A/N: amberpire, you write heterosexual pairings? Who are you? What is this? Are you sick?
Yep. It's me. Writing straight people. I watched this movie earlier and I just could NOT ignore the chemistry between these two. If I do well, maybe I'll write more?
She likes to remind everyone that she's seventeen now and she's not a fucking kid anymore, but it doesn't really make a difference. They still try to take it away from her when she's not looking, when she's asleep, when she's taking a shower. They dump it down the sink and then act all surprised when she gets pissed off, when she hurls things against the wall and screams at all of them.
It's my fucking booze, she tells them, and they stand there in awkward silence and shake their heads at her like she's a lunatic and maybe she is a lunatic, she thinks, grabbing her purse and giving them both the finger as she slams out of the apartment. Fuck them. She doesn't need this shit. She'll go be a fucking nutcase somewhere else.
The streets in this part of Hong Kong are disgusting at night. Even the sky looks like sludge, the thousands of streetlamps blurring out the stars. Cassie tears a packet of cigarettes from her pocket and presses one between her lips. She lights up and watches the smoke twist away, feels the nicotine burn down her esophagus and scarring her lungs. Good, she thinks, sucking in again and again, until she can feel the smoke clogging up her heart.
(He told her not to start smoking, that it was a tough habit to break, but she never listens.)
She adjusts her backpack and looks back once at the apartment she had been sharing with Pinky and Emily - after they traded the drug for her mother four years ago, the woman had pretty much said she was done with all of it - done with the Divisions, done with the powers, done with Cassie. Apparently Cassie stirred up more bad memories than good.
Cassie thought about running after her, about pleading at her feet like she used to, but she didn't.
(He told her not to, and for once, she actually took someone's advice.)
She doesn't know why she listened to him, why she didn't chase her mother down. She had done so much to get her out and for what? To lose her the minute she had a sliver of freedom? Fuck. Cassie pulls the cigarette from her lips and drifts down the sidewalk. Whatever. It's been far too long for her to drag up all of those old memories now. They didn't matter. Pinky and Emily had taken her in, tried to give her some kind of comfortable place to live, tried to get her to go to school, but to her, it was all a lost cause. She'd never gone to a real school in her life. She hated kids her own age. She hated most everyone, actually, and living with Pinky and Emily hadn't done much but make them all scream at each other every night for the past four years.
They said once she turned eighteen she could go out on her own, but she was too young to be wandering around with no place safe to go.
(He said he wasn't fit to take care of her. She had cried about that.)
She'd be eighteen within the year. She could get the hell away from all of them, move to another part of Hong Kong. She really did like the city, and she was picking up a lot on the language - at least, enough to get by. She liked being around people she couldn't understand. It felt like viewing someone elses art and having no clue what it was supposed to mean. Cassie could live the rest of her life just like this, lost in translation, catching only snippets of words.
(What she did know, he had taught her.)
Cassie walks with her head down, letting her feet guide her. There was always a threat that someone from a Division could be looking for her, so she had learned to not make decisions, to not think in advance. That's partly why she drank so much - if she didn't know where she was, then neither did anyone else. They had only survived this long because of Pinky being around, shadowing them in their apartment. Him and Emily had grown pretty fond of each other over the past few years, even if Cassie did complicate things.
She could hear them whisper in the dark sometimes.
She'll be eighteen soon, and we can get out of here.
Nobody wanted her. Not her mother, not Pinky, not Emily.
The Divisions did, but that was beside the point.
The pink she had loved so much had long since faded from her hair. There were streaks of blue in it now. It brought out the flecks of ocean on her eyes, the tiny bits of blue that her mother had given her that went so unnoticed. When she looked in the mirror, which wasn't often because she frankly thought she looked like shit all of the time, it was like seeing bits of her mother, sprinkled over her. These were the only pieces she had left.
It always smells like car exhaust in Hong Kong. And fish. She's grown to like that smell a lot more than she expected. She eats enough shrimp to put the market out of business, she thinks, weaving through the late-night crowd. Most of them are junkies, on their ways to clubs. She thinks about joining them, about slipping in with a group of Chinese girls and partying with them. She had done it before. It was dangerous, getting drunk out here, when someone could be ready to snatch her the moment she was drunk enough.
(He told her she was too risky, she told him she didn't give a shit.)
She didn't, though. Her feet kept moving and her mind wasn't paying attention and she was sucking on her third cigarette when she finally realized she was walking up a flight of stairs. She doesn't want to see where she's going though, so she keeps her eyes on her shoes, studies the flash of the tops of her pale feet as they pass her eyes; right, left, right, left, up, up, up.
Cassie pauses, throwing her eyes over the fence that keeps her from toppling off the edge. She leans on it like she wants to test its strength, plucking the cigarette from her lips and letting it fall. The orange end burns out. She doesn't see it land.
It isn't until then that she lets her eyes fall onto the seagreen door of the apartment. She remembers finding it four years ago, scared and hungry, hoping this Nick was the right one. She had been lucky then, she knew that. Her skills had sucked even worse then than they did now. She could have easily showed up a minute too early and ran into those agents, or knocked on the wrong door, or wound up at the wrong apartment complex.
(But it was him on the other side and it would still be him now.)
Despite living in the same city, they don't talk much. Not because Nick hasn't tried, because he has, but because Cassie can't stand seeing her with him. It drives her crazy. It makes her want to down bottles and bottles and bottles. Because she was pretty and soft and tragic in a cute way, and they had a past, and Cassie could see their future burned into her corneas every time she closed her eyes. The last time she had seen them, she had drawn Nick proposing in her sketchbook, and that was almost four months ago.
(He kept calling and she threw away her phone.)
Why was she doing this to herself? Why was she here? She slumped against the door, running her fingertips over it. The paint is chipping and the edges are tinged black. Cassie closes her eyes, wills the future to her, but there's only the darkness behind her eyelids. She can't summon things to her like first generation Watchers can. The future decides when she'll see what she needs to, and right now it's giving her a big blank nothing.
Cassie isn't sure how late it is, if it's wrong to knock on the door, but she does anyway. She rolls her knuckles slow at first, and then harder, and more panicked and frantic and then she's calling out, "Nick, open the door!"
She had kept herself so far away for so long that now, knowing a few inches of door kept him at bay was tearing too much of her apart.
It falls open so quickly she stumbles forward, hands on her shoulders. She jerks her head up, eyes sliding up a naked chest to find and lock with a swirl of hazel, and it's him, holding her on her feet.
His hair is disheveled, soft brown spikes sticking up in every direction on his head. It's almost kind of adorable, Cassie thinks, smiling, and she doesn't notice until then how tired she is, how much her feet hurt, and she wonders how long she had been walking around.
"What time is it?" She asks, her voice soft and lost in the smell of him - like Hong Kong and American cologne.
He blinks down at her, his eyes running over her face like he doesn't believe she's here. Cassie pushes past him, into the apartment, her eyes scourging out the clock on the little table by the couch that hasn't moved since the first time she saw it. It's two in the morning. "Shit," she says, turning to watch him close the door behind him. He runs a hand through his hair and yawns as he flicks on a light, the apartment glowing dimly. He pauses in front of her, studying her carefully like he's searching for injuries.
"Are you all right?" He steps closer and Cassie doesn't move, trying to stifle the urge to swing her arms around his neck and bury her face in his chest like the scared little girl she is.
"Yeah." It's partly true, at least in the physical sense. There's no one chasing her. There's nothing wrong, really, she just wound up here and now her heart is hurting, pumping hard against her ribcage. "Are you?"
Nick yawns again as he nods, reaching out to curl a finger around a strand of blue hair coming off of her bangs. "Blue, hm?"
Cassie smiles. "Yeah." Her eyes skitter away from him - why hasn't she seen her yet? Why hasn't she emerged from the bedroom with bedhead and a cute nighty on asking Nick to come back to bed? Where's the dutiful wife? "Is she sleeping?" Cassie throws her thumb over her shoulder.
Nick's hand drops and Cassie doesn't have to see the past to know that she isn't here, that she hasn't been here, that the woman Nick risked his life for left. It's carved into his eyes and dripping to his lips, dragging them into a frown deep enough to scar.
"Too much turmoil, she said." Nick falls onto the couch and kicks his feet on the coffee table. "Too much," he repeats, and Cassie falls down beside him, and without really thinking about it her head is on his shoulder.
"I'm sorry," she says, and the words hang above them for awhile. She's not just apologizing for Kira leaving, she's apologizing for herself, for not coming back. "I should have come and checked up on you, I shouldn't have kept myself away for so long."
"Why did you?"
Nick is twisting his head to look down at her. Cassie tugs her lip between her teeth and raises her head. She tries to hold his gaze - she's never been intimidated by it before - but they fall to her lap and her fingers twist.
(He does these weird things to her heart.)
"Well, because, because she - you - I saw you proposing and I thought that meant, like, goodbye."
She glances up just enough to see his eyebrows meet over his nose, and his calloused hand touches her cheek. Her lungs are startled, deflating hard in her chest cavity and he shakes his head, eyes shifting between hers.
"I would never leave you, Cassie."
Cassie blinks and it's only then she realizes that tears have puddled in her eyes and they flow down her cheeks. She shakes her head, giving in and breaking down the walls she has built up so high and wrapping her arms around his neck. He holds her, his face in her hair and her mouth on his pulse. She feels his heart beat against her lips and she knows he's all she really has.
"I'm sorry," she says again, as if his veins will carry her apology straight to his heart. "I'm so sorry. I just - you were so happy, and I didn't want to mess things up -"
"How would you mess things up?" He's stroking her hair. She wonders if she smells like Hong Kong and cigarettes. She hopes that's appealing.
"Because you ..." She shakes her head and leans back, detaching her arms and falling heavily against the couch. Her arms cross but he hovers close to her. She glances to meet his eyes and he's frowning at her, and she can see the loneliness etched into his eyes, the solitude, the pain ... she looks away and studies her bare knees. "You love her and I didn't want to do something stupid."
"Do something stu-" Nick halts and Cassie's hands are curling under her arms and oh, God, she's really fucked up this time, she's going to lose the one person she never wanted to not have.
"I should go." It's a stale sentence and when she starts to stand, fingers curl around her wrist. She looks back and he still looks so sad, so alone, and maybe the weight of that is what drops her back down. She meets his eyes again and tries to be as strong as she used to be.
He's silent for a time, just watching her, and when he breathes in this time it catches in his chest. "I like the new color," he says, reaching out again to touch the shock of aqua next to her face. "It brings out the blue in your eyes."
Cassie blinks and sucks in one breath, just one, before she kisses him. He tastes like shrimp.
(Like Hong Kong.)
A/N: This is the part where I ask for reviews. It's my birthday next week. For real. And if you enjoyed this, you should definitely let me know. It'll be like early birthday presents for little ol' me.