1 year later.
The house was penetrated with silence but to my surprise I didn't find it neither discouraging nor depressing.
I stirred the coffee I was making in circles with a wooden stick.
The first act of war lasted more than ten years and ended almost a year ago in the battle that took lives of a lot of soldiers and civilians, that took lives of our Marshal and my best friend, both the bravest men I've had the honor to know and greatest privilege to call them a mentor and a brother respectively.
But what should have been the end of war, was just the first portion. The breaches were threatening to appear in other parts of the pacific. This time we were able to predict where and destroy them before any Kaiju were to appear. But how many times will we be correct?
Newton Geiszler and Hermann Gottlieb were now working on predicting the new epicenters in the Pacific. Well, mostly Dr. Gottlieb was and Newton just kept analyzing any new data he could get his hands on about Kaiju. But I had to admit, they did make a pretty good and efficient team. Predicting the new breach…for now it's all we could do.
The quietness of the room was interrupted when Max rolled in, yawning as he did so. I shook my head slightly, my mind set on the task of stirring. That dog became even bigger during the year. I've told Chuck a thousand times to stop feeding him human food from the table but does the man listen to me? Nooooo. There you go with the result: the dog could be put into the elephant race. And win it!
Max in the meantime took his usual spot almost on my legs and in a second was snoring loudly.
I looked outside as the setting sun touched the ocean at the horizon. I had to admit I've never seen the sunsets so mesmerizing as I saw here, in Australia.
After the final battle there was no point in going back to Hong Kong. Herc, being the new active Marshal of the Pan Pacific Defense Corpse, made sure that the new HQ were located in his home country. And me? I really didn't have anything to go back to in Canada or Lima, plus Chuck was ecstatic to go back home so I didn't object. To tell the truth, I've always wanted to see his homeland especially after having seen it with his eyes in the Drift.
The only stop I did insist on was Peru where Rico's father moved to after Lima Shatterdome was closed. Chuck and I spent two days with Rico's dad, old Papa Wizinsky, he was hospitable and loved listening about his son's heroic deeds, saying that he expected all the actions Rico took, they were exactly the ones he'd do if he possessed Rico's boldness and courage.
I took out two high cups and poured hot coffee into both, throwing cubs of sugar into one and adding milk into the other. I switched the oven off, took a cup in each of my hands and made my way to the study that was further down the hall on the first floor, overlooking the garden. I've heard whining as Max stumbling took after me.
"How's work?" I asked as I entered the study.
"Going…dragging." Herc looked up from the papers that were in massive piles occupying his desk.
I chuckled and placed sugared coffee in front of him then moved to the door I came from, stopping when I heard him. Sometimes he was so into his papers that he didn't notice me bringing him coffee, tea, food even. But that didn't worry me, Herc Hansen was a man who could take care of himself.
"Thanks, Henley. You're my savior." He took a gulp of the saving liquor. To be a Marshal for Herc was most infuriating and at the same time satisfactory work out there. It appeared that he was very good at it once he stopped working in the field so much. "You sure you want this stuff?"
I send him a deathly glare when I spotted him eyeing my cup. "I'm sure I want my coffee."
"It's just I've heard…" When he caught my gaze on him again, he stopped and corrected what he was about to say. "On the other hand, I'm sure you know this stuff better."
I nodded at him approvingly. No one would dream to stand between my caffeine and me. Max finally made it to the room and fell to Herc's feet, exhausted.
"I think he's getting old." Marshal mused.
"I think he's getting too fat!" I huffed.
The older Hansen chuckled.
"I'm going out to the beach." I announced and turned to take my leave.
"It'll be dark in a while. At least take Max with you!"
"I'll be fine, Herc!" I shouted over my shoulder. "It's like you've forgotten that I fought Kaiju!"
I grabbed my knitted cardigan and harried out of the door. I acted annoyed and all but I loved how Herc tasted the caring side of his.
"Take Max…" I puffed. The poor dog had enough on his plate serving as a catalyzer between the two men.
I took a look at the house as I proceeded with my usual path to the beach.
The house was Chuck's idea but what started as his hint was taken by my enthusiasm and soon enough we were leaving in the two-story with a guest room for Herc and a garden on the back yard with a hammock (Chuck's another brilliant idea). Most young couples don't buy a house after a couple months together. But again most couples don't drift together, finding each other's deepest darkest secrets. There was just no point in pretending and playing the relationships from the start. We were in a good place and we didn't want to move backwards.
But we did get into fights about painting, furniture, dvd collection, just because I wanted a taste of what people called normal dating. Because I really didn't care about what movie we'd be watching or what wall color would prevail.
I lowered myself on the sand enveloping a cardigan around my body. I loved watching the night ocean. At first it was hard to imagine the depths of it without the monsters but…you learn to do certain things because you realize how many people gave their lives for you to have that. My parents, Rico, Pentecost, all the pilots…so I loved watching the ocean. It reminded me not of a loss but of bravery and courage.
"There you are!" I heard a familiar voice and next moment Chuck materialized beside me.
"Hay, stranger." I beamed at him. "We were expecting you before dinner."
"Well, there was a small drop in activity, Becket and I had to check it." Chuck set down on the sand next to me, I automatically put my head on his shoulder as he snaked one of his arms around me while his other went to my swollen stomach. "And how's my other favorite girl?"
"Seriously?" I looked at hi incredulously. "You do realize that there a fifty percent chance that it's a boy?"
"No, I really think it's a girl…" He shook his head as if deep in thought.
I looked intently at him and then hit him on the chest.
"You just want a chance at naming the baby!"
I knew it was a stupid idea to agree to split: if it's a girl, Chuck gets to decide on the name, if it's a boy, I'd do the honors.
He laughed and started tickling me which was every kind of awful because I was too pregnant to run away or give him a taste of his own medicine and too scared of tickling to stop screaming and twirling.
"Stop! Stop! Chuck!" I begged. "Oh! Stop!"
"Say please!" He teased.
"I'm having your child, you can't do this to me!" I shouted and he paused for a second.
"Nuh, there was no please in that." He went on tickling me.
"I'm gonna kill you, Chuck Hansen!" I tried between laughs when he finally stopped with his assault but still towered over me.
"I don't think so." With that he kissed me longingly. "But you're right, I do want to choose a name."
Yeah, now he was all excited and happy about the upcoming change in our live but almost seven months ago when I told him… the bold hero with honors went MIO for two days!
"Chuck?" He was unresponsive for almost two minutes just staring at the fireplace…or inside of it, I couldn't really tell. "Well, oki…just tell when you're ready."
I bit my lip slightly. It's not that I expected him to be any kind of ecstatic but I would be glad with any kind of reaction. We didn't talk about children, and personally I knew I was too young and he's too young (who am I kidding? He's waaaay too young) for this but it happened. And frankly, I missed having a family so much through all the years in the Pan Pacific Defense Corps that a tiny part of me welcomed this new development.
It's been ten minutes and Chuck was still starring.
"Soooo…I know I said when you're ready but could you give me some sort of clue as to when you're gonna be ready? Like maybe a wink? Or you could try nodding?" No answer. "Right. So, I'll be in the kitchen…eating…and drinking. Ok."
I heard the door shut. Chuck was gone for two days. On the third night I felt the matrass dip under his weight and felt strong arms around me, crushing me to him and I remember thinking that his embrace became even tighter if it was possible.
"I'm sorry…I'm sorry…" His whispered words echoed in my mind that was close to falling back asleep.
It was frightening news and he needed time to deal with it. I knew he'd never leave me. So I kissed one of his hands that came to rest on my shoulder and went back to sleep.
"Oh my God…" A thought shocked me. "I really hope you are not thinking of calling her…if it's a her…Eureka or something!"
"What's wrong with Eureka?!" Chuck raised his hands in defense.
"You know? I tell you what…" He helped me up, my hands going to my stiff back. Well, of course, stiff…caring a Hansen around! It's not like their tribe are known for being little and petite! "Race you to the house. Beat me up and you can choose a girl's name too!"
With that Chuck sprinted in the set direction, laughing as he did so.
I watched him, shaking my head lightly. He was still a boy who didn't have a normal childhood and spent most of his adolescence in Shatterdomes, learning how to and then fighting monsters that came from out of our world. And now that we actually could afford ourselves the normality that's been ripped from us, we weren't about to miss anything. Even running on the sand…or spending the day lying in hammock…or cooking which I apparently was very good at surprisingly…or maybe Chuck and Herc (the letter one when he left HQ) just didn't complain.
I made my way to the house and thought if maybe I should shed a tear to make Chuck give the right to name the baby either way. I really r-e-a-l-l-y didn't want to call my daughter Eureka and have Max the dog as her Godfather.
"What took you so long?" Chuck was grinning from ear to ear with his back to the fence.
"You know, Hansen, you really don't treat me right." I whined as I passed him by on my way to the front door.
His hands momentary found their way around me preventing me from going in but rather turning me back to watch the empty beach whilst crushing my back to his stone chest.
I produced a small semi-displeased noise.
Chuck sighed and then said:
"If it's a girl, I'd like us to call her Angela."
"After your mom." Well…that's nice.
"And I already asked Becket to be her or his Godfather."
I didn't say anything but a big smile broke my face at the thought that my girl wouldn't be named after a Jaeger.
"But it doesn't mean that we can't call her Eureka when we are home!" Chuck grinned, gave me a quick kiss on the neck and before I could say anything shuffled me into the house.
I always said how the war brought us destruction, death and darkness. But it also brought us strength to stand up to a threat like Kaiju, it brought together people that would have never met otherwise. It brought me something I couldn't cherish more – a family. Loosing one to this war, I obtained the other.
All in all, I don't think my life could get any more perfect.
A\N – That's it, pumpkins! What do you think?
Do you find it too sugar-covered for an epilogue? It is a little, I agree, but it still suggests the war is not over. Anyway, can't wait for you reviews!
Thank you everybody who read, reviewed and enjoyed! I was happy to share this fantasy with you and so sad to say goodbye to Henley, Chuck, Rico…..good times!