Disclaimer: The characters aren't mine, belonging instead to Roddenberry-Kirschner Productions and Tribune Entertainment. This is set during (and slightly after) the episode "Sandoval's Run". Some of the dialogue in this fic was taken from that episode, which was written by Harry Doc Kloor. It was posted on the E:FC fanfic list (the first fic posted there, I believe).

The Loss of The Man
by Estirose
copyright 1998

The walls were silverish, metallic. DeeDee could tell nothing other than they were apparently some kind of temporary structure. Which meant they could be anywhere. Ron had gone into that place in order to find them - her - safety. Now they were in a different place, this place with the temporary metallic walls that somehow scared her. Her husband didn't seem to be scared, but anxious as he paced about. She attempted to get his attention by speaking. "What is this place?"

Ron barely acknowledged her, being caught up in some internal worry. No doubt he was worried about her, or his health. He'd tried to downplay it, but she knew him, knew when he was sick. She wasn't an idiot. Finally, he replied. "It's some kind of safehouse."

He returned to his pacing, looking at the walls and the cameras mounted in the corners. She could read the panic in his posture. He was worried, all right. He raised his voice. "Boone! Talk to me, Boone!"

The people who had taken them had left them alone. They probably didn't trust Ron. Considering what he'd said about them, she didn't blame them. Ron was continuing to pace. Back and forth in the small room he went, as if his energetic pace would save him. She could see that he was feeling ill, paling. She'd seen his bleeding ear. She could see the monitors they had put on him.

Why couldn't he admit it? Was he afraid that something terrible would happen if she knew he was dying? Maybe if he admitted it, then maybe things might turn out a bit better. "Why did they put those on you?"

He stopped pacing for a moment, but the answer didn't satisfy her. "It's- It's um, It's just a monitor."

_I know that!_ she wanted to scream. She wasn't an idiot, the drugs had worn off, he was just being an overprotective idiot. Or at least focussed on one thing and one thing only, protecting her life. In any other circumstance, she might have found it charming. "You're dying, aren't you? Without your implant."

Her husband didn't answer her, seemingly didn't hear her. It was as if he was totally blocking out anything that didn't involve getting her to safety. Safety? She didn't need to run. Nobody was looking for her.

"Boone!" Ron screamed. DeeDee watched her husband, and tried not to cry. Was her life worth his? Could she honestly say that she was worth more than him? No. But try to convince him of that.

That stopped him in his tracks, she was pleased to note. The pacing had been making her nervous. He came around the table to kneel in front of her. He looked up at her with pleading eyes. "DeeDee, I told you... I would never do that to you. Never."

What else left to do but to hug him, hold onto him as if holding onto him would make him change his mind and allow him to live. She felt as if he was drowning, and there was nothing else that she could do to make him want to live. Nothing left to say... except, maybe.... "I love you."

He put his head in her lap in response, as if asking for forgiveness. The forgiveness he'd always had, the forgiveness that she'd given him in the motel room. She knew it wasn't his fault, but the implant that he'd been given. And now she had her husband, her real husband, back. Just to lose him again. She held on as if she could somehow stop death from taking him.

She could do nothing to stop him from collapsing, dropping onto the floor like a rag doll. She checked his ear, and wasn't surprised to see it bleeding again. Were they going to be left here while he died? These people certainly didn't have any cause to like him. She tried to cradle him, tried to save him somehow.

And then the door opened, and Boone walked in, kneeling by her and Ron. She pleaded with him, hoping that he'd do something, save Ron. "Help him, please help him."

Boone looked grim. "DeeDee, he's dying."

At least someone would admit it. "I know."

"There's only one way to save him."

DeeDee looked up at him. "I know," she said. "Do it!"

* * *

And they did. She'd been blindfolded, a sack over her head, Boone's apology ringing in her ears. There wasn't much she could do anyway, if she wanted her husband to live. If they let him live, and this wasn't to spare her the sight of her husband's body.

But, when her blindfold was removed, he was still alive. He and another, a pilot, took her to a shuttle.

"Mrs. Sandoval?" Boone asked courteously, when they were in transit. "It'll be all right. Your husband will survive."

She nodded.

"Could I have your ring?"

DeeDee looked where she had indicated, and saw her wedding ring. "Why?" she asked, choking the words out.

"When your husband wakes up, he's going to see you as a threat, like he did before, but possibly he might see you as more of one. I promised him that I'd make you safe- part of it will be convincing him you are dead, so that he doesn't go after you himself. We're going to provide you with a new identity so that you'll be safe."

DeeDee wasn't sure she'd like that very much, and then she remembered what her husband had been like, before he'd put her away. Maybe this time, she wouldn't spend the rest of her life in an asylum. But what a high price to pay! To never see her husband again....

But she'd never see him again, anyway. The only time she'd ever see him is when he'd lost the implant, and then he'd start dying again. She quietly slipped the ring off her finger and handed it to Boone.

"Thank you," he said.

Shortly after, they'd landed at the clinic, and Dr. Belman, the person that would re-implant him, greeted them. They rushed him inside, managing to show her a place where she would see her husband for the last time.

Right before Boone was going to leave the room, Ron woke up, looking groggy. She couldn't hear what he was saying, nor much of what Boone was saying, but she could see the terror on his face as he realized where he was. Boone talked to him soothingly, leaning down, and then pulled out DeeDee's ring, no doubt convincing her husband that she had died. She wondered why he didn't wait until her husband was re-implanted, but maybe then was a better time.

Her husband was screaming, and screaming so loud that she understood what he was saying. He was crying, cursing Boone for her apparent loss. She didn't blame him, for this procedure would sever them from each other forever. She cried as the needle swung around to turn him back to what he was. Not the man she loved. Not her husband.

Not Ron. Just someone who thought he was him. Ron was gone forever. As he stiffened, she broke down. She couldn't handle it anymore, not the loss.

The procedure was done. Boone was guiding her out before the person who had been her husband got up and discovered that she wasn't dead. She took one more look at him.

She would need it to grieve.


Earth: Final Conflict fanfic