This is my first time writing for ATU. Actually, it's my first time writing for anything other than Doctor Who, so I apologize ahead of time if it's a train wreck. Anyway, this contains major spoilers for Shades of Earth, as it takes place right after the story ends.
Disclaimer: The book belongs to Beth Revis, not me.
I never want to leave this spot. All I want to do is stay here, in the forest, with Elder in my arms, because as long as I have my arms around him, I know he can't leave. Still, I also know this can't last forever. I need to get him back to the colony. It looks like he's got some broken bones, and I should be getting help as quickly as possible.
However, before I can gather up enough willpower to tear myself away from him, I pick up a soft rustling sound. It's so faint that I wouldn't have been able to pick it up without my new elevated hybrid senses, but I can hear it nonetheless. It's a soft rustle of leaves, not the kind of rustling that is caused by wind or fluttering birds, but the kind that is caused by someone who is trying to walk quietly without being heard.
Though the noise is soft, it catches me by surprise, and I spin around to see a figure standing behind a tree not too far away, peering out to watch Elder and I cautiously. I recognize this person immediately. "Chris?" I call. He doesn't even bother trying to pretend he didn't see us. Slowly, he steps out from behind the tree he had been hiding behind, walking towards us slowly as if he's approaching an easily frightened animal. When he doesn't say anything, I speak up again. "What are you doing here? How did you find us?"
"I followed you," he answered simply, his voice hollow. "Zane pointed the way." By the way his eyes keep flicking to Elder, I can conclude that he isn't happy about this new development. He was probably hoping that since Elder was dead, I'd settle for him. I try my best to hold down the smirk that is rising to my face with the thought of how wrong he was. At this point, I notice the gun he has strapped around his shoulder. I'm sure it's just a precaution, but I silently wonder what the point is now that he doesn't have to pretend that he's afraid of an "alien" or ptero attack.
I feel Elder shift slightly next to me so that he now stands between me and Chris. "And what do you want?" Elder asks, annoyance dripping from his words.
His tone obviously does not make Chris any happier, though. In fact, his brow creases in what appears to be a mixture of mild anger and confusion. "I wanted to make sure Amy was safe. How was I supposed to know you were here?"
Elder reaches down with his arm that isn't broken to take my hand in his, letting Chris know exactly where he stands. I can't help but smile. Maybe this will make it evident that I've made up my mind. I've made my choice, and I chose Elder. "Well, I did promise that I would come back." At this, he breaks his hard exterior long enough to shoot me a smile that immediately sends my heart racing.
However, Chris is less than amused. "But what if you didn't?"
I cringe at this question, but Elder seems to be caught off-guard by it. "What do you mean?"
He takes a step forward, cocking his gun almost imperceptibly. "I mean, what if you died in the shuttle crash? What I happened to find your body as I was walking through the forest? And what if this whole conversation was just a hallucination?"
I narrow my eyes at him, "What are you—" I'm cut off by the sight of what he pulls from his pocket: a sticky purple flower that I am much too familiar with.
Looking from the gun to Elder to the crashed escape shuttle, I think I can gather what his intentions are, but he continues anyway. "That shuttle is pretty damaged. I don't think it would be hard to convince anyone that the brave little captain went down with his ship." His words are light in tone, mocking.
However, I don't doubt for a second that he means every word of these threats. I'm even more convinced of this fact when he raises his gun, its barrel pointed directly at Elder. "No!" I say, moving in front of him. I know that Chris would never shoot me. "Killing Elder won't make me settle for you! How many times do I have to say this? If you want to kill him, you'll have to shoot me too."
Chris hesitates at this, but doesn't lower his gun. "Amy, get out of the way. I don't want to hurt you."
I stand my ground. "I'm not moving."
As Chris' hand tightens around the trigger, I start to realize just how serious he is about this. Elder, who is still behind me, places his hand on my shoulder, gently trying to move me away. "Amy," he whispers in my ear, "he's going to shoot whether you stand there or not. He wants me dead, but that doesn't mean you need to be harmed in the process."
I answer him in a whisper that I'm sure Chris can just barely hear with his hybrid senses. "So what, I'm just supposed to let you die?"
"If it means that you can live, yes."
I tighten my grip on his hand, not moving. Instead of answering him, I address Chris. "None of the humans will believe your story. And how do you think they'll respond to the fact that you were the one to kill Elder? You'll just end up reigniting the war!"
He scoffs a low rumbling noise. "I think we've proven who would win that war."
"Maybe," I shrug. "But now you won't have a spy on the inside. There's no way any of you would be allowed into the colony."
"One of us?" he asks, sounding disgusted. "Have you forgotten where you stand now?" I know Elder is positively cringing behind me, as his grip tightens on my hand. However, I know that if there's one person who doesn't care about the fact that I'm a hybrid, it's him. He's the only one I can truly trust.
Now it's Elder who speaks up. "The difference is that my people trust Amy, whereas they all think you're frexing insane. Can't say that I blame them, though."
While he spoke, Chris' finger must have been getting tighter and tighter on the trigger, because now the gun goes off. As soon as I hear the noise, it feels like time has slowed, and I have just enough time to brace for impact. I can feel the bullet lodge itself into my shoulder, and the next thing I know, I'm falling back into Elder. Even though the pain isn't as great as it probably would have been if I were still human, it's still enough that my vision begins to blur, only allowing me to see bits and pieces of the scene before me.
As soon as Elder lays me gently on the forest floor, he makes a lunge for Chris, who doesn't have time to cock his gun before being tackled to the ground. The gun is flung out of reach, but I can't see much of what happens next. The only things I'm aware of are the shooting pain that is slowly forcing me from consciousness and the sound of Elder cursing loudly as he wrestles with Chris with only one good arm and leg.
The first I see when I open my eyes after what must have been at least a couple hours later is Elder's face. He looks worried, but at least he seems to have gotten some help for his own problems. His arm is now in a sling and the makeshift splint that he had made for himself is replaced with one made by the new medic. "Amy?" Elder asks as I slowly begin to wake. "Oh, thank the stars. They said you would be fine, but… I mean, I'm just glad you're okay."
I smile at him sleepily and try to sit up, but a stinging pain in my shoulder tells me that this is not a good idea. As soon as I hiss in pain, Elder's hands are cradling my head and shoulders, helping me onto my back once again. "What happened?" I groan.
"Chris shot you," he says, anger evident in his voice.
"I remember that," I say. "But what about after that?" I only now seem to notice where we are. I recognize the stone walls and sleeping bag immediately as Elder's room in the ruins. "And how did I get here?"
"Well, after I knocked the gun away from Chris, I managed to get the purple string flower out of his pocket and sedate him for a while." His words are short and choppy, as if he is trying to force himself to talk about this. "Then I carried you here, called Doc, and he took care of you from there."
Oh yeah, Doc. I had forgotten that with the arrival of Bartie and the rest of the people from Godspeed, Doc would be the new medic at the colony. I had been wondering who would be the new medic after what happened to Dr. Gupta and Kit….
After I don't answer, Elder speaks up again. "How are you feeling?"
I take in a deep breath. "Better than I would normally be," I say, giving him a smile to let him know I'm okay. "That's one of the few perks of this hybrid DNA."
Elder's brow furrows, and I know he must be thinking that that was his fault, that he should have been here on Earth to protect me. "Is it really that bad? Being a hybrid, I mean?"
I do my best to shrug with my bandaged shoulder. "It's not that bad, just… different. I don't feel like myself anymore. It's like a better, stronger Amy took my place and I'm just… gone."
At this, he takes my hand in his and leans in close to me, looking me dead in the eye. "You're not different," he says, his voice just above a whisper. "You're still the same Amy and I… I never finished saying this before, but I… love you."
Though my brain is still a little fuzzy, I can clearly remember the last time he tried to say it, when I cut him off with a kiss. "I love you too," I return, knowing with every inch of my being that it is true. "I promise." At this, I take my hand from his to wrap my pinky finger around his. Smiling, he wraps his around mine as well.
Then he leans in to kiss me softly, and I realize for possibly the first time that everything is going to be fine. The planet will live and grow and prosper, and so will we. As long as we're together everything will be perfect.
Please take a moment to let me know what you think!