Disclaimer: UFO belongs to Gerry Anderson, Century 21 Productions, and whoever else helped create it. Just borrowing the characters for some introspection.

Time: Today

Place: England

Synopsis: Mary Straker Rutland continues to review her life and make discoveries

Second Illumination

The men moving her belongings had gone finally. It had been the most exhausting move of her life. She chuckled to herself. Of course, it was, this was the first time she'd had to supervise a move since she and Ed had moved to London. That seemed a lifetime ago, and Ed had been there at her side through most of it. Her pregnancy had kept him there, instead of doing the usual military man thing and going on ahead to find a place to live for them.

But then he hadn't been military, so she hadn't - she squelched the thought. She looked around her new apartment. It was much smaller than the house she and George had shared. Much smaller that the two story townhouse she and Ed had seen so little of together. She sighed. She'd gotten rid of most of her furniture, finally letting go of Johnny's bed and desk. She'd kept most of his models. The ones George had left alone because she insisted.

*"It's morbid."

"It's all I have left."*

Was that when she began to lose him? Or was it just that she was destined to lose him?

She blinked against the tears that were starting up again. Much as she had come to loath her late husband, the loneliness touched off by his death was sometimes more than she could bear. He hadn't been rude to her, or even all that unfeeling, he'd just stopped loving her. Just like Ed.

No. Not true, she chided herself. She knew better now. Or thought she did. Those photos were so damming all those years ago, and so telling now. Ed had not stopped loving her, he had never thought of her as fat and ugly, the way she told herself he had. That was the pregnancy speaking. That was her mother reinforcing her own doubts and fears. It was not Ed Straker.

She made herself dinner and ate before tackling the unpacking of the first boxes. Bedrooms, then living room, then – well, there wasn't much else, was there? Not now. Just a few pieces of furniture, and memories. So many memories. So much hurt. So much hurt she had inflicted in reaction to the hurt she experienced.

Mary looked at her schedule while she sipped a hot cup of tea. She had two days to get the flat situated before her first interview. She firmly sat on the rising tide of fear that the thought engendered. She was so very afraid that she didn't have what it took to get a job to support herself. No matter what the instructors in her classes over the last four years had said, she feared her skills were not going to be enough.

Resolutely, she put the negative thoughts out of her head. Eight pm. Well. Time to put the boxes in the living room in order. She swiftly put away and in their places the pictures and keepsakes in the two boxes. That left the other boxes. She reached for one to remove the lid and hesitated. Maybe she was wrong. Maybe this was best left as it was, buried in time. She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. Ugh. Dusty. She went and rinsed the dirt off her hands and came back with a glass of white wine to fortify her. She sipped it, staring at those accusing brown boxes.

What nonsense. How on earth could boxes be accusing? Mary slipped to the floor from the couch and reached for the first one. She let it sit on her lap for several minutes before finally removing the lid. Oh, yes. Those pictures. Even with the epiphany she'd had before the move, they were difficult to look at. Edward, fifteen years younger. The dashing young man she'd married. God, what a fool she'd been.

No. Not a fool. Not to marry him. She knew his kindness, his love, his sincere caring and gentleness. She'd never quite understood that what she saw was only half the picture. She pulled the offending pictures out of the box. God, they were beautiful. The one porcelain skinned with wide dark eyes, waves of dark hair falling past her shoulders and a figure most movie actresses would have killed for back then. The other, dark skinned, slightly almond shaped eyes and mounds of thick dark hair. Odd that neither was blonde. So striking they looked with him.

She studied their photos. She wondered if they were still there, at the studio. She wondered what their talents were that he needed them. Another picture. Alec Freeman and Ed. She frowned at the picture. How could that man let her make a fool of herself that way? She'd never liked Alec, not a bit of it. The first time she'd seen him she'd sensed something.

She took a sip of wine. As far as she knew, Freeman was still with her husband. Maybe

*they * were lovers. She chuckled. Somehow, she just couldn't see her husband – her

* ex * husband and another man together. But there was something in Alec's look that - that almost looked the way she did when she first met Ed.

Mary frowned. She seemed to be doing that a lot lately, but this was something to frown over. No, neither man struck her as being … sexually interested in each other; yet there was something... An idea struck her. She set the photos aside and walked across the room to where her computer sat. Turning it on, a smile playing around her lips, she recalled that George always kept a computer in his office. He'd told her not to worry her head about learning to use the thing. He'd been annoyed when she took that extension class to learn to use the computer. After all, with the things becoming an every day accoutrement to living, it had seemed logical to find out what she could so she didn't look too stupid.

And she hadn't. She'd taken the class and done well in it. She'd never be a programmer like the man who taught the class, but she was competent with the most well used programs. And she loved to research things on the Net. It was so much easier than it had been in school. Maybe her grades would have been really good if she'd had the kind of access to research she had now. Back then, it meant going to the library and wandering through musty stacks of hard to read books.

She smiled. "Don't worry about biology, girl. You'll get wrinkles. Now, let's see how this dress looks." Dear Mum. Always on about looks and pleasing and not seeming too smart, boys didn't like too smart girls. Maybe if she'd been a little smarter, she wouldn't have lost - / That's enough of that, my girl, / she told herself sternly.

She signed onto the Internet provider she used and began looking up Harlington-Straker Studios and its personnel. Alec Freeman was still there. Some good-looking hunk named Paul Foster was the second vice president. Virginia Lake and Gay Ellison were listed as ranking members of the studio. She pulled up a picture of Ms. Ellis. A little older looking, but still astonishingly beautiful. Mary looked a little wistful. Ms. Lake was unfamiliar, but also quite beautiful.

She pulled up a promo still of Ed. Still single according to the bio. That was odd. Ed, Alec, Paul Foster, Virginia Lake – it looked as though all the admin types at Harlington-Straker were single. And had been that way through it all. Air Force Colonel, Aussie military, test pilot, electronics expert – such strange backgrounds to be involved in one studio.

She sat back. A cover story. A cover story. Somehow, they were involved in something that was so secret even a wife couldn't be told. What had she done? Simple, she'd let her own misery ruin both their lives. Only she hadn't realized it until now. Now she understood the looks she'd gotten when he came to pick up Johnny for his visits. The longing she'd seen there and never understood. Poor man. What a fool she'd been.

Mary wondered what it was they were actually doing. She sat on that thought. Whatever it was, it was dangerous enough that their cover needed to stay in tact. There was nothing she could do to ameliorate what had happened between them, but she could share what she still had of their son. It would hurt, but it was worth it to bury what lay between the two of them.

She shut down her computer and went to look though the photos and keepsakes she still had of her son, of their son. She hoped he wouldn't be too shocked by receiving the package she would put together.

She glanced at the clock. Oh, my. How had it gotten that late? And she had an interview in the morning. Best leave this until she was a little more clear headed. She turned off lights and went into the bedroom. She straightened the pictures on her nightstand. Johnny. Her mother and father. And, a little guiltily, a wedding photo of her and Ed. It wasn't much, but it made her feel a little less horrid about all the anger and hurt between them.

As she switched off the light, she wondered what he was doing. She hoped he was turning out his light and getting some sleep. She snuggled into her pillow. He really did look thinner than he had. Someone should keep after him; he really worked too – hard.