Lynn found Casey sitting quietly outside by the pool. Taking a seat beside him she asked “what’s on your mind?”
Shaking his head Casey smiled at her “this house has so few good memories in it. I’m glad dad is selling it.”
“It’s been difficult for you hasn’t it? Going through everything for your dad. I’m glad he didn’t come though, he couldn’t have handled seeing the baby’s room. Even after the crime scene cleaners went through there were still stains …. ” She gasped putting a hand over her mouth “I’m sorry.”
Casey nodded “did we do the right thing in saving our dad? He seems so unhappy. I just …. ” he stopped, groping for the right words “I don’t know it’s like we have his ghost but we don’t have him.”
“Give him time,” Lynn hugged him close. “He’s still trying to process all the changes. It can’t be easy for him being tied to someone for the rest of his life that he doesn’t like or trust.” Casey looked at her with so much sadness that Lynn reached out and touched his face. Leaning close she kissed him gently on his lips “maybe moving to Lucky Palms will help him adjust to the changes without the constant reminders.”
“You’re right,” he said getting up from the lounge. “Let’s get the hell out of here. I never want to see this place ever again.” He took her hand and led her around the house instead of going through it. Getting to the car Casey loaded the few remaining boxes into the car. Most of the boxes were filled with pictures and mementos of special events. Everything else they left. Looking at the house sighing Casey mumbled “I wish we could burn it to the ground.”
Tugging on his hand Lynn led him to the car “let’s go before you do something stupid.”
Once they were in the car Casey asked “would you like to get something to eat?”
“I’d love too,” Lynn laughed “anything to keep from going home to our overstuffed little house.”
“I like the sound of that,” Casey said turning to look at her.
“The sound of what?” she asked avoiding eye contact.
“Our house,” Casey lifted her hand to his lips “we’ve had the most unconventional courtship of anyone I know.”
“It started with you asking me to marry you before we had even been on a date,” Lynn giggled.
“Don’t remind me,” Lynn said looking away from him.
“Don’t look so sad,” Casey said wanting to reassure her “with everything that has happened you never left my side. You could have left me a dozen times over but you stayed. You were my rock when I needed you most.”
“I love you,” Lynn said simply in way of explanation.
She looked at the ring shimmering in the sunlight. He smiled broadly as she gave him her hand to slip the ring on her finger. “I’ll marry you and follow you to the ends of the earth.” She leaped into his arms kissing him with all the joy she was feeling “I love you.”
Coming him that evening Casey approached William on the porch. His dad turned and smiled at him “congratulations.”
Giving him a curious look “for what?”
“You’re practically glowing,” William smiled “that usually means one of two things, your pregnant or you’ve just got engaged. I’m guessing you asked Lynn to marry you and she said yes.”
“You would be right,” Casey grinned “we’ve had a crazy courtship but it feels right. I can’t imagine my life without her by my side.”
“I’m happy for you,” William said with a spark of genuine warmth in his voice. He leaned over and gave Casey a hug.
“You and the kids will come back for the wedding right?” Casey asked anxious to have his dad commit to coming back.
Nodding William smiled ” I wouldn’t miss my son’s wedding.”
“Ask me what?” William looked from one to the other.
Casey glanced over at Lynn shaking his head “I was just about ready too.”
Nodding Lynn took William’s hand as she asked “it would mean a lot to me if you would consent to give the bride away. Both my parents are gone now and I ….”
Casey shook his head “no we have a couple dates in mind but I’m waiting for a call back from Gene. I want to be sure my best man will be able to make the date we choose.”
William smiled at him “Gene’s your best man? I thought you might ask Robert now that he can be part of the family again.”
“I thought about it but Gene and I have really gotten close and he’s the one I want standing beside me while I take the plunge.” Casey looked at his watch frowning at how late it was “I expected Gene to have called me back already.”
“I’m sure he will,” William said trying to reassure him. He looked away hoping Casey would not see his rising anxiety.
“Is something wrong dad?” Casey asked.
“Oh I just have a lot on my mind with the pending court date,” William said evading the question.
Dismissing his concern Casey turned to Lynn “come on honey, let’s go tell Eddie.”
When Casey and Lynn went inside the house William walked out into the yard. He stood staring up into the night sky trying to calm the pounding of his heart. He hated this feeling and the sure knowledge that something terrible was about to happen or had already happened. He never knew for sure with all his kids scattered around Sim Nation. Sometimes he would have this terrible nagging feeling for days unable to pin it down to anything until after he received the call.
A noise to his right made him jump until he recognized Erik coming up beside him. “Something’s wrong I can feel your emotions are in turmoil.”
Stepping back William nodded “I have a feeling that something awful has happened to one of my kids.” Turning to look at the alien, unconcealed anger blazing from his simmering green eyes. “I hate knowing something is going to happen and being powerless to prevent it.”
Laughing harshly William replied “I’m sure you would,” he said with a hint of sarcasm.
“Your pain is my pain,” Erik stated simply unable to fully express it properly.
“Why is it you can feel what I feel?” William asked “I can’t feel you at all.”
Shrugging “I don’t know. I’m guessing that it has to do with our biologies. Humans are not designed for this bonding process as my people are. We are in uncharted territory. I suspect the scientist suspected something like this could happen when they initiated added experiments to test your abilities. You are unique. None of your children have this ability, not even your son who was taken.”
“Humph,” William grunted looking away “how do I know this is not just another elaborate experiment.” He moved away from the alien mumbling to himself “If only these feelings came with instructions or at least a name, place and date then I could do something instead of biting my finger nails until it happens.” William stared off into the darkness.
Erik followed behind hoping he might be able to help calm William’s chaotic emotional state. He kept his distance sensing that Williams reluctance to have him close but there was acceptance of his presence as well. Erik stopped a short distance away observing Williams stature as he stared into the night. Erik hated knowing he caused this pain and his regret kept him tied to this human. Most bonded individuals could travel and be separated from each other for several years without any ill effects. In his case he became seriously ill the one time William left to go house hunting in Lucky Palms. He had tried to conceal it but Lynn had called William to come back. Being the type of person William is he came back almost immediately. That was when Erik realized the bond was more detrimental to him then to William. William might survive the loss if Erik should die. It was not something he liked to consider that should William decide to move without him he would surely shrivel up and die. It was not something he has shared with William, he did not want William to feel obligated to have him move with them. He would accept whatever decision William made. “William?” Erik asked when he noticed William had moved further into the darkness and he had lost track of him.
“Over here,” William replied back.
Erik turned towards his voice and found William staring up into the night sky “Beautiful isn’t?”
Shrugging “I used to think so until I found out what lurked up there” William said “Sorry it’s hard to appreciate the beauty when I know what could happen. I do try not to dwell on it too much but sometimes I can’t help it.”
“I know,” Erik assured him “I do understand. The stars remind me of home and it hurts knowing I can never go home again.”
The pain in his voice had William looking at him perplexed “I’m sorry I had never considered how you might feel.”
“There was no reason for you to do so,” Erik told him. “What I remember of my home is no more than fantasy now. I only have memories and the hope that what I have done will solve their problem.”
“What makes you so sure that what you’ve done will work?” William asked needing to know that all the pain he endured wasn’t all for nothing.
“I’ve tried many different things in my travels through time This time line, these events were the only one that ended in success.” Looking at William “nothing is guaranteed. Time fluctuates and changes but I’m sure this will succeed. It has to. I will not be able to try again.”
“Because of me?” William asked
“Partially,” Erik replied. He turned and walked a short distance away. He sensed William follow him “I do not have it in me to try again. I’ve seen the suffering I’ve caused and I do not wish to continue. I realize now that the results do not always justify the means.”
“But someone else could take your place?” William asked jolted by the aliens confession.
“Perhaps but only if I trained them and they had my DNA,” he looked over at William to see if caught his meaning.
“Bryan?” William asked heart beating painfully in his chest.
“Yes I could teach him everything I know but I will not. I will show him what he needs to know to accomplish his task to release the cure then I will destroy my ship.” Erik spoke with renewed determination.
“Thank you,” William mumbled. “I would not want my son burdened with this …. but he will have questions about who and what he is. Things I can’t answer. I did the best I could with Evelyn but I know there were things I couldn’t explain. As much as I dislike the idea of you coming with us to Lucky Palms, Bryan needs you. Hell all the kids like you and would miss you. God knows I could use the help.” William looked away then back at Erik “what I’m trying to say is you’re welcome to come with us if you want to.”
“Thank you my friend,” Erik sighed and smiled into the night sky.