What Might Have Been

A/N: When I first watched "Red Eye," I was immediately fascinated with the strange tension between Lisa and Jackson (which was exactly what Wes Craven had intended, I suppose). The idea for a fanfiction has haunted me ever since, and when I watched the film for a second time, I couldn't delay it any longer. So here it is...

Classification: Classic one-shot; LxJ. Set at an indefinite point in time after the movie left off. Rated PG for strong sexual tension.

Summary: Lisa thinks she has found her way back to normal. But dreams of Jackson Rippner are still haunting her - and with every dream, her subconscious reveals a little bit more about the true nature of her feelings.

Disclaimer: I don't own Lisa and Jackson, not anything else related to "Red Eye." No profit is being made out of this fanfiction.

xxxxx

Lisa Reisert woke with a start. Her heart was beating rapidly, and she felt the last remnants of sweat evaporate quickly on her forehead and shoulders. She shivered as a sudden draught blew through the window she'd left ajar.

What had disturbed her sleep? She rubbed her eyes, trying to make some sense of the images in her head. Quiet, Leese, she told herself. Sort it out. You probably just had a bad dream.

This realization did more to calm her down than her attempts at rational thinking at three in the morning. She felt her heartbeat slow down, and with a relieved sigh, she lay back down, hugging a pillow.

xxx

Lisa sighed. She should really go to sleep soon, as tomorrow would be a busy day, but she knew the signs: insomnia had chosen this moment to reach for her. No matter how hard she tried, sleep wouldn't come.

Lisa got out of bed, went into the kitchen and poured herself a large glass of water. She thought about having a glass of wine, too, but decided against it. She'd developed an aversion to anything red since...

She froze. Had there been a knock on the door? A faint rapping?

Stupid girl, she thought. No one's knocking at your door in the middle of the night.

As if to mock her, the sound came again. It wasn't really a knock, rather a faint scratching. Someone was really taking care not to make too much noise...

All of a sudden, panic set in. No one in their right mind would knock - or scratch, for that matter - on her door at three in the morning. So she could only draw one conclusion: it had to be a burglar. Although it was beyond her as to why a burglar should knock on the door first.

Lisa felt her chest tighten. Her scar started itching. She forced herself to breathe deeply while she was thinking hurriedly.

First: get a weapon. A baseball bat - a frying pan - anything. Then get the phone ready to call 911 as soon as you have confirmation that it is indeed a burglar. You don't want to alarm the cops simply 'cause your neighbor's cat is scratching on your door, do you?

Lisa spun around on her heel and reached for the baseball bat she always kept under her bed. With her other hand, she lifted the telephone from its cradle.

She tiptoed back to the door and listened hard. Yes, there was definitely someone standing in front of it. She could even hear him breathe. Low, hasty, raspy.

She was still wondering whether she should say something or wait when realization hit home.

Raspy breaths.

The baseball bat slid from her trembling fingers and fell to the floor with a bang. Lisa winced and quickly bent down to get it.

Then she heard the voice.

"Lisa?" Low and raspy, like his breathing. "Lisa? Are you there?"

What shall I do? Please... God, Daddy, anyone... what on earth am I supposed to do?

"Lisa, I know you're there. I knew you would hear me. You feel my presence, don't you? Please, Lisa, open the door. I don't want to break into your apartment."

You bet. So what do you want?

"Lisa...?" More raspy breathing. "Leese... let me in. I'm not going to hurt you." You know I wouldn't.

Stop it, Lisa! He didn't say that!

"Why should I believe you?" The words were out before Lisa could stop herself. She heard him sigh in relief at her reaction.

"You actually don't have a reason to believe me," he agreed. "It's completely up to you. If you choose to leave your door shut, I'll respect your decision. Then I'll turn around and leave and never come back again, I promise."

"Why have you come here, anyway?" Lisa asked cautiously.

Silence.

Lisa's grip on the baseball bat loosened, and she put the telephone aside. When he spoke again, she almost got a heart attack.

"I don't really know," he said. "I was in the area, and then I saw your house, and... actually, I didn't really think. I simply wound up in front of your door and found myself knocking." He paused. "I guess I just wanted to see you."

Go away.

How dare you say something like that?

What makes you think I'd want to see you again?

Have you been missing me?

I never stopped thinking about you.

While Lisa's brain was still juggling with all the possible answers to his surprising confession, her heart made the decision for her. She watched herself as if in trance as she dropped the baseball bat on the floor, turned the key in the lock, removed the chain and turned the doorhandle.

The door opened.

xxx

Lisa opened her eyes for the umpteenth time that night. She felt that not much time could have passed between now and the last time she'd woken up. And again, her heart was racing at top speed; and again, there was sweat on her forehead and shoulders; and again, she was shivering in the light breeze that came in through the window. But there was something else this time: a strange feeling of loss that she couldn't explain. It was as if something had been ripped out of her body - only in the figurative sense, of course. She almost cringed. It took her a while to understand that she must have been dreaming, and that this strange feeling of loss had been caused by the fact that perhaps she hadn't finished the dream. Maybe something should have happened, but hadn't, due to her waking up.

If only she remembered what it was...

xxx

In broad daylight, Lisa felt safest. Only in the brilliant Miami sun could she forget the nightmare that she'd been put through. Even now, with the events on the plane some time in the past, she'd sometimes panic for no particular reason.

The only way out was to dive into work. But no one could work twenty-four hours a day, and there was always some point at which Lisa had to leave the safe haven of the Lux Atlantic and go home.

Such as now. Lisa hurried along the sidewalk in order to reach her car as fast as possible. She'd allowed Cynthia to use it for a long and complicated shopping tour involving large pieces of furniture, and Cynthia had parked the car two blocks down the road.

Suddenly Lisa felt a shiver run down her spine. And another one. She winced, suddenly convinced that someone was following her. Watching her.

I will not turn around, she told herself. I'm imagining things. No one is following me. Why should they, after all?

But the feeling remained, and Lisa quickened her steps. She could already discern her car in the distance, but there were a good 500 meters still to go.

She heard footsteps behind her, but still refused to turn around. Of course there was someone walking behind her - it was in the middle of the day, for heaven's sake. She wasn't the only one in Miami who was capable of walking a few blocks down the road instead of going everywhere by car.

But the feeling of being watched only grew stronger still, and now Lisa thought she heard low, raspy breaths.

You're imagining things, Leese, she reiterated to herself.

Raspy breaths. Now she didn't need a shrink to tell her where that came from.

And then she realized something very strange: part of her wanted to turn around, and that same part of her wanted to find that someone was following her, someone whose breath sounded raspy due to a pen-inflicted wound in his throat.

Someone she'd thought to be dead.

Jackson Rippner.

Lisa took a deep breath and turned around.

xxx

For three subsequent nights, Lisa hadn't slept very well. Now, at four in the morning, she was lying wide awake in her bed, with her heart pounding as if it was about to shatter her ribcage. But something was different this time.

For the first time, Lisa remembered her dream.

And that was the reason why she dreaded to fall asleep again. She feared that she might have another dream about Jackson. Another dream of him returning to her life.

But what she dreaded most was the fact that, in these dreams, she welcomed his return.

xxx

Back in her apartment.

Lisa heaved a sigh of relief and dropped her purse and keys on the small table beside the door. She went straight to the kitchen and reached for the bottle of white wine on the shelf, glancing only quickly at the unopened bottle of red wine right next to it. She poured herself a glass and set it to her lips when she suddenly froze.

She had not bought any red wine for ages. Where did that bottle come from!

Lisa turned around slowly. There was a vague possibility that her father had left it here after his last visit, but Joe knew very well that Lisa had started detesting anything red.

But who could have put it there, then?

Lisa felt as if her blood had turned to ice water. But at the same time, she was burning with anticipation. Part of her knew who had put it there. Part of her had only one wish: to go into her living room and find him sitting there, his stunningly blue eyes looking straight into hers as he smiled to greet her. Care for a Sea Breeze, Leese?

She was no longer in command of herself. She watched herself take down that bottle of wine, get two glasses out of the cupboard and turn on her heel towards the living room door.

And there he was, sitting in one of her armchairs, and his icicle eyes that had once seemed to cold were now sparkling with something that Lisa, in her oddly detached state of mind, could only interpret one way: he was glad to see her.

She paused in the doorway, looking at him, trying to analyze her own feeling at the sight. Shouldn't she be afraid? she wondered. Shouldn't she shout at him, run away, call the police, do something? But she found herself being irresistibly drawn to him. His powerful presence simply overwhelmed her, and it took him only a slight wink of his eye to make her set one foot in front of the other, mechanically, like a puppet.

"I'll get that," he said softly, reaching for the bottle of wine and the glasses. She let go and watched him put everything on the table beside him. She was still unable to speak; she just looked at him and felt herself slowly but steadily drift away.

"Leese..." he said.

The rasp in his voice was still there; his voicebox would probably remain damaged for the rest of his life.

I did that, Lisa thought. And then, surprised: I wouldn't do it again, even if I had to. I wouldn't want to hurt him again.

His gaze held hers as he raised a hand to stroke the side of her face. Softly, like a sea breeze.

When she spoke, it was a surprise to them both. "I knew you'd come back," she said.

"And I knew you'd let me," he replied.

They looked at each other for what seemed an eternity. His hand was still cupping her face, and Lisa closed her eyes.

She felt his breath on her cheek as he lowered his face to hers.

When his lips brushed hers, her last defenses dropped. They simply vanished, and she put both her arms around his neck to pull him close, to relish his presence.

And then she felt him slip away from her. It was as if he dissolved into smoke. He simply lost substance.

"No..." she begged desperately, tears streaming down her cheeks. "Stay..."

xxx

When she woke, her face was wet and damp and her throat was sore. She found herself lying there, curled up, hugging a pillow, as if seeking comfort. And she felt hollow, as if a part of her was missing.

Jackson Rippner.

Only ten minutes later did it occur to her that she was actually supposed to be afraid of his return, not of his loss.

But that fear meant nothing to her anymore. All she wanted was for him to come back. And it had taken several nights' sleep - and dreams - to make her understand that.

Lisa cringed, fresh tears welling in her eyes. She had always known that, if things had been different, something could have developed between her and Jackson.

But it was painful to know exactly what it might have been. Even if it was only images from a number of dreams.

xxxTHE ENDxxx