It’s a beautiful night.
We’re looking for something dumb to do.
Hey baby, I think I wanna marry you.
It was New Year’s day. They had counted down from 10, falling into each other’s arms at 1 and kissing like the world was over.
Which it was, just not for them at that moment, with their friends, on the hotel roof.
Tomorrow, they would move on and would finally know their future.
Jake ignored to the bitter wind that weaved on the roof top -the overcoat of whisky doing it’s job- and stared completely awestruck by the waves of colour over the mountains.
Eventually he found himself gravitating away from the rising heat of the hot tub, pulling away from excited splashes to find solace under a shelter in silence.
Time slid by, bodies milling and occasionally pausing next to him in a haze of alcohol and chatter.
Images like snap shots flashed in his head.
Next to the temple, camouflaged against the jungle, playing Indiana Jones, picking up a ring from the floor.
“Oh. Are you proposing?” Her tone light, a slight smile.
“Ha. You want me to?”
The ‘go to’ smirk had crossed his face rather than the one intended. The moment lost.
He spotted her from his position, leaning against the cold wall, glass in hand. Craig and Sean were talking to him, but he was no longer listening. All their words fading into the background.
She was laughing with Grace, wearing the white dress he’d found, blonde hair cascading down her back, holding a tall glass of Raj’s red cocktail. The sky lighting up her face and every so often she would glance over and smile.
He gazed down at his glass, swirling the contents and watching the amber liquid whirlpool as it sped up, then slowed down to nothing again. When he looked up again his heart quickened. She was gone. He glanced around in confusion, only then realising that Craig and Sean had disappeared and a half empty liquor bottle was being held in his vision by a delicate hand. He traced from the hand with his eyes, up to a bare arm, taking her all in slowly.
She was beautiful, like the sea the first time he’d flown over it. Like the sun dipping under the horizon in Costa Rica, when he could finally relax and know that he’d survived another day.
She was smart and brave, could make the tough decisions and for some reason, wanted to be with him. In all the crazy shit he’s seen in this place, she was the only part that actually made sense.
“Noticed you were empty”
She refilled his glass with a sly smile then filled her own empty one, clinking the bottom corner of the glass with his. They stood for a while, taking in the atmosphere and the sky, drinking in the babble of noise. He put his arm around her waist and pulled her close, letting her lean against his shoulder. Faces obscured by the colours of the sky and the shadows inky darkness.
He kissed her gently on the top of her head.
“From the first time we met, I didn’t stand a chance” His voice muffled, as he spoke through her hair. He felt her smile.
They watched the others messing about near the hot tub. He had friends and a life that he wanted to keep living.
She’d blasted his plans straight to hell.
Her and a little band of misfits.
Suddenly, he was acutely aware of her gently reaching over and taking his hand in hers, intertwining their fingers. There was no fight or flight response, it was like his inner soldier had stood down.
Then it occurred to him, she never did answer his question.
“Do you think that we’re going to get out of here?” She asked quietly
“Not all of us.” He answered honestly “My old squad is on us. They won’t stop until we’re all dead. Or they are.”
“And if we make it?”
The words emerged past her lips with sadness. The ‘what about us’ part remained unspoken. They were quiet again. Then he took her glass and placed it with his on a table and she twisted around to face him, so he could look into her eyes. He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.
“I’m a wanted man. I’m on the run.” His expression faltered with dismay “If we ever get back, I can’t go with you. I’d be locked away for life.” Then it changed to one of hope. “But, right here. Right now. I can at least pretend I can have the future I want”
“And what would that be?” Her lips curled into a half smile.
He quirked an eyebrow then kissed her deeply, eventually pulling back to take a breath.
He picked up his glass and downed the contents. It was the good stuff and burned the back of his throat, but he didn’t notice. His next words were important, he couldn’t screw it up.
“Do you remember when we rescued Pop Culture Petey?”
He tilted his head towards Diego, who was in the corner having commandeered some high backed wicker chairs and was having an animated conversation with Varyyn, Craig and Zahra.
He watched her expression, patiently waiting for her to understand.
“So Princess,” He rubbed the back of his head anxiously and looked at his shoes. His heart beating faster than a helicopter rotor. This could be the dumbest thing he’d ever done and he’d done plenty. He raised his head slowly, pushing his hair away from his face. “What would you’ve said?”
He opened his mouth to speak then closed it again.
“Something got your tongue Top Gun?” She smirked.
Seizing the opportunity she grabbed him by the front of his vest with both hands and kissed him, eventually dropping her hold and letting her hands snake up the back of his shirt. They broke apart. The smile that graced her features, made his heart jump as he slowly realised that they weren’t pretending.
“You sure about this?” He asked, lips close to her ear. “You really wanna throw your lot in with me?”
“Yes. Whether we get out of here or not.”
He leant over and kissed her again, a wide smile spreading across his face.
“Hey Blue’s Clues” He yelled over the wind.
Varyyn glanced over from his position on a chair he’d been sharing with Diego, who peeked over the back with curiosity.
“Out of interest. Do you do weddings?”
Doing her best to ignore the uproar, she whispered in his ear.
“I also remember you saying you could hold your breath for 9 minutes. Care to prove it?”
She took his his hand in hers, and pulling him and his grin in to the hotel away from civilised company.
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