My wrist communicator indicates that the request for an ambulance was successfully sent.
Donna cradles Jack's limp body under the shade of a nearby palm tree. Tears stream down her cheeks as she softly runs her fingers through his bloodied hair.
"We need to get him to a hospital, Elaina," she whispers, "but we don't have any money left."
My heart starts beating a little faster again. I still don't get why she's so emotional about this – when they divorced, she seriously considered hiring an assassin to take him out.
I reach over and give her a reassuring squeeze.
"I'll take care of it. Keep him alive for as long as you can."
She nods through her tears and gives me a grateful look. I haven't seen her do that in forever. This is real. She really does love him still.
I drop my leather jacket beside her. It's fricking hot here and what I'm about to do doesn't require it anyway.
"What are you going to do?" the blonde asks as I lift up my shirt and drop my bra beside my coat.
"Get us some credits," I say without meeting her gaze. I'm pretty sure I see a bar farther up the beach.
"Thank you," she whispers.
I won't say what happened next just in case my mother ever reads this, but suffice to say, 'I won' – and now Donna and I have all the credits we'll need for another week or so.
The Island paramedics are kind enough not to ask us a lot of questions when they arrive. Soon, the wounded Jack is on his way to emergency care.
Donna hugs me as the hover ambulance speeds out of sight.
"Thank you, Elaina," she whispers again.
I hug her back, but I'm at the point where I need answers.
"OK, Barbie, enough is enough. Tell me what's going on between you two. Last I heard, you hated him and hoped he would die a painful death. Now you're acting like you're still married or something."
She turns away from me and starts to sob again.
"Fine," she blubbers. "We've been in contact again. For a while now, actually. Several months. It's been a good thing. He owned up to a lot of the crap he laid down. We were talking about maybe giving it another go, you know? Starting from a place of honesty this time."
I kind of want to hit her right now.
"Men don't change—" I start to say. Donna cuts me off.
"I still love him. I still need him, OK? He's the only man that understands me… that really understands me. I didn't know I needed that so much until we started talking again."
I still want to hit her. She gives me a dismissive look.
"You obviously don't get it. I don't care. It's my life, not yours, so get over it."
I feel my cheeks start to redden a little. I need distance right now, or Hawaii is going to see some live cyborg vs cyborg action.
"I'm going to go see about the other Jack. See you around," I shout. I didn't actually mean to shout, but I guess it was either that or I break all of Barbie's teeth.
"Fine, BB!" Donna shouts back.
Yeah. I pretty much hate her right now.
I spend the rest of the morning walking the beaches of Hawaii in a huff. It's much too hot for tight jeans and a leather jacket, so I get a locker at one of the beach clubs and purchase a teeny-weeny string bikini. I take a few selfies and send them to the Vancouver portal email address. I don't know why. I hope that old fart sees them and has a heart attack.
That afternoon I come to my senses and start asking the locals about the wounded man not far from the Hawaii portal. No one is keen to offer up any details. The way they all avert their eyes when I ask tells me it's somehow connected to the local crime syndicate. That's usually the only thing that invokes the old 'I see nothing, I hear nothing' mentality.
I get lunch from one of the local food trucks and park it on the beach under a palm tree. I'm not entirely sure where to go from here. I'm still too mad at Donna to call her, but I'm also completely out of leads.
Good thing they tend to find me.
"I told you to go home, Elaina!"
I nearly choke on my burrito. I look up to see the 'not wounded and dying Jack' looking down at me with a scowl.
"I'm on vacation?" I offer, trying to look innocent.
"What happened to the other me?" he asks in an angry tone. "Did you see where they took him? Why didn't you listen to me and go home? This doesn't concern you!"
You know what? I'm tired of all the fighting. If this Jack is just going to be in my face right now, he can piss off.
"What do you want from me, Jack?" I say with a tired expression. "We found the other Jack beaten half to death lying in the street not far from the Hawaii portal. That's all I know."
The tall, handsome man gets a faraway look in his eye.
"He must have escaped somehow… tried to get away… or they realized he wasn't me and they dumped him. Yeah… that's probably it…"
"Can you please…" I'm close to begging at this point. I'm so tired of all of this. "Can you please… just… tell me what in the Hell is going on? Please? Apparently Donna is still in love with you even after everything you did to her. There's a second you running around that the crime syndicate wants. I'm in the middle of all of this and I'm so confused, so… please. Can you please help me out? Just a little? Please!"
I'm so tired and so burnt out that I'm actually close to tears at this point.
Apparently Jack is just as exhausted. He turns from me and lets out a long sigh as he rubs his face.
"Please, Jack?" I give one last desperate whisper.
"I'm not Jack," he finally says and turns back to face me. "At least, not the Jack you know. Not really."
I can't even process what he just said. I just continue to stare.
"I'm Jack from a different… place? Dimension? Alternate timeline? I don't know how to properly define it."
My head instantly starts to hurt.
He takes another long sigh.
"Three weeks ago, there was a portal malfunction of some sort. A power surge or something? Someone tried to explain it to me… something about portals not just connecting to each other on one earth, but multiple earths? I don't know. Anyway, I guess me and your Jack entered a portal at the same time and for some reason both of us exited in Vancouver on this earth. Together. Side by side. It was the damnedest thing I've ever experienced.
All I can do is kind of shake my head. I kind of wish he just got cloned or something. At least I understand that sort of thing.
"So yeah. I guess my body is different from the people of this earth. My earth is a lot more harsh – the weather, I mean. Lots more solar radiation. A lot more disease. Apparently my blood can cure a lot of your diseases – and I guess that makes me valuable. At least, that's what the doctor that checked me out said. Everyone was supposed to keep a lid on me being here, but I guess word got out."
"Sooo… now the criminal underworld wants your blood so they can turn a profit?" I offer. I hope I'm getting what he's telling me.
He nods. Yay me!
"Except, they captured your Jack instead by accident. He was keeping me stashed away at his place until we could figure out how to get me back to where I belong. We are twins, basically, so it was an easy mistake to make I guess. Anyway, I sort of got him into this, so I'm trying to get him out of it now. I was a bounty hunter on my earth as well, so, I've got the skill or whatever."
"And you know alternate versions of me and Donna?" I ask. I think I'm starting to get it now.
He nods again. I'm two for two.
"Yeah, you could say that."
"So… were you and Donna married on your earth, too?"
Jack gets that faraway look again but says nothing.
My eyes open wide. I feel like I was just hit by a bolt of lightning.
"We're married, aren't we? On your earth. It's you and me. We got married."
Now I think it's Jack that's going to cry. He turns away from me and hangs his head.
My heart feels like it's going to burst out of my chest and I start to hyperventilate.
"Jack!" I scream. "Is that for real? Am I right?"
He nods without turning back to look at me.
"Are we still married?" I scream again. I can't believe this. I was so not expecting this.
He does turn back to me now, the scowl on his face again.
"Yes, I'm still married to my Elaina. Not you, MY Elaina."
I understand what he's telling me, but I'm still freaked out.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah I get it. Don't worry, I'm not thinking we need to have a kid and get a house with a white picket fence or anything, buddy. I'm just so… freaked out that a version of me could actually settle down and get married! You don't get it, I know – but for me, that is just soooooo… I don't know? Not me? I can't even conceive of it! Honestly! And yet… you're telling me that another version of me—"
"Yes, I get it, Elaina. Now please… shut up!"
"Fine, whatever," I mumble. He could have at least let me finish my rambling. He's rude no matter what version of him you deal with apparently.
"Go home, Elaina. Take Donna with you. There's nothing you two can do here."
I stuff the rest of my burrito in my mouth and stand. My mind is still going a million miles an hour.
"Do you have any leads on how to get home?" I ask with my mouth full.
"I was going to talk to a Dr. Hydroxian over on Omega9 about it. I guess he's been messing with portal theory for years now. But then the kidnapping happened, so…"
Ooof. Off-world portal jumps are expensive. I hope this Jack is rich.
"Well, our Jack is in hospital now, so I guess you don't have any reason to stick around anymore, huh? That it? You going to bail on all of us and haul-balls off world now?"
"If you say your Jack is safe now, I guess I don't have any reason to stay. It would probably be best if I left right away, actually. The bad guys will be looking for me now that they've figured out they had the wrong guy."
Not really sure what to say now. I shrug back.
"Have a nice trip? I guess?"
He nods and starts to leave.
"Take care of yourself, Elaina."
He pauses, and looks over his shoulder at me.
"You don't have to live this life, you know? My Elaina gave up the game before she got the cyborg implants. She does reception for a veterinarian now. She's happy. Or at least she was before I disappeared a few months ago. Just something to think about."
He didn't have to throw that in my face. I'm perfectly happy just the way I am, thank you very much!
I manage a little smile.
"Say 'hi' for me."
He looks back at me a while longer, then nods and walks up the beach. No matter what earth he's from, Jack is a dick.
My wrist starts to flash indicating that Donna is trying to contact me. I give a little sigh and tap the side of my head.
"Hey," I think to her.
"I'm sorry about earlier, Elaina."
"Jack is stable now. He's going to be OK."
"Did you have any luck looking for the other Jack?"
"You might say that, yeah. Gotta turn this off now, the headache is starting."
"K, come to the hospital and fill me in. Donna out."
I tap the side of my head. I guess I'll go tell Barbie what's happening. I think I will stay here in Hawaii for a while. It's Hawaii after all, and I do deserve a vacation.
I brush the sand off my mostly bare butt. I smile to myself. I really do make this bikini look fabulous!
A flurry of movement off to the side catches my attention. It's Jack again. He's running toward me. For a brief moment, I allow myself to fantasize that I'm his wife and he's running back to me. For a tiny moment I feel like I catch the briefest of glimpses into the other Elaina's life.
But then Brick Mickey and a bunch of henchmen come into view and I suddenly understand what's happening.
Jack's face is a mask of fear.
"Run, Elaina! RUN!"