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2j. Interlude 2 - Part 5 - Missing

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March 2269
"I'm worried about her, Luke." Lily tried to snuggle closer to Raven, but her belly kept getting in the way. At thirty weeks of carrying twins, she'd expanded considerably. Luke gently rolled her over to her other side, so she faced away from him. He curled around her in their bed, feeling himself stiffening as he pressed against her butt. He wondered how much longer Lily would be interested in sex. Her enthusiasm had shown no signs of abating so far.
Luke kissed her neck gently, then nuzzled her ear, saying, "I know. I'm becoming concerned myself. She's not eating enough and she’s lost weight, but what worries me more is that she doesn't seem to be really with us most of the time. I don't know where she goes in her head, but every day, it seems to be more of an effort for her to come back to us."
Lily wiggled her butt against him, encouraging him. "She's stopped 'sending' to Ilas and me completely now, and she won't respond to us when we 'send' to her. I don't know what to do to help, but she can't go on like this."
Luke could hear the distress and concern in Lily's voice and put his arms around her, pulling her as close to him as he could. "I'm seeing her in the morning for a checkup. I'll see how she's doing and we'll talk again after that. Now stop worrying about Demon for a moment and concentrate on me." He fondled her breasts and kissed her neck as he slipped into her from behind, causing her to gasp with pleasure.
As Luke slowly and gently thrust into Lily, he wondered how he was going to tell her that this would be the last time they made love until after she'd had the babies. The risk of premature birth with twins was much greater than with a single child and he knew that further sexual activity would increase that risk to an unacceptable level. He just didn't quite know how to tell Lily that she was facing maybe ten weeks of abstinence. [Light blue touch paper and retire!]
He whispered into her ear, "Darling, there's something we need to talk about later."
Raven ran his scanner over Demon again and frowned. She'd lost more weight since her last check up two weeks before. Only a kilo or so, but she should be gaining weight at this stage in her pregnancy, not losing it. He looked at her face and could see her cheekbones outlined under her skin, more prominent than they should be. He couldn't see Demon's eyes properly as she was looking down at the floor, but he knew that they'd grown enormous in her too-thin face. Dark shadows under her eyes were evidence of her lack of sleep.
He sat down beside her on the infirmary examination couch and picked up her hand, squeezing it gently. Her hands were long and slender but had been strong and capable. Now they looked almost skeletal and seemed to have no strength in them at all. She didn't respond in any way to his movement and Luke wondered whether she was even aware of his presence.
He spoke sharply. "Demon! Where are you?"
Demon slowly raised her head and looked at him, but her hazel eyes were unfocused, apparently looking straight through him.
Luke raised his free hand to her chin and gently shook her head. "Demon, if you don't snap out of this, I'm going to call Gideon."
Finally, he had Demon's attention. Her eyes slowly focused on his and she spoke, so quietly that he had to strain to hear the words. "No, you mustn't do that."
Raven moved his hand from her chin and stroked her cheek, speaking gently. "I don't want to. He's got enough on his plate without worrying about you, but if he knew what was going on here, he would be worried—worried sick."
He could see her trying to pull herself together. Demon tried to smile, and the effort it cost her nearly broke his heart. Luke put both arms around her and hugged her as hard as he dared. She felt so fragile that he could almost imagine her breaking in his arms. He felt her head fall onto his neck and soon after, felt the wetness of her tears. He pulled back enough to look at Demon's face and saw the tears streaming down her otherwise impassive face. "What is it, Demon? Why are you doing this to yourself? We're all so worried about you, can't you let us help?"
Demon shook her head and spoke softly again. "No one can help." The tears continued to slide down her cheeks, dripping off her chin unheeded. She didn't even appear to be aware of them. Her head dropped again and Luke barely heard her next words. "I miss them so much."
Raven knew who she meant. When Angel had been taken away, all her sisters had been badly affected. The loss of their link to her had been devastating, more so to Demon than the others, as Angel was her blood sister. While Gideon was still with her, Demon had seemed to make a reasonable recovery, making the effort to appear normal. But after he'd gone back to the Excalibur, she'd steadily lost ground. She'd gone further and further away from the rest of them, staying in her rooms, not answering their calls, not joining them at meals.
Luke thought that she could probably have coped with Gideon going back to his duties, although it would have been hard—Demon obviously adored him and missed him intensely—but she'd put on a brave face when he left, joining Raven, Lily, Dureena, and Ilas to see Max, John, and Gideon off on their shuttle. She'd made that effort for Gideon's sake, so he wouldn't worry about her. Once he'd left, the true extent of Demon's grieving became apparent; her sense of loss was overwhelming her.
Luke pulled her back close to him again, letting her bury her head in his neck and continue to cry silently for a while. Demon eventually sat up and sniffled. Raven pulled out a handkerchief and gave it to her. She wiped her face, blew her nose noisily, and then whispered, "Sorry."
Raven smiled at her and held her hand again, squeezing it gently. "What for? I normally only get chance to put my arms around a beautiful redhead. Today's special—I get to hug a beautiful blonde, too." He lifted her head with his hand again. "Talk to me, Demon, please. Tell me about Angel."
For a moment, he thought he'd pushed too hard. Demon's face froze into an impassive stare, the mask she wore when she didn't want the world to see her feelings, but this time her control broke and her eyes filled again as she whispered, "She's my sister, Luke, the only family I ever really had. Oh, I miss her so much."
Raven put his arms around her again. "Tell me about her, Demon. Tell me about growing up together and what made you so close."
Demon straightened and stared at him. "We didn't grow up together. Didn't you know that?"
Raven shook his head. "No, I didn't. Tell me."
He watched as Demon thought about it, then reached her decision. "Well, all right, but it's not very exciting."
He smiled at her and replied. "That's OK. I don't like exciting much anyway. Start from the beginning."
Demon took a deep breath and almost laughed. "OK, then, 'My Life', by Deborah Montgomery. I can't remember which Dickens novel starts with, 'I am born...' but I suppose that's a good place."
Raven listened as Demon described how she'd been born in England to wealthy parents and led a normal life until she was five, when her father left suddenly. "He just disappeared one day and never came back. My mother fell apart so I was sent to boarding school when I was six. I stayed there until I was eighteen."
Luke listened with increasing horror as she continued to describe her life at school. Her mother's visits became less frequent, and Demon's stays were extended to include vacations as well as term time. Her mother had stopped visiting completely when Demon was eleven. "I never saw her again. She died when I was sixteen."
Raven realized that Demon's independence and inability to let others help her must have come from this period of her life. She'd gotten used to fending for herself from a very early age, deprived of the emotional support that a family could have provided.
Demon continued, "But she left me quite well off, so when I went to the university, my trustees bought me a small house and gave me a good allowance. The problem was that most of my fellow students had much less, materially, and I didn't really fit in. So I studied and got a good degree but didn't really mix much with others." She managed another half-smile at Raven as she added, "I'll bet I was the only twenty-one-year-old virgin in England."
She went on. "On my twenty-first birthday I received a letter from my father. It had been sent ten years earlier but was only to be delivered to me then. In it, he apologized for leaving, saying he had no choice. He told me that I had a younger sister called Angelique on the other side of the world and gave me brief details indicating where she was at the time he wrote the letter. The following day, I was on a plane, but Angel and her mother had moved several times since the letter had been written and I spent the next two months searching for them. My father had left them before Angel was born and they weren't as fortunate, financially, as I was. I finally found Angel on the day of her mother's funeral. She was fifteen and entirely alone; she had no home and no money and the authorities were planning to put her in a foster home. I persuaded them to let her come home with me, and from then on, she lived with me in England."
Demon described the difficult period they had encountered in getting to know each other and getting used to living together. Angel had also had to adjust to a new school and new friends, and they'd had some rough times. Gradually, they'd adapted and changed and began to like and respect each other.
"I went on to do a master's degree, so I stayed at the university for two more years. In the second year, I fell in love. His name was David and he was a professor, fifteen years older than me." For the first time, Raven saw a flash of the old Demon's sense of humor as she smiled. "I've always liked older men." She continued, "I adored him. He was the first man I ever slept with, and I thought he loved me, too—until the day I came home unexpectedly and found him fucking Angel on the kitchen table."
Demon stood and started pacing, even the memory of these events was agitating her. Luke wasn't sure whether to be concerned or pleased. At least this was a sign of life from her.
"She was seventeen and stunningly beautiful. I don't know whether David was her first, as he’d been mine, but I suspect not. Angel has always been rather more relaxed about these things than I am. He was old enough to be her father, but that didn't seem to bother him. I was so stupidly besotted with him that I blamed Angel for what had happened. When David left, we fought." Demon turned and looked Raven in the eyes. "And I do mean fought. You must have seen the scar on Angel's shoulder when you treated her in Medbay. I did that to her, when I threw a knife at her; I could have killed her. After that, I swore that if ever Angel and I wanted the same man, I'd back off and let her have him, but I never saw another man I wanted, until..."
Raven looked at her incredulously. "You mean that Gideon was only the second man you'd ever slept with?" Demon nodded. "Does he know that?" Raven asked. She shook her head.
"No, and please, don't tell him. I think he believes that I'm some sort of siren of the space ways, seducing men right, left, and center." Luke saw her flash of humor again. "I rather like that image. I don't want him to know just how inexperienced I was when we met."
Raven shook his head in astonishment. It had never occurred to him that Demon could be so... innocent? No, not the right word. He listened as she carried on with her story.
"Angel and I rebuilt our relationship and we became closer than ever. We still quarreled about silly things, but always knew deep down how much we meant to each other. That bond became stronger when a year later, the Vorlons abducted us and started their experiments." She closed her eyes and Raven could see the pain in her face at the memories of that time.
"They hurt us all terribly in the process of bringing out our latent abilities. I felt so helpless at being unable to stop them. I swore that I'd never feel that helpless again, and that I'd never let anyone hurt my sister like that again. And now..." Demon's eyes filled with tears and Luke rushed to hold her close again. Her voice was a broken whisper in his ear. "And now I feel utterly helpless and I've let a monster take my sister away, and he'll hurt her. I know he'll hurt her so much." She started to sob violently, her whole body shaking with the intensity of her pain. Raven could only hold her, stroking her hair and her back.
"It's not your fault, Demon. There was nothing you could have done." He felt her go rigid in his arms and pull away.
"You're wrong. If I hadn't taken Matthew away from her, none of this would have happened. Lucas would never have been brought back, Dureena would still have her baby and Angel would still be here. This is all my fault, Luke, all of it."
Raven stared at her, aghast. He'd had no idea that Demon was carrying this burden of guilt. No wonder she'd made herself ill. Between missing Angel and Gideon, and feeling responsible for everything that had happened, it was a wonder that she was still functioning at all. "You can't know that Demon. You can't know that Matthew wouldn't have fallen in love with you, anyway. And he does love you, Demon. Would you take that away from him? Would you give up your son—his son, to change things back?"
He watched as Demon's hands went to her belly, now heavily swollen on her thinner body. She looked down at the bump, lovingly. "No. I couldn't give either of them up for anything or anyone, and that just makes me feel guiltier than ever."
Raven didn't know what to say to her. He knew that there was only one person who could ease her pain. Demon needed Gideon, but his absence was part of her sense of loss. He did his best. "We can't go back, Demon, we just have to live with things as they are now and work towards changing the future for the better. We all love you, and it hurts terribly to see you in this much pain. I wish there were something we could do to make it better, but I know that only Gideon can do that. Hang on, Demon; just try to hang on. He'll be back as soon as he can."
Luke put his arms back around her. His neck was soon wet with her tears.