Beyond the Pines (Part 2)

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When I came to, I was tied to a pillar in the warehouse, still wearing my evening gown, and I was still out of it. For some reason, everything seemed funny to me. Hilarious, even. And I found myself laughing, as if the entire situation was one big fucking comedy show.

“It’s a nice feeling, isn’t it?” a voice asked, and I saw Donnelly standing over me, smiling. “I gave you some of my recent concoction. It’s a brand new drug. I call it Delight.”

I giggled, but was unable to respond. It was as if all I could do was feel the hilarity of the situation, and no word could come out of my mouth.

“He’s here, sir,” one of the guards said, and I burst out laughing again.

Donnelly nodded. “Let him in.”

My head didn’t work right. I knew it, but I still felt laughter bubbling at my throat, wanting out, wanting me to laugh until I had no air left.

I heard footsteps, and I snorted, which made me laugh again, until my stomach was aching and I was tearing up. Then the footsteps stopped, and a familiar voice growled, “Let her go.”

It was Diego, and it made me laugh over and over again. My face hurt. My stomach was rebelling against more laughter, but I couldn’t stop.

“First, let’s have a word,” Donnelly said, and I tried to get a clear look at him, at my Diego, but I was laughing so hard by now, my voice echoing in the warehouse, my eyesight somewhat wrong, ajar, as if I was upside down, as if everything was spiraling out, and the only thing I could sense clearly was the voices, the sounds. “I want you to pay me back five-hundred million.”

That, more than anything, made me crack up, and I was thrashing in my bounds, needing a physical outlet to my laughter, but finding none.

“I’ll pay you fucking anything if you just let her go,” Diego’s voice was low and threatening, and I was crying now, because I couldn’t stand that everyone was being so serious while I was feeling all the fucking humor of the world.

“You have guns pointed at you and your girl, and you’re giving me an ultimatum?” Donnelly sounded shocked. “You have some nerve, Jack.”

“Let her go,” Diego said flatly, “and the money’s yours.”

“Money first,” Donnely said, “or she dies.”

I didn’t get to hear what was said next, because the laughter proved to be too much and I blacked out, coming to, and blacking out again every few minutes.

Before I knew it, I was suddenly in someone’s arms, and there were yelling, and I was laughing weakly, my sight blurry, unable to discern what was going on around me. I felt a faint sense of pain, and some part of me realized I must’ve been hurt somewhere, but I had no idea what happened. I couldn’t even know who was carrying me. Everything was a haze of uncertainty.

There was light, and there was darkness. I was laughing, I was crying, I was laughing again. Voices mixed in my head, in my ears, in everything all at once, and I was lost and afraid, but also giddy and cheerful, and I was feeling sick, and good, and horny, and scared out of my mind.

I had no sense of time, no sense of space. Nothing made sense. I didn’t make sense. I couldn’t even remember my own name. I couldn’t remember whom it was that I loved so much. I just thought everything was so funny, and so deeply sad, and I just couldn’t wrap my head around anything. Every thought I had was gone an instant later. I couldn’t fathom what was going on with me. I didn’t know who I was.

I was neither awake nor asleep. I was in an in-between state, someplace else, where I had no name, I had no identity, I had no one, and I was just a fleeting spirit, roaming over the fields of gold from that song, that one song, a lullaby that grew louder and louder, as if from some distant memory.

Then I was in a feverish dream, where a woman with green eyes and long, light-brown hair was singing softly, and I knew that woman, but I couldn’t name her, couldn’t say who she was, and the song… It was so familiar…

And then I heard it in full, and instead of fighting it, of trying to figure out what was going on, I succumbed to it, letting it engulf me like a blanket, like a mother’s hands, rocking me slowly, murmuring the melody...

“There is a place unseen by the eye,

A place everyone never walks by,

It’s off the road that leads to the sky,

And no one can know what’s beyond the pines.

Fields of gold show you the light,

Deserts of hope cover your sight,

A well of memories welcome the night,

Yet no memory of beyond the pines.

You walk the plains of pain and death,

You try to feel what’s in your grasp,

The shadows of your past won’t pass you by,

’Cause you’ll never find what’s beyond the pines.

There is place where flowers don’t bloom,

A faraway place that serves a tomb,

But worry not it’s not easy to find,

It’s so very close to beyond the pines.

You walk the plains of pain and death,

You try to feel what’s in your grasp,

The shadows of your past won’t pass you by,

’Cause you’ll never find what beyond the pines.

You cry and wonder what went wrong,

You’ve fallen down and down again for so long,

Haunted and scared you follow the signs,

But there is no sign beyond the pines.

There is a place unseen by the eye,

A place no one knows called beyond the pines...”

I woke up in the hospital. It was the VIP ward, I knew, because I recognized its poshness, and I was alone in the room, with a large window showing me the beautiful city of Boston.

The room was empty when I woke up, and I felt so groggy, so weak, my bones basically jelly. I could hardly remember anything that happened that led me here; hell, I barely remembered reaching that warehouse, and seeing that man, the boss, Donnelly, if I recalled correctly.

There were holes in my memory. I didn’t know what had happened. I wasn’t sure if anything had even happened at all. I just knew I couldn’t sit up, could barely move my fingers no matter how hard I tried, and even keeping my eyes open was hard.

The door opened and a nurse came inside. When she saw me awake, she exhaled and smiled. “Good afternoon, Miss Harper,” she said as she adjusted the IV stuck in my arm.

My voice was hoarse when I spoke. “Why can’t I move?”

The nurse looked at me, surprised. “I’ll call the doctor,” she said, and hurried out of the room.

Feeling alone and cold, I tried to adjust my blanket, but, as mentioned, I couldn’t move an inch of my body. So I lay there, waiting for the nurse to return with a doctor.

When the door opened again, it wasn’t just a doctor that entered, but also Diego, Patrick and Peter, all of whom looked as if they’d been through hell and back, with Diego in particular, who was paler than I’d ever seen him, his face drawn, his eyes sunken with lack of sleep.

The doctor came to my bed and started doing a series of check-ups. “Can you feel this?” he said, as he tried to pinch my toe.

“No,” I said, and now fear clogged my throat. “What’s wrong with me?”

The doctor grimaced. “You’ve been given a drug that we have no way to know the chemistry of,” he explained, and while his voice was even, I saw that his eyes were angry. “When your boyfriend brought you here, you were a laughing mess, and then you repeatedly passed out and woke up a few moments later, and repeatedly. We didn’t want to risk giving you any sort of antidote without knowing what kind of drug was in your blood, so we chose to wait it out.”

From the way Diego and my brothers looked, I had a bad feeling about that last bit. “How long was I out?”

“A week,” the doctor replied, confirming my fear. “Now, I believe that you’re going to be fine. Your paralysis is temporary - you must’ve gotten a big dose of that drug, and it’s only the residue of it leaving your system. But for now, you should remain here.”

The doctor took out a sample of my blood for the lab, and left with the nurse behind him, leaving me with Diego and my brothers.

Patrick was the first to speak. “Diego told us everything,” he said, barely-contained rage in his voice, “and we’ll let him tell you everything, too, before hearing what you have to say for acting so fucking stupid - “

“Get out,” Diego cut him off, turning to glare at my older brother. “You’ll stress her out like this.”

Patrick’s eyes flashed. “She’s my sister, you son of a - “

“Come on, Patrick,” Peter grimaced, awfully somber, and tagged Patrick out of the room, leaving me alone with Diego.

Tears rose to my eyes. “I didn’t want you to leave me again,” I whispered before he could speak. “I had to protect you… protect them…

Diego was next to me an instant later, my hand in his. “You should’ve told me,” he said tightly, “you should’ve told me that fucker texted you. I would’ve taken care of it.”

“But you would’ve left again,” I whispered, “and I couldn’t… I couldn’t let you…”

I saw the moment Diego realized what I was talking about, why I did what I did, and he closed his eyes, swearing, leaning his forehead against mine. “Dammit, Paige,” he hissed, and to my shock, I felt tears that weren’t mine touching my nose. “I told you over and over again I’m not going anywhere.”

It just made me cry harder, but I needed to understand what happened. I needed to know. “You came to the warehouse.”

“Donnelly called me,” he said quietly, “said he had you and to come alone. I did come into the warehouse alone, but Marco and Oz came with me and were waiting outside, ready to call the police at a moment’s notice.”

He took a deep breath. “He wanted money more than he wanted to kill you or anyone else. He lost a lot of… assets,” he spat the word, “six years ago, and it took him time to regain a sliver of it. More than he wanted revenge, he wanted money. He got you just so he could dangle you in front of me, just to torment me, and to use you as guinea pig for that new drug of his.

“But you weren’t acting right,” Diego’s face was stormy. “You were laughing and giggling and I knew something was wrong with you. I wanted you free before anything could happen, but Donnelly wanted the money first. That’s when Marco decided he’d had enough waiting for my signal and walked inside, trying to be there for me in the same way I’d been there for him fifteen years ago.

“All hell broke loose, then,” Diego closed his eyes, shaking his head. “Marco got shot in the leg. I got you out. Oz called the police. Donnelly tried to set the whole place on fire again, but he didn’t make it in time. The police have him and his goons now.”

“What about Marco?” I asked, my heart beating sluggishly in my chest.

“He’s going to have a permanent limp,” Diego scowled, “but that’s not the point here. You were out of it when I brought you to the hospital. You were… I thought I lost you, Paige.”

“I’m sorry,” I whispered, “I should’ve told you, but I was so scared… I should’ve trusted you more - “

He hugged me, as much as he could with me being unable to move. “Don’t you ever do this to me again,” he said, almost as a warning, “don’t ever try to protect me from my own shit. I’m not leaving you. Ever. You’re mine, and I’m yours, and it’s a done deal.”

“Diego - “

“They won’t bother us anymore,” he leaned back to give me a narrow-eyed look. “I went to Nano, and called my former ringleader in San Francisco. I told them that if they were ever going to be on my case again, I now have enough money to make sure they all disappeared. Believe me, they’re not going to come after any of us ever again.”

My heart broke, and was mended again. “I love you so much.”

His face contorted with emotion. “I love you more than I thought I ever could love anyone, Paige. Promise me you won’t pull this kind of shit ever again. I need you to promise me that.”

“I promise,” I cried harder now, “I promise, Diego.”

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