Disclaimer: Falling skies; is copyright to TNT. All Rights Reserved. No copyright infringement is intended, and no money is being made. I claim nothing and own nothing but the laptop I wrote this on, any OC's I have or will include and the storyline (the parts I created of the storyline).
Hal watches, silently, as Maggie pulls all the metal objects out of her clothes – because they're not allowed in the room with the MRI. She pulls out not one, but three pocket-knives. Hal says nothing as she places them on the floor, outside of the room. Next, she pulls out a small chain, which she purposely hides from Hal; she drops it to the floor, along with a metal ring. Then, Maggie pulls off her black leather jacket, and covers the pile of her metal belongings with it.
She stares down at the pile, silently, for a minute – not moving, and not speaking. Her hand, which was had fallen to her side, finds Hal's hand and she intertwines her fingers with his. He is the first to move; he opens the door and leads Maggie inside. And as he does, Maggie can see a glimpse of what Tom meant – about it being impossible to become weaker with Hal, and the Second Mass. With Hal, right now, Maggie feels strong, not weak. He's strengthening her; helping her.
Maggie finds Anne, alone, in the room. The MRI is set up, and ready for Maggie – but, Maggie's not entirely sure she'll ever be ready for it. At this moment, when Maggie's fears come rushing back, she feels Hal squeeze her hand, tighter – a reassuring grip, that does, surprisingly reassure Maggie. That is, until, Maggie's eyes fall down to the hospital gown in Anne's hands.
And instead of moving, or speaking, Maggie stares at the gown like it's something that she's never seen before.
So, Hal speaks for her, he says, "Does she have to…wear that?"
Anne nods, "Yes. The procedure should only go for thirty minutes, at the least. You'll need to remove any metal objects from the-"
"I've done that." Maggie answers, lifting her gaze from the gown.
She pulls her hand out of Hal's, and takes a few steps forward until she's in front of Anne, she reluctantly takes the gown in her hands.
"We'll go wait – in here." Anne tells Maggie, as she begins walking towards the room in which they'll watch Maggie from, when she's in the MRI.
Hal keeps his eyes on Maggie; he shoots her a reassuring look, before he turns completely, and follows Anne into the room, a few feet away. Hal closes the door behind him, and he and Anne turn away from the window – giving Maggie the privacy to change into the gown.
"Hal…" Anne begins; she decides now, with Hal alone, she might try to talk to him about his operation.
"I know what you're going to say, Anne. And, I mean this with no disrespect when I say that there's nothing you could say to make me change my mind," Hal replies, he turns to look at her as he speaks, his voice is calm and soft, there is no anger in it.
Hal's tired of fighting his family, and Maggie, on this – and he won't fight another person. Hal doesn't want to fight anyone on this, anymore. He wants them to understand that he has to do this, not only for himself but for his brother, and all the other children out there – de-harnessed or harnessed. Because, in the future, if they are to ever rid the aliens from earth, Hal fears what will happen to the de-harnessed, and harnessed, children. Will they be considered part of the problem? Will they be removed, from this earth, with the aliens?
Hal won't let them hurt his brother because he promised his mother he'd protected his brother's, and his father. And he'll do that until the day that he dies, and Hal doesn't plan for that to happen anytime soon.
"What if the tumours are back?" Anne questions, after a moment of silent contemplation.
It's a very real possibility. Anne had thought about it – and while there were other ways, other methods of determining if the brain cancer was back, she'd decided that this way was the quickest way, because they don't have the time. And this way, they will gain a conclusive answer on whether Maggie's cancer has returned.
"It's a very serious possibility, Hal. What if Maggie's cancer has returned, will you go through with the operation?" Anne asks.
She stops, and lets out a small sigh a strand of fallen hair behind her ear. She turns, so she's facing Hal, and she takes a small step towards him. Anne genuinely cares for Hal, as she cares for his brothers, and for Maggie – and she doesn't want anything to happen to any of them.
Anne continues, with a soft voice she says, "Maggie will need you, more than ever before, you know that right? And by doing this procedure, you're risking-"
"I know what I'm risking, Anne." Hal says; he speaks over Anne, but not with an aggression voice, still with a calm one, but it also has a cold tone to it. "Believe me. I know what I'm risking….and, if Maggie's…if it's back – I won't go through with it, until she's better."
"What if she doesn't get better?" Anne asks.
Hal hesitates before he answers, he knows very well what they'll do if the cancer returns, and she doesn't get better. They'll go up to the mountains, just the two of them, and he'll spend every last-minute of her life beside her, making it better, easier, happier – making it less painful. And then, Hal's not sure what he'll do – he's not sure if he'll return, or if he'll stay with her, until it is the end for both of them. Whether his end will come naturally, or not…Hal isn't sure if or how he could return after that.
But, that's not important at the moment – what is important is the possibility that Maggie could be cancer free, that she could have an infection, which could be managed and treated.
Their conversation is interrupted by Maggie, who pushes open the door to the room and steps through with a face that is, to Anne, unreadable. But, it isn't to Hal. He knows her, too well. He can see her fear, her panic, her pain and her sadness.
Maggie almost doesn't recognise her shaky, unsteady, soft voice as her own as she says, "Let's get this over with."
Anne nods as she says, "OK. I've just got to check with you, Maggie – you don't have any metal implants?"
"No." Maggie answers.
"And you're definitely not pregnant?" Anne questions.
"Maggie…" Hal begins; his face suddenly becoming more serious than before. "I thought we were keeping that between us?" He adds, as he turns to face her.
A grin spreads on his face, as a small smile falls on her features. "Shut up, Hal. No, I'm not." She answers.
Maggie lets out a small, deep breath as she lies down, flat on the table that is part of the MRI scanner. She closes her eyes, briefly, as the memories of when she was sixteen years old, come flashing back – but she stops them, as she re-opens her eyes. She can't do this – she can't think of those memories, while she's doing this. It's all too painful. It's too much.
Her breathing becomes noticeably heavier, and faster. Hal, who was standing a few feet away, walks towards Maggie's bedside, he drops his hand, slowly, to her elbow; it runs down her arm, gently, until reaching her hand, where he rests it, on top of hers.
"So, Maggie, I'm just going to strap you in – so that you lie still. Are you okay with that?" Anne asks, as she reappears by Maggie's side.
"Yeah…." She answers, with a croaky voice. "That's fine." She adds.
Hal takes a step back, to allow Anne to strap Maggie in, he keeps his eyes on Maggie the entire time, and she keeps her eyes on him.
Next, after Maggie's consent, Anne injects a contrast material, through an intravenous line in Maggie's hand – the dye will allow certain areas to be viewed more clearly. Then, Anne wraps a coil around Maggie's head – it will help to show a better picture.
"How are you feeling, Maggie? Talk to me?" Anne asks, from the other room; she speaks from the intercom.
"OK." Maggie answers.
Hal and Anne are inside the next room, watching Maggie now – she's all alone inside of the MRI, again.
Hal's voice comes over the intercom, as he says, "Would you like fries with that shake?"
He smiles as, down at the monitor in which he can see a smile fall on Maggie's face.
"Don't freak out. I'm right here." He tells her. "We're right here." Hal corrects himself, as he looks sideways at Anne.
"Just close your eyes," Hal tells Maggie, after her smile fades.
She does as he says and closes her eyes, slowly. "Now what?" She asks.
"Now, imagine the mountains." Hal replies, with a soft, calm voice that soothes Maggie. "Hollow caves, the coolness of them against your skin; and the orange sun setting…purple fields."
The two of them can, as Hal speaks, imagine this place up in the mountains. It'd be so peaceful, so calm, and so quiet. And while they both desire that place, together, so badly – neither want it, right now. Because, both know that their reason for going to the mountains, right now, would be if Maggie was dying. And neither wants that.
Maybe – if the day comes that the aliens are gone, and somehow normal life resumes, the two of them can time in the cool, hollow caves, and the illuminated purple fields of lavender.
Before Maggie knows it, the MRI is done. She hears Anne's word, over the intercom, telling her that it is over. But, she says nothing more than that. Maggie's fears, and panic, and pain, comes rushing back as the tables moves out of the MRI.
Hal enters the room, first, and removes Maggie of the straps, and then Anne appears and pulls of the coil.
Maggie pulls herself, up, into a seated position; she allows her feet to dangle of the bed, and she stays seated because if the news is bad, if the cancer is back, she's not sure she'll be able to stand up too long.
Finally, Anne appears by Hal's side.
"You're all clear, Maggie. There are no tumours," Anne tells her, as a smile breaks out on her face around the same time it appears on Hal's.
Maggie looks, in disbelief, from Hal to Anne.
"Really?" She asks; her voice is shaky, and low again. "Oh…." She mutters, unsure of how or what to say.
So, instead of saying anything, Maggie stands from the bed and wraps her arms around Hal's neck, tightly. He lowers his arms to her back and pulls her in, as close as he can. He knew she'd be okay, she had to be. There was no way he'd let them take them from her.
And, the moment that Anne had told him that Maggie was safe – it was one of the happiest moments in Hal's life.
Maggie pulls away from Hal, with hands that are trembling slightly, she pushes the hair off of her face and smiles at Anne, who steps forward and embraces her, in the same way she had in Charleston, when Maggie had broken down in front of her.
"Thank you," Maggie whispers, into Anne's ear.
Anne pulls away from Maggie, with a bigger smile on her face.
"I'll need to diagnose you, to determine that it is, in fact, cellulitis. Then, I'll get you started on the correct treatment." Anne tells her; a little more seriously know, because an infection is never a good thing.
"OK. I'll just…I'll get changed." Maggie answers, with a nod.
Anne tells Maggie, with a soft voice, "We'll wait outside."
After quickly getting changed, and refilling her pockets and combat boots with her belongings, Maggie had followed Anne to a room across the hall. Hal had watching, silently, as Anne had pulled away the small, thin, dry bandage covering Maggie's right shoulder, and arm just below it – Maggie had purposely avoided Hal's gaze when the bandage was gone. There were no welts, or obvious signs of infection on the skin. Anne had determined the extent of the infection - not bad. There were no signs that it had spread. It was what had been causing Maggie to have fevers, and headaches. But, with a cold compress – an ice pack, and penicillin, she should recover quickly, and the fevers should stop coming.
"Thank you…" Maggie says, finally, as she and Hal step out of the empty room.
Anne had left, one minute earlier – Hal guesses she'd left to find Tom, to tell him of the good news.
"For what?" Hal asks, with a cute, puzzled smile on his face.
"Being there…today." She says, as she stops walking and turns to face Hal.
"It's what partners do." He answers, still with the cute smile on his face.
"Mhm," She replies, as she watches Hal for a moment. Her eyes stay locked with his.
"Hi, Hal – my apologies, but could I have a word?" Doctor Kadar asks, as he breaks their conversation. "Oh, again, my apologies – how rude of me…" He adds, as he turns to Maggie. "My name is Doctor Roger Kadar."
"Maggie." She answers, as she looks slowly from Hal to the doctor.
She shakes his outstretched hand, with a small smile on her face – he returns the smile, and then turns to look to Hal.
"How is tomorrow, for you?" Roger questions.
The confusion on Hal's face fades as he realises what the Doctor is asking. He's asking if tomorrow is okay for the operation.
"For the operation, I mean." Roger says, to clear up any confusion.
Hal clears his throat, before he says, "Yeah…Tomorrow's good."
He looks at Maggie as he speaks; he's watching her for some, any kind of reaction. And he gets one. The smile on her face falters for a moment, before it disappears completely.
"Good. When I'm ready, I'll come for you?" Doctor Kadar suggests.
Hal nods, slowly. "Yeah…" He answers.
"Ok. Well, it was a pleasure to meet you, Maggie. And, it was a pleasure to see you again, Hal." Roger says, as he pushes his glasses, which had slipped slightly, back into place. He gives them both a friendly smile before stepping away, and returning to his room.
"Maggie…." Hal begins, as he moves closer to her. He lowers his head, and his voice, as he keeps his eyes on her.
She looks up at him, meeting his gaze, but she stays silent.
"Just…say something. Say something." He says, with a voice that is almost pleading her to speak.
"What…" Maggie stops, to clear her throat – she coughs twice, and then continues, "What can I say, Hal? I'm out of options. I'm just…I need some air. I can't be in – this. And I can' think about that."
"Come with me," Hal tells her, as he takes a step away from her.
He waits for her to join him, but she doesn't move.
"Please, Maggie." He says, with a soft voice.
Maggie, reluctantly, follows Hal – she walks a few steps behind him, and when he looks back at her she tries to avoid his gaze. She thought – she was crazy for thinking that he might change his mind on having the operation. But he hasn't. And their moment of bliss was shattered by the reminder of Hal's operation.
He leads her up three sets of stairs; to a level of the hospital which appears almost entirely empty. On the third level – there is no light. Hal pulls out the torch that Maggie didn't know he had in his pocket, and lights up the hallways.
"Hal- what-" Maggie begins to protest.
Hal knows what she'd say; what are we doing up here? What if there are skitters?
Hal says, with a reassuring voice, "They re-checked the entire hospital before letting anyone inside, Maggie. It's safe. Trust me."
They walk towards the end of this level, and just when Maggie thinks he might be leading her up another set of stairs, to the roof, he leads her right, towards a small hallway with three doors. Hal walks towards the last door, and turns the handle to the room.
As he opens the doorway, Hal steps to the side and waits for Maggie to enter first.
She watches him, cautiously, as she takes the first few steps into the room. She finds that this isn't a hospital room – no, it appears to have been something like a room for staff to relax – Maggie gathers that from the couches she can see in the corner of the room.
"There are no lights, on this level. So…these will have to do." Hal tells Maggie, as she hears him close the door.
He moves forward, to where he remembers setting down candles earlier that day. He pulls out a box of matches, and uses one to light a candle. He then puts the box of matches back into his jacket pocket, and lights the rest of the candles using the flame from the lit candle in his hand.
Maggie sees, now, as the candles begin to light the room – that there is an old, broken television on a small wooden table in the corner of the room. Her eyes flicker over the room – she sees, in the further end of the room, there are two mattresses, from hospital beds, set out on the floor. A thick blanket covers both of the mattresses, which are pushed together. On top of them are several pillows.
"What is this?" Maggie asks Hal, who has finished lighting the candles.
"I thought…instead of sleeping in a hospital room, or outside – I thought this would be OK. Is it OK?" He asks, as he finally re-joins Maggie, who hasn't move since entering the room.
"What if we don't make it through this?" Maggie asks Hal, as she finally lifts her eyes to meet his.
Hal shakes his head, slowly, as he answers, "You're in the clear, Maggie-"
"Not me, Hal. We –what if we don't?" She asks; finally asking the question that has been on both of their minds since Hal came home.
With almost no doubt, Hal replies, "We will, we always do."
"That's my point." She says; after letting out a breath of air she continues, "How many more chances do you think we've got left?"
"We'll…considering our luck, lately – fate owes us a few favours…I think," He answers; he keeps his hazel eyes locked on hers as he speaks.
Maggie shoots Hal a look – which he reads, easily. She's not convinced by his words. Trusting that fate will throw them another favour isn't enough for Maggie to believe.
Hal lets out a deeper sigh of his own as he raises his hands to his head; he runs them over his head, and then down to his neck, he rests them there as he tilts his head to the side, slightly.
"We'll be fine." He tells her, although as the words come out they aren't as confident and reassuring as it sounded in his head.
Maggie shakes her head, slowly, as she asks, "What if it isn't, Hal? Haven't you thought about that?"
"It's all that I've thought about, Maggie. And…if we only have tonight – I don't want to spend it like this…." He admits, as he drops his hands to his side.
Maggie nods, very slowly. She's angry with herself that she's turned Hal's sweet gesture into another mess. But, that's what she does best, Maggie thinks. She creates messes, and she can never clean them up alone. She can't do this alone.
The words escape her lips before her mind registers what she is saying, and she almost regrets them. "What if you bleed out on the table tomorrow – and…and there's nothing they can do?"
"What do you want me to say? That I'm scared? Because I am, Maggie. I am scared. But I have to do this! I have to – I have to save Ben, and myself. I have to stop – what they did…." Hal stops himself, before speaking any further.
He closes his eyes, and lets out a deep breath. He regrets letting those last three words pass his lips. He doesn't want to spend what could possibly be their last night together like this.
"What who did, Hal?" Maggie asks, catching Hal's last line.
What they did? She assumes that he's talking about the skitters putting the harness on his back. But, the flash that appeared in his eyes as he spokes tells Maggie otherwise.
"Nothing…." Hal answers, as he reopens his eyes.
But, for some reason – he wants to tell Maggie. He can't stop thinking what if he dies – he doesn't want to leave any of this between them. If he were to die tomorrow, he doesn't want to leave any of these secrets, or this darkness, between them. He wants to open himself up to her. But, it's so very, very hard and painful. The memories are haunting, and the darkness is tormenting.
"I just….I can't tell you that, Maggie." He tells her, as he drops his head slightly.
Hal turns away from Maggie, and begins walking towards the mattress – he just wants to lie with her, and say no words, because sometimes words are too painful to be said. Sometimes, just being together is enough.
"I was scared, Hal." Maggie admits, as Hal turns his back on her.
He pauses, and slowly turns back to look at her, but he doesn't speak.
"I was scared that I'd lost you. I was so scared, and uh….somehow, we found you. We got you back – and….until now, it doesn't feel like I've gotten you back. Not completely. I just want to know…was it something that I did…"
"No," Hal says; he speaks over Maggie, with a voice that is almost shaky, as he watches her walk towards him. "It was nothing that you did. Not you."
"Then talk to me, Hal. Don't keep me locked out like this. I…I only want to be there, for you. I just – that's all I want." She tells him, as she takes another step closer to Hal.
Instinctively, Hal steps away.
He clears his throat, before he says, "I know, Maggie. You want to help me, but I'd rather…"
"I'm not giving up." She tells him. "I won't run."
"You will." Hal tells her, with a small, sad smile. "You'd run, so far, if you knew..."
"Whatever it is, I will stay here." She replies, quickly.
She didn't have to think about her answer for as second. She will always be here for Hal.
Hal lowers his eyes as he looks down, to his hands, which have fallen to his side. He looks up, slowly, to Maggie. His face; a mixture of pain, anger, and darkness – something Maggie recognises all too well.
"I….I've just…I've got so much blood on my hands, Maggie." He admits to her; his eyes, which appear to glisten, stare down at his hands like he can see the blood as he speaks.
He won't look up at Maggie, he can't. He can't look her in the eyes, right now, and let her see what he sees; the faces, the hauntings and the darkness that he can't erase from his mind. And the blood – oh, the blood is everywhere.
"And…no matter how hard I scrub at them…and how hard I try – I can't. I can't get rid of it. It won't go away…" He speaks with a soft, defeated and desperate voice.
And when he finally lifts his eyes, to look into Maggie's – he sees no fear, hatred or anger in her eyes. No, there is only understanding, and light, and comfort in her eyes.
Slowly, Maggie takes Hal's left hand with her right, and then his left with her right hand – and she holds them, softly but tightly.
And Hal just stares down at her hands, like he's imagining his blood on her hands.
And just as he is about to pull away, Maggie says, "Whatever you've done – it doesn't change you. You're a good, honest person with such a pure heart. And nothing – not the harness, not the spikes…and not the blood – nothing changes that, Hal. And nothing ever will."
"But it already has!" He tells her; after taking in a painful breath.
Now, he pulls his hands away from hers – he can't let the blood touch her purity. He won't let it. He won't bring her into this mess.
Hal shakes his head, repeatedly, as he tells her, "I just-I can't….I let them change me, Maggie…."
"No, no you didn't." Maggie insists, as she moves closer to Hal.
She doesn't drop her eyes from his as she tells him, "Hold onto who you are, inside. Hold onto the things that you love – your family. Hold on tight, and don't let go – because, those things can save you. Hold onto them, and they can never truly change you."
"They already have! I-I….my harness…Karen – she made me... I've done so many horrible things, Maggie. I can't let you-" He begins, but stops to take in a breath of air.
His breathing is heavier now; his chest heaves in and out – he's panicking, slightly, at the hauntings.
And, she speaks to him, through the hauntings. Her voice is soft, understanding and gentle as she says, "Talk to me."
"I can't." Hal replies, quickly.
He can't talk to her. He can't tell her. He can't lose her. He can't forget.
"Let me help you, OK? Let me help you heal?" Maggie suggests.
And despite Hal's avoidance of her eyes, Maggie keeps them focused on Hal. She won't let him fall further into the darkness, into the abyss. She won't let him go down that hole.
"No…." Hal says, still shaking his head, and still avoiding her eyes.
"Well then, Hal - why don't we….heal together?" She asks him.
These words – they make him feel something. What exactly, he isn't sure. But it's something – and he wants to help Maggie heal, more than anything. Maybe, together they'll have a chance at this – at saving themselves from the darkness, from the hauntings – maybe, if they're lucky, they'll have a chance to put an end to all of this pain.
His breathing sharpens, and his chest continues to heave, as Hal prepares himself – he's trying to find the words to speak, to tell Maggie what he's done…and what they did to him.
"They, uh….they put the harness on…" Hal tells Maggie, and as he speaks he can see it happening – he can feel it happening all over again.
His face is filled with repulsion, anger, and pain as he continues. "And….she must have done something…different. I don't-I don't know…They, ah- wanted to know, about the rebel skitters. And about Ben – and I wouldn't say anything….so, Karen – these fish hooks….my chest."
A small, quiet gasp passes Maggie's lips as she breathes in sharply. He doesn't have to finish that sentence for Maggie to understand what Hal is saying. She had no idea that he'd been…tortured - by Karen. She lifts her eyes to Hal, who is watching her – waiting for her to run. But she'll never run, she will never leave him.
"The mech….she made it kill these kids….they couldn't have been older than ten. And, they did it so slowly – god, it almost took a whole day. And….And, I snapped, Maggie. I-I-I couldn't…I…my hands, around his neck…." Hal says, stopping as he takes in a deeper, painful breath of air that does nothing to calm him down.
"He was in so much pain, I just….He wouldn't stop crying, Maggie. They wouldn't stop crying out in pain – and I wanted to end the pain. I just wanted them to stop hurting these kids….my bare hands….I snapped his neck." He tells her – and as he speaks, he can hear their cries, he can hear their screams of pain because of the mechs.
His breathing, if possible, becomes heavier, and his chest heaves more as he lifts his hands to cover his face – and he leaves them there, until he feels her soft touch – her hands, against his, as she lowers them from his face. And as she does, Hal sees that her cheeks are stained with the residue of fallen tears.
"I'm so tired, Maggie. God…I'm so tired…I can't-I can't…." He tells her, as he drops his head, and closes his eyes.
She moves into his chest, and puts her arms gently around him – holding him as tight as she can.
"I'm exhausted." He whispers, into her ear, as he lowers his head so it's wresting on her shoulder.
She speaks with a soothing voice as she answers, "I know. It's okay, Hal."
Her hands, which rest on Hal's back, rub it soothingly until his breathing slows down, to a normal pace.
"I meant what I said earlier…." She tells him, as she pulls away from the embrace. "About your heart being pure – and you being a good, honest person. You are all of those things, Hal, and so much more. You're selfless, and giving, and brave – and you're such a loving person, who'd never want to hurt another human. You have….so much light in you, and there's nothing that could ever change that. You did…the right thing. I know it doesn't feel like it now. But, you spared those children from further pain."
Hal nods, slowly, as he speaks softly, "I just….I wish we could go back, to before…everything."
"We can't. We can only go forward, and sometimes forward is better." She replies, as she keeps her eyes on Hal. "I mean…before – my life before was not good, at all. And then, I found you."
"I don't deserve you," Hal says, with the smallest smile on his face.
Maggie nods, in agreement, as she tells him, "Yeah, you're right about that, Hal. You deserve better."
"Maggie…." He begins to object.
His eyes fall down, to the silver chain around his neck – The Saint Jude pendant. He pulls it off his neck and steps forward as he says, "It's your turn."
Slowly, he lowers it down, over Maggie's head, and to her neck. It sits on top of her hair, so he moves forward and lifts parts of her hair out of the chain, until the necklace is free to hang around her neck.
His hands drop from her neck, and slowly down to his side – but his right hand hesitates, and instead of letting it fall back to his side, like his left hand, he raises is slowly, to Maggie's cheek – where the bruise he'll never forget that he gave her, sits still on her cheek, fading away.
He'll never forgive himself for that. Even with time, he'll never forgive himself for doing that to someone he cared about. And he'll never forget, or never forgive himself for hurting his little brother – whom he loves, so very dearly. No, he won't forget the looks in their eyes when he hurt them.
His hazel eyes meet hers, which flicker from his eyes to his lips. Hal, unintentionally, does the same thing: his eyes falter from her lips to her eyes. Her beautiful eyes that make Hal feel something so strong, and so indescribable.
His fingers, which rest softly on Maggie's cheek, brush gently over her cheek which is scarred from cuts and burns. The scars are fading though; they're not noticeably to the average human eye– it's only when Hal looks in, so closely, he can see the scar. It's fading, like all scars do. His hand moves slowly, and with care, down to the scar on her neck, from the burns – that scar has not faded yet, and nor has Hal's guilt, or pain, when he thinks of Maggie being out there, alone, in pain and frightened.
She closes her eyes as his fingers touch that scar. A small, shaky sigh passes Maggie's lips as she reopens her eyes, to meet Hal's; he's watching her with such intensity.
She lifts her hands, to his cheeks, and pulls him towards her, his hands fall to her shoulders as their lips meet – and there is such intensity, such passion and trust in this kiss.
Hal's hands, which fall down to Maggie's waist, pull her as close to him as is physically possible as she drops her hands from his cheeks, to his neck. He pulls away, for a moment, to rest his head against hers. They're so close now, closer than before.
He watches her with a silent curiosity before finally speaking.
"Maggie…." He says her name.
She knows what will follow that – they both do. He'll want to talk to her about her time with Pope's crew and before that – he'll want to be there for her, to help her heal. She has no idea how much just being there, and listening, and holding Hal has helped him. He won't heal in the next few days, or the year – but it's a step closer to moving on, to growing stronger, and to, eventually, healing. They can heal together. He wants that more than anything.
Her voice is soft, and almost vulnerable, as she tells him, "It's OK."
"I want to help you…." He tells her, as he closes his eyes briefly.
Maggie hasn't moved her hands from around Hal's neck, and he hasn't moved his hands from where they rest around her waist – neither has moved their heads away from the others, either. It's a comfortable closeness between them, and neither wants to break it.
"You have. You are." She replies.
Hal has helped her, more than he'll ever know. He doesn't know how many times she contemplated ending her life, during her time with Pope's gang – and then, Hal and the Second Mass came along. And they saved her – Hal saved her. He's helped her, from the beginning. And now…look where they are. Maggie has never been this close to anyone before, ever. And Hal hasn't either – whatever this is that he has with Maggie; it's stronger, better and more powerful than anything he had with previous girlfriends. Those meant nothing in comparison to what he feels when he's with Maggie – he never thought he'd feel this way for anyone, especially Maggie considering the circumstances that they met under.
But, he fell for her, and she for him. And this is so much more powerful than either imagined it to be. It doesn't have to be defined as best-friends, which they are, or girlfriend and boyfriend – they're partners; that's the only name that they need for it.
Maggie pulls Hal's face, gently, down towards hers and their lips meet again. Her hand travels up Hal's neck, and into the back of his hair. Their bodies stumble backwards, towards the mattresses but stop before reaching them – Hal pulls away, again. It's not that he doesn't want this, because he does. He loves Maggie, and he wants to be with her. But, he's not sure that she's ready. He doesn't…He doesn't want to rush her into this, considering her path. And if she doesn't want to, he's completely fine with that.
"Maggie…." He says her name, again, as his head falls back into place, against hers, like it had moments ago.
"You OK?" She asks him, after opening her eyes to meet his hazel eyes.
"I've never been better." Hal answers, softly.
Maggie nods, slowly, as she moves her head, slowly, away from him. She watches him as she says, "Neither have I."
It's the truth – with Hal, she's better in so many ways.
And, as Hal's eyes fall down to her lips – he's kissing her before his mind registers it.
Her hands, which had rested on his neck, fall down to his chest; she runs them up his chest, until they find his leather jacket– which, with Hal's assistance, she removes from his body. Then, he helps her to remove her own leather jacket.
She pulls away from Hal, as she rests her hands onto his chest – she drops her hands to the bottom of his shirt, and slowly, pulls it up, up over his chest, and then up over his arms until finally, it's gone.
And they stand, together, with the light of the candles flicker through the room – it illuminates them. After discarding his shirt on the floor, Maggie's hands, which are shaking slightly, fall onto Hal's chest – where the scars are. She runs her fingers, gently, over them. After she runs them over the scars once, she lifts her eyes to meet Hal's – he takes her hands away from his chest and leads her towards the mattresses, surrounded by candles, a few feet away.
Maggie lies down onto the bed first – and then Hal follows her, he leans over her. Mirrored in both of their eyes are vulnerability, complete trust – and love. His hands fall down to Maggie's cheeks, as she lifts hers to his. His hands fall, slowly, to the end of her shirt – but, before removing it, before she reveals herself, entirely to Hal – something that she'd never thought she'd do again, for anyone, Maggie speaks.
"Hal…" She says, as her hands stop his from lifting off her shirt.
Secretly, she's nervous, self-conscious, and panicking slightly. She's not perfect – she's far from it. She's scarred, damaged, and broken in places – and she can't help but fear that Hal will see those scars, and those damaged and broken parts of her.
"Margaret." He teases, with a cute smile.
And, she remembers when they were in the civic together, and he'd called her Margaret. They were so close then, and if possibly they're closer now.
Still with the smile on his face, he says, "I won't hurt you, ever again. And I'm never going anywhere."
Maggie hesitates, before she answers, "The last time you said that, you were abducted by aliens…"
'Well, this time I mean it." He says, still with that smile that holds so much power over Maggie.
That smile that makes her feel so many things – that she can't begin to describe.
"I'm yours, as long as you want me," Hal whispers.
"How does….always, sound?" She questions.
And, as Hal looks at Maggie – in all of her beauty, light, vulnerability, he knows that there is no one else he'd want to spend always with.
"Perfect." He replies, still with that adorable smile on his face.
The night is spent – together, with their bodies, and their souls, as one. As the cool breeze sneaks through the cracks underneath the door, and the candles flicker from the wind – they are closer to each other, tonight, than they have been or will be to anyone else, but the other, for the rest of their lives.
A/N: If you're reading this - I just want to say thank you, it really means a lot. And, I hope you're enjoying it. This ones a little bit of a long one, but I thought the longer the better?
Oh, and again my apologies for any grammatical errors - I'm writing these chapters later, and later at night and I do read them over, for mistakes, but I tend to miss a few. So sorry!
In my breaks from studying, I've been writing as much as I can - and hopefully, I'll be able to post the next chapter soon. So, the other night I was sitting in my room, writing out one of the chapters and I had my music playing, and then I heard this really weird sound - so I stopped my music, and I heard it again, and I could have sworn it was coming from my wardrobe, and I kid you not it sounded like a skitter making like the chittering sound? So, my first thought was "They found me. Yep. I'm so dead. There's no point in fighting it." BUT it turns out, it was my Dad, outside, using this screwdriver tool-thing that sounded exactly like a skitter. I think that could be a little hint that I'm a little too involved in falling skies, since my first and only conclusion was that it was a skitter. So, I don't know why I told you guys that, I just thought I'd share it! Anyway, I'll stop before I make my A/N longer than the chapter!
Dear DriftingCloudz; who posted on chapter34:
Everyone does have a lot going on know, and I wont say that all of their problems are going to be fixed in the next few chapters, but they will eventually. Thanks for the review :)
Dear guest reviewer; who posted as Guest; on chapter34:
Thanks so much for reading, and reviewing. I'm really happy that you loved that chapter, and I hope that you are happy with this one :)
Dear guest reviewer who posted as; anonymous on chapter34:
I'm really happy to hear that it was your favorite Ben/Hal moment and that it made you smile :)
There will be so more Ben and Hal moments coming up in the next few chapters.
Thank you so much for reading :)