It had taken several months but things were starting to settle down for the Bennett household. Everyone sighed in relief the day William left the hospital; although Casey was concerned for his mental state. William was too quiet and reserved. Forever looking over his shoulder jumping at shadows and unexpected noises. Casey couldn’t blame him after what he experienced which made Casey wish they could inflict a severer punishment upon the woman who did this to him.
Jessica had been incarcerated and charged with three counts of attempted homicide. She should be in prison for her crimes instead she was jabbering away inside some mental institution for the criminally insane. Casey had received multiple requests to bring the children to visit. No way in hell was that going to happen. Casey still got up in the middle of the night to calm the screams from their nightmares. He couldn’t, he wouldn’t take the kids to see the monster of their nightmares. There was a pending court date he had to attend along with William to decide what was in the best interests of the children. A waste of time and money as far as Casey was concerned. Mother dearest didn’t deserve to see the children she wanted to kill, even if she was out of her ever-loving mind at the time. She gave up her parental rights the moment she fired that gun.
Getting up Casey moved to go inside the cramped house when William came outside to join him on the porch. Relaxing back onto the bench Casey waited for his dad to speak first. “Casey I really appreciate everything you’ve done and for letting us intrude upon your hospitality…”
“Thank you,” William fell silent watching the random car drive past, his green eyes troubled. “After the court hearing I’m thinking of moving. There’s just too many memories here … I can’t go back to that house. I know the kids can’t go back. I’ve decided to sell everything. I can’t bear the thought of going in there….”
“Don’t worry dad, Lynn and I will go through the house. We’ll take anything we think you might need or want.”
“It’s a lot to ask. You’ve already done more than enough,” his voice faltered. “I just don’t know how to pick up the pieces of my life and go on. I feel like I’m being pulled in a million different directions.”
“If you sell the house, Erik won’t have any place to live.” Casey told him unsure if his dad even cared about what happened to the alien who saved his life.
William swallowed convulsively “Erik? Is that what he’s calling himself these days?”
“Well no not exactly. The kids and I decided he needed a name. He agreed to go by whatever name we chose.” Sighing Casey turned to face his dad “he saved your life.”
“and you think I should be grateful,” William said still not looking at him. “To be honest I don’t how I’m supposed to feel about him. I should hate him. He was responsible for Sydney’s death. He’s Bryan’s father/mother/progenitor/something because he took advantage of me the last time I was on the alien ship. Am I supposed to forget those things? How? Tell me how?”
Casey shook his head “I don’t know but without him you would have died. Were we supposed to sit back and let you die? Let you die when there was an alternative?”
“Yes,” William spit out hands clenched into fists. “Do you think I want to be tied to something I loathe? I have all these conflicting emotions. I hate him and yet I’m drawn to him like a magnet. I never wanted this bond. I’ve felt it before but it was never so strong before.”
“I’m sorry we didn’t think … we only wanted you back. You said once you would do anything for your kids. Your children needed their father. We’ve already lost our mother. We couldn’t lose you too.” Casey wiped at his eyes “maybe we should have considered what that bond meant. Adam tried to warn us. Maybe we were wrong but I’m not sorry you’re alive.”
“No I’m sorry. It was a terrible position for you kids to be in and it was an impossible decision. I understand. I might have done the same in your position. I just don’t know how to fight these feelings I have for a man I despise.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t,” Casey told him “maybe you should give him a chance. He’s here waiting in the same limbo as you. Don’t you think he feels the same confusing contradictory feelings as you? He can never go back to his people. He will do all he can to save them but he will never be welcome by them.”
“He’s coming over for supper,” Casey told him. “The children like him. He helped Lynn and I when everyone else had to go back to their lives. I’m thankful for his help. We couldn’t have done it without him.”
Looking askance at his son William wanted to tell him that he would go out some place just to avoid seeing him. How could he explain that the man made his skin crawl and his pulse quicken at the same time? “So your saying I should give him a chance.”
“Yes I do,” Casey said looking out across the lawn “I’m not saying you have to take him as your husband or anything. That’d be weird. A friend who will be there to help you. Who couldn’t use a friend?”
“Ok I’ll try,” William said giving in. The alien couldn’t be all bad if his kids liked him, could he?
After another moment of silence Casey silently got up and walked into the house. William sat there trying to blank his mind of all thought. Trying to find a calm that he didn’t think he’d ever feel again. He closed his eyes imagining himself floating on a cloud until a voice startled him.
“Good evening William,” the voice sent shivers down his spine. Opening his eyes William found the alien staring down at him with his unsettling alien eyes. If it weren’t for those eyes he could pass himself off as completely human. “Can we talk?”
Nodding William scooted as far over on the bench as he could get. He tried not to flinch as the alien sat down next to him. The aliens proximity both thrilled and terrified him at once. “I’m sorry,” the alien began “I have no right to ask your forgiveness. I’ve done the unimaginable and I don’t deserve forgiveness. But I am sorry.”
Taking a deep breath William turned to look at the alien squarely in the face. “No you don’t deserve forgiveness. I don’t know if I can offer it. You saved my life and for that I’m told by my son I should be grateful. But I wonder at what cost?”
Staring intently at William the alien slowly nodded his head. “I did not save your life because I wanted your gratitude. I did it because I wanted to. I’ve known we were bonded since Bryan was conceived. You’ve felt it and clung to your wife despite her increasingly erratic behavior. If I had known we would be bonded I might have looked for another way. I simply did not know it was even a possibility. At the time all I was concerned about was passing on my DNA so that my work would some day be complete and my people would be saved ….”
“Because I would have needed help to perform the process, access to the instruments to perform the procedure and foremost someone I could trust. I simply did not have any of those available to me. They were already growing suspicious of me and what I did have marked me for death. At the time I thought I had accomplished what needed to be done and my life was disposable.” Stopping he turned away staring out at nothing “What good does it do for you to know why I did what I did? It can’t be undone. It is what it is.”
“Yes it is,” William said quietly “I have to live with the fact I endangered my children be refusing to leave my wife. I knew her behavior wasn’t going to improve. My decision caused irrevocable damage to the mental well-being of my children. I can’t undo it, no matter how much I wish I could.”
“You could not have known she would have tried to kill you and the children,” the alien responded.
“What do you mean?” he asked in dismay “it can’t be undone or broken. It is for life.”
“You don’t have too,” the alien said leaning towards him ” you can give into the bond between us.”
Squirming at the alien’s nearness William stood up ” I don’t think I can be what you need. I … I …. ” he looked away at a loss for words.
“Can we at least be friends?”
“You can call me Erik, like the kids do,” the alien offered.
“Don’t you want to be called by your real name?” William asked curious.
Shaking his head “not really. It brings up too many feelings and memories of the things I can no longer go back to.”
“Erik it is then,” William offered his hand as the alien smiled and shook it.