17 March 2012

Finale: Part 2

All right... six months later, here it is, ladies and gents! The long-awaited finale of Chapter 1 of A Simple Life. Thank you so much to those of you who stuck by me through the ups and downs, and to all of you who supported me. You can find a soundtrack for this post here- I strongly suggest you listen to it while reading! Thank you once again, and I hope you enjoy the conclusion. 

This is it, Jane thought, an odd sense of calm taking root in her bones. This is how I'm going to die. She couldn't claim part of her didn't deserve it; after all, if she'd just taken Moe's advice and left well enough alone, she wouldn't be in this situation in the first place. Moe. She would likely never see him again, but the knowledge of the pain her actions would cause him filled her with a sharp pang of regret.

"What... what happens next?" she ventured finally, willing her voice to stop shaking. She had to at least appear to be strong. If there was any chance of talking him down, she had to take it. But to her surprise, his composure was crumbling even worse than her own.

"I... don't know," Matt admitted finally, sinking to the floor with a sigh of despair. "Things just spun so far out of my control... It was so much easier in the beginning. But then you had to go and unravel everything. Now..." He paused, glancing at her for a second before his gaze flitted back to the floor. "I don't know what I'm going to do." The hopelessness in his eyes reflected what both he and Jane already knew. Matt was a man out of choices, and when someone with no options left was cornered...

Well, it wasn't looking good for Jane. But she still seized his sudden change in attitude as if it were a lifeline, refusing to let go of the only chance she had to leave this shack alive. The self-assured and maniacal killer was gone; in his place was a scared, upset man who clearly had no idea how things had gotten so out of control. For a brief moment, Jane felt something like sympathy stirring within her, but she was quick to squash it. He's holding you here at gunpoint, she reminded herself. Don't you dare start to feel bad for him. It would only complicate things more if she started to believe that her captor felt any kind of remorse for what he had done.

Outside, unbeknownst to Jane or Matt,  things were already starting to become more complicated.

"Are you sure we're in the right place?" Moe whispered, panting slightly as he tried to keep up with Chase.

Chase simply nodded and waved for him to be quiet and follow him. Not for the first time since leaving the hospital, Moe found himself wondering where the hell Chase had gotten a Glock so quickly. The thought would certainly have been a disturbing one on a normal day, but tonight, Moe was just grateful for the protection. The idea of being indebted to Chase Cruz for anything at all ruffled his feathers, however, and it was not sitting well with him.

The two made their way up the rickety stairs, wincing as their footsteps creaked on the rotting wood. As much as Moe tried, he couldn't prevent his steps from causing a loud creaaak, and Chase shot him a dirty look. "Shut up and try not to get in the way!" Chase hissed, waving at him again. Moe mouthed a silent apology at him and tried very hard not to return the look.

"Wait... what was that?" Matt sat up, craning his neck to listen to his surroundings. The sounds of the Simissouri swamp were always present in Twinbrook, but even moreso out here in the middle of nowhere. It was difficult for him to make out precisely what he'd heard, but his senses were on guard for anything out of the ordinary.

Jane knew exactly what he thought he'd heard, and she fought furiously to keep the wave of joy from bubbling up inside her. She'd never had a good poker face, but it was vital to hide her emotions now. If Matt suspected what she thought... Well, she could only hope that Moe hadn't come alone.

Surely he wouldn't be stupid enough to do that... right?

"Stay here," Matt ordered, grabbing his gun and advancing slowly towards the door. As much as he loved this shack and the protection it had afforded over the past few months, it wasn't exactly easy to defend, especially if there was more than one intruder. The only way for him to gain the advantage was to have the element of surprise- if that was even possible at this point.

Meanwhile, Moe was struggling to get past Chase and look through the window. He had to know if Jane was okay, even if Chase thought it was foolhardy to rush in with guns blazing. It was easy for him to be patient, Moe reflected bitterly. It wasn't his wife being held at gunpoint, after all. He opened his mouth to voice this complaint, but Chase shoved him back before he had a chance. "Moe, I'm only going to say this one more time. Stay. Back. And don't get in my way. Do you want to be responsible for your wife getting shot because you couldn't keep your mouth shut?"

Moe glared at him in resentment, but heeded his advice. He hated to admit that Chase was right, but he had to admit that he wouldn't be able to live with himself if something went wrong because of him.

Moe burst through the door, aiming his gun at the two of them. Jane stifled a gasp as she saw Chase and Moe. They were certainly a strange team, but Jane was so grateful that she hardly cared. She sprang to her feet and started to the door, but Matt's voice rang out before she'd taken five steps.

"If I were you, I'd stop right there, Mrs. Pesce," Matt remarked calmly, still pointing his gun at her erstwhile saviors. "If you make any sudden movements, your darling husband will be the first person I shoot." The cool and collected killer was back, and Jane felt a ripple of fear run down her spine. Suddenly, she had no doubt that he would do exactly what he threatened.

Moe could hardly contain himself anymore. He wanted to body tackle Chase, to rush past him and save his wife, to disarm Matt somehow. But he wasn't in control of the situation, and Matt's threat had put him at even more of a disadvantage. Without the kidnapper saying it, Moe knew that the opposite would hold true as well; if Moe were to do anything even remotely stupid, Matt would have no problem turning his gun on Jane and pulling the trigger.

So he bit his lip and kept quiet, despite all of his instincts. He had to trust that Chase could take care of the situation somehow... though the how was something that eluded Moe, no matter how hard he thought.

"Listen to me, Matt," Chase began, his voice calm and reassuring. It didn't surprise Moe that Chase's grand plan involved talking; it was the one thing he'd ever been good at. "No one has to get hurt here," he suggested, layers of persuasion coating his words. "You haven't hurt Jane, and we don't really have any proof that you've done anything else... For all we know, you could be completely innocent. So just put your gun down, and we'll talk this out like rational people, okay?"

"Of course, Cruz. I'll just lower my gun like this," Matt demonstrated with a smirk. "And then I'm sure you'll keep your word and we'll all talk like the gentlemen we are." The word was pronounced with a smug emphasis, as if he was suggesting that Chase was anything but. It stung, but he was far more focused on maintaining his air of calm authority. Just take the bait, Matt, he thought, teeth gritted in determination.

But Matt would have had to be an idiot to take him up on the offer, and everyone knew it. It had been a weak attempt at best, and Matt knew enough to call Chase's bluff.

"Thanks, but no thanks," he replied, swinging his gun back up again. "I think I'll start by shooting you instead. You seem to be much more annoying than your cowering partner over there. We'll see how these negotiations go without you trying to smooth talk everyone, shall we?"

Jane gasped, her eyes widening in horror. She didn't want Moe to be injured, but she didn't like the thought of Chase being shot, either. No matter what had happened in their past, she didn't want anyone to get hurt because of her. But as soon as she started to move forward, time seemed to slow down and everything began to happen at once.

She could only watch as the gun discharged, the bullet traveling towards the two men- one she loved, and one she had used to love. Fear paralyzed her as Chase ducked and the bullet hit flesh, a bright red splash of blood blossoming out from Moe's stomach.


Matt's body hit the ground with a hard thud, and Chase was filled with a sickening mix of dread and relief. It's over, he thought, his body sagging against the rotting balcony railing. He closed his eyes, trying not to take in the gruesome image of Matt's lifeless body. There was no use regretting his role in the final outcome of this morbid drama; he had been fighting for his life, and those of Jane and Moe. He had been a cop once; that subconscious drive to protect others had never really left, and in the weeks to come, it would certainly help assuage his guilt.

But that didn't make it any easier for him to come to terms with the situation.

He glanced around for Moe, breathing a quiet sigh of relief when he saw that Moe's eyes were open. It was absurd for him to even care; the two of them were barely on speaking terms, and even that was by necessity. But saving someone's life- and having them take a bullet intended for you- tended to change how you felt about them. Whether he liked it or not, Chase could feel a tiny shred of guilt twisting inside him as he contemplated the fact that he should be the one bleeding on the ground right now. 

Would she look at me that way, if I had? The thought came unbidden to his mind, and he fervently tried to ignore it. But it stuck, like a splinter he couldn't quite grasp. He would always feel jealous when he looked at the two of them, but how much of it stemmed from residual feelings for Jane and how much of it was from the knowledge that he had no one who cared about him like that, he couldn't say. That was too complicated a thread to unravel at the moment, and everything hurt too much to think about. 

Memories of Jane, of Amy, of Matt's fall... all of them tumbled through Chase's mind, mixing into one large picture of pain and loss. As he lay there, hunched over and exhausted, Chase did the only thing he could do. 

He began to cry.

The day of the funeral was one of the foggiest and dreariest days Twinbrook had seen in a long time- a fitting atmosphere for such a dismal event, Jane thought. She hadn't made an effort to dress up for the occasion, as she didn't quite feel that she belonged there at all. Still, she felt an odd sense of obligation to both Matt and Amy, a need to find closure in both their deaths and shut the door on the events of the past few months.

The cemetery was virtually empty, with only one or two stragglers wandering aimlessly near Matt's coffin. Even the priest was in a hurry to leave, and Jane couldn't help but feel a surge of sadness that the poor bastard hadn't had anyone who wanted to be with him at the end.

"What are you doing here, Jane?" Chase's voice cut through her thoughts. She turned and nodded at him in greeting, the corners of her mouth pulling downwards even as she tried to smile. "Isn't it the twins' birthday party today?" 

"My parents will be there," she responded, her voice still subdued and fragile. "I'm supposed to pick up Angie when I go visit Moe, and we'll swing by the party later." She knew that her kids wanted her there, that it looked strange for her to NOT be there when they officially became teenagers, but something didn't feel right about being there without Moe. Any kind of celebration would have felt strange to Jane right now, but birthday parties were Moe's domain. He was the one who cooked all the food, set out all the decorations, planned all the activities. He had always been the life of the party.

But now, with him lying in a hospital room, it just seemed wrong to go on without him. She was resigned to the fact that she would need to show up eventually, but she was also grateful for the delays that her trips to the cemetery and the hospital would afford.

Chase said nothing. Perhaps he understood, though she wouldn't expect him to. But perhaps he simply realized that there was nothing left to say. The past few days had been filled with police interviews, questions, lies... entirely too much talking, as far as Jane was concerned. Silence was nice. Silence was familiar.

After a while, she cleared her throat and looked around the cemetery. "I can't say I'm surprised that no one else showed up... Though if you'd asked me six months ago, I would have expected someone like Matt to have more friends. But..." Her voice trailed off, but she didn't need to finish the thought. Six months ago, she hadn't known the real Matt at all.

"What if we could have done more?" she asked suddenly, turning to face Chase. His startled expression spurred her onward. "I mean... I still can't help but feel as if so much of this was my fault," she added, her eyes downcast. "If I hadn't kept digging... If I'd just left everything alone... Maybe things would have worked out differently."

"How?" Chase demanded, raising his eyebrows. "Jane, the man was a killer. He killed Amy. He tried to kill Angie. If you think that stopping a man like that makes you a bad person... Well, you're wrong." He shook his head firmly. "You did the right thing for everyone. For Amy." His voice wavered as he fought back the emotions her name still brought him.

"Yeah?" Jane looked up at him again, studying his face for several seconds. "I suppose you're right about that... But I don't know. I just feel like I put so many people in danger, including my family. Who knows what our lives would be like right now if I hadn't gotten us in so much trouble?"

Chase laughed sharply, shaking his head again. "Jane, you used to be more optimistic than that. Your family's had its share of hardships over the past few months, that's true. But think about everything that's happened because of it."

"Your parents moving to Twinbrook..."

"New friends..."

"New possibilities for the future."

"And just look at your kids, how smart and brave and wonderful they grew up to be. It seems to me like you could have done worse over the past few months." He paused, trying to figure out the right words to say what he needed to say next.

"Jane... Lucy and I... Well, I got a job offer in Sunset Valley, and I decided to take it. We're leaving next week." His voice dropped off at the end of the sentence, as if he could hardly believe it himself.

Jane looked up at him in surprise, trying to mask the dismay she felt at this news. True, her past with Chase was complicated, but for him to move away... She couldn't help but think about how Sophie and Ethan would take this news. "For how long?"

He shrugged. "A few years? I don't know how permanent it will be... But I just can't be here any longer." He gestured around the cemetery and trees. "Everything about this place reminds me of Amy, and now Matt's..." He couldn't finish saying it. "There's just too much here that I don't need in my life anymore." Like you, he added silently.

Jane nodded slowly. "I understand. But Sophie and Ethan...

"I don't know how they'll take the news. I think both of them were rather fond of Lucy. And with all three of them starting high school soon... I think they'll miss her a lot." It was a lot for her children to get used to, Jane knew. Growing up and losing their best friend all at once... But they would have to adjust, just as Jane and Moe were still having to adjust.

"Sunset Valley's not that far away, you know," she pointed out eventually, breaking the silence. "You and Lucy will come visit us, won't you?"

Chase nodded, trying to hide his surprise- as well as his dismay. "I think Lucy would like that." And who knew? In a few years, Chase might be willing to give Twinbrook- and the Pesces- another try. There was no way of knowing what his future might hold.

What any of their futures might hold. 


Splendid finale my dear. Just wonderful.

Good suspense with the final scene between Matt and the guys. Poor Moe was so out of his depth with the situation, unlike Chase who at least had some clue.

It's certainly just as well that Matt died, given his history. I'm glad that Moe survived, I had a bad moment there.

Poor Jane, not wanting to go to the twin's party. I'm glad someone was there for them. It's weird to finally see the twins as teens, especially Sophie (but you know why with Sophie, I've already used her as an adult.)

I hope that we can get season 2 started soon!


Thank you, PiB! <333 I tried to set up the suspense as best as I could- this is easily the most drama I've ever written, so I wanted it to flow well.

I agree, seeing her as a teen is odd after her stint as an evil adult.

Season 2 will start up as soon as I take care of some things, including a summary, faq, and updated character bios. :)

!! First, I should say: magnificent!! This was definitely worth the wait, but don't let that become a reason for you to do it again!! *wags finger* Honestly, your writing has not lost it touch after all this time. You're a brilliant storyteller, and pretty much everything about this post touched me to the core. T_T Bravo, vanilla bear!! ♥

I'll be honest, I have always been skeptical about most of the gun poses, but you meshed together all the expression in the screenshots and your writing *beautifully*. I could see and feel the pain in Matt's face in both the pictures and writing... blah. I just love it!!

That whole scene was so heartwrenching, though. The duplicity of Matt's character, the cold killer and the hurt boy, creates a character I'm so compelled to hate and sympathize with--and I am SO with Jane. It is so hard to separate the two. At least, not until he SHOOTS MOE omfg DIE BASTARD DIE!! >:[

As moving as that whole scene is though, Chase takes the cake. (Why is it always Chase?! lol!) Here he is, the REAL savior of the day, and he gets nothing but guilt. But jealousy. I don't blame him for wanting to leave... He truly does have so little here, now. :(

Although, my heart pangs over that!! I know he's going to have to come back because cmon, it's Chase!, but as twisted as he is in some ways, I just wanna jump in and squeeze him. T__T

The ending was so beautiful, too. :( Jane's conversation with Chase is so... gosh, I dunno how to describe it. The setting at Matt's wedding sent chills up my back, too. Having everything spliced in as they talk was an excellent touch--you had nothing to worry about, it was awesomely done! ♥

Seriously, I have missed this story so much, and the fact you're back in action makes me SO happy, you have no idea. I have a big place in my heart for the Pesces (and the Cruz's!), not to mention the OMG DRAMATIS of your writing. You inspire me to do better, girl. You really do. ♥

Anyways, I've rattled on enough and I've told you quite about over MSN too so I'll leave it there--but srsly, I loved it. I only wish I could get EVERYone to read this!!

x//x You are way too sweet! (I know I keep saying it, but really, you and PiB make me blush!) I was a bit afraid I'd be rusty, so it means a lot to hear that!

I was skeptical about the gun poses too, even while I was adding them in, but I'm glad to know that they came off okay! Matt has such an expressive face... (sorry, I should say had!) He was always fun to work with.

B'awwww again, you're too nice XD I was trying to put quite a lot of emotion into that whole scene, and that can come off as too cheesy, so it's nice to hear that it went well. You know me- I like my villains to be sympathetic (which is why Chase became the antihero, rather than the villain!). Idk, I always layer motives upon motives and it makes it hard for me to ever paint someone in a purely bad light, which I should work on, but... Eh. XD

Ah, Chase. My baby. Forever alone. I did promise you he'd get a happy ending... It may be a bit delayed, however! ;)

I cannot inspire you to do better, because you have inspired me in pretty much every aspect of my story. So there.

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