By J. Krucek


Category: Vignette, Angst, and reference to Sandoval/Beckett romance

Spoilers: "Thicker than Blood"

Sandoval felt uneasy being here, more because he hadn't been to church in years. It had been a long time since he even contemplated the notion of God, and more recently he didn't believe there was one who cared about His creations - leaving things merely to chance and the dirty schemes of mortals from varying species. The small chapel in the hospital, however, offered him a place to reflect, away from the noise and the thick cloud of monitors and equipment. It was as if a bubble of silence surrounded this small room, with its plywood pulpit and non-denominational displays of flowers. Monitors on the seats could call up several editions of the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, and about a half-dozen other religious texts.

*Even Church of the Companions. * Sandoval thought as he scrolled down, trying to look as if he belonged here. He settled on the Catholic edition of the Bible and went looking for some passages he could remember from his grandmother. She used to read it to him when he was very small, only with his CVI could he get a clear picture of what she looked like. He was eight when she died.

Giving up, he settled for just being quiet. His head spun. He was being discharged from the hospital with orders to report in for regular, discreet checks of his blood for the next year or so to make sure the treatment took. Otherwise, he could go back to his regular duties as a Companion Protector.

*Regular. Just as I get all my plans into motion, my entire world starts to unravel. *

Health trouble was one thing. Having to explain why he was caught in a Stimulation Parlor was another. Not like Zo'or cared. So long as his orders were carried out and Sandoval's service to the Taelons unimpaired, Sandoval could indulge in whatever debauchery he wished - as long as it existed.

And to top it, the words of Dr. Curzon played in his ears.

*We can tell from the blood - it's a boy. *

Sandoval's heart pounded in his ears, and he attempted to steady his shaky nerves by relaxing back in one of the metal folding chairs and thinking of something peaceful.

*Maybe you'll remember a time, a place, a woman? *

Even with the CVI, he kept replaying ideas and memories and coming up with nothing. He checked the FBI's computers and still came up with nothing. Out of all the people the supercomputers had on file, no first-degree match could be found. There were no matches that were even close to a first degree relative.

*You do have a child in this world...*

His high school sweetheart had two children, but the first was born five years after he broke off the relationship. A college sweetheart was childless. And then there was DeDe...

Sandoval winced, burying his head in his hands and trying not to think of her. He was a master of emotional control, but thinking of his deceased wife, how he betrayed her...it fueled his hate for the aliens he worked with. The MI had placed them first, and destroyed DeDe while killing his soul. When he signed her over to the mental hospital, he had done it so he could be of better service to those creatures. At the same time, he knew in hindsight that being stupid enough to accept the duty of Protector was all his own doing - being ambitious to the point of foolishness.

Before the Taelons came, he and DeDe wanted children - a large family. At the very least, they had decided they wanted three children and more if the money and willingness were still present. They used to lie awake at night, talking to each other, until both were happily dreaming about what those children would look like. A little girl with DeDe's smile and his intelligence, a son with DeDe's hands and nose, but otherwise a dead ringer for his father, another child that would look like her, aside from a slight slant to the eyes...

And he threw that dream all away for a CVI, a skrill, and the most desired job in the world. Lucky him.

Thoughts drifted to the last woman he could remember being with. And there was no possible way. Sibohan died two months after the stay in London. She was a Companion Protector, but still retained passion, idealism, spirituality...things he had forgotten. She'd been making inroads to unthawing the cold brick he called a heart.

*I don't think the Companions would see anything wrong with physical release...*

He'd been inclined to believe her for a brief time. A Companion meeting in London to monitor the shipments of treasures from Ma'el's tomb that were making a short appearance in a museum.

*We're off duty, Ronald, and have you been to London for a night? I can show you some GREAT spots! And best part is that we can pull the mother of all benders and still be sober enough the next morning for duty. *

He'd been reluctant. Duty first was how he'd lived for so long that he had forgotten what being off duty was like. She took his hands, and smiled, practically dragging him out the door. She had even convinced him to abandon a three-piece suit for a polo shirt and a pair of slacks.

*"Come on! The more you know about Earth, the better you'll be. Think of it that way if you have to."*

She pulled him into her car and sped him around town. They stopped at a club first, listening to a retro synthesizer band. The next stop was a tavern with some GREAT martinis. Afterwards, they went to a park and watched the stars.

He felt alive! For the first time since Boone told him DeDe was dead. The spring air with the smells of the park and town's pollution, the high vantage point with the glittering lights of the city, and the feel of the crisp night air against his bare arms. Then, the music of her voice cutting through the air.

*"Enjoying yourself, Agent Sandoval?"*

The combination of the night air, the whirlwind tour of London, and the sudden surge of living, feeling emotion, of feeling like a human rather than a hand/avatar for the Taelons. It hit him in a rush. He remembered staring into her eyes and a big grin coming over their faces.

*I will enjoy it more after this...*

He got to his feet, pulling her up with him. The kiss was electrifying.

That week, they maintained their composure for the Taelons during the day, and at night completely threw themselves into the moment. Afterwards, they made an agreement to be open to "visits" - comrades with side "benefits."

Her death re-froze him - and made him even colder. He no longer cared what he had to do - he had no reason to. His duty was all he had left, and up until now he didn't really give a damn if he destroyed much of both worlds if it gave him a chance to survive and to exact revenge. He was an empty man partially filled by duty and well-concealed contempt for the Taelons and the human sheep who welcomed them. Everyone could go to hell as far as he was concerned.

*Well, no one knows the consequences of everything we've done...*

Now, he had a reason - somewhere among 7 billion people, he had a reason to think about the future and a goal other than his sham of loyalty to the Companions and his silent schemes. Somewhere out there waited a stake in the future. He wouldn't have believed it - no computer record listed that he had a son. No medical database listed a first-degree match for him, but the fact that he was alive was the most powerful testimony of all.

A child - a son - large and healthy enough to donate two pints of undamaged blood. Before today, he would have destroyed Earth if it suited him. Now, he felt like it was all spinning out of control. His child had given him back life. Finding out who this child was, and where, was likely to become his next task. Revenge would have to wait until he could at least pay his son back by getting him to safety.

He looked up. "I have a son somewhere out there." Saying it aloud cemented it in his mind. "I have a son who saved my life. I have a responsibility to him, a future to try and make...Must not fail."

The door opened. Someone entered. A voice broke the silence.

"Nurse told me I'd find you here."

Sandoval recognized the voice as Major Kincaid's. "What do you want, Major?"

The younger man sat next to him. "How are you feeling?"

"You can tell Zo'or I'm better, thanks."

Kincaid stared straight ahead, leather jacket pulled around him. "Not asking for Zo'or's benefit. I wanted to know if you were okay."

"Why would you care?"

Kincaid sighed. "I've got my reasons." He looked at Sandoval, and fidgeted in his seat. He kept looking at Sandoval, and looking away. The young man rubbed his left arm and settled on staring straight ahead.

"Tell me what's on your mind. You look like you want so say something, so get to the point."

Kincaid smiled wanly. "Sandoval, we may not see eye to eye on a lot, but I..." he stopped himself. "You're still my...colleague, and another sentient being. It's not like I want to watch you stuck in a hospital."

"Thank you for the...unusual concern, Major."

"Don't mention it," Kincaid said. "At least you're okay. Only thing that really went right tonight. I came here to check up on you and to do some thinking myself."

Sandoval cocked his head.

"Just something I have to sort out with Da'an - nothing for you to worry about." Kincaid rubbed his arm again, and rose from the chair. "Good to know that you're going to be fine."

"Maybe the world does give a damn after all. I could have been wrong." Sandoval's eyes met Kincaid's, but the other man looked away, into the distance.

"Actually, maybe you were right about it not." Kincaid drummed his fingers against the back of the seat and puffed out a breath. "I've got to go."

The young man headed for the door. Sandoval got a strange urge to stop him.

"How did you hurt you arm, Major?" Sandoval asked.

"Do -" Kincaid stopped himself, and took a long look at Sandoval. Sandoval felt uneasy. Kincaid wanted to tell him something, but was holding back. "Doing something I hope I won't regret."

Kincaid walked quickly out of the chapel, leaving Sandoval to his thoughts, and questions.