Epilogue: Falling Away With You

So I'll love whatever you become
and forget the reckless things we've done
I think our lives have just begun
I think our lives have just begun

-Muse

The sun's rays were blazing hot on her skin when she emerged from the yellow taxi cab.

"Thank you," She said to the man after he set her bags on the ground.

He nodded and, without a word, drove away.

She gathered her hair, cut short to her shoulders, and held it above her neck, trying to cool off. The heat was absorbed into her hair, her clothes, making her skin glisten with sweat as she bent down to retrieve her bags.

"Ash!"

A body collided with hers. Kira hung onto her tightly, smelling like hair product and body splash and teenage girl.

Ash held her sister at arms length, studying her. She was taller, and the front of her tank top strained slightly, the jeans she wore hugged her hips more tightly. The make up on her face looked strange, and the streaks in her hair made her look more grown up. Where did her little sister go?

"You look…older." She said finally and drew her back in for a hug.

Kira giggled into her ear. "I missed you so much! Oh my gosh! I have so much to tell you. Do you remember Jared? Well we made out last week and I swear he…"

"Whoa," Ash laughed pulling away. "Take a breath! We have time to talk later, okay?"

Kira didn't look too pleased but Ash hardly noticed. She ran towards the boy walking towards them, and flung herself at him.

He spun her around in the air and gave her a tight squeeze.

"I missed you too sis," He said with a laugh. "How long has it been? Two months?"

"Oh shut up," She laughed and hit Travis on the arm. "Now go get my bags. I'm dieing out here."

He did a mock salute and went down the driveway, stopping to ruffle Kira's hair.

Ash sighed and looked up at her house. It looked the same. Same door, same windows, same welcome mat. But everything seemed so…different. She had gotten used to the apartments and the revolving doors and the construction sights, along with all of the sounds that went with the City. But there she was. Back in suburbia, looking out of place with her black sundress and aviators, hair stylishly cut, standing in the middle of a lush green yard while woman in khaki and pastels watched their chino clad husbands mow the lawn.

The door opened and her mother appeared.

"Honey! Come inside, it's too hot to be out in the sun!"

She followed her mother's orders and walked up the porch steps, into the door, giving her mother a kiss on the cheek as she passed.

The air was cool. Ash sighed in relief and sunk down onto the couch, letting her head fall back.

"How's school?" Her mom asked, sitting opposite her.

She smiled. "Great. I've made some friends, and been keeping myself busy. You know, work, classes. All that jazz." She hadn't been home for months. She stayed at school for spring break, and only visited for a couple days during Christmas. Her parents hadn't been happy, but Ash needed to stay away.

Her mother seemed to catch her train of thought and looked out the side window, to his house.

She turned back to her daughter. "And living in the city? How is it?"

Ash sighed wistfully, not sure how to describe her love affair with New York. It amazed her, at first, how comfortable she had been with city living. She blended right in almost immediately, but had some trouble getting to know people. Ever since…then…she had some trust issues. She didn't let herself get close to people, but it all worked out in the end when she got a job at a coffee shop, and made some rather persistent friends.

The classes were tough, but she enjoyed every minute of it. She loved the freedom. She didn't have anyone telling her not to stay up, to not go out. Even though she didn't do either of those things much, she loved that she could. Most of the time, she would go to class then to work, come home and do school work, before heading over to a friends apartment to hang out. And boys…they weren't something she wanted to deal with.

"We don't care about how she lives," Kira said as she entered the room. "That's boring. How are the guys? The shopping? Did you bring me anything?"

Ash took a deep breath, "Well…"

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The heat had somewhat decreased when Ash went out to get the mail. She stood at the mailbox, flipping through the stack of items in her hand. Junk mail, bill, junk mail, Kira's magazine, bill, bill, junk mail, junk mail…

Her head shot up as she saw someone come around the side of his house. Her breath caught in her throat and she almost dropped the mail.

She hadn't seen him in a year. She never knew where he went. When she would call home or visit, no one even mentioned the Carters.

He looked different. Older, somehow. He wore no shirt, just a pair of cargo shorts, so she could see that he was even more toned, the ripples of his muscles moving as he hauled what appeared to be a bag of soil to a truck parked at the curb. His hair was still golden, still curled. Stubble spread across his jaw and his skin was already tanned. He didn't notice her until he had put the soil into the truck.

Time didn't stop. They didn't run to each other. There wasn't slow motion or mushy music playing in the back round. He lost his footing on the curb and almost fell. She did drop the mail in her hands.

She blushed and bent down to retrieve what she had dropped, fingers moving swiftly in the grass while she mentally cursed herself for being so stupid.

A hand extended out to her, holding an electricity bill in his fingers.

She looked up and tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. His eyes were even more gorgeous then what she remembered. Her memories didn't do him justice.

"Thanks," She said, reaching out and getting the envelope. Before she could pull away, his hand took hers.

"You're fingers are cold," He mumbled, looking down at their joined hands.

She cleared her throat and stood up, somewhat awkwardly, considering she had to pull him up with her.

He looked her over. "You look different. The hairs…new."

She self consciously ran a hand over her shorter hair and looked down at her feet.

"I didn't mean it doesn't look good. It's just…shorter. Different." He said.

She laughed. "That was the point."

He looked her over a second time. "Very New York."

She blushed and looked past his shoulder. He squeezed her hand and her eyes snapped back to him.

"It's nice to see you Ash," He said breathlessly.

"Nice?" She smiled. "Just nice?"

"Great. Unbelievably great." He stepped closer to her.

"Well…greats nice I'spose." She cocked her head to the side and bit her lip. "You look older."

He blinked. "I…I guess I do."

"Where did you go?" She asked.

"I went back to Boston. Lived with my aunt and her family."

She nodded. "Well, that's good."

"It is?"

"Yes."

They stared at each other. He seemed better. His eyes held some emotion. He looked healthier. And she couldn't stop the way her skin tingled and her body hummed. Her memories didn't do that justice.

She looked back down to their hands. "I…I'm not exactly sure what to say." She wanted to say that she still loved him, but knew it was too soon.

"That's alright. How about we go inside? Talk a little." He nodded his head towards his house.

She looked at him, then the house. She guessed it wouldn't hurt…

"Sure. That'd be great…I'm sweating like a pig."

He laughed and tugged on her hand, walking up the walkway with her.

She glanced down at their hands and held tighter before looking up at his face. He had been looking at her and smiled when her eyes met his. She blushed before looking away, a grin tugging on the corner of her lips, threatening to break free.

I am your thought but the water is amnesia
my name is on the tip of your tongue
My image is slipping
but your memory is gripping it
this is my breath in your lungs

-Echo, The Hush Sound

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So Echo is officially over. So. So. Sad. But sequel! Yay! That'll be up soon enough. Again, thanks so much to my reviewers and everyone who read, loved, liked my story. I love you all!

P.S.- Ok. So music was a gigoondo part of this story. I suggest you listen to…Time Is Running Out by Muse (In fact, just listen to Muse. They are…no words can describe them) Why Can't I? by Liz Phair (Same goes for Liz, but her early stuff is cooler.) And…Echo by The Hush Sound. I don't know why I picked this song for the title...I guess it just sounds nice. These are the main songs that basically are the story.