Turning Into Dust
"You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming?
That's where I'll always love you."
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
In the end, it just ends.
"Listen to me, Jack," Emily whispers, cupping the boy's face in between her hands. "I want you to run. Don't stop, don't look back. Just run."
He's staring at her, wide-eyed, but not scared and the detachment in his eyes makes her shudder. He's not the same kid he's been three years ago.
"Someone will come for you," Emily adds, her voice firm but even when she hits speed dial, pushing her phone into Jack's hands. "Stay on the line as long as the woman tells you to and then call your father."
"But what about you?" Jack croaks, looking back and forth, between her and the darkness. "Aren't you coming with me?"
Emily doesn't even think about lying. Not anymore. She shakes her head, brushing the hair away from his face with gentle care. "I can't."
"But daddy misses you, they all do. They just want-"
Emily shakes her head once more, cutting him off. "You need to go, Jack. Don't look back, no matter what you hear, just run."
She gives him a pleading look and whatever he finds in her eyes is enough. He's pushing past her, dashing through the dark and running straight for the exit, until he's gone.
"I never would have hurt him, you know."
Emily swallows, nods. "I know."
It's never been about Jack.
She turns around slowly, throwing her gun to the ground as she does. She didn't come for a fight. She's done fighting. There's nothing left to do but surrender.
The shot is deafening, her body jerking backwards as soon as the bullet hits her. Pain explodes in her chest and she topples forward, meeting the ground with her knees first. Her shirt turning crimson in seconds.
He walks closer, making his way towards her with sure steps, a shadow with teeth and claws, and Emily meets his gaze one last time, watching his lips curl into a sick, twisted smile.
"At least we won't be lonely in hell," he breathes with relief, his eyes so unnaturally blue, his hands sure and steady when he shoves the gun into his mouth.
What happened to you, Emily wants to ask, a valid question, but one she can answer for herself too. I did.
He pulls the trigger without hesitation, his body crumpling to the ground, nothing but a shell, the life vanished from his eyes. Gone.
We should have stayed dead the first time, Emily thinks as her sight narrows and her heart stops beating.
"Have you talked to Loic yet?"
Ashley nods. "He wants us to wait another week."
"Did you tell him what I think of that?"
Ashley chuckles, rummaging through her bag. "Not literally."
"Maybe that's the problem," Emily murmurs, pushing away the curtain in an useless attempt to get some air into the room. The heat is unbearable.
"Call him yourself then," Ashley states with a shrug and Emily turns just in time to catch the cell phone the blonde is throwing in her direction.
"I'm going to take a shower," Ashley adds with raised brows, heading for the bathroom.
Settling herself on the edge of her bed, Emily calls the all too familiar number, trying to ignore the sweat running down her back.
"I'm not going to stay in this hellhole for another week," she states the second Loic answers his phone.
"I knew you'd call," he declares dryly. "Bored already?"
"Twenty-four hours, Loic, or you can start looking for a new agent."
"Feisty, you know how much I like that."
"Don't fuck with me, Loic!" Emily warns, realizing her choice of words just a moment too late. Loic chuckles.
"We both know that's not going to happen anytime soon."
Emily groans, starting to rub her aching temples with her free hand.
"Twenty-four hours," she demands a second time. "Or I'm going to do this on my own terms." She ends the call abruptly and when Loic tries calling her back, she shoves the phone in the drawer of her nightstand and ignores it.
One of them had to give in.
It won't be her.
Lying back down on the mattress, Emily stares up at the ceiling. The motel room feeling even smaller than usual, hot and airless, suffocating. If the heat didn't break soon she would surely lose her mind.
Fighting against the sleepiness Emily turns on her side, catching sight of the book carefully stuffed in her bag on the floor. She hesitates, but only for a moment, reaching down to retrieve the book with both hands.
The cover was plain and simple, all black and white, only the title written on top of it. A single name. Emily. Four hundred and fifty-eight pages, holding nothing but lies about a woman supposedly dead. Her.
"You still miss them, don't you?"
Emily flinches, turning her head to meet Ashley's gaze. The blonde is standing next to the bed, wearing a bathrobe, her hair still wet from the shower.
"Get dressed," Emily states, leaving no place to argue. "We're going out."
Ashley raises a brow but says nothing, and Emily shoves the book back into her bag before forcing herself to get up.
He knows something's wrong the moment he wakes up.
When he opens his eyes, it takes Aaron a moment to adjust to the darkness and another to remember.
"Emily?" he starts quietly, startled when he finds the bed next to him cold and empty. "Emily?" he calls again, louder this time, stumbling to his feet and out her bedroom. "Emily!"
He makes his way through her apartment, switching on the lights as he goes, getting more frantic by the second. "Emily!"
There's no answer.
He crosses the hallway with heavy strides, making his way back into the living room before he comes to a sudden stop, his attention on a note carefully placed on the table. The flawless handwriting unmistakably Emily's.