my heart has many heartbeats

pg-13 | violence

He hadn't climbed a tree in fifty-three years - or eight years, depending on the perspective - but he managed, somehow.

As he carefully sat back on a branch that seemed to be sturdy enough to hold his weight, he scanned the ground beneath him, listening for any sound of someone approaching. The bullet had only grazed his shoulder, but it still hurt like hell. There was a superficial cut on his side, a nasty scrape on his right knee, and he was pretty sure his left thumb had been dislocated. That, at least, was easy to fix. He bit his lips to keep himself from crying out as he popped the joint back in place.

Diana could do a better job patching him up when he got home.

If he got home.

No. He wasn't even going to allow himself to think about that.

He would get home. He would assure her that it wasn't as bad as it looked and she would bandage up his arm and examine his thumb and insist he go to a hospital.

She had kissed him goodbye, like he was a normal boyfriend going off to a normal job, but he had seen the fear in her eyes. She hates it. She hates watching him and Phi run off and do jobs for Akane. She hates seeing him leave and not knowing if she'll ever see him again. She wishes his biggest headache was preparing for his doctoral dissertation defense.

Phi was threatening to attend and wear a Hello Kitty t-shirt.

He pulled his gun out of the holster that he still felt uncomfortable wearing and waited.

He heard the sound of branches breaking under someone's feet and he held his breath. It was just one guy, now. Why the idiot hadn't called someone for backup, Sigma didn't know. There was entirely too much he didn't know about this group calling themselves "The Cortex", but with any luck, the files he had just stolen would shed some light on them.

He had to make it out alive if only so he and Phi could mock the shit out of this new terrorist group for having such a stupid name. And because, if he died, Phi would SHIFT into a timeline where he was alive just to mock him for being killed by a guy named Carl.

The footsteps were getting closer and Sigma struggled to remain still. His ass was asleep but he was afraid if he shifted his weight, it might cause rustling that would attract attention. Or even worse, cause the branch to break and he'd go tumbling down.

It was just one guy.

Just one guy between him and being able to escape.

One guy between him and Diana, and Phi, and the life he never thought he could have.

For forty-five years, the AB Project had been his reason for living. He never allowed himself to really think about what would happen if it succeeded. When he had been young, the future being unknown had seemed like a wonderful thing, but something had changed along the way, and as he reached the end - or beginning - of the loop, it was frightening.

It was still frightening.

He couldn't promise Diana that everything would be okay. He couldn't even promise her that he'd be alive long enough to be annoyed at the surprise birthday dinner that she didn't think he knew she was planning.

Just one guy.

A guy named Carl, for fuck's sake.

He aimed the gun, waiting for the right moment. It would be difficult from the position he was in, but not impossible. His eyes had adjusted to the dim moonlight. The shadow of the assault rifle appeared first, followed by the shadow of a man. He was limping - probably a result of Sigma's well-placed kick to his knee.

It was past midnight, but he knew Diana was still awake, staring at the clock, waiting to hear the front door open. She'd be resisting the urge to contact him through the morphogenetic field, because she worries about distracting him.

Just one guy.

She was probably trying to read a book. Maybe sipping some wine. She's wearing the same outfit she always wears when he's out, because she thinks it brings him good luck. She's probably holding her blue bird music box in one hand, occasionally winding it up to play.

Just one damn guy.

He fired.