I know I said there would be two more chapters, but I tried various ways of splitting this and I ended up deciding that it would be pretty mean to make you guys wait for the end when it was already done anyway. So here it is! Hope it isn't too long or anything - I tend to like short chapters myself. Anyway, hope you like it!
It was dark when I entered my cabin. My mind was completely numb with horror as I grabbed the life vest and strapped it on. Would it help me? I pressed my fingers to my temples and, for the first time in my life, saw nothing. I had no future now.
My hands started shaking and I took one last look at my little room. All the pretty clothes in the dresser that I would never wear, the little cot that I would never sleep on again. Tonight I would find a much colder bed.
Unable to continue with such thoughts, I hurried out of the room and down to the hall where Jasper was waiting.
Immediately he checked my life vest. "Good, you got it on right," he said, putting an arm around me protectively. I didn't say anything as we walked outside, and he looked at me curiously. "Come on, now. Don't be worried. I'm sure this is just a drill."
There were many people milling about on deck, all wearing life vests and standing with their families, complaining loudly about the chill. "What a ridiculous idea," I heard one portly woman say to her husband. "Imagine calling everyone out like this in the middle of the night! We'll freeze to death!"
Jasper heard too, and he wrapped his arms around me, looking anxious. "You shouldn't be out in a night like this."
I nodded silently and we stood together, watching the commotion before us. We waited for what seemed like hours, silent and still, a sharp contrast to the bustle and worry going around us. So close to him, I could feel his confusion. Then his anxiety. And, when the crew began loading people into the boats, I could feel his dread.
"All first-class women and children to begin boarding!" I heard a crewmember call.
"That's you, Alice," Jasper said quickly, and began pulling me over.
"No, I'm not first class," I said. There was no way I would leave him.
"Get on the next boat, then."
"I'll wait until I can get on with you." He opened his mouth to argue, but I silenced him with a glare. "I can't get on now anyway, so stop trying. Just wait a half hour or so, and we'll get on together."
I made my voice careless and I could see that he believed me. I hated myself a thousand times over for the lie as he pulled me into a chair next to him and held me close, trying to warm my frigid hands in his. We watched and waited as the elegantly dressed ladies with elegantly dressed children climbed into the boats and were dropped into the churning sea. I was tired, and, still feeling a little sick, nodded off in Jasper's warm arms.
I awoke an hour later, cold and alone on the seat. I stood up quickly, scanning the deck for him. There was a creaking of wood, and several people screamed. I felt a strong hand grab me roughly.
"Why are you still up here, miss?"
I spun around to see a crew member behind me, his eyes weary. "Trust me, it would be a good idea to get on that boat, miss."
I shook my head – I couldn't speak. "Jasper," I croaked.
In an instant, he was at my side. "What?" he said, his eyes wild. "I've been trying to get a seat in the boat for you, but it's been too crowded! You should have went before, Alice!"
The crew member stepped in front of me; it was like I wasn't part of the conversation. His voice lowered, and Jasper leaned in to hear, his hands clenched tensely. "I'll be honest with you, sir. There's only a few more boats. It's her last chance – I'd get her over there, and fast. Don't wait for them to let her on. Just do it."
Jasper's face whitened, and then he was at my side, pulling me by the hand. "Come on, Alice."
I struggled. "Stop!"
He ignored me. "Get on the boat. We'll – we'll see each other …" He took a deep breath. "Soon."
I twisted my arm out of his grip and faced him. "You really think I'm going to get on that boat?" I asked.
He looked into my eyes, and they were tortured. "Please."
"Don't be ridiculous."
"Alice …" People were beginning to stare, and I could see him getting desperate. "Alice," he hissed, "This isn't the time for an argument! There are only a few more boats!"
"I'm not going, Jazz," I said firmly.
He took a few steps back – he was trying to distance himself from me already. To begin the separation. He wouldn't look at me; his eyes became trained on the floor. When he spoke, his voice was cold. "Go, Alice. Don't waste your life like this."
I heard the lifeboat drop into the ocean, and the creak of wood as they began loading another one. "Last call … all women and children!"
I walked up to him slowly, cautiously. When I touched his arm, he flinched. It reminded me of the first day I'd met him, and tears welled up in my eyes. I pulled him down and forced him to look at me. "Jasper," I said, my voice trembling. "Remember what I told you about … my visions?"
Instantly his eyes were seized with a wild hope, and my heart wrenched in pain. "Yes?" he said eagerly, looking up at me again. It killed me to destroy this hope, but I had to do it. I cupped his cheek in my hand and leaned in closer to him.
"I knew," I whispered softly. "I knew this was going to happen. The moment before I walked onto the ship, two images appeared to me. The first was the ship, sinking into the ocean." A tear trailed down my cheek. "The second was your face."
He seized my shoulders. "You still went."
He shook me gently. "Alice," he moaned. "I can't understand … why?"
My tears were flowing freely now. "I knew … I knew you were the one."
His face twisted. "You could have – you could have …"
I put a finger to his lips. "Yes, I could have turned back. But I chose you."
His face froze in shock, and he stood still for a long moment, processing it. Another creak of lifeboats, dropping into the ocean. But the wildness had left his face, replaced with serenity. "I see," he whispered. "I see."
I felt the ship begin to tilt. One half was beginning to collapse into the water.
"Do you …" he began, fumbling. What would we do? Where would we go? The screams of frightened passengers made my fear intensify, and he could evidently feel my growing distress. His brow furrowed and he moved in front of me, casually blocking my vision of the main deck. "Let's go somewhere … quiet."
I couldn't believe we were deciding where we were going to drown. "Inside?" I whispered. We could curl up together in the library by the fire. Wait until the windows collapsed and water rushed in …
He shook his head, and then a thought struck him. He took me by the hand and we flew down the passageway. Tears blinded me, and once more I had no idea where we were going, but at his touch a strange wave of tremulous calm washed through me, and I merely felt numb as he led me down numerous deserted hallways. Then he stopped, and pulled me through a familiar door and onto an isolated, run-down deck. All at once, I remembered.
This was the deck we had visited that one afternoon. And, I realized, the one I had seen in my visions.
He turned to look at me, his face glowing in the moonlight. Even broken with pain, it was so beautiful it took my breath away.
He paused. "So." His voice was soft, barely louder than the waves.
The night was quiet, the screams of terror faded into the distance. Except for a slight tilt, I wouldn't have known the ship was sinking. "So."
His mouth twisted sorrowfully. "This is it."
"I'm so sorry."
"Don't be," I said quickly.
He looked at the sea angrily, his hands clenching and unclenching. "I wanted to always keep you safe," he finally whispered.
I kissed him tenderly. "It's fine," I said softly. And we stood there looking into each other's eyes. I had never felt more complete. We were together even in this final moment. The way it was meant to be. I knew I would love him until my last breath, and that was all that really mattered.
The ship began to tilt, and I heard loud cracking sounds of broken wood. "The other half is giving way," Jasper said. We clung to the railing for support as the deck tilted dangerously, and once more Jasper's hand grasped mine. Still trying to keep me safe, even now.
"Alice," he said after a moment, looking at me intently. "When the ship sinks, I want you to grab on to something. The water will be cold, and …"
I shook my head. "Not without you."
"I'll get something, too. If we can just hold out for a little while, maybe a boat will come back. Or maybe another ship will come." He still looked hopeful. "Alice," he said hesitantly, "Have you tried looking …"
I had. But my visions of the future had vanished. "There's nothing, Jasper," I said softly.
His face crumpled, and I gripped his hands tightly. "I chose you," I reminded him, trying to make my voice strong.
He was silent, and when he turned to me his eyes were burning once more. When he kissed me, I felt the ground swoop beneath my feet, and I knew it had nothing to do with the ship. Even with the frigid air around me, in his arms I felt like I was on fire. And time stopped. For how long, I don't know. All was lost to me except for his lips pressed to mine with an intensity I had never felt before, a reckless passion that sent tremors through my body.
We finally broke apart when the ship began sinking steadily, the dark waters looming closer and closer. He took my hand and steadied me; I was still reeling from the kiss. We watched and waited until the waves were just beneath us. Jasper looked into the looming darkness and clenched my hand tighter. "We'll jump together," he said, his face determined.
He turned to look at me. I could hear the waves crash angrily beneath my feet, waiting. "I love you," he said softly.
I smiled. Somehow, I had known it all along. "I love you too."
There was a loud roar and I felt the chilling waters of the sea rush up to claim us. Fear made my stomach twist and then I was in his arms, their heat a sharp contrast with the icy waves that violently tossed us into their depths. Water rushed into my lungs, and I felt the scalding pain travel down my nose and throat and into my lungs. I felt the flame of his arm around me, and the fiercely desperate kick of his legs against the raging waves.
I opened my eyes one last time to look above me. The sea was as black as night, and we were as insignificant as a single star in the sky. I let my body fall limp in his grip, for I knew it was the end. I felt a smile, so irrational, spread over my lips as I felt him beside me. It was like I had told him before – I would be happy anywhere, as long as I was with him.
Reacting instantly to mine, his legs slowed – I could feel that we were slipping further and further under, but I did not feel scared. How could I, when I was to make this next wonderful journey with him? He squeezed my hand in apology. I squeezed back, a smile on my lips even as pain tore through my chest, the cold water rushing into my body to rejoice in my defeat.
… Yet it was not defeat. I refused to consider it so.
I chose you, I told him silently. You are my victory.
I knew he understood. For the last thing I felt before the darkness consumed me was his kiss, scorching hot, and his hand holding mine as we drifted together into the blackness.
Author's Note: Hope you liked the ending. I actually was pretty depressed after writing this (who wouldn't be after killing their favorite characters?), and wanted to write a happy one, but it wouldn't go with the general theme of the story (especially with the twist of Alice going on the ship only so she would meet Jasper). Ehh ... if I think of a plausible way to end it without killing them, I'll write it and post it as an alternate ending :) But don't hold your breath - I'm pretty satisfied with this ending, depressing and all!
Lastly, thanks for all the reviews - you guys are awesome! This weekend I'm going to go back and take a look at your stories as well, because you all have been so kind. I will try to give you as much encouragement as you have given me. 3
Right now I don't have any plans for future stories because I'm waiting for the right inspiration to strike (it usually does pretty frequently so you don't have long to wait). If anyone has any bright ideas, I'd love to hear them. :)
Anyway, thanks again, and hope you enjoyed this!