A/N: Well, I did it. School starts tomorrow – and here I present to you all the final chapter in The Traitor and The Pariah. I'm truly sad to let this story go, but it must end – as all good stories must end.
Sarasii, roflmao. That's exactly what I said, but I was too lazy to look it up myself. Thanks for the clarification! Your review made my day, believe me. I couldn't stop laughing.
FloridaGirl11, I think I saw the same video once! I distinctly remember her dropping the bag and all the embrassment. Rofl.
Reynolds came bursting into Boylan's bar, something akin to panic in his eyes. "Lucas Taylor has escaped," he shouted. "Commander Taylor wants everybody on the perimeter – now."
Chairs scraped and toppled over as the soldiers in the bar made for their weapons and the fence line. Josh's eyes widened, anger and disbelief mingling across his face. He darted out with the rest of the soldiers, shouting something to Boylan about looking for his dad to understand what was going on. Skye remained behind the bar, her eyes trained on the wood beneath her hands. She felt a presence behind her, didn't dare turn around to face who it was.
The bar had completely emptied by the time Boylan spoke.
"Who would've thought Taylor's son could've escaped?" The sarcasm in his voice was overpowered by the seriousness that followed thereafter. "He may be a genius and all, but he would've needed help for that one."
Skye didn't respond. She busied herself with lining up the cups and glasses beneath the bar counter for easy access. Boylan's hand touched her shoulder.
"What really happened out there with Taylor's son?"
The same question, only this time Skye wasn't sure she could give him the same answer. She remained quiet, but the trembling in her hands gave her away. She set aside one of the glasses, winced as it rattled against the wood in response to the emotions rolling through her. She shook her head.
"I fell in love with him," she whispered. She heard Boylan inhale sharply, though she was sure the man had already known. "I even had sex with him."
Boylan was silent. Skye's vision blurred. She hadn't cried since she had said goodbye to Lucas. Two days had almost come and gone, and she hadn't shed a single tear. Yet they came then, when nobody but Boylan was around to see them. They streamed down her face, dripped onto the counter. She turned around, buried her face into Boylan's shoulder. His arms went around her and hugged her close after a moment. All her fears and worries about telling someone dissipated as she held onto Boylan for dear life. She didn't make a sound, but the tears stained the front of his shirt.
"Are you pregnant?" he dared to ask once Skye had quieted down.
She shook her head. "Lucky me, huh?" She forced a smile, wiped away the tears. "I have nobody to turn to, Boylan. I can't tell Jim because he'll tell Taylor. Taylor will never forgive me if he finds out."
Boylan placed his hands on her shoulders, offered her a soft smile. "Well, you can turn to me. I'll never say a word."
Skye couldn't help but laugh, though it was a rather harsh sound. "You better not," she said, a faint smile on her lips, "or I'll show Taylor your record books of the games."
The smile widened into a grin across Boylan's face. "Ah, blackmail. Can't seem to live without it these days."
"Nope," Skye agreed. Passing a hand over her face, she propped her elbows on the counter, buried her face in her hands. "At least he's safe now."
"Who, Taylor's son?" Boylan circled around the bar, sat down at one of the stools to face her. His voice dropped, hesitant. "You know he's going to come back." Skye nodded. "Him and his father are never going to get over their problems."
"No, they aren't," Skye agreed after a while, "but they both have me, and that's at least one thing they can agree on."
As if on cue, Commander Taylor and Jim appeared at the doorway at the top of the stairs. All the unease and dread that Skye had momentarily forgotten came flooding over her. The blood left her face as she noticed the look of hurt and frustration in Taylor's face, as she noticed the tightness of Jim's jaw. She swallowed thickly, felt Boylan shift closer to her.
"I don't suppose I can interest either of you in a drink…?" A smirk pulled at his lips, but the concern in his eyes gave him away.
Jim was the first to move down the steps. He came right up to Skye, his own eyes reflecting pity and disbelief. "Where is he?"
Skye forced her brow to furrow, managed to force her voice box to work. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"My son." Taylor flanked Jim's side, his eyebrows knitting together. "Where is he?"
Skye shook her head, found it difficult to breathe. "How would I know?"
"The guard said he saw you hanging around the brig the other day," Jim said, his voice firm but cautious, "without your escort." He leaned forward. "Did you help him escape?"
A thin bead of sweat trickled down the back of Skye's neck. Before she could reply, Boylan spoke up behind her. "I don't know what you gentlemen are thinking, but Skye has been with me the whole time." He placed a protective hand on her shoulder, much to Skye's surprise. "How's she supposed to help him escape, anyway? You can't just go into the brig without anybody noticing."
Jim pulled back. Sighing, he turned to Taylor. "He's right," he said, voice quiet despite the suspicion still in his face. "Nobody came within fifty feet of the brig in the past day."
The Commander's brow furrowed, the lines in his face ten times deeper than when he had discovered Skye was the Sixer spy. She could see the conflict in his eyes; he so desperately wanted to believe that she hadn't helped, but the look on his face suggested that he couldn't get past the fact that Lucas's escape had to have been an inside job. He looked away from Skye. Her chest tightened. She had only regained his trust back a few days before, and now it seemed that she would lose it again – only forever this time.
"How did he escape?" she heard herself ask, as if she no longer could control her own voice.
Jim was the one who responded. "We don't know. The brig is empty. It's like he just disappeared."
"He's a genius," Taylor growled. He passed a hand over his face, rubbed his jaw. "I should've locked him up in the hold."
Something flickered across Jim's face. Skye's brow furrowed as she saw something akin to an epiphany flashing in his eyes. She was sure he had suddenly thought of the shaft, of the grate buried in the overgrown grass. If they figured out that Lucas had climbed through there, they wouldn't think she had helped him. Taylor was right – Lucas was a genius, and it definitely wouldn't have taken him long to find a way out, even if it meant crawling through an air shaft.
She didn't expect the words that came out of Jim's mouth instead.
"Lucas told me to give you a message the other day," he said, his words careful, slow. Skye's heart tripped.
Taylor's head whipped around, his eyes flashing. "What did he say?" He shook his head, kept Jim from responding. "Why did you go see him?"
Skye's throat constricted, her palms growing clammy as she saw Jim glance at her out of the corner of his eye. He passed a hand over his face, weariness suddenly etching itself into his features. "I went to ask him about Skye."
Taylor's brow furrowed. "What about her?"
Jim glanced at Skye again, couldn't meet her gaze entirely. "There – there's some bruising on Skye that only a human could've made." Taylor visibly tensed, the muscle in his jaw twitching. "I thought Lucas had hurt her, maybe raped her."
For as long as Skye had known him, Commander Nathaniel Taylor had been a man of great composure and control. To see him deteriorate made her heart ache. His hand reached out to grab the bar counter, his legs suddenly unable to keep him standing. The horror on his face, the hurt – it sent icy chills down Skye's spine, made her stomach clench. Jim caught Taylor before he lost his balance, helped ease him into a chair. Skye became aware of Boylan moving around her, of him pouring alcohol into a glass. He placed it down in front of the Commander, said something that Skye didn't hear.
"What has my son become?" he whispered to no one in particular. He stared at the glass in front of him but didn't reach for it.
"He didn't rape me," Skye said. She reached out, hesitated before placing her hand over his. He looked up at her, the despair and anguish in his eyes almost too much for her to bear. "He didn't rape me," she repeated, her voice quiet. "I betrayed him, and I shot him twice, but he didn't kill me. He had a gun and a knife out there, but he didn't kill me." Her voice was so quiet Jim and Boylan had to lean in to hear. "He wasn't the same monster who killed Lieutenant Washington."
Taylor didn't respond, though his eyes fluttered shut. His grip tightened around Skye's hand, holding on as if for dear life. Skye swallowed thickly, glanced up at Jim. The man's eyes were conflicted again, the suspicion still swirling within his pupils, but Skye had the impression that something had clicked within his head. Something suddenly made sense to him.
"What did Lucas say?" Taylor asked. The weariness and strain in his voice wasn't lost on Skye.
Jim cleared his throat. "He said that…things would've been different if you had just accepted him."
Skye's chest swelled with pride, her heart soaring in her chest. Taylor and his son could never truly reconcile, that much she knew, but at least Lucas had made the effort to try and help his father understand the entire situation – to understand why. Taylor passed a hand over his face, his free hand tightening further still around Skye's. She squeezed back with all the comfort she could muster. No matter what Lucas did, the man couldn't bring himself to hate his son – not in the same way Lucas hated him. He could never forgive him, though. As much as that pained Skye to know, she was grateful that Lucas had tried to keep his promise to her.
"I can change…I'll prove it to you."
"He told me," she heard herself say, drawing Taylor out of his dark thoughts, "that he wasn't going back to the Sixers. With Hope Plaza destroyed, he isn't a threat anymore."
Taylor shook his head, met her eyes. He let go of her hand. "My son will always be a threat," he said, resigned. He turned to Jim. "Call off the search. We won't find him."
Jim hesitated, his gaze darting once again to Skye. "I think Skye's right, Taylor," he said. "If Lucas escaped without help, then he doesn't have a weapon. He'll die out there."
"I survived without a weapon for 118 days," Taylor said, his voice hard, grave.
"But Lucas isn't you!" Skye was startled by the sound of her own voice. She swallowed thickly as all eyes turned on her. "I spent five days out there with him, and he isn't you, Taylor. He may have survived out there for five years, but he had the Sixers' help. He doesn't have that anymore. Without the weapon, he won't make to the Badlands. Even with a weapon, we almost didn't make it to the Badlands when he kidnapped me."
Taylor didn't say anything, but Skye was sure she saw reluctant agreement in his eyes. He turned away, gestured to Jim. He headed to the door in the same manner he had headed back to the camp after Skye had saved him from his own son – dazed, withdrawn, and hurting. Jim cast one last glance at Skye over his shoulder before following the Commander out the door. Skye exhaled heavily; she hadn't realized she had been holding her breath.
"Things will never be the same," she muttered, glancing down at her hands.
"Skye," Boylan said, drawing her attention, "he won't hold this on you forever. Give him time."
Skye nodded, turned away. "He'll never treat me the same, though."
"Only because you were the spy." Boylan's hand touched her shoulder again, gave her a reassuring squeeze. "Lucas is long gone by now. You have nothing to worry about anymore."
She shook her head, glanced at him. "Except keeping the biggest secret of my life."
After a moment, the bar owner nodded his head in agreement. "Lucky for you," he said, guiding her towards the door, "you've had plenty of practice keeping secrets." Stopping at the top of the steps, he patted her shoulder. "Give it a week or two. Everything will go back to normal as much as possible."
A sigh slipped past her lips. "The only problem is, Boylan," she said, gazing out the door to look at the trees outside the gates, "I'm not the same. I never will be."
P.S. This is how I originally intended to end my story. I'm sorry that it didn't live up to all your expectations and wants, but this is how I felt is should end. But never fear! It's left enough for a sequel, should I ever get around to writing one. So, who knows? There might be a story in which Lucas comes back to get Skye from Terra Nova in a few months – and then we'll see what happens.
Thank you all for being such wonderful readers!