I catch her as she falls, lowering her to the ground. Alice and Rayn stop and turn, Rayn, for the first time since I've known him, has this serious expression on his face, all concerned. I wave him away.
"Keep going, we'll catch up," I mutter, propping Gemme up. "What hurts?" I ask her.
"Everything. My head, my heart." I gently take her hand and move inwards, trying to find the source of the pain. She closes her eyes. "You let go..." She whispers, "that hurt. I love you." She pauses. "That hurt more." Yeah, well I'm hurting quite a bit too. I go up into her brain, just like I did to Benny so long ago when I was trying to figure out if I could make people forget things same as Gemme could. I wasn't very good at it, so I don't go for her memory in that way... I want to see what she means about me letting go.
"What was this thing about me letting go? Before you woke up. Don't say anything, just think about it."
"But... how will you know?"
"The memory is made up of physical cells, and when you think about something, they become active. I'll find it. I wanna see for myself."
"Oh, okay," she mutters, and I follow the blood flow around her brain until I reach those little cells. I look around a little bit before going to the memory that's pulsing at me, calling to me. I like what I see. I can't do much to help her, but the rest of the memory cells around me are alive. They're weird, I've not seen anything like it. Kinda like they're protected by something, or being hidden. Something there is preventing her from being able to access them.
But the memories are there. It gives me some hope. Someday soon, I hope, I'll be able to make her remember.
I turn my attention to the little cluster of cells I want to see and touch them, sucked into the memory the moment I make contact.
I watch through the darkness that surrounds the two figures in her mind, me and her, holding hands. For a moment, we're stood like that together, happy. And then I turn around and walk away, dropping her hand. She tries to follow, to reach me, but I'm already disappearing out of sight, into the shadows and she can't move. She watches, unable to chase me, calling after me and crying until she's alone in that darkness.
I shudder as it repeats, I appear back by her side and we're happy again, until I walk away once more, just abandoning her. I can feel her despair as she cries for me, and it feels so real I guess it's no wonder she was shouting at me for letting go of her, but... It's not real. Just a dream. I pull out of her mind and take a deep, gasping breath like I've just been pulled out from under water. Don't think I'll ever get used to that feeling.
"It's not real, Gemme," I tell her quietly, putting my arm around her, "I didn't let go, it was just a dream."
"It's the realest thing I've got." She pauses, hesitating a little before raising her arms, loosely hugging me back.
"It certainly felt real. I felt it same as you do when you think about it, and I almost believed it was real, too, only I know I wouldn't do that," I murmur, almost shocked by just how horrifyingly real it felt.
"I... I lo..." she stutters, "I'm sorry. I just can't say it." She smiles slightly, "yet." My heart sinks slightly, but what did I expect? She doesn't remember me; I'm practically a stranger to her.
"It's okay." I did the same to you, I s'pose.
"Oh, I'm sorry. Maybe when we go to Newberry?" I nod and stand up, offering my hand for her again.
"You don't need to be sorry. Nothing to be sorry for, I guess." She hesitates for a moment, looking at my hand with a blank look before finally taking it.
"Okay." I'm going to get sick of hearing ‘okay' soon. I keep hold of her hand as we begin to walk again, catching up to Rayn and Alice. She looks at me the whole time, not once taking her eyes off me. I'm tempted to ask her why she's staring, but I just smile at her weakly. "Sorry." She mumbles, turning her eyes down to the floor.
"What for?" Stop saying sorry, it's not your fault, nothing is.
"For staring at you so gormlessly."
"It's okay. I'm used to being stared at. Being the front man of the band has its definite downsides sometimes." I laugh dryly.
"Oh, okay then," she says and I sigh.
"I don't mind you staring, Gemme, I was just trying, and failing, to lighten the atmosphere a bit."
"Oh, I'm sorry."
"Don't worry about it."
"Okay." I don't say anything after that. Nothing else to say, really. Rayn glances at me a few times, his face almost worried.
"You know, one of the scariest things is... I can't remember what I was like before." She says after a while. I squeeze her hand gently, trying to think of the words to describe her. Definitely regret not paying attention in school. C'mon brain. How would you describe Gemme?
"You're my gorgeous phoenix," I mutter, "too kind for your own good. You got bored way too easily. You cared about everyone, even if they didn't deserve it. Most patient person I've ever met... there's more, but I'm no good with words."
"I sound great." She laughs and I smile.
"You are," I tell her in a mumble.
"Were." She corrects me and my heart sinks a little lower. "I'm not the same Gemme you fell in love with."
"It's all still there, in your head, though. I saw it. I mean, I saw the cells that make up the rest of your memory, but there's something stopping you from using them... I'd have healed it away if I could, but I couldn't get anywhere near it." I frown, still wondering what it might be.
"Oh, but, when you said colors I remembered. Maybe if you do something, or say something else relating to something I may be able to remember."
"But you don't remember Benny. I mean, I pointed out the tattoo you designed for me, and because of that tattoo, you met Benny."
"But it wasn't directly connected. I had nothing to do with it when you got that tattoo; it was between you and Benny." You were there, though. I sigh and try to think of something else.
"What about your brother, Ike?"
"Well you can't tell me you're not directly connected to him! Don't you remember, um..." I hesitate, remembering Alice can hear me, "after our first time, he came over and he was kinda pissed at us about it," kinda? He was yelling his fucking head off from what I remember.
"What about... when I met you for the first time?"
"Umm... nope." I frown.
"What was it you remembered about colors?" I ask, hoping maybe she'll remember more from that one memory.
"I don't know, you said colors and immediately my mind flew to that memory. All I got was what I said to you then. I don't even know why I said it." Nothing that went with it, then. I sigh and squeeze her hand again, trying to think of a different way she might remember.