Sophia had elected to stay at behind at the house and sent Simon and Michael to collect Michael's daughters and Sean Walker. Simon had been advised to watch Michael, in case he was planning to grab his family and run. Simon didn't believe Michael would break his word, but then he hadn't believed Michael would attempt to crash a plane full of innocent people either. Simon glanced over at his old friend. Michael was staring out the windshield, squinting into the distance, while his right hand tapped on his leg.
"We have about forty more miles to go." Michael nodded, but his eyes kept scanning the horizon and his fingers keep drumming. Simon sighed and pressed his foot a little harder against the gas. Michael noticed the acceleration and looked at Simon.
"It's an open road. No reason not to shave a little time off the trip." Simon could feel Michael's eyes were still on him, but he kept his gaze on the road. After a minute Michael spoke.
"Did you want to say something to me?" Simon thought it was a strange question for Michael to be asking him.
"I don't know, maybe about my not telling Sophia what she wants to know, maybe about agreeing to fly that plane, maybe about my starting a family with a human woman. I mean we're all alone here, so you don't need to be the voice of diplomacy here." So that was it, Michael was giving him permission to scold him for his mistakes. Well, he had asked…
"I don't condone what you did in any of these instances. Not telling Sophia the name of the middle man is costing us time, time which neither we, nor the human race can afford to lose. Crashing that plane would have killed over two hundred people, including Sophia, and it endangered the safety of our people as a group. Starting a family with a human was selfish, considering that we were all working toward returning home. What would have happened to your wife, assuming everything hadn't gotten derailed and the portal was ready right now? What is going to happen to your children, if we succeed in stopping Thomas?" Simon felt a little released, now that gotten that off his chest. Michael, on the hand, looked…lost.
"I don't know. I don't…I can't…" Michael struggled to find the words to explain himself with, "For a long time I lived the lie…I kept my distance…but then I met her, and she…I just…lost perspective. I don't expect you to understand." Michael statement that struck a chord with Simon.
"Understand? Understand what it feels like to love someone so much that neither the past nor the future matter anymore? Understand how waking up next to her becomes your reality and the rest becomes a bad dream, a dark thought easily dismissed, like a single cloud in an otherwise blue sky? " Michael stared at Simon, comprehension dawning in his eyes. "I said I didn't condone what you'd done, not that I didn't understand it." If he had been in Michael's place, all those years along could Simon say with absolute certainty he wouldn't have done the same?
"I'm sorry." Michael could have been apologizing for any number of things, but right then Simon felt sure he was giving his condolences about the love that Simon had lost. It was the first time that anyone had acknowledged his loss. Thomas was far from sympathetic and Sophia…wouldn't have understood. It meant something, that Michael understood.
"Yeah, I'm sorry too. About your wife"
"Thank you," Michael's eyes grew dark in way that Simon recognized. He had seen the same look in the mirror every day for a year after he'd been forced to relocate. The dark spiral of thoughts could mire for hours if left uninterrupted.
About Sean Walker-" Simon figured this topic would be as good a distraction as any and Simon had questions that he could only ask outside Sophia's presence.
"Yes?" Michael's eyes refocused on Simon.
"You didn't argue with Sophia when she said that he couldn't come with us."
"No, I didn't." Michael tilted his chin forward slightly.
"You think he should?" Michael was dodging the question, but Simon allowed him to get away with it. They still had at least thirty minutes of driving left.
"I don't necessarily think it's a bad idea. Given what you told us about him and what he's accomplished on his own, I think he could be an asset. Do you disagree?"
"No." One word answer. Simon tried another tactic.
" Your daughters would have an easier time adjusting to everything if he was staying with us."
"True." Again Michael gave nothing about his thoughts on the matter.
"Do you think we can't trust him?" The most basic consideration when choosing allies. If Michael had doubts about Sean's loyalty that might explain why he didn't fight to involve him any further.
"I don't think Sean would betray us." Simon was out of guesses.
"Then what it is?"
"Since this all has begun Sean has been framed for murder, chased by the authorities, pursued by assassins, and shot. Haven't I done enough to him, without placing him in Thomas's crosshairs?" Suddenly it became clear. He wasn't agreeing with Sophia because he thought it was in their people's best interest…it had nothing to do with them at all…
"You're trying to protect him."
"I doubt Sean will see it that way."
"What about your daughters?" If Michael thought Sean was safer keeping his distance, wouldn't the same principle hold true for his children?
"They're in danger no matter where they are. If they stay with Sean, he might become collateral damage to the people that want the girls." Simon couldn't fault his reasoning, but still…
"Seems…unfair, his coming through all this, just to lose her now."
"Do you think I don't know that! Do you think I want to do this to him! To her? To them? Sean has been a part of my family for seven years! I owe him…more than I can ever repay." Michael lapsed into silence after his outburst. Simon studied Michael out of the corner of his eye. Michael rubbed his chin. He looked exhausted.
"You told Sophia the truth; you are very fond of him." Michael responded in the low voice, barely louder than a whisper. Still Simon heard him.
"No, I didn't tell Sophia the truth. The truth is that I am not "very fond" of Sean. I love him. I don't know how I'm going to explain this to him. God, I have no idea how to explain any of this to Leila."