Sob :( so here I go, writing my last chapter!
Thank you to all my reviewers especially Cakeyx Clickx and Steph1 who have beared with me till the end!
Jenny jolted out of her disturbed slumber violently, drenched in a cold sweat. Breathing hard, she sat up and surveyed the darkened room as her racing heart began to slow. She was okay . . . she was home . . . she was not back in Leek's warehouse as her nightmare had tricked her into believing. She looked around at Abby, who was in a deep sleep next to her, bunched up in the foetal position. At the sight of her, Jenny began to relax and lowered herself back down onto the bed quietly.
On her first night back in her apartment alone, Jenny had been unable to sleep and paced her living room, feeling incredibly scared and alone. She missed Abby. She needed her here as she had been for all those horrific weeks; she simply just couldn't go to sleep without knowing Abby was next to her. Then, at around midnight, her buzzer had bleeped, cutting into the suffocating silence. Jenny answered it in trepidation; who on earth would be calling at this hour! But it was Abby's frightened face she saw when she opened the door.
"I can't sleep without you," she whispered, looking slightly ashamed of herself. "Can I come in?"
"Of course," Jenny sighed with relief, moving to allow Abby to pass.
So that's how it came to be that Abby had temporarily moved in with Jenny. Jenny could tell that she missed Conner terribly, but she understood that what Abby needed right now was to be with someone who went through the same thing as she had. Jenny knew this because she felt exactly the same way.
She sighed and closed her eyes, listening to Abby's slow, rhythmic breathing. The thought of the next day made her stomach twist uncomfortably; Stephen's funeral. She had to go, she knew that, but the thought of burying the friend that had saved her life at the expense of his own was too upsetting to comprehend. Silent tears trickled out of the side of her eyes and into her hair. Why did he have to die . . . and in such a horrific way. The sight of it was burned into Jenny's memory, and was unlikely to ever fade. She could see it as clearly as if it was happening right in front of her. Every time she closed her eyes, it began as though it was a recording that had been waiting to play all day. She groaned and turned on her side, determined to get some sleep for tomorrow. She needed to be at her best. Her one comforting thought was that Leek was now locked in a volt in the home office, waiting to be moved to a high-security prison without trial. Helen, however, had disappeared.
Coward, Jenny thought to herself as the image of Helen popped into her head.
The creatures themselves had been destroyed. Gassed to be more precise. They had to be; they were too dangerous. It was quite a shame really. They had been yanked out of their natural habitat by Leek and Helen to be used as pawns in their nasty little plot. They were just doing what their instincts dictated.
God, I've spent to much time with Nick, Jenny thought with a slight smile.
But the smile faded as quick as it had come at the thought of him. He was in a bad way. Every time she had seen him since Stephen was killed, he had stunk of stale whisky and been totally out of it. She had tried to be there for him, but it was clear that at the moment, he needed space. Maybe they all did.
When she had seen him in Leek's building after mourning his death for days, she had sobbed with such overwhelming relief. As she ran into his arms, she promised herself that that was it; no more dramatics . . . no more messing around . . . she wanted to be with him, and nothing was ever going to break them apart again. But after what happened to Stephen, Jenny could feel Cutter pulling away from her again; he was on a path to self-destruction that she just couldn't seem to get him off. That was partly why Jenny felt such soul-crushing guilt about Stephen; it was not just the fact that he had saved them all . . . it was that some tiny part of her actually resented him for dying and ruining her already crumbled relationship with Nick. She knew that that made her such an evil, selfish person, and she spent much of her time feeling disgusted in herself.
She rolled around to face Abby, who looked so incredibly peaceful. Stephen's death had shook her up almost as bad as it had Cutter. After the intimate moment she had exchanged with Conner upon seeing him for the first time in weeks, she had completely withdrew into herself; the only person she would speak openly with being Jenny. But Jenny wasn't worried about her. Abby was a fighter, and she was going to be fine, Jenny could sense it. She had had a word with thoroughly depressed Conner the day before, explaining that Abby was not rejecting him, but that he should give her some time to heal. He had nodded, his expression like a sad puppy's.
Everything was messed up.
Everyone was messed up.
"You look nice," Abby said with a small smile, indicating Jenny's black suit.
"Thanks, you do too," Jenny replied, feeling rather odd about exchanging compliments about funeral attire.
Abby was wearing a black (and incredibly short) flayed skirt, with a black waistcoat over a deep purple top. Jenny gave a weak smile at the sight; she was sure that Stephen would have approved of Abby's outfit enthusiastically.
They both got in the car, and Jenny drove them to Cutter's house, where the team were all meeting to travel to the funeral together. A sign of unity in the face of despair, as Lester had put it. As they pulled up, they observed that the door was open for people to make their own way in. As they entered, they were greeted by Conner who had been milling around by the door.
"You two look lovely," Conner said in a hollow voice.
They both smiled, and stood awkwardly together watching Lester make small talk with some other employees of the ARC that Jenny didn't know very well. Her eyes scanned crowd looking for a blonde head of hair . . . but Cutter was know where to be seen.
"I think I saw him go upstairs a while ago," Conner answered her unasked question quietly.
Jenny nodded and smiled, turning away and walking up the steps, her heart pounding slightly faster than normal. She tried his own bedroom and the spare bedroom that they had shared that wonderful night in, but they were both empty. She tried the last door; a room that she'd never been in before. It looked like it was some sort of study, with shelves covering two of the four walls that were littered with books, artifacts, and display fossils. Cutter was sitting with his back to her, one hand supporting his head on the desk, and the other grasping a glass of whisky.
"Nick?" she said gently, as she walked into the room.
She saw his shoulders square slightly, but he didn't look around; instead taking another swig of his drink. She tried again.
"Nick, don't you think you've had enough?"
"I can still feel," he said in a blunt, croaky voice. "So no, I don't think I have."
"Please don't do this," Jenny pleaded quietly, approaching him slowly. "Not today of all days."
He sighed, looking at his glass with rather glazed eyes. Then he held it out to her. She took it with trembling hands and, ignoring the strange desire she had to knock back the drink herself, she put in on one of the shelves.
"Are you coming downstairs?" Jenny asked softly. "The cars will be here soon."
"In a minute," he replied, looking away again.
"Nick, come on," she said, putting her hands on his shoulders gently.
She felt him tense for a second, and she was about to withdraw before she felt his shaking hand on her own.
"I'm sorry," he muttered. "It's just that - "
"I know," she said softly, bending over to speak into his ear, enjoying the warmth of his skin on her own. "I know."
"I don't think I can do this - "
"Of course you can," she whispered. "I know you can. And I'm here for you. And Conner and Abby. And we need you there with us."
He sighed again, and leaned his head into hers more.
"I know," he murmured, squeezing her hand slightly. "Tell everyone I'll be down in a minute."
Jenny nodded, and backed away, aware that she missed Nick's touch now that it was no longer there.
If Cutter had been through a worse hour that this one, he couldn't remember it. The ceremony was so movingly beautiful that he had to look upwards at the magnificent ceiling to stop tears streaming out of his eyes. All the time, Jenny was sat next to him, her face slightly screwed up, as if she too was attempting to keep the tears at bay.
At the grave side, they each placed a lily on top of the coffin, Cutter trying very hard not to picture his best friend lying in there. All he felt was a vast emptiness inside him; so many unsaid words and unspoken emotions swirling around that he had wanted to convey to Stephen, but now knew he never could. I never told you I forgive you Stephen . . . you never knew how much you meant to me . . . you were my best friend . . . my only friend at one point . . . I don't know how I'm going to do this without you . . .
The funeral party was starting to disperse, and Cutter found himself walking with Jenny through the grave yard in silence. In front of them was Abby and Conner, walking slowly a few feet apart. As he watched them, he saw Abby reach out her hand towards Conner's as though she was about to grasp it. Then, it seemed, she decided against it, and staggered slightly away from the oblivious student.
"Drink?" he heard Jenny ask him from what seemed like far away. But he didn't really take it in, still absorbed in observing his two friends in front of him. "Another time then," she added, sounding rather disappointed.
Cutter stopped and looked around at her. She did the same. She looked so beautiful; her dark hair was pulled back intoan elegant side-pony, and her make up was incredibly soft. She was wearing a tight black suit with the standard high heels that she could barely walk in. Her gentle gaze found his and for a second, they just stared at each other.
"Yeah," Cutter nodded, eventually finding his voice. "That'd be nice."
Her face cracked into a genuine smile, and she looked rather pleased with herself. But as she turned to walk away, he knew he couldn't let her go without saying something he should have say a long time ago.
"Wait!" he blurted out, causing her to turn in surprise. Before he had time to lose his bottle, he took her hands in his own. "I know I haven't been handling this very well. But I just want you to know that as far as you and I are concerned, my feelings haven't changed. What happened to Stephen . . . well . . . it's made me realise that I don't want to waste anymore time. I know a lot has happened, but I still want to be with you . . . if - if you still want to," he finished, rather lamely.
As he looked up into her big brown eyes, they were unreadable. Then, unexpectedly, she leaned forward and rested her lips on his. After a second, he responded with enthusiasm, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her in. She kissed just like he remembered, and for a wonderful second, he was completely lost in the moment as if they were the only two people on the planet. It may have seemed very tacky kissing in a grave yard, but Cutter was certain that Stephen wouldn't mind - in face, he probably would have slapped him on the back, laughing, saying 'it's about bloody time!'
"Cutter?" Lester's drawling voice shouted from behind them. Cutter and Jenny broke apart, the latter looking rather embarrassed. "Call from the ARC; another anomaly," Lester continued.
Cutter and Jenny both looked at each other, the dread that he felt mirrored in her face. It was the first anomaly since Stephen had been killed.
"Sorry," Lester added, looking apologetically between the two of them. "Bad timing."
Hewalked away, and Jenny turned to look at him again, wearing a cynical smile.
"Come on," she sighed, reaching out and locking her fingers in between his own. "Let's go and do what we do best."
He met her smile with a genuine one of his own.
"Sure," he nodded, allowing her to pull him towards the car; her hand still grasped firmly in his.
:D I wish that's how it really happened!
Hope you enjoyed my story as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thanks again to my reviewers who encouraged me all the way :)
Nikki x x x