Disclaimer: Roddenberry-Kirschner and Tribune (among others) own the E:FC universe, as well as Siobhan, Ha'gel, and Liam. Vikki is technically theirs as well, though she is unnamed in "The Joining". Her personality, as well as elements of Liam's, are mine alone. Graeme is mine, though, as much as he can be.

Content Rating: PG-13. Mostly tame, adult topics.

Spoilers: "The Joining"

Author's Notes: This is a sequel to "The Quietest Change". While readers unfamiliar with that story have a chance of understanding this one without it, I do suggest reading that one first. This story begins shortly after that one ends.

I've been influenced by Tina Price's growth rate for Liam in her story "The Hidden" for Ha'gel's children, although I did not quite realize where I'd snagged it from until I reread her story the night after I finished this story. My apologies to Tina for snagging without asking.

This story was posted in five parts on PhilosophySphere's fanfiction posting board, under my nick there, "Angel Island". This version matches the slightly revised version I posted up later.

Leaving All I Know Behind
by Estirose (Angel Island)
Copyright 2000

Vikki shivered as she packed a few clothes and a few of her more portable precious belongings into her bag. She was leaving this place, possibly forever, making a probably unalterable change in her life. And why? Because of an alien named Ha'gel. An alien who had already changed her life thanks to the birth of their son, Graeme.

Of course, Ha'gel, Graeme, and Ha'gel's second child Liam were all unpleasant and scary reminders to the Taelons that they hadn't quite managed to eliminate Ha'gel's species. It was one of the reasons why she and the others were abandoning the apartment. The other was, of course, Jonathan Doors' Liberation group, which Ha'gel had no doubt gotten on the bad side of.

"Are ya ready?" Siobhan Beckett, the newest part of the family, asked.

"Just about," Vikki replied as she took one last look around the room, hoping that she'd see it again. So much to leave behind, like grandma's funny dark green square plates that Vikki was nonetheless fond of. Things that she'd probably never see again. Battling the lump in her throat, she zipped up the suitcase. "Okay."

* * *

Heavens knew where Graeme had gotten the minivan. She probably didn't want to ask or know, given the adult-child's proclivity towards his human father's side profession. He was currently lounging in the middle seat, watching the road go by. She was sitting in the front passenger's seat, keeping an eye on the map for Ha'gel, while Siobhan, hair in hat, was currently talking softly to the preschool-looking Liam.

Gads, it seemed like only yesterday that Graeme had looked like that. Of course, he'd been touchy-feely and rather expressive, while Liam was a quiet little child. It was hard to remember that Graeme wasn't very old, and neither he nor Liam should be out of diapers. At least Liam looked like a child for the moment. Poor Siobhan; Liam would be adult-looking before she knew it.

Maybe, if they got away, Liam and Graeme would have a chance to be the children they were. After all, the Taelons apparently thought Ha'gel was going gunning for them, and the Liberation didn't have a clue as to where they were. Find some remote place, and nobody would be around to wonder who they were and why they were treating adults like children.

"Rest stop," Graeme announced boredly, and indeed, there was one coming up.

"Anyone need to go?" she asked, indicating the passing sign.

"Aye, Liam could use a go," Siobhan announced. "And I think we all could use a little break, even yer big son."

Vikki couldn't help but smile, especially after Graeme's outraged expression. She left him wearing it, as she turned to Ha'gel. "You okay with that?"

"If Siobhan thinks it is safe, then I consent," Ha'gel responded. He then headed off the ramp, slowing down and driving around until he found a place to park. "Go. I'll remain here, just in case we need to go quickly."

Vikki smiled, opening her door and sliding out. As she left, she could hear Siobhan say, "Get yerself up, Graeme. Ye can't tell me you're less than half as cramped as the rest of us. Why, even Liam needs exercise!"

"Liam is a growing boy," Ha'gel rumbled as the sliding door slid open and a sullen Graeme got out. Siobhan seemed to have a natural touch with both boys where Vikki didn't, a fact that she was left to admire as Siobhan handed Liam to Graeme before getting out herself.

The slightly older woman took her son from Graeme's arms and headed off to the bathroom, while Graeme slammed the door shut and leaned against it, obviously unwilling to go any farther. Vikki shook her head at that. Graeme was certainly a stubborn kid. Maybe it was from his human father.

Vikki didn't know much about Graeme's father, other than he was some kind of small-time thief with a big curiosity and that his name was Randy. She knew what he looked like, thanks to his time as Ha'gel's host, but she didn't know much about the man himself, not even his last name! And Ha'gel didn't seem inclined to give that to her. She supposed it was because he found the man repugnant, but it was obvious that Graeme was developing traits that weren't hers or Ha'gel's. She'd have to talk to Ha'gel about this Randy more.

In the meantime, Siobhan was right- she was cramped. She was surprised that Ha'gel wasn't either, but maybe it had to do with his human form being an illusion. If his species were energy-based like the Taelons, then he probably didn't get cramps. She left Ha'gel, Graeme, and the minivan behind to join Siobhan and Liam for some exercise.

By the time she got near the restrooms, Siobhan was coming out of them with Liam holding her hand. The child seemed very happy just to be with his mother, and Vikki hoped that would never change. Maybe Siobhan would get lucky and Liam would never be as sullen as Graeme currently was.

Siobhan was bending over, and Liam was whispering something to her. "Go ahead, lad," she told him, "but don't go too far." As Liam ran off, Siobhan walked over to her. The two of them stood in companionable silence for a while before she found herself speaking up.

"He's so full of energy."

"Aye," Siobhan said. "Wasn't Graeme so?"

"I don't know," Vikki said, trying not to sigh. "He spent most of his growing-up in a shoddy hotel room, so I didn't get to watch him like this. And right now, he seems to be really sullen and grumpy. Or at least he is to me. You have a touch with kids. Did you have younger brothers and sisters? I only had an older brother."

"Nay, I was an only child, much to my parents' regret," the other woman responded. "It's probable it's because my family's very close, and I saw a lot of my cousins growing up. Graeme is a lot like a cousin of mine."

Vikki gave up and sighed. "At least it seems like Liam won't be a problem. Unless his human father tosses some surprises this way."

"Ha'gel showed me Ron's true self," Siobhan responded. "I wish Ron could be completely free of his yoke, like I am, so that Liam could have all of his parents around him."

"Ron?" Vikki asked, wondering who this person was that had obviously left Siobhan enchanted far more than even Ha'gel had.

"A... colleague," Siobhan said, and from Siobhan's firm look, Vikki knew she wasn't going to get any farther. Still, it was obvious that Liam had originated out of love, not out of a pair of strangers with lust. "I used to tear my dresses all the time in the fields behind the house," she said out of the blue, as Liam continued to run around the green.

Vikki could just see Graeme, still leaning on the minivan, and sighed. Why couldn't I be the lucky one? she thought.

* * *

Graeme was trading words with Ha'gel in some unknown language as she and Siobhan drew near. The conversationalists lapsed into silence as she stepped down into the parking lot, but she caught the glare that Graeme shot at Liam, and her heart caught in her throat. The last thing the family needed was sibling rivalry. She knew that she wasn't the only one who caught it, as Siobhan shared a worried glance with her. The fact that the Companion Protector was worried didn't reassure her. But there was time to take care of that later. If nothing got out of control in the meantime.

As they continued on their way, Graeme lapsed into silence. At a quiet stretch of road, she put her hand up, palm out, towards Ha'gel. His hand touched hers briefly.

Worry. A shimmering curtain of fear punctuated his being, fear at being hunted. Concern about Graeme and Liam, and in particular Graeme's reaction to Liam. Maybe he shouldn't have had his children so close together, not in this way. There were always dangers in an intermating, and this one was more dangerous than most. The family needed seclusion and sharing, and there was no time for either.

Ha'gel's hand dropped, and Vikki found herself taking a deep breath. Well, that made it three for three in the worried adults department, and she wouldn't be surprised if Liam had noticed his part-brother's attitude as well.

But there was nothing that she, Ha'gel, or Siobhan could do right now. Maybe when they stopped for the night, the three of them could figure out what was going on.

Vikki caught herself at her last thought. Why does everything in threes seem so natural when it comes to Ha'gel? Graeme and Liam both had three parents, and Ha'gel seemed to see nothing strange there, and now, in a way, our kids have three parents. Only now, it's two mothers instead of two fathers. Another thing to ask Ha'gel sometime when things quiet down.

* * *

They ended up taking a small room at a budget motel, frantically trying to arrange things so that everyone that did sleep could find a place to do so. They were probably fortunate when Ha'gel indicated that he didn't sleep, so he had no problem sitting around all night. There was some problem figuring who got the bed and who got the floor, as nobody knew what was triggering Graeme's problem with Liam, but finally, she and Graeme got the bed, while Siobhan and the now-looking-eight Liam got the floor. Liam was treating the bedding arrangements as some sort of new game, and had contentedly gone off to sleep - or at least for an hour or two. Ha'gel indicated it would probably be a good idea to wake him up every so often to feed him, just as Vikki had needed feeding when Graeme was growing inside her.

Graeme himself was in some sort of Ha'gel-induced sleep, and she was relieved that her son wasn't awake. While the two boys slept, she, Siobhan, and Ha'gel found themselves sitting at the small table looking at the remainder of their snack food, Ha'gel sitting on the bed because they only had two chairs.

Seeing that nobody else was going to bring up the topic, Vikki spoke up. "I'm worried about Graeme. He's so sullen and silent... and his reaction to Liam worries me."

"It isn't just about Liam," Ha'gel replied. "He is reacting that way to Siobhan as well. It is just that he hides that better."

"But why?" Vikki asked, noticing Siobhan's change of expression.

"I think... that he may wish that I had not sought out a second mate, and instead readied you. He is angry with all of us; you, because you suggested finding another, me, because I went along with you, Siobhan and Liam because they are part of the family now. What Graeme would have preferred right now would either be no sibling, or the three of us at your apartment with you preparing to birth at this point. Instead, we are all here."

"In other words," Vikki said, "he didn't want things to change."

"I'm nay surprised," Siobhan offered. "To be part of a stable home and have everything ripped away from you...."

"To have to leave everything behind and start all over again," Vikki finished. "Not that his life so far's been very stable."

"But yours has," Ha'gel replied, startling her. "Children are known to act according to the memories of their parents. Graeme may be reacting to nothing more than a desire for stability - yours."

"Mine?" Vikki echoed. "I mean, my life's been pretty quiet so far, but...."

"And that is what Graeme wants," Ha'gel explained. "He wants your ideal life, and mine... the two of us together, with several children around us. He knows that will never happen as long as we are hunted, and he resents that. Me, more than anything, although Liam is the easiest target for him to aim at."

Vikki rubbed her face. "I'd never thought that's what he'd want. He seemed so impatient to rescue Liam, like he wanted an adventure."

"He knows very well that it's dangerous for us to become involved in the conflict with the Taelons, not with himself and Liam being the future. It is different than a desire to have adventures."

Cupping her fists under her chin and leaning on them, Vikki said, "So, what can we do about it?"

"There may not be much that we can do, until we are safe," Ha'gel replied. "The best we can do is to all work out our feelings... together. When we are farther away from the Taelons, and Liam is physically mature, then we will all share so that we may all understand each other better." He got up from his seat on the bed. "Liam will require more food."

Without saying another word, he left. "I think he's frustrated by all this," Vikki muttered idly.

"Aye," Siobhan responded. "I dinna blame him."

"Nor do I. I just wish there was a way to make things stable, for Graeme's sake. It doesn't excuse his behaviour towards Liam, but I don't blame Graeme for wanting what his parents have... or want."

"And what ye want?" Siobhan said softly.

"It's funny," Vikki responded, "But the way things have been changing don't seem to bother me as much as they do him. It's almost as if Ha'gel gave me a way out of the routine I was trapped into. Maybe I would have preferred a less abrupt transition, but I kind of like not spending my days at work, and then at the nearest bar."

"You work in customer service, yes?" Siobhan asked.

"Yeah," Vikki responded. "And what's worse, for a credit card company. You can't believe the excuses and rants you hear there! If nothing else, Ha'gel just rescued me from that. Although I don't know what happened when I didn't show up for work today. Guess I'd better look for a new job, huh?"

"Aye," Siobhan agreed. "I don't think I want my old one any longer, either."

Siobhan had a wry expression on her face. Vikki found herself uttering a short, hysterical laugh as she remembered what Siobhan's job was. "Sorry," she apologized.

"That's all right," Siobhan responded.

"I guess we'll have to rely on Graeme's talent for 'acquiring' things," Vikki said. "With my luck, he'll decide that the best way to feel safe is to 'acquire' us a house, or a cabin. Sometimes I wish his talents didn't lie in his father's direction."

"We may well need his talents; you may just have to hope he grows out of them."

Vikki shook her head. "I hope so." She jumped slightly as the door to the room was unlocked, but it was only Ha'gel, with more food. She was not startled to see that Ha'gel had gone for fruits and vegetables, given that those were what he was most fond of giving her during her pregnancy.

"We will need to wake Liam in a few minutes," he told Siobhan.

"If his stomach doesn't waken him first," Siobhan said, smiling. "It seems like he's got a bottomless pit for a stomach."

"He is a growing child, and needs the energy," Ha'gel said solemnly. He handed an apple to Vikki. "As do you. Eat."

Vikki ate under Ha'gel's watchful eye.

* * *

Her first thought was that she'd overslept and would be late to work, but then reality dawned in her mind, and she remembered she didn't have to deal with that anymore. Today would be spent with the family, continuing the journey away from Washington and its dangers.

The rest of the family had left the motel room, but their meager belongings were still there. Not that she need worry, she reminded herself, because Ha'gel wouldn't leave her there. He didn't seem the type to do so, and besides, she didn't think Siobhan would let him do it.

Vikki slid out of bed and took her slept-in clothes off, exchanging them for one of her sets of spares. She was barely finished when the door was unlocked and Siobhan came in. "Where's everybody?" she asked.

"Ha'gel is getting more food, Graeme is in the minivan, and Liam is runnin' around getting his exercise. Ha'gel's willin' to go, whenever we're packed."

"Sounds good to me," Vikki responded. "But what about breakfast? Are we going to eat here, or on the road?"

"Most of us ate before you got up," Siobhan told her. "Ha'gel didn't want to disturb your rest, so he left your breakfast over there, in the paper sack." With that, Siobhan turned away, seemingly intent on packing, but Vikki had the indescribable feeling that something was being left unsaid. She quickly went through her breakfast, groaning again at the amount of vegetables and fruits compared to the other food groups. Gotta introduce Ha'gel to the concept of a 'balanced diet', she thought.

When she finished breakfast, she quickly packed her own stuff, noting with amusement that Siobhan was packing far more slowly and neatly than she was doing. She lugged her suitcase out onto the pathway, taking a moment to orient herself. She was halfway down when a teenager she didn't recognize at first blocked her path. "Hi, aunt Vikki."

Vikki blinked as she looked up. His eyes were the same color as his mothers', and now that she looked at him, she could clearly recognize the child he'd been last night. "Hi, Liam," she greeted warmly. "You've grown a bit."

Liam smiled. "Mom and dad say so." As he spoke, he handed her something. She looked down to find herself holding a small, squarish glass plate, maybe a saucer, in a pale pink color. "Mom gave me a little bit of money to buy a treat. I think she meant gum or something like that, but I ran across this. I know it isn't green or quite the right shape, but...."

"It's lovely, Liam. Thank you," she told him, carefully holding the little plate in such a way that she wouldn't break it, and then hugged him. She held onto him for a moment, and then let him go. "I wonder if this glass had a pattern, or a name, or something."

"I think she told her husband that it was 'Junky Reproduction Madrid', but I don't know if I was supposed to hear that."

Vikki laughed. "Probably not."

"Where's mom?"

She indicated back the way she came. "Packing, last I checked."

"Thanks," Liam said, and was soon heading in the direction of the room. She shook her head, still smiling, and lugged her suitcase back to the minivan.

Soon, her suitcase was stowed in the back, and she went around to the sliding door, opening it. Graeme was lounging in his seat, which was not too surprising to her. She hopped in, sliding the door shut, for she knew some family discussions were probably not a good idea to air to outsiders. "Want to talk about it?" she asked.

In response, he thrust his hand out at her. Recognizing the invitation for what it was, she brought her hand up to meet his.

A blare of an angry horn assaulted her, allowed her to go no farther. Despite everything, he did not want to let her in. And then the blaring softened, and she saw herself, painted with a multitude of emotions. Love, envy, anger, so many others that she couldn't quite define, colored his perception of her.

Then the universe and reality intruded again. Before he could resist, she found herself hugging him. "I'm sorry, honey. But it would have eventually come down to running. We wouldn't have had a choice in the matter."

"Yeah, maybe not, but we could have gone a lot later!" Graeme exploded at her. "But no, you couldn't behave like a proper mate, you had to tell him to look for somebody else. And being Kimera, he did. You prodded him into this. Into Liam."

"Liam doesn't deserve your anger, Graeme," Vikki responded, hoping to make him see reason. "The reason I suggested to your father that he look for another partner was out of concern for genetic diversity. Not because I was trying not to be a 'proper mate', whatever that is."

Graeme snorted. "Ignorance is no excuse. If he'd stayed with you, we wouldn't be in this mess right now!"

"Ignorance or not, we were already running. They already knew what your father looked like. Sooner or later the Liberation would have gotten into it and we'd probably be in the same trouble."

"Trouble I have to get you two out of," Graeme said, his voice rising. "Why couldn't you have stuck with each other? Why do we have to worry about two other people instead of just our family?"

"Because they're family, and Liam is your brother," Vikki told him firmly. "Whether or not you approve of our actions, they are part of us now. Would you have let Liam die, or stay in the hands of the Liberation?"

Graeme shook his head. "No! But he shouldn't exist in the first place. Dad should have planned more carefully. Spaced us out more."

"It's not like he has time to be picky," Vikki pointed out. "If he gets killed, then you and Liam are the only surviving members of the Kimera. You know as well as I do that the two of you double the chances of survival."

"I know that!" Graeme pronounced. "But that doesn't mean I want to be stuck out here! Not like this. Not with people I can't relate to!"

"Graeme, we're your family," Vikki told him. "We're all that we have."

The back door began to creak up, but Graeme seemed not to hear. "Unfortunately. Am I the only one who can get things done properly?"

"Watch your mouth, Graeme Samuel Campbell!" Siobhan's voice came from the back. "Ye've been wrapped up in yourself, and that's not good. Listen to yer mother."

"Yeah, right," Graeme muttered.

When Vikki found her voice again, she said, "Graeme...."

"Leave me alone." With that, Graeme turned away from her, deliberately folding his hands under his arms. Vikki shook her head, and opened the sliding door to leave the minivan. Closing the door, she slumped against it.

Looking over at Siobhan, who had just shut the back door, she said, "I think we have a problem."

"Aye," Siobhan agreed. She turned around to someone that Vikki couldn't see, digging into her purse. "Liam, why don't ye get yerself some soda, and if you happen to see yer father, tell him to come immediately."

"Sure," Liam replied, emerging from behind Siobhan. He looked in Graeme's general direction. "I want to talk to aunt Vikki for a sec, though."

"Okay," Vikki told him. The child led her away from the van.

"Any chance you can convince mom to let me talk to Graeme? I'm worried, and she won't let me."

"I.. don't think she'd let you, and right now I'd think she's right, with Graeme's state of mind. Why do you want to talk to him?"

"Because he's upset at me. I don't want him to be, because that's bad. 'Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto the, thou shalt by no means come out hence, until thou hast pait the utmost farthing.'"

Vikki found herself shivering again. "You think he might go off and get us all killed?"

"I don't know," Liam replied, looking haunted.

She rubbed her arm. "Tell your mom what you told me. We do need your dad, though."

"I understand." With that, Liam hurried over to Siobhan, talking to her intensely. The other woman shook her head, and Liam departed, presumably looking for Ha'gel.

After Liam had gone, Vikki joined Siobhan at her spot near the minivan. There was a worried expression on Siobhan's face, one that no doubt mirrored her own. "I hope Ha'gel comes back soon."

"Aye. I have no doubt Liam will find him; he seems gifted in that direction. I just hope he's not as gifted in some other directions that my family's had talent for."

"I hate to see him hurt. Did you know he found me this little glass plate?"

A fond smile came to Siobhan's face. "Aye, that sounds like Liam to me. I send him off to get a snack, and all he can think about is making people comfortable. He must have felt bad after this morning's discussion."

"What was that?" Vikki asked, curious.

"Liam," Siobhan said slowly, "decided he wanted to become a Companion Protector. Ha'gel and I had quite a good time convincing him that 'twas probably not a good idea. Ha'gel says that that sudden impulse probably partly came from Liam's inclination to become a peacemaker, and partly because Ron and I are, or were, Companion Protectors."

"Ron?" Vikki asked, and then she suddenly remembered. "Oh, Ronald Sandoval, Da'an's attaché! He's Liam's human father?"

"Aye," Siobhan replied wistfully.

"Wow," she breathed. "Liam doesn't take after his father much, does he?"

"Nay, I think he's taking more after his maternal grandfather," Siobhan responded. "So, where's this little glass plate?"

"In my luggage. I didn't want Liam's gift damaged, so I stuck it between some of my clothes."

"Ah. Well, ye'll just have to show me when we arrive at our next destination."

* * *

Siobhan's prediction about Liam's abilities proved to be true, for Ha'gel was soon there, being towed by Liam. Ha'gel looked as worried as they had earlier. "I was hoping... that this was not happening."

"I think it would be a really good idea if we took care of this sooner, rather than later," Vikki told him.

"I agree," Ha'gel said. He looked at Siobhan. She looked at Liam.

"Liam, have you got yerself a soda yet?"

"No, I was too busy looking for dad. I don't want a soda, I want to stay."

Vikki put her hand on Liam's shoulder. "I know you want to help, but how about letting us work some things out first, and then you can help. We've got to get our acts together before we can help your brother."

"Oh. Okay," Liam said. "I'll go then, but you'd better not start without me!"

"We'll try not to," Vikki promised. Liam scampered off, seemingly content. "But this doesn't seem like a very private place to talk."

"We'll go back to the room," Ha'gel told her. "There, we can discuss what we must in privacy."

So, they went back to the room, settling once again on the two chairs and the bed. "So, what do we do about Graeme?" Vikki asked.

"Vikki, share with us what Graeme told you," Ha'gel instructed, holding out his palms to Vikki and Siobhan. Vikki saw Siobhan touch Ha'gel's palm with hers, and did the same. It was easy to recall the incident, and the sharing was over in a minute's time.

"I think that Graeme needs to feel like he is family," Siobhan said. "That where one's home is isn't as important as where one's family is."

"Maybe," Vikki responded. "But he won't feel like family until he's someplace safe, and stable. I didn't get the impression that he hated Liam, more like Liam represents change. Plus, it doesn't help that Liam is essentially his baby brother, nevermind that Graeme isn't that old himself."

"When he was talking to you, Vikki, what he expressed was a mixture of Kimera and human concepts of family," Ha'gel told her. "If this was a normal intermating, Graeme would be what my people call a planet-bound hybrid, one more comfortable with a stable place, rather than ship-going, whose temperaments are best suited for wandering around the universe with only the family as a core."

"But that still doesn't answer how to deal with Graeme's problem with all of us," Vikki pointed out.

"The problem sounds simple in concept but is difficult in execution. We must give him, as Siobhan suggested, a solid core of family, a little bit of normality. If we can stabilize him in that way, he may well be able to hold on until we find a place where he can be himself."

"So, how do we do that?" Siobhan asked.

"We will bring him back here, and we will all share, all of us. Sharing is probably the most effective tool we Kimera have, for it does not allow us to hide our feelings and thoughts, and therefore there is no hiding things in the discussion. Graeme must be allowed to see that he is not alone, but also that his actions are hurting the family. When Liam comes back, we will fetch Graeme."

* * *

It took a few minutes for Liam to come back. Siobhan sent him back to tell Graeme to come back to the room, and when he came back, he was followed close behind by Graeme.

She, Siobhan, and Ha’gel were still sitting on the chairs and the bed respectively. But thanks to a small bit of movement by Ha’gel, there was room on the bed for both Graeme and Liam. Ha’gel positioned Graeme next to himself, with Liam sitting on the other side of Graeme. Ha’gel then reached out with his hands, touching palms with Siobhan and Graeme. At some silent signal, Graeme touched palms with Liam, and Liam held out his palm to Vikki. She raised her hand to his, closing her eyes, and the sharing began.

She could feel four other presences nearby. One alien, two somewhat alien, and another that was unfamiliar but human. Of those, she readily recognized Ha’gel’s mental signature, as well as Graeme’s angry presence. The other two, the semi-alien and the human, must belong to Liam and Siobhan respectively.

Vikki reached for her son’s presence, feeling the other three doing the same. As she got near, she brushed against an eagerness tinged with worry about rejection that had to be Liam, hoping for his older brother’s acceptance. Siobhan hung nearby to Liam, and she practically radiated protectiveness - not towards just her son, but against whoever would tear her family apart. Ha’gel, on the other hand, was trying hard to approach Graeme, not touching, as if he wasn’t overly sure how to do it. She reached out mentally and guided him to where the rest of them were, giving Graeme the presence of his family.

It was Liam, though, who was the one who seemed to make the greatest impression on Graeme. He gave his older brother the sharing equivalent of a hug. He then withdrew, and she could feel Ha’gel starting on a review of the last few days. Various and sundry memories washed over, various and sundry viewpoints joining together as a cohesive whole. Siobhan and Liam’s rescue went by, followed by the family’s departure from Vikki’s apartment. It was then that one of Graeme’s memories surprised her, as she saw him tuck away one of the smallest of her dark green squarish plates. He’d hoped that it would make him feel more comfortable, but as the trip progressed, he remembered the little plate, and remembered what it had meant to her. And his anger had increased.

It should have gone to the Taelons, who were the main reason why his father and mother were in this predicament, or even to the Liberation, which in its greed had tried to hold on to his parents, leaving him an orphan. But somehow, somehow, it had washed into his perception of his parents and the others, the ones whose only crime was being who they were, or chose to be with.

That realization didn’t dampen his anger at his family, though. While he was sorry he’d yelled at his mom, especially at things that she really didn’t know about, it just hurt to be there. He didn’t want to be away from home, even though he realized that home was dangerous. Aunt Siobhan was wrong; he wasn’t wrapped up in himself, or at least he knew he wasn’t trying to do that. He probably shouldn’t be angry with Liam, though. Liam was his sibling, his little baby brother, and he certainly wasn’t at fault for anybody’s actions.

She felt him reach out, and to her surprise, as well as Siobhan's and Ha'gel's, mentally return his little brother's hug with a crushing embrace. All of them could feel Liam's radiating forgiveness.

Then Liam’s warm hand withdrew from hers, and she felt disappointment as she was disconnected from the sharing. She opened her eyes, seeing to her relief that everybody’s hands were dropped. The atmosphere felt a lot more relaxed, and she sighed, this time with the feeling that something may have changed for her son.

"I think," she said, mostly to Graeme, but also to the others, "that we have a lot to talk about while we’re on our way today."

A collection of nods and almost-nods came from the rest of her family. "It would be good to establish our family more," Ha’gel agreed. "We cannot be angry at one another, if we are to prevent the Taelons from finding us - or, accomplishing by ourselves what they mean to do."

* * *

Vikki found herself the last one out, with Graeme waiting for her. "I’m sorry," he said grudgingly, "for what I said, mom. It’s just... it’s just...."

"You want to be home. Honey, I understand. We can’t be on the run forever. There’s time for your dreams of family to come true."

"Good, because I want lots of sisters and brothers," Graeme replied, with a brightness in his voice that she’d not heard for several days. It was like he was her little boy again. Her still upset little boy, but her little boy nonetheless.

"Thanks for saving one of my plates. At least I have something more of home."

"You’re welcome, mom," he told her. "I guess you’re not upset, huh?"

"Nah, not at that. Just remember about the rest of us being here, and you’ll do fine."

"Okay. But I’ll feel better when we have a permanent home. Hey," he said, as he rubbed his palm, "I’ll find one for us!"

Vikki could only sigh and shake her head, as they made their way to the car. It was certainly going to be an interesting trip.

-end


Earth: Final Conflict fics