Okay, so this is probably utter rubbish. I blame the early hour and my rush to get it finished. I just didn't want to make you guys wait another week. (g) (And sidenote: As I was writing this, Claire, Rachel and I basically got in a contest to see how many ridiculous lines I could somehow squeeze into this installment. There are quite a few and I'm certain you'll recognize them. (g))
Enjoy! (I hope!)
Before a scream could travel the course of mind to mouth, a heavy weight hit Sam square in the chest. The impact knocked away what little breath she had, and then, then she was falling.
The descent took no more than mere seconds, but it was enough for her to recognize the irony of everything she had heard about death. There was no last-minute flash of her life reeling by her like a movie. There was no sudden heart attack to save her from the end game awaiting her below. There wasn't even so much as a goddamn beacon of light to reassure her in those final moments.
No, there was only the quiet rush of wind and the sound of her own heartbeat pounding in her ears. Then, of course, came the pain.
Nemo would be too late. He knew it the moment the decision to return to the safe house clicked in the back of his mind. He rushed forward despite this, making the leap in time and distance with the barest of ripples, all the while, steeling himself to what he knew he would find.
The world had gone silent, a stillness that was but a warning of what was to come. Death, like a creature hunkered down in tall grass, awaited them all. Biding its time, gathering strength. There was no more time to be lost.
Nemo found Midnight first. She lay as though in slumber, only the thinnest trickle of blood down the side of her cheek hinting at what had befallen his friend. His child. Her once silver eyes were flat, lifeless.
His jaw tightened at the sight of her, but he moved past her quickly, unable to fully bear yet another loss. Later, if there was a later, he would mourn.
Samantha lay just a few feet away, her cheek resting on the earth as though she were a small child trying to eavesdrop on the underworld. He slowed, moving quietly, strangely afraid he might disturb her. He didn't feel his knees give out beneath him. One moment he was standing, the next he was beside her, brushing dark hair away from her too pale face. Tears, like a thousand razor blades, pricked at his eyes.
"It is not too late, Tiberius."
Lazarus's soft footfalls moved beside him. Brahman was there too, a silent, reassuring presence.
"You have but to say the word," Lazarus said.
Nemo glanced between the two women, the agony of indecision ripping through him. Lazarus could truly work miracles, but even he had his limits. It could not be both. He must choose.
"Samantha," Nemo said at last.
He heard the sharp intake of breath from Brahman, and a moment later, the sound of heavy footfalls retreating. Lazarus, Nemo had no doubt, felt the same stab of betrayal. But as always, neither of them would question his decision, even in order to save their friend.
Nemo took Samantha's hand and pressed it to his chest. Lazarus, without a word of protest or the slightest hesitation in his movements, went to work.
Samantha, as though coming out of a thick fog to be suddenly thrust into daylight, awoke with a jerk. Her breaths came in hard gulps as she quickly searched her surroundings, taking stock of everything. The feel of the bed linens clutched tight in her fingers, the soft light streaming through the open windows beside the large bed on which she lay. Everything seemed to exude a sense of serenity and calm. Even the sound of voices raised in argument seemed to have a musical lilt to them.
That's when the full force of reality settled on her.
She was alive. She didn't know how it was possible, but she was alive.
The voices behind the closed door of her room rose in pitch and fervor, and she found herself slipping out of bed to press her ear to the solid wood. She couldn't make anything out, but from the tones involved, she somehow knew she was the subject. Frank…Peter… goddammit, whoeverthehell that man had been, used to say she could raise a tempest in the mildest soul.
Sam was dressed in a thin, but modest nightgown. Hardly appropriate attire, but hell, she'd worn a lot less in public. She tried the door. It was unlocked, and she cracked it as quietly as possible. The door made very little noise, but what little creaks it did make, seemed to reverberate and amplify in the sudden quiet. She was hardly stealth, and she held her breath until she heard the argument resume.
She realized now that the voices were coming from somewhere below. Another floor. But even from there, she could make out the voices. Nemo. And Brahman. And neither of them was very happy.
"Do you realize what you've done?" Brahman demanded. The usually stoic and good-natured man was beside himself. Arms flapping, he railed at Nemo who stood quietly, letting his words hit him with all the force Brahman could mange.
Emotions warred for control of Brahman's face. Sadness. Guilt. But most of all, anger. "You sacrificed Midnight…Clarissa…both to save this girl. This…this…"
"Stranger," Sam finished for him.
Brahman whirled around, his anger and words dissipating into the stunned silence that followed Sam's sudden appearance. She stood, frail and small, in the doorway. The edge of her nightgown held in her hand as though she were a nymph tip-toeing through dewy grass.
"A stranger who means nothing to you," Sam continued, her words so soft Nemo could barely make them out. He saw it then. The realization of just what her life had cost hit her full force. She looked from him, to Brahman, to Lazarus standing quietly in the corner, tears threatening to fall. She was such a fragile creature. All bravado, but no real bite. A strong wind could likely knock her over where she stood. Yet, upon her thin shoulders, rested the fate of them all.
"You should rest, my dear," Nemo said, quickly ushering her into a wing-backed chair close to the fireplace. She followed his command, but wouldn't allow him to assist her. There was his girl. Weakened, but not beaten.
He turned to find Brahman, quite sure the big man was on the verge of continuing his rant. Nemo held up his hands in protest, and Brahman gave the slightest nod of acquiesce. No doubt he would continue his argument another time. If they had more time, that is. If he couldn't make Samantha understand her importance to their survival…couldn't instill in her the urgency upon which they all must act, none of them may live to see tomorrow.
Brahman and Lazarus exited the room, the former at last caving and throwing a shameful glance in Samantha's direction. The poor girl didn't see it.
When the door closed behind them, Nemo busied himself pouring Samantha a cup of tea. She took it, but left it untouched on the table beside her.
"Midnight?" She already knew the answer, yet she crumpled further into herself at the shake of his head. "Clarissa?"
Nemo simply held her gaze and settled into the chair across from her.
"Oh…" her voice trailed off as she studied the fire dancing in the grate. "I'm sorry."
"Both dead. Simon and Peter, missing. Mannish still alive." He kept his tone even, factual. "The world hanging on the point of a knife. One wrong move and we shall all be dead."
With that, he tipped a small cookie into his tea and bit down into it with a loud crunch. Shocked, Samantha glared in his direction. "What the hell are you going to do about it? Sit here and eat your fucking cookie, drink your goddamn tea, and let them all die?"
"You mistake me, my dear. I'm simply giving you time to let it all sink in."
She felt as though one more bit of news would knock her over. Despite this, she sat up straighter and looked him straight in the eye. "Obviously you think I'm supposed to know what to do, what to say, how to act. But I don't have a fucking clue. Care to fill me in?"
Nemo brushed crumbs from his fingertips, a smile tugging at his lips.
"What's so goddamn funny? People have died and that fucking demon is still out there. With Simon! He could be dead for all we know." On this last, Sam's voice thickened and cut off abruptly. She dropped her eyes, hands clutching the armrests of her chair. She couldn't think about Simon and what might have befallen him.
"I'm simply amused, my dear…" His voice trailed off, and it seemed he had to force his last words out. "…by how like your mother you are."
Sam glanced at him sharply, unsure if she had heard him correctly. But the truth of his words was there on his face. He seemed smaller in that moment. Not nearly as invincible as she'd once thought. He was…vulnerable. But by choice.
"You didn't know my mother," she managed at last, pulling her nightgown taut across her knees.
"Yes, Samantha, I knew her quite well." He paused, taking in a deep breath. "Samantha…Sam…"
She stood abruptly. "Don't you dare pull that Star Wars bullshit on me. You are not my father."
He didn't speak, only tracked her across the room and back. His silence said more than any words .
"It isn't possible," she said. "Next you'll be telling me I'm the fucking chosen one."
At that, an amused smile tipped up the corner of his mouth. "In a way, you are."
Sam paced, not able to look at him. Her thoughts felt scattered, unfocused. Maybe she was going crazy. She didn't know what to feel, what to think, what to do. This was all one big nightmare she couldn't seem to wake up from. If only she could Bobby Ewing her way out. But hell, she'd never been that lucky.
"How the hell did this happen?" She said at last, whirling to glare down at him.
"Sit. Please," Nemo said, motioning towards her abandoned chair. "I'll explain."
She took stock of his features, trying to see some resemblance to herself. She had her mother's dark hair, her eyes…but yes, there was something in his face that bore some familiarity. The crinkle around the eyes when he laughed, the shape of his face… She sank down into the chair as the reality of it all washed over her. Holy shit.
If Sam had expected a fairy tale, she was sorely disappointed. Nemo and her mother's romance had been but a brief encounter. A moment of weakness in Nemo's illustrious career of stoicism. Her conception had been a shock to them both, something neither of them had been prepared for. Her mother, unmarried and knocked-up at the age of nineteen, had the usual concerns—telling her family, raising a child on her own.. Nemo, on the other hand, realized his grave mistake immediately.
"You see, I knew any child of mine would be…" He paused, twisting the hairs of his beard and staring into the fire. "Special."
"Nice," Sam muttered.
Nemo looked up, not getting her meaning at all.
"Go on," Sam said with a wave of her hand.
Nemo had concluded rather quickly that any child of his would be put at risk, simply based on who its father was. The only way to guarantee its safety was concealment. Permanent and irrevocable concealment.
"I think…no, I did, care a great deal for your mother. She was strong, willful, and..beautiful. I knew she would never agree to my plan, so I did it without her knowledge." Nemo sat up straight in his chair, almost willing her to condemn his decision. "I altered her memory. Made her forget. When she married, she truly believed her husband was your father. It was what I wanted. What would keep you safe. So I did it."
Sam bit the inside of her cheek to keep from losing her cool. What an arrogant son of a bitch.
"What changed?" She managed at last.
Nemo, after Peter had managed to steal part of Mannish's soul, knew he had to act. Quickly. And despite his baser need to protect Samantha, he soon realized he needed her help if there was to be any chance of destroying the demon.
"I grow old, my child…"
"Don't call me that. You're anything but old."
At that he laughed.
"Why did you involve me? Don't give me that "I'm weak" bullshit either."
Nemo sighed and turned inward. "I've done many extraordinary things in my life, Samantha. But in the end, I'm a man. With just as many faults and weaknesses. If you must know, I wanted to know the woman my daughter had become. Wanted to know whether you…" He tilted his head back and forth, as though the movements would help cough out the correct words.
"You wanted to test me."
His eyes rested on her face. "In a word, yes."
"Jesus," Sam said, laughing despite herself. "You're just as cocky as any other man. Me. Make. Baby. Me. Need. To. Know. Baby. Strong. Like. Me."
"As I said, my dear, I'm prone to weakness, as any other man would be."
"You're a schmuck, that's what you are."
Nemo smiled, but continued his story.
Yes, he had chosen to send Peter to her, knowing full well it might put her in danger.
"I determined that should your powers be dormant, no harm would come to pass. But they weren't."
Boy was that the truth.
"So what now?" Sam glanced around the room. It was all wood and comfortable leather. The kind of place you'd vacation to. "We're just going to kick it here while the world ends? You do remember Simon and Peter are still in danger?"
"Of course, my dear. That's why I've frozen time."
"You what?" Sam said, startled.
"It is but a mere two minutes after I found you…hours have past here, but rest assured nothing has changed in the world at large."
Sam stood, needing to do something. "Then let's go. Let's find them. Surely you know where they are."
"Of course." He said this with a wave of his hand. "Only, I want you to understand the full impact of what we're about to do. Not everyone is going to survive this night. I bear the full guilt of this. It was I who made the decisions that led us here." His head dipped, and guilt played across his features for just a moment before he got his emotions back behind a cool façade. "Should it mean the death of me…of one of the others… of Simon, I need to know you will be fully prepared to do whatever I command."
Sam nodded, slowly. "I'm prepared to do whatever it takes."
Even as she said it, she wasn't sure it was the full truth. If there was any way in hell of getting Simon out of this situation alive, she knew she would do it.
"It could also mean your death, my dear. My child. Mannish will come after you first."
Any response Sam might've made got lodged in her throat. She swallowed it down. "I know. I'm ready."
Nemo's eyes lit with an inner fire. "Then shall we?" He stood and took her hand. "I was a fool for leaving you and your mother. Nobody can put my baby in the corner and expect her to stay there long."
Despite it all, Sam smiled.