AN: I've both read the book and seen the movie, and to write this I used pieces of both - I kept Kyle's transformation as it was done in the movie and Lindy's description from the book (with red hair and green eyes). Anyway, I wote this on a whim, after watching the way the movie ended. I hope you like it.
"Lindy?" He sounded so hopeful that for a second he wished he'd said her name differently, without sounding so desperate. But he was desperate. His heart was practically flying off his chest with the need to hear her voice , to talk to her, to hear her talk back to him. But her voice on the other side of the phone had that slight note of hysteria that he'd only heard the first time she saw him, with that silly ski mask... when he'd scared her.
"I want to know where we're going."
Her words confused him, her tone was strange, trembling... but all this couldn't wipe out his happiness, the giddy sensation, almost light-headedness that was so much like being tipsy that her voice caused him. Because he was talking to her again. It had been so long that it seemed like forever since he'd really talked to her. His skin was tinkling with excitement. Maybe it was in his excitement that he didn't really understand the situation at first. He was too happy to hear her voice, even thought she wasn't making any sense.
Her tone got more persistent and the fear was starting to seep through the stubbornness her voice carried. "Where are we going?"
His frown deepened and finally the fog of his happiness started to fade as he fell into the hard reality once again. She wasn't talking to him - to Adrian. She was talking to someone else he couldn't see. The danger that the situation carried had his hart do flips back and forth. The realization hit him hard, his breathing picked up has panic started to grip his chest every second more forcefully. He started to shake, his hand going to his head out of reflex, forgetting he had no hair to grab on to, as he practically curled around the phone in a pathetic attempt to get closer to her.
What was happening to her?
"Shut up and keep movin'!" the voice was one of a man, gruff as he ordered her around and Adrian could practically see him as he pushed her ungracefully out the door, see his hand curled around her arm, bruising her skin. His blood boiled.
"I thought you were in jail…" She persists and he knows, he knows she is saying this so that Adrian can know who she is taking to. It's Victor… Victor who never goes anywhere without a gun, the same man that almost broke her arm the first time he saved her from him, the man that was going to shoot her if Adrian hadn't stopped him. Adrian feels his breath catch in his throat. He imagines her fear, her panic. The helplessness of knowing what's coming for her if he – if Adrian - doesn't make it there first. His heart skips a few beats and it's not in the nice kind of way. It constricted his chest so badly that he thinks he is going to be sick.
And suddenly he is up and running towards her house without even forming the conscious thought to do so. As if the pull towards her was stronger than anything else keeping him in place. Gravity had shifted direction... and it had happened a while ago, without him even noticing. But he didn't know where to go. He was a loose cannon-ball in a sea storm.
Where are you Lindy? Tell me where he's taking you!
She was a smart girl, he counted on that. Smart enough to win a scholarship into a stuck-up private school, smart enough to call him on the phone without being noticed... god just thinking about it had the his chest hurting... she would find a way to tell him. She had to!
And even thought he was almost bursting out of his skin with trepidation and his insides were lurching with fear, he still had the presence of mind - or rather of heart - to be happy that she called him. Because she knew he would go to her! She trusted him with that. And he would. He would tear his way out of any hell to go to her.
He was running, running with every ounce of strength he had, chasing that one voice, that one person in the world that meant everything to him, that he loved more than his own beating heart. The phone in his pocket vibrates and he almost drops it as he is taking it out of his pocket.
"49, 100 after 27…"
What? Think, think come on… 49… 4900 and 27th street!
He knew that place. It wasn't too far from her old house, just one block down the same road. And not too far from where he was either. He ran and ran and rushed into people without bothering got say sorry out loud because his brain was rushing a lot faster than his legs were carrying him. His mind was full of dread and it was making his heart shrink in itself. Nothing could happen to her. If anything happened to her than he would have no reason to keep existing. He'd ask Kendra to kill him herself, he'd beg. Because he'd realized something during the days without Lindy: he could keep on living even thought she didn't love him, even though he had to live as a beast. He hadn't thought so before, but he did now. Adrian knew he could live the way he was, because she lived. And the world with her in it made sense for once, in a way that it never had before.
But nothing would be worth it if she...
Run! Faster, faster!
He did. Ran through a block and then another. He felt as if someone was chasing him, her voice was still banging around in his head, her fear barely contained in her tone, trying to mask her panic with stubbornness. He ran into an alley and inside a red door. The stairs were a blur, he kept trying to hear her voice, something of her that would point him in the right direction. He was frantic. Time itself seemed determined to be against him: it just kept rushing by, turning him into a slug as well as a monster. He as too slow. He needed to find her!
That's when her voice finally reached his ears. Only a door was standing between them.
Now that he was so close to her he felt powerful. Every ounce of blood in his veins was afire, and he could feel the strength of himself as if it was something palpable in his hands. The strength of the beast he was. He was glad for it. Glad for his curse now that he could use it to save her. As if he'd known he would do it from the second he started running, he smashed his foot against the door with every bit of strength he had and the wood gave away under his hit as if it was trying to escape his fury.
He stopped then, and watched the scene in front of him.
Lindy turned towards the door, eyes wide and full of terror that conflicted with the relief and almost happiness that she felt when she saw him.
He made a move to get to her, but the man – the beast – that held her at gunpoint had other plans. "Don't more, or I'll shoot her brains out!"
When she whispered his name from across the room, it was like a caress. He heard it and he didn't fear. Not even when the gun was pointing at his chest. There was happiness in that change of direction: it was no longer pointed at her temple, it was exactly what Adrian had wanted.
He moved fast, lunged like an animal at the man and threw him at the wall with such force that the gun went far away from his reach and his body fell limb on the floor. The gunshot ran empty in the small cubicle-like apartment. Her scream was louder in Adrian's ears. He breathed heavily as he realized that they were out of danger. The man wasn't moving, the gun was under the bed, at the other side of the room. Adrian moved towards Lindy who was on the floor and staring up at him looking so happy to see him, her smile so wonderfully directed only at him, that it made his chest swell… but the first step he took send him somewhere he didn't expect: he didn't understand why he was suddenly seeing the ceiling instead of her face. He hadn't been surprised at the dull thud of his body against the floor – it was suddenly not being able to see her face that disoriented him. But in the end it didn't matter, because she was within the line of his vision in a moment.
At first she smiled at him and was about to say something but her eyes went wide in horror as she looked down to his chest and the red blotch that was blooming there faster than any rose. The colour drained completely from her face.
Time had slowed again, but she was there with him. He wanted to say something so badly but for some reason breathing was suddenly harder. His feet tingled as if they'd fallen asleep, even his fingers. The streaks that her now dried tears had made her still visible on her cheeks. He wished he could touch her face, wipe them away. His arm moved sluggishly towards her face, and she took his hand in one of hers and neared her cheek on his palm. He moved his thumb back and forth on her cheekbone, feeling the softness of her skin under his scarred one. He'd always known that she would be soft. Soft enough to make up for the coarseness of his skin.
Fresh tears fell from her eyes, her lower lip was shaking so bad that she had to bite it down.
"You'll be fine, you'll be fine." I am fine , he wanted to say. I'm better than fine. He was just a bit tired from all the running. He was starting to feel it now, as the rush of adrenaline subdued.
Why are you crying?
But maybe she was in shock...
She reached out to her left and he had the sudden panic that she was going to leave so he grabbed her arm.
"No, stay with me, please. Don't leave…"
"I have to call an ambulance! You're hurt!"
"I don't feel it, I don't feel a thing…" He said, but she already had her phone against her ear and she wriggled her arm free from his grip so that she could grab his hand and squeeze tightly. Her hand was so small, but so warm. She wouldn't stop crying. For the first time he realized what that small ache in his chest was. And the way he couldn't move and his arms felt like they weighted a ton suddenly took on a whole new meaning.
"Hello…" He heard her give instructions and held her hand tighter. She was so stubborn… "Please hurry, please!"
"Lindy!" he was rushing now, because he was out f time in a whole new sense of the word. Her face came closer. She took off her sweatshirt and pressed it against his chest. She was frantic.
"You're going to be fine. The ambulance in coming." She said through the tears.
"I'm ok, really…" But instead of reassuring her this made her sob harder. She kept touching his face, so lightly. And even as he was numbing out everywhere, the heat of her palm against this skin still felt like heaven. He was dying, he knew. He was dying and she would never know...
"I have to tell you something."
"What?" Her whisper is so fragile, as if she is afraid that she could hurt him if she spoke louder. The tears swimming in her eyes are a breath away from falling and he knows he has seen nothing more beautiful than her face so close to his. Because it's her face, because its Lindy…
"I was someone else… You knew me..." he grimaced because when she put pressure on his chest, it stung.
She shakes her head in confusion, her lips tremble with unshed tears. "What are you talking about?" And he almost smiles because he knows it doesn't make sense, but it's ok. It's ok, because even if he really were talking gibberish he knows that she would listen anyway.
"I was so ugly…"
She bites her lip, and he feels her hand on his cheek, on his neck, over his head. She shakes her head in denial, her frown one of anger that made her despair pungent. "You're not ugly!" She says strongly, and the velvety colour of her eyes seems so much more vivid. You're not ugly. He smiles.
Only she could see that, only she could say that and truly believe it.
"You're not. You are the most beautiful man I have ever met." Oh god she is so close, the heat of her words fane his face and he can almost laugh because he is so happy. Even thought she is crying, there is such strength in her when she says that. She believes it and with the strength of her belief she makes him believe it too. With only a few words she makes everything he was into something irrelevant: the Kyle he was before, Kendra's curse, his regret a thousand more things… they just evaporate. Thinking of what he had been was like trying to remember a bad dream. It was over, everything he had been was a shadow. Now there is only the warmth in him that makes him whole, that connects him to her. And he is himself, finally he knows who that person - without a mirror. The image reflected in the glass doesn't even matter anymore, because 'you are the most beautiful man I have ever met' and because she is there, and she is real and she cares. And he loves. He finally loves and it makes him true at last.
Happiness like this must be rare, he thinks. He feels lucky. There, in the dirty pavement of a trashy neighbourhood, shot in the chest, he feels like the luckiest person in the world. And he knows that he shouldn't be glad for her tears, but he can't help but revel in the fact that she doesn't want to lose him. That she wants him. He'd thought it would hurt not to have her love him the way he loved her, but the mere way she looks at him fills him with an emotion so uncontrollable that he feels his insides float in it pleasantly.
"But none of that matters anymore… you..." He breaths out and he means it. He is nothing but that moment, he is wrapped in it. Without a past or a future, he feels free of himself finally. Free and someone worth loving. She can make him forget everything he is, everything but the need to be with her and he is grateful, so grateful to her for making him see the world the way she does. He owes her the truth for that alone.
Because you saw me... He had wished once – as he laid on the roof alone and put on her John Lennon glasses - that he could see the world through her eyes. Well, she had taught him how. She had taught him so much but he knew there was still so much she could show him.
"... none of it matters, because I'm here with you."
She sobs harder than ever. He can imagine saying to her now that he loves her, but he doesn't want to make her feel even more guilty then she already does. Because he knows her heart, he knows she will be blaming herself for his death. He can feel her pain in the way she holds his hand so tightly - he knows that he is not imagining the light bites of her nails in his palm – feels it in the way she can't stop touching his face. She doesn't want him to die and he wanted more than anything to make that happen, but it feels out of his reach. He is so tired. He fights with himself until the last second to keep his eyes open, to keep looking at her face.
She brought the hand she was holding up to her cheek and despite everything he felt her skin, the smoothness of her. Felt her warmth, the wetness of her tears. Like little diamonds falling down her face on his cheeks. They were mesmerizing almost. And she is so beautiful with the warm light of the sunset on her face, making her skin shine like it was washed in pale gold and her hair seem as radiant as a fire. So beautiful... Even with her nose all red and her eyes puffy, even as she cries for him. Even as her face blurs and he can barely see her. always beautiful, always so good...
I love you... That's the thought that buzzes around his brain as she fades from his eyes completely.
"No...nononono please." he can still hear her pleas. And his thoughts are all for her, his wish that she should not suffer too much for him, because really, he wants to tell her, he is happy, almost perfectly so. Because if he really has to die, than at least he got to see her one last time. He got to feel the completeness of knowing what it is to be a true human being.
I'm sorry, he wants to say, but everything was slipping and he couldn't find his own lips anymore to move them.
Lindy gasps and grabs on to him as she sees his eyes get more and more unfocused, as if holding on to his shirt would keep him alive. The world outside the ratty apartment had stopped existing. It had stopped moving. There was nobody but Adrian for her, there on the dirty floor, bleeding out from a bullet that had had her name on it. The stillness of him was frightening. Her tears wouldn't stop falling, Lindy couldn't control them. It was like something inside her had broken and they just kept pouring out. Where is the ambulance? She presses down on the wound relentlessly, because she doesn't know what else to do. He is so pale, and talking gibberish, but when she looked at him before, his eyes had been completely free of any clouds.
'... none of it matters, because I'm here with you.'
He was completely lucid when he said that and it hurts so much that it almost feels like she is shot too. Her insides are tearing apart. She can't help crying, because she knows that she is about to lose the one person that she has ever held this dear. The only thing she can do is beg. To him, to any god that might exist, Plead with the universe itself to let her keep him. Beg him to hold on just a bit longer, not to leave her now that she... that she...
"Please don't die." But his eyes are losing focus and she feels panic bite her hard. "No..." She shakes him, but he doesn't respond. He isn't even holding on to her hand that tightly, even thought just a second ago he was holding on so strongly that she felt her bones bend. And she knows, she does… Even thought she keeps shaking him, even thought she keeps putting pressure on the wound that won't stop bleeding him out of life, in the depths of her soul she knows that he is slipping away.
That's why she feels like she is being torn from the inside out, as if she is being scrapped raw by pointy steel. Why her head is spinning and her shaking won't stop.
She didn't even get to tell him...
"Adrian!" She calls to him in sheer desperation, as if he is ten feet away and not mere inches. The only response from him is a faint blink. If she hadn't been standing so close, she might even not have seen it. The tears and the sobs make it so hard to speak distinctively. Yet the words fall from her lips as if they had a mind of their own.
"Adrian please… I love you… I love you, please don't die just yet…" And she swears she can almost see him smile. It's just a curve of one side of his lips, but it's there. On his lips. He has such beautiful lips… She bends down and as she holds her hand on his cheek she presses her lips to his gently, feels their shape under hers, the surprising softness despite the jags of the scars that deform them. She kisses him again and again softly and for a second she can almost feel him faintly kiss her back… She can't help the sob that escapes against his lips as she rests her forehead to his. Because he doesn't move at all now.
I love you… I love you…
She repeats it in her head, in broken whispers against his cheek and it sounds like a prayer, as if she hopes she can bring him back with the sheer force of the emotion. For a single moment of utter desperation, she hopes in magic, in the ultimate strength of that feelings that she has inside herself, she hopes that it would be strong enough to give him a few more minutes of life. The turmoil inside her is violent enough to have her believe that her love could be strong enough to buy him the time he needs to survive until the ambulance gets there.
But dreams are not for grownups, certainly not for the daughters of men struggling with addiction. She has learned way too early in life that fairy tales are beautiful, but they exist only in paperbacks. And still, despite everything she knew and believed in told her it was a fool's hope... she hoped. She prayed and begged. Because she had to, she needed to grab on to something, anything.
Even if it was impossible.
Impossible, like him. He had made fairytales seem more real. He had made everything more real in her life. Until he turned into the one thing that everything else was about. The only slice of colour in a life that was only about escaping. In him, she'd found herself, the girl she'd always been looking for.
Lindy looked at Adrian's face and only saw someone who she loved. It had been that way for a while now. And now he was laying there, completely unmoving and white as a sheet, his scars even more livid and angry against his skin. She looks at him and in that single moment of clarity, the fact that she has lost him forever hit her with all its strength.
The cry that exploded from her was one that made the skin crawl. Even the stones and asphalt on the road shivered when the aura of so much despair hit them, that was the greatness of her loss.
I love you I love you I love you I love you
Because once she said it, she couldn't stop saying it. Even thought she knew that it was not going to bring him back, even thought she knew she was only talking to herself. It was the first time she'd said she loved anyone and now she had nobody to say it to. Her tears wash his face, fall on those scars that never healed, but he doesn't move. So she cries harder, as if she wishes that she could just empty her soul in her tears. She has never cried this way, but she can't stop.
The room is spinning. She falls on his chest because she has no strength in her anymore. Hides her face on the crook of his neck, sneaks one arm under his neck to pillow his head as her other hand never lets go of his hand. She screams against his skin because it feels like drowning and she can barely breath. She wishes for the pain to stop but in the mean time she wants nothing more than to take it with her to the grave. She doesn't want to let go of anything, even thought it feels like holding on to fire. She doesn't want to let go if him, so she burrows even closer.
He always smelled of roses, she realizes, and she cries harder. There is no end to this pain...
She doesn't notice at first the hand that gently, even fearfully, weaves in her messy hair, but she does notice when his thumb ever so sweetly caresses her cheek. Her breath is stuck in her throat as she looks up from the crook of his neck, the tip of her nose touching his jaw as she brings her weight partially on her elbows to look at his face… so hopeful that she was wrong and that he lives still. She searches for him, but the tears have blurred her vision. Carefully, she moves her arm away from under his neck and wipes her eyes clean of her tears, hastily, so that she can see him...
But what she finds has her so confused that for a moments she doubts her vision.
The next moment she doubts her sanity. Because the person she is practically laying on top of, the person whose nose in a breath away from her own, is not her Adrian...
The surprise is so great that it stops most of her tears.
She straightens over him, staring as if she can't believe her eyes… because it's impossible. A moment ago, she was there with Adrian and she had thought him dead… And now…
:end of part 1