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The City on the Edge of Forever; Private
Topic Started: Jul 24 2011, 10:18 PM (2,349 Views)
Ruggahissy
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Nick LeMonde continued from Full Circle))

((Thread cap exceeded with permission))

Nick sheepishly pulled on his dirty t-shirt. It was a bloody, dirty rag but it was all that he’d had in the way of clothes and he wasn’t really fond of being without clothes for too long. It was a left over from when he’d been heavier as a child. Kids would tease him at the beach and during gym and though he’d gotten down to a healthy size with diet and wrestling in high school, it was an insecurity he couldn’t shake.

Now fully clothed, he laid his head on his bag which he’d been using as a pillow. The dawn was just about to come. The sun wasn’t up yet but it was just one notch up from the total darkness of night. Nick rolled slightly to his left and put his hand over the smaller hand resting on the ground. He smiled.

She smiled back.

The trio had left the parish and headed straight down to the residential district in search of supplies. They scanned the businesses for extra supplies and happened upon some bread and water. In a bar they found a dead red head with a sack full of dynamite and Teo pocketed the explosives. They briefly thought about using a house for shelter but heard fighting and decided to keep moving. It was night when they reached the cliffs. With the cliffs behind them no one could flank them at least and they had three range weapons. It wasn’t a bad position, so they set camp for the night with one person keeping watch every few hours.


Nick was an hour into his shift when a whisper tugged at him. Jessica couldn’t sleep. No, he didn’t mind the company, though she should really have gotten some sleep. But she couldn’t.

She fit her head perfectly into the crook of his neck and asked for stories to calm her. She was blushing, but in the dark he couldn’t see. He told her long winding stories that had no point or that he’d long forgot the point of. Most often when he did this, people started to ignore him or would wander off, but she stayed and listened. Most people told him his history stories were boring, but she sat by his side, patient and warm and listened.

At some point she caught him looking at her and their gazes connected. Her eyes had some unfathomable expression in them; one that he would never have been able to guess the meaning of, but he thought whatever it was, it made her beautiful. He leaned down, driven by the impulse to have proof he wasn’t alone. She silently accepted and their lips met.

Her arm wrapped around the back of his head with the bend of her elbow resting against his neck. His arm slid around her waist, drawing her near. With every touch, she spurred him on, and the further he was spurred, the bolder his touch became.

Until…

Until


“Nick.”

He blinked and looked at her, lying across from him.

“What are you thinking?" she murmured.

He squeezed her hand. What was he thinking? More often than not, he was just thinking about nothing, or about books or about news he read, though that wasn’t it this time.

“We could have had it all.”
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Ruggahissy
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Nick put one large arm around Jessica and pulled her in close. His fingers trailed over the dip of her hips, caressing the smooth skin.

We're doomed, he thought, suddenly in response to her question.

The rules didn't change. All go in and one comes out. It couldn't be him and Jessica together. Teo had known that, hadn't he? Her heart beat was so strong and steady against his side. Strong muscles of her bare back strained against his touch like she was uneasy. If she made the slightest movement, his heart jumped. He'd only been with Clio before now and she was nothing like Jessica. There was that wall between him and Clio but Jessica had offered up her heart and soul. He wasn't sure how he felt about that. He wasn't sure if he'd done the same for her.


But she'd asked what he thought death was like. Why did she do that?


Maybe she was afraid. Maybe she figured out like he had that one of them had to die, if not both. He didn't want her to be afraid, but there was nothing he could really do to assuage such a legitimate fear. His fingers gripped her hip now, tightly. It hurt terribly to think that she was afraid and there was nothing he could really do for her.


"I think it's maybe like jumping into a pool. You're scared at first, but then once you take that last breath and go, it's light and calm and peaceful."


He just wanted her to not be scared anymore.

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Ruggahissy
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Nick's grip on her went slack. His eyebrows knitted together in a look of confusion and he looked far off at the distance, though he wasn't looking at anything at all.

He was so confused. He never knew any of this about Jessica. He always just thought she was a nice, sweet, shy girl who liked to talk and hang out. He had no idea she though her life was so awful and he certainly didn't know the place that he held for her. He'd never noticed. How could he notice? He knew that he couldn't see people the way others could. He felt terrible that he never noticed or had the slightest inkling of how miserable she was.


Nick felt like he'd been watching a shadow play and now someone had pulled the curtain back so he could see the show in full view. He'd known all along that he would have problems reading people since he was diagnosed as a kid, but now he felt like he'd failed her by it.


I'm so stupid. Why can't I ever tell when people are....when they.....I don't even know. I can't even phrase the thing that I'm missing.

Frustration led to guilt.


She cared so much for him and she'd opened herself up to him completely. She'd pretty much said he was all that she had and her only reason for living. Even in the best circumstances he didn't think he could return that. He cared for her and he liked her and if things were different he would stay with her and they would date and see if they could have a future together, but he couldn't imagine another person being everything to him. He had a good life. He had a loving family and good interests and lots of friends and a bright future.

Or at least he did. It was all gone now. The island had taken everything from him except Jessica.


Nick attempted to disentangle himself from the flurry of thoughts and feelings concerning this girl and while he did all that came out was


"Jessi....."
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Ruggahissy
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He was startled when she'd grabbed his face and turned him to her. She'd never been this aggressive before with him, or really with anything, ever. She was manic. Her eyes were wide and fierce, drilling into his.

Her grip was possessive and scared. They'd switched. Before he'd held on tight to her, afraid that she'd run when he found out what he did. He was a murderer. Now she was digging into him, trying to make sure they were never separated. If she held on tight enough, death wouldn't part them.


Her earnest pleadings were tinged with the desperation of a wild animal, but there could be nothing more honest than something wild and scared. There was no deception in her and upon analysis of her words, she was correct.

They could never stay together as they were. The game was the game, only one could live. If they wanted to stay together, they had to die. She didn't want the game to change and warp them. If they were killed, they would win out over the game. What was the purpose of the game other than to turn everyone in monsters?

Nick wasn't sure there was a point to trying to save him. He'd already been twisted into something terrible. Jessica was still good, though. She could still be saved and kept as the girl from back home. She was all that home was.

In death, there was freedom. Beyond the darkness was the dream of heaven.


"We can't both survive," he said quietly to the girl who was inches from his face.
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Ruggahissy
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Nick smiled just a tiny bit when she pulled him up. It was like she was hurrying him to a picnic or something. They were going to be late if he didn't get up and she was pulling him and wearing that lovely smile. She was telling him she loved him over the camp fire and balloons and celebrations they were supposed to be at. Graduation trip. Congrats, grads!

Before he realized it, his eyes were filling with tears. He almost never cried.

She deserved only good things. Jessica was tugging him up by the hand and he followed her. She was dirty and smelled of the earth and sweat, but there was that thin scent of lavender from her shampoo still.

"I want you to be happy."

They stood at the edge of the cliff looking down at the ocean. His hand was on the small of her back. She was going to get that dream of heaven. He, however, was a murderer. If they died together now, they'd be apart for the rest of eternity. If he had any hope of going with her, he had to stay. He had to atone and suffer for what he'd done. He knew she wouldn't go alone though. She'd only go if he went with her.

He had to let go of her now if she was going to keep that wonderful spirit and innocence before the game had a chance to steal it.

He would die. He just had to make up for things first.

The sun was rising. He squeezed her hand briefly and then let go.
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Ruggahissy
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A flash of hesitation.

Give me one more minute.

I just want one more.

"Jessa!"

He reached out to grab her, but she was already flying. His fingers brushed against the last few whips of her hair, fluttering behind her, weightless.

Like waking up from a dream, she was gone in an instant. He came to his senses for long enough to remember to tell her that important thing he wanted to say.

"Wait for me, Jess!" he shouted after her.

He'd be with her soon. He just had some things to take care of first. But then they'd be together. He found he didn't care so much about going home anymore. He was home when he was with her.

Jessica disappeared under the waves. He hadn't noticed until now, but he seemed to be crying. He could just make out the drops rolling over his cheek and out of his vision. He shook and squeezed his eyes shut.

"Soon. I'll find you again. And then we'll be happy," he tried to convince himself. He couldn't breathe. He sniffed and choked, coughing violently. For a moment he thought he might throw up.

It felt empty without being able to touch her. The slight smell of lavender was still on his shirt from her holding onto him tightly. He closed his eyes, looked down and sobbed quietly, holding his own hand and imagining it was hers.

This was the whole point of him staying behind. To suffer. To make up for the suffering he'd caused. He was willing to stay behind in this hell if there was a chance that after, maybe they'd find a way back to each other again.

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Ruggahissy
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Nick fell like a sack of bricks. Someone yanked him backwards while he was lost in his thoughts and in moments he was staring up at the sky, flat on his back. The sun had finally risen and cast an orange glow over the island. He was pulled out of his daze slightly when he realized someone else's limbs were sprawled on him and scrambling to collect themselves.

Teo was next to him, mouthing off angrily and getting back up. Nick sat up but did not move to stand.

"Shut up. You're a jerk," he mumbled.

"Jessica's g-"

His voice cracked. He stopped, coughed and cleared his throat. A few more tears fell from his eyes. "She's gone."



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Ruggahissy
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Nick sat staring out over the cliff at the ocean. He didn't look back at Teo during his good bye. His eyes seemed to be glazed, as if they were staring off into forever.

Teo was right, he had made a mistake. He realized now that when he was Jessica, he was the best of himself. He was caring and warm and gentle and kind and he felt like he was home again. Jessica made him the best that he was. Maybe that's what love is. Maybe real love is two people that make each other the absolute best version of themselves possible.

Teo was the opposite of that feeling. With Teo, Nick realized he was always trying to live up to some expectation and always falling short. He wasn't fast enough, he wasn't ruthless enough or strong enough for what Teo wanted. All those things that Jessica loved about him were weaknesses to Teo and it made him so angry that he had thought it was important to try and prove himself to this other person just because he approached him and wanted to form a partnership. Not being good enough, he didn't like that feeling. He made him believe there was only one way home and Jessica taught him there was another way. Home wasn't a place in St. Paul, it was a feeling, and when he was with her, he felt it.


All the same, it was nice that Teo didn't want to have to be the one to kill Nick and so he was choosing to go off on his own.


"I hope you find your way back home" Nick called to him.

He lay back and closed his eyes. He woke up some time later, alone. He didn't really want to leave this place that was so full of memories. He felt like maybe he hadn't appreciated all those things he had before now. There were cameras. Did he have something to say?


Nick looked up at one of the ubiquitous cameras.


"I love you."


It was for his family, but also for her, whom he never said it to. It was for everyone who'd lost someone in this game and for everyone who would still.

He picked up his pack and Jessica's and walked.


((Nick LeMonde continued in Glitter and Rot))
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