This is the Third and final part of Lost Love.
It had been over a year since the mallrats had left the city, since any of them had been in the city, and since they had been the mallrats. After the loss of three of their greatest members, the tribe couldn't seem to hold themselves together. Time pasted slowly, and Amber, B.J., Pride, May, Danni, Johnny, Trudy and Brady returned to the Eco-Tribe. The others stayed at the farm, unsure of what to do without their leaders.
Over the months at the farm, things started to come together. They were able to keep tabs on how far along the Techno's were coming in the city, by the effects it had on the farm. Three months after the invasion, the power came on, followed shortly by the water. It was refreshing to have running water again. Ved and Jay were able to map out the things that would happen next, most of it they kept to themselves, no one wanted to hear about the Techno's.
Somehow, and no one really wanted to know how, KC had brought back a cow, horse and a few chickens after one of his weeklong searches of the land. This helped keep enough food around for all of them. Alice's farm had never been able to support so many mouths before. But with animals and a garden, food wasn't something they had to worry about any longer.
Two days after the return, as they now referred to it, Ellie gave birth to a girl. She named her Lucie. It was amazing to everyone to have a baby around. It reminded them of the miracle of life, giving them all some form of peace of mind.
Ellie bonded quickly with her daughter, and over time it started to show that Ellie, being a single parent in this new world, was making her an adult, in all eyes but Alice's. She would always be Alice's little sister.
Also due to Ellie's motherhood came a friendship that no one expected, even Ellie herself. Her and Cloe grew close over Cloe's own pregnancy and Ellie was even able to except Jack as being nothing more than a friend to her.
By the end of spring that year, there was another new baby on the farm. Cloe had a boy, and Jack finally found the perfect name, Aden.
Salene was amazed at how natural being a parent was for Cloe. She could still remember when Cloe and Patsy would babysit Brady.
Cloe's friendship with Ellie had prepared her for becoming a mother, as well as an adult. And the love between Jack and Cloe only seemed to be growing over time. They were often still flirty and shy around each other, their passion was visible to everyone, and they were just as passionate when they would fight.
After the first winter, Mackenzie and her children left the farm along with Ved, while she dealt with the guilt she had. Ved went along with her, scared about what would happen to her or her kid's if he wasn't there to protect them. While the four were gone for months, their friendship seemed to grow and deepen, and when they returned to the farm they both insisted that they were only friends for the time being.
Mackenzie still refused to allow either Honesty or Lane out of her sight, and when she couldn't be with both of them, Ved was. She trusted him whole hearted with her whole world.
She often still looked at the sky and thought of home, and Stephanie. Not a day went by without her thinking of her missing best friend, and hardly a day went by without a thought of the others. She still greatly blamed herself for the breakup of the mallrats. But she found it was easier on everyone not to mention those that were taken, especially on Jay.
To Ved, Jay never seemed the same after they got back from the city. He didn't seem to have his great passion for a better world for all, but just for those at the farm. For short periods he would often visit the others at the Eco-Tribe, but as his duties at the farm grew greater, the less time away he had. Together him and Alice managed the farm and worked as co-leaders. But when things were slow at the farm his thoughts would often travel to the city, and to the last image he had of Ebony, walking away from him, telling him he was just another name. His heart felt as though it broke every time he thought of her. He wanted to return to the city, to see what had become of everyone, if they were still alive, but he knew it was unwise for him to go into any Techno controlled area. He had also made a promise not to go back into the city.
Tai-san seemed to deal with the loose of Lex well. No one ever saw her cry, or even tear up. But just because they didn't see it, didn't mean that it never happened. On the inside it was hard for her, each day seemed to be a struggle of emotions she couldn't control, but she never showed the weakness of her emotions. She would meditate and kept up with her old ways, making herbal remedies for something and keeping herself busy with the problems and emotions of others. She too, often thought of returning to the city, but like Jay never mentioned it. She started to help Salene when it came to the education of the younger tribe members. She taught them about the four yoga's of Buddhism and in the early morning she could always be found doing yoga with the sunrise. This was her way of finding peace within.
"It's been 370 days." Tai-san said to Jay late one night. "Since I have seen Lex."
"It feels longer." Jay sighed looking at the tea she had made for him. He wasn't much for her herbal teas.
The late night conversations the two had were always the same, a recap of their days, something funny that had happened, and a memory or two they wanted to share. But tonight's was different.
Tai-san placed herself in a chair facing the doorway into the kitchen. "Jay, you are the only one I can talk to about this." She said in a hushed voice, watching the doorway and not him.
He understood she wanted to talk about the Techno's immediately. He leaned forward, to be closer.
"Do you think they are still in the city?"
"The Techno's still have control over the city, as for the others…" he trailed off because he wasn't sure. No one knew for sure what happened to them.
"I want to go into the city." Tai-san said simply not looking scared that Jay would be mad, or even the least bit upset. This was something that she had thought about for a long time, and had waited to do until she felt the timing was right, and Jay could see that.
Jay sat back in his chair and looked at her. He had wanted to return since they left. He never felt right about leaving, but now he wasn't sure he would be able to go back. He had made a promise to Amber, a promise he couldn't break.
"I'm not asking you to come with me." Tai-san said glancing at him and then setting her eyes back on the door. "But I thought that someone should know where I am going. I do not know when, or even if I will return."
"What will you do once you get there?" Jay wondered.
Tai-san looked back at him, as though she was surprised by something he had said. "I am going to find out what happened to my husband." She said, thinking the answer should have been obvious to all.
"You can't just walk back into the city. It's all sectioned off. You don't have clearance to go from one section to another, let alone even be in any section." Jay told her thinking about the bar code bracelets he helped Ram create.
"I will go to the Keeper first, I know I will be safe there. He can help me." Tai-san told him about her plan, she had thought out a way to get into the city and back to the mall.
Jay was impressed. This wasn't something she had just thought of, but something she had been thinking about for months. It was well planned, and she seemed to know the loop holes of the system almost as well as he did. He could now remember why he once thought she would be important to the Techno's.
"The city seems calm. This is the time to go back." She told him.
"I don't think you will like what you find." Jay warned her.
"No one knows what I will find, so there is no way of knowing if I will like it or not." She reminded him. "If I go in, expecting the worse I cannot be disappointed."
"You are right, the best way to avoid disappointment is to expect a letdown." He sat thinking about what she was going to do. "When will you leave?"
"In the morning. I will tell everyone I am going to the Eco-tribe to visit." She paused when she heard a noise in the living area. "If I don't return, you can tell the others what has become of me."
"I wish you luck and safety." Jay told her become someone came through the doorway.
"Am I interrupting something?" Alice laughed coming in with a silver pail bucket dripping and sloshing water on the floor.
"No of course not, Alice." Tai-san smiled at her.
"Let me help you." Jay said getting up and offering to take the heavy bucket from her.
"I'm a big girl, I can hold my own." Alice said pushing past him, with more water sloshing out of the bucket. "I am going to scrub down the kitchen, that you can help me with."
"I will leave you to your work." Tai-san bowed slightly before existing out of the kitchen.
"What is she planning?" Alice asked Jay after Tai-san was out of ear shoot.
"Nothing," he replied, "She wanted to know what I thought about her going to the Ebo-tribe for a few days.
"The Eco's huh?" Alice said as Jay moved the tables. "I guess she could use a few days off. Clear her head, you haven't been in awhile either."
"Yeah." Jay said hoping she couldn't tell it was more than that.