Enjoy this scene from
Bound to You by AR DeClerck:
Lia watched the smoked glass close over
Jacks' face, and imagined it as his funeral shroud. There would be no way he
could climb out of that contraption whole, she felt it as certainly as she felt
her love for him. She shook with uncontrolled tremors as the machine began to
power up. The lights flickered inside the room, and she half expected a siren
to wail. It was silent, though, and all she could do was lean against the glass
with her eyes locked on Jacks.
She jumped when she felt a hand on her
shoulder. She was half afraid to turn around, but let out a relieved cry when
she realized it was Layl. He was less clear here than on the ghostly plane, but
she could see enough of him to throw herself into his arms. She cried on his
shoulder as he patted her back soothingly, for how long she didn't know.
She sniffed, cried dry, and pulled back
from him. "Is it weird to be hugged by a dead person and not be creeped
out?" she asked, looking for something to smile about.
He grinned at her, but his soulful brown
eyes were doggedly serious. "Not if you're J's girl it's not."
Her smile faltered as he called her 'J's
girl'. It's what she was, no doubt about it, but Jacks was in real danger of
dying, right this very minute. She turned back to the window, staring hard at
the Illaran machine.
"God damn you, Verhagnis." She
said it vehemently. Loudly. Layl was silent beside her, and he, too, was
looking at the Illaran machine.
"They never expected it to take
three thousand years." Layl spoke finally, leaning a shoulder against the
glass and crossing his arms. "The few uninfected Illarans who had the
know-how, they built this place and spent every moment here, trying to save
their people. I don't think they even realized it was over, in the end."
Lia felt a tear slide down her cheek. It
was for Jacks, and the Illarans, and her. "I'm selfish, aren't I?"
She didn't look at him. "For wishing he'd choose me over everyone else in
Layl grinned. "No. Not selfish. A
little naive, but never selfish." He leaned his head against the glass.
"What makes you think Jacks didn't choose you?"
She waved at the room. "He is in
there right now, trying to kill Verhagnis and save everyone and he might
"And if he dies then he didn't
choose me, did he?" She shot him an exasperated frown. "I asked him
to leave with me right now, walk away and leave Verhagnis to do as he would,
and Jacks chose to go inside."
"Who told you Jacks would die?"
She faltered. They had only assumed that
the machine would be lethal, exposing Jacks to monumental amounts of radiation.
Layl's mouth turned up as he shook his
head. "Don't let an exorcist do a scientist's job." he said playfully.
He waved at the room, and at the machine. "What do you think is swirling
around inside Jacks, and has been, every day of his life? Passed down in the
genetics until just the right time for it to pop up in him?"
"Energy. He said 1016 joules worth of energy."
Layl waved her on, as if teaching a
student who was a very slow learner. "And if he has that kind of power in
his body, what do you think it creates?"
"Radiation." She felt hope
bloom in her chest, but pushed it down, wanting to be sure.
"So if Jacks has lived with the
output of radiation from his own body for all these years, and he hasn't died,
what does that tell us about this machine?"
Lia smiled. "It won't kill
"It won't kill him." Layl
grinned at her. "It won't kill you either. It's in every molecule that
connects you to him. Your bond."
She reached for him, her arms going
around him and she was so grateful, so happy, that she made him growl as she
squeezed him. She went to the door, but paused before she opened it.
"You won't be here when we get back,
He shook his head. "I'll be around
until Jacks is finished, Lia. I've hung around this long, so a little longer
She opened the door and stepped inside
the room, closing it behind her. When she looked out the window, Layl was gone.
She went to the machine, and put her hand
on the dome. It slid away, and Jack's face went white to see her there. She
didn't let him speak, but climbed up inside the machine with him, fitting
herself against him and throwing her knee over him. She snuggled against his
shoulder as the dome slid closed over them.
"Lia." His voice was strangled,
and she felt horror pulse through the bond. She leaned up on her elbow, and ran
her fingers through his hair.
"It's all right." she told him
gently, rubbing his scalp in the way she knew would relax him.
"It's not fucking all right."
he argued, struggling to push her away. "Get back outside the room."
She ignored him, kissing him instead,
running her lips over his chin and down his neck. "Calm down, Jacks."
"I won't calm down, princess. I
specifically asked you to stay out and you climb inside the fucking
machine?" His hands were tight on her arms as he tried to disengage the
dome and push her out.
He froze at the command in her voice. He
felt it through the bond, her supreme confidence, and it stopped him mid-shove.
"I said it's going to be all right.
We can survive this. We're immune."
"What? Immune? To the
She nodded, letting her lips trail over
his. "Layl explained it to me. You're full of energy, and your body
creates radiation. You've been surrounded by radiation since birth. Me too. It
won't hurt us."
"Doesn't make sense." he
muttered, relaxing to lay back again. "You're sure?"
She nodded, her fingers stroking his head.
"What about everyone else? The crew?
Everybody we've ever touched? How are they not sick?"
"We must absorb it." She
grinned at him. "We haven't hurt anyone Jacks. But Layl is sure. The
machine's radiation can't harm us. The Illarans knew it when they built
He looked at her, and she stopped in mid
stroke, watching him watch her. He studied her so carefully, taking in every
tiny line and pore of her skin. Every strand of hair. Everything he called
perfect imperfection. He narrowed his eyes. "Promise me you aren't lying
"What does the bond tell you?"
He didn't answer. She leaned over him,
placing a kiss solidly on his mouth.
"Learn to trust it, Jacks."
His eyes drifted closed, and she felt him
probing the bond, looking for her certainty. She poured it out to him, and his
eyes were bright when they opened. He tugged her down to his chest, his arms
wrapping around her and holding her to him.
"I'm never going to forgive you for
lying to me." he said against her hair, but she heard relief and
tenderness in his voice. Felt it in their connection.
"You will. I didn't lie anyway. I
was telling the truth, at the time."
His laughter rumbled through his chest,
and she felt it against her ear. "Promising to stay outside, and then
coming in here was the same as lying, princess."
"Nah." She closed her eyes, and
let her mind connect with his, and they were almost one single being, touching
all parts of their bodies and minds together like that. "I'll make it up to you later."
"Later? What's wrong with now?"
She sent him a mental shove, but she knew
he was kidding. They didn't have time to fool around, it was time to destroy
Verhagnis once and for all.
"Can you make it work?" she
asked him quietly.
In answer the machine came to life, the
His arms clenched around her, and she
felt the machine begin to draw power from him, and in turn from her through
him. "Here we go." he said, and she clenched her hands in his shirt
as they prepared to fire the weapon.