A/N: Feel that? That's the excitement building! Wanna know why? Because THIS IS THE SEQUEL TO 'LIKE A SHEEP TO A SHEPHERD!' As promised :D This is set sometime en route to Charleston and will likely pan out to be AU. But I will try to bring it in line with the actual season as best I can but bear with me because (obviously) the show is still playing out. As you can see, the title is lifted from a line of Ed Sheeran's song 'The A-Team.' I think it suits this story because Lourdes is about to endure the greatest test of her faith of all.
CUE LONGWINDED EXPLANATION! The character Jamil is perfectly wonderful and he's definitely good for Lourdes. So, as a writer, I took the logical step of killing him off. Boo me. But hear me out: one, because I ship Hal/Lourdes, we can't have Jamil around. Secondly, Lourdes is an underused character in many respects and she's far too nice for everything to go her way. Killing Jamil off would be the most logical action to take. Now, because we're only midway through season 2, this story could become AU at any point. Be patient with me—I'll try to correct any discrepancies as they crop up. And, who knows, maybe Jamil will be killed of canonically by season's end—it seems likely as he's only listed as a guest star (and if I learned anything from Terra Nova, it's that major characters listed as guests are likely going to end up dead.) Anyway, thanks for bearing with this endless author's ramble. I wanted to set the stage. I promise not to be so talkative in my future notes. Now get to the readin' and the reviewin' and I'll keep up the writin'!
They buried him on a beautiful day, crystal clear, sun shining with deceptive warmth. But she felt so, so cold inside. The cross at the head of his grave was fashioned with her own hands. She spent hours finding the perfect branches, whittling them down until the splinters marked both her palms and all ten of her fingers. She fastened them with strips off of her own, white blouse, gathered whatever flowers she could find in the area to lay around the site. And long after everyone else cleared out, she stayed, kneeling at the foot of the grave and shaking, sobbing, crying.
Jamil Dexter may not have been her first love, but he certainly was a love of hers. In him, she had found some semblance of everything she'd once hoped to attain in a man: strong, intelligent, caring. And she'd found some semblance of herself in him too. In the way he had been a student before this invasion ordeal. In the way he, too, hated the war and was afraid of the skitters. But most of all, she loved him.
She loved how he always knew the right thing to say. She loved to hear his voice, calling her Lo like only her best friends ever did. She loved his technical know-how and his ingenuity. And most of all she loved his company, his presence. She loved the fact that he was always ready to talk to her, to comfort her, to brighten even the worst of days.
And now…he was gone. In the blink of an eye he, like nearly everyone else, had been taken from her. She didn't know why, didn't understand. But he'd died right in front of her, cut down by a mech before her very eyes. And no amount of medical savvy or pills or antibiotics or even a miracle could bring him back. Jamil Dexter was really dead. And now Lourdes never felt more alone.
Anne eyed her sympathetically from the rearview mirror of the med bus. She was sitting by herself in the seat, fingering the rosary beads, saying tens upon tens of Ave Marias for him, for the mechanic man she'd left behind, barely buried before she had to go. The silence was oppressive. She sometimes wished someone would say something but no one ever did. No one had anything to say to her, only sympathetic looks and occasional pats on the back that were meant to brighten her day but only sent her mood plummeting. The only sound was the diesel motor rumbling along as the convoy slowly trundled toward Charleston.
Charleston. Charleston was supposed to be their new home. A place where she and Jamil could lay down some roots, hopefully. Enjoy the running water, the electricity, maybe find a house or something. If the town really was the idyllic landscape that the woman in the plane had promised, it wouldn't be too difficult to settle in. And soon, perhaps, they'd have a family of their own. But none of that could happen now. Because Jamil wasn't there with her, would never be there with her again.
The first night, Anne had taken her aside, hugged her tightly, whispered all sorts of condolences. And she found comfort in her mentor—they both shared the same pain, the loss of a man they loved. But Anne had Tom Mason now, and Lourdes had no one.
It was times like right now that she wished she still had Hal Mason. Hal Mason, who could make her feel safer than anyone else, even Jamil. Hal Mason, with his fearless spirit and his great marksmanship and his hazel eyes and his protective instincts. But Hal was gone too, in a much more painful way. He was there but at the same time he…wasn't.
I never should have deluded myself into thinking he cared. Since their paths first crossed so long ago, when this invasion was still just starting, she'd harbored hidden feelings for the boy who was two years her junior. But she had always been convinced that it was just an innocent crush and nothing more. At least, until she'd been stupid and taken a motorcycle from camp, intent on finding med supplies. Hal had saved her that night, saved her from dying.
And over the course of those next four days, they had saved each other's lives numerous times. And they'd kissed. Twice. But in the end, he'd walked off from her, had been cold to her. In the weeks following, every time she entered the mess hall he'd leave, anytime she tried to speak to him he'd dodge her questions or statements. Every so often a look of indescribable sadness would pass over his face but that was as far as his emotions would betray. So now, months later, she had mourned that loss and moved on. But everything comes full circle, doesn't it?
And now, without Jamil to shower her with affection or hug her close, without anyone to offer her any of those comforts, she found herself wishing that she still had Hal. That whatever she'd done wrong in his eyes could be taken back. But how could she win back his approval, his friendship, if he wouldn't even speak a full sentence to her?
Besides, he had Margaret now. A pang of sadness hit her. She envied Margaret sometimes. Most of the time. Margaret was everything Lourdes wasn't. She was brave, cool under pressure, strong, fierce. She was what Hal needed, what Hal deserved. And Lourdes knew in her heart that she could never compete with someone like her.
It hadn't mattered at first. She was even happy that Hal had found someone else. After all, so had she. But now…Hal still had Margaret. And here was Lourdes, all by herself. And now, looking back on it, she felt even worse about herself. Because Jamil had done everything for her. Everything. He had taken her aside, held her hand when she found out her aunt and uncle in Parras hadn't made it. He was good to her. And yet…some part of her still harbored feelings for Hal. Some small part of her held on to the bond they'd forged over those four days. Four days that had meant the world to her. Four days that Hal seemed to forget so easily. I'm sorry, Jamil. I'm so, so sorry that I didn't love you with all my heart. I'm so, so sorry…
The tears were falling now, flowing like they had been for days. She could see it all over again: the terrifying, metallic clank of mech feet stomping toward her, Jamil shouting her name as she heard the cannon whirring up. And then…he was leaping in front of the blast and she could see him flying backwards, above her and she was screaming, crying, scrambling to her feet and running to where he was lying, motionless, lifeless. And still the mechs came, still they marched toward her, not content with the death they'd already caused. It took all the strength she had in her to drag Jamil's body to safety. And there she broke down, weeping and praying that he'd wake up. But he never did. And it was then that she first started questioning why any benevolent God would let this happen to her. It was there that the first kernel of doubt was planted in her.
The bus came to a halt, jolting her from her thoughts. Anne turned around to face her, giving her an encouraging smile. "We're stopping here for the now, it seems. I'm going to step out for a minute," she said softly. "Do you feel up to helping any patients that come in?"
One thing Lourdes was grateful for was how understanding Anne had been throughout the whole ordeal. But patients still needed help and it was Lourdes' job to help them. Her own sadness couldn't get in the way of the needs of the others. She nodded her head. Anne rested her hand on the girl's shoulder for a moment, offering a comforting squeeze before disembarking from the bus.
It was a good fifteen minutes before footsteps outside pulled Lourdes from her void of sorrowful, reflective thoughts. At first, she thought it was only Anne but when a blonde-headed woman stepped into view she perked up, the medic in her taking over.
"Margaret," she acknowledged the scout's presence. "Dr. Glass stepped out…what do you need?" She was already pulling on the latex gloves.
Margaret stretched out her right hand, a deep laceration open and bleeding on her palm. "Dropped my knife," she said sheepishly, her delicate voice resonating in the tight quarters. "I tried to catch it and…well you can see the rest."
Lourdes pulled out an alcohol swab from one of the cabinets and had Margaret sit down before proceeding to clean out the deep wound. With that done, she proceeded to stitch up the woman's palm. When she finished, Margaret inspected her newly stitched-up hand.
"Hal told me you were good with a needle and thread," she noted with admiration in her voice. "He wasn't kidding."
Lourdes looked to her with shock. "H-Hal talked about me?"
Margaret leaned back in the chair, recalling memories, a grin crossing her face. "All the time. He wouldn't shut up about how cool under pressure you are…"
She's exaggerating. He probably mentioned me once at best. "I'm not cool under pressure," she responded, packing up the medical supplies, suddenly unable to look Margaret in the eyes. Karen hated you just for talking to Hal. Don't make Margaret hate you too.
Margaret frowned. "You're kidding, right? I've seen you work. It takes a pretty level-headed person to be able to do what you do. And a damn brave one too."
It was startling, really, to hear those words again. Hal had spoken similar things to her during their time at the farmhouse. "It's funny…Hal said that to me too."
The other woman didn't look surprised. "He wasn't lying."
She knew she shouldn't ask, knew that it would likely be a sore subject for Margaret, but her curiosity got the better of her. "Did he…did he ever tell you…about those four days when he found me?"
She watched closely for Margaret's reaction, surprised when the older woman's face remained serene, almost like she'd expected the question. "Bits and pieces," she confessed. "I sort of figured out the rest."
"Oh." Lourdes was aware that she still wasn't meeting the woman's eyes.
"I know he kissed you." Margaret said suddenly, leaning forward on the seat and resting her chin on her hand. Lourdes turned suddenly, completely caught off guard.
"H-how did you know that?"
Margaret smiled disbelievingly. "It's not that hard to tell—the way you looked at him for a while after you got back. The way he looked at you when your back was turned…"
He looked at me? "Listen…I'm…I'm really sorry about that. I mean, obviously I…"
Margaret cut her off mid-ramble. "Look, I'm not going to lie and say it never bothered me but…I've come to terms with it. Whatever happened between you two obviously meant a lot to you both…"
"Not Hal," Lourdes sighed, sitting down across from the woman, thoroughly surprised at how well she was taking it all.
"Is that what you think? That it meant nothing to him? Lourdes, stop kidding yourself."
The younger girl looked up. It was the first time she'd ever heard Margaret address her by name. "He has you. And you're better for him anyway…"
Suddenly Margaret's hand was reaching across, resting on Lourdes' knee. At first she nearly flinched, expecting to be assaulted but was surprised to find the fighter looking at her almost kindly.
"I…don't think I'm the best fit for Hal," Margaret confessed in a sort of melancholy sigh. "And I know that you're probably hurting over what happened right now but I think you need to hear this, so here goes: whatever Hal and I have is great…we're close friends, partners in the field. But…at the end of the day I can't help feeling like I don't have anything to offer him. I mean, I can shoot a gun. I can watch his back and he can do the same for me but…someone like you has much more to give to him. You aren't a fighter. You aren't always throwing yourself into harm's way and that's really what Hal needs."
A thousand feelings welled up inside of Lourdes. Why is she being so nice to me? Does she really believe what she's saying? And even if what she says is true, it's still far too soon to try to move on, to even consider moving on … "B-but you're…you're a fighter. You aren't afraid. That's really what Hal needs," Lourdes countered.
A look that was altogether sad and distant fell across Margaret's features for a brief moment. "I wish that was true. But Hal deserves someone who isn't gonna get herself blown to bits out there. He needs someone consistent and…I don't have that."
"What does that mean?" Lourdes found herself suddenly feeling a bit angry. I don't want her pity! I don't want her relinquishing someone she obviously cares about just to make me feel better!
Margaret put her hands in the air and leaned back, as if surrendering. "Take it as you will. But if you ask me, Hal needs you more than he'll ever need me." There was a brief pause. "And I think you need him too."
"What about you?" Lourdes challenged.
"Me?" The same sad and distant look flashed across her face once more. "I want what's best for Hal. And if that means that I'm not it, then so be it." She rose now, ready to leave. "Thanks for stitching up my hand." Her voice was reduced to a quiet peep now. "And if you ever want to talk to someone who knows how you feel right now, come find me."
"Thanks, Margaret," Lourdes almost whispered as the other woman headed for the door.
The girl shot her a questioning look.
"My friends…call me Maggie," she shrugged, both a statement and a request at once. Lourdes smiled, nodded her head once to affirm the new friendship and then Maggie was gone.
A/N: I love Maggie. And I don't want her to be this sort of malevolent presence in my story. Honestly, if she and Lourdes had a conversation on the show I think they could be good friends. So obviously, this is Lourdes-centric for the time being. Hal will enter eventually too but I wanted to give Lourdes a sort of 'support' in Maggie and emphasize that this chapter, this sort of unspoken 'permission' that Maggie is granting to her. (Perhaps Maggie is secretly a Hal/Lourdes fangirl? :D Sounds like the beginnings of a crack!fic to me!) Besides, it's obvious that she wants the best for Hal and if she thinks that Lourdes is what's best then I really think she'd give him up. In any event, it may seem like Lourdes is ready to move on too quickly but trust me, Jamil's death will continue to haunt her, especially as the story progresses. We'll even get to see exactly how it happened soon. So review it up and I'll be encouraged to write a bit faster, perhaps! Thanks all!
Song of the chapter: Confessions in the Moonlight and The Collapse of Laputa from the Laputa: Castle in the Sky Soundtrack. They're both essentially the same song, but 'Confessions in the Moonlight' is slower. They are entirely instrumental and yet somehow perfectly capture this sort of sad reverie that Lourdes remains in for most of the chapter. Check it out. The film the soundtrack is taken from is supposed to be quite touching as well.