A/N: Finally, it's done. Sorry for the wait, but I spent most of Easter vacation in Paris without a computer. For this last part, I recommend listening to Sæglópur by, you guessed it, Sigur Rós. And once again, there's a poll on my profile page that I'd love for y'all to vote in :)
Here is how it ends
We stop keeping track of the time after that. The watch sits in Kurt's pocket, still ticking, the only thing breaking the silence, but neither of us thinks to look at it. We just keep walking.
I'm so tired. Not physically, of course, but in every other way. I drag my feet on the ground and my arms hang limply at my side. I want to give up. Why haven't I already?
Right. Because it has no meaning here, no more than anything else. Whether I keep walking or lie down on the ground until I start sinking into it, it doesn't matter. I was stupid to ever hope for anything else.
Kurt doesn't seem to share my pessimism. He looks so determined now, his eyebrows pinched together and his eyes staring forwards, into the horizon. At one point, when I start slowing down, he grabs my hand and leads me so that I don't fall behind. I notice that he doesn't let go.
I never thought I could come to hate the sight of the blue sky. Then again, I never thought that I'd be looking up at it without a trace of the sun, or the moon, or the stars. It's so empty out here.
"Are we just going to keep walking?" I ask sometime.
"For now," Kurt replies. "Hopefully, until we find something."
Hopefully. I want to cry. What hope is there in hell?
We actually do stumble upon a colony.
Kurt is the first to spot it and he points it out to me. Neither of us thinks to start running this time, instead, we tighten our hold on each other's hands.
It's not the traditional kind of colony. There are no buildings, not even tents. There's no need for shelter out here. Instead, it's a large group of people, probably a few dozen, standing and sitting around. I can hear them talking. I can even hear them singing and laughing.
When we get a little bit closer, one of them sees us and starts walking to meet us halfway. It's an older woman. She smiles warmly at us in greeting.
"Welcome, strangers," she says in a lilting voice. She's definitely not American.
"Where are we?" Kurt blurts out.
The woman laughs. "Such impatience. Don't you have plenty of time?"
"I don't care about time," Kurt says. "I just want to know where we are."
"Well, don't we all," the woman sighs.
My heart drops. "You mean you don't know?"
"How could I?" She asks. "I came here the same as you. We all did." She beckons us to follow her. "Come. Sit. We will talk. I am Margrit, by the way."
With nothing else to do, we comply. Margrit leads us to a small circle of people. Some of them glance up at us when we arrive with uninterested expressions, but most of them can't even be bothered to do that.
"These two young men just found their way here," Margrit says, "and they would like to know where they are."
One of the people in the circle, a stout, dark-eyed man, snorts. "As if we know any better?"
"Hush, David," Margrit admonishes. "They had every right to ask."
"It's Limbo," croaks a gaunt-faced woman, whose wrists are bleeding the same as mine. "It's our punishment for throwing away something sacred."
"We don't know that," another woman dispels gently.
"Well, what else could it be?" Asks the dark-eyed man.
"Limbo's supposed to be forever, right?" A young man points out. "But we all know that this place isn't."
Kurt and I gasp almost simultaneously. Not forever?
The gaunt-faced woman scoffs. "Limbo isn't supposed to be anything."
"So there is a way out of here?" Kurt interrupts.
The people in the circle exchange looks.
"There is," Margrit eventually says. "But you must wait."
"Wait," Kurt repeats. "For how long?"
"Years." Margrit shrugs. "At least a couple hundred, I am afraid. We know of no one who has disappeared after a shorter stay than that. But it varies."
I swallow, suddenly inexplicably dry-mouthed. "How long could a person stay here?"
"We don't know." Margrit wrings her hands nervously. "The person who's been here the longest, who's still here, is at least five thousand years old."
I literally run away after Margrit's declaration. I don't go too far, though. It's no use fleeing here; no matter how long you keep going, you'll end up essentially where you started.
Of course Kurt would come after me. I can't decide whether I love or hate him for it.
"You know I can't," I reply bitterly.
"Why are you so upset?" Kurt asks. "We've finally found what we were looking for. A way out."
"We know of it," I correct, turning to face him. "But we're still stuck here for God knows how long."
"It's still better than forever."
I bite my tongue but the words are already out. Kurt frowns and crosses his arms. "What do you mean?"
"Nothing." I scratch the back of my head. "I just… when it was forever, at least we knew where we stood. We had nothing to gain but nothing to lose either."
"I don't understand," Kurt admits. "Are you saying you preferred walking through the desert for all eternity?"
"I'm saying that we're still going to be stuck here for another few hundred years, at least," I answer. "I'm saying that even when we eventually do move on, we have no idea what's waiting for us." I throw my hands up. "I'm saying that I'd lost all hope and I'm terrified of losing it again."
Kurt steps closer and grabs my hand. I let my head fall onto his shoulder and something horrifyingly selfish comes to my mind.
"What if you go first?" I mutter into his neck.
Kurt lays a hand on my head. "I won't."
"You might," I argue. "You might move on after two hundred years and I might be stuck here for five thousand years."
"And vice versa," Kurt continues. "We can't do anything about it, so we shouldn't worry. Besides, there are other people here than me to keep you company."
"I don't want other people," I stubbornly insist. "They're not you. They've never kneed me in the stomach for kissing them or bitten off my earlobe in a fit of panic."
Kurt snorts. "How is that a bad thing?"
"Because." I nuzzle into his designer jacket and inhale. If I focus, I can almost imagine what he might smell like. "I love you, you know."
"I love you, too," Kurt replies and although he sounds calm, I can feel the tremors running through his body. He's either very excited or very scared. Possibly both.
"Do we have to go back to the others?"
"No." Kurt gently pulls at my hand, motioning for us to sit down in the sand. I follow him, raising my head to look him in the eye. "We don't have to move ever again if we don't want to."
"Like the red-headed girl?"
"And many others before her, I'm sure."
I smile. "I'd like that."
So we lay down, our bodies pressed together from head to toe. Kurt wraps an arm around my neck and I rest my hand on his waist. He leans momentarily forward and presses one chaste kiss to my lips. For one fleeting moment, I feel something stirring in my chest but it's gone before I realize it.
Maybe I can allow myself to hope.