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He's Back

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Jesse's back. He's back and Cassidy doesn't know what to do. Tulip doesn't seem to care about the timing, and Cassidy knows he would be lying if he said that he was surprised. She and Jesse belong to each other 'till the end of the world. There's nothing that can be done about that. Nothing Cassidy would want to do, at any rate. 

 

He gives himself a minute to react. His best friend is back from the dead, the woman of his dreams is, of course, going to get back together with said friend, and at some point they should also probably try to retrieve the world's most endearingly idiotic messiah from the Grail (again), though Humperdoo is the last thing on any of their minds right now. 

 

Cassidy lets out a broken chuckle and begins to edge towards the door. Jesse glances at him. He looks like he's been to hell and back; there's a new weariness to his face. Tulip's wide-eyed gaze is still fixed on the man, as if she's afraid he'll die all over again if she dares look away. 

 

 Jesse says something. It comes out as a croaky mumble but Cassidy can just about make out the sound of his name being called. There's a lilt to the word, like a question. Jesse looks confused. For a moment Cassidy is afraid that the preacher can see the truth written on him, that coming back from the dead has given Jesse another power on top of Genesis. 

 

"Cass," says Tulip impatiently, eyes still focused on Jesse. In her voice the name becomes a command. 

 

Cassidy clears his throat. 

 

"I'll just be stepping out for a bit, while you two get - er - reacquainted," he manages, forcing a smile onto his face. 

 

Jesse's brow creases almost comically as Cassidy steps outside and closes the door. 

 

Cassidy stands outside the room, exhales slowly and rests his head against the door. He needs, at the very minimum, a drink.

 

***

 

 Cassidy returns to the motel before sunrise barely feeling high enough to face either of his companions. He takes a moment to steel himself outside the door before drunkenly wobbling into the room. 

 

It looks like a bombsite. Upended furniture is strewn across the floor and shards of glass from a broken lamp are wedged into the beige carpet. Cassidy can't quite bring himself to be surprised, those two have always liked it rough, but the scene does nudge some part of him into a feeling of vague concern. It makes him uncomfortable. Evidently his bender wasn't mind-numbing enough for this particular set of circumstances. 

 

"Guys?" he says hesitantly. 

 

Silence. 

 

"Jesse?" 

 

 Cassidy moves forward, nearly trips over half of a dismembered shelf and lets off a loud stream of curses. 

 

"In here Cass." 

 

Cassidy's breathing quickens at the sound of Tulip's voice and he follows it into the bedroom. She sits on the oddly immaculate duvet with a quietness that doesn't lend itself to the discovery of her boyfriend being alive. She doesn't look at Cassidy. He swallows and tries to keep his mind blank. It doesn't work very well. 

 

"Where's Jesse?" he asks. 

 

"Out."

 

Cassidy frowns and cautiously steps closer to the bed, trying not to think about how they made love on it only a few hours ago. 

 

"Really?" he says, unable to help himself. "He didn't look like he was in much shape to -" 

 

"We broke up." 

 

Cassidy freezes. 

 

"What?" 

 

He's close enough now to see the tears in her eyes. 

 

"You heard me." 

 

"Yeah, but I'm not sure I believe y-" 

 

Tulip surges up off the bed and kisses him with a fervor Cassidy hasn't felt in a while, certainly not with her. They'd been gentle with each other before, testing new waters. This is different. He wonders if this is how she is with Jesse, and the thought instinctively makes him recoil. 

 

"Believe me now?" she breathes. 

 

At this close proximity Cassidy can see the pain in her eyes. She's still crying. 

 

"Yeah."

 

She moves towards him again and Cassidy forces himself to take a step back, demonstrating a level of self-restraint he hadn't thought he possessed. 

 

"Whoa there, do you wanna talk about it?" 

 

"No," Tulip replies, but she does stop trying to kiss him. 

 

Cassidy half regrets asking the question as she stands awkwardly in front of him, suddenly unable to meet his eyes again. He walks unsteadily past her and half sits, half collapses onto the bed. After a moment she joins him. 

 

Cassidy waits, running over various anecdotes in his head to relay when the silence gets too long. He's almost chosen one when Tulip finally speaks. 

 

"I told him I don't love him anymore."

 

You don't!? 

 

Cassidy just about manages to keep his thoughts inside his head, but it's a close thing. Judging from the speed that Tulip looks away, he knows it's written all over his face. 

 

"Things have changed since -" she trails off, and Cassidy is left to finish the sentence in his mind: since Jesse got Genesis, since he died and came back, since that amazing shag they had a few hours ago? 

 

"Things are different," Tulip continues, and Cassidy forces himself to pay attention. She picks at her fingernails. "We always said we'd be 'till the end of the world but -" she pauses. "I don't think I want that anymore. I'm glad that he's alive but I - I can't -" 

 

Cassidy sighs. He knows what this is. 

 

"You can't lose him again." 

 

Tulip frowns. 

 

"No, I -" 

 

"Okay. I'll just be -" 

 

He tries to stand up but Tulip easily pulls him back onto the bed. He blinks at her. 

 

"No," Tulip says again, firmly. "Listen to me." 

 

Cassidy nods. The room spins around him and the familiarity of the sensation is oddly comforting. 

 

"Jesse is all I've ever known but he isn't what I need right now. He's not there - you know?" 

 

Cassidy blinks again. He can tell that she's trying to say something important, but his drug induced stupor isn't making it any easier to decipher her words. Tulip sighs. 

 

"Jesse didn't save me from the Saint." 

 

Cassidy opens his mouth. 

 

"Not that first time," Tulip adds quickly. "Not with the sword and the fingers and -" she shivers and Cassidy feels an understanding of sorts begin to dawn on him. "And he wasn't there after, when I couldn't sleep and he was off looking for god and - Jesus. We should've gone to the beach Cass, we really should've. He wouldn't notice for a second if we weren't there -" 

 

"That's not true," Cassidy says gently, raising his hand to wipe the tears from her cheeks. "He was mighty upset when you died. We both were." 

 

Tulip brushes his fingers away. 

 

"Don't."

 

Cassidy takes her hand in his instead and makes an effort to not say anything. 

 

"You were there, Cass. You're always there. Jesse's not like that. He leaves. All he does is leave and I'm sick of it." 

 

Cassidy thinks back to the letter and can't help but privately agree with her. He squeezes Tulip's hand. She sniffs and, finally, stops crying. 

 

"So I told him that and I told him about us and -" 

 

"Us?" Cassidy interrupts. 

 

"Yeah. Us." 

 

There's something breathtaking about her smile in that moment. Sad, happy and hopeful all at once. Cassidy can't help but grin disbelievingly back at her. Time seems to stop, until he remembers the carnage he had to walk through to reach the bedroom. He finally brings himself to ask the question he's been dreading. 

 

"And how did he react to that?" 

 

 Tulip shrugs and gestures in the vague direction of the door.

 

"He went to get some air. I don't know when he'll be back."

 

Or if he'll be back.

 

She doesn't have to say the words out loud. 

 

"He'll be back," Cassidy says with more confidence than he feels. 

 

 Tulip shrugs and leans into his side, resting her head on his shoulder. Cassidy is briefly reminded of the miserable months they spent in LA. He's not entirely sure what will happen when Jesse comes back to them this time, but he's willing to face it if it means more moments like this. 

 

They sit together in silence until the sun's glow starts to seep through the curtains. Cassidy picks an anecdote and starts talking; he's got 119 years of them after all. Tulip says nothing, but he catches occasional glimpses of her smile. He doesn't think that Jesse will ever really forgive him for this, but he can't quite bring himself to care.