Okay, I bowed to majority vote and made this one chapter rather than two. We've finally come to the end! sighs and holds 'aww' sign up. I know, I'm sad too. But I plan to start a new and more action-orientated fic very soon :) I also should really finish that stargate one I started...
Read and review as always! Also if anyone has any MX plot bunnies they fancy suggesting...
Emma watched the devastating chaos about her with a detached interest. With a thought it was gone, she stood on the edge of the mountain over Sanctuary, or rather her mind's representation of it. A strong breeze blew through her hair and the sun shone brightly on her skin. She knew it was all an illusion, but it didn't matter. Nothing did anymore.
Her friends would be okay, it would take time, but they'd get through this. Their enemies were strong, but they were stronger. She had faith in them.
So there was nothing left to do. She'd made her farewells, and she'd left the world in as well a way as she could. She couldn't help or hurt anyone now, and even if she could have, she wouldn't. It wasn't her place now, and she was so very tired.
It was finally time to move on.
So upon the horizon of her mind, she began to perform the exercises Shalimar had taught her so long ago. They honed her concentration, which was as important now as her power was. She wove a pattern undecipherable to anyone else, but instinctive to her. As she moved, all her thoughts, her energies, her very soul turned inwards to one singular purpose.
The universe is a powerful place, filled with the consciousness of those living within it. More than that, it was permeated by the light from billions of stars, time flooding in and out like water from strange singularities, creatures both vast and minute both alike and utterly alien from anything on earth. In short, it was a place filled with life and energy. The universe had a soul.
And everything was part of it.
So that was what she focused on now. As her life reached its end, she reached out for the eternal life that was creation. Releasing the energy building up dangerously inside her was effortless, and she directed it to push away the barriers that had naturally set up in her mind. The same barriers that isolated her and every other being from the cosmos. She was Atlas from the stories her mother used to tell her, carrying the world on her shoulders. She was Moses holding back the red sea. But now she let go.
And with nothing to hold it away, the universe came flooding in.
It came first like a surge of electricity, she lost awareness altogether. Then she was floating in a lake of silver, staring down into glittering depths.
Then, whether slowly or instantly she never knew, it hit her.
She was…everywhere. More than that, she was in everything and everyone. She was Jesse and Shalimar, Adam and Brennan. She was an old man starving on the streets, a child newly born. She was mother, father, brother, sister, friend, lover, and stranger to the world. She was a panther hiding amongst the grasses, a swallow soaring through misty skies. She was creatures so small they couldn't be seen, and things hidden so deep they never would be. She was a being totally alien to the world she'd grown up to, and a million things she could never name.
She knew a star billions of miles from earth was burning out, ending it's existence in a terrific supernova that declared its demise even as it celebrated its brilliance. She could see a planet with the very beginnings of life, tiny organisms that would one day evolve to something like the human species, and even beyond it. She could feel a black hole centuries old, that was pulling matter and energy from the universe and delivering it elsewhere in a different form. She lived through the beginnings of her world, from the first formations of matter to when her sun erupted into a blazing sphere, its splendour swallowing her planet whole.
She was everything, and everywhere, and always. She had been ancient for all time and was eternally young. She was pain and joy, fear and hope, light and life. There was no death, no destruction, only the beginnings of new creation. For an instant that could have been forever, she existed in the euphoria that is eternity. And it was so so sweet.
And then with a blissful sigh, everything that was Emma Delauro shattered, leaving fragments in all life everywhere, like shimmering sand upon the wind.
They stood silently, no one could think of anything to say that wouldn't seem insignificant or empty. They'd lost two dear friends today, and no words could take that pain away.
Shalimar turned away from the memorial plaque for a moment, the words on it kept forcing her eyes to mist with tears. This quiet time with her friends finally brought it home to her, she'd never see them again. Emma and Adam, they really were gone. Her best friend and a man who'd been as good as a father to her. It had all been so sudden, so wrenching, it had been impossible to really process it at first. Even at Emma's funeral (Adam, being so off-the-charts hadn't had one.) she'd felt like she was acting. The funeral had been her parents show. They'd apparently gone religious since they last saw Emma. It had been a strictly formal ceremony, a few speeches about the short life of man, forgiveness, some prayers for her safe delivery to heaven. Very impersonal, Emma would have hated it. But it seemed to give her parents the satisfaction that they'd done their duty by her, that the stiff priest they'd hired somehow guaranteed both their daughter's eternal happiness, and their own ability to rest easy at night.
She wanted to hate them for that. But she knew, that despite their absence in Emma's life, and flippant attitude towards her when they were there, they had loved their daughter in a careless fashion. They'd just never been able to understand her. Emma had forgiven them for that, so how could she do otherwise?
She remembered a while before, was it really only a week ago? Emma asked her to come up here. They'd stayed for hours, enjoying the sunshine, talking. Emma had seemed preoccupied, she'd wondered why. Then Emma had opened up, more so than she ever had before. Not that she'd ever kept secrets exactly, but she'd always been quite reserved, even with Shalimar. That day she'd talked for hours, about almost everything she could imagine. Emma had ever spoken, albeit tentatively about Tyler. Shal had tried to make her talk about him before but when she'd seen how much it hurt her friend, she backed off. Emma had been so open that day…had she known, had a feeling perhaps of what would happen? After what she'd seen over her life, nothing was impossible. Tyler had been precognitive, whose to say Emma didn't have a touch of that gift towards the end of her life? She'd certainly been powerful. Or maybe it was just an instinct given to the soon-to-die, if you believed in that kind of thing. She couldn't believe in God herself, she'd seen too much of man and science, but she would like to. If it gave her the comfort of believing her friend, both of them, were in a better place, that she'd known somehow…
She walked over to the plaque, gently placing Emma's comlink ring next to it. It signified her bond with Mutant X, and so it was appropriate it remain there, away from the general chaos of life, but still close to them. She stepped back, and sank into memories, now so bittersweet, of her dearest friend.
Brennan stared at the plaque, as if the words on it would change if he willed it hard enough. It was always about effort with him, he knew this. He figured it was part of being an elemental, if you could pack enough power you could change most things, and there were few people on earth with more pure power than he had.
But this…nothing could change this. Even Gabriel Ashlocke was beaten by it. Death couldn't be beaten back or struck down, it took everyone with no regard for their strength or will. Adam was the most stubborn man he'd ever met, and Emma…
When he first met her, running scared from a couple of thugs, he'd put her more in the damsel in distress category. It took mentally beating up a couple of GSA agents to make him realise she could hold her own. Even then, he'd still been liable to defend her till she proved she could beat him up whenever she chose. In the last year her powers had increased still further, to what extent he wasn't sure even Adam knew-had known. And now all that power, that energy, Emma was gone, destroyed by falling stone and cold water. They hadn't asked how she died.
He regretted how they'd parted. What with emerging from the whacko stasis Shal's Dad had put them in and then having to run for their lives he'd hardly had a chance to speak to her, let alone have some kind of a reconciliation for running out on her and Jess, even if he would have done so given the chance. Emma hadn't blamed him for confronting Adam, he knew that. He just wished Emma hadn't died before-
Scratch that, he just wished Emma hadn't died.
Then there was Adam, the king of contradictions, and Brennan wasn't even sure how he felt about his death. Part of him was still angry, he wanted to not care Adam was dead, to say that's what he deserved for being so arrogant. For playing God with the lives of so many. But then, a more rational, perhaps more decent part of him would forgive him all that in an instant to have the guy back with them right now. This part of him acknowledged Adam had risked all his vital research, his life, and more shockingly, the very future of humanity to rescue them that faithful night. He still held that on his conscience, if he hadn't been so rash and run off with Shal to Naxcon, would Emma and Adam still be with them? A question that would haunt him probably for the rest of his days.
And what really freaked him out, with Adam gone, the leadership spot he'd always slightly resented Adam for holding fell to him. Jesse was too soft to be in charge, and Shal though capable had made it clear she wasn't interested in such a 'testosterone-fuelled battle'. For all he'd sometimes treated Adam like a rival Alpha Male, he'd gotten kinda comfortable in the 'led' rather than 'leading' position. From now on, whatever happened to Shal or Jesse, or even this Lexa chick would fall on him. For a minute he silently apologised to Adam for every surly response, every angry argument, and all the other hundreds of times he'd been a serious pain to the guy. But Adam wasn't there anymore, he was. So it was his duty, his penance, and his tribute to Adam to led Mutant X as best as he could. The team had been the result of Adam's life's work, it was the very least he could do for his memory.
He looked away from the metallic tablet in the rock, and stared out towards the sunset. Adam and Emma were gone, but they'd never be forgotten, He, Jess and Shal, heck, maybe even Lexa would keep their memories alive as long as they lived themselves. It would give Mutant X meaning again.
And maybe, just maybe, that would be enough.
Jesse knew he wasn't in a nightmare now, the battle, the death of Eckhart had finally put his ghosts to rest, quite literally. The shock had wore off, and grief was satisfyingly painful in its intensity to assure him of reality. They were gone. Adam and Emma were…
Okay, so maybe he couldn't quite say the word yet. But that fate should take two of his friends in one day, after years of fighting and surviving through even worse odds seemed too cruel. On top of that, to have some new girl walking in as though she owned the place and the false hope over Adam…it was too much.
But he was still breathing, so he'd have to just keep going. Surely at some point in the future he'd remember what it was that made it worth living through this.
Shalimar moved forward suddenly to put Emma's-what had been Emma's comlink next to the memorial plate they'd made. It was a simple plate, made to blend in with the rocks, just their names carved into it
They'd all silently agreed not to add anything else. Any other words would seem cheap and empty. They couldn't fit all their grief and loss onto the whole mountain if they spent the rest of their lives trying. Adam and Emma would have understood. Their loving memories were better than fancy words, and would be far more true to purpose.
It seemed so strange they were really gone this time. After all the battles and dangers they'd faced, a mere explosion shouldn't have killed them. But then again, they were still just human beings. Aside from genetic enhancements and a brain the size of Jupiter that is. Maybe it was a reminder, a sign they could all die just as easily. The way he was feeling right now, it might be a relief.
Brennan, next to him, turned suddenly, facing away from the mountainside. There was the reason he couldn't of course. He might have lost Emma and Adam, two of his best friends, but he still had Brennan and Shalimar. They needed him, as much as he needed them. And that was what would get them through.
'We'll be alright.' he thought to whatever protective spirits might be hovering nearby. 'It hurts, but we will be alright'.
And with a renewed sense of friendship, which the painful loss only made more tender, he turned to what remained of his team, they could build a new future, after they finished saying a poignant farewell to their past.
'You guys, were the best.' he thought to his lost team-mates, and let them go.
So they stood for a long time in respectful silence, each to their own thoughts. Finally by silent consent they turned to go back. There was a future to plan, and a new team-mate to figure out. As the others made their way to the hidden entrance, Shalimar paused, looking out to the setting sun.
"Thank you Adam." She said, her voice soft and affectionate in the evening air, "and bless you Emma, wherever you are."
Then she rejoined her team-mates, and they returned together as the sun left the sky.