September 3, 2010

Artwork by Brian Byers

Both Meline and the unnamed brunette were asleep when Anna pulled up at the house. She turned off the car, opened the door and paced at speed into the house. David, Judy and the baby were in the kitchen eating lunch.

"Welcome back," David said. "We didn't expect you so soon."

Anna put her hands on her hips and hung her head. "I hope you didn't have any plans for the day." She grabbed a few slices of meat from the table and started eating them. "I've been awake since Tuesday, and the sleep deprivation is starting to put me on edge just a bit so If you could put the one that looks like me in the VIP suite, and secure the other one in heavy chains I would really appreciate it. Don't worry," Anna assured with a wave of her hand. "He's unconscious."

David stared at Anna with a mouth full of sandwich.

"Also," Anna helped herself to David's milk. "If there's a way you could figure out what is wrong with the two of them that would be fantastic. Meline has got it in her head that she's pregnant. I don't know what's wrong with the guy in the back seat. I think he might have a fever, but you're the doctor. I'll be in my room. Let me know as soon as you know something."

Anna eyed the framed photo of Gus on her nightstand then picked it up and shoved it between the mattresses before she laid down and fell into a deep and dreamless sleep.

Sunset washed the room in warmth. The soft pressure of someone sitting on the edge of the bed woke her. She opened her eyes to see Gus sitting on the edge of the bed. She reached her hand out to him and he took hold of it. "Gus," she smiled.

"Anna, it's David." Gus said.

"David?" Anna blinked. When she opened her eyes again she saw that it was actually David sitting on the bed next to her, holding her hand. "David." Anna said.

"I have news," David said softly. "It'll wait if you'd like to sleep a little longer."

"No, it's alright." Anna's breath caught as she breathed in. "I just need a minute," she breathed back her tears, "to freshen up... splash some water on my face."

"Okay," David helped her to her feet. "Take as much time as you need. I'll be in my office."

Anna allowed herself only as long as it took her to shower to cry for Gus, until her upset turned to the loss not getting any easier. She slipped into a green sun-dress and headed outside to the detached garage that had become David's office.

Meline was sitting on the sofa leafing through one of David's medical books. David was behind a curtain tending to the still unconscious brunette who was now strapped securely to a wrought iron bed that had been bolted to the floor. Meline still felt empty to Anna, almost unreal.

Meline closed the book when she saw Anna, and eyed her with a look of confused pity. "Are you okay?" Meline whispered.

Anna nodded once then turned toward David, behind the curtain. "You have answers?"

"I do," David said coming out from behind the curtain.

"You know what's wrong with him?"

David hesitated for a minute. "Not entirely," He picked up a sheet of x-ray film and handed it to Anna. "Not by any means a conventional method of determining pregnancy but immortals aren't exactly conventional patients. Despite the odds, it would appear that Meline is in fact pregnant."

Anna examined the x-ray, and the small bean shaped mass edged with vertebrae at its center. "How is this possible Meline?" Anna asked, her voice sounding more stern than she had intended.

Meline shook her head and shrugged.

"You have the required anatomy," David explained, "It's just that the environment isn't quite as hospitable. On top of that, considering other faculties of immortal biology, I would imagine that there is a... volitional element as well."

"Meaning-," Anna snapped.

"Meaning... I wanted to have a baby," Meline interjected with the same harsh tone as Anna.

"Why would you want to have a baby?" Anna demanded.

"Because... I never thought I was going to get what I wanted," Meline said.

"You'll forgive me if I still don't see the need to congratulate you."

"I know Anna, Believe me I know. That's why..."

"That's why you came to me." Anna scoffed. "What is it exactly you think I can do for you Meline?”

"I can have this baby, but I can't raise it. It's too dangerous. I'm too much a part of the culture."

"Do you not understand where we are Meline?" Anna glared.

"You live with three humans," Meline countered. "I live with an immortal. I work with immortals. Anna I can disappear for a year and they will understand. But not for nineteen."

"You're asking me to disappear for nineteen years to raise your child?" Anna asked. "And then what?"

"And then, he or she can surrender themselves to Jonas as a rogue and declare their loyalty to Argus and stay out of trouble and blend in. Just like us - or like others believe of us."

"Is that what they believe?" Anna scoffed. "That's all good and well Meline, but did it ever occur to you that your plan might not be the most convenient thing for me? I wasn't in Savannah for a vacation Meline. I'm on a mission. A mission I had to abandon when you showed up. A mission I couldn't possibly accomplish while in hiding with an immortal child."

"When I showed up? Are you sure it wasn't because you shot someone then lit a hotel on fire?" Meline retorted. "And why does death follow you like that? Is it Karma?"

Anna felt suddenly ill and lightheaded. She shut her eyes and turned away from Meline.

"Meline," David said stern. "That's not helping."

Anna felt strong hands on her arms. In her mind she imagined Gus, though she knew it was David.

"I'm sorry," Meline said. "I didn't mean it Anna. I really didn't. I've missed you in my life, and I've been so angry about it over the years and for so many different reasons, I forget that I'm more angry at myself than anything. You've always been the stronger of us. Always been the one to make the tough decisions. You were saving us from Mother and saving me from Tommy and I didn't realize it. Not until I wished you'd been there to save me from Jimmy."

Anna turned. "I'm sorry as well," she said. "I should have found another way."

"What kind of mission are you on?" Meline asked.

"That's a very long story," Anna answered. "But one I should probably tell you anyway."

"Alright, but whatever it is, it doesn't matter," Meline shook her head. "I'll do it. Whatever it is, whatever it is I have to do. I'll take on your mission, if you take on... this." She put her hand on her stomach. "Anna, please." Meline pouted. "You know the alternative. Please. I'm begging."

Anna looked at her sister, empty and hollow, like watching her on a TV screen. She couldn't feel her, but she could see the look on her face, she knew how Meline felt and she knew the options were slim.

A stay of execution, the thought rolled through her head, almost as if it weren't her own. She was upset that her deepest, darkest most secret part of herself was chiming in on the events at hand. Twenty years. Could she wait twenty years to discover who had been behind the death of her beloved? Twenty years of remembering him, missing him and longing for him before she could finally confront them, challenge them, and ultimately - perhaps inevitably - to lose her own life to them? As bitter and cold as her heart felt now, could she take the pain of twenty more years? Perhaps with the distraction of a child, it wouldn't be as painful, she reasoned. "David?" she met his eyes.

"I am always here for you Anna," David said softly.

"Alright." Anna said to Meline. "I'll do it."

Meline raced across the room and leapt into Anna's arms, crying and kissing her cheeks. "Oh, thank you Anna. Thank you, thank you, thank you! A hundred times, a million times, for the rest of forever, thank you!"

Meline excused herself to find something to eat leaving Anna and David to talk. "I'm so hungry those two are starting to smell good." Meline said, pointing in turn to David and the unconscious brunette behind the curtain.

Anna put her face in her hands and took a few deep breathes to calm her nerves. "Oh David, what have I gotten myself into?" Anna shook her head.

"Judy and I will be happy to take on another child. You won't have to give up anything you don't want to. You're not alone in this." David sounded preoccupied. "Anna, I wonder if I might have a sample of your blood."

"Relieving me of my commitments and responsibilities; is that part of your job description too?"

David cleared his throat. "No. I offered because I love and care about you, and I love my son and I'd like to have more children, but if you're going to make it sound like such a bad thing..."

Anna smiled. "What do you need my blood for?"

"I'm trying to figure out exactly what's wrong with our unconscious friend," David's brow furrowed.

"What are your thoughts so far?"

David shrugged. "According to Meline, he broke in through the window, grabbed her, held her and then bit her."

"That's right," Anna said.

"It's odd to say the least. I need to run more tests. Thus far I've been able to conclude that he's comatose, he's running a high fever, and... he's mortal."

"He can't be," Anna said. "I was his eyes. I saw the bite mark on Meline's neck. Two puncture wounds. A mortal would have had to use their bottom jaw for counter pressure, and-,"

"I believe you." David interrupted her.

"When will you know for sure?"

David shrugged. "As soon as he wakes up. Or, within a day or two if I can have some of your blood. I've already got a sample of Meline's."

Anna nodded. "Did you tell Meline?"

"No," David said. "I told her it was for a pregnancy test, then thought of the x-ray. Information like this..."

"Stays between us," Anna finished for him.

"Agreed," David said.

"On another note, why is she pregnant?" Anna asked, her tone a whisper. "Everything I've ever encountered on the subject is about how it isn't possible."

"Why Meline is pregnant may be an easy question to answer," David said. "It could be as simple as heredity. The real question is why did your mother become pregnant?"

"I hate unanswered questions," Anna sighed.

David smiled at her. "If it makes you feel any better, knowing why wouldn't change anything."

"Except maybe the future," Anna countered. "As long as you're sure there is a volitional element."

David pursed his lips. "I don't have the physical evidence to support it, but it's very possible that the volitional element was required on his part as well."

"If it's something they both want-,"Anna started but stopped at David's shaking head.

"Wanting is not the same as having," he said. "Her lover is an Elite. The Elite do not defy the laws of Argus."

"No new immortals," Anna said, "nor requests... and yet he allows Meline and I... and possibly my mother, I don't know."

"He may have made an exception because you are unique, an anomaly," David said. "But had your father known, by law he would have been required to surrender either your lives, or his."
 

 

Chapter 36 - 3rd Life

A few days later, Meline went shopping with Judy and Lewis.

David had his test results, and he and Anna went to have a talk with the unnamed visitor. David had put him on an IV drip to provide him with fluids, relieve any pain he may have and lower his fever. This gave him moments of consciousness. Had the nameless brunette been human a week earlier, this would have been a good sign.

David gave him a shot of adrenaline to bring him around to consciousness.

"Wo bin ich?" he mumbled.

"We speak English here." David said.

"What has happened to me?" he said. "Who are you? Why are you doing this?"

"My name is David and this is Anna. We're trying to help you. Will you tell us your name?"

"Milo," he replied.

Can you tell me when you were born Milo?" Anna asked. "What year? Or at least when it was you became an immortal?"

"Why?" Milo asked.

"It's an odd question, I know," Anna soothed, "But it's important."

Milo nodded. "I was born in Fifteen Seventy-Nine."

"David, will you get Milo a glass of water?" Anna asked.

David hesitated then nodded and left.

"Everything will be alright," Anna reached forward as she soothed, adjusted Milo's pillow, and broke his neck.

David caught his breath just outside the curtain.

Anna gently pulled the sheet over Milo's head. "It had to be done," she said to David when she joined him. "You do understand that I had no choice don't you?"

David nodded, barely. "Why did you wait until I had left?"

"You're a Doctor David. You took an oath."

David leaned in and kissed her on the forehead. She wrapped her arms around him and held tight to him.

She felt as though once again her life had fallen from its perch and David, as he had done since she met him, had been there to catch her - to save her.
 

 

Meline left in the middle of the night without warning or word barely a week after giving birth. Anna watched her go, angry that she was leaving so soon, but she did nothing to stop her. Instead, she stared into the soft green eyes of the tiny being they had named Ashe David Galen Parker Voll and hoped that she was doing the right thing.

 

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(c) copyright 2010-2016 Lauren T. Hart