Disclaimer: All characters belong to Cloud 9, no copyright infringement intended. They are not mine and I make no profit from this. I'm an eternal student; I make no profit from anything.
Authors note: I should probably explain that this is a one-shot fic, written while I am trying to define the characters for a much longer piece based on an alternate ending to season 3. I apologise for the general awfulness, this is my first foray into tribe fic and I'm deeply out of practice at any sort of fanfic writing. I'm also without a beta so all mistakes are mine.
Amber mused as she pressed her hand to the plastic covering the hole that when social order broke down, it seemed glass was the first thing to go. She remembered as a child leaning out of her bedroom window and seeing the orange glow of street light rising off the city. Now she was in the city and it still glowed orange; with fires that burned night and day, some for the heat and some just for the joy of the flames. She sighed and turned from the window, hands passing absently over her stomach. Bray was right, she was getting larger by the day and when she felt the baby it suddenly seemed wonderfully, terrifyingly real. He was still asleep; when he felt safe Bray could sleep through an earthquake. Amber vaguely hoped the baby would take after his father in that respect, yet at the same time it seemed such a normal, domestic concern that she almost felt silly thinking about it. She moved away from the window, past the bed and through the swaying fishing net that covered the door. The mall was almost silent now, she could even hear the trickling of water from the roof where Jack and Dal, she could almost think of him without wincing in pain now, had set up their water filter a lifetime ago. Then their main fear had been simple survival, when it had seemed they would never unite the disparate factions of their own tribe. She leaned over the balcony and stared down at the hard marble floor below, the blood had long been washed away but she could have sworn she could still see a ghostly outline. He was the first person she had seen die violently. Her father had died in the sterile calm of a hospital bed, when there were still beds to be had. Her mother had been cold long before she had been allowed to see her. But Martin, he had died before her eyes, before all their eyes and she could not deny she had felt some satisfaction that a man who had caused so much suffering had died in such a way. When Bray woke in the early hours and cried for his dead kid brother she comforted him, appreciating the irony.
"Amber?" Lex stood below her looking up.
"Yeah." She called back down, leaning back from the balcony edge. Lex mounted the stairs from the ground floor in easy strides.
''What are you doing up here?'' His tone held its usual hint of accusation.
"Thinking, Lex. I couldn't sleep ok?" Her voice had become sharp as well, why did they always speak to each other this way?
"Ok.'' Lex came to lean on the balcony rail and she noticed for the first time how tired he looked.
"Long day?" She asked unexpectedly. Lex smiled ruefully and let out half a laugh.
"Something like that."
"You chose to work for Ebony" it was out of Amber's mouth before she could stop it.
"I chose to look after myself." Lex replied. There was none of the usual anger there Amber noticed, he sounded almost resigned. Lex stared down at the floor in silence for a few moments, following his gaze Amber realised what he was staring at.
''You still think about it.'' She said.
''You kill a man; you try not thinking about it." Lex replied harshly.
''Sorry." Amber said softly. Lex breathed out, a long staggering breath and gazed silently once more.
"He was younger than me." He said finally.
"Zoot?" Amber asked. Lex nodded.
''He was just a kid, and he had a kid."
"Lex, once upon a time we would all be just kids.'' Amber said, her fingers resting just for a moment on his forearm. "And as for having a kid...'' she gestured down at herself. Lex shrugged.
"Who knows" he said and ran a hand through his hair. "When's the brat due?" He asked suddenly. Amber had been searching for a subject change, but this would have been the last one she would have chosen.
"Soon" she said, running her hand across her bump unconsciously. "A month, maybe two."
"Another mouth to feed" Lex said but there was no malice in it. Amber had begun to speak again before she was even aware what she was saying.
"I thought when Ned took us, y'know that I might lose it." She looked down at the floor; the admission of a fear so deep rooted was one she hadn't even made to Bray, although she knew he must have felt it too.
"I tried to find you." Lex said still staring fixedly at the floor. "Me and Pride and everyone. We tried to find you. Hell, Pride even helped trying to find Bray." Amber felt a twinge of pain; Bray had outlined what had happened when he had left the mall, seeming so ashamed of the way he had behaved. But it had reminded Amber forcefully of the first time she had lost him, she had not reacted any better.
"Thank you." She said softly.
"What for?" Lex asked with a sneer, "it didn't work."
"You tried." She shrugged. A thought struck her. "Why are you up so late?" She asked.
"I had stuff to do." Lex replied. The moment of softness was gone; he was back to the Lex she knew.
"I should probably go back to bed." She gestured in the vague direction of her room, pushing back from the balcony rail.
"Me too." Lex said and stood back with her. As Amber moved there was a sudden sensation that still felt so alien she had to grab the handrail for support.
"You ok?" Lex asked genuine concern in his voice.
"Yeah…uh... the baby's kicking me." She said, a smile touching her lips. She had felt the baby move before but this was a definite kick, a lazy movement deflected off her abdomen.
"Really?" Amber looked up and saw a strange look in Lex's eyes, almost longing.
"Yeah" she did something she would never have thought to have done. Reaching out she guided Lex's hand to her abdomen, to the tiny movement. In the half darkness she saw him break into a half smile.
"Wow." He breathed, she let go of his hand but he held it there a moment longer before pulling away. She looked up and saw a glint of unshed tears in his eyes. He had once had a child she remembered a child and a wife he had lost, another wife he was perhaps afraid he was losing.
"Goodnight." Lex said shortly and strode away; she let him go without saying another word. To keep his dignity would be the most important thing to him.
"Goodnight." She said softly to the air once he had disappeared. The baby was still again and she felt the tiredness wash over her. She crept back into her room, curling back into her space on the bed, now cooled. Bray shifted slightly in his sleep as her weight disturbed the bed and he spooned against her she could feel his heartbeat against her back, slow and rhythmic. The baby moved again, already apparently on a different sleep cycle to his parents. Amber shifted in response and turned to face Bray, the baby gently kicked her again and she took one of Bray's sleeping hands and placed it upon her abdomen. A ghost of a smile drifted across his face and with an incoherent murmur he pulled Amber towards him, her bump shielded between them. For a moment she thought of Lex, with Tai-san by his side, dreaming of another baby and another time. But the thought took on the shimmering aspect of a dream and she abandoned it, listening to three heartbeats lull her into sleep.