Title: Five Years, Nine Days
Spoilers: Are they still 'spoilers'? After nine years? Well, just to be sure. Last episode.
Summary: This is how.
Her hands are cold. Devon knows this. Feels this.
They are stiff and unpliable. Like the tents when they were first removed from their boxes.
She has been awake for nine days, and she is still freezing.
Even here, wrapped in a blanket on Julia's porch in the warming spring air, she can't seem to stop shivering. Not on the inside. Not where it counts.
Five years. Five years missing and forever gone.
Lost in the middle of a barren desert, with nothing to show for it but a half-grown son - oh god, he was so beautiful and strong and even this was okay because he was alive... - and people who'd never given up on her. She knows she should be grateful. She is.
She just can't stop shaking.
But that's hardly the point. No, that's something entirely different.
Devon knows he's coming before she sees him. His footsteps are sure and strong against the wooden sidewalks that line the rag-tag drive. She knows it's him because no one else has that stride. That sureness. Five years and the colony ship had come, bringing materials and people and hope. Built a place.
He has built a place.
John rounds the corner and smiles at her curled in the chair. He is different now. Stronger. Surer. His hair grayer than it had been, if just as shaggy. He is leaner too. Years of hard work show in every movement and line. And he is smiling.
"It's good to see you up and around." His teeth are white in the mid-day sun. But she is not fooling him. Has never been able to. Probably never will be able to. "Julia mentioned she was going to drag you down to the beach by your hair if you didn't start doing something."
"I think she just wants me out of her guest room so she can get Erin out of hers. Eight months is not a fun age. And don't get me started on how strange it is to see her with a baby."
She watches as he pulls the other wooden chair up next to hers. He sinks down into it with a sigh and immediately drops his booted feet onto the railing. This is different too. This openness.
He has had time to think on this. To think on her. To know his own mind. John has fought hard for her. For this. For her on this porch making small talk.
"I remember that age with True. God, she was a nightmare." He is smiling again. Starts on a story about True - she is fifteen, how can she be fifteen? - and a stuffed toy that ends with vomit and tears. She smiles because Uly had done something similar at that age, and really, with eight- month olds, what doesn't end with vomit and tears?
But he knows her, even if she's still not sure about him anymore. So when he finishes, his eyes crinkling and the deep chuckles nothing but a quieting echo, he turns to her and says, "Tell me what's wrong, Devon."
And he does know her. Even after only ten months of contact and a five year gap, he knows her. So she answers.
"I don't know how to do this."
"Give it time," he says. His face serious now. "It's something you have now."
"But I don't know how."
"It's not supposed to be easy." His smile is awkward. More in his eyes than on his lips. And that's okay, because that's him.
She feels the tear before the sob. Wet and warm - so strangely warm - it slides down and drips onto the collar of her shirt.
Softly, as if she were to break if he pushed too hard, John reaches over and brushes it away. Calloused fingers catching on the skin of her jaw, startling her into a spontaneous smile. It leaves her face quickly.
"But it's not supposed to be this hard either." His thumb traces her cheekbone. The repetitious movement soothing. Calming. Comforting. She leaned into his hand. Her eyes filling, she tries to smile again. In the tear-distorted image she can see the man she'd made promise to care for her son those five years ago. He has done such a beautiful job of it.
Nine days. Five years.
He is still beautiful. And so, so perfectly warm.
"Then don't let it be."
And as she leans forward, wrapping her arms around his neck and clinging as tightly as her muscles will let her, her hands loosen. Move how she wants them to and up into the gray curls.
Finally, her face buried in his neck, his scent all around her, she feels the shivering stop.