Katherine Heathway sighed as she looked out her kitchen window over the wide rolling plains of her home. It was a nice farm, just close enough to town for quick shopping trips but far away enough that the hustle and bustle of city traffic didn't reach it. Furthermore, it was also close to the marine base that her husband worked at. Used to work at. She sighed again. It had been two months, and she still had to get used to using the past tense. It had been the worst moment of her life, seeing the men in uniform on her doorstep, knowing what they were going to say before they even opened their mouths. Sure, she thought she had been prepared, and it could happen every time Patrick donned the uniform and stepped out the door. So wrong she had been. It wasn't even on a mission far away, an assignment on American soil at the New York. Somehow that made it even worse. Tears started to drop on the plate she was washing, and she quickly rubbed her checks clean. She had to maintain a strong front. What if her little Jonas saw her like that? No, she had to be strong and work hard, for all of their sakes. Patrick would not have wanted her to wallow in self-pity, and Jonas deserved a mother at the very least. Speaking of which, where was he? He had promised he would stay out in the front yard where she could keep an eye on him. Frowning, she stepped outside.
"Jonas! Where are you honey, you promised to stay in the yard remember?" she called out. She could hear him laughing though, so she supposed he was okay.
"I'm over here mommy! Daddy is playing with me!" the boy said laughing from somewhere behind the house. Behind the house stood a small patch of trees, the largest of which was an oak tree with a tire-swing in it. Jonas was on the swing, laughing. Katherine could not laugh.
"Jonas! What have I told you about lying to mommy!" she said.
"I'm not lying!" said the three year old offended. Someone behind the oak tree stopped the swing, and stepped into view. Katherine gaped.
"Haha! Look, mommy's pretending to be a fish!" Jonas said laughing.
"Now now, that's a bit mean Jonas. Apologize." said Patrick Heathway with an amused expression.
"Sorry mommy." Jonas said pouting.
"There's a good boy. Say, isn't your program about to start?"
"Oh right!" Jonas said, and sped inside. Patrick turned to face Katherine, and was just in time to stop her falling down.
"No, no, you can't be, I lost you, you-" she babbled, crying openly.
"Hey. Calm, calm. Look at me. It's me alright. I missed you." Patrick interupted soothingly. Katherine pulled him into a kiss.
"God. You were supposed to be dead." she said after they broke for air.
"Yeah. Well, about that." Patrick said, avoiding her eyes for a moment. Katherine's eyes widened.
"What? But… But you're here now aren't you? How can you not be?"
"Look, it's complicated. Just… I just wanted to say goodbye you know? This might not have been the smartest thing I've ever done." he said, and pulled away.
"Maybe I shouldn't have come-" it was now his turn to be interrupted by a kiss.
"No, you dummy. I swear, you're still hopeless sometimes." his wife said, as she hugged him. He grinned.
"Hey, that's me. I… I'm kinda on a timeframe though."
"Just enough to say goodbye."
"What… What's it like?"
"What, with the whole white light and all? Can't say unfortunately." Silence reigned again.
"I gotta say goodbye to Jonas too. I'm sorry." Patrick said.
The couple went inside, where their son was watching cartoons.
"Hey Jonas?" Patrick said, crouching beside his son.
"Hm?" was the only reply of the enthralled youth.
"I gotta go again."
This shook the boy from his trance.
"So soon? No fair!"
"But then when are you coming back?" Patrick grimaced.
"…I don't think I'll come back."
"That's what mommy said about you last time!"
"Yeah, well this time it's for real."
"Aww…" said the boy, small tears forming.
"Now now, don't cry. Mommy's going to need a big boy to help her keep the farm safe and running. Think you can do that?"
The boy nodded vigorously. Patrick embraced him, then set him down. He hugged his wife again, and smiled to the both of them.
"I love you both… Goodbye." he said, and stepped outside. Katherine raced after him, but when she came outside, the yard was empty, her husband having seemingly gone up in smoke. Looking around, she found no trace of him even though the veranda offered her a view that stretched for miles. Thoroughly shaken by the events of the day, she shook her head and went back inside. The dishes still weren't finished yet.
On the rooftop, Alex Mercer smiled as one of the many screaming voices in his head dimmed down and disappeared. He still had the memories and the abilities, but there was no revulsion anymore as he went through them, no one screaming at him these thoughts were private, that he didn't belong.
Two months after his death at the hands of prototype Zeus, Patrick Heathway had finally moved on.
Alex focused. He was going slow, but he was making progress. He was already up to H. Concentrating on one set of memories in particular, he set off into the distance, towards the ancestral home of one Peter A. Heathway. He still had a long way to go.