"Explain this to me again," Zak said as they pulled onto the interstate.
"It's obvious," Aaron said, "We need to get her soul back to her body. For some reason, when she went in a coma her spirit got dragged to you. There's only one logical reason why she wouldn't just cross over. It wasn't her time to go yet. So this whole time she's been stuck to you, not able to get back to her body and wake it up. Her parents assumed she's gone for good, and now are going to pull the plug. We have to get there before that happens, and get her close enough to her body to where she can jump back in."
"I'm hoping you have a plan for that part, because you heard what the news said," Zak pointed out, "There's already protestors outside the hospital. Where there's protestors, there's police."
"Actually, I'm pretty much winging it," Aaron admitted. Zak sighed, and glanced into the back seat. He had placed the EMF pump on the floor in an attempt to keep me around. I was laying down on the seat, barely able to pay attention anymore. The trip took only moments for me, drifting in and out as I was, but I could tell from how tired the guys were getting that we had been far away. Night had descended while I had been drifting, and already the sun was peeking over the horizon signaling morning. I stared to recognize landmarks as we neared my home.
"I want to check on her," Zak said, pulling out the spirit box he'd grabbed on the way out. He flipped it on, and held it out in the back seat.
"Alexa, are you still with me, sweetheart?"
"Yes," I whispered, the sound hoarse and distant. Zak sighed in relief, flipping the spirit box back off.
"Just hold on. We're almost there."
Zak's prediction about the police had been correct. There was a mass of protestors outside the hospital, many urging my parents to keep me on life support.
I won't be mad no matter what happens, I thought, Everyone was just trying to do what was best for me. I can't be mad about that. Aaron pulled up to the front doors of the hospital.
"Okay," Zak said, grabbing the EMF pump, "Time to go, sweetheart."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Aaron said, grabbing the pump, "You can't take this in. We have no idea what that energy might do to hospital equipment."
"What am I supposed to do, Aaron? You heard her, she's drifting away. She can't make it on her own."
It's okay, Zak. Don't worry about me.
Zak and Aaron sat in silence for a few moments. Finally Zak got out of the car. Opening up the backseat, he leaned inside.
"Listen to me, Alexa. I know you're getting weak. I can feel it. I know I have no right to order you around after the problems I've caused, but I need you to listen to this one," he said. He took a deep breath before continuing, "Jump inside my body. It's the only way to get you inside… Please, sweetie. I'm not losing you before I even get the chance to meet you!"
I didn't want to. All I had brought Zak was pain. Jumping inside his body would be invasive. He deserved better. But when he looked at me this way, pleading with his eyes as well as his voice, I couldn't say no. I raised my arms to him, wrapping them around his neck. He closed his eyes, feeling my presence. Pulling myself up, I sunk into him, and everything went black.
It was the oddest feeling. I knew she was inside me. I could feel her energy, low as it was, buzzing in every fiber of my being. I could hear her voice in the back of my head, repeating the same sentence over and over.
You don't have to do this, I've done nothing but hurt you.
Stop it, I told her, I'm the one who messed up. If I had listened to you sooner we wouldn't be cutting it this close.
I do have one regret, she said.
Don't talk like that. We're here.
I wish I'd had the opportunity to love you like you deserve, she continued as if I hadn't spoken.
You're going to be fine, Alexa. You saved my life. Now I'm returning the favor.
I headed straight for the ICU. I was sure that was where she would be. I knew I'd found the right door when there was an armed guard standing outside. Undaunted I snatched a file off the nurse's desk, and headed straight for the door.
"Sir, you can't go in there," the officer said, making a grab for me.
"This is urgent," I said, holding up the file, "I'm an intern. I was on my way out when the lab chased me down. The parents need to know about this." The officer continued to observe me, unsure of what to do.
"Do you want to be the reason these people lose their daughter?" I asked, never meaning anything more.
"Of course not," the officer stuttered.
"Then move," I said, shoving him out of the way. I shoved open the door, half running through it. My heart lurched into my chest at the scene before me. An older couple was huddled near the bed, crying. In the bed was Alexa. She was so pale, her skin looked nearly translucent. Her hair, a bright copper, was matted to her forehead. But the worst part was the shrill, monotone sound of the heart monitor.
Alexa had already been taken off life support.
"Who are you?" the woman who I assumed was Alexa's mother asked.
"I…" I'm the man who killed your daughter.
Alexa! I yelled in my head.
Please, Alexa. I can't have come this far for you to give up on me now. Come back!
"I'm an intern," I choked out, "I need to confirm… her death. Could you excuse me for a moment?" I moved to her bedside, staring down at her beautiful face. Why hadn't I listened to her earlier? I sat down next to her. As her parents closed the door behind them I bent down and placed my forehead against hers. Touching my lips to hers, briefly, I whispered, "I've brought you home. This is the last command I'll ever give you. Come back!"
I sat that way for long moments, hoping beyond hope that I hadn't been too late. I had just given up hope when the heart monitor registered as I saw her chest rise as she took a deep breath.
My body hurt. Affixing your soul back to your body was not a pleasant task by any means. But it was well worth it when I opened my eyes to see Zak staring down at me. Truly seeing me for the first time.
"Hi," I said, my voice hoarse. Zak's smile was dazzling.
"Hi," he said as he brushed the hair from my forehead.
"Told you I was alive," I joked, smirking. Zak laughed.
"I suppose I'll have to listen to everything you say from now on, huh?"
"Damn straight." We were silent for a few moments, too busy absorbing each other's presence for words. Soon, the silence became too much for me. I'd been silent long enough. About many things. It was time to speak my mind.
"There's something I've been wanted to do for awhile now," I said, looking into Zak's eyes.
"What's that?" he asked. I reached up, running my fingers through his hair. It was different doing it with a real body. I let my hand drift down to his cheek, feeling the smooth skin. Wrapping my hand around the back of his neck I pulled his lips down to meet mine. I would never admit it to anyone, but out kiss felt electric, and I swore I truly could see fireworks behind my eyelids. Mostly, I just felt my love for him swelling in my chest. I released him, and he pulled away slightly to stare at me.
"It's strange," I said.
"What is?" Zak asked.
"I've had six months to fall in love with you, being with you all day every day, and you never even knew I was there."
"I don't think it will take me long to catch up," Zak said. Then he bent back down, and sealed it with a kiss.