Disclaimer: A2A etc. is not mine, just a culmination of other's ideas sparking my own. :)
A/N: Hello everyone! Sorry for the delay- you would not believe this but I mamaged to delete my 'My Documents' folder over the weekend, and it did not end up in my Recycle Bin! So, I ended up using so many file restoration programmes to try and recover this chapter, among other things- and still this chapter was one to be lost in the abyss! D: I was also planning to publish this last night but I went to see Inception and oh my freakin' gosh, I've waited for this film for months and it did not disappoint- if you love LOM/A2A- you're smart and you'll appreciate a movie like that. ;) Anyhoo- here's the last little flufy(ish) last chapter- as I think it needed to be written to 'round off' the story. Enjoy, and please R&R. (For those of you who have reviewed thus far, thank you for your words of encouragement/praise!) *Hugs all round*
"Because sometimes, the truth isn't good enough.
Sometimes people deserve more.
Sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded."
- Batman, The Dark Knight.
Alex woke up slowly, keeping her eyes closed as she counted silently- waiting for a vision to dance in front of her eyes or voices to echo round her head. Nothing came. Her body was swathed in softness, she realised, and she tentatively fluttered her eyes open, surprised to see the early morning sun leaking through dusty blinds. Her bedroom blinds.
She sat up steadily, clutching the red duvet so it covered her chest, eyes darting around the room as she waited for Keats to jump out of the impenetrable shadows. He didn't. Growing a little braver, Alex shuffled slowly to the edge of her bed, peering over slowly as if she were standing at the top of a cliff, looking down into raging waters. Her whole body flooded with relief as she saw not a checkerboard pattern, but soft carpet.
A breath she didn't realise she'd been holding steadily escaped from her lips, a quiet "Hello?" leaving shortly after. The word dangled in front of her before dissipating, the air suddenly shifting as her bedroom door was pushed gently open.
She could feel her heart beating faster against her ribs, another shaky, thankful breath leaving her lungs as Gene walked in, a glass of water in one hand and a scotch in the other. He set them on her bedside table, sitting on the corner of her bed, his eyes studying her face.
She felt herself blush, despite everything they'd been through together. She didn't know what to say. There was too much to say.
"How are you feeling?" he asked gruffly, his grey eyes swirling, concern flecked in his irises.
"Better, ok. . . thanks." she nodded, stumbling over her words, studying her hands as she broke eye contact with him, "Thank you for. . . rescuing me."
"I got used to it a long time ago Lady B. Always getting yourself into trouble, you are."
She smiled a little, "I think you were right when you said I attracted nutters."
"That's as clear as day," he answered wryly, "Plus we all know you've got a thing for danger."
"Psychological profiler, are you now?" she quipped.
"Someone's got to get the brain ache." he replied, a ghost of a smile on his face.
"Mine's still going" she replied, "I've been stuck in a dream world; I'm still separating fact from fiction." Alex half laughed, her heart beat picking up.
"Blimey Bolls, I forgot that you never stop thinking."
"You'd miss it if it did." she smiled tiredly, lifting her eyes, meeting his again.
His expression suddenly changed, the word miss hitting a nerve as his eyes suddenly shone, something unspoken passed between them, but like everything else in this world now, it needed to be exposed.
He schooled his features, his eyes stormy again, a small pout fixed, "I found you in a room" he murmured, his voice lower,"Keats was holding your head- a dream world you said- what happened?"
Her eyes had glassed over, the tone in conversation taking the inevitable spiral downwards as she stared into the middle distance, "I was. . . stuck in my own mind. I walked out off the Railway Arms- and the whole world started caving in. Keats found me." she whispered, tears pricking at her eyes as she bit her lip.
Alex forced herself to continue; she didn't want him to see her cry again, "It's weird how much you come to rely on your senses to make things real, except in a state like that- you can depend on nothing. All my worst fears, all my hopeless wishes, all the worst points in my life were played out on in front of me. But nothing was linear as that, everything came in weird flashes, distorted like a nightmare. It's scary, I thought I knew who I was- what I wanted in this world- being buried that far into your own subconscious makes you realise how little we know ourselves. . ." She suddenly shook herself out of her reverie, a smile on her face that never reached her eyes.
"Nobody knows anybody Bolly." he said softly, a trace of a sorry smile.
"I thought I knew you." she whispered, her huge, glittering eyes like delicate footsteps walking over his soul, "Did I ever know you?"
The question put him on the back foot, he gulped. Gene moved closer to her, pulling her towards him so they were facing each other. His body was half twisted at the edge of her bed, Alex's legs tucked under her as they gazed at each other.
He saw a muscle jump in her jaw as he gently took her hand, placing it flat on his chest and interlocking his fingers over the top, her syrupy brown eyes looked at their hands and then at his face, her neck flushing and her pulse quickening.
"You're the only one I ever let in Bolls, but I still made it difficult for you, I know." He croaked, clearing his throat, his hand brushing her hair off her face, "I meant it you know, when I said we had a connection. You're one of a kind, Bolly Knickers."
She shuddered at his touch, his gentleness so uncharacteristic of him. Even now he kept surprising her; she wondered if he always would.
"Crazy, you mean?" she smiled tenderly.
"Ironically, you were sanest one out of all of us, Bolls. All those crazy things you said turned out to be true."
The joking lilt in his voice didn't carry, overwrought by the desperation in his eyes. It made her tremble, their depths holding every truth of this world- apologies for the things he'd said before he shot her, a vulnerability at the knowledge they both now held, a frightening uncertainty at what would happen next. He broke the silence.
"Why did you come back, Alex?" he whispered finally, eyes searching hers.
She felt herself crumble a little under his gaze, swallowing and dropping her head- as if she were ashamed, "Heaven isn't all it's made out to be." she whispered- there was nothing but sadness in her voice- pausing as she chose her words; it was too late to dilute feelings down, far too late, "And even if you don't need me Gene, I need you."
He felt something powerful tug at his heart, and he wanted to pull her closer, hold her forever, every part of him burning for her. He swallowed.
"You have to go back Alex, it's not safe for you here."
He saw her shake her head a fraction, pull her hand away, tears quickly filling her eyes, "No. . .no you can't make me. I won't."
"You know about this place, you've even seen inside the Railway Arms." he replied with tired eyes, "Keats and his people, he'll try to drive us apart again-"
Her brows crinkled, the tears still swimming in her eyelids, a sudden wave of fury rumbling in her stomach, "I don't care what Keats thinks, or what he tries to do. . . I trusted you Gene, and you sent me away when I was at my weakest. You used my own feelings against me, when you were the only one I had left. You made me think that everything would be ok- I'd be ok, you'd be ok, Molly would be ok-"
Her features crumpled suddenly at her daughter's name coming from her own mouth, realising she'd never get to call out to her again, fresh tears dripped down her cheeks, and Gene felt his heart rattle in regret and anger at himself. He knew she was right; he'd tricked her.
"Gene, you're all I have. . . please." she whispered tearfully, her insides breaking apart in grief, "You sent me away when I had nothing. . . going in there, it doesn't feel right. Gene. . ."
He felt a tide of emotion flood his heart, a lump in his throat as her thumb traced his lip. He wasn't used to seeing her like this, tiny stars dancing in her eyes- so open and so vulnerable- so close to him.
"Alex, if Keats catches you again, he won't show any mercy. . . I can't let you take that risk." he said finally, every fibre of his being curling up in sorrow at the thought of pushing her away. There was no 'putting him off his stride' in this explanation, this was about her, like it always had been, and a part of him knew always would be.
"But this time we'll be ready- we know Gene- I was foolish before for letting someone I didn't know plant doubts in my mind." she said, hearing the desperation climbing in her own voice and hating herself slightly for it, "Questions I should have asked you. . ."
"Answers I should have given you."
They gazed at each other, all their past mistakes centred around those two sentences; somehow it was possible for a relationship so complex and consuming to be deconstructed into a few words.
She didn't understand how she'd ever got here, sitting on her bed next to him- her life the crazy, most terrifying series of events. Reality was gone, she'd battled the 80s world, she'd fled from the Railway Arms, been rescued from her own mind and now she was back here with him- this inescapable man she'd fought so hard to leave for three years, yet it was only recently she'd realised this was exactly where she needed to be.
She felt an overwhelming feeling of longing looking at him now- in every sense of the word; his tired, grey, dragon-like eyes still holding that breathtaking ferocity, framed by those beautiful pale eyelashes. She wanted to reach out and touch him, wanted to stay with him.
And despite his better judgement, his protests, he knew he could send her away again. After all she'd been through to get back to him, he could not convince his heart to send her away, burning at the thought of her leaving. Their struggles had made him weary, and there was no hope in loneliness; she deserved better.
She knew looking at him now that they'd both accepted she was staying; his eyes had lightened- the emotion as vast as the sky- as if he were unburdened a little. Alex mentally captured every little emotion she saw there; there'd been too much to say and not enough time when they had last met- uncatchable smoke climbing the air.
His eyes studied her face again; he was doing that smouldering thing, and she felt naked under his gaze. She felt colour flood her cheeks, her throat. She swallowed.
His voice was low, hesitant when he broke their silence, "Was I there. . .in your dream?"
He saw her pupils dilate almost imperceptibly, she blinked, looking away, "Keats had you on your knees, and he gave me a gun. . . He wanted me to do to you what you did to me."
He nodded mutely, lifting his eyes up, tinted with shame.
"I know you didn't mean to. I didn't." she turned away, the look in his eyes so open, so lost, so incongruous.
She felt his fingers interlace with hers, and the breath that followed trembled from her lungs, the feel of his large, slender, strong in hands next to her own making her tingle all over.
"What else." It wasn't a question; he knew there was something else. She was still blushing. Shooting someone and blushing did not add up.
Her face was still slightly turned away from him, and he saw her breathe deeply, her eyes fluttering close and her lips parted slightly for a split second as she collected herself, "You were there to rescue me from the freezer again. But apart from that, there was nothing else."
His other hand was suddenly on her cheek, gently turning her back so he could see her fully. Even now, after years of knowing her, her beauty would always render him breathless.
She leant into his touch, but she would not open her eyes- the eyes that would tell him the truth, "Tell me, Alex."
She felt her heart beat spike, the low rumble of his voice sending a lingering shiver down her spine. She finally opened her eyes, her eyes sparkling as if she were seeing him for the first time, "It was us."
"Together." she barely breathed, adding the qualifier; it felt odd saying it out loud.
His brow furrowed in confusion, "Is that your idea of a nightmare?" he mumbled, not successfully smothering the hurt in his voice.
"No. . ." she quickly intervened, lifting up a soft hand to his jaw, feeling his perfect pock-marked skin beneath her fingers, "A nightmare can be the both the presence of something or the lack of something. . . I-"
She faltered, but the imploring gaze of Gene's steel grey eyes made her continue, a tiny smile on his lips as the side of his thumb stroked her jaw line.
"When I went into the Railway Arms, I felt crushed. . ." she whispered, sighing as he leant his forehead against hers, dropping a kiss on her nose as his masculine scent steadily drugged her, "My daughter was lost to me. . . and you. . . us. . . I knew it was never going to happen, it was all too late; the moment that would end my life had come."
He brushed his nose against hers, placing a slow kiss on her salty cheek, their eyes closed and their warm breaths mingling. She could feel the haze of desire descending on them, clouding her mind as she tried to finish her point as her lips burned with longing.
"I couldn't leave you behind. . ."
Their mouths were a hairsbreadth for one another, Alex's hand squeezing his as Gene's long fingers found her neck, his thumb dancing under her ear. With their eyes heavy and half opened, they met each other's gaze, she felt her heart race and couldn't help but smile through her watery eyes when she saw the emotion in his own- his acceptance of her, his feelings, of everything that had gone past them was laid out in front of them.
The whispering of her name was barely caught by the air as he gently pressed his lips to hers. His kiss was demanding yet gentle, passionate yet tender, compelling her to respond. To ask for more. She felt all the air leave her lungs, her body still in shock at the emotion behind this one kiss. It was not a kiss of good byes and final chapters as their last had been, it was full of hope, desire, and dare she think it, love. A second later, and she felt herself succumb, everything turning soft and swimmy- everything but him- strong, solid, raw, real.
Her mind totally went blank and every ounce of strength she felt melted into thin air. She slipped her hands into the back of his neck deepening the contact their lips made. Their lips parted, finally tasting each other as years of yearning looks, smothered jealousy and burgeoning emotion; low moans and soft sighs surfaced and encompassed them, each finding the centre of their world.
Two figures stood wrapped around each other, close enough at first they could've been one person, steadily kissing and undressing the other with touches so tender and loving, her heart glimmering in joy. They locked fingers, met for the first time- soft but forceful words falling from their lips. She sighed almost silently, heard his voice in her head like an eternal echo. . .
"I love you Alex. . . I love you. . .don't leave me. . ."
A/N: Hello! Yes, you've reached the end- hope you enjoyed this little fic- please do review, it'd be lovely to hear from you all. :D