Note: This is the epilogue! If you missed chapter 12 which was published at the same time (and I see some of you are by the visitor stats) go read that first!
Epilogue – Two Months Later
David smoothed his jacket lapels one final time, checking them in the mirror. Emmy's wedding was to start in a few moments, after multiple delays due to the events surrounding Elysion and Lenne. After the public relations nightmare of calming Athlum due to what had become known as "the light in the sky," things had finally begun to quiet down. The Rebellion leaders had turned themselves in voluntarily, after which the group had collapsed and dispersed.
Now, as he headed towards Emmy's quarters so he could escort her to the ceremony, he stopped short as he rounded the corner and found Torgal at her door. The sovani was dressed similarly to David, in formal Athlum attire, and was staring at the wooden door in front of him, unmoving. He did not look at David as he moved to his side.
"Torgal?" He questioned quietly.
"Hmm?" the general hummed, turning his head slowly to look at David.
"Its not too late to do the right thing," David said quietly, crossing his hands at his back. He caught Torgal's gaze and searched the sovani's eyes. They were slightly wider than normal, but David could not read the emotion behind them. Torgal didn't say anything, only stood staring at David for a moment, before stepping away from the door. He left David at the door alone, and headed towards the garden where the ceremony would be held, a slight limp still in his step from his injury in Elysion. David's forehead creased in sadness, and he wrung his hands together once before sighing to regain his composure.
"Emmy?" David called, tapping his knuckles lightly on the wood of the door.
"Come in," he heard her call from the other side.
David entered the room, closing the door behind him. He raised his eyes to Emmy, who stood in front of a mirror. Her dress was simple with clean, cream colored fabric reaching to the floor. The wide, swooping neckline accented her neck and collarbone, with her hair barely brushing against her skin.
"Emma would be so proud," he said to her quietly.
Emmy looked up at him in the reflection of the mirror and gave him a shy smile. "Mum would be briefing Jager on how she plans on murdering him if he ever steps out of line."
She turned towards David as he reached her side, a light chuckle escaping his lips.
"Well that would have made two threats for Jager today," he said, laughing as she reached out to swat his arm. He watched as she turned back to the mirror, reaching up to fuss with her hair.
"Don't," he said, reaching up to pull her hand away from it. "You look beautiful."
She turned back to him, a sad smile crossing her face. "I wish Mum was here. Maybe then Torgal-"
"Don't think about that. I tried to convince him as well but you know him. The immovable object, so to speak," David told her, giving her hand a slight squeeze. "Now c'mon, lets go get you married." She nodded, and they turned towards the doorway.
"David," she said quietly, tugging him by the hand to stop before they could reach the door.
"Hmm?" he asked, turning to look back at her. She closed the distance between them and to his surprise, placed a sisterly kiss on his cheek.
"Thank you for walking me down the aisle."
He pulled away from her and looked at her, a smile tugging at his lips. "It's my honor, Emmy." He said, extending his arm to her. She returned his smile before hooking her arm into his, and together they walked through the door.
As Emmy and David rounded a corner near Emma's garden, both of them stopped short at the sight that awaited them. Torgal stood alone, blocking the hallway, and when they appeared he and Emmy locked eyes. They stood for a moment, all three silent, before Torgal's eyes moved to David's. As David shared a pointed look with his General, he realized there was something in Torgal's eyes that he had never seen before. Nervousness.
Torgal closed the distance between himself and them before speaking. "Lord David, if I may have a moment with Emmy."
"Of course," David replied, releasing Emmy's arm from his. "I'll be at the end of the hall," he told her before stepping away from them, making sure to catch Torgal's eye.
"Emmy…" he started, and she looked up at him expectantly. His mouth fell shut as he tried to decide what to say.
"The great General Torgal, speechless?" she asked, her tone light.
"You're not making this easy," he growled at her, but he couldn't keep from smiling as soon as he saw her do so. "It's just, I'm not your father Emmy. You know that."
"Yes, I do," she said, drawing a deep breath. "But he wasn't there, and you were. Ever since I was a child. And you loved mum."
Torgal's eyes flew to hers. She had voiced something that had never been spoken of, not even when Emma died. His eyes grew sad.
"But drawing attention to that, or even having a rumor be spawned-" he started, but she interrupted.
"I don't care. David doesn't care. What would Emma want you to do?" She asked, taking one of his big hands in both of hers. His brow furrowed at Emma's name.
"She'd want me to do what I felt was right," he replied after a moment. Emmy smiled up at him as she reached out and began to fidget with his shirt collar nervously. "You look so like her," he whispered quietly.
Emmy looked down, away from his eyes, and started fussing with his shirt cuffs. She hoped he couldn't see the tears that glistened in her eyes.
"You ready then?" she asked. "We're already a little late-" she was interrupted by Torgal suddenly reaching out and wrapping his arms around her small frame.
"I'm ready now."
In the garden that Emma brought back to life, Jager and Rush stood waiting at the front of the gathering of guests.
"Where the hell is she?" Jager whispered harshly to Rush at his side.
"I dunno, maybe she changed her mind."
"Listen I know we've had some bad pastimes, you an' me, but that ain't funny man!" Jager hissed back at him.
"Well you do steal little sisters-"
"Geez Jager, it'll be okay. You know women…they take forever to get ready."
"I'm sure its fine, just calm down," Rush replied, when suddenly David appeared at the back of the room. "See," Rush said, cocking his head toward David. "There's Dave, so she's comin'." But as the two men watched, David lowered his head slightly and half walked, half jogged up to them.
"Okay, maybe she's not coming," Rush said as they watched David approach.
"What?" Jager spat as David approached them.
David reached their side and stood between the two men, his hands meeting behind his back. He turned to Rush and gave him a slight nod before turning to Jager.
"Woah, Jager, don't look at Dave like that, you might make him combust," Rush said with a smirk.
"I would never normally, except he forgot my bride," Jager grumbled.
"I did no such thing," David replied, a smirk now crossing his face too. As Jager stared at the two men, both now smirking at him, his shoulders slumped slightly in defeat.
"You know, I knew it was going to be tough entering the castle atmosphere, but you guys are ruthless."
"Hey buddy," Rush whispered, reaching out to slap him on the back. "Better shut up or you'll miss your wedding."
At Rush's words Jager's eyes flew to the back of the room. There stood Torgal, standing with Emmy as she straightened her dress one final time. A smile spread over David's face as he watched Torgal reach out and smooth a piece of Emmy's hair.
"Congratulations Jager," David whispered, leaning towards him.
"Yeah 'grats man," Rush added, brushing David's shoulder as he too leaned towards Jager. David turned towards him, their faces slightly closer than normal, and they shared a smile as they straightened themselves upright to watch the ceremony.
David slipped away from the celebration after a short while, taking his glass of champagne out onto the balcony. He was happy for Emmy, maybe even a little bit jealous, as she'd found someone she loved and was building a life together with him. David's duties had always come first, but now as it was nearing his twenty-third birthday, he realized how much he wanted someone to share his time with; to talk about what they did at the end of the day.
As he leaned against the cool stone of the balcony's ledge, he looked up at the sky. He immediately found Lenne's color among the stars.
"Whatcha doin' out here?" David heard from behind him. He made no move to acknowledge the voice, knowing already that it was Rush, who had joined him on the balcony. His friend moved to his side, following David's gaze upwards to the sky.
"You're thinking about her," Rush said quietly, leaning his elbow onto the banister of the balcony.
"I can't stop thinking about her son," David finally spoke, his eyes unmoving from the moon above them in the sky. "And what she must have felt through all this." He paused, and Rush could see his forehead covered in stress creases.
"Losing your parents, your husband and your child, all at once. And then finding out that what killed them wasn't really dead after all. It's like a nightmare. And after we found that letter, I realized that she knew she might not be coming back. She was ready to do it, and I hate her for it." David blurted out all at once, his voice gradually rising in volume. An anger that he knew was irrational, was seeping into his thoughts about Lenne, but he couldn't keep it at bay.
"You don't hate her," Rush replied instantly, not needing to consider the thought before vocalizing it. David stood silent before him for a moment, his eyes unfocused and distant.
"No," he finally replied. "I don't. I just-" David paused, exhaling a breath he didn't realize he was holding. "I just wish I'd known."
Rush looked down at his champagne glass as they stood next to each other in silence. His lips were pinched tightly together in thought for a moment before he lifted the slender glass to his lips and drained its contents.
"You felt something for her," he said, lowering his glass down to the stone surface of the balcony. "I saw it." Rush remembered that moment on the transportation pad in the graveyard. Through the pain ripping through his belly, he had turned and seen David and Lenne's hands pressed together through the barrier just before they had plunged into oblivion. The look on David's face had broken his heart.
David now stood facing the accusation without a hint of shame. He glanced sideways at his old friend, and after a long silence finally spoke.
"You're right," he told Rush. "She…" David paused to collect his thoughts, and Rush gave him the time he needed.
"She brought me back to life after you."
Rush quickly turned his gaze away from him, looking off over Athlum stretching before him. "I…" he tried to say something in response, but it was lost on his tongue.
"It's true," David edged on, turning to face his friend fully. "You had to have known."
"I did," Rush replied, leaning his elbows onto the banister and refusing to look at David. "And…I'm sorry," he croaked out, his voice catching on the last word.
"Don't be," David stated, a slight edge of authority seeping into his voice. "I know you did what you had to do."
Rush turned back to his friend… the first real friend he'd ever made; a man his age that was carrying the weight of a nation on his shoulders. And yet… this man had befriended him and helped him when he had no one else to turn to. And the tears he had shed when Rush had left this world had burned into his heart like acid on paper.
"Dave…" Rush uttered almost as quietly as a whisper, yet he could feel that Dave had heard it. And in that word was everything; the thanks for support, the regret of abandonment, the relief of being returned home and an apology for the cost of his return. David felt all of these in that single word, and reached out for Rush. He gripped the back of the younger man's hand, and in that motion was what Rush needed; understanding, forgiveness, and acceptance.
"Just don't do anything like that ever again," David said finally, trying to sound serious, but unable to keep the hint of humor out of his tone. Rush chuckled and turned his hand upwards, grasping David's tightly.
"I'll try not to."
Dave swallowed the lump that was slowly forming in his throat as his eyes turned back to the sky. He could feel his cheeks becoming warm as he realized that neither of them was pulling their hand away from the others'.
"Rush, what are you going to do now?" He finally blurted out the question that had been worrying him since they returned to Athlum.
"Dave, I was up there for fifteen years. I lived a whole other life completely alone. And the worst part was remembering how you looked that last time I saw you. You were crying…" Surprising himself with his boldness, Rush reached up with his free hand to touch David's cheek. David's breath caught in his throat and his eyes widened in surprise. He could feel his heart hammering in his chest and was sure that Rush could feel how warm his cheeks suddenly felt.
"Even though I was alone so long, I knew you were alone too," Rush said quietly, and leaned forward to press his forehead against David's. David closed his eyes, his throat suddenly becoming tight at Rush's words.
"Is it okay if I stay?" Rush whispered to him. David instantly reached out and wrapped his arms around Rush's shoulders, and Rush returned his embrace just as tightly. Neither said a word, for it was unnecessary.
The moment was ended by the sound of a popping champagne cork just inside the door, where the reception for Emmy's wedding was being held. Rush and David parted quickly, Rush reaching up to ruffle the back of his hair and David smoothing the front of his jacket. They looked away from each other, slightly embarrassed, before eventually turning back to each other and sharing a nervous chuckle.
"We should probably get back to the party," Rush said quietly, his eyes darting between David and the door.
"Alright," he said, turning towards the door, hoping that his friend could not sense his disappointment that their moment together was over. They had taken a few slow steps towards the door when David suddenly decided that he'd had enough regret in his life. Rush let out a small gasp of surprise as David reached out and quickly pulled him close by his jacket collar. David's lips found Rush's an instant later, and David's eyes slipped closed. They both stood frozen, David's heart pounding in his chest in nervousness and excitement. A moment later when he felt Rush's fingers brush against his jaw, he could not stop himself from smiling against his lips.
When they finally pulled away from each other, their eyes met as smiles nervously crept onto their faces.
"I apologize-" David started, but Rush cut him off.
"Don't be sorry. Not at all," the younger boy said. "Fifteen years is a long time to think about what you want."
David raised his eyebrows in interest. "And what did you decide on?"
"This, Dave. It's always been this."
Thank you so much for reading!