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Hands Up, Baby Hands Up

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Juliana with much difficulty opened her eyes - and for a long time was quite dazed. For one thing she couldn't understand where she was. It looked like she was in a very comfortable room. Everything felt warm, yet there was this sense of lightness to everything she could perceive. It was dark and Juliana, understandably could not make sense of anything. The last thing she remembered was Lucho whacking at her head with his gun, and now this. She quickly realized she wasn't bound up, nothing was tied around her mouth either - and that confused her, but she decided to go along with it. She also seemed to have nothing on her person - no phone, wallet or keys. The room was dim and from what Juliana could make out - a bedroom. She was quite bewildered and stood still for a while till she realized she could move.

When she did, her first thought was to find Val - to get her to safety. Where was Sara? All these thoughts rushed through her mind as she tried to move around the room as quietly as she could in the darkness. As soon as she took a step - she could hear someone shift. She immediately stopped and listened harder. It almost sounded like someone shifting in their sleep, and sure enough she could then make out the peaceful breathing of someone fast asleep. Her heart immediately jumped - if her captor or whoever this was, was asleep - she just might be able to escape. Juls slowly made out a door and as silently as she could - made her way to it and tried the handle gently.

The first time the handle went through her - Juliana was quite confused. Surely it just slipped out of her grasp. She tried again - and failed.

What?!

Juliana tried repeatedly, growing more frantic with each try. By some divine providence - a bit of light entered the room - and Juliana could finally see what she was doing. Seeing the handle literally pass through her hand - as if she was nothing but a ghost made her jump.

What? Am I dead? No, I can hear -

Juliana quickly tried to grab various things that were near her, various items on a dresser, the light switch - all in vain.

No - No - No - NO - NO!

Juliana's breathing was growing quite loud, along with her distressed murmurs - however she soon realized that this other person couldn't hear her - at all. She cursed and waited for a reaction from this sleeping being, but nothing happened. After many failed attempts at trying to open the door - she realized that she was stuck in the room.

Stepping back from the wall, she took in heavy breaths to calm herself, pulling her hair back and she did her best to rationalize the situation. For some reason she decided to approach whoever was sleeping and she tiptoed slowly to the bed - careful to not make a sound as she was still not convinced this other person couldn't hear her. By the dim light that seemed to be following her around - Juliana quickly realized who it was.

Val???

"Val! Val! Wake up!" she exclaimed, trying to get ahold of Val - but she couldn't. Val was still fast asleep, and quite clearly not able to hear her. Juls was now panicking. What kind of twisted horror is this??

"Val, please please - are you okay? Val?!" Juliana begged, hysterical almost and doing her best to shake Val awake. She then heard an outer door open, and the sounds of someone entering. Jul's was desperate now.

"Val, come on!!!" she screamed, but no reaction. A minute later - the bedroom door opened and by the light streaming in from the outer room - Juls could immediately see who it was.

What the?

It took Juliana a stupid amount of time to realize that she was staring at herself enter the room - and she was still quite confused at what was happening.

What is this? Astral Projection? Reincarnation!? Transmigration!? A dream? What was going on??

This new version of herself seemed to be returning from somewhere, as she dragged in a suitcase. Juliana realized this other version of her didn't notice her in the room - and quickly stepped out through the doorway and looked around for a means of escape from whatever the hell this was.

Juliana walked around and did her best to calm herself, pacing around what was a living room. She seemed to be stuck in some sort of alternate reality where she wasn't kidnapped or something. Or was this the future? Was this a daydream? She frantically looked around the house for any signs to tell her anything and found none. She heard voices coming from the bedroom and immediately sprinted back to the bedroom doorway and stopped short.

"I didn't want to wake you up" Juliana could hear herself say as this other Juls walked towards the bed, where Val was slowly pulling herself up.

"I haven't seen you in three weeks my love." Val replied in an adorably sleepy tone, pulling Juls in for a tight hug. The second Juls pretty much melted in this warm embrace, kissing Val's neck as she did.

"I've missed you." she sighed, blissfully happy and Val hummed in reply.

Juliana, or rather the apparition Juliana stared at this little moment - watching herself and Val share this sweet intimacy made her teary eyed - especially seeing Val play with her hair, eyes closed and breathing her in.

"How was your flight?" Val asked, breaking the hug, and taking Jul's face in her palm.

"It was fine, and quite an awkward time too - but I couldn't stand being away from you longer than necessary." Juls rambled and Val smiled.

"Did you eat anything?" Val asked, immediately sitting up.

"I'm fine Val - "

"You sure?  I know you don't like airport food - I'm gonna make you something." Val decided, getting up and Juls shook her head at that with a soft smile.

"Thank you."  Juls replied, seeing Val get up from the bed in her short shorts and oversized pullover.

The ghost Juliana stood there, transfixed. This must be her future. This must be. Seeing Val approach the door, she instinctively tried to get out of her way - quite forgetting that she was a ghost. She didn't quite manage that, and a part of her shoulder went right through Val. For the spectre Juliana, it felt electric. Val stopped for a second and turned back to the real Juls who was now getting undressed for a quick shower.

"Did you say something?" Val asked, quite awake now.

"No - nothing." Juls replied, smiling as she took off her shirt and Val continued into the kitchen. The ghost Juliana slowly walked to the couch in the living room and sat down, trying to make sense of what this was. On the coffee table she saw a piece of mail and she tried to grab it - quite forgetting again that she couldn't grab things here. Exasperated - she craned her neck to see what the mail was. The only thing Juliana could make out was the addressee line - Mrs. Juliana Carvajal-Valdes and she threw her head back and closed her eyes.

She could hear the sounds of the shower, hear the sounds of Val busying around the kitchen. There was this almost crushing feeling of utter peace that made her feel like she would burst into tears. She thought back to times when she was younger - hearing her parents scream and fight in front of her, the sheer discomfort of that little trailer, nights when she put herself to sleep with thoughts of a future like this. In her youth, of course those dreams had been vague at best, but now? Seeing her future in all its tenderness, its warmth and bliss - Juls felt like her heart would burst. She thought of Val, who in reality was looking for her but here was at such peace just fixing up a late-night meal. Juliana looked around the room and could feel oh so clearly the comfort of this cozy apartment that was apparently all theirs. It didn't add up entirely - but it was all too much for Juliana anyway. If she had ever felt home - it was here. Up until now - she had only known than Valentina was going to be a part of her life forever but seeing it all so crystal clear choked her up. She heard footsteps and saw her real self walk to the kitchen in a bathrobe, still slightly damp.

It didn't occur to this spirit Juls that she could do whatever she pleased and they wouldn't notice her anyway; she followed her ‘real self’ to see what was happening.  She felt so intrusive,  like she was intruding on something precious - even though it was on her own self. She stood there and saw this real version of herself hugging Val from behind as Val was cooking.

"Someone's hungry", Val joked.

"No - not really. But I missed you - and I missed home. Felt like such a long journey to get here." Juls replied, peering over Val's shoulder the best that she could. Juliana standing at the doorway nodded in agreement.

"Well you're here now." Val offered, turning back slightly as she did.

Juliana was pretty much crying at this. Oh, for a slice of heaven like this.


Juliana jerked awake as something jolted her. She had been woken up from that reverie - or whatever it was. She could feel the hard floor of what could have been a jeep, and she struggled to sit up - only to realize her hands were bound.

Should have played with those ropes better the last time Val tied me up.

Juls did her best to free herself, panting hard. Whatever is what she had just witnessed - this dream or this alternate reality had made one thing very clear to Juls.

I've got to stop doing this.