Sand and Water
Author: Jezebel (imfromupnorth⊕yahoo.com)
Disclaimer: Don't own.
Distribution: Sure, just ask.
Spoilers: Nein kein fraulein.
Summary: Nope. Read it.
Rating: PG, PG-13. I don't know. I've never written a non-NC-17 fic before.

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All alone, I didn't like the feeling
All alone, I sat and cried
All alone, I had to find some meaning
In the center of the pain I felt inside

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She can hardly believe it's been over two years, now.

It seems like weeks. Minutes. Seconds.

It can't have been that long since she rushed him to the hospital. It was a risky venture, she knew. But what choice did she have? Modern medicine was her only hope. She had watched the blood streaming from his stomach, and known that this was it. She had to risk it all.

He held her hand in the ambulance, as though trying to reassure her that he was all right, that it was all going to be okay. Something in the flashing red lights told her otherwise.

The doctors got angry when she wouldn't let them take a blood sample. They shoved her aside, but she knew by that point it was too late anyway. She could see his skin graying, his color paling. She'd seen one of his kind die already. It was never a pretty sight.

If only his sister had been nearby, if he hadn't sent her away for her own safety. Isabel could have told him that the only one whose safety was in question was him. But he told her to go, forbade her to stay. And now she was thousands of miles away, and she was the only one who could save him.

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All alone, I came into this world
All alone, I will someday die
Solid stone is just sand and water, baby
Sand and water, and a million years gone by

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She felt it in her heart as he took his last breaths. She shoved the wailing baby boy into the arms of her confused mother, and rushed past the doctors. She laid her fingers on the sides of his head, closing her eyes to watch as he poured his thoughts and emotions into her.

*I can't believe it. Not this soon.*

A brief flash of himself as a little boy, digging his hands into his first birthday cake to the sound of his parents' delighted laughter. He may have been too old to ruin a cake, but he didn't know any better.

*Sanger? Is Sanger okay?*

Another flash, this one of herself, in agony, giving birth at home. No painkillers, and Max was afraid to help her, for fear of hurting her or the baby. So she had screamed, but in the end a little boy had come, wrinkled and red and slimy, but beautiful.

In the flash, Max lifted the baby and cleared his throat of mucus. He stared in awe at his son, unbelieving, trembling at the thought. He'd created life. They'd created life.

*Liz…I love you. I love you, baby.*

The doctors were trying to push her away, but they underestimated the strength of the connection. She opened her eyes to find him watching her, a look of love and understand on his face. She watched his lips form a silent plea.

"Take care of him. He's the only one who can save us now."

She couldn't hear the words, not with her ears. But she knew, and she understood. "I love you," she said aloud, and the doctors backed away, finally beginning to comprehend what was happening in their emergency room.

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I will see you in the light of a thousand suns
I will hear you in the sound of the waves
I will know you when I come as we all will come
Through the doors beyond the grave

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They buried him on a Thursday. That day had been forever changed, for her. Every Thursday morning she woke up, her heart pounding, her soul aching. It was like she buried him again, every single week.

Sometimes she dreams of him - no, not sometimes. Always, she dreams of him, her nighttime thoughts filled with pictures of his face, sound of his voice. It's like he's not real, anymore. He's some legend that she never really believed in.

It's like that now with Isabel, too. She speaks with her sometimes on the phone, hearing the false cheeriness in her voice. *How's Sanger? Good? That's great.* She won't talk about her brother at all, or the way she broke down at his funeral, sobbing aloud and blaming herself for his death.

She knows it wasn't Isabel's fault. She won't ever blame her. But she needs her sister-in-law's help. She doesn't understand, still, what Max meant when he told Liz that Sanger was their only hope.

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All alone, I heal this heart of sorrow
All alone, I raise this child
Flesh and bone, he's just bursting towards tomorrow
And his laughter fills my world and wears your smile

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Sometimes when she looks up, just as he's running into the room, she can see the mirror Sanger's becoming. Out of the corner of the eye, she could just swear it was him - but it never is. There's an innocent little boy, instead, in his place. It makes her heart pound, for a few seconds, a few moments, the brief thought flashing through her mind every time -- *Maybe it wasn't real. Maybe it was all a lie. *

Then her mind clears itself of wishful, fanciful thoughts, and she reaches out for the little boy, pulling him close to her body, hugging him and feeling his warmth. He doesn't like it; he's at that age, and he squirms and moans at her. But she won't let go, ever. He's all she has.

Her friends - the ones who never really knew Max - still shake their heads that she hasn't started dating, or even considered it. It's been more than two years now, after all. But she can't face the thought of another man. Not when she sees his face every day, in a boisterous little boy who will never remember his father.

Once, a few months ago, he crawled onto her lap and asked if he'd ever had a daddy. He didn't understand when she began to shake and cry, and he ran away.

A few hours later she found him in his room, staring at the wall in the disturbing way that children often do, when they're deep in thought. She told him all about his father, and what a wonderful man he was, and how he would always, always watch over him. Sanger has been at peace, it seems, ever since. She's never heard a peep more from him on the subject.

If only she could explain the way she would love to - that she loved his father, beyond all belief, beyond all reason. That they stayed together through hardship, through war, through unbelievable pain, until finally something unexpected came and took the love from her life. It's something she will never be able to get back, no matter what she does.

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I will see you in the light of a thousand suns
I will hear you in the sound of the waves
I will know you when I come as we all will come
Through the doors beyond the grave

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She only ever questioned Isabel about Max's last words once. *Isabel, when did you first know you had powers?* She could almost hear her shrug over the phone. *I don't know. I guess I always knew.* But Sanger's never shown any sign of being anything but a normal, three and a half year old boy. He's precocious, unusually intelligent. But according to her parents, so was she at that age.

Some days she still doesn't want to get out of bed. The doctors call it repression of grief. She won't let herself grieve for her husband, they say. She won't let the feelings go.

They don't understand. She grieves every day. How can she do otherwise? There's a war out there, somewhere, a war that took her husband's life. But she can't see what it has to do with her. And it hasn't made an appearance since that day in May. It's like their enemy came out of nowhere to destroy her world, her life; then it vanished, never to be seen again.

There's nothing more it can do to her.

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All alone, I came into this world
All alone, I will someday die
Solid stone is just sand and water, baby
Sand and water, and a million years gone by

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She's broken out of her thoughts by the sound of Sanger's laughter. It almost frightens her sometimes, such a complete replica of his father's. Then he falls silent, suddenly, and Liz's heart begins to pound.

"Sweetie?" she calls, leaving her room for the cold and dark of the hallway.

There's a pause. She leans around the wall into the living room, her eyes widening in astonishment. Now that she's closer, she can hear his tiny sobs.

"Sanger? What's wrong with Bailey?" she asks, watching him rock the unmoving dog back and forth.

"I don't know," he wails.

Liz sighs. "Let me see him, honey."

Sanger releases his puppy reluctantly, and Liz realizes almost instantly that he's not breathing. She puts his tiny chest to her ear, but she doesn't hear a heartbeat. She chokes on her words. She's been dealing with death for so long, but now that her son has witnessed it, she doesn't know what to say.

"Mommy? What's wrong with him? Why doesn't he move?"

She kneels next to her son, putting her arm around him, and laying the little dog gently on the ground. "Sanger, sweetie…I think he's dead."

He looks at her, eyes wide in shock. "Dead? Like Daddy?"

She nods, tears filling her eyes.

He shakes his head slowly. "No, no he's not." And before she can stop him, he grabs the puppy's lifeless body, laying his hands on its stomach. "No…not Bailey. Wake up, Bailey! Wake up!"

"Sweetie…" she whispers, trying to pull him away. Then she sees a smile dawn on his face.

"See, Mom? I told you he was okay!"

Liz looks over, almost afraid at what she will see. Bailey is stretching, yawning, coughing. Abruptly, he hacks loud and hard, and coughs up a piece of yellow crayon. Hands shaking, Liz picks up the little dog, stroking his fur gently. He arches his back under her touch.

She looks at her son, who is smiling fondly at the little brown - and - white mutt. Is this it? Is it beginning, all over again?

Liz grabs him, pulling him into a bear hug. He doesn't realize what he's just done, and she's not going to tell him. He'll know, someday.

But not now.

For now, he's just a little boy.



Song Notes: Beth Nielsen Chapman wrote this song after the death of her husband, and if you are ever, ever to buy a CD, or download a song off of Napster, I would recommend this one. It's astonishing, amazing, beyond words. It will put you in tears every time you hear it. I love Beth Nielsen, and I will also mention that she's one of the few singers courteous enough to include the lyrics to every one of her songs, along with notes, on her website, http://www.bethnielsenchapman.com .