Thursday, April 21, 2011

Chapter 44 End


Alex stands in the hall with a hand on the back of his neck. When he sees me, I can see the guilt shade his normally bright face. We haven't had a chance to talk the entire trip. He was so busy tending to his daughter, holding her close and comforting her. I couldn't get in between that. She hardly spoke a word, but whispered in his ear. The only time I heard her voice was the time she laughed when I tripped over a root which made me laugh. The one bright spot in a dismal journey.

But now Alex looks tired. He closes his eyes and looks away from me. "I am sorry."

I step over to him and stand in front of him. He could easily look over my head, but he doesn't. "You did what you had to. Besides, Jimmy's made it clear that it was his idea anyway. He told Henri and Brandon."

Alex nods, still looking as if he were about to sit down on the ground. "Still."

I'm not quite sure what to do. He does look over my head then, and it hurts that he can't even look at me. But I don't really know what to say or to do. "So what now?"

"We will go home."

Brandon had warned me that Alex would end up leaving after this. That he was probably only in the Southlands because he was acting as a spy for Killer and needing help, not for training and relations building as he had originally said. "He has a life he'll probably have to get back to. I just thought you should know."

But even though I know, it does hurt a little. "I'll probably never see you again."

That does make him look down at me in surprise as if he hadn't expected that I would miss him. But how could I not after everything? Even if this adventure was not one of our high points.

He smiles, his lips tight, the bags under his green eyes looking even larger. "You might."

"I know, 'you never know,' right?" In the time it takes for me to roll my eyes, Alex has stepped forward and is hugging me tightly.

My face burried in his chest, I turn my head so that I can take a breath just as my arms reach up and hold onto him back. I close my eyes, and we stay that way locked together for a few blissful minutes. And then there's the sound of a soft throat clearing and cough down the hall. I open my eyes and it's Jimmy walking past without stopping to gawk. He goes to his room and shuts the door quietly, a soft reminder of the rest of the world.

We break apart, and I turn to head towards my room, but Alex gently stops me and plants one last kiss on the top of my head and a soft apology whispered into my hair. I can't speak to ask him to take it back or to absolve him. I just nod and we part. He slips back into his room with his daughter, and I go back to my room that I'm sharing with Kyrene.

I lie down on the bed and shut my eyes. My brain is still buzzing, thoughts whirling quickly like a tornado. But it's over. I'm almost back where I started from though I'd like to think I'm a little bit wiser and possibly with a somewhat newer understanding of the people around me who were such mysteries before.

"Mary was... a friend. She was probably your age when we met her. Also human. But, ah, she didn't make it."


Brandon nodded, the muscles in his face pinching tightly at some memory. "She was important to both of us."

Epilogue -->


  1. Poor Paula.

    Alex was her friend, even if she's still not entirely certain at this moment if he was a friend by choice or circumstance. She may still have Brandon and Jimmy and the rest of them, but the relationships there are very different. She has done a lot of growing with Alex and because of Alex and to say goodbye now, before she's even finished processing it, must be heart-wrenching.

    Not to mention the fact that the "more" that was hinted at and that she felt with/from him now probably feels like a silly childish crush that was never going to happen.

    Stand up, Lunar, take a bow. Beautifully executed from beginning to end.

  2. What a beautiful end to Paula's story, so simple, yet sad. The idea of what could have been between those two, something tells me that the possibility of more than a friendship was there (but who knows, maybe there still is).

    Wonderfully done, I've loved reading Paula's story this past year. I can't wait to see what you come up with next :)

  3. Awww, what a bittersweet ending. Alex feels so guilty, but quite a bit of good came out of his actions--he got his daughter out of a terrifying situation, and Killer is dead and can't hurt anyone anymore.

    Now I want to know what else happens with Paula! It feels like there's still so much more left for her--that she has to be so important to other stories in this world. We still don't know what happened to her mother, and we don't know where Henri was going the day he left...there's still so much we don't know.

    I know you deserve a huge break, but part of me wants to be a big brat and demand that you keep funneling these stories to us. :) But seriously, you deserve to rest, and I hope you'll continue letting us peek into your awesome story world!

  4. I have to say I was quite worried to end on a note like this, but it felt right.

    Judi, wow, so insightful. I didn't even think of it that way. You're right though. She's probably more aware now of how young she is compared to the others, which means in some way she's probably aware that what was between her and Alex really was never going to happen. But she had an inkling, and she even found relief in it once before. So maybe, with her disappointment, she'll find some relief too.

    Awww... thank you Judi. *blush*

    poida, thank you. Simple is one thing I do well. (Wait, did that come out sounding bad? lol!)

    Maybe there might still be something there. Maybe there really was something there that was more than a friendship and it wasn't just an act.

    Thank you! Oh I have lots planned. :D

    Rachel, true, good did come of his actions. I'm sure he doesn't regret getting his daughter back. But still, he must feel miserable about what he's done and how he went about it.

    Ooh, you remembered those things! Also, the favors asked of Aaron. I think you'll find out in the epilogue next week. :)

    I will be taking a HUGE break. But I'll definitely be posting more stories. This is much too fun to let go.

  5. Affection, love, is harder to fake than people believe. I would have done more than Alex did and used people shamelessly and with no regret to get my daughter out of harm's way. He did give Paula a choice. Maybe not a choice with all the backstory and every single detail included, but who on earth does?

    She did the right thing and so did he. Both of them with regrets and reservations. One of them with more to regret than the other. But Paula should learn through this that there are terrible choices in life and most of the time there's no way through them without sacrificing something.

    One incredible work of art. From beginning to end, something to you think.

    Giving you a virtual bouquet of roses...

  6. Looking back now, I don't think I can be at all disapproving of Alex and what he did to save his daughter. I had my doubts along the way, definitely but his daughter is safe and Killer is out of the picture. That's all good stuff and I think it probably outweighs any negative that might have came from it.

    I'm glad to hear there's going to be an epilogue! I have all the same questions as Rachel does. :D

    This has been such a long, long story and every chapter has been so engaging! I've truly loved it all. Enjoy your well-deserved break!

  7. Oh, I'm sure they'll meet again :)

    Congratulations on finishing Paula's story! I'm excited about the epilogue, and I'm curious to see how this story will weave in with the future arcs of Ruin. I think you hit a great balance of tying up loose ends and still leaving a few things open for exploration and re-entry, and I'm looking forward to seeing what you do next and who gets the focus :)

    I wish I could say something more meaningful. All of the other comments on your blog are always so insightful.

  8. SB, I'm sort of at a loss for words. Really, you've said it all. It's so true. We rarely ever have the complete story when we go to make a decision, and sometimes we have to make a decision quickly.

    "But Paula should learn through this that there are terrible choices in life and most of the time there's no way through them without sacrificing something." Ooo, SB, what an amazing sentiment. One of those hidden things unlocked by your reading and gone unseen by me completely. So true. Especially when you stand up and make a decision instead of waffling along being lead by those around you like Paula was doing earlier. This was her first big decision right here, and hopefully she has learned something from it.

    Oooh, *blush* Thank you SB.

    Carla, true. I have to admit I was surprised at all the people who expressed their disappointment in Alex after he betrayed Paula! Some even asked if there was a daughter. But looking back, now knowing what we can and can't trust about him, I'm glad that he's not disapproval worthy anymore.

    Ha, I hope that the epilogue answers mostly everything. Or at least thoroughly distracts you all.

    Thank you, Carla. That means so much.

    Van, ha, wouldn't that be something?

    Thank you! I'll probably be all over the place from here on out. Whatever strikes my fancy and rises to the surface.

    Psh! Thank you for commenting at all. I appreciate it very much.

  9. Awww. That was beautiful, and poida's comment is perfect re: Alex/Paula. I loved Paula's story, will miss her and Alex and Kyrene and the others (though I guess we might see some of them again). Brilliant story, enjoy your break but very much looking forward to whatever comes next, whenever you're ready. Amazing work Lunar.

  10. Rad, thank you. Yes, we will be seeing some of them again. I'm already excited about the next stories!

    Thank you, Rad!

  11. It's taken me a while. I was holding off reading this because I knew it was the end of Paula's story and I was feeling a bit sad but also excited to see how it ends.

    I think you did a wonderful job of wrapping things up. There's hope, if a slim one that Paula and Alex may meet at some future point. It might be that this very moment is just not the time for Paula and Alex and that maybe when the time is right, the stars are aligned and things between humans and people like Alex have reached a certain point, perhaps relationships between humans and those gifted will be easier in terms of acceptance and less of a danger to the humans.

    Because that's the crux of it isn't it. There is a real danger there between that sort of relationship, not only from the one with the power but also from others with power. It's a weakness and weaknesses are exploited by the villains to get what they want.

    Point in case: Mary.

    They have killed 'Killer' but who is to say there isn't another like him, when one dies, another takes his place.

    Also seeing from the human's side ... what about feelings of eventual inadequancy and trust issues. The two may not go into it expecting either of these things to be issues in itself but there's a point where it would come up. The 'power' aspect could be the greatest threat in this kind of relationship at the end of the day. And not just power as a measure of violence but as an existence in and of itself.

    Paula's story has given me a lot to think about in terms of the concepts introduced, the characters and of course, the very core of human nature combined with power, for good or ill.

    Thanks so much for writing such a wonderful story and for sharing it.

    It's been an incredible journey. And very inspirational. It sure as heck makes me want to pick up the pen again.

  12. Carnaxa, wow, thank you so much for your comment. What a beautiful, thought-out, last comment for Paula's story.

    It's true, timing is everything, and maybe it's just not their time yet. Will it ever be? I think it's possible for one person to be ready and another person not, and just like the alignment of stars, one person can later on move into position after the other has moved on.

    The relationship of humans and those with powers is off balance, but it's no more dangerous than anything else. Mary was supposed to be safe, and I have to wonder if Jimmy ever thought about bringing her home and keeping her safe that way. He never tried, so we'll never know. What he did try, was not caring about her, and that we know didn't work.

    Jimmy has more to say on that I'm sure-- one of these days. I am sure he has a story to tell me.

    Oooh you bring up a good point. The feeling of inadequacy and trust issues-- that's something I haven't thought about until yesterday I think. You have this weird way of sometimes tapping into my brain, lol! I fully intend on starting to explore this theme a little bit more and soon. Brandon and Pat have a story coming up that will be looking into this...

    Aw, thank you. That really means a lot coming from you, that I could inspire you to even think about writing again.

  13. Awww, Paula! :( I think this is another maturing point for her, caring about him like she did and then letting him go. Because how were they really ever going to "live happily ever after", especially when they're in such different places in life?

    I love what you said about relationships being like the alignment of stars. I do wonder if they're ever meant to be ready for each other one day, or maybe it was just one of those brilliant and memorable "first loves".

  14. Laura, yes, exactly. I could only see bad things if they even tried for "happily ever after" though it probably would make for some interesting stories. (Or drive Paula mad.)

    It's at least something like a first love for Paula. Alex has already had and lost his first love.

  15. Stunning on a lot of levels, that good-bye was heartbreaking. This is not a romance, but yet the aching need/want is woven in your narrative. Sometimes, there are no HEA (happily ever afters)

    Relationships is such a big part of your story, never so much as this installment.
    Personally, I will miss Alex, hope to see him again. Great job Lunar~

  16. Aw, thanks, Drew. Nothing wrong with a bit of romance, even if it doesn't end happily ever after.

    I love relationships, pretty much all of my stories are about relationships in some form or another. That's my thing. So it means a lot to hear you say that.

    I hope we'll see Alex again too. Thank you!