summary: He reaches for her hand and laces his fingers with hers. / BeckTori.
disclaimer: Victorious is not mine.
notes: I am oddly very, very proud of this piece. It was inspired by the song "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" by Death Cab For Cutie. It's an absolutely gorgeous song, I completely recommend listening to it as background music as you read.
they meet for the first time on this earth in a crowded classroom; she spills his coffee all over him. it isn't the best of first impressions, she supposes, but at least there's an impression.
he smiles at her and for the half a second she meets his eyes, something surges up and down her bones, tickling her skin from the inside out, setting the hummingbirds trapped in birdcages inside of her spirit loose, right into her bloodstream.
her heart thrums unsteadily.
he gazes at her like he loves her already.
the last time they meet on this earth, she's supposed to be running away. she takes a train with the intention of going far across the states, using as much money as necessary to get to another town, another place – another somewhere.
and then he sits down close to her; there is one seat in between them, and she feels like it represents something, something important.
he turns to her, whispers three words, eight letters, plus an extra four – stay.
"you…" she says, shaking her head, "you know that won't happen."
he laughs, sort of. it's somewhere in between a laugh and a sigh. his voice sounds tired, "i always knew i wouldn't be able to hold onto you for long." she shakes her head, not sure if she's agreeing or disagreeing.
he reaches for her hand and laces his fingers with hers.
"if you won't stay, i'll follow you."
she shakes her head.
the train goes off the tracks.
she dies first. she knows she has – because when she wakes up, she can still feel his calloused fingers squeezing her palms. his hand is not physically there, but the burning is, the warmth still spreads across her skin, delves into her skeleton.
she blinks, clenching her fingers around air, as though she'll be able to hold onto him. she is someplace she has never seen before. it's blue, a brilliant ocean blue, and smells of saltwater. she almost convinces herself she hears seagulls in the distance, but it is only her mind supplying fantasies.
she steps forward, sand enclosing her bare feet.
this isn't heaven, she thinks. it isn't white or righteous. there are no wings on her shoulder blades, and, as an ocean appears, existing but not real, she knows it isn't hell, either. rather, it is nowhere, or somewhere, or – or limbo, maybe. purgatory.
or, maybe, it's somewhere in between.
he wakes up.
there is no reason for him to awaken and not her, but he wakes up, as if from a bad dream, with his chest bandaged and something covering his right eye, blocking his vision. his left struggles to make out the blurred shapes on its own, the light almost brutal and florescent and ugly; his skin looks like dirt instead of toffee.
there is a dull ache in his head; a fuzzy beep sounds from somewhere far away or close to him, and he can't seem to tell.
that is not who he is – that's his father.
"i'm sorry sir, i didn't catch that?"
he blinks with his one good eye and finds the shape of a person. it's not her. it's a woman with blonde hair and fair skin. not her not her not her.
"where – is she?" he has to pause in between his words to regain strength to finish, in more than one way, "where is she?"
"sir, you are one of fifteen survivors of the two hundred on the train…" the rest of her sentence fades out as he hears that. fifteen survivors. the chance that she had been one of them is slim.
"mr. oliver, i'm going to have to ask you to remain calm and lie down!" the woman is touching his shoulders, and he realizes then that he's upright, shoulders tense and his fists clenched around a hand that he can't feel. there's something about this gesture that both horrifies him and calms him.
her hand is not there; he feels it there, though, feathering warmth in the calluses on his palms, his life lines, his love lines. he watches the wrinkle curve downward and disappear. no no no no no –
"please, mr. oliver," the woman says helplessly, "you don't need to be moving around so much, especially with a bad eye…"
his hand goes to his right eye; there is no cover that he feels. it is simply black.
partially blinded. partially hysterical.
she wants to believe that he is okay.
however, there isn't much she can see or do from where she is, gazing out onto the waves, the blood inside of her veins matching the push and pull of the ocean. it is a strange feeling, not having a heartbeat, not having to breathe even if she'd like to, not being tired or sad or even human. existing though unreal, like the ocean in front of her.
she blinks away her thoughts and resigns herself to writing love notes to him in the sand.
dearest lover, she writes with her finger.
"you're not okay," first love says when she visits him in the hospital. her brow is creased with worry and he notices that she's dyed her hair black with blue streaks that match her eyes.
he thinks that is a strange thing to say after he narrowly avoided death on a train that took the lives of almost two hundred other people. you'renotokay. he's twice as okay as those who are being buried in the ground. three times as okay as the families of these people.
"i'm alive," he reminds first love without a smile.
"alive is different than okay," she tells him.
her words seem to stretch across the expanse of the entire beach, perfect cursive telling him things that she had never been able to utter in person. she tells him how she loves his skin, though had been too afraid to tell him because it's a strange thing to love. skin, made up of cells and tissue, particles that fall away and regenerate, never made up of the same pieces.
she tells him that her favorite smell is his hair, that her favorite color is the exact shade of pink his lips are. most importantly, she tells him her name, spells it into the sand as though he will one day see this and wonder who it is for.
T O R I V E G A, it says in big, bold letters, far, far away from the ocean so it doesn't wash away.
"when may i leave?" he asks the blonde nurse, two days after he's arrived.
"mr. oliver," she says with a sad smile, "you have to stay for a little while longer. the doctor will let you know when you can go."
"i don't mind not seeing out of this eye," he tells the nurse, lying back onto the pillows, "there's no reason to find a donor." the nurse does not pay him any mind, assuming that he's babbling. he swallows, closing his other eye and seeing nothing for a brief period. he thinks of her fingertips and he feels them on his palm, writing her name into the crevices, t-o-r-iv-e-g-a.
"i still feel her," he tells the nurse, opening his left eye and staring at the wall; the touch in his hand disappears as he does this, "i was...holding her hand when it happened. sometimes i can feel her fingers in between mine, or her palm sweat." beck holds up his hand and stares at his life line.
he realizes that's where he felt her name carefully printed onto his skin in invisible ink.
things shift to nighttime, and her letter is even more beautiful in the moonlight. the tides are pulled forward and pushed backward with a steady thrum, settling for a brief moment on her toes and then drifting away, frightened of committing to one place.
it reminds her of something, though she cannot seem to think of what.
she begins to wonder where she is, why she is in between places. she picks up sand and allows it to trickle through the cracks in between her fingers, and almost suddenly a warmth spreads through the palm; he's there, she feels him - when she looks, he is not there, and the last of sand drifts through the spaces, mimicking an hourglass without a sense of time.
she's waiting, she realizes. she must, for she is connected somewhere.
a piece of her still lives, breathes, on the earth with him.
he is watching the clock, the glare of the red numbers making his eye hurt. he is running out of time; he feels it, though he isn't sure why he suddenly seems so unreal. he blinks into focus, the clock reading 12:34 now, and he thinks that this is it, these are his last moments on this earth.
he closes his eye, enveloped in full darkness, with no plans to wake up without her again. he clenches the nonexistent hand in his, breathing deeply.
he smells saltwater.
morning has come and the sun is peeking over the horizon when she blinks awake, the ocean waves lapping at her ankles but not wetting her. there is a warmth on her palm, in between the spaces of her fingers, and when she twists to look at her hand, she sees him, asleep beside her, a smile on his face.
she suddenly breathes. she suddenly feels her heart hammer. she suddenly feels alive again and she cries out without intending to; he opens his eyes lazily, hand shifting slightly in hers.
he gazes at her for a long moment, then squeezes her hand as if to make sure she's there, that she's real, that she exists.
"you followed me," she breathes against his lips, eyes searching his.
"i told you i would," he says, cupping her cheek with his free hand and kissing her as a white light radiates around their bodies.
notes: thank you so much for reading. please review with more than "weird" or "i like it!"