Rest in Peace by Quill and Saber

Category:Maximum Ride
Genre:Spiritual, Tragedy
Published:2006-07-13 10:33:33
Updated:2006-07-13 10:33:33
Packaged:2021-04-22 03:23:57
Summary:The second of the When We Meet Again trilogy. Sometimes the dead do speak to us...ONESHOT.

Rest in Peace

Rest in Peace

Disclaimer: I own Maximum Ride...
in hardback. And the sequel, also in hardback.

This is the second of the "When We Meet Again" series. The entire series is an AU speculation of what would happen twelve, sixteen, and twenty years down the road.

She slowly walked down the path through the cemetery, carrying the new flowers to place at the grave. No one else came to visit that particular spot by the sprawling oak tree; she just knew it. Probably she was the only person who knew who lay under the earth under the oak branches, far away from the noise and traffic of the road. He would have liked it here, she decided. He never liked to be crowded by people, cars and buildings. He liked the wild, untamed land out West and the mountains in the East. Yes, this was the right place for him to be for all eternity.

She knelt in front of the gravestone, shooing a songbird away while brushing the leaf litter from the top and bottom. Her fingers traced the simple epitaph:



She laid the flowers down at the base of the stone: yellow roses, for friendship. Sure, he'd been an enemy for a while, but he cared for her and her friends; he even saved their lives on more than one occasion. The last time cost him his life. She owed it to him to care for his final resting place when no one else could, or would. I miss you, Jeb. She'd missed him for the last sixteen years.

From the pathway, she could hear slow footsteps of more people in the cemetery, crunching the dry leaves. Turning around, she saw a woman dressed in black, guiding along a similarly-attired small girl, presumably her daughter, carrying a sorry-looking wildflower with a solemn face. The woman's stomach was bulging, showing her to be about seven months pregnant. Out of curiosity, the lone mourner decided to follow them—at a respectful distance, of course.

The pair moved off the path not long after, stopping in front of a clean, new gravestone surrounded by dark soil. Trying to not look like she was spying, the one mourner sat down on a bench and pretended to look at her hands in meditation. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see the two standing stock-still in front of that new grave. Finally, bending down slowly and quietly, the little girl placed the flower next to the gravestone and went to hug her mother, who hugged her back.

"Mommy," she asked, "will Daddy fly up to heaven?"

"Of course, sweetie," her mother answered.

"Can he hear me from up there, Mommy?"

"Of course Daddy can, sweetie." The lone mourner could hear tears on the edge of the woman's voice. "He'll even be able to see you from heaven."

The girl looked confused. "But Daddy couldn't see. Daddy was blind. How can he be able to see me now?"

"Remember what your Sunday School teacher said last week?"

The little girl's face wrinkled for a minute as she tried to think. "You mean that God can make blind people see and deaf people hear?"

"Yes. Now that Daddy's in heaven, God will make him able to see you, and your new little brother, when he comes. Your father always wanted to be able to see you grow up."

"Oh." The little girl was silent for a minute.

"Mommy?" she finally asked tentatively.

"What, sweetie?" her mother asked. The teary edge was even more evident.

"Tell me the story about you and Daddy."

"All right sweetie," she said, moving to another bench. It was still close enough, though, that the lone mourner was able to hear.

"Daddy and I met at school when we were fourteen years old. He didn't even go to school for a month before he left again with his family."

"Where did Daddy go?" the little girl interrupted.

"Oh, many places. But he eventually came back to Virginia and re-enrolled in the school I went to. We started dating in junior year. Your daddy was different from anyone else I ever met—incredible, Mona." The mourner nearly gasped at the name. So similar…

"Then he went to college and got a law degree. Everyone except the two of us thought Daddy wouldn't be able to finish school at all, but he did it. He even completed his degree in about the same amount of time as most people do, even though he was blind. A year after he finished his degree, he asked me to marry him, and I said yes. And two years after that—"

"You had me!" the little girl finished triumphantly.

"Yes. We had you." The mother was crying now, ever so slightly. "Come on, we've got to get you to your ballet lesson," she said, taking her daughter by the hand. Right before they left, she stroked the cold stone tablet, then hurried away with her daughter in tow.

The lone mourner stayed on the bench until they had left. Something in her wanted to find out more about this man who died before his time.

It's not nice to pry, Monique, her conscience told her.

But I have to find out, she retorted. It could be him

Deliberately she made her way over to the grave. Etched into the stone was a picture of an angel with wings and arms outspread, gesturing to the epitaph below:




Monique took a deep breath and reached out to touch the grave with two fingers.

She was suddenly assaulted with memories, flashes of remembrances seen through the grieving woman's eyes. A tall blond boy with a vacant look in his light blue eyes, looking slightly confused in a crowd of kids wearing old-fashioned school uniforms. That same boy running out of a classroom as fast as his legs could carry him, which was pretty fast, opening the buttons on his white uniform shirt. An older version of that boy, sitting on a park bench with his eyes closed and his lips twisted into a half smile. That boy—now a man—smiling brilliantly, his sightless eyes gleaming in the sunlight even as they stared out at nothingness. A dark room, his lack of sight meaning nothing there, the faint light from the streetlight outside outlined his shape, gleaming on his skin. A church where the man looked at her with love, holding up a ring. A white room with a few people dressed in blue scrubs, the man included; in his arms he held a blanket bundle that he looked at with such an expression of tenderness it made her ache. And then…

A clear memory. A very clear memory. The lone mourner figured this would be the last one of the memories she'd see. It was probably the last memory for it to be so well preserved.

It was a kitchen. At the table the little girl sat, her legs dangling from the edge of the chair, eating a piece of toast with butter and honey on it. From the doorway James Griffiths walked in, holding a pair of sunglasses and a red and white cane. He walked up to the woman/Monique and gave her a hug.

"Are you leaving soon?" she asked.

"Mark's picking me up in the Civic," he responded. Then, in a lower tone of voice, he asked, "How is her back?"

Monique could feel the woman's face drop. "It's better. A little itchy around the joints, but it doesn't hurt her anymore."

James shook his head. "It'll be hard for her. They'll probably only be vestigial; she'll never be able to fly, just as I have eyes and can't see. There will be a longing for the skies that she won't be able to satisfy."

"Don't talk like that!" the woman/Monique whispered harshly. "She'll be fine, just like her daddy."

"Mommy?" the little girl jumped down from the chair, carrying her plate. "I'm done. Can I go outside now?"

"All right, sweetie," the woman/Monique said as she took the plate, "but stay in the backyard, okay?"

"Okay, Mommy," she said, smiling sweetly as she ran out the kitchen door.

A car horn burst through the sound of little feet running. "That's my ride," said James, giving his wife a kiss on the cheek. "I should be home around five."

"Be careful," she said.

He smiled at her. "I always am." He then walked out of the kitchen as he put on his sunglasses.

The woman/Monique looked around the kitchen. Something wasn't right; a paper bag was still on the counter. "Wait!" she called as she grabbed the bag, running out into the hall and to the door. "You forgot your—"

She froze. The car outside wasn't Mark' Civic; it was a completely different car, an SUV, and it was backing up. James was standing on the sidewalk, stock still, seeming indecisive. The next events were very quick. The car suddenly went into drive and rushed forward—not on the road, but towards the sidewalk. The woman/Monique slammed the door in front of her as a sickening sound that could not be described rent the air. A scream, insane laughter and snarling...

Monique pulled her hand away from the tombstone. If she had continued, she might have seen who was in the SUV, but she couldn't risk watching anymore. To see James on the ground, lifeless… She touched the tombstone again; already the memories on the stone were fading away.

"May you finally rest in peace, James," she whispered. "Fly up to heaven and watch your little girl. You don't want to disappoint her, do you?"

The only answer she got was the twittering of birds and a cool autumnal breeze.

Yes, I hear you, Monique. Of course I'll watch her. And I'll watch you too. Can't have you getting into trouble now, can we?

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