Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of Kudos and BBC. The original characters and plot are the property of the author of this story. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any previously copyrighted material. No copyright infringement is intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: It's finally here, guys! The ending of BROKEN and it's a very clean version, surprisingly. Thank you for hanging in there till the very end, and hopefully Lucas gets the happy ending he truly deserves. It turns out that I love having "lots of drama before the nirvana" and I hope you enjoy this epilogue.
it's been difficult saying good-bye to Lucas but it has to be done for now...
THIS PORTION FOLLOWS AFTER ROS MYERS' FUNERAL IN SEASON 9, EPISODE 1. AND ONLY AFTER THE FUNERAL...WELCOME TO THE ALTERNATE WORLD OF LUCAS NORTH.
Once again, thank you for all your votes and comments. I really appreciate them all.
TWO YEARS LATER...
The envelope was on top of his desk when Lucas arrived at the Grid after attending Ros' funeral. There had been no need for him to go to work, and for a few hours, Lucas found himself walking through London, watching families and couples at the London Eye where he finally decided to simply stroll through the aquarium and lose himself among the visitors.
With Ros gone, killed in an explosion that also claimed the life of the Home Secretary, the Grid was silent, as if the walls, too, mourned her passing. He had grown to admire Ros, the "ice queen" as he had playfully called her, although it was a term that many had already tagged her with long before Lucas returned to London.
There was a steeliness to Ros that Lucas admired, a firm resolve in everything she set her mind to. She had been there to help him get used to being back on the Grid after Adam died, and although she was appointed section chief, a position Lucas once held before he was betrayed in Moscow, Ros had given him some autonomy with his work, allowing him to go offline now and then.
Had it really been two years since he first arrived from Moscow, Lucas thought, too "damaged" as they thought him to be?
He'd been trying to prove them wrong ever since, though it had been a hard-won battle that in the end, Lucas realized that the only person he needed to convince was really himself. Was he really as damaged as they considered him to be, once the golden boy of Section D and youngest ever to be appointed chief before he was betrayed in Moscow?
Lucas sighed, his eyes drifting towards Ros' empty desk. Already Human Resources had emptied it, and though Ros had never been the type to put up picture frames of family members or pets - not that she even had a pet - or even little knick knacks from vacations past, Lucas missed the binders that constantly piled upon her desk, reports that she had to fill out after every operation.
A melancholy settled upon Lucas, weighing upon his shoulders as he sat at his desk, looking at nothing in particular. He was at the Grid, yet he wasn't. He thought of Adam, remembering the way the man drove through London shortly after Lucas had arrived, recalling how he had been the first one to welcome him into the fold, treating him as an equal, and not an outsider that Harry seemed to have treated him at first.
Then there were Ben Kaplan and Jo Portman, both gone, too, having died too soon in the line of duty. Adam, Ros, Ben, and Jo. Every single one of them, gone.
Even the loss of Connie James bothered him, too, even if she did turn out to be the mole inside Section D, the very mole that Alexa had warned him about. She had always been nice to Lucas, and had shown much concern for Alexa and Liam when they were still around, frantic when she first heard that they had been taken by someone else.
Yes, even the loss of the traitor Connie affected Lucas to a degree, though not as deeply as the deaths of the others did, especially Ros.
So many deaths, Lucas thought, and yet the Grid went on. For the country needed to be defended all the time and there was never a time to let one's guard down. A heavy weight seemed to press upon his chest and Lucas pulled up his chair and sat down.
When would his turn be, he wondered?
He glanced at his watch. It was close to midnight now and he knew he had to get home soon and get to bed. It would be another day defending the realm in a few hours and already, Harry had hinted that he was next in line to be Section Chief.
Lucas picked up the envelope and turned it over. He recognized Ros' handwriting on the front of it where she wrote down, 'For Lucas North only - personal', and beneath the words in pencil, I'm sorry.
Lucas turned it over again. It was thick and heavy, a rubber band wrapped around it. Because of the lateness of the hour, Lucas wanted to review its contents elsewhere but the Grid. Within seconds, he slipped his coat back on and left.
Outside, the air was crisp and wet, a light drizzle having just fallen that left the streets slick from the rain. Lucas pulled the collar of his coat up over his ears and thrust his hands in his pockets as he made his way towards home. He hailed a cab as he reached the major intersection and jumped in just as rain began to fall again.
"Where to, mate?"
For a few moments Lucas was silent, his fingers playing with the keys in his pocket. When the driver asked again, he found himself saying two words that he hadn't said in almost two years. When he gave a start, the driver looked at him curiously.
"Are you sure?" Asked the driver. "You don't quite seem to be sure where you want to go."
Lucas smiled drily. "Just go."
The drive to his destination took about fifteen minutes and as Lucas walked up the steps, he found himself stopping in front of the door, almost afraid to unlock it and step inside. Behind him, the taxi drove off, leaving the street empty except for the parked cars on both sides of the street, their windshields glittering in the rain.
Lucas took a deep breath, unlocked the door and stepped inside.
The last time he'd been inside Alexa's Trevor Square flat, he had knelt down on one knee and asked her to marry him. He had given her the ring his mother had passed onto him but in less than three days, she was gone from his life. Lucas had not seen her since.
His chest tightened as he inhaled the stagnant air of Alexa's flat. She had signed the George family trust over to Lucas, something that Lucas had never wanted the responsibility over. For weeks he had found himself unable to enter both the Trevor Square flat and the one she had purchased under the name of his legend in Russia, Dimitri Ilyakov.
By the third month, Lucas decided to sell the Spitalfields flat, assigning Alexa's solicitor Fred Mortensen to handle all the details. The proceeds of the sale went straight into the trust for Lucas did not need the money. He'd received adequate compensation from the Service for the eight years he had spent in Russia, opting to rent his own flat instead of purchasing one.
Lucas had also given Mortensen power of attorney to make sure that the Trevor Square property was maintained regularly. This included a cleaning lady who came in every two weeks to clean the place, as if its owners were simply on vacation and were expected to return soon. With the annual taxes and utilities paid automatically, Lucas had no need to enter the place, and hadn't done so in almost two years.
Lucas did not want to know anything more about Alexa, her estate or anything that had to do with the George name. She had taken his son away from him and for two years, she had never once contacted to him to tell him where they were.
He feared that maybe she was dead, and if she was, then it would be easy for Lucas to forgive her. She had been shot at the airport when they were boarding the plane, but what of Liam? Wouldn't someone have at least told Lucas what had become of his son?
But even Fred claimed that he had never heard from Alexa or Liam at all. And even though he had attended Alexa and Liam's memorial, he told Lucas that because there had been no formal medical examination done on a body - because there was none - he treated Alexa and Liam as if they were still alive.
As if they were simply on vacation, Lucas thought sarcastically.
The thought of Fred made Lucas pull out his mobile phone, and as he reviewed the list of missed calls and messages, he recognized three calls from Fred two days earlier and another one just a few hours ago. Lucas realized that he hadn't even bothered to listen to the messages at all, having had to deal with Ros' death and the debrief that followed afterwards.
Surely being thrown more than ten meters away from a massive building explosion would have accounted for Lucas to be quite indisposed and thus unavailable to return calls to Alexa's solicitor? Though in many respects, Fred was his solicitor now, too, since Alexa had passed on all her affairs under Lucas' name.
But Lucas was in no mood to listen to any more phone messages, read emails, or rescue anyone at the moment. He only wanted to inhale the air his son had once breathed, and feel the essence of the home his son had spent the first nine years of his life in.
And of course, there was Alexa, too, but it hurt Lucas too much to think of her, even though it had been two years since he'd last seen her. Nothing, he realized now, had been able to ease the pain of her leaving him the way she did.
It felt like a betrayal, one that Lucas knew he was still angry about. It was something that had been much easier said than done - that he would be able to weather through the separation, as temporary as it was. But when it happened the way it did, with all the violence and the death that surrounded it, it had proved too much for Lucas. And for some reason, he found that he blamed Alexa.
When he found out that Valentin was her father, first because of the photograph he had found at the flat and second, from the paternity results that Harry showed him the following day, he wondered whether Alexa did recognize Valentin at the brothel but pretended not to.
He'd seen no sign at all of her not recognizing him, yet the hurt he felt laid the blame solely on her for every wrong he felt. It was simply easier that way. It made each day easier to deal with, knowing it was someone else's fault.
Five days after Alexa and Liam had flown out of Luton Airport, Malcolm had been able to track down CCTV images of Valentin and his driver from the airport hangar camera. The images had been blurry, the camera being too far from the subjects in question but when Malcolm enhanced the images, Valentin's features were unmistakable.
And so he had saved Alexa and Liam, Lucas thought, yet he had not received word from Valentin, Alexa or Liam at all. His contact at the FSB remained his ex-wife, and even she could not tell Lucas what had happened to Valentin, only that he had been replaced by someone else.
Valentin Durev had simply disappeared.
They had tracked the plane to Geneva, and from there, the trail went cold.
There were so many questions that had been left unanswered, Lucas thought, and he had grown weary of trying to seek answers for them. What he needed now was simply closure.
After all, it had been almost two years since Lucas saw that plane take off with the woman he thought he loved and the son he barely had been given time to be with, and the pain had burrowed deep within him, finding refuge in his dreams. For a few months, he thought a relationship with someone new would temper the pain but instead it smoldered beneath everything he had tried to build between him and Sarah Caulfield, the CIA operative he had grown to care for.
Lucas had met Sarah almost one year ago, and within weeks, the attraction between them grew till they kissed on top of London Bridge, an act that caught Lucas by surprise. It was then that Lucas realized how lonely he had been for the past year since Alexa had disappeared.
The feel of Sarah's hand upon his chest that night after they kissed had sent chills up and down his spine, and Lucas threw all caution to the wind then, ignoring to file the requisite S24 'Permission for Socialization' form to have her vetted by Harry before he found himself in her arms night after night.
But in the end, betrayal again had cropped up in his life, tainting what he had with Sarah even though she appeared to have fallen for him. Her betrayal culminated in one chilling day that found Lucas losing not just Sarah, but Ros as well.
Lucas looked around him. Everything seemed alien, yet familiar somehow. He knew that in the wake of losing both Sarah and Ros, he wanted to be somewhere where he felt safe - where he knew he could feel a semblance of home, even if it meant that it was someone else's.
He could not make himself to go to Tring for yet another psychological assessment. They were too cold, methodical, every word he uttered caught on tape for review by the superiors who would determine whether he was fit for duty or not. And Lucas already knew how some people at Thames house still considered him too broken, too damaged to be as effective as he used to be before Moscow.
He needed to be some place neutral, he thought, where no one would judge him.
Climbing up the staris, Lucas entered Liam's room.
Turning on the light, Lucas felt his chest tighten at the sight of the boy's room. His toys still sat by the head of the bed, teddy bears that seemed to wait for their owner to return and embrace them. He wondered if Liam had grown a few inches since he had last seen him. Liam would be eleven now, Lucas thought. Would his voice have started to change, the way Lucas' did when he was at that age? Would he be gangly and all arms and legs?
Lucas found himself smiling at the thought and as he heaved a long sigh, he lay down on the bed, resting his head on his son's pillow. He realized then that he still hadn't taken off his coat and as he sat up and shrugged the coat off, the weight of Ros' envelope made him pull it out and look at it again.
The words I'm sorry took him by surprise. For as long as Lucas had known her, Ros never apologized for anything. So why apologize now?
He pulled the elastic band that kept the thick envelope secure and ripped the flap open. As he peered inside, he noticed that he was looking at what looked like letters.
As Lucas tore open the envelope, a smattering of letters written in a child's hand tumbled onto the bed. With trembling fingers, Lucas picked the first letter he got his hands on and tore open the envelope.
Tears sprang to his eyes as he began to read Liam's letter that began with the words, Dear Daddy...
From the balcony, Alexa watched Liam catch a wave, his body straining as he worked to keep his balance on the surfboard, laughing as he did so till he toppled backwards into the water as soon as he surfed closer to shore. Liam was getting better each day, Alexa thought, though she reminded herself not to call him by his real name but the name that he himself had picked out when they were still in Geneva.
Alexa glanced at her watch. It was close to three in the afternoon and Liam had been in the water since morning. One thing about Barbados that she was grateful for, out of all the places they had traveled to since leaving London, was that Liam loved the ocean. Despite the sunblock lotions she insisted that he slather on every time he left the house, he still developed a tan everywhere the sun had touched him.
At eleven, he had grown so much taller, towering over many of the children his age at the school. They both loved Barbados and its easygoing people, its tropical weather and most of all, Liam loved that he had met many kids just like him.
There was a prominent English community in the area and though Alexa had been wary of them at first, afraid that someone would recognize them, she knew that even if they did, what would happen? She had dyed her blonde hair a dark shade of brown, with light burgundy highlights that caught the sun's rays and accented her large green eyes more than she ever realized.
The dark hair had made her more striking, something she wasn't too excited about. It attracted too much attention, something she wasn't used to. Even Mario, Liam's surfing instructor, had asked her out more times than she could count, saying that she was his goddess.
"Mario, you are one smooth talker," Alexa told him every time, but Mario remained persistent, always feigning disappointment each time she turned him down. She knew he had a slew of girlfriends who partied with him every night, but Mario was not one to let a pretty woman to pass him by.
She knew that Mario had been quizzing Liam over their history and Alexa was glad that ever since Geneva, they had worked on their history till it almost seemed ingrained in their pores.
As Natalie Hunt, she was a computer analyst who had taken a year off with her son, Christopher to travel the world. After Geneva, where she handed over the rest of Tiresias to the man who was her real father, Alexa and Liam made their way down to Catania, in the east coast of Sicily, for four months, before making their way to Thailand.
There, they lived among the hill tribes of Chiangmai for two months before making their way to Australia for the next four months. Their next stop was Argentina, where Alexa searched for Minerva's surviving relatives, wanting to learn more about her mother and give Liam an opportunity to discover part of his heritage.
For the next two months, they stayed in Buenos Aires, till Alexa decided to finally settle down permanently in Barbados. It had been Valentin's suggestion that she choose Barbados because it would remain neutral no matter what would happen with the rest of the world. He had hinted that there was talk of a new world order about to take over, and it was best to be in the neutral zone when it happened. Alexa had wondered then if he had been joking, but after Valentin found them in Buenos Aires and begged her to settle down, at least for Liam's sake, she relented.
Alexa had no regrets.
She and Liam both fell in love with Barbados the moment they landed at Grantley Adams International Airport. They found a small villa by the beach that had once been a small restaurant but had since fallen into disrepair after being damaged by a storm. The owners, an elderly couple, had resisted most everyone's efforts to purchase the property for development, but had liked Alexa and Liam immediately, charmed by Alexa's desire to turn it into a private home and keep the original foundation intact.
It was during this time that Alexa, who had been relying on the money she had set aside in the Geneva bank account for their everyday expenses, knew that she would need to finally tap into the trust account that Lucas had under his name if she were to purchase the beach front villa. But it was impossible to do without having to go to London directly.
And so, one year after leaving England, Alexa and Liam did something they had been forbidden to do.
They flew into London around the same time an explosion rocked the Western Sands Processing plant in Essex. Armed with their new identities, she was confident that they would not be recognized, although Liam was determined to find Lucas.
It had taken everything in Alexa's power to keep Liam by her side at all times until she secured a private meeting with Fred Mortensen, who met them at a recently vacated flat the George trust owned. It was as if the years had made him truly cynical about life, and nothing seemed to shock him anymore. Fred had always known that they were both still alive, for he had never seen proof of a body when he had sought confirmation of their deaths.
The only confirmation he had received had been from Harry Pearce, and Fred knew better than to believe him. For after all, he himself had helped Nathaniel disappear years earlier.
Fred told her that Lucas had given him full power of attorney on all dealings that involved the trust, which made his ability to transfer the funds into Alexa's Barbados account quite easy.
"So he has washed his hands of us?" Alexa asked, a tightness forming in her chest.
Fred frowned, not knowing exactly how to answer the question. "If you mean financially, then yes. But if you want to know whether he still cares for you, that I cannot answer. I haven't spoken to him for over eight months."
Two nights later, after the gas shortage crisis had somehow been averted in the media, Alexa left Liam asleep inside the hotel to take a walk outside, and get some air. She missed Lucas and wanted nothing more than to feel his skin against her, feel the stubble along his chin tickle her neck when he'd bend down to kiss her there. She wanted to feel his arms around her again.
Alexa pulled out her mobile phone and scanned through the numbers she had still memorized inside her mind, much against Valentin's orders that she let the past go and wait for Lucas to find them. She was leaning against the bridge railing when she looked up and saw the couple on the opposite side of the bridge.
At first she thought that the man, as he leaned forward to kiss the blonde woman before him, reminded her so much of Lucas. It was in the man's bearing and the way he tilted his head to kiss her. Alexa averted her gaze, embarrassed by her unabashed stare at their direction, touched by the simple gesture of a kiss between them that deepened the longer she watched them.
But it was when the woman began walking away that Alexa found herself staring at the man who stood to watch her leave, his hands in his jacket pocket. When Alexa hit the 'call' button on her mobile phone, she shut her eyes as the man's phone rang and he reached into his coat pocket to answer it.
"Hello," Lucas said and Alexa turned off her mobile phone immediately, glad that she had purchased a one-use phone. She tossed it into the water and turned her back on Lucas.
Lucas looked down at his mobile phone and looked around him. A few people walked past him and across the bridge, a woman stood by the railing with her back towards him, her attention on something in the water below her.
When Alexa turned to look at his direction, Lucas was gone.
The following day, Alexa and Liam left England, this time for good.
She swore never to shed another tear for Lucas ever again. She swore she, too, would move on just as quickly as he had. But the idea of moving on for Alexa had taken a different form. She didn't seek the comfort of another man's arms to heal her broken heart.
Instead, Alexa buried herself into the work of renovating the villa. She got her hands dirty alongside the workers, wanting nothing more than to distract herself from what she had seen that night in London. Even they had learned to let her be, recognizing the actions of a woman hurt by something she refused to talk about, spurning the advances of the young surf instructor who came to spend time with her son almost everyday, sometimes acting as if he were his surrogate father.
She was never into do-it-yourself projects and even the workers had to admit behind her back that Alexa muddled the work more than she enhanced it, but they simply worked over whatever she finished and pretended that everything she touched had turned to gold. She was, after all, paying them pretty good money.
Through it all, though Alexa's heart ached, she refused to let the tears come. She refused to be so weak, so gullible.
She never told Liam what she had seen, but she knew that Liam kept to himself at certain times of the day since they left London the first time, writing on what looked to Alexa like a diary. She had asked him once why he was writing down his 'memoirs,' as she jokingly called them, and he simply said that he wanted Lucas to know what he had been doing all this time when Lucas would finally join them.
When Alexa caught him sneaking out of the villa to hand a letter to the postman, she knew then that Liam had been writing Lucas since they left Geneva.
"Do you know how much you've jeopardized both of us, Liam?" She has asked him then, too late to stop any of the previous letters Liam had dispatched since Geneva. "What if the bad men found those letters before they reached your father? They will find us, and you know what they will do to us."
It was enough to scare Liam from writing any more letters to Lucas, the last of his letters having been sent just before they sneaked into London.
Alexa worked herself ragged from morning till night, having only enough time to think about what needed to be done next with the renovations before drifting off to sleep, too exhausted to think of anything else, especially Lucas.
The renovations took almost six months and when it was over, Alexa understood just what it was about ownership that had prompted Nathaniel to continue purchasing property throughout London during his lifetime before Moscow. There was a certain satisfaction to be had, she thought, though she knew that Nathaniel had never once lifted a hammer to strike a single nail, choosing instead to pick up the phone and designate the work to the contractors.
Yet the satisfaction was the same, she thought. It made her feel proud about the villa, the home she had built for her and Liam. And should Lucas ever return, for him, too.
As she watched Liam watching Mario demonstrate another move on the surfboard, Alexa noticed the man walking in the distance. The beach where Liam and Mario were surfing was designated as a private beach, part of what she had paid for when she purchased the villa. She did allow some people to swim, of course, but it clearly was not open to the public.
Alexa stared at the visitor. He wore an olive green shirt over dark pants, his hands in his pockets. There was something familiar in the way he walked, in the way he carried himself. He was tall, and he was quite muscular yet lean, slim hips over long legs.
Suddenly she heard Liam shout in the distance, saw him throw himself into the shallow water and run towards the visitor. Mario yelled for Liam, following closely, surprised by the boy's sudden exclamation.
Alexa took a few steps back from her balcony as Liam lunged himself towards Lucas, his arms clinging around his father's neck. Alexa brought her hands towards her mouth, stifling the gasp that threatened to come forth just as Mario turned to look towards the house, his eyes searching for her.
But Alexa had disappeared into the shadows.
The tears had finally come, and she could do nothing to stop them.
Lucas did not mind that Liam monopolized him on the beach, his surf instructor hovering around them like a hawk, watching Lucas suspiciously. When Liam introduced Lucas to Mario, the blonde man shook his hands, reluctantly leaving them alone when Lucas asked for some privacy.
Lucas watched the man skulk away from them and make his way towards the beach side villa that gleamed in the sunlight. Where he had seen Alexa's form standing on the balcony earlier, Lucas noticed that now it was empty.
It was Fred Mortensen who had told Lucas where to find his family. He had been calling Lucas the same day that Lucas discovered the letters to inform him that he was retiring, and that he could no longer be Alexa's solicitor. With hardly two hours' of sleep, Lucas met Fred at a nearby park where the older man finally told him that he knew where Alexa was.
The old man apologized for having kept the information from Lucas, but he had done so because Alexa had begged him to keep it a secret.
"I'm old, Mr. North," Fred said. "And all I want to do now is spend the rest of my life in the country where my wife's family has a house. My wife stays there now most of the time, while I have to stay here to maintain the only account I have kept separate from my partners."
"Alexa's," Lucas said.
Fred nodded. "Yes, and it's time for me to let it go. I just wanted you to know that you will need to find a new solicitor, or..."
Lucas frowned. "Or what?"
"Join them, of course," Fred smiled faintly. "I know where they are. That is, if you want to join them at all.."
It took Lucas almost two weeks to finalize the decommissioning process that would make him a private citizen and no longer part of the British secret services. Part of the delay of the process had been Harry's insistence that Lucas did not need to leave the service permanently.
"You're MI5, Lucas. You've always been MI5 and you will always be MI5," Harry had told him. "It's in your blood."
Lucas found himself shaking his head. "No, Harry. It's in your blood more than mine."
Lucas found that he couldn't tell Harry or anyone else on the Grid where he was going. If Ros had still been alive, Lucas would have at least told her, he thought. He trusted Ros with his life, and the discovery that she had disobeyed the rules involving the surrender of Liam's letters to Special Branch only confirmed what he believed about her.
"When Tom left the service," Harry began. "He had become disillusioned and had lost the edge that made him an excellent officer. You still have that edge, Lucas. You're one of my best officers and I hate to lose you."
Lucas smiled wryly, the left side of his lip curling upwards as he glanced at Harry. "Tom used to tell me that to do this job, you have to put a part of yourself - your real self - into a box and keep it at home," Lucas said. "Then when you came home, you took out that box, open it and say to that hidden self, 'hello, real self.'"
Harry smiled wistfully. "Tom was too idealistic, Lucas."
"I'm tired, Harry. I just want to..."
Lucas' voice drifted, and he shook his head. "I've made my mind, Harry. Nothing you do or say will make me change anything."
As he made his way towards the pods, knowing that he was going to be late for his exit interview with Human Resource, Harry called out his name.
"Have you heard from her?" Harry asked.
Lucas' face was indecipherable. He knew Harry was watching him closely, waiting for a telltale sign that Lucas was lying. But Lucas had perfected that craft a long time ago. He'd been a lying bastard for far too long.
"They're long gone, Harry," Lucas said before turning away from the man he'd called his mentor for as long as he could remember. He slipped through the pods and made his way to the exit interview that would be one of the final steps towards his freedom.
Liam tugged at his arm, bringing Lucas back to the present. The boy was tanned now, his dark hair streaked with highlights from being in the sun. He had grown so much since Lucas had last seen him. Liam was taller now, too, much taller than most children his age, though Lucas wondered if Liam could still be called a child.
At eleven, Liam still had some of the chubbiness of childhood, but living by the beach and surfing had given his developing frame some leanness. I must look like a ghost next to him, Lucas thought, his pale skin hardly having ever seen sunlight in ever-cloudy London. For even when London had been sunny, he had often found himself inside the Grid instead, his pale skin forever remaining ghostlike as the days turned into months.
"So what do you want me to call you?" Lucas asked him as they sat on the beach, watching the waves come in. The tide was pulling back now as the sun continued to sink lower in the sky. The breeze was cool upon Lucas' skin and he was glad that he'd lathered on as much sunscreen as he could before venturing out of the men's bathroom at the airport an hour earlier. He was exhausted from his flight but he couldn't bear to spend one more minute away from them.
"I'm Christopher now," Liam said with a smile. "Like Christopher Robin in Winnie the Pooh. Mum had me choose what name I would like."
Lucas already knew what their names were, but he still wanted to know how Liam preferred to be called. Fred had told him everything.
"You're going to need swimming trunks if you're going to live with us," Liam laughed. "Do you like the ocean?"
Lucas smiled. "I like it so far," he said. "I was watching you surf earlier. Maybe one day you can teach me."
"I can teach you now. Mario is an excellent surfer and he's been my private instructor for almost four months."
The mention of Mario's name prompted Lucas to look towards the villa where the blonde man had disappeared into. Alexa had not come out to welcome him at all. Lucas got up and dusted the sand from his pants. He helped Liam up to his feet. "I need to see your mum, Liam," he said. "Can you take me to her?"
"I think she's mad at you," Liam suddenly said, almost sheepishly. "She thinks, well, she thought you were never going to come for us."
Lucas drew the boy against him, inhaling the scent of the ocean in his hair and his skin. He couldn't form the words about how it felt to hold Liam in his arms, and feel the boy's arms go around his neck. "I'm sorry," Lucas said. "I wish I could have come sooner, but I'm here now. And I'm not leaving you anymore."
Liam led him into the house, holding Lucas' hand as they followed the stone path that led them through the gate framed with bougainvillea flowers spanning the length of the fence around one end of the property. Above them, the balcony where Lucas had seen Alexa was framed with white jasmine flowers whose scent filled the air.
There were palm trees and fruit trees the further they made their way in, and Lucas could feel how the breeze from the ocean seemed to grow gentle within the area that was now the verandah. There were two outdoor tables with umbrellas from where twinkling lights hung of various colors, and wind chimes sounded with each gust of the wind.
Lucas had never been to any place such as this, and for a few moments he simply stopped to look around him. Alexa had made a home for themselves here, he thought - with or without him.
The table had been prepared for them, two servants rushing to and fro bringing dishes and silverware and arranging them all on the table. Liam introduced them both to Lucas, their eyes growing wide as they looked from one to the other. They'd never once heard Alexa say anything about a husband.
"You must be hungry, Lucas," Alexa said, as she emerged from the house and for a few moments, Lucas found himself holding his breath. Her long hair was dark brown, with reddish highlights that accented her features. It made her more striking than he remembered, and he saw that she'd acquired a light tan, which gave her skin a healthy glow.
But the two years apart had created a distance between them and as they touched, Lucas could feel the resistance from the way she held him, as if she wasn't quite sure that she wanted him there. Was he imagining it? Was she simply upset that he had waited this long to join them?
Dinner was splendid, spent outside on the verandah as the sun sank in the horizon, leaving them surrounded by the hundreds of twinkling lights above them. The villa used to be a restaurant, Alexa told him, and the dining area had extended to the outdoors, where they now sat. Liam took over some of the history of the place, pointing out the little things he had done to contribute to the renovation.
Mostly, though, it was to leave his mark on the cement tiles to indicate that 'LC was here' and Lucas suspected that Liam had probably combined both his given name and the name he had now chosen for himself.
When Lucas asked where Mario had gone, Alexa said that he had left and had opted not to stay for dinner, though Liam said that Mario had always joined them for dinner whenever he could.
Alexa never asked Lucas what had taken him so long to join them. She never told him that she'd seen him at London Bridge kissing another woman. That was the past, she thought to herself. She'd worked out all her rage into the villa and it had been cathartic for her to do so. He was a man with needs, she thought. She couldn't blame him for being with someone else, for after all, he was sitting in front of her now, their son telling him about the history of Barbados and the perfect place where they could swim with sea turtles.
Lucas North had finally come for them.
By the time dinner was over, and as they made their way into the house where Liam showed Lucas every little nook and cranny there was to show, including his room that revealed Alexa's attempts at painting pathetic looking clouds in the sky (which the workers had not been succesful enough in painting over), Liam was about to nod off. When he did, Lucas helped him into bed, realizing that in Barbados, there were no shoes to slip off or socks to peel off from growing feet - just the trusty pair of rubber slippers that everyone seemed to wear around the island.
It was going to be a different life, Lucas thought, so different from the one he had been used to for so long. Outside the sound of crickets blended with the crashing waves in the distance along with the occasional whisper of the leaves in the trees. It was a different life, he told himself, but it was a life he wanted more than any other.
It was a life with them.
Lucas found Alexa on the balcony overlooking the garden below, the stone path leading out to the beach shining in the moonlight. Clouds had gathered in the horizon. The smell of the ocean air felt refreshing and invigorating and he watched her turn her head towards him when he approached.
Lucas wondered why they were suddenly awkward around each other, as if they had just met for the first time that day. And for a moment, he felt like they did just meet for the first time. So many things had changed in his life since he last saw her.
He wondered if so much had changed in Alexa's life as well. Lucas wondered if she still loved him although during dinner, he noticed that she still wore the ring that he had given her.
Lucas wanted to tell her how much he missed them both, at how angry he had become when he realized that he wasn't about to hear from them again, that Valentin Durev had taken them away from him the way he did. There were so many things that Lucas wanted her to know, but in the end, as he watched her illuminated by the moonlight behind her, he could only say one thing.
"I love you."
For a few moments Alexa did not say anything, and Lucas took advantage of the silence to continue what he wanted to say before courage could leave him and render him speechless. "I'm sorry for not coming for you sooner, Alexa," Lucas whispered hoarsely when she turned to face him. He started to speak, to explain himself but Alexa placed a finger on his lips, tracing them gently.
"We could talk about all the reasons why you couldn't come sooner, Lucas," Alexa said, smiling faintly. "But I'd rather spend the rest of our time enjoying every minute that you're home."
She bit her lip, as if unsure if Lucas was meaning to stay with them, or if he was only visiting temporarily, off to return to someone else after coming here to say his good-byes. Ater all, Lucas had arrived with no luggage and she wondered if he had left it at the hotel. Alexa hated being so pessimistic, but a part of her had begun to shield herself from any more hurt.
Lucas leaned forwards and brought his arms around her, his fingers running through her hair. He felt her body stiffen at first, but then relax against him, her own arms coming up around his neck, her own fingers exploring the stubble along his chin and the skin behind his ear and along his neck, as if she were proving to herself that he was real.
He had filled out since she last saw him. He was more muscular now, and his face, once thin and all sharp angles, now looked more boyish. Lucas was still as dangerously handsome as she remembered him last, and Alexa closed her eyes as she enjoyed the feel of his strong arms around her, his fingers running lazily through her hair, pulling her head back so he could take a better look at her.
They would speak about the things that were unspoken between them much later. For now, Alexa wanted to relish the feel of him in her arms and nothing more.
"Will you still marry me, Alex?" Lucas asked as he caught her hand in his, bringing her finger into the light, the engagement ring his mother had given him glistening in the moonlight. It was a simple ring, a small diamond nestled between much smaller emeralds that reminded Lucas of the color of Alexa's eyes.
"Of course. I thought you'd forgotten," she said playfully and Lucas smiled, breathing the scent of jasmine about them.
He held her in his arms, his heart beating wildly at the realization that Alexa was his once again, and that she was really in front of him now, her eyes staring up at him and her hands exploring him as her own body began to mold against his.
"Why, Lucas North," Alexa said, chuckling, as her eyes began to glisten with tears that Lucas hoped were of happiness. "You are a romantic, aren't you? Underneath that tough exterior?"
They could feel the heat building between them, a fire that once faded into dying embers, now ignited with every touch of the each others' hands. His broad chest pressed against her breasts and Alexa found herself gasping for breath as she watched Lucas' eyes travel through every inch of her face, lingering to gaze deep into her eyes before moving down to settle upon her lips as his own mouth parted in a groan.
"Yes, I am," Lucas whispered before claiming Alexa's lips with his own, tasting her and inhaling her very essence, wanting nothing more than for the moment to last forever, and knowing that this time, it was forever.
Lucas North was finally whole.