What Could Have Been


#1

Summary: With the defeat of the Chosen, the Mallrats believed that their city was finally at peace. A new threat is on the horizon and it is unlike any enemy they’ve faced before. As they are once again forced to fight for their home, they are reunited with some faces from the past.

Notes: In this story I have played with the timeline of season three. The story takes place directly after the city election. Salene has already left to try and find Ryan, Jack is back at the Mall and mostly locks himself in his work shop. Tally and Andy will not be in this story, I felt that they were a poor substitution for Cloe and Patsy. Please let me know if you have any questions.

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Chapter One- Keeping the Memories Alive

  Amber let out a sigh as turned over to lay on her back and opened her eyes, her movement was careful as not to wake Bray. The Mallrat leader was sound asleep on his stomach lightly snoring into his pillow. She had lost count of the nights she spent lying awake as sleep eluded her, ever since her return to the Mall she had been plagued with nightmares of the whole ordeal. A few minutes passed, before she gave up on trying to sleep and carefully rolled out of bed and pulled on her robe before she left the room.

“This seems to be a daily occurrence.” Tai-san greeted from where she sat crossed legged on the fountain her eyes stilled closed, “Maybe it’s fates way of saying you should join me in my early morning meditation.” The healer added as she opened her eyes.

“I would be rubbish at that.” Amber disagreed as she took a seat on the steps across from the fountain.

“It may help clear your mind and find the true source of the disruption in your energy field. But, for the meantime I will make some tea.” Tai-san decided as she stood from her position and stretched. She offered a hand to the blonde and the two made their way towards the café.

“I know the source of my problems and it starts and ends with the Guardian.” Amber answered as she took a seat at the table closest to the kitchen, “Every time I close my eyes I am back in that room.”

“Talking about your fears will ease them. I know that you think you need to be a beacon of strength for the tribe, but no one would fault you for needing help.” Tai-san urged as she set her kettle on the hot plate, “This isn’t a burden that you need to carry on your own. We are all here for you and will
help in any way that we can.”

“I will get over it in time.” Amber insisted as she felt a sharp pain run down her side and let out a hiss of pain.

“Are you okay?” Tai-san questioned as she hurried towards her friend, she set the mugs on the table before she kneeled on the ground in front of Amber.

“I am fine. I have just been getting a twinge every know and then. I think it’s just the baby growing.” Amber dismissed.

Tai-san shot Amber a disbelieving look before she got up and moved to the chair across from Amber, “Stress and exhaustion aren’t good for you or the baby.” Tai-san advised as she took a sip of her own tea, “I know a mix of herbs that will help you with the pain. I will go out and find the leaves this afternoon. You will have to drink it three times a day.”

“It seems that you’re not the only early bird Brady.” Trudy cooed as she walked into the café with Brady on her hip, “She’s got her first tooth coming in.” The purpled haired woman explained as she juggled the toddler on her hip.

“A damp cloth will help sooth her.” Amber offered, “It always worked magic with my little brother.” She added.

“Would you mind?” Trudy asked as she nodded towards Brady.

“Not at all.” Amber answered as she held her hands out for the little girl. Trudy smiled gratefully as she handed the girl off and headed towards the kitchen.

“We might as well get started on breakfast.” Trudy added as she headed back to the table with a damp cloth in hand, “Would you mind watching Brady?” She added as she saw Amber wrinkle her noise at the mention of food. There was a reason that Amber was no longer on the chore list to prepare food, she had grown a very sensitive stomach.

“I think that is best for everyone.” Amber agreed as she took the cloth from Trudy and settled Brady on her lap, so she could place it on the gums. Tai-san quickly finished her tea and then moved to help Trudy.

“Do you think that pursuing the idea that Ebony was behind our kidnapping is a good idea?” Amber questioned as she watched her friend move around the kitchen to start breakfast.

“Are you having second thoughts?” Trudy countered as she took the plates down from the cabinets.

“I just think we need to approach this situation with caution. Ebony is city leader now and we would be putting a target on our backs.” Amber answered honestly as Brady played with her hair. Since her return to the Mall, Amber had taken her hair down from her Zulu knots and wore it in a fishtail braid.

“I think we should keep an eye on her. I think that we shouldn’t show our hand just yet.” Trudy offered, “What really matters is that we’re safe and together again.”

“Karma will take care of Ebony in its own time.” Tai-san agreed as the rest of the tribe began to filter into the café.

“Morning.” Bray greeted as he walked up to Amber and placed a kiss on her head and pulled a chair up to the table, “I didn’t feel you get up.” He added as Trudy placed a plate in front of him and was about to place one in front of Amber.

“I’m good. I will take care of Brady, while you eat.” Amber shook her head, the idea of food was not too appealing right now, “I was having trouble getting back to sleep and didn’t want to wake you with my tossing and turning.” She added as she turned her attention back to Bray.

“That is when I want you to wake me. Are you okay?” Bray questioned as worry washed over his face. He gently placed a hand on her slightly swollen stomach in an effort to comfort her.

“I’ve been having nightmares, I honestly just think that it’s my minds way of trying to process everything.” Amber answered as she shifted a wiggling Brady on her lap and placed the damp rag on the table, “A small part of me is afraid that all this is just a dream and I am going to be back in that room.” She added as Tai-san and Lex joined them at the table.

“You’re safe and no one is going to take you from me.” Bray promised, “We are going to get to the bottom of this.”
“Why? Can’t it just be enough that Trudy and I are back.”

“I thought that we agreed to question Ebony?” Bray questioned as he looked around the table. A few days after Amber and Trudy were found the three of them plus Tai-san, Lex and Pride had all discussed that it seemed too much of a coincidence that Ebony just happened to be in the same area as the two female Mallrats.

“Is that happening today?” Lex questioned with his mouth full and Trudy joined them at their table.

“No.”

“Yes.” Both Amber and Bray said in unison.

“Well that clear it all up then.” Lex replied sarcastically as he shoved a spoonful of food into his mouth.

“I think what Amber is thinking is that we really aren’t going to get anywhere if we approach Ebony
about her involvement.” Trudy chimed in as she looked at her friend.

“Ebony is very good at deceiving people.” Tai-san agreed.

“Think about it Bray, she is city leader now and that means she is more powerful then ever. If we go after her now we are only putting a target on our backs.”

“Is this what you two want?” Bray asked after a moment and looked from Trudy to Amber, who both nodded, “Okay.”

“That works for me and will cause me less trouble.” Lex nodded as he grabbed his sheriff hat and pushed away from the table, “I need to go find Pride and head to the hotel. We’re training the new recruits today.” He added as gave Tai-san a quick kiss and left the café.

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For the first time in months, the Mallrats had a chance to breath and not always prepared for battle. For so long their sole focus had been on defeating the Chosen and had no time or energy to focus on much else. That included taking the time to mourn their lost friends. After celebrating their freedom, it had become apparent that there were gaping holes in their tribe.  Tai-san had brought up the idea to set up a memorial in horror of their missing friends. She believed that it would keep their spirits close and their memories alive. 

Later that afternoon Amber and Cloe had taken it upon themselves to set the memorial up where the two staircases met at the center of the mall across from the fountain. The others had gathered pictures and other mementos that once belonged to their fallen friends. At the center of the collage was the amulet that Dal had found on the farm, all that time ago. 

“Which one do you think is better?” Cloe asked as she held two pictures out for Amber to see.

“I think you should use the one of the two of you.” Amber smiled as she pointed to the picture in Cloe’s right hand, that had the two girls grinning and placed her own picture on the wall. She gently ran her hand over Dal’s grinning face, the picture had been taken right after Lex’s first bachelor party.

“I was hoping that she would have found her way back, like Jack and I.” The preteen frowned as she placed the picture next to one of Bob.

“I know.” Amber sighed as se reached her hand and gave it a light squeeze, “You know we all became a tribe because of you.” Amber offered as she sat down on the bench and used their linked hands to bring Choe down next to her.

“What do you mean?” She asked as she scrunched her face in confusion.

“If you hadn’t had been in the middle of the street with that café, all of us would have never met. Dal and I planned on leaving the city for good.” Amber smiled.

“I never thought of it that way.” Cloe grinned, “I think that I still would have agreed with being called the Dolphins.” She laughed as she thought back on the memory, “We never did actually find out what happened to Bluebell.” She added as an afterthought.

Amber let a laugh of her own out, as the sound of footsteps caused the pair to turn their attention to Pride who hurried down the stairs. He didn’t spare the two a glance as he stormed across the first floor and towards Lex and Tai-san’s room, “That can’t be good.” Cloe muttered as she turned her attention back to the box of pictures.

“What do you have to say for yourself?” Pride’s raised voice echoed from the bedroom and then
was followed by a muffled noise before both Lex and Pride ended up sprawled out on the floor outside the entrance of the bedroom.

“Hey.” Amber called as she pushed off the bench and hurried towards the two. Lex hurried to his feet, just as Pride moved to punch the sheriff, who quickly anticipated the move and took a step back just as Amber moved to stand between the two. Everything seemed to happen in slow motion as Pride realized too late that Amber now stood in his path, he quickly lowered his arm, but still managed to bump into the blonde and sent her stumbling back towards the ground.