave him my soul" or not, but I told my friend when I visited her in another state and all of a sudden, we started talking for hours and hours through a bunch of "what if" scenarios. Thus, a story began to unfold and became what it is today.

If you have time, I'd love to hear some reviews. Again, thanks for sticking with me and I hope that you'll find the time read my future stories. P.S.- Also, if you're into that stuff, be sure to check out my fanfiction page. :)