~*~ denotes change of character POV
The flight had been in the air for about five hours when I had caught Clear dozing off. I teased her about it saying how it was me she was supposed to stop falling asleep. But in all honesty, I couldn't blame her. Putting up with Carter's remarks about the Sleepless In Seattle movie was enough to make anyone tiresome. Why did he insist on watching it in the first place? I think, secretly, he was only watching it to keep himself occupied. Flying was one of the things he had decided not to do again before he reached his twentieth birthday. But now he himself was catching some shuteye. Finally, a moment's peace from motormouth and just the opportunity to feel how warm Clear's snuggled body felt next to mine was welcoming. It was a precious moment; just sitting there, holding, feeling. All the things I could ever ask for. My mind wandered back to the very night I thought I had almost lost her. The night always played so vividly in mind every time I thought about it. Which was almost every day. This own private movie that was only visible to my mind's eye. This perpetual nightmare that just won't go away. I could hear Clear's desperate pleas with me to not touch those wires that did save her life. They sounded more terrified that usual and I shut my eyes in an attempt to quash those emotions. Bad move, Alex...
The sheer sight of seeing Clear stranded in that car, surrounded by those fizzling, dangerous live wires was enough to make my heart sink. Was I too late? Had I not got there in time? Would I *ever* forgive myself? All those questions circled in my head like a stranded kid in shark waters. I had told her to trust me and she told me she would. With her life. Is this what my trust had landed her with? Was Death going to win? Hell no. I ran straight to the car and saw Clear through the window. Her expression was one of fear but her eyes had some hope in them.
"Don't move! Stay there!"
'Please, don't move' my mind screeched.
Trying to escape out the door. But I blocked her path. If she got out, Death would have most certainly won.
"No, no, no! Don't move. Don't touch anything. You're grounded by the tyres okay?"
Suddenly a spark flew out at me, causing me to jump back. I would never get Clear out of that car alive as long as those power lines were fizzling around. I noticed a spade and picked it up, preparing to attack the wire on the hood of the car. After a few attempts at dodging it, I attacked it, whacking it harder upon each attempt. Death wasn't taking it too kindly that I was desperate to fuck up it's design because the wires zapped the spade out of my hands. Before I could do anything, the spade fired straight into the gargage and knocked over a can of Turps. It flew right out, under the car and I went straight to ground looking over my shoulder to see the wires latched onto the spilled turps and set it alight. I knew Clear was trying to get out but Death sensed her moves and tossed the wires back in her direction, blocking her exit. The flames follows the line of turps under the car. In a heart poudning instant, the outside of the car was engulfed in flames.
"The car's gonna explode!"
I watched the wires carefully and realised that if I didn't do anything then Clear would die. Then the solution to everything struck me in the side of the head like one of those headache premonitions I didn't particularly favour. I think it was the expression of panic on Clear's face that made me want to save this girl's life. Even if the cost was my own.
"I can only hold on for so long. You know what to do."
I figured that if I could hold on, those wires would wrestle the life out of me and Clear would be all right. I would much rather she live than me. I felt that me being on this earth would only be a burden to everyone else. Carrying this stupid curse along with me made me want to end it all. And with me gone, it would put and end to it all. Clear obviously didn't see it that way. Its funny the things we do in this world for love.
"When I do this, it'll skip you and it'll all be over. It's the only way we can cheat Death again."
I wish she would stop being so stubborn. It was my time.
"Clear, I will not let it beat us both. You know what to do."
All she did was stare at me. I could see the water start to surround her eyes and I could feel my heart breaking into two. She didnt want me to do this, but I had to. I wanted her to see that. She stilled her fighting hands and just gazed at me, shaking, lips trembling.
"I'll always be with you."
I moved away from the driver's side and stood straight in front of the car. She started screaming at me to move away. I was going nowhere. Maybe Death would get so pissed off with me that I could escpae this unscathed. But the odds were against me. I barely registered the Feds pulling up outisde the drive, sirens flashing like mad. I knew it was Shreck and Weine.
"Alex! Alex, get away from there!"
The words were too vague. All I was focused on was the wires and Clear's persistant shouts of objection. I braced myself and picked up the wires. The pain was indescribeable. The heat built up and it shot up my arms. I didn't know what had hit me as I was suddenly tossed backwards. Something iterrupted the searing heat I felt in my hands. I hit the gargage floor and was barely concious. I could sense someone hovering over me but I was out of it too much to focus. I knew it would be Clear, checking to see if I was all right. I felt her hands all over me, she was panicing. Then I blanked out.
The flashback seems like an eternity and I'm relieved when it ends. I open my eyes slowly and take in a deep breath and look down. Clear was still there. Not gone like I had feared so often. Her breathing was slow and steady and I just watched her sleeping. I glanced at my watch and realised we would be touching down at the Charles De Gaulle airport very soon. Carter was awake now. Very much awake, preped for lessons in Insults 101. He looked at me and saw the uneasy look I had on my face.
"Oh holy fuck, Browning, not again!" He muttered exasperated. "Don't close your eyes. Don't even fuckin' think it, all right? We're almost there and nothing is going to happen, okay?"
"I didn't say anyt-"
I couldn't get a word in edge ways. He stood up and straightened out his pants. "I'm going to the bathroom. And wake up Sleeping Beauty there. I'm not taking any chances with either of you getting those visions."
"Just go to the toilet, Carter." I told him sternly, not wanting to listen to him droning on. He raised his hands.
"Okay, okay, okay! I'm going."
I moved my legs slightly to give him better access and he exited the aisle.
"I hope he gets stuck in there."
I glanced down at my sleeping girlfriend who was now no longer asleep. Carter would rowse a whole plane given the oppertunity. And he'd already started with Clear.
"We're almost there," I said wanting to change the subject away from Carter. "Captain said 'bout 10mins until landing. Then the fun begins."
"And he's not ruining this trip for me, Alex. He's going to behave or I'm sending him straight back on an airplane home. I've been looking forward to this for months. I want a good time. I want us to have a good time."
"And we will." I said, taking her hand, trying to reassure her. If I didn't come across as relaxed then she wouldn't be relaxed. There would be lots of questions. And Carter would get an earful for it. Then Clear brightened a bit.
"So whats the first thing you wanna do in Paris?"
"Curl up in my bed and fall away?"
"As long as I can fall away with you." Clear smiled, leaning to give me a light kiss on the cheek.
"What was that for?" I asked.
"What was what for?"
"That kiss on the cheek. What's the matter with my lips?" I teased.
"Nothing. You know Carter will end up walking back up that aisle, see us, and come out with one of his smart ass comments. And I for one am too tired to listen to him."
"Clear, I was joking. You can kiss me anywhere youwant."
She did that raising the eyebrow thing she was oh so good at. I was being too inviting for my own good. God, was I turning into Carter?
"Was that a Carter-esque type remark there?" She said, gripping the neckline of my hooded top softly, pulling me closer to her.
And she was too good at that mind reading thing too! I'm awfully sure she's something special. I couldn't wait to get in those Parisian streets and get cozy. I never thought love would be a part of my life. It was something that never occurred to me. I had never been in love before but I was sure this was something close to it. Maybe it was love. Could I tell her I loved her? I had this feeling that something would happen and that if I didn't, then I would loose her for real, and I wouldn't have the chance to. I would have to keep my eye on her and anything around the three of us. I prayed that nothing ominious would come out of this trip. I broke away from my thoughts when I could feel Clear's lips on my neck, exploring. Well I did say she could kiss me anywhere. It felt so good. I stiffened when I saw Carter looming over us, just like he had before. He did have a knack for interrupting things. Clear saw my attention had diverted and she stopped, knowing Carter was behind her. He sat down and suprisingly didn't say anything. I looked at Clear who just shrugged back, not understanding it either. I didn't bother saying anything to Carter. What had happened in that bathroom? How much thinking could Carter do in 5 minutes?
The view from my room was amazing. The long, outstretched road leading up to the Arc de Triumph. And just over it, you could see the Eiffel Tower. That was the first place I was going in the morning. I remember being so fascinated with the tower since I was a little girl. I began reading at such a young age and I would go to the library all the time and get out books. I wouldn't particulary read what was written, it was the pictures that got my interest. It amazed me how someone could build something so big and make it look gorgeous at the same time. I went over to my back pack and pulled out one of the tour books I had originally bought for the Flight 180 trip to Paris. I flipped it open and put it down on the balcony ledge. I had just started to read about the history of the city when I felt Alex's arms slip around my waist. He rested his chin on my shoulder.
" '...the Eiffel Tower has also witnessed a few strange scenes'" Alex said, reading aloud. " 'including being scaled by a mountaineer in 1954. In 1923, a journalist rode a bicycle down from the first level. Some accounts say he rode down the stairs, other accounts suggest the exterior of one of the tower's four legs which slope outward.' Hmmm. That sounds interesting."
"Oh, it is so."
"If you're into that kind of thrill."
"Well, you know me." I told him, remembering the time Alex and I broke into the morgue to see Tod Waggner's corpse, hoping it would aid Alex in figuring out Death's design. I don't think I'd be doing that again.
"Are you coming out for a drink?" He said, swaying our bodies together. "Carter's already at this cafe he spotted, saving us a seat. I ordered you some wine."
I shut the book over and turned around in Alex's embrace, putting my arms around his neck.
"I'd rather stay up here, if you know what I mean."
"Oh come on, let me wine and dine you. Then I promise some fun afterwords." He dipped his head and started to kiss my neck, mimicing my actions on the plane. The feeling of his lips on my neck made me even more determined to stay upstairs on our own. Alex could do so many wonderful things when he put his mind to it. I breathed in his scent and let him caress my neck. He was making it tickly on purpose.
"You're a little devil you know that?" I said, barely able to get my words out. Alex didn't say anything but resumed the pleasureable activity. And the deliberate twisting of his tongue. I started giggling. And swatted him off.
"Come on, we better not Carter spend all night alone with a bottle of JD."
"He's not having JD."
"Oh well, okay - I'm not leaving him alone with any kind of alcohol." I took Alex's hands down from my waist and kept his left hand tightly in my right.
"What, we're not staying here?" I heard Alex say, voicing his sudden protest to joining Carter outside as I pulled him out behind me. "What about reading up on Parisian thrill-seekers?"
"Well you can join those "thrill seekers" and the beautiful view of the tower if you want later."
"I've got the best view by a mile," he said. I couldn't see his face but I could feel him grinning behind me. Alex was getting rather good at those non-subtle innuendos.
Carter was suprisingly sombre after a half an hour of sitting down outside the café. I think he was wishing how Terry was here with him. He's never really gotten over it. Who could blame him. But there was nothing he could have done about her death. None of us could have done anything about it. That bus came out of nowhere, unexpected. Come to think of it, I don't think I saw one in the street while Carter and Alex were arguing over Ms Lewton.
"It's weird being here, huh?" Alex said, trying to make some conversation with Carter. "We've finally completed a puzzle. It's just, there's something missing you know?"
I could see what Alex was doing, making Carter open up a little about his feelings. He leaned forward and picked up his glass of beer. He shuffled a little and toasted to Terry. Alex did the same for Tod.
"To all our friends who can't be here."
We clinked our glasses together, toasting those who should have been with us. Carter took a sip of his beer through a small smile. He shook his head at something. My guess was it was what he was thinking about in his quiet period not so long ago. Carter Horton quiet with nothing to say? Yeah, I don't believe it too. Alex saw his small smile and was a little uneasy about that. Whenever Carter smiles like that, he's always up to something.
"If you had told me six months ago, the three of us wold be sitting here having a drink."
That's a relief, I thought Carter was going to be his usual, cocky self and say something vindictive. I'm not sure whether I take that comment as a sign that Carter is warming to us being his friends or whether he's only relying on us is because he has no one else but us.
"No, I mean sometimes it just feels that the two of you are the ones who really understand."
Oh nice save, Carter. I glanced over to another table where I saw a Frenchman playing his guitar. It was relaxing.
"You were right, Browning," Carter continued, turning his attention from the guitarman to Alex. "It did skip us. It was a design, we beat it, you know? We won."
Great. I was not sitting here listening to Carter refer back to the Flight 180 disaster. I was trying to move on with my life and all he does is constantly bring it up. He did it on the plane and now he's doing it again.
"I think the only thing we won, Carter, is a chance at a full life."
Now that I had said that, I hoped it would shut him up once and for all. Just like Terry Chaney had said before her demise: 'I will not let this plane crash be the most important thing in my life!' My sentiments exactly. I took Alex's hand that was sitting on the top of the table. I squeezed it, tracing the lines of his scars he had gained that night he grabbed those wires, saving my life. I hadn't wanted him to touch those wires as it would have almost certainly killed him. But somehow, Death decided to pull its own little miracle and spare Alex. I guess it was pissed off with him spoling its plans and it had just had enough of him. I don't think I could have been able to stand losing him. I was rapidly falling in love with him and it would have felt like a part of me was missing if he had died.
"A chance that I won't ever waste."
"Yeah, there's just something, you know? Something I can't figure out." Alex said.
"What?" Carter asked, apprehensive.
"About the design."
I watched him dig his other hand into his pocket. I knew instantly what he had in there.
"Alex, just let it go, alright?" I said, taking my hand out of his and dropped my hands into my lap. I shifted in my seat, not wanting to look at the piece of paper I knew he was rummaging around for.
"Just hear me out, okay?" He pleaded with me. I suppose there was no harm in just listening. If he took it any further I was going back up to my room. He brought out the piece of paper, unfolded it and placed it on the table.
"Oh my god." Carter breathed out, an immediate hurt look crossing his features. He didn't want to hear about this anymore than I did. I loved Alex, I really truely cared for him but he thinks too much. I never was one for living in the past. Just like when my father died, I grieved then got on with my life. On my own, without him or my Alex dwells on things too much.
"Just listen," Alex said, commanding our attention. He started pointing at the seating plan of the Flight 180. "The path of the explosion to determine our deaths, right. I intervened and saved Carter. And it skipped him and went to the next person in the path, it went to Billy, all right? And then it was Clear. But I intervened and saved her so it went to me. But in my case no one intervened, right? I was thrown from that power line by the explosion. So-"
"So, why'd it skip you?" Carter summarised. "Right?"
"How do we know this isn't exactly what was meant to happen?" I suggested. "That out of everyone on Flight 180, you, me and Carter were meant to live!"
Carter acknowledged what I was saying with a simple nod of his head. Glad to see someone was agreeing with me. Even if he was the once-sworn enemy of Alex.
"Maybe that was the design all along."
"Or you could still be next." Carter piped up. I shot him an angry look. He always found ways of twisting Alex's words. Mine as well for that matter. He was really insensitive at times.
"Shut up, Carter." I warned.
"What?" He protested, as if his comment about Alex being next was never uttered. "I didn't make up the rules. Somebody's gotta intervene before Death can skip them. Alex proved that three times. The plane. With me. With you. For all I know, it could circle back and get us all again. But I am the safest fucker in the world because you're still next!"
He pointed to Alex's name on the seating plan. Alex's eyes widened and he spun around to look at our surroundings. Maybe Carter was right but I was just not willing to accept that. It wasn't possible. It's been six months. If Death had wanted Alex out of this earth it would have done it by now.
"Can we just stop talking about this?" I said, wanting to change the subject. I already had enough fears that I would loose Alex and I didn't need Carter piling them on. I wondered if Alex would object to coming back to the hotel with me. If, for any reason, Carter was right, Alex needed to be away from anything hazardous. But that was the problem - I didn't see anything hazardous. But Alex was quickly scanning everything and anything around us. I decided to change the topic of discussion with Carter, but Alex wasn't listening. I was sharing a joke with Carter when a sudden wind knocked over my glass of wine and then Alex jumped back, horrified, watching the red wine spill out over his name in the seating plan. That was enough to freak Alex out.
"I'll meet you guys back at the hotel okay?"
"Just wait, I'll go with you." If he was going, so was I. I wasn't letting him leave with his emotions all tied up. I reached down to get my bag.
"No, no. Just stay here. Okay, Clear? Just stay here alright?" He started to walk away. Carter turned to watch him go. He grinned at him.
"See, it's true! I told you, you were next, man."
Alright, that was enough of Carter. He was only making it worse. If I stayed I would only end up verbally abusing him for teasing Alex. The more Alex seemed to freak out, the more I understood his reason to. He was getting signs that some immenient danger was about to happen and if it meant that much to Alex then it should mean something to us.
"Stop it, Carter. Alex, wait!" I stood up out my seat, bag in hand ready to follow him. He turned around again.
"No, Clear. Stay there, okay? Stay away." And just like that he continued walking away from us. I sat myself down again and got a weird feeling. Something was wrong. I turned around and saw the reflection of a bus in the window behind me. I spun around just in time to see a bus coming along the side street.
Upon hearing my cry he turn to look at me, see what was wrong. Suddenly the bus swooshed by him like lightening and he jumped back. It narrowly missed him. Carter turned around to see what I was staring at. The bus continued to rattle along the street, almost coliding with another vehicle. The bus slammed into a sign post, nearly knocking over a salesman with a box of vegetables. The sign post shot straight into the air and crashed into a powerline. Our eyes travelled along to see it was connected onto a red neon sign. The end of the sign snapped off. My heart started beating faster as I looked up in horror to see that the sign would come crashing down on Alex. Then my world would really fall apart.
I shot Carter a desperate, pleading look. He knew what that meant.
"You're closer! Do something!"
Instinctively, Alex looked up as the wires holding the sign broke into two and the sign came shooting down towards him.
Suddenly, Carter dashed across the road and pushed Alex out of the way, tumbling to the ground. Everything was happening so fast. I tried to run over but a waiter stopped me from getting to him. He was alright as far as I could see. Carter was now standing over him.
"I told you, you were next!"
"Then it just skipped me."
"So who's next?!"
Naturally, the sign had to swing itself back down. I looked up, eyes wide to see the sign coming back down on Carter. It was going to hit him and there was nothing I could do to prevent it. I turned away hoping to hear sighs of relief, hoping somehow Alex would yank Carter down to the ground or even Carter throwing himself down.
But they never came.
- End -
Ahh finally! I've been meaning to get this latest installment online and now finally I have. I'm not sure what to do next whether make Carter somehow marculously live or continue it right up until Death catches up with Alex just before the start of FD2. I'll give myself some more time to think it over - decide which one will be less harder. But I like challenges, so who knows?