Set 20 years after the end of S5. A new wave of the virus forces Ebony to finally face her past once again. Lots of familiar and not so familiar faces old and new.
PS some of the names used for children of the mall rats are similar to those from a new tomorrow. no relation i just like the names.
As the sun rose Ebony stood at the edge of the boat feeling the wind in her hair. From a distance, anyone might have thought that she looked peaceful and calm as the boat bobbed along. However, someone closer could see the bags beginning to form under her eyes and the skin of her cheeks that had been worn red from the tears she had shed during the night.
This was their third night since they left the city and Ebony had barely slept in that time. The truth was she was too afraid to fall asleep, too afraid the Mall Rats might find out her secret, that they may see that she was no longer the strong warrior queen but rather a frightened and lost little girl. Every time she closed her eyes she would see their faces – they would spin around in her head, tormenting her – Java, Siva, Mega, Zoot. Over and over they would dance until she woke up screaming. She didn’t want the others to know about her nightmares. She couldn’t face them thinking she was weak.
She had hoped that being away from the city would be a fresh start, it would finally allow her to move on from her past but as the days wore on she realised she couldn’t keep it up. Time with the Mall Rats, particularly in such close confines, just reminded her of everything she had done and everything she had lost.
Slade was the one good thing in her life, the one thing that kept her sane through all of this. But even that she knew had an expiration date. It was only a matter of time before Ruby told Slade the truth regarding what had happened on their escape. Would he still love her after that? It was a foolish mistake on her part, she realised that now. It was not a smart plan and usually she was so good at planning things out but her emotions had gotten the better of her and she had acted purely on impulse. And now Ruby was dangling the knife dangerously above Ebony’s head.
She felt a hand on her back and realised it was Slade. He wrapped his arms around her. She prayed that she would feel something the next time he kissed her and yet she was overtaken with this sense of numbness that she could not explain. The truth was she knew what she had to do, she had tried to do it once before but had been dragged back by her love for Bray. Would her love for Slade do the same thing this time?
“Can you see it?” Slade asked her.
“See what?” she asked softly as she melted into his arms.
Hours later the Mall Rats were pulling up on a new land. The whole tribe felt a certain sense of excitement. Who knew what the future would hold here. But one person was more fearful than excited. She had decided now what to do.
“I am going to get some firewood”. Ebony announced, “A kiss for the road?” she asked Slade to which he happily obliged.
As Ebony claimed the hill on the search for her fictional firewood she looked back at the Mall Rats. Thinking of the many times she had with them both good and bad. She knew it would likely be several hours before Slade noticed the goodbye note she had left in his pocket as she had kissed him. “They’ll all probably celebrate” she smiled. After one final glance, she turned and began to walk, not realising it would be another twenty years before she would be amongst the Mall Rats again.
Twenty years later……
Ebony woke with a start, she wasn’t sure if it was the thunder outside or her nightmare. She checked the sleeping form next to her before putting on her dressing gown and opening the French doors on to the balcony. She closed her eyes and heard the wind whistling in her ears. She had never gotten over how quiet it was her at night. Growing up in the city it was always noisy but here you could hear the sound of a pin drop from a mile away.
She felt a pair of strong arms around her waist.
“Why are you awake?” she felt his breath on her neck as he asked her.
“I had the nightmare again.” She told him. “Zoot, Java, Siva, Amber, Trudy. We were all back there. Back in the Mall. Like the last 20 years had never happened. Like this life wasn’t real”.
“I’m real” he told her soothingly “I am here and I am not going anywhere. I promise. You’ve been having this dream a lot lately.”
“It’s strange isn’t it? I haven’t had this dream in so long and lately it’s every night. It’s the virus returning, it’s brought it all back. The city, the mall, all those bad memories.”
He pulled her in close and kissed her on the temple, “but I am glad those times happened. They brought you to me. And I am thankfully for that every day, Ebony, I love you now more than I ever thought I could love anyone”.
“Really? I am hardly the warrior queen I once was. Sometimes I feel like I am the Queen of domestication. Is that the real me? What happened to warrior Queen Ebony” she confessed.
He laughed “you can be the Queen of whatever you want Ebony”. He turned her around to look at him and gently cupped her face to gaze into her eyes “but you will always be the Great Warrior Queen Ebony to me. And I know that if it came down it you would shake off your domestic persona and be the warrior queen again. You would do it to protect me, to protect your home, to protect the people you love. She is still in there inside you. She makes you strong, you are the spine of this world. You keep us all strong and upright.”
“And you are its heart Casanova” she replied. “you always did have the smoothest chat up lines”. Ebony looked up at the man she loved. They had been teenagers when they had met but now lines creased the edges of his eyes and grey hairs were just starting to creep in at his temples and yet she loved the distinguished look he was now sporting. She couldn’t believe she had been so lucky, she honestly did not know what she did to deserve him.
“We’ve all changed since those days I am sure. What I do know is that I am still the young strapping man you fell in love with”.
She looked at him and laughed “I’ve loved you since the first day we met”. She admitted. “I know you hardly did the same.”
“I couldn’t take my eyes off of you. You were the most beautiful woman in the world”. He admitted “you looked so innocent and helpless I just wanted to take care of you”.
She raised her eyebrows “yes and how long did that impression last?”
I swung his head from side to side. “About thirty seconds”. He winked at her, “But it’s ok. I like non-innocent Ebony too.”
“What’s the time?”
“Just after midnight?”
“Midnight?” she exclaimed “wow, old man you are officially forty. Happy birthday darling. Any ideas what you want to do for your big 4-0? Be careful though. Gotta remember you’re not twenty anymore.”
“ah but when I was 20 I did not have a beautiful gorgeous woman at my side. And so I think my first duty as a 40 year old is to take my wife to bed and make love to her like we were still 20”.
“Oh yeah?” and so Ebony pushed her fears to the back of her mind that something was coming, something that threatened to destroy everything she had built and instead she let herself be dragged back to bed by the man she loved.