Jake breaks the silence that's been creeping up on them for the past hour. /It's getting dark./

Rachel's thought-voice sings in the quiet. /Gotcha. Let's do it./

And like on so many other nights before, they take off into the sky.

(-Was it always like this?)





(So, this is what it comes to.)

David, David. You've gone far enough

Rachel draws Jake tightly to her; and he holds fast to his cousin's embrace, looking at their reflected figures in the glass door behind them.

They could almost be twins, both of them clinging together and standing tall, coiled with identical rage.

And for a while, they don't even move.




"Don't you ever do that again," Jake says, in his harshest voice.

He's hit Rachel where it hurts even her. He knows he owns the right to be this angry.

Jake's not so dense. He does see that if Rachel stands in fire or bitter cold, then Tobias will always go to her. That whatever it takes from Tobias, he will always go to her.

(He also knows this: it's Rachel who'll have to live with whatever this does to Tobias.)

Jake tells her that, and she bites hard at her bottom lip as her eyes flicker downwards.

(When did he get like this?)



c ons p ira cy

"Marco," she says softly. "Marco, what are you saying?"

Marco stares darkly into the sky. He has no other answer.

And Rachel paces in a circle around him, really not liking what he had to tell her.

(Oh, but in the end, she knows Jake)

Her cousin, her friend -her leader- could not take this all into his unsteady hands. She would walk Jake into the storm-if he told them to, if he told her to trust him in the midst of the fight.

(But her cousin in the calm, and all alone with his demons, was a very dangerous thing.)

Tom. Marco. The woods. Too easy...

And then, me.

"So, what do you say, Rachel? I know what I might have to do, but if I can't do it alone-"

Her smile is just as grim. Marco knows her too.

(She is the only one he'll ask, and of course she says yes.)

(Get Rachel, Jake had once said. Get Rachel.)




So as the day dies, they walk home together, laughing at the world, at themselves, and at nothing at all. There's a sadness to Rachel's eyes; her dark, almost tragic comprehension.

Do you see now? You can't take my place, Rachel.

Jake's hard words don't come this time, and he's grateful for that.

He is nobody to say them now. He holds their lives in the palm of his hand every fighting day.

(And they let him. And after all this, she's told him exactly why.)




Afterwards, the weight of the world is just another fight for them.

Jake says, splintered and weary, / Demorph. You've got blood all over yourself./

And Rachel says nothing.


(She holds up her fragile human hands and still she doesn't speak.)

(…So do you. )



Note: Given what happened in the ending and given their initial dynamic in the series, I always had a feeling KA Applegate intended Jake and Rachel to be a lot closer-the bond seemed to have diminished when the ghostwriters came in. Maybe they weren't best friends, but they were such equal opposites, and this is my attempt to capture some of that.

Please review! Hey, I actually went over five hundred words this time! ;)