disclaimer: disclaimed.
dedication: to my bed. I'll never leave you, baby.
notes: I just have a lot of feelings.

title: your ex-lover is (still) dead
summary: A year ago, we were in love. — Ami/Zoisite.






The door slammed open with a bang.

Amy Michaelson near jumped out of her skin at the sound—she'd been deep into the lymph nodes of the corpse in front of her, happily poking away at the lymphoma that had killed him—but managed to throttle the scream that sat just in the back of her throat. She sat up straight with her mouth a tight severe line across her face. It only got tighter when she realized just who it was that was standing in her lab doorway.

"Hello, darling!" he crowed. "How've you been without me?"

Amy pulled in a slow deep breath through her nose. "Go away, Ezekiel, I'm trying to work."

"The amount of work you do is going to kill you, love," he said sagely, face grave in the half-light.

He stayed in the doorframe, which was a relief. Amy wasn't sure she could deal with him close, right now, not after that stupid party, not after his mouth had been over hers and his hands had left marks on her hips like a brand. Not after he'd not denied—he hadn't denied it.

Love didn't matter when you caught your boyfriend kissing your lab TA. Love stopped mattering as soon as you realized that there was no going back, that this was Zeke—that this was always going to be Zeke—and that no matter what you did, he wasn't going to change.

She should have known that from the start.

Once a cheater always a cheater, a thin tinny voice in the back of her head sang, laughingly, far away and on repeat like a scratched record playing a quiet sad song from another century. It sounded like that time Trista had loaded her iPod with 50's swing; that feminine lilting croon had consumed Amy's work for weeks and weeks, concentrated her in a way that nothing else had.

The thought of it now calmed the turmoil that was swirling through her system at Zeke's mere presence.

"Did you want something, Ezekiel?" she asked him.

"Oh, Amy, darling, you'd be shocked at what I want—"

"Zeke," she sighed, shoulders slumping. "Seriously. What is it?"

The smirking smugness on his face dropped for a second, and Amy saw a glimpse of the viciously smart, furious boy behind the façade he wore for the rest of the time—there he was, the boy she'd been in love with. It was hard to find him, most of the time, but every once in a while there was a flash of him.

Amy's heart clenched, once, hard.

(The ache would linger for days.)

"Do you miss me, Amelia?"

"Why ever would I miss you, Ezekiel?" Amy asked.

He watched her, green eyes glinting. When he spoke, his voice was soft as silk. "I think you know very well why."

"I have no idea what you're talking about," Amy sighed. She pulled away from the lymph nodes—she'd get no more work done tonight, not with Zeke here. He'd insist she get some sun, like he had when they'd been together. She might as well close up for the night.

He didn't have an answer for her, but Amy hadn't expected one.

"Who let you in, anyway?" she asked, as she set about bottling the nodes up and settling them back into the fridge where they kept such things; biohazards were not meant to be open in the vicinity of the general public.

And given that this was Ezekiel Astor, there was no telling what he'd do to her research if he got the chance.

(Probably point out something she'd supposedly missed, and then she'd have to stomp on his foot because it would mess up all her calculations and she'd have to begin again only to find that she'd done them correctly in the first place. He'd done it before. He'd do it again.)

"Called in a favour, darling. I have plenty of those, where this one came from."

"You're an awful person," she told him, peeling off her gloves. The snap of them woke her of the odd stupor she'd been in since he'd scared her wits out of her, and she turned to glare at him with her hands on her hips. "Don't you have somewhere better to be?

"Nowhere better than where you are, darling."

"Cut the shit, Ezekiel," Amy said, harsh, and had to force herself not to cover her mouth. "You're here for something, and I want to know what it is so I can give it to you and make you go away."

She wanted to say more, but there was hardly anything to say. Things between them were still too—there wasn't a word for it. Ugly, maybe.

Instead, she pressed her lips tightly together, breathed hard through her nose, and continued collapsing her lab into nothingness. Her lab coat was the last to come off, and she hung it on the peg in the far corner of the room.

He was still stand there when she turned back around. Zeke looked at her for a long time, his strawberry curls stark in the fluorescent light.

"Dance with me," he said.

"What are you talking about? There's no music, Zeke, and I have to go home because unlike some of us, I work tomorrow. I don't have the time—"

"Amy," he said quietly. "Dance with me."

The beeping of the machines in the background were a lazy, dreamy melody that played across her skin like a serenade to the people who lived and died by them.

It was fitting, then, that this dance was going to be their last.

Amy straightened, and took his offered hand. She calmed the brewing storm in her heart, the dark sharp cut of her hair brushing iridescent black-blue against the pale of her jaw, and stepped into the circle of his arms. He was a very good dancer; better by far than anyone else she'd ever danced with, he spun her into a slow waltz as though he'd been born doing it.

Of course he'd want a dance. He'd always been a diva.

"Why are you still doing this?" she asked his shoulder, bravery under her tongue when she looked up to stare him in the eye. "Why won't you leave me alone?"

"A year ago," Zeke said, still quiet, "we were in love."

"And that was a year ago," Amy replied. "Time passes. People change. How do you know I haven't changed, too? How do you know that I haven't fallen in love with someone else?"

"You have two great loves, darling. Science, and helping people. I was never stupid enough to pretend I was one of them. I doubt anyone else has even crossed your mind."

"I was in love with you, though."

"Past-tense," Zeke said, and smiled. It wasn't a happy smile.

"Present-tense," Amy countered. "I am not in love with you."

He opened his mouth as if to speak, but no sound came out at all. He just looked down at her, lips slightly parted, and then bent to press his mouth to the top of her head.

"Good," he said, laughing strangely into her hair. "I'm a scoundrel."

"You always were," Amy said simply. They stayed there for a while, no longer moving, just pressed together. Amy's knees only held her trembling frame up on account of the fact that she wouldn't allow herself to fall.

She hadn't been this close to Zeke in a year, and her heart was beating a mile a minute.

(A long time ago, Amy had numbed herself to feeling romantic love. It hurt too much when you crashed and burned, and you always crashed and burned. Always.)

"Do you remember that party?"

"Which one?"

"The one you left me on the balcony of my own apartment."

"I did that more than once, Ezekiel," she said into his collarbone.

"The last time," he said.

And oh, yes, she remembered it vividly.

"I suppose I do."

"I kissed you," Zeke said, almost wonderingly. He brushed his knuckles against her cheek.

"Kissing doesn't describe how violent that was," Amy told him flatly. "I wanted to—" but she stopped, the words caught in her throat.

"What did you want?"

"You know what I wanted, Ezekiel."

I wanted to hurt you. I wanted to hurt you and watch you bleed and leave you for dead the way you did to me. I wanted to rip your heart out and eat it for supper. I wanted, I wanted, I wanted.

He let her go, and stepped back of his own volition.

Well, that wasn't a first, but it was a rare thing.

"I never meant to hurt you, darling."

"I don't think anyone means to hurt when they do the things they do," she said. Her arms dropped limply to her sides, her elbows bright pale reflections against the dark of her dress. "But it's alright, Zeke. It doesn't matter anymore."

She didn't tell him that she'd moved on—that was a lie, and as a matter of course, Amy didn't lie. But it didn't matter; he still had his girls and his alcohol and his trust fund, and she—

Well, she was going to be a brilliant doctor. She could move to Maryland; John Hopkins would still take her, she was sure, though it meant leaving everything that she loved. It meant leaving her sisters to their big dreams and their bigger fears, but…

Well, it would probably hurt just as much, either way.

If New York had one thing that the rest of the world didn't, it was her friends.

And they—entrenched in this place as they were—wouldn't leave. Not even if their lives depended on it.

And honestly, Amy couldn't leave it, either.

A full-body shiver took her, then, in the hollows of her wrists and the deep well of her throat. Amy hugged herself, arms wrapped tight like armour, and suddenly, she found herself speaking. "I meant what I said, then."

"About what, darling?"

"About hating you."

Sudden heat against the small of her back. Zeke's hand was long and thin, fingertips thick with calluses. Musician's hands. Pianist's hands.

Those cold days holed up in his apartment when they'd sat in the heat of the fireplace and he'd played the piano while she'd played the violin—the city had shivered in slush and sleet far below, but they'd played and played until the chill had meant nothing at all. The memory hit her like a physical blow, left her breathless on the inside.

Amy hadn't touched her violin in so long.

She was leaning against him, and she didn't even realize it.

"It's pretty screwed up," Amy laughed a little sadly. "I shouldn't even be standing with you, but here I am!"

He made a pained sound at the back of his throat. "Amy…"

"Why me, Zeke? You could have picked anyone—you do pick anyone. You date models and—and princesses, if I hear right—but you picked me, and then you—you—"

"I didn't do what you think I did."

Amy shook her head, rueful. "You are literally the worst liar I've ever met. You're worse than Serena, and I didn't even think that was possible."

"I didn't cheat on you, Amelia."

"Stop lying to me," she whispered into the quiet lab. "Please."

"Would I lie about this, love? Would I, really?

Amy's lower lips trembled, and she bit down hard to control it. She couldn't bring her voice up above a whisper. "I don't know, Zeke."

His hands were curled around her face in an instance, cupped her chin as he kissed her cheeks, her eyelids, her forehead; everywhere but her lips. He pulled her close, closer, closest; so close they breathed the same air.

"We stayed a secret because you wanted to be," he said. "I would have paraded you around, held your hand in public, married you if you'd let me. Do you think I could have jeopardized that, darling? You are everything. Everything."

"Being a secret was better," she murmured. "It was—private."

"No, Amy, it wasn't. Being a secret led to—led to this!" he raged quietly. "I haven't touched you properly in a year."

"We kissed on your balcony," Amy reminded him. She paused, tipped her head back so that she could see his eyes. "That's why you're here, isn't it."

"You always were smarter than me," Zeke murmured in reply, tucking her hair behind her ears. "I thought… maybe."

"Maybe," Amy echoed. His lips were a hairsbreadth from her own. "Maybe what?"

"Maybe I could kiss you again, if there was no one around."

"There's no one around," Amy said.

She had no idea what was happening.

"I know," Zeke said, and then he was laughing into her mouth, kissing her hard and bright, but good, too. Cleansing. It burned away the pain, burned away her mind; in fact, it burned away everything inside of her until all her yesterdays were ash, to be blown away on the wind of his breath.

"You are such a prick, Zeke Astor," she said against his mouth.

"Language, darling," he snickered, eyes smiling. "Someone might think you like me!"

"No one would think that," she pulled away to stare at him, deadpan, but her breathing was still hitching a little. "And you have to—no, shoo, you can't do this, you can't just kiss your way back into my good graces, that's not how it works—"

"I do owe you an explanation," he said, but he'd octopussed around her, clinging like a leech.

(That was a terrible mental image, and Amy had to fight hysterical laughter.)

"Yes, you do. And other things, too. I don't forgive this easily, Ezekiel."

"Of course not," Zeke said seriously. "That would be too easy."

"You make it sound like a game," Amy said, quietly.

"You were the only one who wasn't a game, Amelia Ingrid Michaelson."

"How do you know my middle—" Amy was rudely cut off by a finger over her lips over her lips.

"Shhhhhh," Zeke said. "Secrets."

"Serena told you, didn't she."

"I do not reveal my sources," Zeke said somberly. He stopped though, took his hands off her entirely though he still stood near plastered against her. "But you were never a game."

"It's not fair," Amy said.

"I told you at the start that it wouldn't be."

Amy ducked her head down, his her face in his throat. "I hate you," she said, voice a little muffled.

Zeke wrapped his arms around her in the lab they'd shared, and dropped his chin onto the top of her head.

"I know," he said quietly. "You should."