Outside of the Dream
Chapter 8: Separation
They were all impossible. Frustrated the doctor bundled his possessions together. After Machika had run off and Methuselah had sulked away from them he'd been left with their uninvited guest. Eury hadn't stuck around very long either.
"Well, gotta be going. Thanks for the food, it was great."
And that was that. The doctor sighed. Methuselah's behavior wasn't really that unusual. It was the look on his face as he sat there that had decided the doctor. It was time to leave. Something big was coming. "Probably Yuca," The doctor pulled on his backpack and stood up. "Don't want to be caught anywhere near here when those two meet." He did have his innate curiosity, but personal survival took precedence over everything else. After all, he wasn't immortal.
Now which of his discoveries did he want to take with him?
"Ah, you're still here?" He rubbed Kiki's head affectionately. "Take care of that mistress of yours, okay? She's liable to get herself killed running haphazardly after Methuselah like she does."
Kiki purred, leaning into his hand. The doctor gave him a final rub and straightened up. "Take care of yourself Kiki."
The small creature sat back and yawned.
"So, that's what you think?" The doctor laughed. "Well, guess no one wants to take my advice."
He turned headed for the corridor that led out of the complex.
He didn't get very far before Machika ran into him. He gripped her shoulders to steady her. "Hey, whoa there Shorty. What's the rush?" He glanced around. "Since Calvaria's here I'm leaving. You probably should go too, it's gonna get crowded soon."
"Doctor!" Both Machika's fists slammed into his chest, drawing his attention back down to her face. Tears welled in her blue eyes. "You have to help Rain, turn him back into a human, please. You have to remove his cross. Please." She hid her face and her tears.
The doctor held her gently for a moment before he spoke. "A long time ago he let me examine him. That cross is intertwined with his heart. I don't know exactly how it works, but somehow it keeps the power he has from going out of control, lets him keep his human shape. You've seen the creatures around here. Once someone gets infected with angel blood the cells in their body can't adapt to the sudden change and they die. If I removed Methuselah's cross he would become like any other angel. He would die."
Machika glanced up, horror evident in her face.
"Yuca's managed everything perfectly." The doctor continued. "He chose the perfect person. Methuselah is the gentlest person I've ever met. He feels pain deeper than anyone else around him. Because Methuselah's been waiting for Yuca for six hundred years already means that Yuca's already won." He stepped around Machika and continued down the corridor. There was nothing else he could say. It was up to her to make up her mind now. He couldn't force her to leave. She wouldn't. He'd already seen it in her eyes. Eury was right, she was in love with Methuselah.
Ah Shorty, of all the people in the world you fall in love with the one person you can't have. He shook his head sadly and lit up a cigarette. It's really too bad.
Methuselah is the gentlest person I've ever met…. Because he's been waiting six hundred years already means that Yuca's won.
The doctor's words spun around and around in Machika's head as she slowly made her way back toward the camp. The doctor was making the smart choice and leaving. She was going to stay. She couldn't abide the idea of leaving Rain by himself. Grandfather, I found someone who keeps me from falling alone in the darkness, just like you did.
Rain's hands gentle on hers. The memory brought up a blush and a smile.
You're in love with him aren't you?
Remembering Eury's comment made her pause and hide her cheeks. It's true though, isn't it? A quiet voice deep inside her whispered.
It's not the same.
Machika straightened up, slapping her cheeks lightly. She needed to find Rain.
He was sitting on a box, hands folded loosely between his knees. His hair fell forward hiding his face.
Machika watched him for a while. He didn't move. She moved around the room, gathering her belongings before approaching him again. He didn't acknowledged her presence until she slammed her scythe into the ground in front of him. The noise startled him and he looked up at her in surprise. Machika met his look evenly and marched over, plopping down on the ground next to him. "I'm staying here with you while you wait for Yuca."
"Your butt will get cold."
"Shut up." Machika could feel her cheeks heating. Ever since she'd become mixed up with Rain her proclivity to blush had increased; be it from anger or embarrassment.
Silence stretched between them. It didn't last long. She had questions that begged to be asked and she couldn't keep herself from asking them. "Is he really coming?" She couldn't believe it would be that easy.
"You told me to shut up."
She didn't believe he was anywhere near as meek as he sounded. "Oh, come on." Her frustration bled out through her words.
"He's coming." Rain became serious. It didn't last long as he continued. "Although it might be a couple decades before he gets here. He is just a baby right now and who knows where he might be in the world.""What?!" Machika stared at him in disbelief. "Are you serious?" Of course he had to be right. He was waiting for Yuca to be born. Still in her minds eye Yuca was always a grown man with a white beard and hair, a mad scientist. Imagining him as a baby took too much energy.
"Will you still wait?"
Rain's question drew her from her musings and she blinked at him. He was smiling gently and that smile made her stop breathing for just a moment.
"Sitting on that floor your butt will get frostbitten."
She didn't respond to his lightly offered jab. Instead she stood up, moving until she could sit down carefully in front of him. She knew her cheeks were flaming red as she stared down at her gloved hands folded primly in her lap. "I'll wait."
She sat perfectly still, feeling as Rain bent forward. She watched his hands cover her smaller ones. He cupped them carefully, gently. His forehead pressed against the back of her head and she could feel his breath stirring her hair.
"Why do you care for me so much?"
He didn't give her time to answer the question. His hands gripped hers tighter as he continued speaking. "Time goes by swiftly for me. Before I know it you'll be gone and I'll be forced to go on living while the memory of your loss just becomes more painful."
"Don't leave me alone."
"No." She heard what he didn't say. Machika turned to face him, unable to bear the pain in his voice. "No, I won't leave you alone." It was her pain too, the fear of being alone in the world. "I'll become immortal too, I'll stay with you." Forever. Her promise was unspoken.
"You can't." Rain's denial broke her heart.
Machika reached for his coat, pulling it away to expose his neck. "Flesh and blood of an infected angel…" Lunging forward she bit his neck, drawing blood and tumbling them both backwards off the box.
"Ow." Rain protested as he slammed into the pillar behind them. "Machika stop, you can't become an immortal." He gripped her shoulders pulling her away. "Machika!"
Machika was on the brink of tears, her breath hitched in her chest as she fought the rising lump in her throat. She closed her eyes, feeling the first tears slip past her lashes as the next words escaped. "Rain, I love you." She opened her eyes and saw the surprise on his face. She couldn't help it. She started to cry.
Rain kissed her.
The suddenness of the act stopped her tears. All the universe narrowed to include only the two of them. It was magical. So this is what it's like… Machika's brain managed that one observation before briefly ceasing to function.
Rain pulled back slowly, not looking at her. "It's all your fault. If it wasn't for you I could've done it, killed him and my heart forever for all eternity." He straightened and the despair in his voice knifed through her. He pulled her to him, burying his face in her shoulder. "Even so I wanted to be with you. I want to be with you!"
"Rain." She soothed him with her voice and her hands, cupping his face with her gloved fingers, wiping his tears away with her thumbs. "I'll be with you, you won't be alone. I'm your grim reaper." She gave a shaky smile, thumbs still caressing his face. "I will save you. You don't have to be alone anymore. We can be together."
He reached up for her hand. Their fingers intertwined, a tentative joining. She thought he was going to kiss her again.
The door blew inward with a grinding crash.
It was the sound of an explosion that stopped him. The doctor turned and looked back. Smoke or dust seemed to be rising from the remains of the laboratory. "Ah man." He scratched his head. "Guess I should go back and see what exactly Calvaria left behind." He started to trek back. He wasn't even close when he saw several helicopters glinting in the late afternoon light speeding across the sky. "Well, guess there won't be anyone to greet me when I get back. That's nice to know."
The entire facility was nothing more than a heap of rubble. The doctor sighed as he surveyed it. "Trust Calvaria to be thorough. Well, guess I came back here for nothing."
"Kiki?" He glanced around, not spying the small animal at first. But then he located him, sitting on top of a pile of rubble and scrabbling at it frantically.
"Hey, what's the matter little guy?" The doctor made his way over to where the animal was. The sight of a hand clenched tightly around a familiar looking scythe spurred him to sudden action. He began clearing away rubble as quickly as he could safely manage. "Hey Shorty? Can you hear me? You all right?"
She was unconscious, bruised, bleeding and filthy from being covered in debris. She had no broken bones. "I tell you Shorty, you are one lucky girl." He began rigging up something to drag her on. "Thankfully you aren't as heavy as Methuselah. Speaking of the devil, where is he?"
Machika didn't respond, still unconscious. Kiki curled up carefully by her head and watched the doctor work. He finished and moved Machika onto the travois, covering her warmly before heading back to search through the rubble one last time. He couldn't locate Methuselah. It was getting colder when he finally gave up.
"Well, guess the guy can fend for himself. He has been around for a long time, don't you think Shorty? Anyway, I gotta get you somewhere warm."
Halfway to the border they were overtaken by a wagon. "Oi, need a lift?" The driver asked.
"Thanks, that would be helpful." The doctor gave a tired grin.
"Hey, is the little missy alright?"
"I'm trying to get her to the border to a flophouse." The doctor lifted Machika into the wagon with the help of the driver. Kiki followed his mistress closely. "She'll be fine, she just needs to stay warm and rest up a bit."
"If you say so." The driver sounded doubtful. He scratched his head. "I can get you there no problem. It's only a little bit out of my way." He eyed Kiki. "Funny little creature you got there."
"Yes, Kiki is one of a kind." The doctor agreed. "Thanks for the lift."
"Sure." They reached the inn in a short period of time. The driver waved off the doctor's attempt to pay him. "Just make sure that little girl gets better quick. Sure'd be a shame if something more happened to her."
"Of course." The doctor gave a half wave before turning toward the unconscious girl and carrying her into the flophouse. "Let's see about getting you warm."
Someone was calling her. Machika drifted upwards toward consciousness. She opened her eyes, blinked once and focused on the face above her.
"Hey, you're awake. I was getting a little worried about." The doctor straddled a chair, smoking as he watched Machika. "You're lucky I came back to check things out, otherwise you would've been buried alive."
"Oh." Machika curled the fingers of her right hand slowly. "Where am I?"
"At a flophouse on the border." The doctor's voice was serious as he continued. "What about Methuselah?"
Machika stared up at the ceiling as her memory of what happened flooded back to her. Jumping into Rain's arms, the look in Rain's eyes as he reached for her. That child standing, just watching with cold, dead eyes. The angel holding Rain's heart in it's hand and then….
"His heart," Tears slid down her cheeks. "I saw his heart crushed." There'd been so much blood everywhere.
"Find the doctor, I'll meet you at the border, I promise."
Machika bolted out of the bed, ignoring as her battered body protested. She only paused long enough to shove her feet into her shoes before rushing outside. A wide expanse of whiteness met her gaze. Snow stretched in every direction.
"Shorty, wait, it's too cold out here." The doctor huffed up behind and draped a coat over her shoulders. "What in the world are you doing?"
"He told me to wait for him at the border."
There was a sigh before the doctor continued quietly. "I'm sorry Shorty, but if what you told me really happened then I don't care how immortal Methuselah is, he's…"
"NO." Machika cut off his sentence harshly. "He promised. He promised."
"Shorty…" The doctor slid an arm around her shoulders. "Come on back inside."
She let him lead her back into the building and tuck her back into the bed. Rain's face as he mouthed that last request before everything came crashing down played over and over in her mind's eye.
Machika buried her face in her pillow. Rain, you idiot, you promised we'd go together. Stupid head, moron. Why'd you leave me? Why?