"We Lie Awake and We Dream of Making"
Author's Note and Disclaimer:I don't own any of the Nine Lives of Chloe King characters and I haven't seen very many of the episodes, so any mistakes that don't work with what's already been on the show are all mine. I love Alek and Chloe, but this most recent episode really put the brakes on, well, everything. So I decided to write a future-fic, set in college, a land where nothing the show does can negate the accuracy of the story. Or something like that. Title is from Coldplay's "Death and All His Friends."
So he is standing at her door and it's raining fairly hard, dripping onto his nose and eyelashes and his button down shirt is soaked and he's asking her a simple question.
:: do you love me ::
The words tumble around inside of her head. Love me. Do you. You love? Me. You. You love me.
It's simple, right? A yes or no sort of question with a simple yes or no answer.
But the thing is, in all of these past six years, they've never been simple, have never just been a yes or no.
No, she knows instead what this is. This is what they do. This is him, calling her out.
He's asking her to not lie anymore, to stop pretending that she doesn't know how crazy he is for her. It's always been easier to ignore it than to admit it, because admittance requires examination and examination means facing up to the fact that there is something in this world that would truly destroy her if she lost it.
And this is different than her mother. This is different than Amy or Paul or Jasmine.
This is it and she's never been ready to face it, but now, right now, with a late night rerun of The Golden Girls humming quietly in the background of her dimly-lit living room, he's asking her to.
She can't hide forever and maybe she doesn't want to anymore.
So even though she knows she looks unsure, she tugs on his hand and pulls him inside, shutting the door quietly behind her.
His eyes search hers for just a moment before he kisses her and holds her so tightly that she's soon just as soaked as he is.
He's hit the "play" button and for the first time ever, she doesn't hit "stop."
They don't tell anyone. She suspects that deep down everyone knows, they've probably always known, but for some reason she can't even name, she doesn't want to say anything. She decides that she wants to keep it theirs, only theirs, for a little longer.
So they continue on as they always have. Taking classes at UCSF, warding off assassins, stumbling through the confusing history of their race. They still fight all the time. Jasmine gets so frustrated with them and their constant bickering that she sometimes bails on their meetings. She can't blame Jasmine. She gets frustrated with them too and sometimes wonders if any of this is worth it, especially when he constantly thinks he's right when she knows he usually isn't, except that sometimes he is. Or when he eats the last of the Honey Nut Cheerios and forgets to buy more and crumbs pour into her cereal bowl and he just smirks when she calls him on it. Or when he challenges her in front of Valentina because he's concerned about her safety, refusing to let her do things she know she could do, refusing to let her help when she knows she can.
But then, just when she's ready to call the whole thing a draw, he'll bring her a double latte after they've been up late counterattacking jackals or learning newly discovered ancient fighting techniques. Or he'll sit through the Steel Magnolias/Fried Green Tomatoes marathon at the local theater because Amy got a cold, even though he hates girly movies and hates seeing her cry even more. Or there are times like now, when the early morning light will peek through her curtains and fall on his sleeping face in such a way that she realizes she couldn't ever really be without him, that she wouldn't ever want to be. He drives her insane and she loves him.
She inhales sharply. It's the first time she recognizes that and all that it really means. She knows she had never really answered his question that night when he asked, not with words at least, but she does. She does love him. The answer has always been yes.
He finally wakes up and she's about to tell him when he says, "I really have to pee," and gets up to use the bathroom.
Love? she questions, as she hears his electronic toothbrush buzzing from the bathroom. Yes, that too.
"Chloe," he says, as they enter what has become their dorm room, loudly shutting the door behind him.
"No, just stop, Alek."
She finally turns to face him. "You don't get to do this. You are the protector."
"And I was protecting you!"
"And I am the uniter which means I call the shots."
"No, you don't."
"Yes, I do."
"No, you don't."
She feels the tears starting to prick at her eyes. Was it always going to come down to this?
"I hate fighting with you," she says quietly.
"Really? Because I'm pretty sure that's the time when we are the most honest with each other," he counters.
"We always say what we are actually feeling when we are fighting. That's why we do it so much."
"What, it's some weird form of communication for us?"
"Yes, it is," he nods.
"No, it's honest."
"Honest?" she practically screeches. "You want honesty? Honesty is calling you out on the fact that you went against me when it counts. Again. Why aren't we ever on the same side, Alek?"
He exhales and then finally meets her eyes. "You want to know why?"
"Yes, please. Enlighten me," she says sarcastically.
"Because we never have the same priority."
"I'm sorry?" she questions. "Aren't we supposed to have the same goals?"
"Big picture yes, we have the same goals."
"And little picture?"
"My number one priority has been and will always be you. You know that," he states. "And your number one priority will always be anything but that."
"I'm the uniter. My job is to unite humans and Mai." She's yelling now.
"And I'm the protector—my job is to save you. Even if it's sometimes from yourself," he shouts back.
She takes a step back as he says that. "I don't always need saving," she states, coldly.
"And you also don't ever think of yourself. Your lives are precious. So you need to stop thinking about everyone else for a minute and recognize what's important here," he counters, his voice more even now.
She shakes her head and almost laughs. "You still don't get it."
"It's basic math, Alek." She's sounding sarcastic again. Twenty-four-hour-a-day exposure to this man must have rubbed off on her a little bit. "How many lives do I have?"
"And how many do you have?"
She nods. "Hmm. Seven to one." His eyes narrow as he begins to comprehend where she is going with this. She steps closer to him. "So I have seven and you have one. You're willing to use your one lonely little life to save one of my seven. Now that doesn't make much sense does it?" She stares up at him with wide eyes, trying not to smile in triumph.
"Yes, it does. You're the uniter. You're the one we need. I'm just here to help make sure you live long enough to do everything you need to do," he says, looking at the floor, before turning his gaze back on her.
"No? That's my job, Chloe."
"No. That started as your job, but somewhere along the way that changed, didn't it?" she questions.
"My job will always be to protect you."
"Oh, right. Because you were just protecting me when you held me the night my mom got hurt and we weren't sure if she was going to make it. And you were just protecting me when you sat up all night for week straight after someone broke into my room here at school. And oh, right, I forgot, you were just protecting me when you took my virginity. Right?" she blinks a few times after she finishes.
"That's not fair."
"No, what's not fair is you deciding that I don't get a say in how things are run in my own life. Why can't you trust me with these decisions?"
"Because I don't trust that you won't get yourself killed!" he exclaims.
"And I don't trust that you won't get yourself killed trying to save me!" she shouts back.
They are both a little out of breath from shouting, so they pause for a few moments.
Finally she breaks the silence. She walks over to him and places her hands on either side of his face, forcing him to look at her. "I need you to know something.
"You keep trying to save my lives and I am grateful, I am. But you're more than just a protector to me and you know it. I need you in my life, in my lives, all of them," she says, starting to cry just a little. "You have to think about what my life would be like without you here. If you died trying to save one of my lives, when I had so many to spare, I wouldn't know what to do. . ." He looks surprised as she says this. "Look, I know we don't do these serious talks or whatever. Even the day we finally got it all together, we used only four words. So I know we're not good at it, but I just need you to know that I need you. Okay?" she lets go of his face and wipes her runny eyes and nose.
He clears his throat a bit, his eyes a little bit glassy and says, "Okay."
"But we need to be doing this together. All of it."
He nods. "Okay." They stand in silence for a moment.
Finally he says, "We've got some of the 'doing it together' thing down pretty well," the mischievous smirk returning to his face, as his gaze moves towards their bed.
"Alek!" she says, lightly slapping his side.
He picks her up and she shrieks a little before he sets her down on the bed and crawls up so that he's hovering over her.
"Hey Chloe," he asks, playing with one of her curls.
"You don't really think I was just trying to protect you the day I, what was it you said, 'took your virginity,' do you?" he says, smiling.
"I knew that was going to be the only thing you remembered from that entire speech," she says, grinning.
He reaches down and kisses her then and as his fingers draw invisible patterns on her stomach, she decides that this time she gets to make the decision. Flipping him over so that she's lying on top of him, she holds his arms above him. He looks surprised, his eyebrows raised, before regaining his composure and saying, "Bring it on, King."
"You haven't seen anything yet, Petrov," she replies.
Later, when he's asleep, she leans over and brushes some of the hair out of his face, before whispering into the darkness.
"You make it hard to get a word in, you know. I do love you, Alek. You don't get how much, but I do. I think sometimes of where I would be and what my life would look like without you in it and I just can't envision it. And I don't want to. Even when you make me watch those ridiculous British sitcoms you like so much that just aren't funny. Or when you pretended my lasagna was delicious until I took a bite and realized it was horrible. Or when you act like such a guy. I just. . . I don't know, I realize that I love those things about you. All of them." She leans over and kisses him then, gently.
He kisses her back and she sits up, clutching the sheet around her.
"You were awake that entire time!"
He sits up sleepily. "Yeah, pretty much."
"Why didn't you say anything?"
He shrugs. "You're cute when you're talking to yourself."
"I was talking to you. . ."
". . . and yet you thought I was asleep."
She's glad it's dark because she can feel a bright pink creeping up over her face.
He lies back down and puts his hands behind his head.
"For the record, I am a guy, that lasagna was truly awful, and 'The IT Crowd' is hilarious," he says, before yawning.
She lies back down on her side, turning her back towards him. She's mad, but not really.
Slowly, she feels him envelop her body with his, his arm wrapping around her waist, their feet intertwining, as he pulls her closer.
"Also for the record," he whispers in her ear, sending shivers up and down her spine, "I love you, too."
She smiles as he says this and interlocks her fingers with his.
Thanks for reading and reviewing. Love to all.