December 21st, 2011
9:00 PM

"In the beginning is my end."
- T.S. Elliot

The salt of her tears stung the gash on her cheek. She should have put a bandage on it, or covered it somehow, but infection was the last thing on her mind. Her lungs felt as if someone was squeezing them in a cold, iron grip, and each breath was a new struggle she had to endure. The prolonged lack of oxygen made her head spin and black dots dance on the edge of her vision. Her fingers twitched. None of these things concerned her at the moment – she could deal with watching the walls of their apartment shimmer and melt in the corners of her eyes. This was something that she could handle, even if she couldn't.

It would get worse.

She would handle that later.

Will's hand shook violently. His face was pale and his mouth drawn in a tight line, the pain evident all over his expression. Her fiancé lifted a hand to wipe away the tears ghosting her cut. She didn't flinch, even though she knew he expected her to. How could she possibly flinch?

"I'm so sorry, Jen." The words were choked. "I'm so, so sorry."

She knew. It didn't matter that he'd caused it. He hadn't known better.

Sometimes, she hadn't, either.

"It's okay," She said, and that was a lie. He lowered his head into her lap. Blood stained the legs of her pants. She ignored it. She ran her fingers through his hair as she might with a child. "We're going to be okay."

She knew how to handle this.

She told him to relax. She told him that it was going to be okay. She repeated herself because she didn't know what else to say when everything had already been said, and anything else that had to be said was too large or too thorny or just too important.

"You've got to take care of him, Jen." He spoke, but his words were constrained. That he could speak at all was a miracle, though they had been short on those these past few days. "Don't let him out. Don't let him see."

She knew she was crying when the cut on her cheek burned. "I won't." She soothed, trying not to think of the wishes. I wish we were married, I wish it was a year ago, I wish I hadn't taken that job. "I promise. You're going to be okay." She said it again because maybe she believed it.

Because maybe, this was better. And that was something she could admit even in the frightening reality of staying here.

There were things that were too important to say, but there were things too important not to be said. "I'm sorry," She told him. "I'm sorry I couldn't …" Her words caught in her throat and she choked on them.

"No, that's not what I want to hear." He said, and she found herself surprised that after all she'd done to him, his voice could still be so kind. "Tell me something worth something, Jennifer." In that moment, his words were so clear. As though they weren't struggled at all.

She was still crying when she spoke. She knew what she was going to say before she even began to say it. "The day that we met, I didn't mean to fall in love. But we never know what's going to happen to us, do we?"

She continued on about meeting him for the second time, and the third. She talked about their son.

She kept talking.

Even when he'd stopped breathing.

Author's Note:

You'll notice that this chapter is vague. It's intended. While it won't all be explained in the next chapter, much of it will be, and all of it will be explained eventually. This chapter is short as well, but the rest will be longer.

Thank you to kdzl, for listening to me babble, not running away when I started with 'I've got this weird idea', and for being excited about it. Also to Nor, who said a few words and spawned this plot's twist.

Reviews? You'll heal JJ's pain. Click it for her. And if not for her, for me!