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The Greatest Whirlwind of Her Life

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Their romance had been something of a whirlwind. Being thrust into each other’s arms for comfort after their disastrous start in Heleus. He had been there from the beginning. Someone familiar. Someone who had gone through everything she had, right by her side. Though, not with as much emotionally on the line, but still someone that knew what she was going through. Someone that didn’t need explanations.

They found comfort in each other easily. Physically, yes, though that hadn’t been a surprise. It was easy to get lost in each other for a moment. To recharge themselves to be able to face another day with a little more ease than the last. With the way that Liam traipsed around engineering with no shirt on, it had left her easily fantasizing more often than not. For either of them to have acted on it was not shocking.

It was the emotional connection that had come as a bit of a surprise. At least to Sara. They were so different. He, the impulsive, bullheaded, emotional to a fault, adventurous type. She, the closed off, deflecting everything with humour and awkwardness, in over her head, neurotic. Yet something about him made it easy for her to be open. They had both commiserated over the things they had lost, and taken interest in each other’s reasons for taking the leap that had landed them here. They had both become each other’s comfortable place at the end of the day, and much faster than either of them had expected.

He had been a constant source of stress for her with his misguided good intentions. His exhausting passion to make everything better and lack of patience would have been enough to run most people ragged. It was admittedly a lot for Sara to want to deal with at times, especially because it could have put them in danger on more than one occasion, but at least it meant that he cared about something. He had passion and a purpose, and he took it seriously. He was always remorseful and eager to learn from his mistakes, which made him easily forgivable.

She had always been understanding in the end, even if a little frustrated. His devotion to his work was infectious and a constant source of encouragement during the hard times, of which there were plenty. She tended to be a bit more thoughtful and thorough about their tasks, which he struggled to learn to take in stride. She had the weight of the galaxy on her shoulders, and he was the one that she chose to lessen her burden. He was grateful for the opportunity, and would try not to make things harder for her.

They worked despite each other. They brought out the best in each other. She pacified him. Not too much to where he wasn’t Liam, but enough to get him to relax, and realise that giving things time to figure out didn’t mean that they would stagnate. He, in turn, roused her. Something that allowed her to realise her full potential, and finally open up. It gave her the encouragement to keep going when obligations felt like they could consume her.

He was one for grand gestures, and his lack of patience intruded into their relationship on more than one occasion. He had declared his love for her after they had fallen from the cliff on Eos. Their first outpost. Their first success together. Most assuredly not their last.

He had proposed to her after the battle for Meridian, in somewhat of a quip, but still without question of certainty. They hadn’t been together all that long. Only a couple of months officially, though the attachment and friendship had been there from the beginning. Sara was slightly more speculative of the idea at first, though the prospect had piqued her interest a lot more than she ever would have thought possible this quickly.

Liam had realised how spontaneous the whole thing had been, (after the fact of course,) so he had assured Sara that he was quite serious, but there would be no rush. The more that they talked about it though, she couldn’t help but think that it felt right. It may have taken her a while to catch up to him, but she began to realise that she couldn’t picture her life with anyone else at her side.

She may have been young, but thanks to her career, she may as well have been 22 going on 50. She was old and weathered enough to know what she wanted for her life, and he was a part of it. Liam was more like 28 going on 25, but the one thing that he knew he did well, was that he didn’t wait for his ducks to fall in a row. If there was something that he knew he wanted enough, he went after it, and Sara was what he wanted.

It had taken Sara a week of more careful consideration to be absolutely sure, because that was just who she was, but she had eventually said yes. This way, when she did say it, they both knew without a doubt that this was what they had wanted.

Eos made the most sense. It was where all of their other personal major declarations had been made, save for their engagement. It couldn’t have been anywhere else really. It had taken them a month to be fit into August Bradley’s schedule in order to officiate them. They had to squeeze themselves between Hainley and Evan’s wedding, which they had happily attended, and a mysterious visit from Captain Dunn. Sara thought there might be something going on with those two. Perhaps she had been right.

Neither of them were ones for formality. It was more than enough for them to simply make it official and throw a small get-together. Sara had willfully put her foot down at the behest of Tann’s orders to broadcast the ceremony, of which there was barely one to speak of anyway. They had settled on letting Keri take a few shots and perform an interview about the day, so they could still use it for PR.

They had taken the day to celebrate, and used it to its full potential. They basked in the happiness of their friends. They made promises to the best of their abilities, because Heleus was still such an unknown. But they weren’t an unknown. The future was uncertain, but whatever it had in store, it would have in store for them together.

That one day was all that they had gotten. Straight back to work for the Pathfinder and her team. They hadn’t been expecting a full honeymoon by any means. Not with who they were and what was expected of them, but they were almost certain that Tann was being inflexible thanks to their insubordinate attitude towards broadcasting their wedding. At this point they were just willing to graciously take what they were given under the circumstances.

It hadn’t ended up being that long until their work had begun to slow somewhat anyway. The Milky Way species needed planets to live on, but at the same time they couldn’t bite off more than they could chew. Each species had less than 20,000 people at this point, with how many were lost to different causes since their arrival. They had scouted planets and logged some for future potential, but there was only so much they could do on that end, with no people to inhabit them.

Pathfinders were still needed, and would likely always have use at least to some degree, but for now, things were a bit more calm. It was a welcomed change. They had been thrust into the position under the worst circumstances, and had worked harder than anyone else in Heleus to make things right, and give people the start that they needed. It was nice to just have a chance to live.

They had settled on Eos, quickly reserving a spot on the lake. It had become a popular area, but it was worth it to have the amazing view, and a refreshing place to spend their time off. Their roles had become somewhat more the traditional idea of what their job was supposed to be in the last few months. They had already done the hard work in settling planets. Now was time for the easier part in terraforming them and making them more sustainable. The vaults had already set up the groundwork, but now their job was creating resources to provide longevity. Help make their arid landscape one with fertile soil. Maybe they could start growing coffee or cocoa beans. One could dream anyway. At the very least there were already strawberries.

All of the planets that held their outposts needed the same services, but Eos was special to Liam and Sara. The choice had been easy to settle there. Sure, their job was still bound to call them away, likely more often than they would want, but Eos would be their home. Something that they had created together. Somewhere they could spend their nights off, but not their weekends. There was still too much work to be done to have weekends. But at least here, they would be together and they would be happy.

Most of those nights led them to the comfort of the bed that they shared together. Just holding each other on the nights they were too exhausted, but more often than not, it led to them finding bliss with one another. On one particular night, it had even led Liam to be a little brave with a particular desire he had been holding out on.

“When are we going to put a baby in there?” Liam said lovingly, voice filled with want. He was gently pressing kisses below her navel. Clearly he had been thinking about this for a while.

Just like that, any heat between her legs had gone straight to her chest, and tightened into a nervous, hammering ball. “I - What?” Sara had replied, entirely not expecting any admissions even remotely like that in the moment.

“No rush,” he had quickly amended, as with most of his grand gestures, thumb stroking the area just above her pelvis, with that look on his face that always seemed to be begging for forgiveness thanks to his brash disposition of thrusting his wants out into the universe before thinking.

She couldn’t blame him for voicing the things that he longed for. This was the life that they were sharing together . Despite the shock of his question, she took it seriously in the moment, giving it the consideration that it deserved. It was one of the reasons they had come here after all. To Andromeda. To propagate the species in a new home. It was something she hadn’t put much thought into for herself, even after her conversation with Gil where he had realised just that.

Their child wouldn’t just be propagation of humanity, though. It would be a piece of them. A responsibility. But perhaps even a purpose. Not that they needed another one of those, but it was a nice thought. To have and know something that was more important than herself.

It had been a part of her future that she had always expected, though not quite like this. She was still so young. Still had the galaxy’s well being on her shoulders. It wasn’t something that she had planned for. But then again, pretty much nothing had gone to plan since their arrival in this new galaxy, and somehow even after all of the turmoil, she had never been more content in her life.

She looked into Liam’s inquisitive eyes, and couldn’t help but see a small, mischievous, rambunctious boy, or a quiet and introspective, adorable little girl. Each filled with the potential to have the best and worst parts of themselves inherited. It was a picture of a future she didn’t think she could let go of now that the idea had been planted. In that moment, as with many others since meeting him, Liam’s impulsiveness was infectious.

“Let’s make an appointment with Jill,” she said, with nothing but a serious and loving gaze towards the man that had quickly become everything to her.

He didn’t waste any more time with words, and instead decided to show his appreciation with a loving smile before moving to capture her mouth with his. It was the most impassioned night they had spent together since their wedding. It would likely be the last time they would be making love without the underlying biological reasons for it. It was meaningful, and an expression of what they meant to each other.

Just like that, their marriage had turned into as much of a whirlwind as the rest of their relationship. She should have expected it at this point really.

They had been sitting in Jill’s office, getting their injections, Jill beaming with pride, revelling in the fact that she had finally converted the Pathfinder to her cause, telling them to come back to her in a year if Sara hadn’t gotten pregnant by that point.

She and Liam had decided to not take it seriously. To just let it happen when it happened, and not time things, or let it consume them.

It had been a good thought, and the way that Sara would have preferred to deal with it. In reality, it had been easier said than done. With each period that came, it had brought a slight amount of heartbreak with it. It was a reaction she hadn’t expected. After Liam’s admission for wanting this, she hadn’t realised just how much that she had wanted it for herself too until every month that had passed with no progress being made.

Their lives had been stressful enough with little time for breaks to have time for themselves, and now she could easily feel this becoming a division between them. Something else to add on top of their unimaginable pile of endless work. It was mostly thanks to putting all the blame onto herself, and keeping it hidden. She should have realised that Liam would have known her better.

He had taken it personally. Thought of it as another problem that he needed to solve. It took him time to realise that his heedless ideas couldn’t fix this. There was no solution. There was only him to be there for her.

The year was almost up, and with the arrival of yet another period, he had finally gone to her, the chasm that was starting to form becoming unbearable. She had broken down into tears, and apologised for not being able to provide him with the life that he had wanted. His tears had joined her own, apologising for letting her think for even a second that he could have ever possibly blamed her or have been upset with her about this. He reminded her that she was what was important. Sara was the life he wanted. Anything else that came with her would just be a gift.

For the first night in months, they just held each other, and reminded themselves about what was important. That their relationship had to come first right now, especially if there would ever be children. That they had to be the strong foundation to build upon. The strong foundation that they had already once been. It had been a good reminder. That despite their differences, something else that made them work, is that their end goal was one and the same, and would always involve them. Like everything else that had come with their relationship, they had made each other stronger, being there for each other. They would make it through this, and come out the other side.

A year had now come and gone, and they decided not to go back to Jill. They were both still young after all, and Sara had wanted to finally take their previous advice to heart and just let nature take its course. They started enjoying each other again, and had forced themselves to finally take days off. Liam had even surprised her with a trip to Meridian. She wasn’t sure how he had managed to pull that off, but hoped there wouldn’t be ramifications involved, because this was Liam after all.

They had gotten to visit with Scott who had been working to help get Meridian on track. He was doing good work, and making a name for himself. She missed him, but she was proud of him, and this is where he belonged.

They had also visited with Ellen, or rather ‘Elizabeth’ . Still hidden, and still a secret, though both she and Scott had been putting out feelers for potential cures for AEND. There hadn’t been much progress on that front. They would tell someone about her existence when the time was right, if it ever would be. But for now, more than ever before, she had wished to have her mother here. She would have talked some sense into her long ago, lessening the pains of the last year. She also would have been happy. Love was the only thing that Ellen had truly wanted for her children. To know how content her daughter was, would have given her peace of mind, and relief to know that her child would be okay and fulfilled in her absence, though Sara hoped beyond all reason that she wouldn’t have to live the rest of her life in her mother’s absence anymore. Not after being given this second chance. Only time would tell.

Meridian had been everything that they had needed. It was a reminder to appreciate what they had, which was everything. It was a reaffirmation that they were okay. That they could work through whatever life had in store for them. That life was beautiful. Both theirs and in general. Even in the midst of hardships.

They had settled back into work rejuvenated, still making sure to have time for each other, making sure not to forget each other this time.

Not even a month after returning home, Sara had been rushing out to a last minute meeting with Tann at the holos in the city centre that she was running behind for. Liam had just started witnessing her flurry to get out of the house.

“Hey now, what’s the rush? Some of the gang’s in town, I was hoping we could all catch a drink at the pub.”

“I can’t, Liam. I have a last minute meeting with Tann,” she said as she was about ready to head out the door, throwing her leather jacket and scarf on. “I’m late.”

The words made her stop dead in her tracks, Liam barely noticing the abrupt change of pace as he was about to go back to what he had been doing before, knowing Tann waited for no one. As he didn’t hear the doors whooshing open and closed as he expected, he turned his view back to his wife to see her stilled at the door.

“Sara?”

She turned around slowly, with a look confused of happiness and poignancy. “I’m late,” she almost whispered, starting to cry from joy, being entirely sure of what that meant. Her periods were always on time. If now of all times was when mother nature decided to change things up for fun, after the least stressful part of her life in Heleus thus far, that would have been a cruel, sick joke.

The words had taken a moment for Liam to clue in, not realising that she wasn’t talking about Tann anymore.

Sara just looked at him with tear filled eyes, covering her mouth as she started to sob from happiness.

Liam all but ran to her, enveloping her in a hug as he stroked her hair. They held each other and kissed deeply, which made Sara even later for her meeting.

For once in her life she didn’t care about her tardiness, or the berating that had come with it. She could barely pay attention to anything that he had been saying, and for the first time, it hadn’t been thanks to his self aggrandizing nature or boring prospects. She couldn’t hide the grin on her face for the rest of the day.

Liam was trying to be more guarded about it. Not that he didn’t trust Sara’s instincts or for her to know her own body, but this had already been such a hardship for them. He was protecting himself from more heartbreak until they had more solid confirmation.

The next day had finally led them back to Jill’s office, where he and Sara had been silently awaiting confirmation, as they glanced at the various charts adorning the room for distraction. They had both found one in particular to be amusing. It was a chart for reproductive pairs to consider how many children they should have to ensure that humanity didn’t die out.

It had displayed that it would be responsible for everyone to have at least two children to replace themselves. Good to have three children to make up for couples who couldn’t, or people who didn’t want to. Four to help out with actual growth, and five or more to have bragging rights in single handedly ensuring the repopulation efforts.

Jill had come back into the room with a beaming grin, and referrals to more doctors. She was responsible for getting people pregnant after all, not for taking care of them after the fact.

In the end, this particular hardship had been nothing more than a blip in the grand scheme of things, though it certainly hadn’t felt like it at the time. Neither of them would take this opportunity for granted.

Sara had officially passed on the role of Pathfinder to Scott. She was more okay with it than she would have imagined. She hadn’t spent a day away from Liam since settling on Eos. She couldn’t imagine going back to the role now, especially when their family would be growing. Besides, she would always have purpose here. She had given enough of herself for Heleus. It was time for someone else to take the reigns should something important enough to warrant the role come back to fruition.

They relished the changes that were happening in Sara’s body, and were happy with anticipation of what that meant for their family.

Time began to go by too fast.

They had welcomed a daughter, and fallen in love so completely that they couldn’t imagine a time of their life without her.

Just shy of a year had passed when Sara proposed going off of her birth control. They both knew how hard it had been the first time, and how long it had taken, and one child wasn’t enough for either of them.

Not even one month later found Sara and Liam sitting in Jill’s office once again, admiring that same poster about human repopulating, waiting for results. Sara wasn’t as sure this time. She hadn’t even had a regular period since their daughter was born, but she remembered what she was feeling, and instinct was telling her it would be positive.

Sure enough, Jill had come in to the room with that same beaming grin, and another referral.

This time as they were leaving the office, Sara turned to Liam just as happy as the last time.

“Let’s make it a challenge,” she said with a grin she wasn’t even trying to contain.

“What?” he asked, clearly amused, with one eyebrow cocked.

“The poster in Jill’s office.”

He had studied it with just as much interest and mirth as Sara had. He understood the need to propagate, but the whole idea of trying to persuade people to do it almost seemed wrong somehow. Until he thought of their daughter.

She was their future. He had never loved anyone so much, except Sara. The idea of two children under the age of two, was admittedly daunting, but he couldn’t wait. He knew without a doubt that he would already love this child just as much, and he could see himself easily making room in his heart for more. He hadn’t needed persuading, because it was what he wanted too.

“Yeah. Let’s do it,” Liam said, bringing her into a hug, and kissing her passionately, celebrating the news they had just received, and the future that he could now see with more clarity.

The birth of their second daughter had made them cling to the idea more than ever. Any doubt that they wouldn’t have been able to share their love had subsided, and they still knew without a doubt that they wanted more.

The birth of their third daughter had made them start to question things. Life was amazing and more fulfilling than they had ever thought possible, but they had underestimated how hard things would become once they had been outnumbered. Trying to divide their attention equally had been a challenge. None of their children were neglected by any means, but they were still young and didn’t understand. It had made them both feel guilty, time working against them. Not having enough hours in the day to devote to family, not to mention their work on top of it all.

They had decided to put a pin in their plan. They couldn’t imagine being done yet, but their daughters needed them now. It wasn’t fair to be adding more into the mix. They would appreciate what they had, and see where life would take them.

They appreciated every little milestone of each of their daughters, trying to commit everything to memory that they could. Through every sleepless night. Through every nervous call made to doctors for high fevers, or banged up knees. Through reading them the same story ten times over before finally being tucked into bed. They were all but drowning in the monotony of it, but they would appreciate it all, not knowing if they would ever get to do those things again. Knowing full well that there would come a day that would be the last time they ever picked up one of their daughters. There would be a last time that they would come sneak into their bed, eyes filled with tears from bad dreams. That someday they would just be boring old mom and dad who didn’t know anything, instead of the heroes that they portrayed while their children were young.

They felt privileged to witness these three amazing girls grow and flourish, but time was fleeting, and it had all gone by too fast.

By the time their youngest daughter was five, they had decided that they didn’t want it to be over. Their children had become more manageable, and time was shared more easily. They had decided they all had enough room in their hearts for one more. Maybe it would be a boy this time.

Liam and Sara were older now. It had taken a while again, though this time, not with as much heartbreak as the first. If it didn’t happen, their lives would still be fulfilled.

But then another year had met them with being found in Jill’s office once again. The same poster had been there even ten years later. They figured the repopulation efforts would likely need to go on for generations, so it shouldn’t have been all that surprising. Sara couldn’t help but be amused yet again, realising they would likely never fulfill the challenge that she and Liam had set out on during their second time around. They had gotten close. Four was a good number that they could be happy with.

What had been surprising though, were the levels of hormones in Sara’s blood. Jill came in with that same beaming face she had with each previous appointment, announcing that she believed it was probably twins this time. Sara and Liam couldn’t help but laugh at the poster, realising that of course, this period of their lives couldn’t have ended any other way, nothing about their life going to plan. Fraternal twins were genetic after all. Sara had almost been surprised that it hadn’t happened sooner.

They had ended up with two sons in the end. Their birth being just as meaningful as the other three, with the addition of being bittersweet, knowing they would be the last. Each of their daughters had taken to them with ease, being old enough to want more siblings, and to be able to coo over their baby brothers.

They had experienced a lot of those dreaded ‘lasts’ with their sons. Sure, the last of the dirty diapers and the late night feedings. But also the last time their tiny weights would occupy a place on their chests as they slept peacefully. The last first days of school. The last time that they had willingly asked for hugs and kisses. The last first dates, and heartbreaks.

Life had truly gone by in the blink of an eye. Their boys had now entered their twenties. With it, came the realisation that Sara was now the same age as her mother. All this time had passed, and still no progress had been made in finding a cure.

She and Scott had finally forced a conversation. She hadn’t been willing to let go. Scott had thought it to be unfair. They had decided to give it some more time. Her existence wasn’t hurting anyone, though she knew that life would never be the same for Ellen if she were ever to wake up.

Five more years had passed peacefully enough, though everyone should have realised that it was too good to be true. The Archon had only been one of many within the kett fleets. They should have expected for the war to not have been over, even if it had come with more than a thirty year delay.

Sara and Liam could still hold their own. Sara wasn’t that much older than her father was at the time of his death, and he had still been all fight, only dying to sacrifice himself for her.

He had instilled that N7 determination to her core. She would never forget how to hold a gun or defend the things that mattered. Eos was her home. It’s where her family was. She would die to protect what was important if she had to. The idea had admittedly been a harder one to bear knowing what she would have to leave behind, but it didn’t change anything. If anything, she would do it with more determination than ever before, feeling immense guilt at this having been the life that she had brought her children into. She had never wanted to subject them to the things that she had faced upon their arrival, but it had happened anyway.

She was at least happy that she wouldn’t be leading the charge this time. She was perfectly content with being able to protect what was hers, and leaving the rest to Scott. He had become more than capable in the last thirty odd years at the helm, and Heleus had become a force to be reckoned with in general.

The vaults had set up the perfect climates to be able to allow Milky Way species to grow and strengthen their numbers. Not to mention the Angara being granted with a period of peace had offered themselves time to replenish as well. Everyone had been invigorated for the new challenges they would face with the kett, the last battle being long enough in the past to recoup and flourish, but not long enough for the want for vengeance to have subsided. The kett wouldn’t know what hit them.

This time of war would give and take a lot for everyone involved.

It had given Sara and Liam their first grandchild. It was one more precious thing that they would protect with their lives, but also something for which they were grateful. A reminder that the kett didn’t own them. That life would go on. That it could still be beautiful, and offer them everything.

It hadn’t been easy though. The kett had come back in full force, and weren’t about to let go of this part of the galaxy without a fight. All of Heleus had been brought back together for one last push in the battle, just as they had so many years before.

It was what made them different from the kett. Alliances built through empathy and understanding. It made them stronger. Defending peace was noble. Something for which people were invigorated. The kett were intent to do nothing but destroy. It was fruitless.

The war had been won in their favour, though not without sacrifice. Scott had died during the final push.

Sara had been the one to give them all their strong start, but Scott was the one who had given everything to keep it.

It was like she had lost a piece of her soul. The bond that she had shared since before birth had been gone just like that. She had known the risks. Knew that this was a possibility. It still hurt.

She would always be appreciative. His sacrifice would allow her grandchildren to experience peace. Hopefully they wouldn’t have to know times of war, and it was all thanks to Scott. It was the only thing keeping her from being consumed by grief.

Days had turned into months. She had learned to live in this new world that didn’t include her twin. It was hard and strange, but she wasn’t alone. She still had her family, and that was thanks to him. She wouldn’t waste the opportunity.

She had finally had the strength to deal with her mother. Scott was the one that had wanted to let her go. Sara couldn’t fathom the thought. Not until Scott was gone, that is. It had made her realise that she was being selfish. Trying to cling to the idea and memory of what her mother was. Not about what would be left for her.

She knew it would have been hard for Ellen to come to terms with waking up in a world where her children were older than her, but she could have lived with that. To wake up in a world where her children were gone was an entirely different thing. Sara couldn’t even imagine the pain that it would cause, and she didn’t want to. She may have tempted fate if any progress had been made on a cure for AEND, but there was still nothing. She had finally decided that letting her go would be a kindness. One that she would have to bear the burden of now.

Liam was the only one to know of her existence. She didn’t want to complicate the feelings of her children for a relative she didn’t know would ever be around. It meant that Sara would be suffering in silence. For the most part anyway. Liam would know. It would be enough. He had been her rock, ever since entering Andromeda. That hadn’t changed, and he was here for her now just as much as he had ever been before.

She realised this had been the last thing that had been preventing her from moving on. From living her life, and enjoying it again. It didn’t make the loss any easier. It just meant that the healing could truly begin.

They started to age. It was a gift not many who had started things in Heleus were given. Sara started to turn grey and weathered around the edges. Liam didn’t miss an opportunity to claim the blame for it, jovially, knowing that he pushed her buttons. Sara embraced the change, and Liam embraced that. She was a silver vixen, just as tempting as the day they had met. Maybe even more, because each grey hair, and wrinkle held a beautiful memory of laughing with their children, or a lifetime spent together that they had built and suffered for.

They had spent decades enjoying the fruits of their labour, still in that same house by the lake on Eos. They watched their family grow and make the same memories that she and Liam had in their youth. They were fulfilled.

One night during a big family get together Sara had mistakenly called one of her sons Scott. It wasn’t necessarily that big of a deal. Having a family that big, it was easy to screw up people’s names. It was far from the first occurrence. But when it happened before, it usually came with an immediate correction, which this one lacked. Everyone ignored it.

It wasn’t until she started asking about Drack and Kallo and other people from their youth long gone that Liam finally started to worry. She would forget simple or important things, like how to use her new omni-tool, or what their children’s names were.

It had been a while, but Liam got in contact with Lexi. She had the most experience with Sara’s history, and all of her special needs with SAM.

Lexi came to Eos, taking the trip for her friend. She observed Sara in her confused state. She took scans and performed tests, but she could already tell what was wrong, even if she didn’t know the why at first. Sara had a neurodegenerative disease.

The test had proven that it was likely caused by all of the trauma while she was young, interacting with the remnant when she shouldn’t have. Having an AI in her head for so long hadn’t helped either. It was a foreign body. As much as SAM was designed to help, and aid, he wasn’t supposed to be there, especially not as completely as her implant had been. It had required too much of her, making her brain degrade more quickly than it should have naturally.

Lexi had given them the news while Sara was having a moment of clarity. Sara felt immense guilt, sitting beside the man that she loved as he was crying. She didn’t cry. She wouldn’t. She was happy with her life. He had provided her with everything she had ever wanted. She was sad and angry that she would be leaving it all behind sooner than she should have, but even with the ups and downs, she wouldn’t have asked for anything different. She was content.

It had progressed quickly. Liam was almost grateful for that. This wasn’t Sara anymore. He loved her just as much, and cared for her as though nothing had changed, but she wasn’t there. She could barely speak, SAM letting her basic needs be known for her.

It wasn’t long before she did nothing but sleep, not being able to do much else. At least she wasn’t in pain, but it was still a kind of suffering. Not being able to experience this life, just waiting for the end. He didn’t want it to be prolonged for her.

Liam hadn’t left her side in days, not wanting her to be alone. Their children came and went as they could, but it was difficult for them. Liam couldn’t blame them. At least they had said their goodbyes, and tried to make as much peace with it as they could. He didn’t begrudge them for wanting to remember the woman that she was. Vibrant and spirited and guarded with everyone but her family.

She had been kept alive by feeding tubes, barely breaching consciousness, and even so, never coherent.

That was, not until this moment. Liam had been sleeping, resting his head near her stomach, never letting go of her hand. It was the movement of that hand that had broken the trance. He woke to see Sara looking him in the eye. Sara. Not the shell that had taken over her body.

It had filled Liam with new hope, to see life in her eyes again. To see that she wasn’t clouded by fog.

“Liam?” she asked quietly, and strained. Her voice not having been used for days.

She moved her hand to caress his face as he sat up to move closer to her. Tears filled his eyes that he forced to stay open, not wanting to waste any experience he had left with this woman. Mad with himself because his voice didn’t work, feeling as though his throat was filled with cement.

Sara hadn’t been filled with the hope that she could see in Liam’s eyes. She knew this was the end. The exhaustion even in this state making it obvious that the blackness would consume her soon. She was thankful for this last moment, even if to be able to provide her love with one last comfort.

“You were the greatest whirlwind of my life,” she said with such clarity and love that Liam almost had to question whether he was dreaming.

It wouldn’t have mattered even if it were, because she had also been the whirlwind of his. He just let out a sob, as he realised why she would be saying that. This was the end. He just nodded his head, hating himself for not being able to comfort her in her moment of need.

Sara could see the guilt on his face. She didn’t need anything to be said, because in truth this was his moment of need. She grasped his hand with all of the might she had left in her body, which wasn’t much at this point, and nodded as her own tears began to shed for him. She had come to terms with her fate, but she suddenly realised that she hadn’t come to terms with his. That he would be left alone.

Neither of them being able to talk anymore, Liam leaned down, giving her the most genuine kiss of his life, trying to portray everything that he felt but couldn’t voice. He leaned back to sit by her side.

He stayed with her, and watched her as she drifted back to sleep, never letting go of her hand. Half an hour had passed when her grip had finally loosened, the last breath leaving her body

It may as well have been seconds or centuries. Time had become an abstract. An abyss for which Liam would now have to learn to explore on his own.

He didn’t want to.

Months after she had gone, he had contemplated jumping from their spot. Somewhere they had cherished. Somewhere he could be with her.

He couldn’t go through with it.

His children were grown now. Even his grandchildren were grown, and having kids of their own. They didn’t need him anymore. It was the way of things, and it was okay. It even had a certain beauty about it. He and Sara had raised them well and strong, and they would go on with their lives just fine after time. But even still, he couldn’t do that to them.

Instead, he had begun to deteriorate. Slowly dying of a broken heart ever since the day that Sara had gotten her diagnosis.

Food had no taste. Nothing stayed down anyway. The world had no colour. He had no will.

A year to the day after Sara had left them all, and he had finally found that moment of clarity that he remembered so fondly with his wife.

His daughter sitting at his side. She was about to enter her hundreds, and was still as beautiful as the day she was born. She reminded him of Sara. It was a comforting thought. Even if Sara wasn’t at his side, a piece of her was.

He never did figure out if he believed in an afterlife or not, but it didn’t matter. Whether it be an endless void, or something more, it made no difference. Either way, he would be joining his Sara soon.

He closed his eyes, with a smile on his face, and the image of his family providing him solace. He was looking forward to not feeling the pain anymore.

He felt the warmth of his daughter’s hand as he let out his last breath.

And just like that, the whirlwind had ceased. He had gone out not with a bang, but with a whimper. It wasn’t very Liam, but he was okay with that. Sara had provided him with enough bang for a lifetime, and he was ready to be with her again.