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

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Standing in the shower with one of his hands pressed to the glass wall he’s still able to feel the weight of all that cargo on his shoulders. Sometimes it seems like he’s never going to get used to it.

The water clears up more the longer he stays there, motionless. He closes his eyes, but still sees all the new people, faces, falling apart into pixels of their holograms as nobody comes out to meet him in person.

Yet this is what they call a reunion.

And then there’s Higgs.

Coming up from behind every time so Sam manages only to notice a mixture of golden and red sparkles in the corner of his eye, but not to avoid the grip or clap or really any other type of touch that Higgs tends to bewilder him with.

Sam reckons the bastard does that just to put him on edge because he knows about Sam’s phobia. He judges by that look in Higgs’ eyes when he takes his mask off. He definitely knows.

A part of Sam wants Higgs to stop and stay away as far as possible. But another part wants to beat him up bare-handed. Then he thinks, maybe not exactly to beat up, he probably won’t be able to stop himself once he starts and he still has a promise to keep to Fragile. But to make Higgs feel uncomfortable, scared, miserable, yes, that’s it. Bastard deserves that.

Sam is already lying in his bed having troubles falling asleep when he hears it. The footsteps. Intending to be light and quiet but fail all the same. He’s got to know that sound too good by now.

It’s not the first time he appears in his private room. Sam’s body strains as he feels the unwanted presence, but he keeps his eyes closed and tries not to give himself away with his rapid breathing.

Suddenly he notes that the footsteps start approaching and yet he flinches as Higgs bends over him and clenches his shoulders. He drags Sam onto the floor, leaving his shackles attached to the bed.

His face is too close and he looks him right in the eyes when says

“You haven’t thought I would leave you for long, have you?”

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“I sincerely hope I didn't interrupt the daily encounter with your dearest Amelie.”

Sam can see his artificially apologetic smile and it’s so typical of him that he would tell Higgs had this grin even if he wore the mask.

Higgs is standing on his knee, close to him, and Sam hopes that Higgs will keep looking directly in his eyes and nowhere else as he cautiously tries to unfasten his cuffs.

“Oh, wait. You can’t see her anymore because we’ve caught the poor thing, that’s right. So who sings you to sleep at night now, Sammy boy? Is it Fragile?”

This time it doesn’t take much to get Sam to the point where he abruptly knocks his head against Higgs’ face.

Higgs throws his head back and cries out as blood starts flowing from his nose, while Sam yankes the loosened cuffs. Higgs is staggering when he endeavours to stand up wiping the blood off his face, though that doesn’t help much as it keeps bleeding.

“Shame on you, Sam, you’ve almost broken my nose.”

Without answering Sam jumps to his feet and throws his fist forward to hit Higgs, who manages to dodge it at the very last moment. He kicks Sam in the ribs in return, however if Sam didn’t know him, he would say that Higgs is pulling his punches.

The hit does make him bend but, when Higgs attacks again, Sam pushes forward grabbing him on the waist and taking down. Even though he hears a loud bang as Higgs’ head bashes into the floor, they give each other a few good punches before Sam wraps his handcuffs around Higgs’ neck and pulls.

He’s basically sitting on Higgs, legs pressed to the sides restricting his movements as he asks

“Can’t you just leave me alone?”

Higgs catches Sam’s wrists and that immediately forces him to startle and stop tightening the shackles.

He hears Higgs taking a deep breath, and now he is the one restricting Sam. He is trying to get out of the grip feeling the way it burns his bare skin, however he can already see the outlines of new marks. He reckons they’ll almost perfectly reflect one another.

He directs his elbow into Higgs’ solar plexus but he moves a bit to the side under him, so Sam ends up hitting only the chest. Still that is enough for Higgs to choke for a moment and let go of him, though when Sam is just about to repeat the punch Higgs finally uses his powers and teleports behind his back making Sam stand up quickly and turn.

“C’mon, Sam, are you done with this?” He asks as he rubs his neck.

His voice is hoarse and even this one phrase makes him cough, so as annoyed as Sam is, he feels a wave of satisfaction and takes Higgs’ condition as a win for now.

“Are you done sticking to and pissing me off?” Sam wonders defiantly in response.

Higgs raises a bit his hands palms out and makes a cautious step towards Sam.

“We both know it’s not just annoyance you feel, don’t we?” He gives Sam a slight, halfmocking smile and almost puts his finger on Sam’s lips, stopping about a centimeter away, as he opens his mouth to answer.

“And it’s far from hatred I know that for a fact so don’t even try lying to me.”

Sam backs off from him and says frowning

“I am pretty sure I hate you and I have no idea why you think otherwise.”

“You’ve never let yourselve actually think about it, have you? I’ve always considered you to be quite susceptible. Did it all get that blunted after your loss? Although that BB of yours did break the ice.”

It sounds like he’s talking more to himself than to Sam as he slowly approaches.

“The hell are you talking about?”

Suddenly Higgs places his hand on Sam’s collarbone, fortunately covered with cloth, and in a flash they are gone.

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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.