Very, very, cold.
At first, all he felt was cold. Any touch, any motion, any danger or security might as well have exited as a mere speck of frigid, frozen dust on Rex's skin. It was like the first moment, the first second of the Monday morning, before one thinks of everything they have to do and everything that is expected, when the world just is, and you feel nothing but the fuzzy, shredded, soft wisps of dreams floating around the mind. This is what Rex felt. Rex felt cold.
Slowly, other senses came. Hard. The ground beneath him felt hard, solid, like a wood block a child will regret banging his fist against, or a plastic doll a girl would use to fight off her brother. Like a piece of hard metal, ice before heat, and solid concrete beneath feet in a heat wave, whatever lay below Rex, it was hard.
His eyes woke up, but did not open. Like in a dream, he didn't know what it meant to be truly conscious. The world was an illusion, a fancy, shiny thing to entertain him, for him to tug and yank at as it drew back, tearing the curtain with it. Facts, facts about who he was, what he was, and why he was, flowed in slowly, one at a time, each carrying a new piece of his consciousness.
Scent and hearing joined him together, so he could hear the dust biting his skin and smell the spiders clicking and scratching at the wall, the wall he wasn't sure existed.
Taste. He tasted dread, sweat, and misery on his lips. It tasted like betraying your best friend, like a teacher catching you cheating on a test, or seeing that massive, thick, blood-red F at the top of your thesis paper.
Along with the beauty and freedom of consciousness came knowledge of what his life had been, what he had done, who is friends were, who he had done wrong, who he had loved, his friends from school, his friends that mattered, the betrayals, the nuances of his life, the best parts, the way he liked his coffee and how he put on his shoes. It all flooded back, and no matter how he begged for a filter, it rushed forward anyway, too much and too little to handle.
He knew everything, including what pain was. His head hurt. It hurt like burning skin that didn't stop. It coursed through his eyes, his temples, around his head and through his mind, behind his neck and down his spine until it ceased at his shoulders.
Where was he?
As far as he knew, he was dead. He was supposed to be dead, after all, that's what happens when people are stupid and time-travel, that's what happens when people fall in love, that's what happens when people mess with the space-time continuum, that's what happens when people betray their friends.
He remembered her.
He loved her. There was no question. Once she had entered his life, with magenta, raven, teal hair and an attitude to match, there was no going back. His life would forever be defined as Pre-Lucy, and Post-Lucy. Death, it seemed, was Post-Lucy. Or maybe Post-Lucy was death. He didn't know.
No, Rex. Rex Dangervest.
Even after some years, his alias failed to spark in his memory like his real name did, like his birthday, his height, and her name. It wasn't him, so it didn't' behave like him.
That made sense.
Time to wake up, a voice said, kind and gentle like an old neighbor, but cruel and unreasonable, like a student's least-favorite elementary school teacher.
Some reason, some defense, came back to bite him, and his fists, worn and angry, clenched against his dirty, jagged nails. Questions he had hardwired into his mind, about safety, about the terrain, about hazards, leaked into his mind in a quick trickle.
Did he hate her?
He didn't want to think about it.
Where was he?
He should probably figure that out.
Whatever lay beneath him was still hard when he touched it, no matter how he tried to avoid pressing it to his palms. It burned his fingers like cold fire, the type of ice that shoos skin away faster than a scalding pan fresh from the oven. However, being Rex Dangervest, being that tough, know-it-all Lucy had loved, then hated, then adored, then wanted to kill, he pushed past the pain and forced his aching back off the mysterious, hard thing beneath him. Air was softer.
She had ruined him, yet, he couldn't hate her if he wanted to want to. He loved her too much. He loved her, he loved to love her, he loved to feel anything about her. He loved to know her. He always had. As Emmet or Rex, she had orbited as the center of his world. That's why, even if he didn't like it, he had changed. For Lucy. Because, if he was to one day see her, he could rub it in her face. He could tell her he had changed. He could show her he had deserved her. He could show her that he wasn't the pathetic, weak, naïve guy everyone thought he was.
A funny thing happened. He noticed his eyes weren't open. He nearly chuckled at the fact, but chuckling wasn't something he should have done, so hit bit down on his dry lip, and opened his eyes.
As the meager amount of light, from a source he didn't know, faded into the space, he recognized the dwelling. His head nearly brushed the top, his feet ran along dust, and spiders too large for Emmet to handle crawled in the distance.
That stupid woman.
He missed her.
He never stopped. If a man can miss someone, if a man can lose what dignity, pride, confidence, and self-respect he had owned, he had never had it if he had lost her. He imagined that, if only he could kiss her one last time, say a simple goodbye to her, then he could be ok. That's all he needed.
Liar, he berated.
He needed her.
His feet, finally acting as he commanded, pushed his weight against the force of gravity so he could stand. Why was he standing? Should he be dead?
Dust. Dust and musk, spiders and too little light, darkness and gloom clutched his neck, and only by whispering to himself, whispering things like, "She never forgot you, you're ok, you'll figure it out," did he retain what sanity Finn had seen fit to let him keep.
He knew it was a no. He knew he was mad. Insane, delusional, off the edge. Crazy. It made sense that losing his mind would do him in.
Her voice sounded the same. Sweet, firm, clear, defined, caring, attentive, warm, her. Lucy, Lucy, Lucy.
It must have been a hallucination. Obviously.
She didn't come back for him. She wasn't there. She couldn't be. He wouldn't do that to his heart.
His muscles seized up.
A cold compress, a bomb, detonated in his chest.
His vision twisted and shrank in his mind.
Nothing moved, nothing reacted, his muscles and his veins, his blood and his senses didn't make a sound as the most beautiful woman saw him, froze, thought better of it, ran and tackled him to the ground in the best hug he had ever gotten.
Rex Dangervest didn't need hugs. He didn't need Lucy, even as she sobbed into his neck. He didn't need to hold her, even as his arms clung around her quaking frame like a death-grip.
"Emmet, Emmet, Emmet…" Sobs, wet tears and cries of joy, relief, anger, every emotion she had ever uttered and ever rebuked ran down her face and onto his neck, his shoulders and his shirt, his face and his hair as she gripped tight enough to break his lungs, pressing him hard against the ground. Even with his own strength, he didn't believe he could pry her off him if he tried.
"Lucy?" Only as a squeak, a peep of his former voice, broke through sobs he didn't know about, did he realize how terrified he had been, how much he had quivered, and how much of the burning cold was from his own fear than from the environment. She, though, Lucy, she was warm. Hot. Soft. Gentle.
"I'm sorry, never again, I'm so, so sorry, Emmet, Emmet, I love you," Lucy bawled into his neck. His skin, cold and rough like ice, burned against her soft warmth, but he didn't let go. He needed her.
"Yo-you came back?" Rex's stomach churned and boiled with sick vile. He tightened his grip around her, and she did the same. His lips pressed against her hair as he murmured, "I…I thought you…"
She could still read his mind.
The grip he held on her waist steadied as she pulled away slightly, staring at him with wide, smudged, soaked eyes. "You thought I abandoned you? Emmet, I haven't stopped looking, I never could! I love you, I had to find you, everyone told me it was lost, I had to–"
Taking the reins, taking her spot, stealing her action, Rex pressed forward and caught her lips in his.
If he had anything to say, if he had any words, he couldn't think of them. No mind, even his past self, had ever had such a blank mind as he had in that moment as Lucy linked her arms around his neck, held him fast against her, and made the phrase 'No regrets' seem like a dirty word.
"Lucy," Rex whispered, breaking the kiss for a moment. Lucy stared at him, right into his soul, like they were making breakfast together or talking late into the night over their future. "I love you."
She shook her head, as if berating herself for crying, and sobbed through her words, "You…you have no id-idea how long I've waited to hear you say that."
Something in him, something inside Rex, something unlike Emmet but not quite like Rex stirred, and it drummed, poking at his heart and toying with him, like a younger sibling. It wasn't the specks of Emmet left in his soul, though he had those. It wasn't the tough, coarse Rex he had bred. It was something in between the two. Something that wasn't consumed by revenge and hatred and bitterness, yet something that knew of the world and had gone through rough times, something that had grown up. Whatever this thing was, it would be better, for his sake, and for Lucy's.
"You know what the best part of all of this is?" Rex whispered under his breath, like they stood in the middle of a crowd.
Lucy raised an eyebrow, pressing gentle kisses to his face, unwilling to let him go just yet. "Hm?"
"You finally get to see me before I've shaved and combed my hair down."
You know what?
Rex hadn't forgotten how to laugh.
As Lucy's giggling subsided, she ran her hand over and through Rex's hair, frazzling the edges and immersing herself in the soft bliss. "Y'know, I think I kind of like it. It suits you."
While he tried to smirk, it merely came out as a smile. "Can I see you with your hair down?"
With a laugh, a kiss, and a tight hug, Lucy whispered into his shoulder, "You haven't changed a bit."
"You sure she's not gonna hate me?" Rex asked as the door swung behind him, shutting softly. Nighttime had fallen on their joint-world like a blanket over a bed, and while the town sparked memories of what the word 'beautiful' meant in Rex's mind, there was one person he could not go another hour without seeing.
Pressing a soft kiss to his cheek, Lucy shook her head. "No way, she's the only person who wanted to keep looking with me, but it wore her out too much." Lucy paused, her hands firmly in his grasp, and she whispered under dense, humid breath, "Never leave me again, alright? We're going to talk about everything in the morning, but for now, I just need you to know you're never allowed to leave my or Unikitty's side again."
It had taken some practice, but Rex found the ability to smirk. "Bathroom, riding a bike, single-person roller-coasters, going to work?"
Lucy's smirk rivaled his own. "We'll figure something out. Unikitty! I've got a surprise for you!"
"I don't want it."
That wasn't Unikitty. The voice from the hallway sounded lower than Batman's and more dejected than Rex's had ever lay. It sounded like pure hopelessness, rejection, and loss of all emotion. It sounded like being picked last for kickball every day, getting stood-up three nights in a row, and losing every friend in a week.
"She's had it rough without you," Lucy murmured, rubbing Rex's shoulder firmly. "Unikitty, I really think you want to see this!"
After some uncharacteristic, light-level swearing from beyond the living room, Rex heard a stirring, and his pulse shot through the roof. No time for guilt, regrets, or fear.
As Unikitty's dropped head and sagged frame appeared in the doorway, Rex smiled.
It was time to say hello to a best friend.
"Unikitty, you've gotta look up," Lucy instructed gently. She hesitated, but quickly let go of Rex's hand and stood back, and Unikitty lifted her dejected gaze toward Rex.
For a moment, nothing moved.
Rex laughed and held his arms out wide. "Come on, who missed me?"
Unikitty tackled Rex to the ground.
"OK, have you two been working out or something, geez, I can't even pry her off!" Rex laughed through his words as he hugged Unikitty tightly, and she cried into his shoulder, soaking his clothes for a second time that night. Lucy joined them on the floor, resting her weary head on Rex's shoulder and her arms around his midsection. Her breath was warm against his neck, and he leaned into her touch, pressing a warm, lingering kiss to her forehead.
Rex lowered his gaze to Lucy's, murmuring, "I'm not getting up anytime soon, am I?"
Lucy and Unikitty replied in unison, "Nope."
Somewhere, in another world, Rex could just hardly hear two people, two people very much in love, talking under the stars.
"Lucy, do you think Rex is ok? I mean, you don't think he really faded from existence, right?"
"You know what, Emmet? I think Rex is probably doing pretty ok."
Rex cuddled his two favorite girls, his sobbing, crazy girls, tighter against his chest, and smiled.
He was doing pretty ok.
A/N: Yeeeaaaah, I know, a pile of sap, am I right? Oh well XD. While I was writing this, I thought about continuing it, but my brain yelled that it was a very bad idea to do that XD. Hope everyone liked it!