In her wonderfully long review, slplady caught me being lazy with this piece. She was right, it ended abruptly, so forgive me my sloth, and enjoy this unexpected epilogue. Thanks for reading, and reviews are always appreciated!
Matt woke to find himself alone in bed, Emily's side gone cold. Alarmed, he raised his head from the pillow, and looked around, searching the room for her. It was still dark, but he could make out her shape, sitting in the chair by the window, her legs drawn up to her body. She'd thrown on her bathrobe, a deep blue satin, and a glass of water sat on the nearby desk. It looked untouched.
He slowly stretched himself out of bed, slipped on a pair of boxers, and meandered over to the window. Emily never gave any indication that she knew he was awake, just stared through the tiny sliver of window visible between the curtain. He rested a hand on her shoulder, and she jerked startled.
She was still shaken from the night, they were both still shaken. Emily faced him now, biting her lip, and her eyes awash in shame, embarrassed that she'd startled so easily. She had known he was there, but his warm fingers had still reacted with her frayed nerves. She took his hand in hers, lacing their fingers together.
"Can't sleep?" Matt's voice broke the silence, startling both of them.
"No, I keep seeing that room, that hotel, that stupid party...and him." She sighed. "That gun is still firing in my head, and I'm still walking out of that room, and leaving you there to die."
"You did what I asked--no, what I begged you to do. Don't feel guilty about that." He nudged her out of the chair, sat himself, and then pulled her back on into his lap. Her legs hung over one side, her head rested on his shoulder, and her arms were around his neck. She picked her head up and looked at him.
"Matt, what if it had been reversed? What if you left me in there, wouldn't you hate yourself?" She hadn't meant to be quite that honest, but there it was.
Matt rested his face against her neck, breathing out tiredly. "Yeah...yeah, I'm pretty sure, I'd hate myself."
"You almost died today."
"I know, but I don't know how to make you feel better about that."
"Jesus Matt, this isn't something you can make me feel better about. I'm not going to get over this night anytime soon, I know that. I just wish I could stop seeing it, and stop hearing. Maybe then I could live with always feeling it." She still had one arm around his neck, but she was sitting straight, looking at him.
She didn't answer, just frowned in confusion.
"Let me rephrase, what is it that you feel?" He tried again.
"You know that feeling you used to get when you were a kid, when you knew you did something really wrong, and were about to get caught? That sick, painful feeling in your stomach?" She asked, her hand gently tracing around her bare chest.
Matt nodded, he remembered that feeling.
"It's like that, but so much worse than I ever remember it feeling. Like every one of those times rolled up into one."
"Ouch, if you were anything like me as a kid, half your childhood was those times," he joked.
Emily cracked a smile. "I don't doubt that for a minute, but I wouldn't say half my childhood, maybe a quarter."
Matt chuckled lightly, and tangled his fingers in her hair. "I love you."
She leaned over and pressed her lips delicately against his, teasing his bottom lip with her tongue. "I love you too."
Matt rested his forehead against hers. "Tell me what I can do to help you."
She leaned back from him abruptly, then smiled. "You already are helping me."
Matt regarded her for several minutes, before finally kissing her deeply. Emily rested her head against his shoulder again, inhaling the scent of his bare skin, one hand resting low on his chest, feeling the steady beat of his heart beneath his skin.
He tightened his arms around her the tiniest bit, needing the security as much as she did. He didn't think he was as shaken by the night as she was, but still more than he let on. Those bullets flying at him, having that conversation with Emily, making that promise to her...it all went so fast, he hadn't had time to be afraid. But, he wouldn't change his choices. If faced with the same choice again, he'd still do everything in his power to push Emily out that door. That promise he made her was good until the end of time.
Still, it had been close there, for both of them. Closer than he'd like to think about. What if he hadn't dodged those bullets? Would he be wandering around the afterlife now, trying desperately to find a way to become a ghost? If he hadn't gotten Emily out of that room, if she'd refused to budge, would the HT have aimed at her first? He could spend all night thinking up the what ifs, everyone of them hinging on, what if they hadn't been so damned lucky?
Sometimes, Matt felt like he and Emily had nine lives. Machetes, guns, bombs, they'd been threatened with just about everything, often narrowly escaping being killed. If anybody were to ever ask either of them, they would receive a shrug, and comment to the effect that it was part of the job. It wasn't part of the job, not entirely. They'd taken unnecessary risks in the past, and would continue to do so, and hopefully, those nine lives wouldn't run out.
Suddenly, he nudged Emily, who had nearly drifted off. She looked at him in sleepy confusion.
"You know that promise I made you...about coming back?" He asked.
"That promise is good forever."
She swallowed nervously, body tensing. "Why are you telling me that?"
"Because I need to hear you make the same promise. If you...if you go first, you're going to float in through that window, and I'll be waiting in this chair to hold you just like this." His brown eyes had darkened, and now shimmered with passion and need.
Emily raise her hand to his face, letting his fingers slowly dance down his cheek. "I promise."
Matt kissed her again, lingering longer than their previous kisses. Emily rested her head back against his shoulder, snuggling into him. He picked up her hand from his chest, kissing her palm, and setting it back in the same spot, leaving his hand over hers. They both stared blankly out that tiny sliver of window until their eyes fluttered closed, oblivious to the sun slowly rising, brightening the sky.