Summary: It was duplicitous yet endearing and one of these days she promised herself she would have to let him in on the joke. Even if it was the last thing she ever did.
Notes: I'm not too sure of where the idea for this one came from. I guess part of me hates to think of Simon/Alisha being so powerless against fate. I wanted to find a way to make it seem like the events that happen are not the result of obstacles that were completely beyond their control but rather borne from choice made along the way because no matter how much we want to believe otherwise we all still have free will or at least the illusion of it.
13 Corinthians (Infinity Loop)
Legs tensed, pulse racing… lungs burning a hooded figure vaulted off the roof of the loft to land on a shorter building below. Stumbling slightly, the figure raced across the second roofs perimeter until it found the narrow fire-escape below and swung down, hard. For a brief second the figure teetered dangerously close to the edge before regaining their footing and continuing at break neck speed down the fire-escape. Once the figure nearly reached the bottom they somersaulted off the platform and onto a closed trash bin below. Unfortunately the hooded body miscalculated the fortitude of the bins and tumbled to the street below rather painfully.
The figure barely had an instant to register their feet touching the ground before they were scrambling to dodge a speeding cabbie that had just rounded the corner. Swearing softly, the hooded form pressed onwards ignoring the cabbies rude gesture. In the distance, bathed in the morning sunlight, the figures final destination appeared as a small point just beyond the horizon; but one the figure never lost sight of. Battered and bruised, zigzagging across lawns, and cutting through back alleys the hooded figure didn't stop until they reached it. Once safely situated on the community centers stairs the hooded figure let out a tired sigh of exhaustion and raised its left hand to stop the clock on their wrist. On the watches screen flashed 13 minutes and 57 seconds.
The curse came out almost as involuntarily as the figures labored breathing. And for the first time the hooded figure removed its hood to reveal Alisha's flushed and troubled visage; While unchecked tears slipped freely down her face only one thought raced through her mind 'I didn't save him.'
Hands on her hips, eyes closed, Alisha bent at the waist and took a few moments to still her breathing before she calmly took a deep breath and reached down to restart the stop watch again. With renewed dedication thrumming through her body she replaced her hood and began running toward a point just beyond the horizon.
Tiredly Alisha staggered into the changing rooms of the community center to find everyone already there and dressed for service. Casually she walked over to her locker and opened it trying her best to ignore the careful stares of everyone in the room.
"Nice of you to grace us with your presence."
Too tired to cover the ire in her voice she responded warningly.
"Don't start Nathan…"
Lifting his hands in mock surrender Nathan smiled deviously while Alisha absently began to strip out of her street clothes.
"Wot happened to you?"
Kelly's concerned voice cut Nathan off before he could finish his no doubt childish comment. Alisha winced as everyone's attention was instantly diverted to the bruises that decorated Alisha's back and right shoulder. Self-consciously Alisha pulled on her community service jumper and shut her locker.
Curtis stepped toward her with concern clearly evident in his eyes.
"Looked like somethin' to me."
Knowing that there was no denying it now, she decided to go with the truth.
"I fell, alright."
Curtis didn't look like he was buying it. A quick survey of the room confirmed that neither was anyone else. Taking a deep breath Alisha decided to fall back on her old tricks.
"Yes, if you must know, last night I was out with Chloe and Allison at the Green Door and we were all totally blitzed out of our minds yeah, and Chole points out this guy that she like totally wants to shag and I was like Him he looks like a walking advertisement for Valtrax and she got all huffy and mad because she thought I was raking on her latest soulmate so she disappears and it's just me and Allison right, and we're like whateva continue to party and do our thing then it's getting late and Allison and I are ready to head home when we realize that Chloe drove and we're both like fuck . Anyways, we hail a cabbie but It's not till after we get in that we realize that left my wallet in Chloe's car and Allison spent her last euro on a lude right so the cabbie kicks us out when he figures out we have no money and we have no choice but to hoof it 16 blocks to my mum's flat –in heals no less- and just when we get up the top of my door step Allison says she doesn't feel too well and I explicitly tell her Do Not throw up on my mum's door step but the second I get the words out she looks up at me as if she's going to blow chunks down my dress and I take a step back and end up taking a nasty tumble down my staircase and as I'm lying there writhing in agony Allison walks over to ask me if I'm alright and ends up throwing up all over me. Needless to say that's the last time I go out with Allison… or Chloe for that matt'r."
By the time she's done speaking everyone is staring at her with a mix of disbelief and amusement. And somehow Alisha knows she's successfully dodged their concerned questioning that is until she spies Simons measured gaze from the opposite side of the room. Turning away from him she walks over to the mirror to check her appearance while one by one Kelly, Nathan, and Curtis leave until it's just her and Simon. She tries her best to ignore him as she applies her mascara but when she can no longer take it she meets his gaze in the mirror.
"Why would I do that?"
Simon pauses as if he's trying to put it all together.
"I don't know why, but I know you're lying."
"And how's that?"
"Because I was there… I never saw you."
And before she can think of anything to say to that – before she can think to ask why he was there – he's exited through the door and she's all alone. The fear that grips her is like ice in her veins. Looking back at her reflection she watches as it takes hold of her.
The day after her Simon's death she couldn't get out of bed; couldn't move. Her mum had thought she had come down with a fever so she contacted the community center and told them she wouldn't be in. All day she lay in bed replaying every single minute, every single moment, and every single touch that they had shared.
The next day she lay in bed and tried to remember before; Before Simon, before love, before death and was struck with the realization that when she was a little girl she use to wish for one thing: That was to be wanted. At the time her parents had been going through a nasty divorce and anytime either of them were required to spend time with her they just seemed so angry. She always felt that her presence is what drove them to being that way. Because she had been a mistake. But if she had been wanted things would be different.
She never knew that being wanted could hurt this much. But since she got her power… and then when *he* came into her life. Being wanted was like an affliction.
There was no end to it, the wanting. No reason, no sense, no release, just this tired ache that drummed through her entire being for everything that would never be again. It was exhausting to feel this much, physically, mentally, emotionally but in the absence of it she knew there was nothing quite like it.
And that only made her want more.
So she hated him. For loving her so completely that he ruined her for everyone else. Hated him for seeing who she really was, and still wanting her; for making her look at the world differently, for making her fall so totally in love with him and hated him for dying.
She hated him most for that.
He was watching her again. He was always watching her …from the very first day. At first, when she didn't know him – didn't know his future self- she ignored but now, it made her self-conscious and uncomfortable and mostly downright flustered. He had no right to look at her like he knew her. Like he always known her from some other place, some other time…not anymore. Not if she could help it. She would make sure of it.
Angrily she turned to face him.
Startled he met her eyes before dropping his to the floor.
"Nothing… its nothing."
In the distance she could make out Nathan's deprecating snicker and immediately felt a wash of shame and guilt. She opened her mouth to apologize but by the time she had the words to apologize he had quickly shuffled away towards the rest of the group. Lowering her head in self loathing she refused to cry anymore.
Besides, it's the only way she knew how to save him.
The blow landed like ton of bricks. Alisha double the over vinyl mat as her bruise ribs screamed out in pain. Across from her, her sensei assessed her injury evenly.
"You want to quit?"
The concern that laced hi voice sounded unusual coming from him. It took her a few moments to inflate her lungs up enough to manage a soft.
Stepping closer to her he taunted her.
"What was that? I couldn't quite hear you."
That was the voice she was used to. He was an asshole. 'The best money could buy' she reminded herself. Crossly Alisha straightened herself and scowled.
As she stood her nose began bleeding and she carefully lifted her left arm to wipe it off without any regard for her blue uniform while he circled around her chidingly.
"Are you sure you don't want to take a short-"
He didn't have a chance to finish before she was lunging at him then sweeping her foot underneath his legs. He went down with a surprised yelp. Alisha smiled and then crouched into a fighting stance.
"I SAID NO!"
"Wot gives? This is the third time this week you've bailed on us, yeah?
Kelly voiced the group's feelings as they all stood by the door ready to leave. Alisha stood on her own by her locker absently putting things into her rucksack headed directly from here to another Jujutsu training session that will most likely leave her too tired for anything but bed.
"I'm beginning to think you don't like us anymore."
Pausing briefly from her packing Alisha looked up and glowered at Nathan.
"Who said I ever liked ya to being wit'?"
She realized it was a pitiful attempt at distraction when Nathan didn't even think of a snappy comeback and only glanced at her with concern. Meanwhile Kelly was less than impressed.
Sighing deeply Alisha dropped all pretense of ease.
"I just have things to do."
With a new found sort of confidence Simon decides to interject.
"What sort of things?"
Lifting her rucksack to her shoulder she bit her lip nervously, totally unprepared for him to be questioning her.
"Just… just…personal things!"
Finally able to speak Nathan interjected himself back into the conversation.
"Personal things you can't share with the people who helped you get away with murder?"
It was too much. All of it. The questioning the lies the loneliness. Snapping rather defensively Alisha countered.
"Is this the Spanish inquisition?"
The silence was defining and all Alisha could hear was the echo of her own – frantic voice bouncing off the changing room walls. Looking into the eyes of the others she could tell they heard it too. It was a long moment before Kelly spoke again.
"We're just worried about ya."
"Yeah well I don't need you breathing down my neck! You're not my mum."
Slamming her locker shut she raced out of the changing room before they could spy the tears that prickled her eyes.
She had had a lot of time to think about why her Simon had orchestrated everything the way he had. Why he had let her fall for him only to unnecessarily martyr himself for her; she had long since come to the conclusion that his presence in their timeline had nothing to do with helping his younger self become the man he eventually would be- the man he always was- but rather changing her into the woman she would *have* to be in order to make sure that they would survive;
That she would survive.
It was all quite genius, really. And in moments when she actually could be in touch with her sense of humor she would laugh at the irony of it.
Because Simon came back to save her; just so that she could learn to save herself.
It was duplicitous yet endearing and one of these days she promised herself she would have to let him in on the joke.
Even if it was the last thing she ever did.
Simon was seeing someone. Had been for a while apparently.
She had been rooted in her spot the day she saw him standing with her on the community center steps one afternoon after service. The girl had been smiling up at him adoringly while he had tenderly traced his hand down her cheek in a way Alisha shouldn't have known the feel of.
It was like a kick in the gut; worse than that really. Because she knew how both things felt and this… this was like nothing else.
The tears slipped down her cheeks before she even had a chance to stop them.
Before she could think to turn away, run, forget Nathan was beside her: Obnoxiously chewing on some pick-n-mix, cavalier as always.
"Unbe-fucking-lievable. Who would have ever thought a guy like him would end up with a chit like her?"
He turned to flash his trademark sardonic grin at her and stopped short when he saw her nervously try to brush away the tears.
"What's the matter?"
At the sound of his voice Simon and his little chit turned toward them, and Kelly and Curtis walked out of the center. It felt like the world was closing in on her. She tried to open her mouth to say something, anything but ended up failing miserably.
With no other recourse left she turned and ran.
She couldn't bring herself to return to Simons flat until three weeks after his death.
For one brief moment while she rode the lift down to the bunker she actually could believe that it had all been a terrible dream. That the moment the lift opened he would be there, waiting for her. But the moment the lift doors opened to expose the dark and empty loft she knew she had been kidding herself, and if that wasn't enough one glance at the clocks which all read 00:00:00 would have been proof enough.
If she had come a week earlier to see this she would have trashed the place, maybe even set it on fire.
But today she had come with a mission in mind.
Walking over to the computer she turned it on and waited for it to boot up. Once it was running she set about hacking his password. It was hours –almost 9 – later when she was finally able to guess it. She shouldn't have been surprised it was Vegas.
After all he promised.
Once the system files were open she set about looking for all his video files, there had to be something there to tell her how she could fix this; stop his death. But every file she clicked was empty or broken. It appeared he had done a clean sweep before he left. Distraught with grief she almost lost it before she found one video the archive date matched the date of his death.
Her hand shook as she clicked play and sat back in the desk chair to watch.
She couldn't describe the feeling that went through her at the sight of him alive and seated on the bed –their bed. He shuffled about nervously, absently brushed his hair in the way his younger self often did and then looked directly into the camera; her heart fluttered.
"I don't know how to start this."
He seemed to pause and look down at his hands which were shaking. She wanted nothing more than to reach into the screen and still them. Glancing back up he smiled sadly.
"I guess I should start by telling you that, I'm sorry."
She couldn't stop the bitter chortle of laughter that escaped her throat even if she wanted to.
"I came back to fix something that wasn't mine to fix. I was wrong and I was selfish and I want you to know that if I could be any stronger, or better I would still not be able to stop myself. Because you-"
His voice broke there. The tears that slipped down his face mirrored the ones that lined hers.
He repeats again more surely now.
"Are the best thing that ever happened to me. And as weak as I was, as wrong as I am for doing this, I would do it a million times over if it ensured that I could spend just one more day in your arms."
She lost it there. Pausing the video she completely unraveled.
It wouldn't be till 2 weeks later that she could actually make it through the tape to learn that he had set up a trust in her name with something near 2 million in it and that she was to use the money to protect the others. He warned her about misusing her gift or allowing the others to misuse theirs, and lastly he told her not to blame herself because him falling in love with her, and her falling in love with him was fate, and it didn't matter how it happened, or when it happened, just that it happened.
The next morning she began her training.
Alisha glanced around the room as everyone's expectant eyes fell on her. Unable to stop herself she licked her suddenly dry lips and laughed. The sound of it seemed strange even to her own ears. She couldn't remember the last time she laughed freely.
"Are you serious?"
"Yes. Today is the last day of your community service as part of your program I am required to ask all of you."
Their latest parole office glanced around at the faces of Nathan, Kelly, Simon, and Curtis.
"What have you gained from this experience?"
Alisha couldn't help it, his question was so absurd. She laughed whole heartedly. The gang glanced at one another nervously before joining in her laughter. It wasn't for a good 5 minutes until Alisha could calm herself down enough to talk and when she did she couldn't keep the bitterness out of her voice.
"You want to know what I got out of this experience."
"Yes! Please. Be on with it."
Alisha smiled knowingly.
The room fell into a curious silence.
She spent a lot of time watching them now.
Community service had been over for 3 months now and they had all remained close except for her that is. She had taken to watching from a distance making sure they were safe and exploring the extent of her power. In three months time she had learned that she could inspire other emotions besides lust from the people that she touched, it just took more concentration on her part but it was something. And so far she had used that gift twice now to save them.
And for that, she would eternally be grateful for her power.
Even now as she was limping slowly back to the loft she was grateful that she managed to get home this time with only minor injuries. Removing her dark blue hood and checking the mirror by the shower she surveyed the damage; a few cuts, a few bruises …a trickle of blood behind her ear. That last one made her pause; it was something she hadn't noticed before. And somehow the knowledge of its existence seemed to send the world spinning. Bracing herself for the floor she closed her eyes and tried to block out the impending pain. When it never came she opened her eyes to see him holding her eyes rapt with concern and shock.
The smile that formed on her face was involuntary.
She said it in a way that left no question about which you she was talking about; as if he was the only you to had ever existed…
And then her world went dark.
"What is this place?"
She had woken up a short while ago on the bed just like she had all those months ago. On the wall hung all the photo's that Simon had hung because she never had the heart to take them down. And she weighed his question carefully.
"It's a loft."
His brows knitted tight with agitation she could tell he wanted to reprimand her but held back.
"I mean how did it come to be yours?"
His watched her so intensely now, like he could see all secrets; she had to turn away. Turning round she walked towards the photos and touch one taken from the first day of community service. They were all standing there together, everyone was looking forward at their parole officer -except for Simon- he was looking at her. A sad smile she can't hide plays on her face.
"It's not, not really… it was his."
Simon walks over to her. Trying to see what she's looking at, trying to understand what she's saying. Gently he turns her toward him by placing his hand on her covered shoulder.
For a moment he looks just like her Simon. She can't help the involuntary step she takes toward him.
The shock evident in his eyes is nothing compared to the shock in his voice. It's jarring.
"You know who he is?"
Looking back at the wall she spots an empty spot and remembers the photo that use to hang there.
Swallowing harshly she takes a step away from Simon before she turns to face him.
"It doesn't matter."
Angrily he follows her to where she stands, and reaches out to grasp her arm. Pausing only when he remembers he can't touch her.
"How can you say that? You've been hiding from us, sneaking off… lying to us. Lying to me of course it matters!"
His words hurt. More than he will ever know. She can feel herself withdrawing.
"No it doesn't!"
She tries to escape across the room but he follows her; Unrelenting.
"Why then? Why doesn't it matter?"
If there was ever a question to ask that would be the one. It makes her angry to know that he's able to do this to her again. Figure her all out before she even has a chance to figure it out for herself. He should have let her continue being the person she was; uninhibited, selfish, and blissfully ignorant. She never wanted this! Never wanted to know what it was like to lose so completely. A lone tear slips before she has the sense to wipe it away.
Because he's dead."
She had said it as a whisper.
"Yes! Superhoodies dead and it's all my fault."
Whatever Simon was expecting it wasn't that.
"You … and superhoodie?"
He sounds so anguished at the idea…Alisha looks away unable to meet his eyes. But that only lasts a second because in the next she's lonely, tired and lashing out.
"He said he came back to fix things and then he goes and takes a bullet for me. Like I ever asked him to do it! Like I wouldn't rather be dead, than watch him die in my arms."
His ignorance annoys her. She's advancing on him, angrily poking Simon's chest as the words tumble out of her mouth.
"And you know what I think; I think it's bullshit! He knew what he was doing when he travelled back in time and it wasn't to fix anything! He just wanted to muck it all up until I couldn't tell what's real and what's fake anymore. He shoulda just left things the way they were; let us figure it all out on our own…let us fall in love on our own"
She stopped realizing her mistake as soon as she had said it, but it was already too late.
The word hung their between them. Like it made it real; made them real.
"…Travelled back in time?"
'No no no no no! She could see the wheels turning in his mind. So close to the truth he could taste its bitter edge. And then suddenly he was devouring it. Eyes bright and blue as the ocean; eyebrows raised in mild disbelief.
"Am I Superhoodie?"
The bittersweet agony of having him speak the truth moved her. She thought if it ever came down to it, if he ever found out she wouldn't be able to lie to him. Not about this. But in that instant when spoke the truth she was taken back to the moment where she held him dying in her arms and professing her love to him: The man he told her Simon would become if she loved him. And suddenly she knew what she had to do. Disconnected she fixed her eyes on him.
"You could never be him."
Her words hurt him as she knew they would. He was gone before she had time to finish.
"I wouldn't let you."
She remembers the first day she saw it.
It was the same day she had returned to the loft the first time after his death. She had just finished watching the video he'd made for her. And she had been turning to go unable to watch anymore when spied it on the wall. The photo of the two of them in Vegas, dressed the tackiest outfits she'd ever seen, wearing a smile she just couldn't recreate on her own while flashing a shiny new ring on her left hand. She didn't think there was anything left for her to miss but when she saw this photo, she never knew how wrong she could be;
Because he had given her Vegas, as well as his life.
It had been years now since that Simon had died, and she still wanted more.
She carried the picture on her as a token of what she was fighting to preserve. His death didn't have to be in vain if she could preserve this Simon's life now. And right now was all that mattered, because right now, Simon was in mortal danger. They all were. The man who called himself Jesus was hunting them for their powers. He was going to get them one way or another. From her vantage point perched on the roof of the community center she could see it wasn't going well for the others. Nathan was already dead again, Curtis unconscious, Kelly was badly bruised and Simon was currently crouched protectively beside her; doing his best to keep them all safe.
There weren't many ways to end this that didn't get one of them killed. Before she could work out a plan Jesus was advancing on Simon and suddenly she was out of time.
Everything happened in the blink of an eye. One moment she was on the roof looking down from the skylight, the next she was standing between Jesus and Simon and her the revolver she carried was smoking and Jesus' had a hole in his head. She smiled at the sight, barely unable to believe that she had been able to pull this off without another casualty.
Then she was falling.
Because she had forgot about the machete Jesus had been carrying the machete that was now plunged in her chest.
Simon's voice sounded distant even though he was sitting right next to her. And it was difficult to breath now.
"Why did you do this? Why didn't you use your gun earlier?"
The words are so familiar Alisha can't help smiling at the irony because now she gets it. Pulling out the dog-eared and worn picture from beneath her suit she hands it to him and smiles one last time; grateful to be able to fulfill her promise.
"So you could have more time."