"I just wanted to thank you, for all you did for us," Trifine says, paying a visit to Aouregan's cottage just a few days after the dramatic events of the full moon. "My parents are still having a hard time accepting Ametair as my husband, and he can't live with me at the farm openly for fear of rousing the whole village against us, so we must still keep our relationship a secret. But if it weren't for you and your Farrell, things would have been so much worse, I'm sure of it."
Since the Landgraabs had seized control of the area, this village and all its neighbors for as far as anyone of them could travel, people had avoided too much contact with Aouregan, because she kept to the old ways and continued to resist the Landgraabs' influence as best as she could. The fact that she lived outside the village, alone on the far edge of the wood made it difficult for those few who shared her cause to maintain any kind of relationship. Had things been different, she and Trifine Brannon might have been close friends, but as things stood, they were but acquaintances. But recent events had formed something of a bond between them, enough that Aouregan felt confident to ask Trifine how it was that she became romantically involved with a creature they'd been taught since childhood to fear.
"I'm still a little frightened to even speak his name," Aouregan admits with a nervous laugh, "How did you find the courage to speak to him?"
"I was frightened, too, the first time I saw him. Before I saw him, actually; I could sense I was being tracked long before I laid eyes on the tracker. I was bringing a basket of provisions to my grandmother in the next village. Of course I was supposed to stay on the road, but it's much faster to go through the woods. It wasn't yet nightfall, so I thought I was safe, and I wanted to make better time, to not waste the whole day traveling. After a few hours into the woods, I felt I was being tracked, but it was useless to turn back, and I had my dagger with me, so I carried on, growing both more frightened and more determined with each step. I was going to my grandmother's house, and nothing would stop me," Trifine laughs, "My father says my obstinance will be the death of me. And when Ametair finally showed himself, leaping onto the path in front of me, his wolves at my back preventing me from running away, I thought he might be right, that I would die that day. Ametair growled at me and asked what I was doing in 'his' woods. And though I was shaking in my boots at that point and ready to faint, this wave of anger came over me, and I said 'Your woods? I am just a traveler trying to pay a visit to my grandmother in the next village. Take your fight to the Landgraabs, they are the ones claiming ownership of this land, and of the people that live in it and work it.'"
Aouregan gapes, "You truly spoke to him in that manner?"
"I did," Trifine says, "And as soon as I had done, my hands started shaking. I dropped the dagger; I had drawn without realizing it until I heard the sound of it hitting the ground. Ametair, he moves so fast, you almost can't see it...he caught the blade just as it touched ground. I thought I was going to scream, then, I'm sure I meant to, but I just stood there, staring at him like a fool, shaking and crying. And he just stood there, looking at me. Then, he handed me my dagger, hilt first, and said I was the loveliest creature he'd even seen, and that he'd kill anyone who dared claim to own me."
"And that's when you fell in love?" Aouregan asks, feeling a bit of a swoon come on.
"Well, that's when it started," Trifine says, "He escorted me to my grandmother's village, and waited for my return. We'd meet in secret after that. I made more and more trips to visit grandmother just as an excuse to get away. I can't say exactly when I knew I was in love with him, but it wasn't long before I agreed to become like him, and be his wife."
"How did he make you wolfen?"
Trifine looks way, "You'd be better off not knowing, Aouregan. The tales we've grown up with are exaggerated, but not all are completely untrue. He is wild, and I have taken that wildness into myself."
"And, how did you marry?" Aouregan asks, a question close to her own interests, "Surely you could find no priest, of the Lady or the Watcher, to administer the rites?"
"We were not married by any rites," Trifine explains, "We made vows to each other while standing in the circle of stones on the old burial mound. It's more scared to their kind than it ever was to us humans."
"Their kind?" Aouregan asks, her eyes grown wide, "There are more of the wolfen than just Ametair?"
"No, they aren't like him, but they are his kin. The fair folk," Trifine says, her voice growing low and whispery, for superstitions about the fae run as deep as their fear of Ametair, and people go to great lengths to avoid drawing their attention.
The marriage without rite or priest that Trifine describes sounded much like what Farrell told her about weddings in his time, and it was enough for Aouregan. There is only one day left before his machine will take him from her; perhaps when he returns to stay they can make journey to another servant of the Lady to marry them more officially, but for now she'll be content to exchange vows with him in one of the last sacred places not profaned by the Landgraabs and their Watcher.
Moth came, of course, and he brought another of kind with him to witness their marriage.
"I am Evenfall," the blue fairy introduces herself, "I've come to bless your marriage, on behalf of my father and all our kind."
"Who is your father?" Aouregan asks.
Evenfall gives her a slight smile. "He could not come himself, you understand. Even we rarely see him, as he spends most of his time in...other realms. But know that you are always in his heart."
Aouregan notices that Evenfall did not answer her question at all, dodging her the same way Moth always does when she presses him for information about the fae.
"Did Auberon truly send you?" Moth asks Evenfall when the newly wedded couple have left for their home.
"No," Evenfall says, "He sleeps, still, and I haven't been in to see him. He prefers we stay away from the mortals as much as possible, even her descendants, but I have a feeling this one will need more than just your protection, Moth, so I've come on my own."
"A premonition, Evie?" Moth asks.
Evenfall smiles sadly, "Nothing so dire. Just a feeling I've had since mother's grove was burned down. I asked you to watch over her then, Moth. And now I feel this task might be more than one fae alone can manage, so I've come to help you."
Farrell and Aouregan have but one night together to celebrate their marriage.
In the early morning, Farrell puts on his modern clothes and embraces his wife one last time before the time machine's scheduled extraction. "I'll be back soon," he promises, "I'll be back to stay."
"I missed you," Farrell says, hugging his brother when he meets him in the kitchen.
"What, since dinner last night?" Elliot laughs, surprised at his brother's sudden display of affection.
"I've been looking into getting a special research grant," Farrell says, hating to lie to his brother, but there's no way he can tell him the truth, that he plans to go back in time and stay there, "I'll be away, abroad, for a long time."
"I'll miss you," Elliot says, "But it sounds like a great opportunity for you. If there's anything you need from me, don't hesitate to ask."
Elliot's career has taken off, and he's now performing in private venues.
Kyle becomes a toddler. The red hair comes as a surprise to both parents.
Shortly after Kyle's birthday, Shelly announces that she's pregnant again. Elliot knew what she was going to say before she even started speaking. Only a pregnancy bump would make her dress in sweat pants.
"I know we didn't plan this one," she says nervously, "I hope you aren't upset..."
"Of course not," Elliot assures her, "I'm thrilled." She sighs, visibly relieved. She's always been like this, incredibly demanding and spoiled one minute, and totally insecure the next.
Though he misses Aouregan greatly, Farrell doesn't rush back into his time machine. Since he can set it to go back to a time shortly after he left her, he has the time take care of some important business before he goes. First, he does some research that he probably should have done before his first trip. Then, he was only interested in Ametair, but could find nothing about him that wasn't in the MorcuCorp document. Now, he searches for Aouregan's name, and the history of the Landgraabs and their involvement in the religious wars of that time. He finds nothing at all about Aouregan, and very little about her village, which was apparently not important enough to be recorded in the annals of history. He does find quite a bit about a Bishop Kaourentin, or Corentin, who married one Annalise Landgraab and was apparently huge player in the spread of Jacobean Watcherism and was also instrumental in introducing the calendar shift. Farrell also tries to find more information about the Brannons of that time, but Finds no mention of Trifine, just a bit about a Herve Brannon, her brother, dying in battle, and a Weylin Brannon listed as Treveur Brannon's heir, though it isn't said if this Weylin is Treveur's son, or Trifine's or even Herve's. Another quick search reveals that the name Weylin means 'son of the wolf', which leads Farrell to assume him to be Trifine's son by Ametair.
He promised Aouregan he'd come back and stay with her, and Farrell has every intention of keeping that promise. He can set his time machine to leave him without an extraction time, but he doesn't want to leave himself trapped there with no way to get back. He still hopes he can convince Aouregan to come back here with him, and even if she won', he'd like to be able to visit his old home. So he begins constructing parts for a new time machine, parts he can take back with him and them assemble there when he needs it.
Elliot was at a celebrity party at the Ozone Lounge when he got the call that Shelly was in labor. He rushed to the hospital immediately, questioning his career choice during the drive. What kind of husband, what kind of father, isn't with his wife the moment she goes into labor? Sure, Shelly insisted he go to this party even though she didn't feel up to attending with him, but he should have stayed home anyway.
He runs into the hospital as fast as he can, arriving just in time to see his twin daughters, Delaney and Cassidy, born.
"I'm sorry I wasn't there," Elliot apologize when they've got their girls home to their new nursery.
Shelly isn't listening, preoccupied with her own disappointment and worry about having twins, and both of them girls. She'd wanted another boy, to grow into a man like her husband, someone who would be there for her, devoted to her. Daughters are just competition, and a constant reminder of her own fading beauty as they grow into their own.
Once gain, the job of taking care of the babies falls primarily on Elliot's shoulders; Shelly is even less involved with the twins than she was with Kyle.
His children won't grow up without love, Elliot is sure of that as he has enough for all his family. But something about Shelly's attitude bothers him to the point where he's visiting his own mother's grave. He never knew Ashlynn, from what he understands he was taken from her body while she lay dying, and he was raised entirely by his father. Like his own children, he thinks sadly, though Shelly is very alive and well able to care for her children if she could be bothered to. From what Heath has told him, and what Shasta has shared of her memories of their mother, Ashlynn would have been there for him if she could. It seems so unfair that his mother died without being able to be with him at all, and missed most of Shasta's life, too, while Shelly has this wonderful family she chooses to ignore.
Farrell's last task is complete, making a miniature model of his time machine as a guide he can go on to assemble a working version with the parts he's taking with him back to the Middle Ages.
Before he leaves, Farrell finishes upgrading the kitchen sink as a farewell gift to his brother.
He spends some time with his nephew.
And his nieces.
And he makes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner. He's really going to miss peanut butter.
"Mei Zhen?" Farrell asks, his steady voice not beginning to convey his surprise at finding his mother waiting for him in his bedroom loft above the barn. And she's not alone, two infants lay on his bed beside her. The boy makes a gurgling sound, and Farrell instinctively lifts him into his arms. "What are you doing here?" he asks, "And who are these children?"
"They are your babies, Farrel. Twins."
"Your father did give you the talk didn't he?" Mei Zhen asks, looking at him askance.
"I understand reproduction," Farrell answers, "But I haven't..." Farrell stops short of telling his mother that if he has fathered children, they would have been born back in the Middle Ages and couldn't be here, now. She is with MorcuCorp, after all, and he's not sure he can trust her, especially when it comes to Aouregan. "If they are mine, how did you get them?"
"I am a geneticist; I knew as soon as I saw their DNA that they were yours," Mei Zhen says, "MorcuCorp doesn't trust me as much as they used to, but they still need me enough to put me on important projects. Maybe they thought I wouldn't recognize my own DNA, my son's DNA in the samples they gave me, or maybe they just thought I'd be unable to find the source of the samples. If that's the case, they underestimated me greatly. I don't know how MorcuCorp acquired your children, or what they have planned, but I wasn't going to let it happen. I'm bred for stealth, and even at my age I can break into any facility and steal whatever I want. So, I stole my grandchildren, and brought them here to have a home, with their father."
"Are they clones of me?" Farrell asks, "Or did MorcuCorp get hold of my DNA and mix it with other DNA to create them?"
"They are definitely not clones," Mei Zhen says, shaking her head, "Their DNA is not identical to yours. I wasn't able to find out much, but in the few reports I could hack into, I did see some reference to a mother of your children."
"Aouregan," Farrell groans, "They got to her, somehow. I can't wait another minute, I have to go back to her now. Before any of this can happen."
"Where are you going?" Mei Zhen asks, "How do you even know where to look? Wherever MorcuCorp has their mother, it wasn't in the same facility as the twins."
"I know where I can find her, before any of this happens. Before MorcuCorp can get her."
"What about the babies?" mei Zhen asks
"If this goes right, my children won't be born in some MorcuCorp facility, but in their mother's house, with me by her side," Farrell says.
"And if it goes wrong?"
"This can't go wrong, Mother," Farrell says, desperation growing in his voice. "Stay here with them. Please. In a few hours, everything will change."
"That's the first time you've ever called me Mother," Mei Zhen observes, "I'll stay here and wait for you. But..."
"This is MorcuCorp you're dealing with," she sighs, "Be careful."
Farrell sets the time machine to take him back to the day he left Aouregan.
Without a second thought, he leaps into the time stream, to save his wife and their children from the evil hand of MorcuCorp.