Future Simon knows this is the moment. Positioned by the open skylight of the warehouse, he watches the digital numbers count down the seconds. He's about to die. He's always known. He's ready. He has to die here so that Alisha can fall in love with the him of this timeline, and through that love, Simon will come to learn of his future self and his mission. If he doesn't die, Alisha won't fall in love with present him, and if present him doesn't fall in love with Alisha, then he won't become future him – who he is now – and so no one will be there to save Alisha in the past which is the present which is right now which is in …..4.........3............2............. ... ... .
He jumps down, at peace, and feels the force. The pushback. He's on the ground, held in Alisha's arms. His hand, it goes to his chest, and he's grateful for the shock in his system that doesn't let him feel it. He can look into her eyes and hear her comfort. He can bleed out here, feeling no pain when in her arms. Be held, be loved, be treasured, and tell her to burn his body so no one knows. One last kiss. He loves her. He loves her. He loves her. .... There's no gunshot.
Oh god, there's no blood – then! He checks Alisha, in full panic. “Are you alright? Tell me you're alight? Alisha!” He failed. He failed. No. How could he have failed? How could how could how – Alisha pats his cheek, and he has the sickening insight that she's comforting him while she dies because he failed and he can't do this he can't do this he can't do this he can't do this he can't do
“Simon, I'm ok,” she assures him. She runs her hands from his cheeks to his arms. “You did it. You saved me.”
Relief doesn't flood him. “Where's the guy? The video game guy?”
Alisha guides them both up, and Simon stands with shallow air. “Weren't you the one who took him out?”
“What?” Is he too early? Has he not chased her here yet? What did he do wrong?
It's then that they hear a clatter, and Simon puts his body in front of Alisha's in preparation. Then a cool slide of smooth against stone, and in front of his feet is a bloody slice of glass. “Crazy how they just have mirrors out here, isn't it?” comes a voice, one he doesn't remember sounding like that. And as the silhouette in the hallways draws closer into the light, not one he remembers looking like that either.
“Nathan?” he chokes. He doesn't move away from his place in front of Alisha. Either she left out a lot of this scene when she told him about it, or more likely, that's not Nathan. Not the one they know. He looks aged. Sounds it too. He can't know for how long. More than that, he looks enraged. And dangerous. This is an unexpected situation, and Simon does not like it one bit.
“Yeah, me,” the other man says. He's in dark blues and grays, tight and breathable, logo-less and nondescript, like you'd imagine a ninja. Someone meant to blend in and disappear, unlike Simon's outfit for utility and anonymity. “And what about you, you little freak?” His stalking stops in front of the two of them, just a bit too little distance for politeness as Nathan is wont to do. “What was all that on the roof?”
Simon stumbles, nothing worth saying coming to mind. Which roof? is what came immediately, but he feels that won't be well received.
Nathan takes in his gaping refusal and smiles. There's a chuckle out of his closed lips, and it's a little too dark. A little too dark for Nathan who can take anything, who can go through any trauma and come out as unflappable as ever, always has. Nathan always bounces back. Twisted evermore and with an even less appropriate sense of humor each time, but still he bounces back. This isn't Nathan. Simon feels sure of it.
“You cannot imagine the hell I've been through,” non-Nathan declares, his voice even and snide. “You left me to rot in some stateside slammer for five fucking years.”
Simon can't make sense of the situation, so he says the one thing he is sure of: “I won't let you hurt her.”
At that, Nathan laughs incredulously. “Oh my god!” he sputters. “This again. Still. Fuck.” He looks at Simon and grins, shakes his head like Simon is silly, pathetic. “Always this.” But there's no pity in his eyes, not really. Only a cold fury he never associated his with his old friend.
“What?” Not-Nathan mocks, “You lose Alisha, and your first thought is, 'Oh I don't want to live in this world without her!' Is that it?”
“Who are you?” Simon finally says. Mercifully, Alisha has stayed silent this whole time.
Not-Nathan plows right through with his little speech. “You ever think other people might be fucking upset? You ever think of saying goodbye?”
He had. Simon had said goodbye to a lot of people. Though not everyone. He should have explained better to his family, maybe. But no. How could they understand?
“You know how I had to find out?” Not-Nathan continues, “I had to track Kelly down to Christhaveyou Angola like she's Princess Fucking Diana once I got out, 'cept she had gotten herself blown up to fuck disarming landmines. The Powers Asshole had to fill me in best he could, and then he set me off to find my replacement who has a whole team running amok to fill in the gaps, and he is the one who told me that -”
Not-Nathan shifts his gaze, moves his head to try to see to the shorter girl behind Simon. Simon glares back. “This isn't her fault.” He needs the attention of whoever this is off of Alisha. Maybe this is the crazy person who kills him. Why he'd look so much like Nathan is beyond him, but even if it were Nathan, Simon would kill him before he let him take whatever twisted revenge this is on Alisha. But the Thing with Nathan's face doesn't look back at him at all.
“Hey,” he says with his eyes downcast to where Alisha's eyeline would be. “There's gonna be a time when you tell Simon that “Future Simon” ” -air quotes included - “said we should all sell our powers because you want to live a normal life. Don't do that. Or at least if you do, tell me that immortality is worth more than two grand.”
Not a Not-Nathan then.
“That's how I know,” Future Nathan says cryptically. “That's how I know...”
He turns his attention back to Simon. Smiles that cynical way again that is starting to make Simon feel nauseous with promise. “Did ya know Curtis dies after you leave?”
Simon's stomach drops. He feels behind him Alisha's full-body shake. She's clutching his clothes from behind, and he knows she's tough, but he can't imagine what this is doing to her. She's still so green.
“Yeah! Shot himself!” informs Nathan, and Simon can't tell which one of them he intends to horrify, but he feels too many feelings right now. He should clear his head, pick up that shiv, and end whatever madness this is. But maybe it's because it's Nathan's face, or maybe it's just because he does wonder, he does wonder what became of his friends... Even though this was it for him, this is life, who could help but wonder. “Probably because he became a cursed zombie king who kickstarted an apocalypse situation and decided he needed to save the world from himself, but that's just Brody-or-whoever's best guess. Bet you wish you were there for that, don't you? I know I do! But where was I at the time instead of helping my friend? Oh right! I was stuck in a fucking cell getting gang-raped and protecting my food. You bastard!”
“NONE OF THAT WAS MY FUALT!” Simon finally explodes, but Nathan is having none of it.
“Shut! The Fuck! Up! You bastard!” he yells back, and Simon can see it, “I have been mad about this for FIVE STRAIGHT MONTHS and I am getting it all out right now, you damn suicidal piece of shit! You bastard! Motherfucker!” He slaps Simon, hard, and Simon doesn't even hit back. Is he in denial or acceptance, to allow Nathan to finish his piece?
“That's how I know!” Nathan repeats, “That's how I know. Coming back here... it wasn't about saving you, Alisha. It was about him. You die in the future. You know that?”
Simon's knees buckle. “Nathan, don't -” Don't be cruel. Don't tell mess with fate. Don't ruin this for me. He doesn't know.
“That's what I learned between the two of them. You got your throat slit, defending him I think, could be wrong on that one, and so he came back to fulfill this prophecy you told him forever ago. But he didn't tell you that, did he? If he were really here to save you, he'd tell you everything. He'd do everything in his power to change the past, not work to keep it exactly as it is. How did it go, Simon?” But he's not looking at Simon. He's destroying what little he has left with his eyes trained on Alisha. “Alisha fell in love with Future Simon who has Immunity. Future Simon dies saving Alisha so she can fall in love with Past Simon. Past Simon learns about Future Simon and becomes him, and because he loves Alisha, he goes back in time to save her right here, so she and Past Simon can live it all over again. And again. And again.”
Alisha is holding his hand, a brushed touch, but it's clear now that she sees this man as Nathan. She's beside him. He can't read her expression beside him. Is she angry? Is she sad? Is she scared? She's speaking, speaking to Nathan. “So you came back here to stop him?”
“Well I'm not here to rewatch the Olympics, am I?” Nathan exclaims, and it's the first time he sounds like him. “But one last second. I gotta finish my monologue. I have been ranting in my head forty minutes every morning since I learned what the fuck happened.”
He spins and points to Simon, who is having a hard time processing this change in demeanor. “Dude. I am so pissed at you. And it's gonna take a long time before I get over it. But fuck it, you won't get why I'm mad unless I say it, will you? So I'm gonna be mushy. Just like you don't want to live in a world without her, I don't want to live in a world without you. So here's what we're going to do: you and I are going to get the whole group together and tell ALL of them EVERYTHING we know. Then we're going to buy several lotto tickets of which I looked up the winning numbers before jumping in a portal. THEN we're going to stick around and make sure none of our friends die. And then, we're going back to the future. Or not. That part is variable. But only that part. Got it?”