The After

DISCLAIMER: Aeon Flux is not mine.

-XXX-

He took her hand without question. Aeon looked to their combined limbs. Then up to Trevor, who had a slight "is-this-okay?" smile pulling at his lips. And then, slowly, she smiled back. Without a word, Trevor Goodchild squeezed.

After a few seconds Aeon pulled away, moving closer to the wreckaged, the beautiful chaos that was the first step to freedom from their 400-year-old gilded cage. She wanted to see it. Wanted to absorb the moment so that it would be part of her always – their first moments in an entirely new world.

Foreign sounds, calls and cries, filled her ears. The flora was wild – nothing like the tame topiary of Bregna's public gardens. This was overgrown of massive trees, vines, tall grasses. Sunlight broke through the tree like stained glass, shattering the rays. Keens echoed. Rustling winds moved the leaves. Murmurs of the citizens who dared near made for dull background noise. People were stunned, curious, creeping closer with trepidation. Aeon hung back. She felt the absence of her partner, and drew no closer.

Behind her, Trevor observed silently. She turned back to him, eyes bright – for the moment, all the horror and death of the day forgotten. His hands flexed briefly, already missing her warmth. He smiled again, this time bittersweetly. Aeon returned to him. Together, they faced the future, linked merely by hands and goodwill.

-XXX-

She was unsurprised that the collective of Bregna ultimately decided to keep Trevor Goodchild as their chairman. The council was largely disbanded. Leaders emerged from the community in big public meetings set up by the Monicans in the Capitol's grand arena. Each neighborhood arrived with an entourage and decided delegate who spoke for them. In the two hours it took to discuss, squabble, and arrange, it was almost unanimously decided that Trevor should stay

This was five days after the wall fell.

Ten days following the meeting, the scientists descended upon the crumbled bit of concrete that Aeon had created in her impulse to destroy the Relicle. Trevor headed the group. He wore sturdy clothes and boots, carried a notebook and recorder in a leather satchel, eyes sparkling with the excitement of wonder. They would not, he assured her, go too far beyond the wall. Ought not been gone more than a day, hours at most. This was their first venture out. Caution was key.

She was not worried – Trevor could take care of himself, he'd proven so many times over their day together, running from the council. Between the battering and bullets, he'd shown her an unsuspected strength. He was capable. But the reassuring tone, liquid gaze paired with the hands on her shoulders, squeezing slightly, comforted her quietly, though she did not need it. Aeon didn't say anything as he prepared to take his leave. Merely leaned up to press a cool kiss to his lips. She felt him smile against her. They'd not touched so much since the day the wall fell.

Twelve hours later she found herself on the veranda with creeping ivy and wooden trellises, overlooking Bregna in all of its evening glory. In this new freedom, she might appreciate the city for its beauty. No longer a gilded cage, it possessed a strict and neat kind of prettiness Aeon could enjoy.

But not this evening.

She had a grand view, yes, but her sights kept drifting to the break in the long white line of wall that took the horizon. The crack of blackness that was the scene of the crash. A small vigil stood at its mouth. Family, perhaps, of the scientists.

Was there anyone there for Trevor?

Since the day the Relicle was crashed, Aeon had mostly resided in the Capitol, acting as some kind of a personal bodyguard, advisor, and mediator between the Monicans, to Trevor. He had asked her specifically to stay, right after they'd found each other in the aftermath of the crash. Without much thought, she'd said yes. He needed her. Goodchild's lips quirked, his eye crinkled around the edges, and no more was said between them that night.

He didn't let go of her hand until they were back in the Capitol, and even then he kept her near. Aeon didn't make any gestures to move away once they returned to the Chairman's apartments. Trevor sat them down on the couch, easing them together slowly onto the cushions. Before she could process anything, Aeon was half in his lap, her head against his uninjured shoulder. From seemingly nowhere a teaset was produced. He accepted a single cup from a pair of hands dancing on the outer rim of Aeon's vision. Trevor coaxed her to drink about half of the sweetly spiced brew before she became even sleepier.

An hour or so later they rose drowsily from the couch. Trevor led her to his massive bathroom. Together, they mechanically removed clothing. The shower was scalding, but wonderfully so. His hands never wandered below her waist, merely caressed the curve of her neck, skimmed her belly, or

They'd not slept together since their library incident, and while she was often in his apartments, she had a set of her own in the north corner. When not in meetings, following Trevor, observing the perimeter, or going between small committee meetings, she slipped into the apartment. It was similar to Trevor's, but smaller, with more metal tones than wood, lighter fabrics, and an east-facing window that woke her. Maids were installed to care for her, but the most they did was lay out meals and clean. She would allow for nothing else.

A few nights she returned to her bare little flat. It felt different, though, colder. Strange, that the unfamiliar Capitol should be of more comfort. The change was going to take time to handle, yes, but it's affects on her….

Oh, how she felt different. Freer, even in her service to Trevor, the force she'd sought to remove Bregna of since she was a girl. Working with him, though, she'd never felt so very in-control.

Perhaps it was the very fact she wasn't working for anyone, but with others. Maybe it was the lifting of the Goodchild regime. Maybe it was the taste of truth. The sights of progress. The air of fear had left the city. Uncertainty remained, but with it came fresh, unbridled hope.

It felt good.

Lights on the horizon flickered. More appeared. They were back.

She sat bolt upright, never tearing her gaze away from the small yellow orbs in the distance. One of them was Trevor. In the dusk and with the distance, she couldn't be sure. Never the less, Aeon watched the flickering lights move closer and closer, until the disappeared – presumably entering vehicles – and continued to observe the city, until she felt a pang of consideration. Trevor would be returning, with no one except maybe a butler to greet him. She knew not what condition he might be in, where he was safe, the trip successful, any of it. What if it had not gone well?

Her gut told her nothing had gone wrong. She had not seen any sign of panic when those lights appeared. Aeon wanted reassurance, regardless. Silent, she crept from the veranda, through the gardens and courtyards, across the small bridge that lead to the Chairman's apartments. She encountered a few staff members, all of whom hurried past her with their heads bowed and gazes averted. No one at the Capitol quite knew how to handle the thought of the once-Monican, the woman Trevor Goodchild honored in his household. They whispered of her attempt to take the Chairman's life, then their employer's fixation, spoke of her curious wariness….No matter. She moved past them without a word.

Once in Trevor's apartments, she claimed the couch. On lamp on, so as not to surprise him. And there Aeon waited.

Forty-five minutes passed before the doors slide open and a weary Trevor appeared. To his right strode a stout manservant, carrying the Chairman's satchel. Upon seeing her, Trevor paused, blinking at her. The manservant also stopped. When the Chairman made a shift, waving his hand slightly, the man turned, depositing the bag on a nearby table.

"I'll bring up a tray," he said shortly before disappearing through the sliding circular doors.

Trevor nodded. Once the fellow disappeared, he crossed the polished teak to sink beside Aeon on the leather.

"A successful venture?" she inquired softly. His head found it's way into her lap. Trevor sought her fingers, lacing them with his own, brushing the knuckles with his thumb, considering.

"Yes," he replied, equally soft. "It was…surprising. Different from the records."

"A good different?"

His lips quirked. "It depends on your point of view. It was very beautiful. I am, however, uncertain of the usefulness of the plant life. We saw a few insects, but other life…we'll need to go again."

"Of course."

Aeon breathed.

"It's a start," Trevor said slowly. "What I've…we've been waiting for. Aeon, it's beautiful."

Squeezing his hand, she nodded. They fell into a pensive silence. The tray arrived – soup and bread, along with tea. Trevor ate quickly, his mind burdened with memories of the day. Beside him, Aeon nursed a mug of tea, shifting on the leather cushions quietly, rearranging her tunic.

Another thing that had changed was her wardrobe. She'd had to use clothes in the Capitol wardrobe. This meant close-fitting trousers and loose tunics, things that were easy to move in, but less-suited for espionage. The black suits she'd taken to wearing in her service to the Monicans had filled that role perfectly. But now her duties had changed. She wore light sweaters, belted at the waist, and soft suede boots. Tonight it was a loose silk shirt and cotton navy trousers.

Fifteen days. And already so much had altered…..

Trevor finished, then leaned back into the cushions, dropping her hands to run his own fingers though his salt-and-pepper mane. Their shoulders brushed. Aeon pushed closer.

"It's coming together, Aeon," he said heavily. "We'll survive. The first children not from a test tube should be coming in a few months time. We've broken the wall. Things are progressing."

She did not respond. Trevor continued, describing all he'd seen. He spoke of thick growth, damp, richly dark soil, the massive insects that keened and buzzed. There was a river, a few miles from the wall. Murky, fast, it was like nothing he'd seen before. Perhaps, he reasoned, they might use it to further explore, construct boats or watercraft of some sort. Aeon listened intently. The world beyond the wall sounded wild, over-grown, dark and dense. A jungle. She remembered learning about jungles in school, so long ago. They were dangerous places.

"What shall we do now?" she asked. "After the research? After we figure out what life on the outside is like?"

The heavy silence that followed spoke volumes; Trevor, the leader, their hope, was uncertain. He knew not what would come, knew not what to anticipate, what move he might take. He met her eyes, and she saw wariness of the future.

It ought to have scared her. But Aeon feels the same. She couldn't hope any more than he could.

Trevor finally said it, slowly. "I don't know."

Aeon met his eyes. "Okay," she replied softly. "Okay."

"This is…the After." This is said with a half-smile, the "after" with a capital a. "The beginning I'd always imagined, but never thought I'd see. And now…."

The After. She nodded. Yes. Yes.

"I want you to say, Aeon," he said after a long pause. "I don't…I don't know what you've planned, but stay. You can do more good here than out there, alone, in the city. The capital needs you…."

He drifted off, gaze distant, nearly frosted with heavy thought. He took her hands thoughtlessly. A thumb brushed her knuckles. Musing. Waiting.

"Yes."

Trevor didn't look at her, but his lips curved up into a smile. No "is this okays?" He's stopped asking. She's beyond caring. The once-chairman squeezes their combined limbs. He smiled again, this time bittersweetly. Aeon – to stay with him. Together, they faced the future, linked merely by hands and goodwill.

-XXX-

I love this movie, I love the chemistry…and I needed a break from Avengers! This is a kinda-follow up to Haunt, my thoughts on the afterwards of the crash.