Whom Love Chooses to Unite by Moonhawk64

A/N: This one has been begging me to write it for a long time now, and refused to wait any longer. I've tried to be as logical as possible as far as the number of people of each generation in the village and what the familial relationships are (by taking a close look at the Elder's meeting at the beginning of the movie, plus the ages of people in the scene where Lucius confesses what he's done, plus calculating actor's ages...etc.). Hopefully I haven't done too bad a job.

(And, by the way, the title is a [partial] paraphrase of what Beatrice said to Alice Hunt when Alice officially announced Ivy & Lucius's betrothal.)

(Also, the 1945 court case mentioned is real.)

Disclaimer: I am not M. Night Shyamalan, and therefore don't own anything except my cat (who's going to be huge, if the vet has her breed right). I'm writing this for pleasure, not profit.

This story begins late in March (two months after I figure the movie left off).

Kevin Lupinski, ranger of Walker Wildlife Preserve, left the pristine woods and drove into a city of cracked sidewalks and abandoned warehouses, of bright neon advertising bars and pawnshops, of streetlights under which prostitutes leaned alertly in clothing way too brief for the cold weather but which was a form of advertising itself. Kevin passed the intersection where his parents had died, hit by a drunk driver who ran a red light. He always felt a weary anger as he drove through - and always watched traffic carefully, lest he meet the same end.

Kevin entered the apartment he shared with his lover with some apprehension. Lonnie had gotten moody and temperamental over the last four months, and Kevin never knew what he'd walk into when he came home at night. He'd tried talking to Lonnie about it, but the taller man had gotten angrier about it each time, the last time, just last week, he yelled at Kevin, threw a lamp which missed by a mile, then slammed out the door. Kevin had said nothing about it since.

Now, he found his red-haired lover pacing the living room, agitated. When Kevin came in, Lonnie immediately pounced on him.

"You deal with animals, right? You can get drugs, like Ketamine, huh?" Lonnie said in a rush. Kevin looked startled, but said,

"We have Ketamine, but I can't just...take it! And why do you need Ketamine anyway?"

"What do you mean, you can't just take it! You work there, just... grab some while nobody's looking." Lonnie said desperately. Kevin stepped back with trepidation.

"We...we had some meds go missing about two months ago. Now everything's locked up and we have to sign for anything we need. Lonnie, please, what's going on? What do you need drugs for? You...you're not...?"

"Damn it, Kev! You have to get it! I need to...I need the money!" Lonnie pleaded.

"Why do you need money? Lon, how much do you need, we have some savings..."

"I need twenty thousand dollars, Kev! And, no we don't have any savings anymore, I already used it all!" Lonnie cried, resuming his pacing and running his hands agitatedly through his hair. Kevin was stunned. Their savings was gone? There had been close to ten thousand dollars in the account! They'd been saving for a house...what was going on?

"Lonnie, please talk to me! Please tell me what's going on?" Kevin pleaded, taking Lonnie by the arm and leading him over to the couch and sitting down with him. Lonnie buried his face in his hands. He didn't speak for a moment, but then rubbed his face and looked up.

"I lost my job, Kev." He said nervously.

"What?" Kevin said, stunned anew. Then he put it together with the money Lonnie needed. "When?" Lonnie looked away.

"Four months ago. But then I met some guys, and started selling some stuff for them."

"Four months? You met WHAT guys? Selling stuff? What stuff? Lonnie, what did you do?" Kevin was starting to get angry that Lonnie had kept all this from him.

"Guys...um...Russian Mafia. I've been selling drugs for them." Now Lonnie looked pleadingly at Kevin. "I didn't tell you because I knew you'd be angry..."

"Angry! Of course I'm angry! You're selling drugs for the Russian Mafia! Why would you do something like that? I...we could have figured something out, but you never even gave me the chance! How could you?" Now it was Kevin's turn to pace the floor, running his hands through his hair.

"Kevin, I'm sorry, but now I'm in trouble! Please, I had a problem, and now I owe them money, and if they don't get it by the end of the week, they're going to kill me as an example! Please, Kev, you have to get the drugs! I can sell it and make enough to pay them. Please!" Kevin glanced at Lonnie, saw the pleading in his face and sat back down beside his lover of over a year.

"I won't get you drugs, Lon." Lonnie gasped, but before he could protest, Kevin continued. "But there's my parent's stuff in storage. I'll sell it and give you the money. But you have to promise to stop selling drugs! I can't...it's wrong Lon! Dealing drugs...it's bad, and you have to stop! This can't happen again!" Frightened but resigned, Lonnie nodded.

- -O- -

The slowly lowering sun still shone brightly through the treetops of a pristine forest of huge, old-growth trees that swayed and creaked in the wind. In the middle of it, a green and thriving valley, where livestock roamed free and new crops sprouted. At the boundary between the two, mustard-yellow-painted poles topped with lanterns alternated with flags of the same color, and in the middle of each side, a watchtower rose high and sturdy, keeping out predators - and worse.

In the midst of the valley, the village. A white schoolhouse, sitting brightly in the sun, dedicated to the enrichment of young minds. A meetinghouse and library, where the Elders discussed the events and needs of the people, and where those who might have a few free moments might lose themselves in well-worn stories of love and loss, crime and punishment - where, unknowingly, the vices of the towns were reinforced. A baking house equipped with long tables and large, clay ovens, where the smell of baked goods lingered long after the items themselves had been removed. And, scattered about, houses - some of stone, some of wood - where bright hearths kept the occupants warm during these last days of a cold spring.

Two teenaged girls sat on rocking chairs on the hillside, watching several younger children play while they used over-sized, stiff-bristled brushes to comb wool, ridding it of dirt and undesirable fibers.

Among the crops, four young adults knelt, pulling weeds from among the fragile sprouts and singing an old song about the scandalous behavior of a saucy young lady and her strapping lad.

In the baking house, six women stood at long tables, kneading dough and spreading flour, joking and laughing among themselves, kept warm by the ovens.

Suddenly, the cooling wind carried a rising, deep moan out of the forest.

The moaning drifted among the children playing on the hill, causing them to stop and move closer to the meager protection of the older girls, who dropped their combs in their laps and wrapped their arms around the children.

It curled around the crops, sneaking through a break in the song, causing the villagers to shudder and cringe closer to the solid earth.

It cut through the joking of the bakers, who stopped their kneading and crouched protectively over the dough, as though the very sound could spoil it.

Soon, however, the moaning died away, and the children moved back to their playing - only closer to the girls, who hesitantly picked up their combs once again.

The adults resumed their weeding, but the song they now began held a nervous tremor.

The bakers turned back to their work, but hid the shaking of their hands in the vigor of their kneading.