Baby Michael came to be known as "Mike"... mainly because the older Michael would come rushing into the room whenever anyone said his name. He was utterly adored by his family. Both Gabriel and Katerina treasured their first grandchild, and the elder Michael took massive pride in his new uncle role.
However, a baby is never a band-aid for a troubled relationship. As much as Yuri and Crystal loved their little one, things were still tense between them. Despite her frequent claims to the contrary, Yuri remained terrified that Crystal may run away and leave him again. As such, he found it hard to trust her.
One morning, whilst Mike was taking a nap in his cot, Crystal headed into the living room. Yuri was already there, sat on the sofa and reading the paper - the headline "ROBBERY HOAX: STORY INVENTED BY LOCAL JOURNALISTS" strapped across the front page. Upon noticing Crystal, he tossed it aside, and tapped his hand on the space beside him. Crystal took a seat without a word.
"We need to talk," Yuri said firmly. "About us."
"I know," Crystal replied. "Things aren't the same anymore."
"Yes... and maybe they never will be again."
"I do love you, Crystal," he told her. "But... I'm still very hurt by what you did. True, neither of us knew I was going to end up pregnant, but... leaving me that night without so much as a goodbye? Waking up alone in a cold bed? Have you any idea how that felt for me?"
"It... it must have been awful," Crystal conceded.
An awkward pause followed.
"But what about me?" Crystal asked. "Do you think it was easy for me? I adored you! But having to live every day in fear of being discovered, fear of somebody hurting you... or indeed, the man you love? Besides, when the Commander called me back to her headquarters to discuss the mission, I had no choice in the matter. I wasn't exactly thrilled with her timing, either."
"But why go away for so long?"
Crystal knew she couldn't give the real reason. Yuri, like all of the other humans, had no memory of the crimes she had committed. Fearing that she was getting close to being caught, the Commander had ordered her to go into hiding for a few months, until the heat died down. But if she told Yuri that, it would be the last nail in the coffin for their future.
"I was acting under orders," she replied bluntly. "I can't say any more."
They both cast their eyes downwards, neither one sure of what to say next. In the end, it was Crystal who spoke first.
"I have been given indefinite leave to stay," she said. "And I want to stay. Here. With you. I know I hurt you... a lot, and I know it's going to be hard to forgive me. But, please, Yuri... give me a chance to prove myself."
She took hold of his hand.
"After all - I love you."
Yuri looked into her eyes. They shone with sincerity. Clearly, she meant every word of what she had just said. He smiled weakly.
"Can we take things one day at a time?"
Crystal nodded, and the couple embraced.
Many light years away, on the planet Sixam, a lone astronaut stood amongst a forest of crystals, gazing at the beautiful sights around him.
Using his father's rocket, and co-ordinates given to him by his mother, Michael was paying a visit to his maternal homeworld.
As he explored the beautiful terrain, his curiosity matched that of a child. He wanted to see and touch everything - to learn what things were and what they did, just like a tourist visiting a foreign land.
Because that was this was to him. A foreign land. Although this was the planet that had given him life... it simply didn't feel like home.
Home was where he'd achieved his dream of being a great detective.
Home was where his father, stepmother, brother and nephew were.
Home was where Megumi was.
Home was Earth.
And no matter who or what Michael was - not quite alien, not quite human... home was where he wanted to be.
Holding that thought both in his head and in his heart, Michael returned to the rocket, set off into space, and charted a course for the place he truly belonged.
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