Author: Troodon PM
It's amazing how terribly unfair life has been to her. Sometime after Loss, Alex's mother is surprised at the pearly gates.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Family/Supernatural - A. Cabot - Words: 2,234 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 2 - Published: 05-30-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4289625
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: So, I'm still stuck on SVU. This story is basically post-Loss, from Alex's mother's point of view. Here, I am trying to contrast two parts of a story with very different tones and see if it works that way. For information junkies like me, look up the symbolism of a hummingbird and you'll see why I chose that as the title. For Alex/Olivia shippers, I tried to work something in there, I really did. But in the end the implications just had no place in this story. If you squint really hard and imagine, you might get sub-sub-subtext! Any comments are much appreciated.
Disclaimer: The following is a piece of fanfiction. No money is made off this. There is no copyright infringement intended; all characters, episodes and backgrounds belongs to Dick Wolf and NBC. Special acknowledgement goes to Eoin Colfer's book "The Wish List", which inspired Catherine's heaven.
She has a private room. It's amazing what money can buy, when (so she thinks) she isn't even close to expiring. It's amazing how horrible she's feeling right now, sore and out of sorts all over. Her mouth is gritty and there's a sour taste on her tongue. The smallest irritations seem to be magnified a hundred times over: a scratchy hospital pillow tickling her neck, the disquieting hum of the machines beside her head, the clammy grip of her (second) husband on her hand.
It's amazing she can even think straight. But she's strangely lucid, despite the drugs.
"Egyp-tian. Cot-ton," she rasps at her (second) husband. "800 - count."
"Hmm?" he whispers back, confused. "You want more water?" He's never raised his voice above a murmur since she became a permanent resident at St. Vincent's. She thinks he's afraid to speak louder for fear of breaking her. He pours a cup of spring water and makes her sip. She doesn't want it. The liquid dribbles down her lips and chin.
"Thank you," she manages anyway. No one could ever say she didn't have manners. Dignity always comes first, even when one is dying of ovarian cancer and too close to knocking on the pearly gates. He smiles worriedly at her. She tries to smile back, but it's too tiring (too hard).
Michael's a good man, if a bit dull. Lying on the bed, she wondered now what possessed her to marry him (he has money in abundance, see, but all that has gotten her is this damn room). She'd never felt the same kind of energy with Michael as she had with her first husband. When she remarried she'd blamed the lack of romance on her lack of youth. But now suddenly she realizes the only (very important) thing Michael lacks is spark. And that's more than enough.
It's also amazing how terribly unfair life has been to her. She'd found the perfect prince: Lawrence Cabot, handsome, up-and-coming lawyer, rich. (Very rich. Oodles of money, acres of land and mansions galore). And she had loved him. Together they had the perfect children, the requisite boy and girl: Maxwell, her beautiful boy, and Alexandra, her clever girl. Life, then, was perfect. She had it all.
"Never - tempt. Above. Never - heaven, damn it," she rambled. Her (second-best) husband gave her another one of those reassuring smiles, one of those hang-dog glances she'd come to thoroughly be annoyed by. She's heard the nurse whisper, of course. Indulge the lunatic on her deathbed, he said. The woman won't be lingering around much longer.
Her thoughts turned inward and rewound, like a creaky cassette tape. Oh, Maxwell. He was the baby of the family, her baby. Max had been doing the stereotypical teenager thing, only he was crashing more expensive cars and drinking more pricey cocktails than most other kids. Why didn't she put a stop to it? She remembers the call the family had gotten from the hospital at three in the morning. And the sight of her son, his face bruised and swollen beyond recognition, stretched out comatose on the bed. His hair had been shaved to patch up his skull. His convertible had been t-boned by a truck; he hadn't had a chance.
Two agonizing years later she'd agreed - how had she agreed!? - to take him off life support. He would have been twenty-one. He had already died at nineteen.
The funeral home gave Max a wig for the memorial service. She wondered, now, if she'll get one too.
Oh, the usual fracas followed, smothered under the surface, cloying and stifling. Life (or death?) had caught up with the rich kid at last. She endured the muttered gossip, the speculations, the condolences oozing with pity and sympathy, as if any of them could ever comprehend the loss of a child. The (remaining) family pulled together silently. Alex in particular shuttered the windows. Her daughter got into Yale Law, threw herself into her studies, went home every summer with lots of (meaningless) distinctions and honours, and argued with her father about "defecting to the other side of a courtroom".
Then Lawrence went to (she hoped) call on the pearlies. His stupid drinking. His stupid heart attack. Why didn't she make him exercise more? At least he had a perfectly respectable passing. He couldn't have picked a better time, of course, just when everyone was getting over Max (not that she ever could, really), just when they were starting to smile again. And all of a sudden it was just her and Alexandra. Then her girl had moved to New York. She'd been hesitant about letting her go. Then, then -
And now it was just her. (Why didn't I stop her from going to New York! she screams with the anguish only a mother can appreciate). Her life is so damn unfair.
"Alex. I want to - see her. Tell her goodbye. Max. Where's Max?" she says. Michael is shaking his head. He soothes her cool forehead with a sweaty palm. Oh dear, the woman's lost her mind. Her children are all dead. The drugs are getting to her, she's forgetting things.
"Sweetheart, they're - " he began.
She interrupts him most rudely (the goddess of manners might give her some leeway). "I am going to see them." she declares, in an abruptly clear voice. Some of the old, fierce-willed woman returned. "I will see them, Michael."
"But - "
She lapses back into silence. Her cloudy eyes shut. She's having a feeling. It's a very final instinct.
(She'd never gotten to hold a grandchild in her arms).
"No," she breathes. Her breath hitches. She's never really felt this (bitter? contented? regretful? Or - alive?) before. It's amazing; her eyes aren't open but there's a glow. There, up ahead! What is it? She knows, then. She'll see her family soon.
She will not speak again.
After hurtling at an excessive speed through the requisite tunnel, she arrives at the light. It's coming from a pair of silver gates.
"So I made it here, after all," she muses. White cumulus clouds, check. Heavenly choir, check - although one of the angels seems to be off-key by half a pitch. She should know. She is - was? - a music teacher, back when life was still happening to her. Well, not anymore. Somehow she's not too miffed by this (though she ought to be. There's so much she never got to do).
There's no line up at the gates. She wonders if she should be worrying for the human race. Deciding she'll rather worry about herself for now, she straightens her hospital gown absently and walks forward.
"Excuse me," she says politely to an old man with a white beard. He sat scribbling at an ornately carved desk. Ink drips from his quill as he looks up. He's wearing a nametag on his pristine robes: Hello, My Name Is PETER. "I'm here. What should I do now?"
"Name?" St. Peter asks. He's totally bored. He's probably done this a billion times, and will do so again and after. Time is very strange up here.
She has to think about that question. "Catherine," she says finally. "Catherine Elizabeth Cabot -that's Catherine with a C, by the way. Or Catherine Dunning, that's when I was with Michael. No, wait. I'd rather that not count. Put me down as Catherine Cabot, née Stanton-"
"I'm not putting you down for anything, I'm checking you off," Peter says irritably. He stamps a couple of pages with blue ink. Catherine-of-the-many-lives blinks at the sheer bureaucracy of the action.
"Someone will be here in a moment to pick you up," Peter continues.
The woman's phantom heart quickens. "That's it?" she asks, disbelieving. She had expected something more - judgemental. Sunshine and roses, she was going to see her children again!
A gentle hand touches her shoulder from behind. She freezes with anticipation. She feels the love from the touch all the way down to her spirit-toes. St. Peter smiles then, just a little.
"Welcome home, mom," It's Max's voice, and his bright blue eyes are full of promises.
Mother and son are strolling on the right side of the Pearlies. Maxwell is giving her the tour. She doesn't care where they go, as long her boy's with her, strong and well and moving. She clutches his arm, afraid to let go. She's drunk with happiness, until she realizes there's a gap.
"Where's Alexandra?" she asks.
Max looks confused. "Where's Alex? What do you mean?"
Her eyes grow large. "Don't tell me - she's not here!" She begins to pace before Max could say a word. "I knew it, I should've known when you said your father was stuck in Limbo - oh, lawyers!" she exclaims.
"Mom - mother!" he grabs her hand for her attention. "Listen! Alex isn't here, but she isn't there, either."
It's her turn to echo him. "What do you mean?"
Somehow, she manages to snatch a pair of coveted binoculars from a former birdwatcher. As instructed she concentrates on Alexandra, and peers through the lenses. Her thoughts are so tense, she's fallen back on breathing in short gasps.
The image in front of her eyes flickers, like a camera zooming too fast. For a moment she sees everything, is aware of everything, from terraced rice paddies in Guangxi to the fleeting beat of a hummingbird's wings. Then she's gazing down at the denizens of New York City. It's like lifting the lid off a shoebox and finding a model city populated by frenzied, bustling mites.
And her daughter is not there. Hope began to fade as quickly as it had begun.
"Try Kansas. Merriam," Max says, unusually gently.
She twirls a dial impatiently and casts her mother-sense around. There she is! She's relieved, shocked, and furious. Avidly she watches her daughter's (no longer blonde) head striding on through life, scarred but inexorably determined, and so very vulnerable. She doesn't know how long she watches.
(Time doesn't matter anymore).
There aren't running captions on the images. There weren't narrators or coherent storylines. She has to guess. Max helps, filling in the blanks. He's been keeping watch for far longer than she has. Snippets of Alexandra's second chance floats by, and some of it the heartbroken mother doesn't understand. But Catherine the woman understands all too well the loneliness, the loss of every loved one. And she wishes Alex had told her.
(Time, as it were, matters still - but not for her).
Catherine is sputtering rather incoherently (it's the shock) as she finally resurfaces from her vigil. She wants to dance, and dance vulgarly without knowing all the steps. She wants to cry. She's strangely disappointed that her daughter isn't with her, and then she's immediately ashamed of that disappointment.
"Hey, I want that back," the forgotten birdwatcher ventures, timidly. "It's really hard to pick up a pair of binoculars that managed to cross over. And there's an Arctic tern migration I really want to catch - "
Catherine shoots him a look, the same look that has shut up a future lawyer. Max explains, with all the wisdom of a nineteen-year old mediator, "Just for one more moment. There's a whole life we have to catch up on, Mr. Dawson."
He glances at his mother beside him. Her eyes are glistening. For once there's a feeling of things left undone. "I just wish I could let her know," she whispers finally. What she really means is that she has to know. Max understands. (He'd had the same feeling before, but he couldn't get a visa). Maybe they'll get lucky this time. It's only fair, after all.
"Want to pop down for a visit?" Max asks her.
"Yeah. I mean, yes," she answers, and takes his hand in hers.