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Hear it in the Silence

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I.
Sunlight comes creeping in, Illuminates our skin

Hal’s eyes open slowly the morning after Lourdes comes back to them, and the moment he sees her face tucked into his chest he smiles bigger and brighter than he has in far too long. He’s so happy that yesterday, her coming back, her being alive, and last night, her saying that she loved him too, was not just a dream, but reality. He never though the universe would shine down on him so much, especially not during the middle of what could really only be described as the apocalypse.

The sun is shining down on her face, lighting her tan skin just a bit more, it makes her look illuminated, and Hal smiles even bigger, he moves his hand that is wrapped around her waist and pulls her even closer to him, smiling when she sights contently the closer she gets to his body. Hal leans down and kisses her forehead. The movement wakes Lourdes up, well in reality, she was already awake, but this just gave her a reason to let Hal in on that little secret.

Lourdes looks up at Hal, opening her eyes for the third time that morning and smiles brightly at him. She reaches up a hand and runs it through his hair, scuffing it up and smiling even brighter when it makes him smile. The sun flowing into the tent from the little mesh hole in the roof is shining on him, making his skin glow with the morning light. Not for the first time, Lourdes thinks about how strange it is that Lexi ‘killing’ her led to her coming back to him, and to her finding him again when he had realized how he felt about her. And then Lourdes thinks about how she hopes that that little, but not so little anymore, girl is out there somewhere, trying to get back to her family too.

“Good morning.” Hal says, smiling brighter and leaning in to meet her lips. Lourdes kisses him back, morning breath be damned (primarily because no one has found toothpaste for ages and it is kind of all morning breath all the time these days). Lourdes smiles at him as his mouth leaves her, and the way that she looks at him, is exactly the way that he looks at her, and he can’t believe it took her dying for him to realize that she was the sun.

“Ahem.” A voice comes from the entrance flap of the tent. Lourdes buries herself deeper into his chest and Hal looks up to see Ben standing in the entrance. “Sorry to break this up.” Ben says, walking to the center of the two military grade cots that Hal and Lourdes had pushed together before laying down last night. Lourdes looks up a bit form Hal’s chest so she can see Ben’s face and he can see hers. “Hal, Dad and Weaver need you, we’re trying to plan the final offensive. Lourdes, Anne wants to see you, to try and figure out if there is anything that she can do about your vocal cords.”

Hal and Lourdes both nod at him and Ben leaves the tent. Hal looks over at Lourdes and he sees the fear, not in her face but in her eyes. Ever since Lourdes woke up being unable to speak, hearing Lexi say that the only thing she could not fix where her vocal cords, it has made her nervous. She has never had a way with words, but she has always loved them, and not being able to vocalize them terrified her at first, and then she got used to it, and everything was fine. She has never been a fan of change, and finding out what is wrong with them is the first step to fixing them, which is one step away from getting her heart broken by something that won’t work.

“Hey, hey.” Hal says, putting one hand on her cheek and moving it slightly to look up at him. “No matter what happens with Anne, just remember we will always have you here, and that I love you.”

Lourdes nods at him, and even though her smile doesn’t reach her eyes, he knows that she believes him, and for now, that is enough. Lourdes may never speak again, but it does not matter, because she is finally here with him, and he is finally here with her.


 

II.
Under a trillion stars, We danced on top of cars

There’s a bonfire again that night, this time it is the eve of war. All the planning they talked about during the day, led to one firm conclusion, tomorrow has to be the day, if it isn’t then they’ll never win this war. The bonfire is somber, and no one really knows what to say. They sit around in silence, not moving, just drinking and eating. They have been on the eve of war before, but never on the eve of the final battle of a war they have been fighting for far too long, a war that they never thought they would win.

Hal walks from the bonfire to the med tent after Maggie tells him that Lourdes is in there with Anne. He sees the two women, his step-mother and his soulmate sitting on the far table, with the first aid kit in front of them. Lourdes is making hand gestures, and it looks like they are trying to come up with some sort of hand signal system so that Lourdes can go back to helping Anne with medical care. Anne notices Hal first and she motions with her head to him. Lourdes turns and smiles at him waving him over to come closer to the two. Hal takes the empty seat next to Lourdes and looks at her. Lourdes puts her hand in his and looks at Anne, she moves her hand in a ‘come on’ gesture, and Anne just nods at her.

“I wasn’t able to get a perfect look at Lourdes’ vocal cords, because we don’t have the equipment for a true x-ray, but from what I was able to gather, the damage is irreparable. Maybe if we had a specialist we would be able to do something, but until they start to cause you physical pain there is nothing we can do.” Anne says, she smiles sadly, but Lourdes shakes her head and scowls at her mentor.

Lourdes cannot vocalize to Anne how she feels, but she hopes that she understands it, she hopes that Anne gets it, that she gets that Lourdes is perfectly okay with being unable to speak because at least she is alive, and back with all of them.

“I’ll leave you two here for a minute. We are really glad to have you back Lourdes. I’m glad that he finally figured it out too.” Anne winks, giving Lourdes’ shoulder a squeeze, leaving the tent.

“Anne knew?” Hal asks, turning to Lourdes.

Lourdes nods at him, and there is a guilty smile on her face. She gets up from her chair and turns the radio on, because it is the final night for many of them, Anthony is gracing them with some jazz playing through one particular channel, which is the one that Lourdes turns on. She turns back to face Hal, hoping that one day she’ll be able to tell him the whole story of how Anne found out, how she found her crying after Jamil, upset, but not as upset as she probably should have been, and how all Lourdes had to do was show her the mark on her arm and Anne understood. Anne even showed her, her own mark, both of them the one that appeared before the aliens came down and the one that came after, it was then that Lourdes realized that not everyone had one soulmate, but that if you lost the first one, maybe, just maybe, if you were as lucky as Tom and Anne, the universe would grace you with another one.

Lourdes walks over to Hal and holds out her hand. He takes one hand scratches the back of his neck, the nervous gesture he gets whenever anyone asks him to do something that he wants to do, but does not want to out rightly vocalize that he wants to do it. Lourdes turns her head and gives him another smile, this one, with teeth, he gives in and takes her hand. 

The two of them dance around the empty med tent. Hal spins her around and lifts her up, just like in all those movies that Lourdes used to watch before the aliens came. When the song changes to one that is a bit slower, Hal pulls her close and the two of them just sway back and forth, not saying anything, both remaining silent, but in the silence are so many words that they will never get to say, and so many thoughts that they will never know. Because even when they are together, they never forget what is coming in the morning.


 

III.
In the moment we’re lost and found

Lourdes Delgado used to like goodbyes, well, like is not the right word. Lourdes used to not mind goodbyes. But now, ever since the aliens have landed, she has grown to hate them. If she is being honest, it started a bit before the aliens came down, when her mom died right before school started. Then after the aliens came down, it only got worse. Her dad died in her arms on the highway, and then Jamil died, and then before she knew it, almost everyone she knew was dying left and right or being torn away from everyone they knew. Then she found herself in the same situation, dead, and then all of a sudden not.

Today is a goodbye, there is no point in trying to say that it is not. At least half the people going off today will not come back, and that is if they are on the winning side or lucky. If they lose this, the Epsheni will annihilate the whole Earth, and then it won’t matter whether or not the half that lives comes back, and if that half involves Hal or not. 

The two of them are standing near the old trucks that are about to pull out to war, looking at each other, they can’t smile. They both wish that they could have had more time, but it is too late for wishes, and promises that will either become broken or empty. They look at each other, and when Tom makes the shout for last call, Hal just squeezes her hand. Lourdes pulls him to her and kisses him, it is not like their other kisses it is desperate, and it is the worst goodbye Lourdes has ever given, she puts her soul in that kiss and in her eyes after she begs him to bring it back. Hal touches her heart and then touches his heart and pulls her close once more, kissing her forehead before he goes off to a battle he may not come back from.


 

IV.
I’m in a foreign state, my thoughts they slip away

Hal never thought he would see Lexi again. Whenever he thought of her after she killed Lourdes, which wasn’t much, he always thought of her as his baby sister who was forced to grow up too soon by the aliens and then became one of them instead of staying with their family. But there she is, standing in the middle of the battle field, looking like she has been torn in half. Her face contorting into an Espheni face before going back to a human one, but the one of her when she was a baby, and the one of her when she was a six-year-old.

Hal runs over to her, even though he knows that it is not safe; Hal knows that Lourdes will understand if he does not come back but Lexi does, she would want him to try and save the misguided girl who was forced to grow up too soon and who realized her mistake and brought Lourdes back from the cusp of death. When Hal reaches her, Lexi just looks confused, her face contorting over and over again, flipping back and forth between human child and Espheni, settling for no more than a second on the face of both, the face that he once thought was the last thing that Lourdes saw.

“Hal?” She questions.

“Lexi what’s happening?” Hal asks, bombs are going off everywhere around him, and he knows that they, the humans are winning, the Espheni may have seen them coming, but they have never been prepared for the human spirit.

“I can’t Hal, it hurts, I can’t choose a side, I just keep changing, and I keep seeing Lourdes’ face. I can do good Hal, I know I can. But why do I feel like I have to do bad too?” She looks so lost, and Hal thinks it is no coincidence that her face looks like the face of a small child, the child that he gave piggyback rides around field on their way back to Charleston.

“Lexi, hey, hey, just breath okay. It will be okay. You are human and you are Espheni, neither are solely good or bad, you just have to be you. Just pick a side, it doesn’t have to be the winning side, just pick one that feels right and then you can move on, and we’ll protect. We will always protect you, that is what family does. 

Lexi reaches out and grabs his shoulder, she looks at him and smiles softly. “I’m glad you finally figured it out Hal.” Everything goes black.


 

V.
I just wanna be by your side 

The war against the aliens ended a week ago, and still no one knows where Hal is. Lourdes is staying with the Masons, as if there was any question that she would stay with the only family she really has left. She has been pushing herself into work, trying to ignore all the people she knows that did not come back from the battle. Maggie, Weaver, Anthony, and the people who came back different, changed and not the same, Deny, Pope, Matt; she does everything she can to not think about Hal, and how he is missing, but no one knows if he is actually dead because no one saw a body.

The sun is shining on the ninth day, with still no idea what happened to Hal, and Lourdes wants to spit at it. How could the sun dare to shine when he’s gone. She gets it now, she gets why this happened to her, Lexi brought her back, to make her believe she could receive redemption, to believe that maybe Hal and her could be happy only to take it all away. For what feels like the billionth time she curses the aliens for coming down here to Earth to begin with, even though the Espheni are gone for good now.

Lourdes walks around the beds, making her rounds of the wounded and smiling at those that smile at her. She remembers something her Dad used to tell her, ‘that God only gives us what we can handle,’ she cannot handle this. She could handle everything else, but not this, not losing him.

“Lourdes! Lourdes you need to come out here!” Matt shouts, using his crutches to move quickly into the med tent. There’s a look of hope in his eyes, that makes her curious, but she shakes her head, reminding herself not to get excited. Lourdes motions around to her patients and shakes her head, ignoring Matt and instead walking over to Pope’s bed to check his bandages.

Lourdes hears the gurgling of a baby, and she ignores it, focusing instead on the unconscious and badly wounded form of John Pope.

“Yeah that is Lourdes, Lex.”

The moment she hears his voice she turns around and runs. He’s holding a baby that looks all too familiar, and she kisses him. She never wants to stop, but she can feel the staring eyes and knows that she should stop. She pulls back and looks at him, everything about her body language begging him to explain.

“Lexi was on the middle of the battlefield, I talked to her and woke up in a field miles away from Richmond, with little baby Lexi in my arms. I don’t know why, but she reverted back to the age she should be, according to the Volm there’s not race of alien in her.”

Lourdes pulls herself in closer to him and smiles kissing him again. He wraps an arm that is not holding Lexi around him and soon enough Tom, Anne, Ben, and Matt all join them. They all push together in a group hug and look out at the camp through the entrance flap looking out at them.

All Hal can do is look at Lourdes, and be glad that they can start again, that the world can start again, and that while there will always be aliens there now, at least they’ll be the ones that they trust, and that everyone will be safe from now on.

All Lourdes can do is look at Hal and the little girl in his arms and smile. She should’ve known from the moment that Lexi removed the eyebugs that this little girl would be her redemption, even if it took her a little while.