A/N: I first drafted this before it was established that Sophia was Thomas's mother and before Isabel was in the picture. That said, the recent developments in the canon storyline have inspired me to (hopefully) make this a multi-chapter work incorporating some of the recent canon events. I don't promise the result will be any good - this was initially a self-serving one shot because I simply adore Thomas - but my goal is to seemlessly weave my AUish storyline with the canon storyline without being too redundant. At the very least, if future chapters are never developed, hopefully you enjoy this.
Disclaimer: The Event does not belong to me.
Claimer: Melanie and all associated storyline does.
Warnings: mild violence, mild language, sensuality
Terms of Surrender
The ship rattled and groaned with the force of entering earth's atmosphere.
One minute she was tucked under Thomas's arm, grasping at his parka and pressing her face into his chest. The next she was ripped from his side, tossed rag-doll like twenty-some feet by the shuttle's explosive crash landing.
Thomas stumbled through the snow, shouting her name. The wind caught his screams and, like the snowflakes, whipped them back in his face. While his own voice wouldn't carry, the shouts of others for their loved ones and the moans of the wounded assaulted his ears.
His knees gave out when he found her prone form, already dusted by a layer of white. Her hair was splayed across her face. The mound of snow that pillowed her head was spattered with blood. Her arms stretched limply toward him, glove-covered fingers frozen in a slight curve.
Thomas found himself begging entities he didn't believe in for just a stuttering heart beat or a weak pulse. He eased an arm under her shoulders and with his free hand fumbled to undo the buttons of his coat so he could nestle her closer to his body heat. He bit down on the middle finger of his glove to tug it off and spat it somewhere over his shoulder.
He pressed two trembling finger tips to the juncture of her throat and jaw and sobbed a sigh of relief when he felt faint but undeniable pulsations. He wrapped both his arms around her and hoisted her tighter to his chest, ducking his head to kiss first her nose then her forehead. She groaned, and even though it was a sound of pain, Thomas laughed because it was one more sign that she was undoubtedly alive.
Her hair was still in her face. Thomas moved to brush it away, but the strands stuck stubbornly to her skin, matted in a gash that arched from her left temple across her face. Thomas realized after he'd peeled more locks away, her right eye was gone, ruined socket concealed by a smudge of congealing blood.
Thomas swore. Unsure where he could touch, his ungloved hand shook just short of cradling her head. He looked from side to side, needing help, but not sure from whom he could ask it, raking a hand through his hair when he realized those nearest him were equally occupied with the dying. He blew out a harsh breath, trying to expel the chill from his body, the tremors that had started in his fingers taking over the rest of his limbs.
"Thomas," a stern voice said from over his shoulder.
Thomas jerked his head up to look at Sophia, and when she saw the girl in his arms, the hard lines around her mouth and eyes softened. She squatted beside him. "You fool, you're going to freeze to death yourself." She tilted her head to indicate his open coat. "Let me see her."
Thomas passed her into Sophia's arms. Blood smeared his sleeve where she had lain.
Sophia stroked the girl's hairline tenderly, frowning. "I need you to lead those that are capable away from here."
"I'm not leaving her."
"You don't have a choice. We can't risk all of us being found."
Thomas's face contorted as he searched for an argument.
"That's an order, Thomas."
Thomas got to his feet and squared his shoulders. The arctic wind whipped at his scarf and open coat. "Don't let her die," was the last thing he said before turning to gather the able-bodied for travel.
President Martinez slammed the interrogation room door closed behind him.
Sophia looked up from her shackled hands, folded on the steel table. The corners of her mouth turned down in a slight frown, but she leveled her gaze with the President's. "Mr. President," she greeted.
"I need that antidote, Sophia," he said through clenched teeth.
"I'm afraid I cannot give it to you."
"Dammit, Sophia, if any of those passengers die – "
"I know," she interrupted him. "I never meant for him to do any of this." President Martinez stood over her, palms flat on the table, elbows locked. Sophia tilted her head to look him in the face. "I swear."
"Then turn him in. Tell us where we can find him."
Sophia looked down at the metal cuffs that bound her wrists. "I had hoped it wouldn't come to this." But Simon was right. Thomas needed to be reined in, and she was the most effective way to do so.
"Wouldn't come to what?"
Sophia sighed. "There is a detainee, her name is Melanie…"
"Good afternoon, Mr. President," Thomas's voice carried crisply through the speaker phone.
"Are you ready to release my people?"
"I'm not going to do that, no."
"Then you know what's going to happen. We have no need to continue speaking."
"But I'll tell you what I am ready to do."
"I've named my terms, Mr. President."
"I'm going to kill the Inostranka detainees, all of them, if just one of those passengers dies."
Thomas snorted. "No you won't."
"I will, Thomas. Sophia, Melanie, all of them."
At this, Thomas laughed outright. "That's rich, Mr. President, but I'm afraid your intel is sixty-six years out of date."
"Melanie is alive, Thomas. Detainee number three at Inostranka."
"You're not going to threaten me with lies. Release the detainees or people are going to start dying."
"I am not lying, and my threats are not empty. Give us the antidote, Thomas."
"You are lying!" Thomas shouted, then continued more calmly, "And you're running out of time. If you're not going to release my people, we are finished negotiating."
"Maybe I am lying." Harsh breathing from the speaker signaled that Thomas had not yet hung up. "But can you risk it? If Melanie's alive and you don't turn over that antidote, you might as well have signed her death warrant yourself."
Thomas was silent.
"She's dead." But he didn't sound so confident anymore. "I know she's dead! I held…" He cut himself off and started over. "I saw the injuries she got in the crash. She is dead! And you, Mr. President, are a liar!"
"I'm no liar. Melanie survived the crash. She is alive, and if you don't give me that antidote, I will kill her." He carefully punctuated each word.
"Liar!" Thomas snarled, then with more volume, "Liar! Sophia told me she was dead!"
Around President Martinez, technicians scrambled to decipher call tracing programs. Surely, Thomas had been on the line long enough for them to triangulate his location, but they weren't having any success. The same technology that was advanced enough to suck a plane out of the sky could easily make a cell phone untraceable. Martinez took a gamble, a calculated risk based on Thomas's already emotional agitated state.
He lied. "I've met with her." Then he gave away her location to this strung-out sociopath, all but inviting him to storm the building. "She's here. And I will put the gun to her head myself if a single one of those passengers die."
"You will not!"
"I – "
Thomas cut him off. "I want to see her! You get nothing! until I see she's alive!" The terms of the deal were almost incomprehensible through his hysteria.
President Martinez forced himself not sigh his relief out loud. "Alright."
Melanie had arrived in a helicopter an hour prior to Thomas's call, but Martinez had declined to see her then, not wanting to put a face on the life he was about to threaten.
"President Martinez." She extended a hand, half-covered by her coat sleeve and encased in a worn wool fingerless glove.
Martinez was unsure which startled him more, that she had recognized and identified his presence before he had been announced or that no metal shackle adorned her wrist, and he left her hand hovering above the table long enough that she started to withdraw it. He snatched it in a firm shake.
"There's no reason to be nervous, Mr. President, I can't hurt you." She nodded toward the soldier standing in the corner, rifle braced in the crook of his elbow. He had accompanied her from Inostranka. "Ask Caleb, he's known me for years."
"She's harmless, sir," the soldier said with a small smile when the President shot him an uncertain glance.
"Of course." Martinez pulled out a chair across from Melanie and sat down. "How did you know I was… well, here?"
"I'm blind, Mr. President, not deaf." There was no malice in the words nor spite like Martinez would have expected.
Martinez found himself looking to Caleb again, but before the soldier could say anything, Melanie added, "I've had more than sixty years to learn to use my other senses. I hardly miss my eyes. Well, eye." She touched the crescent shaped scar that dominated her face. "I guess I've still got one." Her other eye was clouded over brown, rendered as useless as her scar tissue covered empty socket by head trauma sustained during the crash, according the brief report Martinez had read.
The soft sincerity of her voice left Martinez speechless.
"Is my appearance really so startling that you've forgotten your purpose for meeting with me?" she asked, mouth turning down in the beginnings of a frown.
"It's not your appearance that's startling."
The President hunkered forward over the table, folding his hands and leaning on his elbows. "I want to ask you some things."
"First, do you know why you're here?"
Melanie cocked her head to one side. "I'm not even entirely sure where 'here' is, sir, but I imagine the 'why' involves my headstrong lover. I'm one of the more innocuous detainees if you discount my connections to Thomas."
"You are correct."
"Sophia warned that you might take an interest in me, and perhaps I should say, before you ask your second question, that I will not interrogate him for you," she said with such candor that they should have been talking over tea, not an interrogation table.
"Sophia told Thomas you were dead."
"Your world would be a very different place, Mr. President, had Thomas known in 1944 that I was alive and being held in Alaska against my will." She laced the words impossibly with both resignation and threat.
"So you know what he's capable of?"
"You can't possibly approve of his methods."
Melanie looked down at her hands, a gesture left over from when she still had use of her eyes. "That, Mr. President, is between Thomas and myself."
"Then it sounds like we have nothing to talk about." Martinez held in a sigh and pushed himself to his feet, using the table for leverage.
"Mr. President?" Melanie asked when he was almost to the door.
His heavy footsteps paused, which Melanie took to be acknowledgement enough. "Is Thomas coming for me?"
Martinez stood with his hand poised above the doorknob. As if the girl wasn't unsettling enough, she had to spear him with that much hope in a question about a terrorist. "Yes, I think so," he answered simply.
Melanie breathed a small sigh of relief.
Thomas stood at the one way window into the interrogation room, one hand in the pocket of his slacks, the other pressed to the glass where Melanie's cheek rested. The unreadable expression on his face hardened into an annoyed sneer when he heard Martinez enter.
"You asked to see me?" Martinez stepped up beside him.
Thomas didn't look away from Melanie. "I want one night with her. Or I tell you nothing."
"You're not really in a position to make demands."
Thomas took his hand off the glass and turned toward the President. "You have no idea what position I'm in."
"Not one to be making threats." He nodded toward Melanie.
Thomas took a step closer to the President, invading his personal space. The two guards stationed in the room moved to intervene, but Martinez held up a hand. He glared down at Thomas, making sure the smaller male understood who would win if they came to physical blows. Thomas was undeterred. "You will not hurt her."
"Don't tell me what I will and will not do."
"If you so much as touch her…" Thomas began through clenched teeth.
"Killing the innocent is more your style, don't you think?"
Thomas's eyes narrowed, but before he could respond, the President turned toward the door. "I'm through negotiating with you, Thomas." He slammed the observation room door shut behind him.
Blake Sterling met him on the other side.
"Arrange for a hotel room. Maximum security, as much surveillance as you can pack into it," he ordered.
"I'm done butting heads with him. Let's see what he tells the girl."
Melanie could hear voices in the hall. She hopped off the bed and hurried to the hotel room door, pressing both her palms and her ear to the grainy painted wood surface. One of the speakers was the guard who'd accompanied her from Inostranka, the next unfamiliar, and somewhere between the two, grumbling occasional one word acquiescence, was Thomas. So focused was she on straining to distinguish Thomas's words from the others', she was startled when the door was opened from the outside, leaving her standing as though miming eaves dropping through a wall.
Thomas chuckled, the sound rippling down Melanie's spine and warming her from the inside. "Thomas?"
"Yes?" He took her hands, still hovering awkwardly as they were at the level of her ribcage, and backed her into the hotel room, closing the door behind them with his foot. Distantly, Melanie was aware of locks tumbling into place. They were bolted in. Even the windows were welded shut despite their location fourteen stories above the ground.
"I…" Melanie tugged her hands free and reached for Thomas's face. One palm cradled his jaw, the other pushed the hair off his forehead. She wore fingerless gloves; the worn fuzz of the wool tickled Thomas's skin. "I don't know what I want to say. I never thought I'd see you again."
Thomas took one of her hands in both of his, tenderly stroking her fingertips before tugging off her glove and replacing her palm on his cheek. He kissed her thumb when it brushed his lips.
"I guess I never will see you again." She shrugged one shoulder.
Thomas frowned. With an arm around her waist, he dragged Melanie against him, then with fingers under her chin, titled her face up toward his. Melanie let out a surprised little gasp and her hands dropped from his face to brace against his chest.
He kissed first the eyelid of her blind eye then her puckered crescent of scar tissue. "I'm sorry."
Melanie sighed and wrapped her arms around him, tucking her head under his chin. "For what?"
"For letting this happen to you." Thomas traced the edges of the scar with the tips of his fingers, slowly shaking his head.
"It's not your fault."
"If I could have gotten us off this god-forsaken planet sooner – "
"Even we don't have the technology to regrow a ruptured eyeball, Thomas," she said, traces of humor in the words.
"Your other – "
"Thomas," Melanie said his name to silence him, then rose up onto her toes to touch her lips to his. Thomas tightened his grip on her waist and wrapped his other hand around the back of her neck, intensifying the slight contact, chasing after Melanie's mouth when she started to lean away. When he pulled back, Melanie was slightly flush and smiling. "I'm okay," she said, reaching up to stroke his cheek.
Thomas turned his head into the caress, taking hold of her wrist and pressing a kiss to her palm. "You always are."
Melanie's smile widened such that the corners of her good eyes crinkled. "Yes."
Thomas dropped a kiss on her forehead. "I've missed you."
"I've missed you more." Melanie wriggled free of his arms and made her way to the bed, pressing her hands into the mattress to remind herself of its height before climbing in and situating herself up near the pillows. She patted the space beside her. "Sit with me. Tell what you've been up to for the past sixty-six years."
Thomas gradually lowered himself onto the bed, taking his time making himself comfortable propped against the headboard. "I've been working to get us home," he finally said. He wrung his hands for lack of anything else to do with them. Melanie had shifted to sit cross-legged facing him, no longer close enough for him to drape an arm around her.
There was something imploring in the downturned corner of Melanie's mouth, in the creases at the corner of her eye and the slant of her eyebrow toward her nose.
"What?" he asked, forcing a smile that could Melanie see she would know was fake.
"Sophia told me about what you did to those passengers." She bit the corner of her lip. Her hands moved from resting on her knees to grasping her ankles.
"Melanie, it was for our people." He reached to touch the back of Melanie's hand, but she flinched away from him. "It was for – "
"Don't, Thomas." Her grip on her ankles tightened until the color the bled from her knuckles. "I don't want to understand." Melanie turned her head away from him, as though by not facing him she could silence the thundering of his panicked heart in her ears and block out the way he occasionally sucked in a harsh breath, like he'd been forgetting to breathe. She found herself wanting to reach for him, so she slipped her fingers under the hem of her pants and dug her nails into the skin.
"Sophia wanted me to warn you." Melanie pushed a hand through her hair. "But I'm no good at threats, so I'm just going to tell you." She paused to smooth the hair she'd just mussed and returned her hand to her lap. "Maya killed William. Because he had become a threat to our people. Because Sophia ordered her to. "
Thomas's heart beat in triplicate. He shifted away from her. The retreating sound of shuffling fabric made Melanie's chest tighten.
"I was scared, Thomas…" Her fingers twitched, like she couldn't decide what to do with her hands. "So scared… that…" Then Melanie gave up. She grabbed at Thomas, fumbling at first until her shaky hands found the lapels of his suit jacket which she used to haul herself to sit on his thighs. She cradled his head in both hands and tugged him down toward her so their foreheads touched.
"Dammit, Thomas," she said, a bit breathless, and shook her head without breaking any of their contact. Melanie never swore; the curse sounded strange in her voice. Melanie's eye was closed, but Thomas watched her, eyes wide.
"I want you know, that even if she asked me to, ordered me to, I wouldn't do it."
Thomas hesitantly wrapped his fingers around her wrists, thumbs stroking the backs of her hands. "Melanie…"
"I'm not finished." Her fingers kneaded the back of his scalp, and she squinted her eye shut that much tighter. "I'd follow you through any idiot scheme you came up with, but promise me," she pressed her nose against his, "Promise me you'll never do anything so stupid she asks me to."
"I…" It was barely a pause, but it was enough that Melanie heard his hesitation.
She let her hands drop to his neck and pulled back from him. "Then lie to me, Thomas."
A/N: See? See? I wrote this concluding scene before I knew Thomas was on mission with a psycho girlfriend to unseat Sophia as leader! It's like a perfect set-up by total accident. But I don't do suspense/mystery with much finesse. And a science heavy course-load next semester is bound to stem my writing flow. But I really want to try, and I hope you like my initial attempt here.