A/N: Major writer's block has been setting in all week, so I'm really sorry for my lack of updates. I'm cranking them out now, though. Hopefully you are all still with me and not too angry. I try to update quickly but things get sidetracked…In any event, we're in the home stretch and this will be the closing chapter of my story. Hope you'll enjoy!
"My dad managed to get out of prison early," Maddy told me excitedly. Lancaster was in the infirmary, and I was relieved to hear he was either too proud or too afraid to admit how he got beat up so badly. He was claiming he'd had a run-in with a Phoenix Group soldier—he would try to pass himself off as a hero despite how he really got the injuries. I think Dr. Shannon suspected I had something to do with it because she kept looking at me funny when I went in to see how he was doing, just to make sure I wouldn't be court marshaled for murder.
"How?" I asked, figuring Mr. Shannon had come up with some way to explain his presence now that Maddy would have to be living at home.
"I don't know. He said he found a good lawyer, said his name was…Tom something. Boylan, I think."
I had to hold back a snort. Mr. Shannon must have been grasping at straws in order to name Boylan as adept at anything.
"Hey, do you know what happened to Sal? He hasn't been by in a while and I thought he was supposed to be keeping an eye on me. The infirmary staff said I'm still a bit sick and they want someone around to make sure I'm alright…"
"Sal's…a bit…beat up," I scratched the back of my head, trying to think of someway to pass this off.
"Oh my goodness! What happened to him?"
"He…had a run-in with a guy who was way more skilled at fighting than him. Stronger too…"
"Oh, that's terrible! Is he okay?"
"Well his face is a bit broken," I replied, biting back the proud smirk that I knew was beginning to form.
"Wow…that must have been a big fight. What happened to the other guy?"
"Sal couldn't get a single hit on him…or so I heard."
Maddy sighed slowly.
I couldn't bear it any longer. She had a crush on him, but after what he said he planned to do to her, I couldn't let it happen. "Maddy," I caught her arm as she made a move to walk on. She stopped and looked at me curiously. "Can we…can we talk?"
"Yeah. Sure, Mark…about what?"
"Well…a couple of things…" I hesitated, shifting from one foot to the other, unsure what to say exactly.
"Like….?" She waited expectantly.
"Well…I'd…I'd like to…to declare my intentions for you, Maddy Shannon." God, this doesn't get easier the second time around.
"You…you want to do what to me?" She looked horrified for a moment and I winced, remembering her reaction the first time.
"To…to court you," I reassured her.
Maddy bit her lip, her arms swaying from side to side. "You mean…like a date?"
"Yes! Exactly like a date!" Déjà vu?
"Well why didn't you just say that?"
"Because…that isn't how it's done. I have to address you a certain way, speak to your father…"
"You spoke to my dad?" she interrupted.
"Maybe…we may have met…" I hesitated, trying to curb my enthusiasm and keep the story straight. "So may I have the honor?" I offered her my arm and breathed a huge sigh of relief when she took it.
"You may," she smiled shyly, then tilted her head to one side. "Have you…have you always felt this way for me?"
I smiled. "From the first time I met you, Maddy, I knew I wanted to ask you that question."
She slapped her forehead. "Oh my gosh! I just remembered...I'm so sorry, Mark…I…Sal asked me if I wanted to go to this festival yesterday and I agreed. I didn't know that you felt this way and I thought it would be fun so…"
I held up a hand. It didn't matter. I had won Maddy over again. Mostly. "Don't worry. I doubt Sal will be out in time for the festival anyway…"
"I know but…I'd hate to let him down…"
"Maddy, I'm about to say something that may change your perspective on Sal Lancaster. I want you to know that what I'm telling you is one hundred percent true. Do you trust me?"
She nodded without hesitation.
"Maddy, Sal Lancaster isn't the great guy you think he is. I've known him for a while now," she opened her mouth to speak but I held up a hand. "And I'll explain more on that in a minute. But Sal plays girls. He likes to use them for a bit and then dump them. I don't want to break your heart or anything but…I felt like you should know."
Maddy swallowed thickly, eyeing me with wide eyes, processing the information I'd just inundated her with. "Thank you," she hugged me around the waist, which wasn't exactly the reaction I'd expected. "For not letting me get caught up in that."
"You…you're not even questioning any of that?" I was elated but shocked.
Maddy shook her head. "I believe you, Mark. But…how do you know Sal?"
Spotting a nearby bench, I walked her to it and we both sat down. "Maddy, now I'm about to tell you something that's even more difficult to process. Are you ready?"
She nodded again.
"This place…this isn't Chicago."
Maddy looked at me with a straight face. "I knew that."
"I know what…wait, huh?"
"I knew it couldn't be Chicago. It's too green and the dome is too big," she looked around as if measuring the dimensions of the colony. "This has to be somewhere near Maine, or maybe Canada. The domes there are much bigger. I can't remember moving so I figured something must have happened and everyone was just trying to ease me into the pace of things here before dropping any bombs…"
"No, Maddy, this isn't Maine or Canada…"
"Montana?" she questioned.
I shook my head. "Maddy, this isn't even North America anymore. Well…it is. But it isn't…"
She wrinkled her brows.
"Maddy, this place…this is Terra Nova."
She paused. "What?" She looked absolutely stunned.
"This. This is Terra Nova. Remember? You asked me what your chances of being recruited were, but your mom was already recruited here. And your brother came with you. And your dad had to sneak in with Zoe but they're all here."
Maddy nodded slowly, hesitantly. "Okay…so I guess I just don't remember because of some adverse effect from the time jump? I didn't know it was possible but…"
"No that isn't it either," I told her. "Maddy, you've been living here for fifteen months."
She stopped. "Mark…are you playing a prank on me because it isn't funny…"
"No! No, I swear! The reason you can't remember is because you were exposed to a virus that made you forget. And we went along with it because we didn't want to hinder your recovery or confuse you…"
"I…I knew everything seemed familiar…" she trailed off, but her eyes widened. "And you!" she jabbed a finger at me. "I knew you were familiar too!"
I nodded slowly. "We did know each other."
"We were friends?"
"Did you…did you like me then too?"
"I mean, it's okay if you didn't but…I'd wonder why…"
"No!" I cut her off quickly. "Maddy, I more than just liked you then. I loved you. And I still do."
She froze. "You loved me?" I couldn't read all of the emotions that flashed across her face.
"I did. I do. Maddy we were…we were together for fifteen months…"
"Mark," she shook her head. "I don't even know how to process all of this right now and…and I think I would've remembered something that important…I just, I don't…it's not that I don't believe you…"
I couldn't resist it anymore. I leant forward and I kissed her softly on her lips. It was the most amazing feeling after so long and I realized how much I really missed her all these days. She sighed softly when I pulled back finally, her eyes blown wide as a tear rolled down her face.
"Mark!" She was in my arms faster than I could process. "Oh my God, Mark!" The tears were falling fast and hard now. I could feel them as she buried her face in my neck. I wasn't sure what was happening.
"Mark, I…I remember! I can't believe…oh my God."
I hugged her tighter and I could feel some moisture gathering behind my own eyelids. I fought hard to keep it back but some of it still trickled out anyway, waves of relief and gladness hitting me.
She turned her head and I could feel her shuddering. "Mark…I can't…why did I…?"
"It's okay," I said gently. "You remember now."
Her voice broke. "Mark, I don't ever want to forget. How could I forget you? And then…Sal Lancaster and…and you were there the whole time and you didn't say anything! Why didn't you say anything?"
"I didn't want to upset you," I replied honestly. She threw herself around me once more and cried.
"Thank you…so much, for sticking by me through all of it…" Her voice was barely a whisper.
"I promised to love you, Maddy Shannon. Always."
Mark finally convinced Maddy to see her mother, which she did. Maddy's sudden memory return had been caused by the kiss, combined with everything else Mark had told her. The gist of it was, it had triggered a heavy emotional response that had shocked her brain back into memory. Dr. Shannon had explained it in much greater detail but that was the essential concept. They tried triggering emotional responses on a few of the other infected scientists and it worked well. Maddy was also assisting on cloning the root to help cure everyone involved.
It was the morning after when Sal approached her outside her home, completely unaware that Mark was in the doorway, about to follow her out so they could go for an early morning walk.
"Hey baby," he cooed at her, almost condescendingly and draping an arm around her. She pulled away abruptly as Mark shut the door and turned, folding his arms over his chest and watching alertly for what came next.
"Playing hard to get?" Lancaster smirked, reaching for her once more. "You're a tease…"
"Please," Maddy held up a hand to halt him. "Don't touch me."
"Why?" his hand settled at the small of her back, "I thought we had a thing going…"
"You used me," Maddy hissed, her anger evident. Lancaster took a step back.
"What are you talking about?"
"You were going to use me. You were trying to take advantage of the fact that I couldn't remember who Mark was!" she snapped. His blue eyes widened immensely and he noticed Mark standing there for the first time, an amused look on his face.
"Aw, Maddy, don't be like that, babe," his hand was inching steadily toward her waist, but she wheeled around and landed a hard, open-handed slap to the sensitive bruise on the right side of his face. He fell backwards in surprise.
"I said don't touch me," she said, looking down at him angrily. Mark decided to intervene then, stepping off the porch and wrapping his arm around Maddy, his hand settling at her hip.
"Alright, Lancaster, enough's enough."
"Damn you," Lancaster spat, eyeing Mark peevishly.
"Sure," Mark shrugged. "Damn me all you want. But Maddy's made a choice and you have to respect it." He was fighting hard not to gloat or burst out laughing at the visible handprint on the right side of Sal's face. With a good amount of hissing and gnashing, Lancaster turned and walked away.
"How'd he get those bruises?" Maddy asked.
"I may have…beaten up on him once or twice…" Mark replied.
Maddy bit back a smirk. "For me?" she kissed his cheek.
"For you," he confirmed.
"What did Commander Taylor think?" she asked, worried that he may be relegated to trench digging for a year.
Mark paused, trying to recall exactly what the Commander had said to him after finding out the full details. "I believe his exact words were 'good job.'"
A/N: Fin. Hope you enjoyed this series, guys, I really do. I'm so sorry for the delay but I hope it was worth it. Please leave a closing review and a huge thank you to RoryFaller for the use of her OC Will Carter in the fourth chapter. It really helped advance the plot further. And thanks to all the wonderful readers and reviewers to this tale. Yes, I'm aware the end was definitely cliché, which is why I let Maddy slap Sal too. He was asking for it, and I wanted something to break the otherwise sappy story staple: girl forgets, guy keeps at it, girl remembers after big romantic kiss. Please don't be angry with me for following this format, I just do what I think will work. But it's time to go now, so peace! Elvis (well, Ebi) has left the building!