Spoilers: the 2nd season episode "Volunteers".
Author's note: I was trying for a followup to "Remembering Amanda" and I got... this. Yes, it's a bit of a crossover. It was inspired by a line in a recent episode in the crossed series. Liam's somewhat unusual reaction to the alcohol has its roots in Seven O' Nine's "Pied Pipers and Cough Syrup".
One's Own Forgiveness
by Selma McCrory
Liam took the beer out of the fridge in his apartment over the Flat Planet. He would have preferred to drink in company, but his reaction to the alcohol in most drinks the place served wasn't something he desired to have seen in public.
"Amanda," he mumbled to himself as he opened the can, knowing that the ex-Volunteer was the reason he was even considering taking this course of action. He wanted to forget about her, forget how she'd looked as she'd finally found out all the betrayals of her life.
And how she'd died, trying to do what was right. Nobody could accuse her of not having determination. In a sea of lost dreams, she had still retained her focus. Had he ever been so noble?
He choked down the beer and its bitter taste, not caring much for either but what they would give him. A chance to dream about something other than Amanda. The alcohol inevitably made him sleepy. And he knew that when he dreamed, the dream would not be his own.
Melissa Park theorized that the alcohol lowered whatever barriers that he had in his brain, which sometimes gave him an unconscious access to his ancestral memories, and other times channelled others' thoughts and memories into his dreams. Sometimes his own thoughts mixed into them as well. It was a rarely welcome hodgepodge of elements, and something that he avoided experiencing as much as possible.
Setting the beer can into the recycle bin, Liam lay down, closing his eyes. Somewhere along the way sleep claimed him.
* * *
He was sitting on a low concrete wall by a park in some unknown city. Beside him sat a woman in her early twenties, dressed in a black leather outfit, her blonde hair long with two small front sections braided and tied in back in some sort of mini-ponytail. Following her gaze, he could see children in some sort of jumpsuits playing a dozen feet away.
She looked over at him, placing a hand on his shoulder. "What's bothering you?" she asked.
Somehow, he found he couldn't lie to her. "It's Amanda. She'd just discovered that she had a whole life ahead of her, and then I let her sacrifice herself for me. So much potential, wasted, because we had a mission to do. I should have left her behind."
She looked thoughtful, turning back to stare at the children. "People don't act according to your will, no matter how much you might wish them to do. I must have terribly hurt Ecliptor, the being that raised me, when I chose to leave with my brother and my boyfriend. Yet, he let me go, even protected me when people had objections. You've got to let people do what they're determined to do. Everybody has the right to fight for what they're passionate about."
Liam looked at her, seeing eyes far too old for her years. "Even though it's not right for them to die?"
The girl stopped looking at the children again, and looked back at him. "Some people should live forever, and never do. They're gone. It's the living that must face what they've done. Sometimes we really regret what we did or didn't do earlier. Guilt can be a wonderful motivator - or a crippling burden."
"What was it for you?" he asked, wondering what had caused her to look so pained.
"Both," she said. "It brought me here, but it also brought me pain. I met my friends because I was trying to make up for what I'd once done as a leading force of evil. But it also made me think that I wasn't worth all that had been done for me, because I had done so much wrong. I'd forgotten that no matter how big a mistake I thought I'd made, I was still worthy of the love and friendship of the people around me, because I wasn't just that guilt."
Liam rubbed his palms. "I guess I haven't done that badly, then," he said, reflecting that he wasn't a leading force of evil, except maybe to the Taelons.
She shook her head. "There are very few things that people won't forgive you for, especially if you acknowledge you made a mistake. But, trust me, all the forgiveness in the world won't matter at all if you can't forgive yourself as well."
"I guess I'll have to forgive myself, then," he said flippantly.
Catching his chin with her hands, she turned his face so that he directly looked into hers. "I know it's hard. But it's worth the effort. And you'll feel so much better."
"I hope so. Thanks."
The woman nodded. "You're welcome."
They returned to watching the children.
* * *
He didn't awaken until his alarm rang. Looking at his alarm clock, he realized he'd slept almost twelve hours. However, for the first time, he seemed to have slept with almost no dreams, except for the woman in the park.
Liam made a note to discuss the dream with Melissa Park sometime in the future. He felt better, more refreshed, as if he'd taken a burden off his shoulders. It was almost as if, sometime in the long sequence of dreams that must have followed that one, that he had resolved something.
He would forever mourn Amanda, who she was or might have been. But he also knew that he shouldn't beat himself up over what had happened. The choice was her, and to respect her, he had to respect that. She wouldn't want him to hate himself over her choice.
Now, he would get on with his life.