Tru was only faintly aware of the fact that she was crying. She stared at her father as she walked toward him, her feet sinking into the plush carpet with every step. "You killed mom?" she asked again. "You… you were the one who paid that guy to… to…"
"Now look, Tru," Richard said desperately, backing up, "don't do anything rash…"
"Me, do anything rash?" she heard her own bitter laughter, and some part of her felt surprised that she could even laugh at a time like this. Her gaze travelled past Jack, faintly registering the expression on his face, a mixture of sadness and shame and a thousand other things, but she could not focus on him. "How can you just stand there?" she asked Richard, her voice shaking. "How can you just… tell me what to do? After what you've done? How can you?"
"You heard everything?" he asked gravely. He had backed behind his desk now, his hands clutching the edges of the solid mahogany so tightly that it bit into his palm.
"Everything," she affirmed. "And all this time I was standing outside that door, thinking I must be dreaming… but I'm not, am I? You really killed mom…"
"I know what I say isn't going to make the slightest bit of difference," he began, staring at her, "but - "
"But nothing!" she exclaimed, her voice breaking. "You're right, there is nothing you could say! I know everything now, I understand everything, and I hate you for it. I hate you for doing this to us. I hate you for not being strong enough to just… walk away from this stupid calling without feeling like you have to kill your own wife..."
She looked away, then. There were shining tear tracks across her cheeks. "Why did you do that, dad?" she whispered. "Or was it so common to you to just… take lives that you didn't even think about the damage it caused? Was she just another job to you? Something you had to take care of? God, I wish I never had this stupid calling, I wish I could just be someone normal from a normal family, instead of this family – we're all cursed, aren't we? I…" she buried her face in her hands, breaking down in sobs.
"Tru - " Jack said softly, advancing toward her.
"Don't," she cried vehemently, flinching away. "I don't know anything anymore, okay? I don't know what to do or how to deal and… I just want it all to go away…"
"Tru," Richard said, his eyes filled with anguish. "I'm sorry."
"And you think sorry is going to be enough?" she demanded, lifting her head angrily. "You think sorry is going to cover for all this?"
"No, I'm sorry for this," he said as he withdrew a gun from behind the desk, and pointed it at her.
It was the same pistol he had used to threaten Jack earlier. That could have been entire lifetimes ago.
For a moment the air inside the room seemed to solidify, and the three of them stood there, a tableau, lit by the weak sunlight of the New York morning, streaming through the windows like quicksilver.
"Richard," Jack said, taking a step forward. "Don't."
"You stay right where you are, Jack," said the other man, his eyes still trained on Tru. "I didn't want to do this," he said quietly. "I never wanted it, sweetheart; you have to believe me. But… I can't let you win this time. I just… I just can't."
She had stopped crying. In the crystalline morning light she looked back at him, her features picked out with silver, her eyes lightened to amber-green.
"You know," she said, her voice very soft. "You killed Harrison yesterday. I guess I shouldn't be surprised by now."
Richard's hand shook very slightly. He swallowed, but said nothing.
"What are you going to do, daddy?" she whispered. "You gonna kill me, too?"
For a moment she stared down the black, fathomless barrel of the gun. And then her focus shifted, and she could see now, very clearly, how lined his face really was. She could see the silver swathes in his greying hair and the bruise-blue shadows under his eyes. The eyes themselves were blank, like pieces of slate, and she gazed into them, trying to discern any emotion at all. But his expression was closed, foreign; for a moment she felt as though she had never known him.
"No," he said, his voice very steady. "I'm not going to kill you."
And then he shot Jack in the heart.
She had felt like she was moving in slow motion, as though she were immersed in water. She fell to her knees beside him, and for a second she had a brief, vivid flash of the night when Luc passed away. The bullet wound was the same: a spreading crimson pool, too much, the smell of it, metallic and dense. The shock was the same also: numb terror, an emptiness in the pit of her stomach, reaching upward slowly until it touched her heart and turned it into dry ice.
But Luc had looked up at her and he had spoken to her, and she was able to tell him about the things that mattered. She was able, in one form or another, to say her goodbyes.
Jack's eyes were open, and in them she thought she could see the familiar amusement, the sardonic glint that seemed to be perpetually knowing and self-deprecating at the same time. But he was dead. He was dead before he'd even hit the ground.
"You said you wanted this to be over," said Richard, wiping the gun with his handkerchief.
"I don't understand," she whispered.
"It's over now, sweetheart," he said. "Everything, I mean. With his death, your powers are gone."
She heard the words but could not comprehend them. She only stared up blankly, and she could also hear her own voice, faint and hollow, as though it was transmitted from very far away. "What?"
"You heard what I said earlier, right? It's not over until one of you dies. And now you are free. From this curse or whatever you want to call it."
"My powers," she murmured, "they…"
"They are gone," he repeated, though not unkindly. "He won't ask for your help, and you won't have this day to do over. No one will ask for your help ever again. He's gone, and with him your calling, too."
"But… why? Why did you…"
"It seemed preferable to killing my own daughter," he said, matter-of-factly. "And Jack - maybe he wasn't the right person for the job, after all. He questioned too much; he fell in love with you. Maybe it was better to let him go and hope the next person in line would have more sense."
"He wasn't in love with me," she said, and her throat felt raw and parched, as though it had been scrubbed with sandpaper.
"Maybe not now," he said. "But he will be. Remember I've seen it all happen before, Tru; it happened to me once upon a time. I know how it goes."
She looked back at Jack's open eyes, and closed them with a shaking hand.
"But now," Richard had started to walk past her, heading for the door. "Things will be different now."
"So what was the purpose to this?" she asked, and she didn't know whether she was asking her father or herself or even Jack, whose skin was still warm to the touch. She could feel another tear making its way down her cheek. "Was there even a point to all of it?"
Richard paused at the door. Had she been looking at him, she would have seen a vast sadness and emptiness in his eyes. But she was only looking at Jack, trying to swallow the sudden aching that welled up in the back of her throat.
"Destiny is a strange thing," Richard said, meditatively. "You don't know why it does what it does, and you don't know where it leads you. All you can do is make the best of things, and try not to screw up too badly. You think you knew what your calling was all about, Tru? You know nothing."
She exhaled slowly, looking up from Jack's face. But she did not turn around to meet her father's eyes.
"None of us know why the fates have chosen us to do what we do," he continued, the sound of his voice grave and contemplative. "None of us know whether the consequences are going to catch up with us one day. Fate tells you all you need to know in the days and the hours that you live through, and you have to be the one to figure it out. It's the same whether or not you have the power to redo things. In the end, it's still what we do that matters. It goes far beyond the simple notions of right and wrong, good and evil."
"And what about you?" she asked, still not looking at him. "You killed mom. You killed Jack. You - "
"Don't you get it, Tru?" he interrupted, and for a moment he sounded very old. "I do what I have to do. Just like everybody else."
"But Jack…" she murmured, her eyes glazing over.
"I suggest that you get away from here as fast as possible," he said. "Don't let anybody have the opportunity to place you here at this time. As for me, I will have an alibi. An airtight one, they are not hard to come by these days. The gun will be destroyed. I wouldn't advise that you try to implicate me in this. It wouldn't end well for you."
She looked back at him. He held her gaze, and was expressionless.
"Have some peace, daughter," he said finally. "Now that he's dead, your powers have gone with him. You can live a normal life now. Isn't that… what you wanted?"
He waited, and when she didn't say anything, turned to go.
"I swear," she said quietly, watching him walk away. "I swear on my mother's grave that one day, you are going to pay for what you've done."
He stopped but did not turn around. Then, he gave a slight nod of the head, and walked out.
She could hear his footsteps echoing down the stairwell until the sound faded away altogether. And then, finally, there was only silence.
"Jack," she whispered, touching his cheek. He didn't move.
"Ask me," she murmured. "Please… just ask."
He lay quiet and still, his skin pale and translucent, his lips also; it was as though all the colour he ever had in him had drained out into the spreading pool of blood staining his shirtfront, like a scarlet blossom placed over his heart.
"This is not the end," she whispered, leaning close to him so that her breath stirred his hair. "You told me that, twice now. You said so. And I trust you, too. So ask me, please. Tell me it's gonna be all right."
She waited, but nothing came. It wasn't until a teardrop fell on his face that she realised she was crying again, soundlessly, and in some ways it felt as though she might be dying also. With a dull ache she recalled all their times spent together, the initial mistrust and confusion, the brief period when she thought they were on the same side, the joy and relief of finding someone who finally understood. And then there was Luc, and Jensen, and a thousand reasons to hate him, her nemesis, her counterpart, her… what was it that Richard had said? Soulmate.
She thought that she did hate him.
I'm sorry, Tru, I'd love to help you, really, I would, but… I'm afraid I'm gonna have to hear you say those two magic words.
"Help me, Jack," she whispered, looking away. "If I thought that was going to help I would say it until the sun went down. Help me. But… I guess you can't hear me now."
She was getting to her feet when he reached up and grabbed her by the hand. She turned with a gasp, her heart leaping to her throat.
He was looking at her, the self-amused expression still evident in his eyes. His hand was gripping hers, so tightly that it hurt, and she thought she felt something flow through them; something that was warm and cold at the same time, crackling with energy that was as familiar to her as her own body.
"Make everything right, Tru," he said.
Her surroundings dissolved like someone had splashed turpentine over paint. But this time, the rewind felt different to anything else she had ever experienced. She could still feel his hand grasping hers, a surge of power rushing between them, the impact of it taking her breath away as images rushed before her eyes, a dizzying panoply of sounds and pictures, many of which she didn't even recognise. Her body felt as though it were spinning out of control, hurtling through space, as though she were watching stars exploding into glittering flame, as though her power was burning itself up, completely, so that nothing will remain after this.
His hand slipped away and everything slowed to a stop.
Jack jerked awake with a rattling gasp, sending his empty shot glass clattering onto the floor. He looked around in disorientation, pressing a hand to his chest as though he expected to find there a gaping bullet wound.
He was sitting at a bar, in the far corner, away from everybody else. Nevertheless laughter rang out all around him, discordant but joyous. On the other side of the room, a woman was rounding up the revellers. "It's time to start the countdown!" she shouted, pointing to the screen fixed to one corner of the ceiling. The ball above Times Square was poised to drop.
Tru woke to the sound of her cell phone ringing. Her vision swimming in and out of focus, she bolted upright and looked around wildly.
She was in Harrison's new apartment. Her brother was standing in the kitchenette, laughing at something Avery had just said. On the other side of the room, Tyler was sampling cheese cubes. Shaking violently from head to toe, she answered her phone, which was still ringing.
"Tru? It's Davis. The date was a total bust… did you know Carrie was allergic to shellfish?"
"Davis," she demanded, "it's New Year's Eve? What time is it?"
"Nearly midnight," he sounded disgruntled. "What's wrong? Did you just have a rewind…?"
"I'll talk to you later," she murmured, flipping the phone shut.
For she had just seen, beyond the sliding glass door and gauze curtains, the two figures standing out on the balcony, leaning against the rusty railing, silhouetted against the night sky glittering with city lights.
"Dad," she whispered. "Jensen."
"Tru," Harrison sauntered over with a mimosa in one hand. "Glad to see you likin' my new couch! You fell asleep." Following her gaze, he chuckled. "Yeah, your new boyfriend went to talk to dad out of his own free will. Pretty bold, I say. He must really like you."
"It doesn't matter," she said, still staring. She could feel a gentle vibration running across the surface of her skin, a feeling of certainty. "I know what I have to do to make everything right."
"What?" Harrison's confused voice sounded very distant as she continued to gaze at Jensen and Richard, making no move toward them.
"I'm sorry," she whispered as an unearthly metallic screeching filled the air. "I understand now."
And she watched, immobile save for the tears flowing down her face, as the railing gave away.
The morning of Jensen's funeral dawned cold and bright. It was January 3rd, and there had been no more rewinds.
The service went smoothly, and Tru finally met his parents. His father was a distinguished-looking man, whose solemn expression and silver-streaked hair brought her own father to mind. His mother seemed to have shed all her tears prior to the funeral, and now she only sat there, mute and dry eyed, accepting everybody's condolences with calm disinterest.
Afterward, the black-clad mourners milled around, going up to the casket for their last goodbyes. Tru found herself standing apart from them as she looked around: Carrie and Davis were standing on the fringe of the crowd, not having known Jensen all that well; Harrison was conversing quietly with Avery, with a consoling arm wrapped around her shoulder.
"Hey," said a voice beside her.
"Jack," she didn't turn around. "You came."
"Well, everything considered," he looked toward the casket. "It was only fair to show."
She nodded, noticing his long black coat, grey shirt and tie. "You wore that to Luc's funeral, too."
There was a moment of silence. "I…" he said quietly. "I don't know what to say about that."
"Neither do I," she shrugged and looked away. "In the grander scheme of things, I guess it doesn't - "
"It does matter," he said. "I know it does. And I don't expect you to forgive me for it." He swallowed, glancing toward her. "But I want to tell you... I am sorry. I never felt good about it, not even when..." he looked away again. "Not ever."
"We can work on forgiveness," she said softly, her eyes trained on the distance.
He nodded. After a pause he asked, "And Richard's funeral…?"
"Is tomorrow," she answered. "Jordan is… devastated. She really took it hard. I had to do most of the organising." Upon catching his questioning look she shrugged again. "I know. After everything he's done… but he's my father, after all. He's passed on; it's the least I could do. It's all I can do."
"Does Harrison know?"
"Some things," her gaze flickered toward her brother. "I told him about what he did to mom, and the fact that he was… you know, doing what you did. Harry took it okay. He said it made sense. It was hard for him though. They were starting to get close."
"And them?" he nodded toward Davis and Carrie.
"Not yet," she sighed. "I will, though. Soon."
"Maybe we could tell them together."
There was a trace of a smile on her lips. "I'd like that."
"So," he glanced at her again. "This is how it all turned out."
"It made sense," she said slowly. "I guess. After he shot you, dad said some stuff. About how we just have to figure things out by ourselves, and do what we have to do. And I guess this was what it was about – you figured out that maybe you didn't have to restore fate the way you've been doing, and I…" she trailed off.
"And you have to learn to let fate have its way sometimes," he finished for her, his voice gentle.
She nodded. "Took us a long time to realise that."
"It's a difficult lesson to learn," he said contemplatively. "We tread a fine line, all of us, between leaving everything up to fate, and learning that we just have to let go sometimes."
"I could have saved them if I tried," she murmured. "Even now I'm not sure if I did the right thing. But I guess I'll have to live with that. I think I did. I mean, I think it was the right thing."
"I think so, too."
"You'll be coming to dad's funeral tomorrow?"
"Jack, your powers…"
"All gone. I can feel it. You?"
"I'm the same."
"Doesn't mean it's over, though. The calling would have passed onto someone else. A pair of someone elses," he corrected himself. "It could be hereditary. You'll need to keep tabs on Harrison. Maybe even your sister."
"I know." A pause, and she looked at him with a faint, wistful smile. "But at least it's over for you and me."
He held her gaze this time. His eyes were green in the gilded morning light, the look in them almost resembling tenderness.
"No, Tru," he said gently as he leaned in, planting a soft kiss on her cheek.
She closed her eyes, savouring the nearness of him, the warmth of his skin. He smelled faintly of soap, damp grass, and autumn days.
"You and me?" his voice was husky beside her ear. "This is just the beginning."
She didn't realise she was holding her breath until she exhaled with a shudder, watching him pull back. "I'll see you tomorrow," he said as he turned, raising a hand in farewell.
Silently she watched as he walked away, the sun outlining him in liquid gold.