Disclaimer: I do not own Source Code.
In time, he learns to shave without looking too closely at himself in the mirror. He runs water at the sink, takes a fresh Gillette razor from the medicine cabinet, and lathers on some foam.
By now he's memorized that tricky cleft to his chin, to be avoided at all costs, as well as the prickly shadow to his jaw that's darker than he's accustomed to. As he flicks the razor under the running tap, he studies the difference between these new bloodshot black eyes, as compared to his own usual blue ones. He's unsurprised by the occasional gray hairs starting to show at his temples, remembering that Sean's body is older than his was.
Colter closes his eyes and splashes water into his face, removing the image.
When he looks up from the sink, face dripping in the mirror, he tells himself to forget he ever had those features.
Seven months seeing each other and she's still as beautiful as the day they first met. (As beautiful as the thousand times they'd met, rather; it's the same moment.)
Christina turns out to be more than just perfect; she's supernaturally caring, something that helps soothe Colter's transition a great deal.
She plays along with him at first, when he doesn't remember where his apartment is, or which car is the one he owns, or other details such where he keeps his blender or medical history or social security number. ("It's parked next to the white Honda, don't you remember?") Then, as time goes by and she notices his strange trouble with habilitating, she comes unquestioningly to take care of him. She's unassuming in the way she casually picks up his mail, or corrects him whenever he misnames an acquaintance. ("That's Michelle, Sean, not Tiffany.")
The worry in her eyes is carefully muted, but she never shies away from him, nor makes any comment on his seemingly premature bout of Alzheimer's symptoms. She even comes over to cook with him, probably assuming whatever it was that happened to him has also rid him of his ability to eat properly. ("Hot dogs in ramen, Sean? What's gotten into you?") And each time he just shrugs and laughs and holds the door open for her. Because, sure, he's had girlfriends who cooked for him in the past. But damn, if he doesn't just melt like butter whenever she lifts a hot forkful of pasta to his mouth, or slices a tomato into juicy, red segments.
She never questions him—just cares for him.
That simple fact is incredible after all he's been through.
He's used to taking care of himself. So he adjusts to this second, peaceful life easier than he expects. However, there are still tense moments when this teaching job of Sean's is so unbearable compared to what he had been trained for all his life. There are those times when his apartment's wall color is torment to his eyes; when his coworkers and buddies who call him out for drinks are such complete strangers. Those days, he risks his boss's wrath and friends' disappointment to go drive away in Sean's black Camaro (sweet ride, really, great performance).
It helps him cope, but not that much.
The nightmares never go away.
He lies in bed at night, wondering what kind of existence this is that he's leading. (One that's technically death, but also a sort of version of an afterlife, with a bit of a rebirth mixed in?)
Samsara. Reincarnation? Was this a second life?
He doesn't have a name for it.
Colter doesn't want to know what comes after he finally closes his eyes.
He asks her to marry him, and of course she says yes. The ceremony is beautiful, simple and full of her crazy relatives and his own… family. He sees a man with a face similar to his, if with a different nose and rather on the stout side, beaming and white-haired in a smart tuxedo. And he wishes he had his father standing next to him on the chapel steps. Then she walks down the isle, and the family that technically isn't his looks on in pride, and god she looks incredible.
They exchange rings and vows.
"Do you, Christina Michelle Warren, promise to take this man as your lawfully wedded husband?"
Her eyes crinkle. "I do."
His heart can't be thumping harder. He wishes his father…
"And do you," he expects his name but then it hits him in the ears like a blast of cold air, "Sean Michael Fentress, promise to take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?"
The words take a long time in coming, but eventually, "I do."
"Then I now declare you man and wife. You may kiss the bride."
He would have frozen that moment in time forever, if not for the ringing voice in the back of his mind that keeps whispering It's Colter. Colter Jacob Stevens.
They decide to buy a nice house (front garden attached, honeywood paneling, two bathrooms), close enough to where he worked. The noise was minimal, being farther removed from the hustle and bustle of the city, but it's urban enough that theatre and dinner dates are hardly a few miles away.
He loves life with her; sleeping in the same bed, sharing the same meals, showering together. Waking up laughing because she's got his shirt on (backwards) as they're making pancakes. Evenings where they both come home from work and share a glass of wine on the couch, watching the news.
She keeps the nightmares down to a minimum, but of course, there are the nights when he wakes up and finds her shaking him, frantic; a look of concern on her face. But he just mumbles 'bad dream' and rolls into her, hiding his face in the mattress. Eventually she stops bugging him about taking some Ambien, but more often than not, he'll wake up to realize she's spent the whole night holding him in her arms, just like his mother used to as a child.
He loves this woman more than life.
She's pregnant. The amniocentesis says it's a girl.
His daughter looks just like her mother. And for that he's grateful.
As Colter drives them both home from the hospital (into the pale yellow nursery with the pink quilted crib), he finds himself checking his daughter's features almost obsessively.
This is his baby in every way that counts, but somehow, he feels like Sean's been cheated. The more this child looks like Christina (the less she looks like Sean), the more Colter can convince himself that she's his. Otherwise he'll be looking for blue eyes where none exist, waiting for black hair to lighten into brown. Instead, he finds a high button nose, a wide pink mouth, stick-outish ears. Colter watches Christina breastfeed Julia, and convinces himself he sees hints of his father's ears here, his mother's mouth there.
He knows genetics are against him.
Sean's dead, Colter firmly tells the dust motes falling into the light.
But so are you.
Colter closes his eyes and cheerfully accepts his daughter from Christina, who instructs him to support Julia's head and neck because they're both still fragile.
But where? he finds himself wondering as he cradles his newborn—as he rubs circles into her colicky back. Where in the world did Sean Fentress go?
Julia finally scrunches her nose up, and burps a bit of milk onto his shoulder. Colter pulls her away from the mess and holds her to his eye level.
Round black eyes ineptly open. He looks at them for a minute.
Those are Christina's eyes. But not quite.
Colter kisses her forehead.
Oh, there you are.
He'd never expected to see his father again. But one day, he runs into him, while waiting in line at the local supermarket.
Colter doesn't know what his father is doing here, when he should've been living three states away. He moved, maybe. He was on vacation, visiting a friend out here. Colter doesn't know, but as he watches him dig for change at the counter, Colter sticks his hand into his wallet and fishes out a few quarters.
His father looks up. His eyes, the same sharp blue as Colter's used to be, are veined with age and cataracts. His father appraises him once, before accepting with a nod of thanks. Colter aches to shout at him, hug him, let him know he isn't a stranger, It's me, Dad—
Colter sets his groceries into the back of his car, watching the familiar red Jeep drive out the parking lot from the corner of his eye. He doesn't follow what street it turns onto, doesn't try to look after the license plate. He slams the lid of the trunk back down, keeps his head low, shoulders still.
These are happy tears, he tells himself.
This was a gift he didn't expect to have.
One day, he'll take Julia to Millennium Park.
I never thought I'd see a movie that would be nearly as good as Inception. Nearly. This was fun, giving him a happy ending.
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