A/N: I'm aware it's been a while. At the moment I'm trying to concentrate on finishing this fic while simultaneously updating Echoes of Summer. It's a bit tough but I'm trying to keep up and just get these stories off my plate. So if you're still reading, enjoy. It's a short chapter compared to the next one. :)
Chapter Ten – The Dark Road
Chapter Ten – The Dark Road
Lost till you're found,
Swim till you drown,
Know that we all fall down.
Love till you hate,
Jump till you break,
Know that we all fall down.
All Fall Down – OneRepublic
He felt the air slide through his hair, felt it all as it slid past him, a breath of air, as faint as a lover's touch. It all went past him, his eyes closing for a moment as he held Beth to him and fell. And then his eyes immediately snapped open and he focused, in that eternal moment, that one moment that felt so long yet slipped past him like a thought. He looked over his shoulder, aware of Beth's hair in his peripheral and he gauged the distance, released Beth with one hand to ready himself.
A second later he had let go of her with his remaining hand and then, reaching, his fingers curled around the hard metal of the flagpole and he felt it. He felt as his weight, as their combined weight was pressed on his one arm and he took it, a cry breaking from him. Immediately grasping the flagpole he lifted his free arm and instantly switched grasps, his stronger hand wrapping around the flagpole as his dislocated arm fell away limply.
Beth let out a muffled sound, her arms turning to steel as they were abruptly halted in their fall and Mick clenched his jaw, biting back the pain that threatened to overwhelm him angrily. He hung suspended from the one arm, Beth buried against his neck and frame and he allowed himself a moment to accept the pain, to allow it to wash over him. Out of place, his arm would need to be popped back in before he could heal from it. And hanging like this, it would be impossible for either him or Beth to set it. His eyes came open slowly, his irises having been forced from blue to pale white. Any change in self, from either pain, desire or hunger brought the change upon him and this was no different. His eyesight was stronger when he allowed the shift and he scoped the area above, the area he had just fallen from. They hadn't reached the edge yet. Bringing his eyes down to his chest he nudged Beth a bit with his shoulder and she lifted her head from his neck, gasping as she encountered pale eyes.
"Are you with me?" he asked her and he knew it was not a mistake that he felt his fangs slowly sliding out and enlarging.
Beth gazed at him, her expression caught halfway between something that resembled wistfulness and fear. "I'm always with you, Mick," she whispered, her arms tight around his neck.
He managed a small turn of his lips, the ghost of a smile for her and her eyes strayed to his lips as he did so, seemingly caught by his fangs. "Ok. Hold on to me. I need to let go. And I need you to help me reset my arm."
A frown crossed her face but she nodded nonetheless, her lips parting. "Just tell me what to do and when," she said to him, forcing a strong tone.
He found it endearing, that she would attempt a strong front for him. His eyes shifting upward, he surveyed the area above before glancing below. The ground was a mere two stories. He could handle two stories. His gaze came back to rest on hers confidently and he said in an offhand remark, "I might break a leg finishing this so-"
A small sound came from Beth, her eyes sliding shut as if he had inflicted pain on her.
He chucked inwardly and said to her softly, against her ear, "I've broken a leg before. It's nothing."
Beth grimaced at his words but her eyes came open nonetheless and focused on him once more, her gaze steady yet shaky.
"If I happen to break a leg I first need you to reset my arm. We'll need to stop, no matter what," he said to her, staring at her with pale eyes. "I can't protect you with one good arm and one good leg. I need myself intact. So I need you to pop my arm back in its socket and I need you to give me a minute. We'll find an alley or something to rest. Ok?"
She nodded dumbly, caught in his stare.
He smiled at her once more, mirthlessly. "Ready?"
And as if finally coming back to herself, Beth nodded firmly, her arms tightening once more around his neck. "Ready."
And with a slight nod to her, Mick released the pole.
He felt the instant she stiffened once more against him. Feeling the air sweep around him, he prepared himself and with his good arm he grasped Beth under her rear, hefting her up against him. She let out a small squeak as he did so and a moment later he hit the ground, his legs bending and taking the fall perfectly under him. Beth found herself straddling him, legs locked tightly around his waist and for a moment they merely held together, her heart pounding loudly enough in his ear to deafen him. And then, as if struck, she straightened from him, gazing down at him, her arms still wrapped around his neck forcefully.
He looked up at her, dropping to one knee in one movement and the look in her eyes was enough to freeze him and almost arouse him. She was breathing rashly, her breaths coming erratically and he brought his eyes down to her lips, feeling as if he could see each of her breaths issuing forth.
One perfect moment, cradling her. It was all he could have ever asked of any God. He held his breath stiffly, lips parted, gazing up at her as he settled her on his bent knee and he lifted his good arm, a finger brushing aside an errant tendril of hair from her mouth.
"Your arm," she suddenly whispered and she moved, bringing her face away from him as she unlocked her legs. Looking up at the roof as she did so, she quickly crouched beside him and said, "tell me what to do! Quick!"
Mick snapped from the pink haze he had floated into and nodded quickly, swallowing. "Here. Just hold my arm, like this," he instructed her and he grimaced as she took hold of it with a firm grip. "I'll pop it back in, you just hold it."
"Ok," she whispered reluctantly. And she shut her eyes tightly, fighting back the small sound that fought to break as he readied himself and then made one small but jerky move, a growl rumbling from him as the limb settled back in place.
"Damn that hurts," he murmured with a shake of his head.
"Come on," she urged him, feeling like the vilest person in existence as she rose to her feet and pulled on his shirt collar. "I can hear them up there, they'll be on us in a second-"
With a nod, Mick rose and did not fight her when she locked her fingers through his. Together they took off, Beth leading and Mick halted her after several moments, scanning the area. "No," he whispered, wincing. "This way. I left the car parked-"
Beth caught sight of his vehicle with a nod. "I see it, I see it," she said quickly and she dug her hand into his jacket pocket as she ran, fishing out his keys. "I've never been so happy to see a damn set of keys…"
Mick chuckled as they ran, slowing them a bit. "Just get it started, hurry," he ordered and he pushed her on, grimacing as his arm stung. It was on its way to healing but the mere pain of it slowed him. He inhaled deeply, fighting the pain down and she looked at him over her shoulder before running ahead, quickly fumbling with the keys before letting herself in and immediately starting the vehicle.
"Hurry," she uttered quietly, almost begging him, as he reached the car and slipped in. "Please, hurry, hurry, hurry-"
The car started up without issue and Mick slammed his door shut, Beth following suit a moment later. "Just go," he ordered, and he scanned the area, the roof above, his jaw clenched. "I don't see anyone but just go. Back it up all the way and then turn it around and-"
"On it," Beth stated and a moment later, without bothering to look if any pedestrians could be in the way, she threw the vehicle into reverse, backing up the block with a squeal of rubber before wheeling the car around then pealing off into the night with angry tires.
Beth didn't bother to ask him where to go. She immediately headed for her home, her eyes worried in the night lights of the city and Mick couldn't help himself but gaze at her as those lights were reflected in her eyes. Almost beautiful, shining there. He inhaled deeply, releasing his arm, and it was good as new now as he made a firm fist and then opened it gingerly.
"Do you think your apartment is a good idea?" he asked her quietly.
She did not respond for a long time, swallowing soundlessly. "I have nowhere else to go, Mick," she whispered and she said nothing more to that.
Mick stared at her, feeling his heart almost break. And he wanted to say that she had him to come to, whenever she needed.
But she didn't.
"I have nothing to offer you, Beth," he said to her softly.
Her hands tightened on the steering wheel, her eyes blank.
And even as he reached out to her, his fingers wrapping around hers on the steering wheel as she drove, she murmured painfully, "I've never wanted anything else from anyone." She closed her eyes for a moment before looking ahead of her once more, steering carefully. "But don't ever tell me you have nothing to offer me. You're the only one who can ever give me everything I've ever wanted-"
"No, damnit," he cut her off and he yanked one hand off the steering wheel, forcing her to look at him quickly in disbelief. "Do you see? Do you see what the hell just happened, Beth?" he cried angrily and she stared at him, eyes widening. "This is what I have to offer you! This! All this crap! Is this what you want? Is this what you want?" he demanded. And he allowed her to take her hand back, quickly looked ahead once more but he lifted away from his seat, facing her head on. "Do you want to run? Always? For the rest of your life, in this car? Do you want to always run? Because this is what I can offer you, Beth! This is my life and this is what I am! Is this what you want-"
"Yes!" she shouted, cutting him off and forcing him to rear back in disbelief. "Yes! This is what I want! I want you! I want us! If you're always running then yes! Take me with you! Wherever you go! Take me with you! Just don't leave!"
Mick stared at her, stunned into silence, into disbelief at her outburst. The lights of the city swept past him in that small eternity of silence, his heart coming to a dead stop in his chest. And he gazed at her as she propped a hand against her car side window, dropping her head into it as she drove, her bottom lip trembling.
"You don't know what you're asking," he whispered. And he turned in the seat once more, merely facing ahead and settling into silence.
And she let him for a long while, allowed him to be quiet and did not break the stillness. Navigating, she merely stared ahead in her own brokenhearted silence, her breathing harsh even to her own ears. And then, slowing, she abruptly brought the vehicle to a stop on a side road and turned off the engine, staring blankly at the keys for a long moment.
"Why are we stopping here?" he asked her, lifting a hand to rub his eyes wearily.
She hesitated, her eyes caught, before she lifted them to gaze at him. And he was already staring at her, his eyes hooded. Carefully, as if wondering whether it was a good idea to even speak to him, she turned a bit in the seat to face him and said quietly, "I meant…what I said back there."
He gazed at her silently, his head cocked a bit as he rested his own head on the hand propped against the passenger side window.
"About taking me with you," she went on. "I meant it. All of it. Maybe I came out a bit harsh but I don't know if you realized that the last few days have been a bit…hard on me. But I'm aware of what I'm saying. And I mean everything I say."
Mick merely continued to look at her in silence, his eyes shining in the gleam of a far off street light. And she saw herself reflected in those eyes, saw how wide her own were at the moment as she spoke to him earnestly. She waited for him, rigid, waiting on him to say something. Anything at all.
Sighing inwardly, quietly, Mick closed his eyes for a long moment, rubbing them wearily with long and tired fingers. And then he straightened, seeming suddenly old even for his age. Turning a bit toward her he reached out and took both her hands into his, holding them between his palms and finding them cold. Thoughtlessly he began to rub them, silently, and Beth found herself gazing down at their hands, together, and feeling her heart swell almost to breaking. Her face saddened as he merely rubbed them and they sat in that stillness for a long time, Beth's eyes sliding closed, her hair slowly falling down her shoulders as she bowed her head.
Slowing a bit, causing her to lift her head expectantly, Mick parted his lips to speak hesitantly. And even before saying anything he separated her hands, holding one and dropping it to his knee. And the other he lifted to his chest, pressing it to his heart. Beth stared at it, her mouth tight in a pained line, her other hand in his stiff.
"If anything were to happen to me, Beth," he began quietly, almost reluctantly, "I wouldn't take you with me. Ever."
Beth's eyes darted up to meet his, her mouth falling open in disbelief. And she could only stare as he released her hand, then both of them, turning in his seat to face forward once more and ending whatever conversation she might have wanted to hold.