AN: This is post Beautiful Day. So there are major spoilers for the whole series. This started as a small drabble to go with a graphic (link in my profile) but kind of took on a life of its own. It was cathartic to write and somehow brought me closure with the show being canceled. I hope it will do the same for someone else.
The night Brian dies they run. The Order is stronger than ever and with Valentina and Jasmine both dead everything is suddenly up to Alek.
At first Chloe is adamant about taking her mother as well as Amy and Paul with her. But large groups are conspicuous and Alek finally convinces her that they'll be picked off one-by-one before they can even cross the state line if they don't go alone.
Usually, Chloe might think he just wants her to himself, if not for the fact that he's been unusually cool towards her lately. Ever since he overhead her admission of love for Brian it's as if he's flipped a switch. Now, every time he looks her way it's like he doesn't really see her. The feeling sits in Chloe's stomach like a rock.
Before they leave, he even offers to let another member of the remaining California members take her to the New York pride. But Chloe pulls him into an empty hallway and has to force herself not to slap him back to reality. What doesn't he get? She just wants him. He's the only one left she can trust.
And so he takes her and they begin their trek across the country. Traveling by air is too much of a risk. If The Order is following them they can't afford to be cornered like rats thirty thousand feet in the air.
He doesn't talk to her much, often lost in his own thoughts. He's constantly looking over his shoulder too, which is to be expected; but it's almost like he's running from something more than just what's chasing her. They stay in shabby motels and when Alek actually does sleep, it's always on the floor. Chloe doesn't push him - not with the loss of his family and his responsibility of getting her across the country in one piece weighing so heavily on him. She often falls asleep cold though. And some nights the ache to reach out and touch him is too strong. In Salt Lake City she stops hiding it and before he can throw his pillow onto the carpet she grabs his arm and pulls him down against her. He doesn't protest and she thinks it's the first night he's actually slept for more than an hour.
She dies for him in Nebraska.
They stop to change a flat tire right outside of Wood River. It's dark and Alek curses silently to himself that he should have stopped two hours back. Chloe activates her night vision just to be cautious. She scans the highway, finding only blackness. Until she doesn't and a stray headlight appears but doesn't advance from about a hundred yards away. Seconds later a figure comes barreling toward them and Alek is already to his feet before Chloe even has to say anything. A fight ensues and Alek yells for Chloe to stay back. It takes her only seconds to understand that it's because the man she's never seen before has a gun; a gun Alek only manages to knock away in the nick of time. They continue fighting and the attacker is able to push Alek so hard into the side view mirror that Chloe can hear the crunch as his ribs collide with it. It's enough time for the man to grab the gun and aim it. Only it isn't at Alek. Because Chloe steps in front at the last second and before she knows what's happening the heat of the bullet has passed through her chest. The last thing she hears is Alek screaming her name before the black night takes her under.
She knows what it's like to die and come back. And even though each time is more painful than the last, the process doesn't change. There's a slow pulse that starts in her chest, moves slowly to her brain, pouring warmth back into her body. She's aware but limited. She likens it to opening one's eyes in a cold, pitch-black room with every muscle in the body screaming to move but paralyzed in the darkness. She usually has to concentrate here, but all she can think is AlekAlekAlek.
Her eyes snap open to a clock with bold red numbers that read 10:03pm. She bolts upright and his name is on the tip of her tongue before relief washes over her at the sight of him crouched in the corner, his head between his knees.
He raises it almost instantly, his eyes frantic, bloodshot and swollen. Several beats pass as they just stare at one another. He breaks the contact first, setting his gaze to a spot on the wall awkwardly. It's then that she notices the chill. She glances down to find herself naked from the torso up save for a hastily wrapped bandage adorning her chest. She fingers the thin cotton, thinks she should be more embarrassed but she isn't. After everything that's happened she just can't find the will to care. All she can do is stare at the blood soaked sheets that have fallen to her waist.
"There are extra in the closet."
His voice startles her.
"I wasn't sure... with bullets... I didn't-" he stammers over his words, not sure how to explain. She understands though. She wants to tell him that she understands and it's okay and that they don't need to talk because all she wants is to wrap her arms around him and breathe but she does none of these things. Just offers a weak smile.
She's not so tired that she can stand to sleep in her own caked blood, so she attempts to maneuver herself to the bathroom to take a shower. She doesn't anticipate the pain that rips through her chest. She cries out and Alek is just there to catch her before she collapses.
"Careful," he breathes. She uses him as a crutch until he places her on the toilet. She winces a little and there's that worried look again.
"The last time... my body pushed them out. I think these went straight through though," she offers this up to ease his worry, "I'm fine. Really. It'll only hurt for a few hours but I should be fine by tomorrow morning."
He doesn't look convinced.
A lull passes while he turns the faucet on, the usual weak pressured water drizzling to the floor of the tub.
"When I woke up... I was scared that you might not be here. What happened after I...?"
His eyelids lift slowly from the tiles to her face. His expression is hard, something lethal behind his eyes. It frightens her but she still can't quite picture it; Her falling to the ground; Alek in a rage, wrestling for the gun and sending several bullets into their attacker mercilessly. But she doesn't know how else they'd be here if he hadn't.
She doesn't know if Alek has ever killed someone before. She wonders if it eats away at him the same way it does her.
"He won't bother us anymore."
It's the last thing he says before leaving her to shower.
Once he's gone she can't tear her eyes away from his blood soaked shirt hanging from the towel rod.
She doesn't get out until the water runs cold.
He doesn't speak to her for two days, and when she tries to tend to the nasty bruise on his ribs, he balks at her touch.
"What the hell is your problem, Alek?"
It's just her name but it sounds more like don't start and Chloe decides she's had enough.
He turns to leave, to continue avoiding her, probably until they make it to New York and he can drop her off and never have to see her again.
"No. We're talking about this. What's wrong with you?"
"Alek," she grabs his arm roughly, "Can you at least look at me?"
He turns on her and the look in his eyes sends her heart hammering.
"I can't, okay? How do you expect me to? You took a bullet meant for me and you died. You gave up a life. For me."
She stops, eyes widening. Is that really what this is about?
"And I've got seven more-"
"I don't care!" he shouts, "You know how I feel about this. You know all of your lives put together are more important than mine-"
"Well not to me! What do you want me to say? That I'm sorry for what I did and that I'd take it back if I could? Well, I'm not. And I wouldn't. You might not think you're important enough to give up a life for but-"
It makes her stop - the tone in his voice. He really believes that. She lets out a breath of disbelief and moves closer to him, forces him to look at her. Her tone is now softer but no less severe,
"But you are. You're important to me... And don't think for a second that I wouldn't do it again."
His expression changes, his eyes almost disbelieving. Chloe lets a breath go and continues, tears now stuck in her throat,
"I should've listened to you... I killed him, Alek. He's dead and it's my fault but... somehow I'm still here and even though it consumes me every day I have hope that maybe I can wake up one morning and not hate myself. Now, here with you, I want to fight to be that person. But I don't want to do any of this if it means losing you. I can't."
His mouth falls open, eyes fixed on her, and she couldn't stop now if she wanted to.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry for everything I put you through the last few months."
I'm sorry for choosing Brian over you, she wants to add but doesn't. Those unspoken words have been hanging between them since that night, creating a distance she was powerless to stop. But she knows she wouldn't be able to take the look on his face if she said them aloud. She can only hope that he knows.
"I think I was trying to hold on to something that wasn't mine anymore. Because you were right. I'm not human anymore and I killed someone because I couldn't accept that. And i'll have to live with it for the rest of my life..." She dares to bring her hand to this face.
"Brian reminded me what it felt like to be normal… to be the old me. And with everything in my life changing so fast it felt good to forget about being Mai. So I kept running from everything." From you, she thinks, "But somehow, you stayed with me. And you're here now. And sometimes I think you're the only person that...that-" Tears finally well up in her eyes and she can't choke them down, can't finish.
Her other hand lifts to graze his jaw.
"I'm sorry it took me so long. I just never saw you coming," she whispers. Her eyes flicker to his mouth before her lips finally find his. The kiss is yielding at first until he realizes she has no intention of being the one to stop this. He breaks away just long enough to take a breath and she's taking him in with half-lidded eyes. He makes a sound deep in his throat and his fingers find the nape of her neck, pulls her back in.
They stumble backwards until her body hits the wall. She allows him to lift her up, wraps her legs around his waist as his tongue finds that delicate spot in the curve of her neck. She's actually purring now and the sound prompts a breathy laugh against her throat because isn't it just so appropriate.
Eventually they find the bed.
The rest of the night is a mixture of hard and soft, hands and skin and tangled limbs and she isn't sorry for any of it.
She could easily credit the breathtaking New York skyline for the new sense of hope that swells inside of her. But she's pretty sure she found it back in a shabby motel room in the middle of nowhere; in dark brown eyes and waking up next to a boy; in the end of one life and the beginning of the next.
She smiles when Alek takes her hand in his, squeezes her fingers when the bright light of a new morning washes over them and the eastern sun swallows them up.