Wax And Wane--End

From the Story Arc: Coming Home

Previous Story in the Arc: Wax And Wane Pt 7 by Victoria Victrix (Monday, January 12, 2009)

(posted Monday, January 12, 2009)

Letters had been coming from Shuma all along. John had gotten them while the family had been lost, but hadn’t opened them. When the rest of the Murdocks had made their way back again, Sera had carefully read all of them, and Shuma seemed happy, blissfully unaware of the drama that had unfolded in her absence, pleased to be with her blood family again for this long visit.

Despite the occasional twinge of unease, Sera had not pursued this. Then, a week and a half ago, the letters had stopped.

They had let things slide for a week, but after that, even with his own troubles, John became alarmed. Inquiries were sent to China.

The reply caused even more alarm. Shuma, it seemed, had not gone to China. Her blood family had no idea of her whereabouts. John leapt into action, setting things in motion to discover when she had left, and presumably where she had gone; Sera had used her own talents. She could not reach the Heart of All Time, but she could “speak” to her Siblings.

Shuma was not among them, among the memories, or among the Lost. And that was how matters stood when—

Sera woke from sleep abruptly and completely.

Shuma—

She was in the city…she was near…she was—

Astra woke at nearly the same moment, alerted by the close bond that held all the Murdocks together. Astra was more telepath than empath and Sera felt her daughter’s startlement as Astra reached and touched—

A wall. A mental barrier that was opaque and impenetrable around Shuma’s thoughts. A wall she had never had before.

Mamma! Shuma! She—

Hush, love— Sera was more empath than telepath, and not even that barrier could wall up all of Shuma’s—

--sadness. Terrible sadness, loss, yes, grief. Shuma was grieving.

Sensitive to the nuances of grief, Sera prevented all of the now-awakened Murdocks from rushing out to find her, quicker than the words, the sense flashed among them …she needs to be alone, she needs to put up her defenses, even from us… John and Aedan didn’t quite understand that, but they accepted it without question.

So they waited. Waited, restraining their own impatience. Waited while that presence moved slowly nearer. Across Atlas Park from the Perez Gate. Up the elevator. And finally, to the door, which opened quietly, carefully, by a grieving girl—no, young woman—who did not want to disturb a sleeping household.

Shuma became very still, one hand on the door to her own little apartment, when she saw all of them waiting for her.

Gently, Sera stepped forward and took the key from her hand. No one remarked on the strange, medieval woolen dress, nor the rag doll Shuma clutched. “Shuma—“ she said, quietly, “—please stay with us. For now.”

They surrounded her, arranging themselves to Sera’s unspoken direction. Not to prevent Shuma from leaving, but to create a living, wordless tapestry of welcome, of protection, of home. John, who Sera knew, without feeling slighted, Shuma loved the best of them, standing tall and looking down at his adopted daughter with eyes that plainly said what words could not. Aedan a pillar of strength, offering his own brand of deeply fierce protection. Astra radiating sympathy. And Sera, letting her heart speak for her.

For a moment, Shuma stood rigid. Then wavered with uncertainty.

She has secrets she cannot tell us, my loves. Dares not tell us.

An’ she figures we’re gonna pester her for ‘em. That was John with his quick insight.

It was Astra who stepped forward and put an arm around Shuma’s tense shoulders. “Sis, we don’t need to know, ever. ‘Cause we understand .”

Shuma flinched, and pulled away. She looked up into John’s eyes. “OK,” she whispered. “Shuma stay.” She pulled Astra closer and gave her a brief pat on the arm. John gave her a quick, hard hug and just as quickly let her go. Aedan patted her shoulder, with the awkwardness of any young man confronted with a terrible problem that no amount of reasoning or hitting things will fix. Sera laid a soft hand on her cheek and kissed her forehead. All of them joined to radiate welcome, love, and safety, an aura that said we will stand between you and the world until you are ready to face the world again.

Shuma accepted their love without a word, without the slightest change in her somber demeanor. Yet Sera felt her something in her… give. They all stood back to let her pass, going to the door of the room that had been hers before she had taken up her own apartment, opening it, and closing it noiselessly behind her. And the unspoken accord among the Murdocks was that they would leave her to do, and to be, what she needed to. She would heal—with scars, but by now, they were all scarred. She would heal, and they would do their silent best to make sure she healed at her own pace, in her own way, but knowing that she was surrounded by their love and acceptance, eternal and unquestioning.

Shuma was home.