A/N: Please note, this story is told in reverse chronology, i.e. backwards. I donít know how itíll work, so maybe those of you kind enough to review for me can help me out along the way. This story is dedicated to Rachel (PenguinsWillReignSupreme) for being wonderfully supportive. Sheís a star.
The rain caresses the surface of the stone steps, the sound drumming into her ears. Her eyes are closed, teeth clasping lips, trying to drown out the sound. Her own tears join the damp earth, knuckles clenched so tightly the colour drains. She can barely breathe, her airways feel like they are closing in, giving up. Shaking, she canít bring herself to open her eyes.
Why has she come here? The pain she has felt before, the past, the tears, they all seem insignificant now. The tears clinging to her lashes escape her confines and the emotion cascades down her cheek. She is so afraid she cannot stand it, the pain is too great. It is easier to block it out, to hide, but she canít. She knows what she has seen, she knows what awaits the lifting of her eyelids. She wonít look; she canít. But soon she will have to, whether she does so by herself or with the help of the man standing beside her. She feels his presence, his arm inches from her own, but she has never wanted to be further from him. He will try to wipe away her tears, to hold her, to kiss away the pain, but he cannot. She wonít allow him to because this time this pain is for her only. This is the one moment that she needs to face herself, he has to let her do this. He should not be there, to all appearances he wouldnít. But the twisted path they have created together has led them here; here they stand in the face of their enemy.
If she is honest with herself, it has always been about him, about the man who never stood by her side. He wove in and out of their lives like needle and thread, the figures of eight making her dizzy with confusion and each time her life changed path. But now he lies still against the damp stone, the rain kissing his cheeks like she used to. She watches the scene through her eyelids as the man beside her takes her hand and squeezes it. Nausea grows in the pit of her stomach, shivers grasping her hard. The moment is crawling closer.
Normally, his touch makes her feel safe and secure, but even as the night begins to fall he cannot wave aside her fears. Itís too late to console her, she is lost. She is lost and until she is brave enough to open her eyes she cannot start again. The darkness inside her mind clings to the past, because in these last moments it is all she has.
They have to go, it is too dangerous for them to linger; she doesnít know how long she has stood there, but it feels a thousand times longer than it may be. She canít count the seconds, the minutes, the hours because nothing makes sense in her mind anymore. All she knows is that her world will end when she opens her eyes. She will lose it all when the truth lies before her.
Ted wraps his fingers around hers before gently pulling her away. She knows the time is now. It is her last chance. Attempting to steady her breathing, she finally does it; she looks.
The darkness tinges the top of the buildings, the blood red sunset staining the street with poisoned light and merging with the shadows. Her heart stops at the sight of it, the darkness creeping upon the scene she has shut her eyes to. She has seen it so many times, watched the very same sun cower beneath the same horizon. But she has to stop her husband, she has to stand straight as she sees the body, his broken and defeated body. How can anyone so full of life lie so still? It seems that the spark in his eye has been extinguished, snuffed right before her. Her hands grip her face as the sobs escape her, as a new onslaught of tears break free. She cannot hide from the truth as she sinks to her knees, a harsh, cracked cry escaping tear-stained lips. Itís over, itís all over.
Her hands soothe his face, slack with emptiness, and she wants to hold him so close to her body that he will smell her tears and open his eyes again. But itís too late. For the last time.
Her name is called by her living lover, the one who will replace the one she has lost. His timing has always been perfect, his presence convenient and there to pick up the pieces, because her heart has broken. This time he cannot repair it for her. There is nothing he can do, for they must stand and leave this place of grief, must leave the lost lover to fade into the background, once again. This will be the last time she leaves her Gideon, the last time she allows him to break her heart.