Looking Back
Someone looks back and remembers the turning points of their lives

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She only remembers because of the photo album she found whilst tidying the small apartment they shared. A particular page draws her attention - a shot of the gang grouped together. Even Adam is in this one, caught off guard by the camera she has left on auto.
Adam. The name brings a lump to her throat, still.
She remembers...

It had been quiet of late, giving the team a momentary and valued respite from their hectic lives.
Everyone was doing their own respective things, Emma reading in her room, Brennan and Jesse competing against each other in the gym She was at a loose end, an unaccostomed and much loathed position, so she found herself wandering along the corridor towards the lab Her mentor has been distant lately, more distracted with less time to listen to her, or to simply step back and have a normal chat with anyone on the team - and its only just now that Shalimar decides she wants to know why.
So she wanders along to the lab, not bothering to knock as they have never needed to in the past.
He's working as she knew he would be, shoulders hunched over the microscope he's been looking endlessly into.
"Hey, you know if you stare into that thing too long, you'll become cross eyed." She quips.
He looks up guilty as charged, and tries to give her one of his old smiles but doesnt quite make it.
"Hey" he says softly - willing her to leave now, so he wont have to answer inevitable questions.
"So what latest ground breaking research are you looking into now?" She asks him, just so she has something to say.
"The usual." He answers, although there's something hidden in the tone of his voice, something which scares her.
She looks at the visual display and sees Brennan's scans present there.
Scared is replaced with terror as realisation sets in and she turns back to her second father, asking the question with her eyes instead of words.
But he can't answer her, he doesnt trust himself to speak anymore - just looks back mutely with those sad brown eyes of his.

"Please." She asks him. Just one word, a simple one at that but the answer will rock her world, change all things with two simple words.

"He's dying."

She had wanted to hit him then, wanted to pound him until he took back those words he had just stated so calmly.
It couldnt be true, he was strong, he couldnt be... there had to be a mistake"
She looked back into Adam's eyes, and the realisation hit her. There was no mistake. Adam was the foremost authority in these matters.
Shaking her head, dislodging unshead tears she had to ask him.
"How"
"His genetic makeup is destabilising to the point of no return - in short, his New Mutant DNA is taking over his nervous system to the point where... I'm still working on it, Shalimar if there is any chance - any chance, I will find it"
She just nodded dumbly...

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A single tear had fallen on the photoalbum, and she carefully wiped it away.
She straightened and would have closed the album then and there, but for the second photo that peeked out from between the pages unsecured. It was of her and Brennan, taken on the wedding day. He looked so rugged and handsome in it - it had been a perfect ceremony.

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... It had been a simple ceremony but carried so much meaning - two weeks after Adam had told Brennan the bad news, the Elemental had lost no time in reassessing life's priorities and marrying Shalimar was top of the list.
With Emma as bridesmaid, Adam as father of the bride and of course, Jesse has best man - they had arranged the ceremony on Stormking Mountain with an old friend of Adam's to perform the ceremony itself. It had been such a wonderful day, a perfect moment in an imperfect world.
Life simply couldnt get better than that one day, or so Shalimar had thought... until of course the second pivotal moment in their lives.

After their little boy was born, they had named him Josh, the family was complete - nothing could marr their happiness.
The question of Brennan's health receeded away in the shadows, forgotten for the moment as the new family concentrated on their love.

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Another tear splashed on the photoalbum page as the good memories gave way to more unpleasant reminders of times past...

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They had celebrated Josh's fourth birthday, and were returning home in the car when it had happened, a drunk driver had ploughed into their car, smashing it aside like a matchstick and rolling it onto the side.
She remembered flashing lights, sirens wailing in the distance and the rain hitting the ground steadily... all the little things.
The ambulance crew had had to cut them free one at a time, Shalimar and Brennan holding their breath as they waited for the return of their son to them.
"It won't be bad... he was belted in.. the air bags will have protected him..." Brennan had soothed his wife.

The tears fell thick and fast now onto the photos, but Shalimar didnt bother to wipe them now, she was too caught up remembering...

She remembered the look on the paramedic's face, that look that told her volumes - and she broke from Brennan - ran past the woman, looking for her son.

Only when she confirmed her worst fear with her own eyes, could she break down and cry - her husband had followed her and wide eyed could only sink to his knees uncomprehending and frozen in place.

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She snaps the book closed with a force she didnt realise, not caring if the photos are smudged anymore and hears his car pull up in the drive.
She knows he still blames himself for that night, knows he still hugs little Josh's teddy bear close to him some nights when he thinks she isnt looking. But that's alright. It will be different this time round.

He embraces her with same love and affection that he has always held for her, and pats her round stomach, smiling that smile of his which is reserved only for her

"So how're my girls today, huh?" He asks, putting down his bag.
"Oh you know... I was just tidying up the nursery." She answers.
A brief shadow passes over his face, but he puts it back where it belongs.
"I just.. thought it was time... thats okay isnt it? That doesnt make me a bad mother.. does it?" She's asking him for his forgiveness even though in his eyes she's done nothing wrong.
"Of course not, baby"
They stand like that for a long time, him cradling her close to him, each remembering the past ... and somewhere real high up... a baby's laughter could be heard.