Mal opens her eyes.
The room is submerged in an almost complete darkness; a sliver of light from the waning moon filters through the window, blurring the edges of the few things she can see but not enough to tell her where she is.
For a moment she feels disoriented, unsure whether she's asleep or awake, unable to place her surroundings. She remembers waking up in the house, just like this, the sun was setting and the house was being slowly covered in shadows. Dom was with her then, and she can't understand why he isn't now.
Other memories take their place: Dom's horrified face staring at her pleadingly as he tries to convince her she's awake, as he had been trying since the moment they opened their eyes in the dimly lit living room. She wasn't. Mal knew she wasn't. And now she can remember the fall, the rush or air past her ears, Dom's agonized scream and the force of the impact, crushing her body and jolting her out of the dream. She had thought she would be kicked awake from the fall, but she was wrong. It was the stop at the end that did it, and now there's a phantom pain spreading through her body, sinking inside her bones where they shattered.
She stands up on unsteady feet and turns on the light, squeezing her eyes shut at the sudden brightness, stumbling when her legs refuse to carry her for longer than a step. ¿How long where they asleep? It feels as if they have spent lifetimes down there, though it can't have been more than a couple of days. ¿What where they thinking? She has a million memories of their time down there trickling into her consciousness, all of it a jumbled mess. Weeks, months, years and decades of experiences are trying to fit into place inside her stunned brain, and the sheer amount of time they spent in limbo, the scope of their shared foolishness, is enough to give her a headache.
Mal turns to Dom, expecting him to stir and wake up any minute now. He can't be too long to follow, she didn't let him any other choice. In the silent house Mal looks at the PASIV device, the lone cable tethering Dom to a dream that will be collapsing soon without her, and waits.
For the next days Mal is not sure whether she is awake or asleep, alive or in hell. She remembers crashing against the asphalt, the pain sweeping over her so sharp and real as to obliterate any other memory from then.
Maybe she died after all.
She's alone, Dom still immersed in that dream he insist is reality, and there is a voice inside her head telling her that this might not be the real world either. She has heard the same words before, deep in the dream, she knows that voice.
Your world is not real. You need to wake up. You need to die. Death is the way out.
She heard the words when it was just the two of them, the world filled with buildings they had created and destroyed. Mal had let the words convince her to lay her head on the tracks, staring into Dom's eyes as the train approached, their hands clasped tightly.
She heard them again when they woke up, Phillipa and James playing in the back garden and Dom trying to convince her that this time she was really awake, everything was real.
"How can you say that?" Mal had asked him, pointing out the strangeness of their surroundings, the fact that there was nobody but them and the kids. "Can you not see?"
"You're awake, Mal. We're awake." There was a quiet desperation in Dom's words as he whispered against her lips, trying to embed them on her skin as if that would make her believe them.
She couldn't. Not when she was hearing that same voice saying it wasn't real.
"Please, Dom." She had begged, and threatened and in the end, Dom had let her no other choice that to force him to follow.
Only he hasn't. And now Mal is awake and alone.
And she's still hearing the voice, and it's getting harder and harder for her to ignore what is obvious. It's not her voice, it has never been. The idea has not come from her, and there is some irony to be found in the fact that after the lengths Dom went to wake her up, now she is the only one who did while Dom is still trapped down there.
Mal only does so when exhaustion finally drags her under, waking up with a scream lodged in her throat and the phantom pain of impact on her body. She's afraid to sleep; afraid that she will not be able to tell again when she wakes up. If she wakes up.
She's afraid this has already happened.
She's taken to spinning her top compulsively on every available surface, doubting her reality as she hasn't done before, waiting for it to topple and then remembering Dom used that same top against her. She threw it through the window that first time, shaking with anger and grief and fear, only to rush outside to pick it up after she calmed down.
"What else have you hidden inside my mind?" she asks Dom, not expecting an answer and not obtaining it. "Did I ever love you? Did I ever trust you?"
She doesn't believe in him anymore and what's worse, she can't believe in herself either. She can't trust Dom; if he ever wakes up she will doubt everything, from his words to the motivation behind his every action.
"How could you?" And it's not just the fact that Dom played with her mind, but also that he abandoned her, let her wake up and chose to stay in a world without her, a world where she is now his worst nightmare. "How could you?"
The answer is simple, laid out in front of her eyes in the shape of Dom's irresponsive form.
He didn't trust her.
"We should wake him up."
Miles says as soon as he sees him, and he's right. It's the right thing to do, the moral thing to do. Not to mention that there is no explaining that your husband is asleep--not in a comma, just asleep--and he's not likely to wake up.
"We should," Mal agrees easily, but she doesn't make any move towards her husband or the PASIV still attached to his wrist.
"You won't?" Miles asks, confused. Something he's seen on his daughter's face tells him how much Mal doesn't want to face Dom, and he can't keep the surprise off his expression. She could always lie to everyone but Miles.
She shakes her head. "I can't. You find a team and bring him back, if you can."
Miles looks at her considering. "What happened down there?"
She tells him, because Miles is her father and he knows her. But mostly because he was their teacher and he knows Dom. Mal needs someone to understand.
"I can't go inside his mind." Mal lights a cigarette, her hand not as steady as it usually is. She frowns at it, trying to calm enough for the trembling to subside. "He thinks I'm dead. He believes he killed me, and revisits the scene again and again in his dreams."
"But he didn't," Miles points out, always the voice of reason.
"No, what he did was worse." Mal finally admits, and hearing it out loud is enough to make her realize she has come to a decision. Whatever happens they already had their lifetime in the dream.
In reality they are not going to grow old together as she once wanted.
"What he did was wrong, but he did it for the right reasons. You were lost down there," Miles argues, taking Dom's side even when he knows better. Mal stares at him coldly. She wants to be angry at her father for siding with Dom, but Miles' has always been a romantic. He thinks everything can be forgiven if it's for love.
Not this, though. Not this time.
"I followed him out of the dream, but one kick wasn't enough. And he didn't listen. He'd rather believe I'm dead than right."
Miles looks at her sadly, and she already knows what he's going to say, what's going to be his final argument. And it's not going to change anything. "Mal, he loves you."
"Not enough to jump."