Disclaimer: I do not own Earth 2 or its characters…
Author's note: Sorry it took so long for anyone out there reading this…Got distracted and whatnot. If it helps, it's longer than what I usually write for a single post :-)
This probably/definitely needs another edit, but frankly, I just didn't feel like it, so apologies for errors (grammatical, spelling, factual, or otherwise)…
Part Two: All she needs is a kiss.
Devon Adair, his mother. She was beautiful. And exactly as he remembered her. Even though she had been in cold sleep, her life-functions suspended for all those years, he felt she should have changed, ever so slightly; If not in actuality, simply in his perception of her. He had only been nine years old when she was-in effect-taken from him, after all. And he was a man now, a husband and father, a leader. Yet, she was precisely as he remembered, wise and compassionate as ever.
She had listened attentively as they began the arduous explanation of everything that had passed. Of how Uly believed she was part of some sort of strange planetary design. The planet, or the Terrians, or maybe there was some sort of divine being living at the heart of this world…whoever, whatever had somehow known or seen that she would be needed in the future, and as she was then, not as she would be after decades of living in the colony. It, they… She got sick. And now, since the time was right, the Terrians had been able to cure her.
It was all far too confusing, too much to take in after waking from a very long sleep. But they said there was more, much more. So she tried to pay attention, despite her immense joy upon being reunited with her son, much older than when she had left him. She had missed so much… And True Danziger, her daughter-in-law…grandchildren…an apparently thriving colony…
But something wasn't quite right. They were all happy to see her. Of that, she was certain. However, there was a tension in the room-well, cave that the Terrians had brought her in order to heal her-she couldn't ignore, and it was more significant than the knowledge that strange complex forces were at work. John looked ecstatic to see her at first, but now refused to meet her eyes, and everyone had grown very quiet. It seemed like the time had come for whatever bad news was lying upon everyone's mind.
His mother was giving him a questioning look. If the circumstances were any different, Uly would have given anything not to bring her such terrible news, such heartache. But it was his responsible. He would be the one to break his mother's heart. She would hate him for accepting such a fate, for not fighting it, but he knew she would love him always despite the eternal hurt she'd suffer.
"Mom," he began softly, fighting the urge to fling himself into her arms and cry the torment and pain away from his soul. It wasn't his impending death that pained him, but the anguish he'd caused all those who cared about him, the suffering he'd inflicted upon his beloved True, the loss their children would have to endure. "We don't have much time together…"
Devon barely heard the tale, worthy of the great tragedians of Earth. It was as if someone had reached into her chest and squeezed her heart until it could no longer beat under the pressure. Perhaps, it had never unthawed from cold sleep at all…
The tears did not come. She would not let them. Her son had been strong for her, was being strong for them all. And she would return the favor. She did not plead with Uly, or with Julia that there must be a cure, another solution out there, somewhere, despite her maternal supplications that there must be. She owed them all better than that. Besides it was in the very core of her nature to do what was expected of her, to lead those who looked to her for strength they could not find in such moments of incredible grief.
When the exposition of the tragedy was complete and a lengthy silence they simply could not afford had passed, Devon sought in vain to lighten the mood unknowingly as John had before her. The pain was great, and there was no cure for it, but she could not tolerate seeing her friends and family so distraught.
"May I see Lily?" she asked with a bittersweet smile on her face. John's face seemed to light up at the idea of seeing his granddaughter again.
"There'll be time for that later," True said in her most stern motherly tone, which quite impressed Devon, whose last memory of the woman was as a young, mischievous girl, anything but responsible. "They need their rest."
"They?" John asked, his brow furrowed. Devon gave her son and his wife a curious look. Maybe she hadn't been paying attention, but apparently John was surprised as well by the pronoun's appearance.
"We didn't tell you about Liam?" Uly asked, surprised himself that they left such an important detail out.
"Liam?" John parroted.
"Liam, your grandson," Uly replied. "He's four-"
"And so sweet," True interrupted, beaming with pride.
"An amazing little guy," Alonzo added, smiling like the others. Apparently, the young Adair children were charmers.
"You'll absolutely adore him," Julia informed her old friends. "And Lily, too."
"You wouldn't believe what the two of them were building the other day…"Alonzo began a banal tale concerning uncommon children that nonetheless comforted them all with its everydayness. "I was out checking the small crop of-"
He was interrupted by an outcry of pain. Doubled over like she had been punched in the stomach, True grasped the side of the stone slab table that had served as platform for Devon's body when the Terrians healed her. Uly was already at her side, supporting her and Julia was hurrying across the room to provide aide.
"True?!" John had exclaimed, instinctively starting forward, but hesitating upon witnessing her husband's control of the situation.
"I-I'm okay," she replied shakily, straightening up a little.
"You're bleeding!" Devon exclaimed, surprised by the deep red spreading down the legs of the young woman's pants.
True touched the offending fluid and considered it with a strange look on her face. She looked to her husband, her eyes large and her face pallid.
"Oh, god, the baby," she whispered before collapsing into Uly and Julia's arms.
True sat still as a stone, staring at the white-washed wall of Julia's home clinic. Her heart felt like it had turned to ice. She was empty inside. So empty.
Others would've called her foolish or cruel for bringing not just two children into the world, but getting pregnant with a third while knowing full well that she would abandon them. Leaving her children was not something she would ever willingly to do, but somehow she had grown to accept the fate. And it was cruel.
But she had thought there had been years left…her babies were still so young, not even close to the first hints of adulthood. She had known that she would not live to seen them grown. But they were so far from being grown, still in the early spring of their lives. They were but seedlings, now left alone in the scorching heat with no one to shade them, to fend off those eager to pull them up by the roots.
That wasn't true. Her father had promised. And they had Devon…and Julia and Alonzo, and the Martins.
But who did her little one have, the one who had been safely nestled inside her?
She had felt incredibly guilt when she realized that hers and Uly's deaths were imminent, that she had let another life begin inside her that would never live, breath the air, see the world.
It had, however, been a small comfort knowing that they would die together. Her child who never had a chance would always be protected inside her. But the poison had taken that comfort from her, taken her unborn child before it was their time.
"Whoever poisoned you didn't know about the pregnancy," Julia concluded her explanation of why True had miscarried. Poisons were sinister. There was no argument to that. But the traitor had been one of their most trusted friends (but for the original Edenites) and they had chosen a rather inoffensive device to orchestrate the couple's demise. The poison was neither the quick and painful type, nor the kind that drained the life out of a person slowly. It simply built up in the system until the heart gave out.
Unfortunately, that was in the case of an ordinary person's system, not the altered one of a pregnant woman. And so, True had been separated from one child before the rest. It was a shock she had not prepared herself to take in the life she had freely chosen.
The one for which she had chosen such a fate proved himself worthy of such a sacrifice once more, as he wrapped his arms around his suffering wife and brought her comfort without uttering a single word. Uly had said them all before, from the sincerest apologies for bringing her such woe to the most ardent and genuine confessions of love, but his touch expressed more feeling than any word was capable.
True insisted upon returning to their parents. There was still so much the recently reawakened pair needed to know. Julia and Alonzo were perfectly capable of filling them in, but it was different when you heard the words so eloquently spoken by Ulysses Adair. They moved you, mesmerizing your heart, and stirring you to action as well as blanketing your fears and worries with a warm sense of peace.
He would not leave her side. So, it was up to her to convince both Uly and Julia that she was well enough to go to the caves once more. It would be the last time. And Uly would never leave her side again. She took comfort in that fact, the only one as immutable as their imminent demise.
The journey had never seemed so long. But at the same time, it was far too short. She had wanted to take in every sight, steal every last bit of enjoyment she could from the physical world. However, there could never be enough time for that, so True relished what she had. As they traversed the small settlement perched on the Fringes of New Pacifica for the final time, True developed the most severe need to see her children.
They had already said goodbye, behaving as if they were simply tucking them in for the night. Causing them alarm in addition to the pain they were bound to suffer was something neither mother nor father wished. But Uly relented easily to her request. She could see the same desire reflected in his eyes.
The pair, along with Julia collected the children from the Martin household, giving young Liz special thanks for watching over them, before they finally reentered the nearby Terrian cave system.
Liam slept in his father's arms, his cherubic face pressed to Uly's shoulder. His sister walked lethargically alongside her mother, until she was told that she was going to meet her long-lost grandparents. Then an excited skip entered her step that made True smile despite the solemn burden upon her soul.
Lily had always longed to meet her grandmother Devon. They had taken the little girl to see her once when she was only five. She had been extremely taken with the frozen beauty, deeming her a woe-begotten princess or queen of old. True supposed she could see why. Devon had always commanded a stately presence. And even in suspended animation, there was an undeniable elegance about her. Her physical features did nothing to dispel the notion of a bewitched fairytale princess, with her dark hair, pale skin, and ruby lips.
The little girl instantly recognized her grandmother, running to the woman and nearly knocking her over with an excited hug. Devon laughed merrily. It was a beautiful sound to all their ears, one they had thought long-lost.
"I guess we know which grandparent is the favorite," John commented. His voice attracted the attention of the giddy child, and soon she was jumping into his arms as well, wide grin spread across her small, round face.
After the hysterics of a little girl meeting her long-lost, long-pined-for grandparents ended, they all settled in for the epic chat and task of filling in the Van Winkles. Lily claimed the place between her newfound family members, while the Liam was transferred to his grandmother's arms without emerging from his dreamland. Uly chose a spot opposite the newly reawakened pair, so as to face them, hopefully conveying reassurance in his facial expressions and mannerisms. True, as ever, was at his side, her fingers intertwining with his.
By the time they had caught up Devon and John on the important parts of what had passed during their long sleep, and what Uly knew of the future, Lily had long since joined her brother in the realm of dreams. Julia and Alonzo seemed more awake than they'd ever been, most likely driven by concern for their friends. True was leaning against Uly's shoulder.
He wasn't sure if she was awake, asleep, or somewhere in between. But she was warm, her breathing slow but audible…in a word, still alive. And that was the last thing Uly wanted to experience, to suffer seeing his beloved, vibrant True so still and lifeless. It hurt worse than knowing soon she would be dead along with him, because he had selfishly dragged her into his ridiculous prophetic schemes.
It was such a burden and he was so tired. But had he told his mother and John everything they needed to know? He just wasn't sure what facts would become important, and what visions would remain unrealized. Fighting to keep his eyes opened, he scoured his mind for any seemingly insignificant tidbit that he had neglected. It was always the little, supposedly innocuous clues that turned out vital.
"You're tired, Uly," Devon commented. He hadn't seen such worry in her eyes since he was still a fragile child with the Syndrome. It was quickly suppressed, though, and he knew she was the best one, the only one to take on the task, to guide True and his children, to usher in a glorious utopian future. He quickly surveyed the hulking form of John Danziger with precious little Lily curled up in his lap. It had been a good choice to make the request of True's father as well. The man would protect Devon and the children for everything he was worth, and show them the care and tenderness they deserved.
Uly nodded his head in concession to his mother's observation, and then sighed. There was only more thing to do, one last part he had to fulfill for the plan to continue…
Wistfully, he looked at his wife's pale cheek, laying upon his shoulder, before he scooped her up in his arms and finding a spot secluded from the others, laid her down to sleep. He laid down beside her, cuddling up to her slender form, snaking his arms about her waist and resting his head upon her breast, as he had down a thousand times before, as he would do no longer. Her arms weakly embraced him. She was fading faster than him, and selfishly he didn't want her to go before him.
"Don't leave me yet, True," he pleaded quietly.
"I'm never going to leave you," she replied, her voice a ghostly imitation of what it once was. "We'll always be together."
"Won't we?" her weak voice became strained. She was frightened. And it was entirely his fault. He was supposed to protect her. She was his wife. Instead he had chosen to sacrifice her to a cause.
"Yes, always," Uly reassured her, silent tears wetting the cloth of True's shirt where they fell from his eyes. He had hurt her, his love, his life.
"Tell me you forgive me, True," he pleaded. His normal calm control was all but gone. He could hear the air making its way raggedly in and out of her chest, the thumping of her heart slowing with every beat.
She caressed his cheek, and he responded to her urging, looking up and into her eyes.
"There's nothing to forgive, my love," she told him, her voice weak but her conviction strong. "It was a choice I made, just like you."
"Thank you," Uly whispered while resting his head back upon her chest.
"For what?" True rasped.
"For everything." He held her tighter. "For being you. For loving me despite how much a pain in the ass I am."
She laughed. And it was pleasing to hear, despite the unnaturally flimsy sound of it. They lay in content and contemplative silence for a few moments, knowing it would be their last together alive.
"I love you, Uly, more than I could've ever imagined," True confessed, her voice on the very edge of being audible.
"I love you, too," Uly voiced the one certainty in all his soul's knowledge. And I didn't deserve you.
He moved to caress her cheek and place delicate kiss upon her lips, cradling her close.
"It's time to rest, now," he whispered, watching True close her eyes and doing the same.
Devon wanted to cry, to scream, to curse the universe. But then she wouldn't have been Devon Adair, the great Uly Adair's mother. And she would've failed him, her beloved son. Ironic that she had fought so hard to earn him a chance to survive, to live, just for him to choose to sacrifice it all. But she couldn't be angry with him, not ever, and especially not now.
It was also difficult to resent the planet, the Terrians, when they had given the life he would've never had. But there was still anger trapped inside her. And she would find a worthy recipient upon whom to unleash it. She knew who John had in mind…the traitor who has poisoned their children, orphaned their grandchildren.
"It's a beautiful spot," Julia commented. Devon bit back tears and looked out over the young Adairs' graves, past the edge of the precipice and beyond to the beautiful, lush landscape beyond New Pacifica. Judging from what Uly had told them about the new G889, this was likely where they'd like to rest, on the Fringes, their home, the oppression of the stations and New Pacifica a distant nightmare.
"They'll be at peace, here," Devon managed to say. John hadn't said a word since they found Uly and True dead that morning. She knew the reason. He was barely holding onto his composure as it was. And he, too, had made a promise to the children, to himself, that he would stay strong for Lily and Liam, for True and Uly.
"Would you like to say goodbye, Lily?" Devon asked the young girl, nearly choking on the heartbreaking words. The eerily familiar face looked up into hers, a knowing smile residing upon features that looked so much like her mother's at her age, that Devon had to keep reminding herself that it wasn't little True Danziger's hand she was holding, that they hadn't just crash landed on the alien planet a matter of months ago. But there were differences. She was younger than True had been when Devon met her. And there was that something in little Lily Adair's eyes that was the same as her father's.
"No," she responded without an iota of anxiety or resentment. It wasn't a refusal out of anger.
"I think it would be for the best, Lily," she asserted, perplexed and slightly disturbed by the child's reaction. Liam's peace with the situation, she could understand. He was still too young to fathom what had happened, that his parents were gone. But Lily…
"They aren't there anymore," Lily announced matter-of-factly, leaning over the edge of the grave to look upon where bodies of her parents, so tenderly laid out. "And we already said goodbye, anyway. Besides, they said we'd be together again."
Everyone looked at the child in surprise and shock. Quickly glancing around, Devon saw that the declaration had given John the creeps, that Julia found it bewildering, but Alonzo seemed to look thoughtful as well as shocked.
"Was this in the dreamscape?" Alonzo asked. Lily nodded her head, silenced by the reaction of the adults in the way children have of becoming shy when they think they've done something wrong.
"Well, do you mind if I say goodbye, Lily, since I can't Dream like you?" Devon asked, afraid that she would confuse the girl's understanding of her parent's death. She shook her head.
Devon stepped forward, silently bidding farewell to the son that had been her life, to the sweet girl she had known and he had loved. She tossed the beautiful flower she had found growing outside of the Terrian cave that morning into the grave. It landed gently between their angel-worthy faces, which lifeless and cold glowed nonetheless in the golden caress of the late afternoon sun. And she was glad that they had buried them together, lying in one another's arms as they had requested. Somehow, it was comforting knowing they had one another, even in death. They may have been gone, but they were not alone.
Then she took Liam from John's arms, allowing him to say goodbye to his daughter and her husband. Devon could not hear what he whispered to them, to she who had been his life, but she knew anyway. As sure as she was a parent who had a child ripped from her arms, she knew what he swore to do.
The sun moved across the sky and still John did not leave his daughter's grave. Alonzo and Julia had long since left, taking the children with them. But Devon stayed. She had to make sure John didn't drown in his grief. Only, how long was too long to mourn at your child's grave. A parent would never stop mourning such a loss, she would never stop grieving for her son, but it was a despair that she had to carry inside of her, that she might continue her life, if only to fulfill her promise to her lost one.
And John must learn to do the same.
"It's time to leave, John," She said softly, reaching up to place a hand on his shoulder. "We have work to do."
He turned to face her, and Devon was startled by what she saw in his eyes. He had always been a hard man, but with a soft, compassionate center. However, if there was anything of that loving core left in him, it was undetectable. Apparently, it had died with his daughter.
"I know," he replied gruffly, pushing past her. She followed him down from the precipice where their children were buried in an unmarked grave. No one knew they were there. No one would disturb them, their peace.
And she and John would soon have their own, with the death of their betrayer.
A/N: Will Devon and John discover the traitor? Will they avenge Uly and True? What's in store for the young Adair children?