Days of futures past

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.

Prologue
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.
“Land”.
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.

Chapter 1
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.

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Chapter 2.
“Are we nearly there yet?” whined Harmony “We’ve been walking for days.” Amber rolled her eyes at her youngest child.
“Harmony you have not stopped whining since we left home. We are nearly there I promise. Maybe we’ll even be there before sundown”
“You said that yesterday and the day before that. Are we lost?”
“We’re not lost.” Trudy stated confidently “We just don’t know where we are”.
“Mum, dad!” Amber looked up to see BJ up ahead. “Mum, it’s the city. We’re there. We found it!”
“I found it” Javed argued.
“Stop arguing. We are all happy to finally have somewhere with a roof to rest tonight.” Brady, always the peacemaker between the two boys told them.

As they walked along the streets the Mall Rats took in this new city around them, people in this town were happy and smiling. The town itself was beautiful, little villas bordered on a stunning beach where the sun was just setting. You would never guess the virus was once again rife when you were here. They had come to this city as they had heard they were making the antidote to the virus and with Tai San, Bray and Ebony gone the Mall Rats were no longer able to make it themselves.
“Hey you.” Lex called to a young man on the street. “You know where we can get the antidote from?”
“The great leaders hand it out at the manor. Just atop the hill over there.” He pointed to a large, imposing house in the distance. “But it will be closed for today. You can go tomorrow.”
“Oh no. Is there anywhere safe to stay for tonight?” asked Jay.
“erm, yeah. The tavern has some rooms if you like. Second road to the left.”
“Thanks mate.”
“You’re welcome. May your days bring you joy.”

The Tavern was bigger than the Mall Rats imagined, Amber thought it must have been a Hilton or something like that in the days before the virus. The bar, as you entered was heaving. Mainly with kids aged similarly to her own. Kids born to those first-generation virus survivors who had never previously known the fear of the virus. It seemed all they wanted was the hedonistic lifestyle these days. When the virus had hit again it seemed they had all suddenly realised life was too short not to have fun.
There was one boy that Amber could not keep her eyes off of. He sat in the middle of the action – with brown floppy hair falling into his dark eyes and bronzed skin he looked like the Greek hero, Adonis, she had once read about in her history books. He could not have been more than 16 and yet a gaggle of girls surrounded him, hanging intently on his every word. Amber looked at her daughter and realised she was not the only Mall Rat to have noticed the young man.

Jay came over with a number of keys,
“One for you and me, BJ and Javed and we agreed Harmony will share with Brady. The others are still getting their keys”. He motioned to the other Mall Rats.
“Thanks Daddy.” Harmony replied sweetly. “Is it ok if we hang out at the bar a bit longer? I’m sure the boys will be happy to escort us to our room.”
“You know what we could all do with a few drinks before bed. What do you say”
“You’re going to stay up with us?” Harmony looked mortified. “OMG why does my life always have to be awful.” Harmony stormed off towards the bar.

“And what can I get a beautiful girl like you.” Harmony’s voice caught in her throat as she turned to see Adonis talking to her.
“I erm…I” he laughed.
“How about a glass of wine?” he asked. She nodded too shocked to speak “Maestro?” he gestured to the bar tender, “A beer for me and a glass of wine for the pretty lady.”
As he passed her the glass Harmony felt the eyes of the entire bar on her. “So you one of those travellers here for the antidote then?” she nodded “Do you have a name? "
After wetting her throat with the wine she finally felt brave enough to reply “Harmony.”
“Well Harmony, I’m Blaze. Lovely to meet you. How about you finish this up and maybe I can then take you to the great manor for a tour? How about it? You and me.”
Harmony almost choked on her wine as her brother’s voice boomed out “What did you just say to her.” Harmony could see BJ’s eyes darken.
“What business is it of yours?” Blaze demanded. A girl stood up, she had the same look as Blaze with the same dark, firey eyes and the same bronze skin and long, dark hair. Harmony could only guess she must have been his sister.
“Blaze, you promised you weren’t gonna cause any more trouble.”
“Stay out of this, Flame. This is between me and this joke of a fella who thinks he has any say in what this young lady does. I say its none of his business.”
“I’m her brother, and you don’t talk to my sister that way.”
Blaze stood, he didn’t have the height of BJ but he still cut an intimidating figure. As he approached BJ started to wonder if he had made a huge mistake in challenging this guy. He looked half mad.
“And I am Blaze, Prince of the city. So I’d like to ask who are you to challenge me?”
BJ stood stock still and eyeballed Blaze, “I am Bray Junior. Of the Mall Rats. Son of the great leader Amber and the Hero of the city Bray.”
Blaze looked totally thrown and then he started laughing.
“You are not the son of Bray. Everyone here will vouch for that.”
“I am. The son of two great heros.” BJ insisted.
“Do not take that name in vain” Flame suddenly backed her brother up, “that is not a claim we take lightly in these parts”.
“Well you’re wrong. I am the only child of the great hero so don’t mess with me.”
Flame and Blaze began to laugh, “The only child you say? Well ‘only child of Bray’ or whoever you really are. Maybe you and your friends over there would like to be challenged in the courts at the Manor. Guards!” Blaze called, “Round them up and take them to the King and Queen. They shall show them what we do with impostors”.

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Loved the start of this! Looking forward to the following chapters :grinning:

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Thank you so much.

Chapter 3

Ebony sat at the desk reviewing the accounts. She frowned as she realised they were running low on one of the ingredients for the antidote. She would have to sent the troops to find some more at first sunlight. She didn’t think they’d be running out again so quickly. She never dreamt she would be head of the team handing it out for free.

“Time makes fools of us all really doesn’t it?” she whispered to herself.

“You asked to see me?” Ebony nearly jumped out her skin at the sound of Blaze’s voice.

“Wow, you surprised me I didn’t even hear you come in.” Blaze looked at her rather bored so she continued “I hear you’ve been causing trouble again.”

“Who told you? Flame?”

“So what happened?”

“Usual scum. People trying to pretend they’re the Mall Rats. Trying to gain their 15 minutes of fame or influence their way into the tribe” Blaze was clearly aggravated.

Ebony turned back to her papers, “not the first time a group has claimed they’re the Mall Rats. Why did it bother you so much? We always find them out as fakes.”

Blaze didn’t answer her so she looked at him. He looked taunt and confused,

“What? Blaze, what’s wrong?”

“The argument I had it was with this boy. He claimed…”

“What did he claim, Blaze?”

“He claimed he was, in his own words ‘the child of the great Hero Bray of the Mall Rats.”

Ebony dropped her pen. No, it couldn’t be could it? Could the Mall Rats have finally found her?

“It’s not true is it?” Blaze asked her desperately.

“Blaze, where is your father?”

“I think he took the kids out to woods to do some hunting. Why?”

“Could you find him for me. And ask him to come back immediately.”

Blaze looked at her “So it is true? He is who he says he is. That they may be members of your old tribe?”

“I don’t know if it’s true. He could just be another imposter. What I do know is that no one else has ever tried to claim they are Bray’s child before. I know that if he really is then I cannot do without your father’s support in what I am about to do. Could you please just find him for me?”

“Sure.” Blaze made his way to the door.

“And Blaze.”

“Yes”

“Can I ask you something?”

“Sure”

“What would you do if you found out someone you loved wasn’t who you thought they were?”

“What do you mean?”

“That there was a part of their past that they hid.” Blaze’s dark eyes met hers.

“The past is the past.” He shrugged “there’s nothing you can do about it. You can’t change it. It’s a part of who you are but it’s not all of who you are.”

Ebony smiled and sighed, “Sometimes I forget how smart you are. So wise beyond your years. You get that from your father you know.”

Blaze smiled as Ebony continued “but the rebellious streak. That’s all me.”

“I can’t imagine that you were ever rebellious”

Ebony laughed “there was a time I was quite the bad girl. I guess I’ll tell you about that someday soon. But for now could you please get your father.”

Blaze laughed, “Sure. But Mum……”

“Yes.”

“No matter what was in your past, we all still love you and we always will. No matter what we have each other”

The stone floor felt hard under Amber’s knees as she tried to comfort the children.

“This is all your fault BJ!” stormed Harmony as she paced up and down the cell, “there was no need for you to interfere. I can look after myself.”

“I was just looking out for you”

“Yeah great job you did. I am now cold and hungry in a dam prison cell”

“Harmony that’s enough” Trudy shouted at her. “Stop pacing, you’re upsetting Dasan.” Trudy pulled her son into her arms.

Harmony glared at Trudy and her son. “Don’t care. We’re all gonna rot in here anyway.”

“Stop it now!”

Suddenly the doors opened and guards appeared. You are to appear before her Majesty the Queen. When you approach her you will act respectfully and if any of you step out of line well let’s just say I wouldn’t risk it.”

The Mall Rats were escorted through the Manor, they were in awe of the beautiful house. It wasn’t opulent but it was bright and airy and had an atmosphere of celebration about it.

As they entered the main chamber Amber could see two thrones ahead of her. Both were currently unoccupied, other than that the room was empty.

“So what have we got here? Mall Rats or imposters?” asked an eerily familiar voice from behind her. She turned around to confirm what her brain had already begun to imagine. The braids were still there but the elaborate styles had been replaced by a simple black alice band, the black and red leather had been replaced with an outfit in a similar style but in blue cotton and the boots had been replaced by a spare of simple blue ballet slippers. But there was no mistaking the woman before her.

Ebony felt her heart begun to race as she looked at the Mall Rats. She had thought about this moment a million times. But now the time had come and she struggled to find anything to say.

“Ebony?”

“How you all doing guys?”

“Been better.”

“I’m sorry for the way you have been brought here. Blaze, he’s not good when he doesn’t get his own way. Maybe we spoilt him too much. But what can I say, he’s my son and he’s inherited my stubborn nature.”

“Blaze is your son?” Amber suddenly concluded. Wow, Ebony had a son.

“Yes mine and….”

“you’re the one making the antidote?” Trudy realised.

“So you finally got what you wanted.” Lex snarled, “Probably lied and manipulated to get it.”

Ebony looked at Trudy, “It wasn’t like that. I didn’t mean for this to happen I really didn’t.”

“Using the knowledge given to you under duress to consolidate your power. Pretty conniving there Ebony.”

“I ran this city before the virus returned.” Ebony retorted defensively.

“Yeah right. And how did you manage that one?” Lex again.

“I didn’t trick anyone. Sometimes things just happen the way they’re supposed to.”

“Yeah right. Once a witch always a witch. And now you’re a witch with a couple of brats in tow.”

“Don’t you speak of my children that way. They may not be perfect but who is at that age. I have always brought them up to do what is right, to protect each other, to protect this city.”

“They’re just spoilt brats who will end up on the rubbish heap where their mother is supposed to be.”

Ebony snapped. They knew. That’s why they were so angry. They knew the truth about what had happened, what she had kept from them. But who were they to judge her for the decisions she made. She did what was right for her, she had become leader through her hard work and dedication. She had gained their love and respect and raised her children to the same. She had hoped the Mall Rats may have forgiven her but she saw the truth now. She could not decide what her best move was now.

“Guards! Take them away from here.”

“To the dungeons your majesty?”

Ebony looked at the faces of those who had once been familiar to her.

“No, take them to the left wing. Provide them with food and water, as much as they need. Until the King returns and helps me to decide what to do. Just keep them out of my sight.”

Ebony left the room, leaving the Mall Rats in her wake.

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Chapter 4
“you never loved him not like I did”
“How do you know I felt?”
“You traded him for Zoot. As soon as the virus hit you dumped Bray without a second thought”
“I traded him for Zoot? Well excuse me honey where did you get that baby. The truth is you got both of them. Zoot and Bray”


“I want to know why you ruined my life”
“Ok, you had Bray. I wanted him. You won. Like you always do, and so the princess has her prince. And what happens to the wicked witch. She gets banished”
“but it’s not a fairy tale is it?”
“no, but that’s the problem. It’s you that Bray loves. And no one can take your place”


“Whatever you take Ebony, What ever you steal. You can never have what we’ve got. This place may be in ruins but at least we’re decent. You are just a cheap tramp with a load of bully boys running around after you”


Ebony rubbed her eyes as if trying to rub away all the bad memories. It wasn’t working so well. Her time with the Mall Rats had been relatively brief but they had left a lasting impression on her psyche. She wasn’t proud of the way she had behaved back then, but she wasn’t ashamed of it either. She had looked out for number one, none of the other Mall Rats were going to look out for her why should she look out for them.

But she had kept her past hidden from her children, she had always intended to tell them when they were older but each year passed and she never did. She couldn’t bring herself to risk her children think badly of her or worst still take the opportunity to behave that way themselves.

Things were not the same here as they had been in the time of the loneliness, she had her family – they were loved and they were protected and she would do anything to protect them. She had considered letting the Mall Rats go and never doing anything about. Never telling her husband of her past’s sudden reappearance but she had taken a vow to never lie to him and it was a vow that in 17 years she had never broken, she did not intend to start now. She did not put it past Blaze and Flame to let it slip to their father either. She wondered what was taking him so long, she had come to rely on his sagely advice to help her through. Now she was facing the greatest crisis of her leadership and he was nowhere to be found.

The door to her bedroom opened and a guard entered followed by Trudy and Amber. She had asked them here. She knew they knew the truth and she had to explain. She had to make them understand why she had caused them the pain that she had.

“Do you like your accommodation?” She started off, easing herself into the difficult conversation.
“It’s a beautiful place Ebony. You really have things set up well here. Can’t really appreciate being kept her against my will though” Amber retorted.
Ebony smiled “I don’t know why anyone would want to leave. But if you would like to then I can arrange for you to leave first thing in the morning. It’s too dark to go trekking down unfamiliar hills now anyway.”
Amber looked taken aback, “Thanks”
“Now please catch me up on what’s been happening with the Mall Rats” You’re avoiding the conversation Ebony……”Amber you are still with Jay? I assume the other two children are yours and Jay’s?”
“Haha. Yes Javed came along about 18 months after you left. And Harmony is nearly 16. Well 16 going on 34”.
“And you Trudy”
“Believe it or not I married Lex. We have a son together, Dasan. He’s ten”
“Dasan??”
“It’s a native American name, means Chief. Lex’s idea not mine”

Ebony smiled “Brady had turned into a beautiful young woman. I can’t believe she’s an adult now”
“Me either. Thankfully she didn’t follow in her mother’s footsteps”
“and the others?”
“Jack and Ellie are back at camp. They’d just had their second and Ellie wasn’t in much condition to travel. We promised we’d bring back the antidote.”
“I can arrange for that.”
“Ram and Ruby got together believe it or not. But they decided to go off into the big bad world about ten years ago. Salene and May are both here but they’d already gone up to their rooms before we got arrested. I guess they will realise what has happened tomorrow. And Slade, well I guess he didn’t see the point in sticking around much after you left. He split soon after.”
Ebony looked down sadly, “Yes I know about Slade leaving.”

“What about you Ebony. Guess you got what you wanted in the end. Running a huge outfit, married and settled down” Amber asked.
“Yes. 17 years and still going strong would you believe it. Sometimes I don’t know how I got so lucky. But I really want you to know something.” Here goes nothing “I know what you accused me of earlier, it isn’t true what you said. I didn’t intend for it to happen this way. I didn’t know what was going to happen when I came here. I know you’ll probably accuse me of lying and manipulating him but nothing could be further from the truth. To be honest he fell in love with me cos I stopped trying to make him do so”
“What are you talking about Ebony?” Amber noticed that Ebony looked nervous, she had begun fidgeting and pacing across the room

“I didn’t mean for you both to get hurt. I know you probably don’t believe me given our past but I didn’t intend for it to happen. It was probably selfish of me and I thought about changing my mind and making things right but I couldn’t. And once the children were born I just couldn’t go back….”

“He’s quite a fireball, Blaze, isn’t he?” Amber tried to ease some of Ebony’s tension.
“Yes, unfortunately he’s got far more of his mother in him than I’d like. Though sometimes he shows the wisdom of his father. What about Bray Junior? Is he much like Bray? He certainly bears a striking resemblance. Reminds me so much of Bray at that age.”

“I guess so. It’s weird to think that Bray disappeared when he was younger than BJ is now. I guess I never knew Bray at that age to compare.”
“I guess not” Ebony replied sadly, “I am sorry I am the cause of that”
Amber looked at Ebony, she couldn’t get over the stranger in front of her, she couldn’t believe Ebony was finally apologising for banishing herself and Bray from the city.
“It’s ok it was a long time ago,”
“Really?” Ebony asked shocked, “I don’t think I would forgive me in your position. But thank you for doing so.” Ebony managed a weak smile “Blaze looks like his father too don’t you think?”

“I wouldn’t know.” Amber replied, “I’ve never met your husband”
Ebony looked confused, “You don’t know? You haven’t figured it out?” Amber noticed a look of distress on Ebony’s face.
“No”
“Oh, look Amber, Trudy. The thing is……well. Oh gosh I didn’t think I’d have to be the one to tell you.”
“Tell us WHAT, Ebony?” Trudy demanded, she was getting impatient with Ebony’s cryptic conversations.
“I just want to reiterate that I in no way forced him, or manipulated him or lied to him. In fact he insisted that never lying be included in our vows.”
“Ebony just spill it.” Amber told her
“Well the thing is that I married………”

The door of the room swung open, Amber almost laughed as a man stumbled in with a t-shirt half way over his head and stumbling on his shoes. He was obviously in a hurry to get undressed. He passed Trudy and Amber and stumbled towards Ebony.

“I’m here, I’m here….” The voice was familiar, but it sounded like something out of a dream.
“babe,” he continued still struggling to get the t-shirt over his head, Amber suspected he was slightly drunk “I am sorry I made you wait, I know you couldn’t get enough of this gorgeous hunk last night but did you really need to call me back from the woods for it. Don’t worry though. Get those panties off cos the birthday boy is in the hoooooooouse”

Ebony flushed bright red as she grabbed the side of his t-shirt and pulled it back over his body.
“Sweetheart…” she said slowly, “We have company” her head gestured towards Amber and Trudy.
As he turned towards them Amber began to feel sick to her stomach, no, it couldn’t be him. It couldn’t. Her throat closed up, she couldn’t breathe.
“Amber, Trudy. I believe you know my husband”
Amber swallowed the lump that had building before she could choke out the name “Bray???”

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Just caught up with this after my holiday and I can’t wait for the next chapter!!!

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Flashback….17 years ago.

Ebony sat on the beach with her toes just dipping in the water as the waves came up, her shoes laid out besides her. It had been two weeks since Bray had left to find the Mall Rats and she was starting to regret her decision to encourage him to go. Whilst she didn’t think he’d come back to her after finding Amber a little hope remained within her. But that hope was diminishing day by day.

It was clear to her now, he would see Amber, fall in love with her all over again and stay with the Mall Rats – the way it was supposed to be. The last two years would come to mean nothing to him. But maybe at least he would think better of her now. Maybe one day she would be able to go back and be close to him again.

She picked up a stone and tried skipping it into the ocean where it immediately sunk with a loud “plop”. She’d never been very good at that. Suddenly something flew by her and skipped along the ocean gracefully before sinking.

She turned around and immediately leapt to her feet, “Bray!” she exclaimed. She fought every instinct to jump into his arms again, she wrapped her arms around herself. “What are you doing back here?” she asked ‘he’s come to say goodbye’ she thought.

Bray smiled, “I told you I’d come back to you. You didn’t believe me did you?”

“But what about the Mall Rats? What about Amber? And the baby”

“I found them Ebs. I found my old friends, my son, my old love and I couldn’t go in. I watched them from the bushes and I just felt like that person who would have been with them is gone. I don’t belong there. It’s not my home anymore, not my life. This is my home this is my life, here with you. I learnt so much out there about who I am and what I want in life.”

“like what?”

“Like you. How much you mean to me. I know our relationship hasn’t always been easy but these last two years with you by my side I’ve been happier than I ever thought was possible.”

“me too.”

“But these last two weeks have showed me something.”

Oh here it comes….

“Waking up without you by my side, it’s been hell on earth. And I never want to do that again.”

“What are you saying?” Ebony was confused now, she had thought this was going to be the break up speech but this was turning into something else. Was he choosing her over Amber?

“I am saying that I am sorry it took me time to come back. But I had to find a trader who could give me this.” He put his hand in his pocket and produced a small box. Ebony’s eyes widened in shock and awe as Bray slowly sunk down to one knee.

“Ebony Mackenzie Rafael, I never want to wake up another day without you by my side. Will you be my wife?”

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Ebony gulped as she re-introduced Bray to Amber and Trudy. Bray had chosen her over Amber once before but he hadn’t been in close confines with Amber in many years. Would he chose her over Amber again?

“Amber? Trudy? What are you doing here?” Bray exclaimed.

“Trudy, am I dreaming?”

“Nope, he’s really there.”

Amber couldn’t breathe, she couldn’t blink. The father of her eldest child, the man she had thought was dead for twenty years was standing in front of her, real and in the flesh and married to Ebony.

“I need to sit down.” Amber said, moving to sit at the desk chair Ebony had previously occupied.

“you’re live?” Amber asked Bray in disbelief

“Yes.”

“and you have been all of this time?”

“Well I know my brother came back from the dead but it’s not a power I seem to have received.”

“and you know who I am?”

Bray looked down, before he replied sadly “yes.”

“But you didn’t come back to me? You are married to Ebony?”

Bray shrugged, “Sometimes things just happen. You don’t intend them to, you don’t even want them to. They just seem to slot into place like that”

“Sorry I am just trying to get my head around this. You are alive, and you’ve been married to Ebony for 17 years?”

“Yes.”

“And you have two children together.”

“Four,” Ebony piped up, obviously feeling uncomfortable.

“What?”

“We have four children together. You met Blaze and Flame . The twins have been out with Bray all day. He took them for an adventure in the woods.”

Amber just looked completely overwhelmed with the information she was receiving in one go. Trudy took over the conversation.

“I don’t understand how this happened. Bray, why didn’t you come back to the Mall Rats, to Amber, to your son.”

“It’s a long story.”

“I bet it does if SHE has anything to do with it.”

“Hey, lay off her.” Bray immediately jumped to his wife’s defence, “I made my choice, and it was my decision. She didn’t force me into it. In fact the total opposite. Ebony encouraged me to go back.”

“But I saw you on the list, they said you were deleted.” Amber stuttered.

“Deleted meant having your memory erased… It didn’t mean killed.”

“Well that certainly explains some things. “ Trudy said pointedly, “What makes you think she told you the truth?”

“She didn’t have to. My memories came back. Ebony didn’t trick me or manipulate me. Truth is I fell in love with her before my memories returned but she wouldn’t be with me until I remembered who she was. She didn’t want me waking up one day and turning my back on her. So she tried and tried and tried to jog my memories but nothing ever did. Not until we went back to the Mall. Suddenly memories came flooding back to me. In bits and pieces and in chunks. All muddled together. It took me a long time to work through those feelings. But when I did I realised that my life was here.”

“But what about me? What about the love we had?” Amber begged him.

“Amber, we were kids when we met. We were teenagers who, let’s be honest only spent a few months together. We barely knew each other. And then you got pregnant. To be honest I wasn’t ready to be a dad. I was terrified. It was all so different with Blaze.”

“But you have a son. You didn’t think of at least coming back for him?”

The door burst open and two blonde children came running in, “Mummy, Daddy we want you to read us a story!!” the boy called. The boy leapt into Bray’s arms whilst the girl did the same with Ebony.

“These are our youngest.” Ebony explained, “This is Siva,” she told them jostling the girl up and down, “And that is Martin.”

“They’re very cute.” Amber could only manage a grimace.

“You know Bray, why don’t I put the kids to bed and you can finish up here.”

“Thanks darling.”

“Don’t be too long though. You need to get ready for the party.” She turned to Amber and Trudy, “It’s Bray’s birthday today you know. He’s forty. We’re having a big party later. You should come. Maybe I’ll even send someone to get Salene and May so they can come too.”

With that she left the room. Amber was beginning to get angry. How dare they? How dare they pretend they are in this wedded bliss. Pretending their previous lives didn’t happen. That they didn’t have responsibilities to them.

“why didn’t you come back for your son?” she asked again through gritted teeth.

Bray sighed, “I did come back. I found you, Ebony encouraged me to go back. But when I found you I just watched from a distance. I watched my son call another man father, you had another son by then and you were happy. You were happy without me. Why should I come back and confuse everything. I realised that wasn’t my life anymore. This was my life – here, with Ebony. I proposed to her the night we got back and we married the next day.”

“But in those 17 years you never thought about contacting us. Telling us you were alive?” Trudy asked.

“I did. But things happened…”

“What things?”

“Blaze for one. He came along virtually a year to the day after we got married. It was the best day of my life. This time I wasn’t scared. I was excited. I was proud. And Then Flame arrived and time I guess got away from me. The longer I stayed away the harder it seemed to go back. So I never did.”

“But Ebony? How did you fall in love with Ebony?” Amber asked him.

“It wasn’t something that happened in a flash. Especially after my memories came back. It was so gradual I didn’t even notice it happening. I guess something triggered in me that brought back all those feelings I had from before the virus. Something I had hidden away for so long. And when she stopped trying to trick her into loving me those feelings came out. From the minute she arrived here I knew she was special. That she meant something to me, even if I didn’t remember her. She arrived here about a year after she left you guys. She’d been injured in a fall and was sick. She looked so beautiful and helpless I couldn’t help but care for her. I guess at first I just hoped she was a key to unlock the memories I couldn’t quite reach. And day by day those feelings in me grew until they were something much bigger.”

“But Ebony?”

“I wish I could say she’s changed then maybe you’d understand” he laughed, “truth is she hasn’t changed. She can still lie and manipulate with the best of them. But she doesn’t feel the need to with me anymore. I’m the one person she never lies to. She’s still the strong, warrior queen she once was but now she fights for the people she loves not just herself. And I love her for that.”

“I just have one more question Bray.” Amber told him.

“Anything.”

“Do you ever regret your decision”

“Never. If I had to I’d make the same decision every day.”

Next Chapter we will see some flashbacks of their relationship building………

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Chapter 5

Flashback

18 years earlier….

“So are you going to go with him?” Bray asked, staring out the window. He couldn’t look at her. He knew if he did the anguish that was building up inside him would refuse to stay locked up. So he stood at the window, staring out into the horizon.

“It seems the most sensible choice.” She told him sadly, “there’s nothing left for me here… .is there?”

He shrugged.

“Bray, look at me.” She begged him, “Please just look at me.” She walked towards him and grabbed his arm, swinging him round to face her. Yet still he would not look her in the eyes.

“Ebony what do you want me to do?” Tears were threatening to pour from his eyes. He was so lost and so confused. How could he tell her to stay when he didn’t know if he could ever forgive her for everything she had done? And yet his heart, his heart ached so much deep inside him it threatened to burst. The last few weeks had been torture, watching her with another man and now she was threatening to leave him for good. And he knew he had no right to stop her.

“I want you to give me a reason to stay.” Her voice was soft but her words so full of need.

“I can’t.”

He didn’t have to look at her to know that tears were now forming in her eyes, “Then look me in the eyes and tell me that you don’t love me. That you want me to go. And then I’ll go and you’ll never see me again.”

He turned back around to face the window. He knew he’d never get those words out. He couldn’t. What he wanted to do was drop to his knees, grab her waist and beg her not to leave him. But he couldn’t do that. He had shunned her for weeks and he had no right to beg her to stay when he could not promise her anything.

Ebony nodded in resignation, he heard her movement as she made her way to the door of his cabin. As she opened the door she turned back to him, “I can’t tell you I’ve changed. I know I’ve said it a million times before and I have no right to expect you to believe me. I know I have done some things I can’t possibly expect you to forgive me for. But please believe me when I say that I love you Bray. I’ve loved you since I was 14 years old and I will love you until my dying day, and beyond. And I know that however much you don’t want to you love me too. I know. You don’t feel that kind of love every day. So maybe you can’t forgive me now, maybe you never will. But if you turn your back on love will you ever be able to forgive yourself?”

Her words cut him deep, he knew every word she said to him was true. He knew every word she had said to him in the year since their arrival here was true. Why could he not just shallow his pride and be with her?

“We’ll be leaving at dawn. Promise me you will just think about it.”

Present day

Jay sat at the table, he has been surprised to find that in their tower was large banqueting room with a large black banqueting table. It looked like something out of a Hitchhock film and you could cut the tension in the air with a knife. Harmony sat on his right side, towards the door whilst BJ sat directly opposite her. Both looking at each other with daggers in their eyes.

“So do you like the accommodation?” Blaze’s voice broke through Jay’s thoughts. He looked up to see Blaze standing in the doorway, the smile playing on his lips Jay now recognised as Ebony’s smile.

“What do you want?” BJ asked him.

“I needed to ask Harmony here a very important question. Do I need your permission to speak to her?” BJ sat back in a huff. Blaze’s smile widened, there was something oddly satisfying about annoying BJ. He moved over to their table.

“So what did you want to ask me?”

“Actually there were two questions. Firstly, are you the child of Bray too?” Blaze asked. Jay shifted in his chair uncomfortably.

Harmony looked confused, “no, Jay is my father. But Bray really is his father. You know that was the truth right?”

Blaze smiled, “Great. So there’s this party tonight. For my dad’s birthday. Will you go with me? I will be a total gentleman I swear” he told her pointedly, emphasising the last bit for BJ’s benefit.

“Oh,” Harmony exclaimed. “I have nothing to wear!”

“That can be sorted. I’ll send Carla to your rooms to sort out clothing and stuff for you. So what do you say?” He bit his lip, he looked so sweet and innocent Harmony couldn’t resist.

“OK.”

“Great. It’s gonna be an amazing night.” He got up to move towards the door.

“Why would it matter if Bray was her father?” BJ asked, standing to his full height and walking over to face Blaze.

“I think it would be rather inappropriate for me to ask her out.”

“You hate Bray don’t you? Your witch of a mother has always taught you some rubbish about my father. That’s why you hate me. Because MY father is a better man that your father will ever be.”

To BJ’s surprise Blaze simply laughed and shook his head. “Not the brightest crayon in the box are we?”

“What do you mean?”

“If you are who you say you are. BRAY JUNIOR. Then your father IS my father. And you and I Mister – we’re brothers.”

Bray stepped into the shower and let the water flow over his head, wishing he could wash away the day. It had started off so differently, waking up after a night with his beautiful wife. And yet somewhere within the day it had taken an interesting but dangerous turn. Part of him wanted the day to start over, stop it becoming so twisted and complicated. Yet there was nothing he could do about it.

He knew there was one part of the day he couldn’t shake off. The arrival of his first born son, he knew he would eventually have to face him and own up to the fact that he had effectively abandoned his own child. Something he, ironically, had been insulted that Amber ever believed he would do. Although he had always had doubts niggling in his mind whether the baby was truly his he doubted Amber would have lied to him. Not like Ebony, who would of lied to him in a heartbeat and yet when she had told him she was pregnant he had not doubted her for a second. He smiled and laughed to himself at this paradox. Over the years he had often found himself amused over the fact the person the loved and trusted so completely was a women he once wouldn’t have trusted as far as he could throw her. He thought back to day he found out they were to be parents. Barely married for a few weeks and having only just figured the boundaries of their relationship he smiled nostalgically at how nervous she had once been to confide her fears to him, something that, after 20 years together, she did not hesitate to do now.

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Flashback

17 years earlier…………

Bray sat at the desk in their cabin. He had been asked by the tribe leader to manage the food resourcing and was now fretting over the number of carrots they had in store. He could feel Ebony pacing behind him. He finally put his pen down and turned to her,

“Are you going to tell me what is wrong or are you going to continue that until you wear a hole in your boots. I happen to like your boots so I hope the former”

She sat down hard on the bed, looking down at her fidgeting hands.

“Bray, there’s something I have to tell you.”

He moved to the bed and took her hand in his and kissed it gently,

“Whatever the problem is we’ll get through it together.”

“Remember when we talked about Amber’s pregnancy and you said you hadn’t been ready to be a dad. How you hardly knew her, you had spent so little time together and wished you could take it back.”

He looked at her confused, “yes. I know.”

“Bray,” she tried to choke out the words, “Bray, I’m pregnant.”

Bray swallowed and took a moment for the news to sink in, suddenly he felt his heart leap, “Pregnant? That’s amazing news. We’re going to be parents Ebony. We’re going to be a family”

“We’ve only been married a few months Bray.”

“I know. I know we didn’t plan it this quickly but really what were we waiting for anyway?”

“I’m not sure I’m ready to be a mum Bray. And you said you didn’t want to be a father.”

“That was then. This isn’t Amber and me this is you and me. You are my wife Ebony. And I want to wake up to you every morning, I want to have a zillion babies with you and raise them together. And then I want to grow old with you Ebony. I want to do everything with you. This is the best news ever. You are going to be an amazing mum. You’re going to teach them to be strong, and smart and independent. Our kids, well they’ll be amazing. Just like their mother.”

For the first time she looked up and him and looked in his eyes.

“You really think we can do this?”

He brushed a braid behind her ear.

“Baby, if there’s anything I know to be true it’s that together we can do anything.”

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1 Like

I love this so much, can’t wait to see where you go next :heart_eyes:

Agreed! please can we have some more? @Ellsbells

Sorry for the delay started a new job and a new bf keeping me very busy.

Enjoy the next chapter.

Chapter 6

The hall was heaving with people as the Mall Rats entered. Amber and Trudy had returned to their rooms to regale their husbands with what had just occurred. On returning to their bedrooms each founds outfits for the evening. Slinky gowns and tuxedos in just the right size. How Ebony had arranged for this they were all uncertain but it seemed at this point they would have to play her game the way she wanted it. And she wanted them at that party, most likely to see how honoured she was and rub their faces in her husband’s choices.

They entered the heaving room, decorated with blue and red silks and multicoloured fairy lights providing a romantic and slightly purple tinge to the room. At the end of the hallway was a large table with two thrones, Ebony and Bray sat in them with Flame next to Ebony and Blaze sat haughtily next to his father. It was only then that Amber noticed Harmony sitting to the side of Blaze – the recipient of envious glances from every teenage girl in the room.

“Jay, why is Harmony here?” Amber asked, “I thought she had headed to bed.”

“No, Blaze asked her as his date. Little weird I guess but who knows about the rules in this world?” The music was blaring so loudly she could barely hear him.

People danced gracefully around them as they struggled to push through the crowd. Amber felt the anger building once again at this perfect fantasy Bray and Ebony had built. She watched with jealousy burning in her eyes as Bray offered his hand to his wife and they began dancing. Ebony’s silk blue dress shimmering and swishing gently with every movement. Her braids were out and instead a cascade of blonde hair was pulled back and fell like a waterfall behind her. Despite her hatred of her even Amber had to admit she looked like a vision of an angel and at nearly 40 with four children still cut an impressive figure – emanating both beauty and power at once.

Ebony swayed gently with her husband. She could feel Amber’s eyes burning into the back of her head. She had always had a keen awareness of when someone was staring at her, a skill she had put to effect on the many men she had seduced in her youth to get her way. But for the last 20 years she had only had eyes for one man and him alone, to this day she honestly didn’t know what she did to deserve such a wonderful life – but she was not going to second guess the fates.

Despite the Mall Rats sudden appearance the evening had, thus far, gone off without a hitch. Perhaps her fears had been unfounded. Although she was still very aware of the elephant in the room – Bray Junior. He had still not come face to face with his father, and if he was anything like either his father or half brother when he did there were bound to be sparks flying.

But for now Ebony melted into the arms of her man as they slowly danced the night away.

Hours later everyone was satiated with food and wine and the dance floor was beginning to empty out in favour of milling around and chatting on full stomachs.

“speech, speech, speech” she heard the gentle chant lift into a demand.

Bray, seated next to her, stood and began,

“Friends, family and even acquaintances. Thank you all for joining me tonight on the auspicious occasion of my 40th birthday. Thank you goes to my incredible wife, Ebony, to whom I owe my life, my sanity, my children and all my love and respect.” A cheer sprung up, “darling, I honestly cannot imagine my life without you. And to my wonderful children, who I love and adore with all my heart and who never cease to keep me busy and amused. And finally to my people who have loved and supported me and my family all these years” Cheers again. Ebony stood.

“I’d like to propose a toast…” she began, “To Bray, a wonderful leader, an amazing husband and the best father”

“LIAR” the shout drew the attention of everyone in the room, the music halted. Amber say BJ in the centre of the room, looking shocked at his own outburst for a moment before anger flared in his eyes, “best fathers don’t abandon their children. They take care of their responsibilities. He isn’t any kind of father.” And with that Amber watched her eldest son storm out the room. The music started up again. Ebony and Bray stood next to each other dumbstruck but out of the corner of her eye Ebony saw Amber silently slipping after her son.

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“I’m not apologising,” BJ stormed up and down the room.

“I’m not asking you to BJ. I am asking you to sit down and be calm.”

“NO” BJ looked up as Bray tentatively entered the room, he looked nervous. Of course he was nervous, it was the first time he’d come face to face with the son he had abandoned.

“For the first time in my life I think I am lost for words” he told them, “All I can say is I am so sorry. I know it doesn’t take away the pain and it doesn’t fix anything but for what it is worth I am so sorry for the pain I have caused you, both of you.”

BJ glowered, sometimes he reminded her so much of Bray. The sulkiness was definitely Bray’s trait. Suddenly she was filled with anger

“well that’s not good enough” she told him, “how can you think Sorry can even begin to make up for abandoning your own child.”

“I don’t think it was ok. I shouldn’t of done but. But at the time it felt like the best thing for everyone.”

“Best thing for you and Ebony maybe” Amber rolled her eyes

“Don’t start with my wife.” He told her sharply.

“Your wife. HA! How can that witch be your wife? What did she do to lie and manipulate her way into your bed.”

“nothing. She didn’t do anything wrong”

“HA!”

“Look, this wasn’t an easy choice for me. Do you think I WANTED to never know my son. I was taken by the technos, that I had no control over. But I did eventually have the choice as to whether to return.”

“And you didn’t”

“No, and that was my choice. But Ebony never forced that on me. It wasn’t her fault. It was mine.”

“How could you fall in love with that…that tart.”

“I don’t know what I can do to make you understand Amber. Why I fell in love with her. I think a part of me always was to be honest. But realising that, it didn’t happen overnight. It was long and complicated and I can’t explain what happened.”

“try…” Amber challenged.

Bray took a deep breath “OK. I’ll tell you the whole story…”

Next time…we flash back 19 years to see how it all began

2 Likes

Love!!!
I can’t wait for the next chapters

Sorry its been so long, engagement and new job keeping me busy. Here’s the next part for you all. I’ll try and not wait so long next time.

Chapter 7

19 years earlier

Ebony poked the fire as she wrapped the blanket around her shoulders. As she watched the sun set she realised it had been over a year since she had left the Mall Rats and it had been the best thing she had ever done. The solitude was her friend and she enjoyed her life now. She’d sleep under the stars, hunt and fish during the day and occasionally go into the nearby towns to trade if she ever felt lonely or bored. But that rarely happened, she’d never been the type to need other people and whilst she’d never imagined herself a country girl she found this life suited her just fine. Out here she could be exactly who she was, no need to put up a front, no need to lie and manipulate, no one to impress and no one to oppress.

But this winter was colder than the last one and the temperature had dropped suddenly catching her off guard. She knew she couldn’t sleep out in the open much longer, she would need to find shelter. The ice was starting to form in the water droplets that laced the forest floor. She could see her breath forming smoke as it drifted away from her. The cold was also causing the firewood to get damp and her fire was slowly dying. She sighed as she decided she it was time to move on to stop freezing to death.

She drudged along the path, pulling her coat closer to her. She was coming to unfamiliar territory now. She had been walking all night to find a cave or some other shelter that would keep her warm and whilst her movement had, so far kept her body temperature up she was now exhausted, she needed sleep. And it was in this cold, sleep-deprived state that her usual awareness dropped – it all happened so fast – her foot slipped on some ice and she went tumbling down the hill side into the snowy ditch below. Her vision swirled and she knew she had reached the end, she had heard stories that at the end of your life your saw all the things that you truly love. So she knew she was dying because above her was the face of the only person she had ever truly loved. Before it all went black and with what she thought would be her dying breath she called out his name, “Bray!”

The next thing she knew she woke up somewhere warm, the ceiling above her look like a log cabin and she was wrapped in something. It took her a moment to realise she was in a bed and she was covered in a snuggly duvet. Through blurred eyes she could see there was a figure sleeping in the corner, slumped back in a chair and snoring softly. As her vision began to focus she struggled to believe her eyes. She hadn’t been dreaming. His long brown hair was now shorn back to a buzz cut and a scar now ran between his right eye and the corner of his mouth, yet it was him. But why was he here? Why was she here? Where was here. She tried to pull herself up but pain shot through her body and she yelped out. Bray instantly awoke with a start.

“Be careful,” he instructed her, “I think you have a couple of broken ribs there.”
“You rescued me?”
“Yes, I did. You surely would have frozen to death otherwise.”
“But why?”
He sat on the end of her bed, the movement caused her to wince, “why wouldn’t I?”
“Surely I’m more trouble than I am worth, no?”
He lifted her head to look at her, “why would anyone think that?” she realised he was looking at her with confused and zero recognition.
“Bray?”
“You called me that when I rescued you. Do you know me? Is that my name?”
“You don’t remember me?”
“I don’t remember anything beyond a couple of months ago. When they found me and brought me here. Do I know you? Were we friends?” Ebony was aghast, here was the man she loved, the one who hated her and he didn’t remember that. Then the horror turned to delight, this was her second chance. She could use this, she could tell him they were lovers, she could tell him they had been torn apart by circumstances, she could finally have him away from Amber and the rest of the Mall Rats. This was her chance.
“We knew each other yes. Your name is Bray. Mine is Ebony. Do you remember that?”
“E-bon-y,” he rolled the name around on his tongue then shook his head, “how did we know each other?”
“We were….” She stopped short, she was about to tell him they were lovers, soul mates but something stopped her. Something in his eyes. Did she really want to go back to being that girl? The one that everyone hated, who lied and cheated. She had run away from that girl. And if Bray then remembered he would never forgive her. Yes, this was her second chance but this time she was going to do it right.
“We went to school together, we were friends. Once anyways.”
“hmmm, when you are better. Maybe you can tell me about me then?” he said with a grin.
“Maybe.”

Bray awoke with a start, he could see through the cracks in the woods that it was the middle of the night. It was freezing but he was drenched in sweat. It has been that dream, the one that had haunted him since as long as he could remember.
He noticed Ebony running into his room,
“Are you ok?” he asked.
“You were screaming, I wanted to check on you.”
“I had a nightmare,” he told her.
“What about?” It has been about a month since he had rescued her from the mountainside, since he had learnt his true name. Day by day she was healing and yet he was no closer to getting the truth out of her about his past. Every time he pressed her on the subject she would change the subject or feign fatigue. She’d only stick to lighter topics. He’d get her to talk eventually he promised himself. He did not feel the need to rush. When he was with her he felt unusually calm, like the past did not matter anyway. He could spend hours staring at her, enchanted by her beauty, her quick wit leaving in him stitches for hours. He knew deep down there was something special about her, that she had meant something to him. He just couldn’t put his finger on it.
“I have the nightmare a lot,” he told her as she sat on his bed looking quizzically at him. He fell back into his pillow, “it’s about this boy. With blonde dreadlocks and piercing ice blue eyes.”
“I have that nightmare too.” She told him, he shot straight up in bed. She was perching on the edge of the bed with her head low.
“Who is he?”
She paused for a second and searched his face, like she was debating whether to tell him the truth.
“His name is Zoot, although before the virus he was known as Martin.”
“And I know him.”
“He was your brother.” His brother? The boy he was having nightmares about was his brother?
“Why does he haunt me?”
“He wasn’t a good man, Bray. He was a very bad man. He hurt a lot of people. Even his memory hurt a lot of people.”
“He’s dead?”
“yes. He died trying to protect you.”
“And I don’t even remember him.”
“You will,” she smiled, “I’m sure it will all come back.”
“How did you know him. Why does he scare you?”
She looked sad for a moment, unsure of how to answer the question, “he was my lover. Sort of husband if you could call it that I guess.”
“You were married to my brother.” He felt his heart jolt, that’s why she meant so much to him. She had not been HIS lover but his brother’s.
“mmm, sort of. It’s complicated. But that’s a story not for the middle of the night.” She got up to leave.
“Don’t go.” He cried, “I can never sleep after these nightmares. Would you stay with me?”
She hesitated but then crawled into the bed next to him. And for the first times in their lives Bray and Ebony fell asleep in each others arms, both into a blissfully dreamless sleep.

The water splashed the drawing “hey!” Ebony protested, Bray gave a sheepish grin. She cocked her head at him, rolled her eyes and then returned back to her previous position – sitting on the rock, feet pulled under her with a sketchbook open and pencils in hand. She had never pictured herself an artist but since she had arrived in this new town she had found that the drawings had calmed her in the moments which she found her darker thoughts creeping in. When she had first arrived the nightmares of her past had continued to haunt every waking second but as the days had turned into weeks and then months her mind continued to get clearer. Being around Bray had made her nervous at first but as time when on she began to trust herself again, and him. since that night they had discussed Zoot they had come to an unspoken agreement not to talk about the past. It didn’t seem to matter, they were different people now. In the past she had lusted for power but now she lusted for those quiet moments, when no one else was around and they would talk for hours. Yet their relationship remained strictly platonic – they were both still learning about themselves again.
She was lost in thought sketching the sunset over the beach. SPLASH. Another jet of water hit her sketchpad.
“What are you doing?” she asked exasperated
“Skipping stones, don’t know if I knew how to do this before but I seem a natural now.” He joked, skimming yet another pebbles across the ocean
“I’ve never skipped stones.” She told him bluntly. He looked at her
“Everyone should spend time skipping stones. Here I’ll show you how to.” She gave up protesting, shut her sketchbook and jumped down from the rock. Bray handed her a pebble and she threw it, it promptly sunk to the bottom.
“You’re doing it all wrong.” He instructed her, “you need to relax.” He stood behind her, moving her body with his, she could feel is breath on her neck, sending shockwaves of electricity down her body and her hairs stand up on end. He guided her hand to throw the stone and it gently skimmed to water.
“I did it!” she exclaimed, turning to face him. They were so close she could see the flecks of green in his eyes, her heart was beating hard in her chest and she thought she could feel his too. A moment of silence passed between the two of them.
“Ebony,” she heard him sigh and he bowed his head. As his lips gently made contact with hers a million thoughts ran through her head.
“no.” she pushed him away with every ounce of self-control she had, “I’m sorry Bray. I can’t. I just can’t.” She grabbed her sketch book and ran back to the village leaving Bray alone, confused and with only the softness of the sand beneath his feet for comfort.

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Congratulations on the engagement!

Also… love, love, love!
Need more!!!

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I love this story. I’d love to read more of it.

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Thanks for the feedback. Here you go.

Chapter 8

“I’m sorry,”

She snapped out of her dream world and looked at him puzzled, “For what?”

“Kissing you.”

“Why would you be sorry for that?” she was lying in her bed staring at the ceiling, unable to bring herself to look him in the eye. He stood uncertainly at the doorway, contrite.

“I know you were with my brother. You told me that. I know my feelings are probably unrequited. They probably were in the old times as they are now. I am sorry I made you feel uncomfortable. I don’t want to ruin our friendship because my feelings for you are greater than yours for me.”

Ebony let out an uncomfortable laugh, “You have no idea how wrong you are Bray.”

“No?”

“No, I never loved your brother. Quite the opposite in fact, I feared him. My heart…it has always belonged to you Bray. Since the first day we met when I was a school girl. And it still does.”

“It does?”

“Yes, since I was 14 years old and every day since.” She sat up on the edge of the bed and he came and sat next to her, their arms almost touching.

“So what’s the problem?”

“It’s complicated. The past…”

“Is in the past. I know you have a history Ebony. It’s obvious as you don’t talk about it. But I don’t care about your past. I care about you now. You and me now. I don’t have to have a memory to know these have been the happiest months in my life. I don’t have to know the past to know who you are.”

“What if I told you that you have a son?”

“What?”

“You have a son, with someone else Bray. Someone you loved long ago. He must be nearly three by now,”

He was torn between being confused and being angry, he looked away from her, “why didn’t you tell me.”

“I thought you’d remember eventually. Besides I can’t find him. I’ve had scouts looking out for the Mall Rats but no luck. I thought telling you would just be painful for you. Having a child you can’t remember and you can’t find.”

“So why tell me now?”

“To make you understand,”

“Understand what?”

“why we can’t be together.” He looked at her completely confused, she continued, “I have loved you Bray but you certainly did not love me. I guess I haven’t wanted to get too close as if and when your memory comes back I know you’ll hate me and I’ll be heartbroken all over again. That’s why I ran when I kissed you. How can I do that knowing eventually you’ll remember”

“I hurt you?”

“On the contrary, I hurt you. A lot. If you remembered I doubt you’d ever forgive me.”

“It can’t be that bad.”

“It is,”

“Tell me then,”

“What?”

“The whole story. Beginning to end. Then at least you’ll know if I can forgive you.”

“You really want to know?”

“Wouldn’t of asked otherwise.”

“Ok, but you asked for it.”

Hours later they sat on the bed, both spent and both unable to speak or even breathe. Bray hadn’t moved, it was a lot to take in.

“That’s quite some story.”

“Every word is true,” and it was. She was almost proud of herself for telling the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It was not something that came easily to her especially knowing the likelihood of it making sure he walked out that door never to return.

“I can’t understand how that person in the story is you.”

She blushed, “I am so sorry Bray. But perhaps you can now understand. Why I am so afraid of being too close to you.”

“It doesn’t matter you know” he told her matter of factly.

“What doesn’t”

“The past. We can’t it you know. And I can’t change how I feel about you.”

“You say that now because the people seem like fictional characters. You won’t feel the same way when you get your memory back.”

“Yes I will.”

“No you won’t.

“You I will,” he laughed at her, “I promise you that.”

“I can’t Bray. Not until I know you won’t walk away from me.”

“But my memory might not ever return. What do you propose we do?”

“And what happened to the market tokens?” she asked.

He rolled his eyes as he laid back against the sand, the first frost was beginning to set on the sea and it was starting to become too cold to sit on the beach and yet he refused to stay indoors, “dunno, they got gambled away?”

“Lex fell asleep and they got STOLEN by a demon dog.” She cried exasperated. It had been several weeks since their talk and Ebony had set about trying everything in her power to jog his memory from drawing pictures to her latest pop quizzes. But nothing had worked, the key to his memories was still very firmly out of reach.

“This isn’t working Eb.” He told her sounding a little aggravated, my head hurts. Come and lie with me on the sand.

“The sand is soaking. I am quite happy here.” She told him bluntly propping herself up on her rock.

“Come on Bray. You need to make an effort.”

He shrugged.

“I had the city was clear from the virus now.”

Her ears pricked up, “Who told you that.”

“some wandering scount.”

“that’s it!”

“What’s it.”

“We should go to the Mall. Maybe being there will job your memory!”

He looked at her and then pulled the scarf over his eyes, he had resigned himself to never having his memories back and he was quite happy with that. “do we have to?”

“Bray. Be a little more enthusiastic would you?”

“of dragging myself miles away with no guarantee of it even working. Whoop di do.”

“Who knows the Mall Rats may even be there….” Her voice trailed off,

“What’s wrong.”

“the Mall Rats may even be there.”

“Hello, is anyone there?” he called.

“Amber? Trudy? Lex?” she yelled. Their voices just echoed in the empty corridors. It had been two weeks since that conversation on the beach followed by a quite horrific journey across the sea. Whilst Ebony was worn out from a mixture of nerves, exhaustion and sea sickness Bray seemed to not have a care in the world. He’s spent the whole journey telling her “dad jokes” until her eyes rolled into the back of her head in exasperation.

“I don’t think anyone is home.”

She pulled her coat around her as shivers ran down her spine, though she was unsure if they were genuinely from the cold, “This place brings back memories.”

“Wish I could say the same,” he winked at her. She raised her eyebrows at him.

“Let’s look around there must be something here that will jog your memory. Let’s start with your old room.”

“Is this Amber?” he asked picking up a photo of a man in a blue cat suit with matching feathers tied into her blonde knotted hair.

“yeah, that’s Amber. Any familiarity?”

He looked at the photo intently. It was like looking at a photo of a complete stranger. The last two years had not been kind to the Mall and like everything else the picture had a sheen of dust over it.

“Nothing.” He told her.

“Let’s keep looking.”

Hours several photographers and pleadings they were both exhausted.

“You want to sleep here tonight?” he asked.

“No. To be honest I just want to get away from here.”

The lay side by side as the fire flickered, casting shadows across both their faces.

“Face it Ebony. My memory is gone. It’s not coming back.”

“It might.”

“It won’t.” he edged closer to her, “you know you look really beautiful in the fire light.”

She smiled at him, “Bray you know we can’t.”

“Why not? It’s you and me out here. Just us together. And I love you Ebony. I don’t know what I felt for you in the past but I know what I feel for you now. Please Ebony don’t keep me waiting any longer.”

“Bray…” he cut her off with a kiss. The kind of kiss that send off fireworks in the deepest part of your soul. And she knew she couldn’t resist him any longer. She had fought back her needs and wants for close to a year now, afraid that if she gave in that she would end up heartbroken. But she finally had what she had wanted. The man she had loved for all those long years finally loved her back. She knew she could not let her fears hold her back any longer. That night as the fire burnt down to embers and the stars twinkled in the sky above she gave in to her yearning. The first moment of true happiness in her life as she became one with the man she loved and then fell asleep in his arms.

As the night got deeper, unknown to his love Bray stirred in his sleep. His mind filled suddenly with pictures and words and finally with so many memories his head ached. He woke with a start panting and sweating despite the cold air around him. He looked over at the sleeping figure of Ebony, “oh my God. What have I done?”.

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Thank you for the update. I am really enjoying this story. :smiley:

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More!
That is all i can say

Chapter 9

If she had felt the journey there – with Bray cracking “dad jokes” every two minutes had seemed long then the journey home – filled with almost complete silence seemed even longer. She couldn’t understand what had happened. Was it a case of a man finally getting what he wanted and therefore not wanting it anymore? Was he bored of her already? Every insecurity that could was bubbling to the perfectly still surface.

Perhaps it had nothing to do with her and he just needed some time to process than he would likely never get his memory back. But whatever it was it was driving her crazy. Little did she know she was not the only one whose mind was going mental. Bray’s mind was going a million miles an hour. Whilst the past was still not entirely clear to him it was coming back more minute by minute. But he remembered some things, he remembered Amber, his child, the Mall Rats. And above all he remembered Ebony. Scheming, manipulative, lying Ebony. He remembered her and his pure unadultered hatred for her. And then he looked at the woman he had fallen so completely in love with over the last year and she looked so much like her. His mind was unable to fathom that the woman racing through his mind and the one is his heart were truly the same person.

And yet it wasn’t her fault, he realised she had been honest with him about her past, she had told him she couldn’t be with him because if he remembered he would never be able to forgive her for everything she had done. He had assured her that would never happen and whilst she had kept her promise of honesty he was struggling to keep his. And what of Amber and his child, where were they? What had become of them. He knew Ebony kept her ear to the ground and would have told him if she had heard anything but she hadn’t. Or had she? Perhaps she was still lying now. How could he trust she was telling the truth. All he knew was that his head hurt.

They arrived home late in the evening, the silence still deafening.

“I think a quick bath and then a good night sleep for me,” she told him brightly, “I’ve missed decent beds.”

“I think I may sleep in my own cabin tonight.” He told her emotionless.

“oh,” she looked crestfallen, “Ok. If that’s what you want.” Bray say the sad expression on her face and felt his heart rip in his chest. Despite never actually doing anything they had shared a room pretty much every night since the Zoot nightmare incident”.

“It is.” She sat on the bed and watched silently as he grabbed his stuff and then headed out the door.

Within the compound of the camp there was a dinner hall, all of those living in the small village would take a turn to cook a meal and the others in the village would come together at meal times to eat together. Though this weird community never had a formal name or a formal leader they seemed to work well together. In some ways this slightly communistic system worked well for Ebony, though she could not have power over anyone it also meant no one else had power over her, she never had to worry about pleasing a leader and that need to always be in charge for fear the time would come where being on top meant that you would survive was slowly disappearing inside of her, though not altogether extinguished and she still struggled with a need for control. However, there were some downsides to this system particularly that the food was not always great and today it was Ebony’s turn to be in the kitchen along with a few other members of this weirdly formed enclave. Whilst she was not much of a cook she was happy to take a serving position as it allowed her to chat to the various members as they took their meals.

Bray took his tray and looked down the serving line towards Ebony serving green beans to 15 year old boy who couldn’t keep his eyes off of her. As the days had gone by things hadn’t eased up, Bray couldn’t bring himself to look at Ebony and she, though she would never admit it, was too scared to ask him what was wrong. He sighed and moved towards her, holding out his plate without a word. She silently filled it for him. As she had it back her hand brushed his, he felt electricity surge through him,

“Bray?” she whispered softly, he turned on his heels and walked away.

“what?” he demanded as Tess cocked her head as he sat down.

“Are you ever going to speak to her?” Tess had been one of the first people he had met in the town and over the last year she had become a good and trusted friend. Whilst he and Ebony had very much become a pair over time it was Tess, along with her husband Sam, who had cared for him when he had first arrived and they had watched and encouraged as he continued to fall deeper and deeper in love with Ebony.

“stay out of it,” he snapped at her. Tess looked back to her meal as Bray silently scoffed his. She looked up to see Ebony wondering around the busy canteen.

“Hey, Eb. Over here.” She called, she turned back to Bray giving her an evil look, “What?” she asked innocently. Ebony scooted in next to Tess,

“oh my lord I am starving,” she exclaimed shoving a spoon in her mouth, Bray glared at her. “What?” she asked, she was starting to get frustrated.

“Nothing.”

She lowered her voice, “Bray, whatever it is, whatever it is I have done I am sorry”

“Oh are you truly truly sorry.” he mocked her, “where have I heard that before?” with that he got up and stormed out, leaving Ebony reeling in her seat realising what exactly it was that had changed between them.

“You remember.” She had slammed his cabin door behind her and she stormed into his room.

“Yes.”

“Since when?”

“Since the night after the Mall, when we…” he trailed off.

“That’s why you’ve been so mad at me.” She asked softly, “I told you the truth Bray. I did everything to make you remember everything. And now you’re mad at me when you promised it wouldn’t change anything between us.”

“I’m not mad at you Ebony.”

“Really cos it sure feels like it”

“I’m not angry with you, I am angry at myself”

“What.”

“you’re right. You were honest with me. And I made a promise to you. That whatever happened in the past I wouldn’t let it change our relationship. And it did. It didn’t change what I feel about you but I just don’t know if I can ever just move on from the past. Every time I look at you I get so confused. I can’t bear it. I can’t keep my promise to you”

“So what are you trying to say. That you don’t love me anymore?”

“No. I do still love you. That’s what’s driving me so crazy. Hating you would be so much easier. But we can’t be together you are I. It’s never gonna work. I just can’t.”

“But Bray…”

“But nothing. I’ve said my piece. I am so so sorry Ebony.” She could see the tears forming in his eyes.

She got back to her room and flung herself on the bed before she let the tears overcome her. She lay for hours with the sobs wracking her whole body. This was her second chance and now it was lost to her. But through the tears she didn’t hear the winds change over the sea or the sound of a motorbike as it rode into town, she never suspected the arrival of the dark figure, clad in leather and a helmet, who would come to her rescue once more.

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:broken_heart:you’re making me feel sorry for Ebony… I never thought that would happen!