Title: and then

Summary: i don't want to die.

Author's Note: okay. I'm back. I give up giving up. I'm so done with promises when no one else keeps them.

LOL THIS SUCKS.

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"I will take off quietly, like a bird that flees the cold."

- Bombay Bicycle Club

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In her eyes, there is something that keeps her up at night.

"I don't want to die."

And then, she says, "I don't want to die like her."

His cigarette smoke blends with the sky; she closes her eyes.

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"Beckett Oliver."

The name booms across the crowded room. People clap cheerfully, cat calls and polite claps mingle.

And then –

"Victoria Vega."

The name stands still. The room is silent.

And then –

"Congratulations to the Class of 2013."

People throw their caps in the air, and a few hit her head.

She thinks they are like raindrops – hitting the windshield as she stares at the wet road, hoping to return home.

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It never really starts and never really ends.

If it had to start, she would say it started with a cliff.

"Jump," she tells herself.

She leaps, flies, and she hits the cold water. And when she comes up, he's laughing.

"You beautiful girl," he chuckles.

And then –

She kisses him, she doesn't really know why, but she's happy she did.

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This is about the time he tells her for the fifteen millionth time that he loves Jade, even though she broke up with him.

"Okay," she says.

And this time, she gets up to leave. He bites his lip, and she walks out into the rain.

"Wait," he says.

She looks at him, her eyes happy but her face otherwise motionless.

"I'll drive you home," he says.

And then.

They fuck in the backseat, and it's her first time and she cries a little.

He doesn't kiss her. When they're done, he whispers, "Jade didn't cry."

He doesn't think she heard him – but she did. And she says, "Jade doesn't hurt."

She gets out of the car and kicks the door. She doesn't even leave a mark.

She never does.

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He's never going to love her, she thinks. She tries so hard and makes fresh lemonade with the best lemons and she lets her smiles shine. These smiles are real – she hopes he thinks they're pretty and bright. He doesn't comment, but rather awkwardly plops himself on her couch and stares into space.

"Beck? Are you okay?"

He drops the glass of lemonade.

"No," he says.

And then.

"I might be in love with you," he says.

She smiles so brightly, but she looks at his face, solemn and tired – and she realizes.

He doesn't want to love her, because he'll never let himself love someone else and –

She lets herself be the bigger person.

"Leave," she says.

He fucks her into the carpet, and she has rug burn on her thighs and – is it bad she loves it?

He whispers under his breath, "I wish you weren't here, so then I wouldn't forget her taste."

.

Skip ahead twenty days – or is it going back twenty days?

She drops ice cream on her new shirt and someone laughs. "Asshole," she mutters.

Strong arms wrap around her throat and – what is happening?

Beck's voice drifts into her ears, "Sometimes, I think life would be easier if you were dead."

He lets go of her throat, and she hears his footsteps walk to his car and drive away.

She doesn't cry.

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She returns to the cliff.

"Why am I the one who has to suffer for Jade?"

Her voice echoes.

But she is alone – and really, when isn't she alone?

She looks at the water below and she breathes.

"I'm going now. Jade liked the water. She liked to swim, sometimes."

She jumps and she fights to stay down.

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Skip ahead six hours.

A man and his dog find her body washed up on the shore.

They bring her to the hospital, six pairs of legs running.

And they make it there in time. She should have been dead, the doctors say.

Pure and simple luck.

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But was she lucky?

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Beck visits her in the hospital and she cries.

"Please, Beck. You've hurt me so much – you will never love me."

He looks at her, his eyes lonely and broken. He says something.

She misses it this time.

"Leave," she whispers menacingly, "Or I'll tell them what you've done."

He turns his head quickly and leaves.

.

"I'm so sorry. I do love you though," he says.

This is what she didn't hear.

He lets himself cry in his car and then, he drives.

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Holly Vega shakes her daughter awake in the morning, the birds are chirping and the sun is shining. Today, is the day Tori gets out of the hospital.

"Tori, honey. Wake up. Your friend Beck has been in an accident."

Tori's eyes fly open, "Where is he?" She gets up, her hair flying around her and her mouth open in shock, "I need to see him – I – I need to tell him that I'm sorry."

Holly looks at her daughter.

"Beck is dead. "

Tori doesn't cry.

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She goes to the cliff once she gets home. Her mother is asleep.

"You flew off the cliff," she says. "Used that beautiful car of yours – the one that Jade got out of that night – the night you yelled you wished she was dead. That night – that night she died."

She whispers against the wind, "I want to die."

And then, "I want to die like you. I want to die like her."

And then, she closes her eyes.

She doesn't cry.

She goes home without leaving a mark.

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