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And if I were you, I wouldn't love me neither

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It feels like someone rapidly pushes him in the back, so when they return to reality he is uncontrollably falling forward. And the only thing stopping him from collapsing on the ground in this moment is Higgs.

Sam almost smashes his face in Higgs' chest but fortunately he's quick enough to put his arm in front, and yet right after such contact he jumps aside as soon as possible.

Higgs smiles at him as if this whole situation is somehow pleasant to him. Knowing him and his predilection for making people - and since recently especially Sam - suffer, with different degrees of severity, it definitely is.

"You get too distracted by all the fuss around you. Do this, deliver that, don't stress out BB, connect, reconnect. Why don't you just take this very moment to pause?"

He's interrupted by an echoing sound of thunder cracking and they simultaneously look up to see a familiar upside-down rainbow. Sam realizes that he is extremely vulnerable to the timefall having only a T-shirt and pants on him as he looks around and it's just an open field surrounding them with no shelter to be found.

Higgs says out loud his exact thoughts

"Looks like it's about to start any second now and there's absolutely no cover nearby. What are you gonna do, Sam?"

There is no way he can outrun the timefall, especially bare footed and with no indicator to where the base or a safe zone is.

"Just send me back. You can do both that and stopping the timefall, right?"

"Yeah, you're not wrong there," Higgs tilts his head, "but the question is do I want to?"

Of course not. Sam thinks clenching his fists.

"Then what do you want?"

"It's simple. I want you to understand." Higgs whispers that phrase and then in no time switches back to normal. "So, I'm giving you a choice. You can either run about a mile to the north-east" he points with his arm, "and hide in the shelter, but remember that you may not get there in time," he lookes at Sam from head to foot, "and you don't wanna get all drenched that's for sure."

He pauses for a bit but Sam keeps silent and so he continues

"Or we just wait it out, if you stay close to me, so that I can protect you."

"How?" Sam winces in disbelief.

"Well, you know." Higgs raises his hand and looks through his fingers at the sky. "By controlling it."

"Fucker." Sam hisses through his teeth.

Higgs shushes him

"Rude, Sam. Do not push me into making it harder for you."

Sam sees the farther landscape become blurry as the timefall begins. He's more likely not to make it. He doesn't even know if the shelter Higgs is talking about is actually out there, and moreover his cloths won't protect him.

Sam hates to say it

"How close?"

He wants to wipe Higgs' cheeky grin off so badly.

"Not enough to leave more marks on your body, don't worry."

Sam can't trust him, but it's not like he has much of a choice right now.

"Don't be shy, come to me. I'll tell you when to stop." Higgs spreads his arms. "Maybe."

Sam makes a step and it's already seems like enough.

"Closer." Higgs doesn't agree with him, obviously.

Another step. The timefall is drawing near.

"Clo-ser." he insists.

Sam decides it'll be the last one as there is hardly any space left between them.

Unexpectedly Higgs puts his hands on Sam's back and pushes, so Sam gets stuck between the BB's darkened pod and the oppressive wall of rain that immediately closes them off.

He can't resist an impulse and wiggles trying to keep some distance even though he's aware of it being impossible and reckless at the moment.

"Get your hands off me."

"Stop resisting." Higgs dents his fingers into Sam's back. "You can feel my touch, but does it hurt, Sam? Does it really?"

Sam freezes. He feels the stony ground and some grass he's standing on, the slight breath of wind, the hardness of the pod pressed to his torso, and Higgs hands. There's the pressure, the warmth, the strength. And yet there's no pain unlike the last time.

In confusion he exhales instead of answering. Higgs smirks feeling the body under his palms lose its tension and gives Sam a slap on the back.

"Good boy."

"I hate you." Sam frowns.

"Keep telling yourself that."

Sam looks away to see the plants decaying in the timefall that makes a loop around them leaving a small safe area. Whatever Higgs is doing is actually working. Sam turns his head and notices under the cloak purple marks with a sprinkling of black on Higgs' neck. He stares at it wondering how long it'll take the ecchymosis to heal until the absolute disappearance and what other marks on Higgs' body look like.

And then Sam thinks that Higgs must have been feeling his breathing on his skin for a while, though he doesn't comment in his usual manner on such behaviour.

"Do you feel it now? The connection between us?" Higgs' voice breaks through the sound of timefall.

Sam purses his lips and doesn't respond feeling lost in his contradictory emotions.

Still with a smirk Higgs lowers his head peering into Sam's face.

And Sam loses ground under his feet once again.

***

This time he's pushed right on the bed where he rises himself on his elbow to see only a familiar golden mask floating in the air.

"That's enough for this time, don't you think?" Higgs whispering right in his ear makes him jump, but as it turns out Higgs himself is not there.

"Wrap your head around all of it, and also," the mask drops beside his hand. "take care of it till our next encounter. I promise it won't take long."

And after that he leaves Sam on his own.