Moments In Time


They are walking along the beach, sand running between her toes, her fingers loosely holding onto his hand. He’s smiling at her, that lovely smile that is reserved just for her. It makes her feel special, wanted – loved. She’s never felt that way before, and she never expected him to be the one to give that to her.

Worry courses through her as she looks back at him. He doesn’t look well, even though he says he’s fine.

“Zane, come on, let’s go sit down,” she says, pushing a stray strand of hair out of her eyes.

“I don’t need to sit down,” he says.

She sees the flush of his cheeks; his skin seems oddly red. He’s sweating, but then so is she, because the sun is standing tall above them, lashing out heat. She wonders for a moment why the sweat doesn’t turn her into a mermaid, but it doesn’t.

“You look—” she starts, but she doesn’t know what to say, so she trails off.

“Rikki, stop it,” he says softly. “I’m fine. Stop worrying. Although you are cute when you worry.”

“I’m not cute,” Rikki says, nose wrinkling at the thought of such a word describing her.

“Of course not,” he says, smiling again. “You’re a rebel.”

“And rebels aren’t cute,” she says.

He kisses her. His lips are hot against her own, and she wonders if they’re hotter than usual, hot in a bad way. She forgets all about it when his tongue gently runs over her lower lip. It makes her knees go weak.

They pull apart, both smiling through the kiss, and she wonders if she’s ever seen anyone more beautiful than him.

She starts to run, sand splashing around her ankles.

“Catch me if you can!” she says, and she’ll deny ever having giggled, but that is exactly what she does as he starts to chase her.

She is turned towards him, running backwards to be able to see him as he stretches his legs, sprinting towards her. There is a smile on his face, and she grins back, continuing to back away, wind blowing her hair in her face. There is no one there but them, this part of the beach their own private part for once. Behind her, the ocean calls, waves crashing upon each other.

“You can’t catch me,” she taunts, still giggling.

“Oh yeah?” he says.

But then he stumbles, feet catching on the sand, invisible lines trapping his feet. He takes another step, but his legs seem to give out under him, and he falls. She sees it as in slow-motion, as the smile on his face disappears, his eyes rolling back, entire body going slack.

Zane!” she screams, to no avail – he can’t hear her.

She runs to him, moving before she has time to think. He is completely still, lying on the sand, head lolling to the side lifelessly.

Her fingers search his neck, because she’s certain that this time, it’s not a ruse to steal a kiss from her – he’s allowed to do that whenever he wants.

She finds a pulse, but it seems awfully fast and not very strong, and his face is flustered and sweaty. He takes shallow breaths and she barely sees the rise and fall of his chest.

She cradles him, running a hand over his cheek, her heart racing and tears of fear burning in her eyes. She feels the heat emanating from his forehead and she knows, instinctively, that he’s too hot and that means he’s running a fever. She also realizes with dawning horror that there is nothing she can do to help him, even with her powers – Emma could cool him, and Cleo could get water from the ocean to him, but she can do nothing, because heat and fire will only get him worse.

“C’mon, c’mon, Zane,” she says, and then looks around and screams. “Help! Somebody help!”

The beach that she just thought lovely for its lack of people suddenly seems deserted instead, as though other people knew that this was a place where bad things would happen and so they avoided it.

He is lifeless in her arms, head rolling to the side as she shifts him.

Remembering suddenly, she fishes her cell phone out of her back pocket and dials the emergency number. 

“What’s your emergency?” the lady on the other end of the line asks.

“My boyfriend,” she says, and thinks of how rarely she calls him that, “he collapsed. He’s—unconscious, and I don’t know what to do—I don’t have any water and he’s really hot and—”

“Calm down, sweetheart,” the lady says. “Where are you?”

She doesn’t register much of the conversation; she answers the questions without thinking of the answers, her eyes glued to Zane’s face. His mouth is slightly open and she feels his breaths, coming shallow and quick.

“There’s an ambulance on its way,” says the lady. “Just wait there, and help will come.”

“Okay,” Rikki says weakly.

She cradles Zane closer and whispers in his ear. “Please don’t die, please don’t die. You know how rarely I say please – so you know I must want it.”

But he lies unresponsive in her arms and he doesn’t even stir when the ambulance arrives and he’s loaded onto a gurney and brought into the vehicle.

“Do you want to come along, Miss?” asks the driver and Rikki nods mutely, staring at Zane’s still form.

The ambulance ride is quick, she knows, because the hospital isn’t far form the beach, but it feels as though it takes forever. She sits in the front of the ambulance, staring out at the passing scenery without seeing anything. There could have been an alien invasion and she wouldn’t have noticed. Behind her, they place an IV on Zane and try to cool him down with cold compresses.

They wheel him into the emergency room and she’s pushed aside as they check him over, work on him, drawing blood and pushing needles into his skin. Time seems to be moving at top speed and slow motion at the same time and Rikki thinks she might be going insane.

Some time later, she’s sitting next to Zane in a smaller room, where they’ve placed him with an IV of fluids and a monitor that she’s fairly sure keeps track of his heart rate. She reaches out and realizes she’s shaking, her fingers closing around his. She leans forward, leaning her cheek against their laced fingers, and takes a deep, shuddering breath. She’s never called for an ambulance before, never had anyone collapse the way Zane did. She squeezes her eyes shut as the images of him falling enter her mind.

She feels fingers running slowly, shakily through her hair.


“Zane!” she says, because he’s looking down at her through heavy lids.

“What happened?” he asks. He looks around, feels the IV stuck in his hand and the monitors around him, and confusion turns into recognition. “Am I in the hospital?”

She nods and for some reason, she flushes and looks down at the floor. “I didn’t know what to do. You just—fainted, and then you didn’t wake up.”

He frowns, not remembering what happened. But then he looks into her eyes and sees her fear, and he motions for her to come up, to lie next to him on the bed. She hesitates, but then does what he wants because it’s what she wants too. She wants to be close, wants him to hold her, because when she last held him, he didn’t respond, and she wants that memory gone.

“I’m sorry I scared you,” he mumbles into her hair.

His arms aren’t as strong around her as they usually are, but she doesn’t mind. She leans her head on his shoulder, draping one arm over his chest.

“Don’t do it again,” she says, “or I tell everyone you faint like a girl.”

He chuckles, his fingers threading hers and holding on.

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