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…
She blinks and blinks again but when the face of Kyle Kingsbury doesn't leave her sight, Lindy hastily crawl off him and puts a good two feet between herself and whatever that was… She is breathing hard, looking around the room.
"Adrian…" Her voice comes out in a shaky whisper, but the boy she is calling is nowhere in sight. And… oh my god.. are those rose petals? Lindy looks around, hoping for an explanation, but all she can see are the multicoloured rose petals that are spread everywhere around Kyle - who is still there where Adrian was just a moment ago…
Just as she moved off him, Kyle sat up. He touched his chest, but there was no wound there. He felt fine, the soreness and numbness of before are gone… he looks up at Lindy, his eyes never leaving her face even thought she looks everywhere but at him.
This time her voice is stronger. "Kyle? What are you… Where is Adrian?"
She watches him as a look of surprise goes through his face, as he touches his hair and his face as if he can't believe he has them. He looks at her then smiling so radiantly like she has never seen before and there is something familiar about his smile, but she doesn't linger on that thought, because the entire situation is so surreal that she is holding on to consciousness by a thread. Her body can barely handle the violence of the emotions going through her, she feels like the stronger they get the more energy they drain from her.
"I'm right here. It's me… I'm Adrian." Kyle says and she can't help but frown at him. He is not making sense. This entire situation is so… 'I'm Adrian…' Of course he wasn't, but then where was Adrian? He couldn't have moved, she'd been laying right on top of him. Her panic started picking up again. Nothing was making sense anymore. What is happening?
"What? No, there was a boy here… he was…" She pauses and looks around, searching for Adrian knowing she won't find him.
"Ugly, gruesome ?" Kyle suggests.
She snaps her eyes in his direction, looks at him full of anger. "No! He was hurt! He was…" But the words choke in her throat.
"Me. He was me." He says as he reaches out for her, eyes full of hope and something else that makes him look completely unlike anything Kyle Kingsbury has ever looked before. But she recoils from his outstretched hand and when he sees this, he draws back his arm. From the way she looks at him, he knows that she doesn't believe him, that she doesn't even understand. He can understand why.
She keeps looking at him, at his face and then his clothes. The same ones Adrian was wearing… And suddenly Lindy understands and with her understanding comes the sadness. This time the tears are silent, because she is crying for herself: she is going mad. She has lost it. She closes her eyes and gives herself to resignation.
"Lindy..." it's almost as if it were Adrian calling her name. It is his voice, she would know it anywhere... it's nice to hear his voice even though she cringes away. Her hands go in her hair and she pulls, relived to feel the sting. She can feel light-headedness start to deteriorate into a full flown headache.
The hallucination persists. "Lindy please, look at me."
She can't help but open her eyes. Because even though it's not his face, it's still his voice that calls her. But it's difficult to find a sense as she stares at Kyle. He stares back at her, the pleading expression on his face familiar even thought she has never seen it before - not on him at least. His face is stricken with the blotches and strikes of tears, but his eyes are dry. Because those are not the signs of his tears, they are hers - she'd cried on Adrian…
The brain is the best torturer of the soul - she'd read that somewhere. And even thought she had no idea what was Kyle Kingsbury doing in her imagination, it still hurt to have him there. Why couldn't her sick brain just come up with a hallucination about Adrian? If she had to be insane, she'd rather see the one she was in love with and not some stranger.
"It's me..." He said softly as he reached for her. "It's me, I'm Adrian. It's been me all along."
She stared at him wide eyed, didn't even notice herself shake her head in denial. What was wrong with her? She really was a sick person. Adrian had never been anyone but Adrian. Kingston had nothing to do with her, he never really had. She looked straight in the eyes of her hallucination, and spoke to him as if he were a person. That's what John Forbes Nash Jr. used to do with his delusions: "intellectually reject some of the delusionally influenced lines of thinking..." - that's what he wrote in his autobiography.
"No. You're not real, you're a chemical misfire in my brain." She said it out loud, in the hope that maybe this would work better, that it would make it disappear. She knew that something like this was possible. The mind had its own mechanics to protect itself, sometimes it included complete separation from the reality that surrounds the sensitive subject. This is how schizophrenia starts, Lindy thought. She felt a new, fresh wave of tears come to her as her breath caught in her throat so suddenly that it hurt. This silly defence mechanism didn't work though: Her soul still hurt as before, her heart still felt like it had been wretched from her chest. And still, Kyle was there, looking at her as if she was... Looking at her like... How was it possible that the way he looked at her was so familiar. That his eyes were so much like the ones she wanted to see in that moment…
"I am real. I'm as real as I was before." And to prove it he touched her forearm. He hadn't thought she would jump like that, as if he'd touched her with fire. He drew back instinctively, the need not to hurt her stronger than the desire to have her recognize the truth.
"Oh my god. I'm seriously going insane..." She whispered as she curled into a ball, tucking her knees close to her chest. She sniffed a couple of times, and couldn't help look around the room, at the spot where he'd been laying moments before. She was looking for him, Adrian realized. And even thought he was kneeling so near her, she couldn't see him. The sight of her so lost and in pain brought him down from the high he'd been on just a few moments ago. He'd been so happy to be alive when he'd opened his eyes, when he found that he could still feel Lindy in his arms, even thought she was crying so desperately that for a moment she scared him.
He was alive and he could be with her - that was the only thought he had when he touched her hair. It was her reaction to him that made him realise he was back into his old skin. The tattoos were gone, everything was gone. And even at this point, the happiness that exploded in his chest, that threatened to have him start laughing out loud was not because the curse was broken, but because of how it broke: Lindy loved him. She loved him truly, as he loved her. She loved him.
But seeing her now as she winced away from his touch brought forth a problem he'd never considered before: How could he make her realise the truth? He knew how difficult it was to accept a reality that you'd never even dreamed of before. She thought she was going mad and he could understand why.
"Lindy, I know that it's hard to understand but try to listen to me. Just give me a chance, please..." She looked up and straight into his eyes. Hers were shining with tears, her whole face was puffy and blotchy. He could swear he'd never seen anything more beautiful in his entire life.
"Crazy people don't know they're crazy Lindy. Your brain is working fine… Besides, it's easy to find out that I'm not just some hallucination: If anyone else can see me, would that be proof enough?" She looks at him as if he is the one insane.
Even if she believed this - and she didn't - that would mean that Adrian had suddenly changed into Kyle Kingsbury… how was that a saner explanation?
"I don't understand any of this…" She whispers, more to herself than to him.
Adrian starts to explain. "There was a curse…"
"There was a curse?" Her disbelief drips from her tone.
"…Because I was so cruel to people, I was cursed to be… as violently unattractive outside as I was on the inside. Until someone would learn to love be despite what I looked like." He was looking at her so sweetly that for a second she was mesmerised. Because the way he looked at her was so familiar…
"Everybody knows that story Kyle. It's just a story…" She says softly, looking into his eyes. Adrian's eyes had been of a colour that was hard to pinpoint: Something between dark green and blue, with a hint of grey. The eyes she was staring into right now were the exact same unfathomable colour. She didn't dare fall for this trap, it was too surreal. It was impossible… "And this is New York in the 21st century, magic doesn't exist." She shakily gets up to leave, but he is right there with her because now that he is finally able to have her, he is unwilling to let her go anywhere without fighting all the way. His ghastly appearance dint stop her from loving him, a bullet didn't stop him from getting to her… he figures he can get through her overly rational brain too.
"Wait, please." But she didn't so he put an arm around her middle and pulled her towards him, her back against his chest. She struggles, hits him but he doesn't let go. "Please Lindy, just close your eyes and you'll know I'm telling the truth." She sniffles and stops her fighting against his hold, but it feels more like surrender than acceptance. He puts a hand gently over her eyes.
"The first time you saw me, I freaked you out because I was wearing a ski-mask. And when you saw my face for the first time, you said… you said you'd seen worse and I was so hopeful because I thought you might look at me like a person and not just a freak. We went to the zoo together, and I told you about my mother and you held my hand. And one night… one night there was a big storm. You were downstairs and you were scared, and we made popcorns and watched The Fantastic Story together." He stops talking because she is frozen in his arms, she is not even breathing. "You recognise my voice don't you? When the movie ended, you fell asleep so I carried you back to your room." At this point Lindy was leaning on him completely, because she didn't have any strength left to carry herself. This was impossible… But the warmth of him, the feel of his hand on her face as real. It felt real… And if he wasn't a product of her imagination, then how was it possible that he knew all these things?
He kept going. "You woke up in the dark and when I said goodnight, you told me my voice was familiar. It was. It was me. Kyle, Adrian. We're the same person…."
He felt she shiver that went through her as if it was his own. "Oh my god…"
Instinctively, he put both his arms around her and just held her close, neared his face into her hair, in the crook of her neck.
"How is this possible…?" she whispers.
"Magic…" He says simply. "Please believe me."
"I want to. I want to believe you're still alive so badly… That's the problem."
She turns in his arms to face him and he lets her, but doesn't move his arms away from her. She looks at him as if she's never seen him before. In a way, she hasn't. She raises her hand and when it touches his face he closes his eyes and leans into her touch with a sigh. He feels her fingers caress a line that isn't there anymore – she is tracing one of his scars, the one that marked his face when he was still under the curse. Adrian opens his eyes to find her face only a few inches away from his, her eyes still watery as they search his. It's as if the space between them has been made to be closed, to be filled. His hand comes to her neck, his fingers weave through her hair, his thumb gently caresses her bottom lip, the heat of her seeping all the way to his bones, making his skin thrum. He can feel the warmth of her breath on his lips, it feels so good it's almost painful… but so good! Finally…
It takes one small movement to close the distance between them. They reach for each other at the same time and when their lips brush together he swears he feels the entire room spin. His body feels numb and more alive than ever at the same time. They kiss gently, lips barely brushing up against each other. He knows she is afraid to trust this, but he can't help himself when he moves his hand to the back of her head and presses against her lips just a bit more, trying to get a little closer, to have his nose filled of her scent even more than he already does, dying to taste more of her in his mouth. He can't help the way his and tightens on her back, the way he is burning to feel her against him. He moans unexpectedly when her hand comes up his arm and ends up to his neck, fisting in his blonde hair. His arm tightened around her almost convulsively and she grabs hold of his shirt right above his heart and pulls as if trying to get him to come closer. But there is nowhere closer to go: their bodies are wrapped so tightly that there is no space left between them.
They pull apart to breathe and she is looking at him differently now, but still the fear in her eyes hasn't left completely. He moves the hand that is resting on her back up and down, trying to soothe her as he rests his forehead on hers. He feels guilty for his uncontainable happiness when she is so doubtful and still full of the sorrow of almost losing him… but he can't help it. He can't help the big smile, he can't help the tingling of his skin. To finally be able to touch her, to be with her… it was more than he could have ever dreamed of. And kiss her, god, nothing compared…
Unexpectedly, he chuckles. "You have rose petals in your hair." He explains as he plucks one out of her copper waves. She blinks, confused as she looks at her hair and at the white petals tangled in them. Then she looks back up to him.
"You still don't believe me, do you?" He asks and the hint of sadness in his eyes is enough to make her believe in whatever he believes. Lindy was about to say something when she shakes as if she'd been electrocuted, startling him. She frantically searches his chest with her hands, touching him right above his heart, where the wound used to be… but there is nothing there except for a circular tear of the T-shirt. The skin underneath was smooth and perfectly unmarred. No sign of blood at all…
"I'm fine." He says, his lips close to her ear, making her shiver all over again. Lindy doesn't say anything but puts her arms around his chest and holds him tight, resting her face right above his heart, listening to its strong beat as he holds her just as tightly. After a few moments she drew back to look him in the eyes, not because she didn't believe, but because she simply needed to make sure once again. At this point she had no doubt that things could be no other way: Kyle had to be Adrian. How this was possible didn't matter anymore.
"Let's go home." Adrian suggests and feels her nod against his chest.
It's so good that she decides to call him by his real name. He is Adrian. Adrian is the one she is in love with… "Yes?"
"I love you…" She says it while looking him in the eyes and he doesn't know why but hearing it from her lips like that catches him off guard in a way that takes his breath away. His heart skips a free beats as he looks in her green eyes, as he takes in the completely open, vulnerable state she is in. As he reveals in her trust… and in her love.
He is holding her hand in his as the other one goes to her cheek, his thumb tracing the delicate line of her jaw. "I love you." He says it the exact same way she said it, with the slight inflection on the second word as if he said it to her first. He says it simply, because there is no other way of saying it.
And if the passersby look at her and Adrian weirdly as they sit close in the subway, Lindy doesn't even notice. She is too busy smiling and looking in his eyes and kissing him lightly on the lips. Because even if this is a delusion, she'd rather live in it than any other reality without him by her side.
:end of part 2.
AN: I've bee thinking about writing a third chapter a bit more mature but I'm still working on it. Let me know what you think so far, I love hearing your opinions - whatever those may be.
Thank you for reading!