In the corridor outside, Mally's frantic family spoke with various doctors and nurses: all of them giving reassuring pledges and promises, before rushing into the fray to help save their beloved relative.
As Jack and Morgan comforted Laura, Max took a seat beside a terrified Polly on a bench. Outwardly, he appeared calm... but, as one used to performing, this was simply an illusion he presented in order to stop his family worrying any further. Deep inside, he had massively conflicting feelings: terror after hearing stories about his ancestor's Mordecai's touch-and-go labour, yet also strangely reassured by Daisy's words all those years ago - a mantra running repeatedly through his head.
Mally had to be the person she'd been referring to. He must be. That meant he was going to be all right.
He had to be all right.
He turned towards Polly. She was trembling - the fear in her eyes clear for anyone to see. With her own unaware family trapped decades in the past, Max knew that he had to be the one here to support her. Forcing a smile, he tapped her on the shoulder.
"Looks like my little grandchild will be here very soon," he said, as whimsically as he could manage. "Have you thought of any names yet?"
"Care to share them?"
Leaning towards him, Polly whispered the names into his ear - just as Mally had done with her. As Max considered them, he smiled approvingly, and clutched Polly's hand.
"Marvellous," he said. "I can't wait to see which one it's going to be."
"Me neither," Polly replied... but then, her lips began to tremble.
"Oh, God!" she added, with cracking voice. "I just want Mally and the baby to be all right. I feel so guilty! I should have been there for him from the beginning - helping him, supporting him. And I should be in there now!"
"You're not to blame, sweetheart," Max told her kindly. "You didn't know Mally was pregnant. And right now, we have to let the doctors do their job. But, hey - look at how much you've done for him over the last couple of weeks. It meant the world to him, and to all of us. You have supported him... just maybe a little later than usual. And you're still here for him now."
"It's funny," Polly went on, musing. "The only reason I'm still on this planet is because of a Miskin. My father was terrified when he found out about me... he wanted to give me up. It's only because of the support Minerva Miskin and Gabriel Lee Harker gave him that he felt able to get through his labour and keep me. And now, a Miskin is about to give birth to my child. I've put Mally through that same terror Daddy Theo went through."
"Not true, Polly," Max replied. "This is very different. You were born out of an alien abduction - not that such an origin makes you any less special or wanted. Milo and Miranda were treasured by Mordecai, and Minerva by Marcel. But you and Mally are in a relationship. You are in love... and this baby was conceived out of love. That same love has always burned brightly in Mally's heart over these nine months and kept him strong. And further... you're one alien mother who's going to be there for her baby."
He reached out to her, embracing her tightly.
"Besides," he added, "The Miskins were there for you on the day you were born... and we're still here for you now. We always will be. Don't you ever worry about that."
"Thank you, Max," Polly whispered, wrapping her own arms around him.
As he stepped away, Max looked towards the end of the corridor.
"You know, I think I saw a vending machine down the hall," he said. "Do you want me to fetch you some coffee? After all, we could be here for a while."
"I'd appreciate that - thanks."
"No problem. You sit tight. Just make sure someone come and fetches me if my grandchild shows up before I do!"
After arriving in the foyer, pressing a few buttons and hearing the drinks machine whirr into life, Max absent-mindedly gazed at the liquid rapidly filling the polystyrene coffee cup, his mind elsewhere.
The baby's gender wasn't all that important - he knew that. Good health was all anyone really asked for. But still, after hearing the names from Polly... he had started hoping that the imminent arrival would be a girl. The boy's name was nice and all, but the girl's - it was like something out of a song.
Heck, it would be a song. A song he'd come up with, right here and now. Creativity was always a good distraction in stressful situations. Legacy be damned: that was all finished with now, anyway. Mally had no need for a son. If it was a little lady entering their lives, a unique lullaby would be the perfect present from her grandfather.
Picking up the coffee cup, Max pondered the name carefully, coming up with rhymes and half-rhymes... until he turned around and noticed a forlorn-looking young man sat on a sofa across the way.
He was a handsome fellow. Tall, well-built, and golden hair like strands of sunlight. The kind of person you saw in fashion ads and on movie screens. Strangely, though, he wasnt excluding confidence, like someone in those positions usually did. Rather, he kept glancing around nervously, as if he was desperate not to be seen - a pair of dark designer shades hiding his eyes.
Yet it wasn't his looks, nor his antsy behaviour, that had caught Max's attention. It was the most bizarre feeling that had suddenly come upon him... the overwhelming sense that he had seen this stranger somewhere before.
Doors swung open, and a nurse hurried in. Dashing past Max without a word, she approached the young man, who looked up at her with great eagerness, clearly awaiting news.
"How is he?" he asked in hushed tones.
"Mr. Powers," came the stoic reply, "I'm afraid your father doesn't have much time left."
"Wait!" Max thought suddenly. "Did she say "Powers"?"
"Please..." the young man went on, "may I see him?"
"Of course. He's been asking for you."
"And you've... you've checked with Security?" the man added. "No paparazzi anywhere?"
"No, sir. You won't be disturbed. We won't allow anyone to cause distress to a dying man."
As the nurse offered him her hand, the man took it, rising to his feet.
"Lead the way."
As Max watched the pair scurry away down the corridor, he realised instantly who this stranger was. Who his father was. These weren't exactly the best circumstances for a reunion - for any of them - but from what had been said, this might well be his only chance.
Still clutching the coffee cup, he went after them.
Awkwardly concealing himself behind an overgrown pot plant, Max watched as the kind nurse showed Nathan into one of the private rooms - a suite rather like the one Mally would soon be recovering in, all being well. The instant the coast was clear, he dashed out like a greyhound from a gate, pressing his face against the door window so closely that his breath steamed up the glass.
There, lying still on a bed, was the aged Oscar Powers - and the young man, seated beside him, tightly holding his hand, was his son. His and Katie's son. The boy Max had once raised as his own. Little Nathan... all grown up.
Scarcely able to believe what he was seeing, Max awkwardly burst into the room - practically tumbling through the door in his rush to enter.
"Nathan!" he cried, almost breathlessly.
Hearing his name, the young man's head whirled around like an owl's... staring Max down with a cold, angry glare.
"Get out," he hissed.
"I said "get out"!" Nathan roared, pouncing off his chair, squaring up to this unwelcome intruder. "You journalist scum hound me all day, every day - wanting photos, interviews and all that crap! For God's sake... my father is dying, and you still don't have the common decency to just leave me alone?!"
"I'm not a journalist!" Max protested. "My father was, but he wasn't like that!"
"Oh, so you're just some rabid fan, then?" Nathan ploughed on furiously. "Look, you may have seen a few of my movies, but that doesn't mean you're entitled to intrude on my private life!"
"Well, I've changed your nappies before now," Max snapped back, "so I think a moment or two of yours and Oscar's time - whilst he still has some to give - isn't too much to ask for!"
As a stunned Nathan fell silent, a low croak rose from the bed as Oscar's eyes slowly fluttered open.
"Max?" he wheezed. "Max Miskin?!"
"Hello, Oscar," he said warmly. "It's been a few years, hasn't it?"
"Decades," came the reply.
"Dad?" Nathan asked, turning towards him in confusion. "Who is this?"
"This," Oscar told him, "is Max Miskin. A very famous and gifted musician. He - he was married to your mother. Back when you were born, he thought you were his son... loved you and raised you, just as a father should. Then all the... unpleasantness happened."
He stifled a sob.
"Oh, God, Max, please... I don't want trouble. Not now."
"Calm down," Max replied reassuringly. "That's not why I'm here. I... I just wanted to talk to you. Whilst I still had the chance."
"Please... won't you sit down?"
As Max took a seat next to him, Nathan hung his head sheepishly.
"I'm so sorry, Mr. Miskin," he said. "I... I had no idea."
"It's OK," Max said. "You were just trying to defend your father. Any loving son would do the same. I hope my boy would."
With a groan, Oscar awkwardly turned himself to face Max, and smiled weakly - the expression slightly twisted by a grimace of pain.
"Why are you in hospital?" he asked. "God, you're not ill too, are you?"
"Oh... no, not at all," Max replied. "It's... it's my son. He's about to have his first child."
Oscar's eyes widened with a shining delight.
"You have a boy too?"
"Yes. And a daughter. I've been married for just over thirty-five years. Do... do you remember Laura? My PA?"
"Yes, I do," he said. "Nice girl. I'm glad you both got your happy ending after everything you went through."
Slowly, he reached for Max's hand, looking deeply into his face.
"Time has been very good to you, Max," he whispered. "Still, you always were handsome. No wonder Katie chose to marry you. As staged as it all was... it was one privilege she never granted me."
"You... you didn't stay together?"
"She buggered off back when I'd only just been potty trained," he hissed. "She's been swanning around from man to man since then - trying to make it big in Hollywood. I probably have a bunch of half-siblings I don't even know about. I don't hear from her too much. Not that I care... the slut."
"Nathan!" hissed Oscar.
"I don't care," came the firm response. "She did bad things to all of us, yes.. but she is still your mother."
"I have no mother," Nathan replied, equally strongly. "The only parent I've ever had is you."
"You're in movies too, Nathan?" Max asked.
"Yes. My precious boy. Nathan Powers, star of the silver screen."
"That's why I thought you were a paparazzo," Nathan said. "I get them all the time. I mean, publicity is good, but sometimes, they just go too damn far."
"I know just what you mean," Max chuckled. "They treat musicians just the same, I promise you. Still, I only came after you because I heard the nurse say your surname. I never was that big a movie fan."
"Done a few blockbusters over the last couple of years," Oscar told him proudly. "Then again, there's one big difference between him and his mother. He actually has talent."
Before he could say any more, he burst out into a fit of violent coughing, gasping desperately for breath. As Nathan lunged towards a button on the wall, preparing to call the nurse, Oscar composed himself, waving a hand desperately.
"No," he called. "No more nurses. There's nothing they can do for me now."
Nathan slowly sank back against the wall... his shoulders shaking as he broke out into silent but agonised sobs. Turning back to Max, Oscar tightened his grip on the retired rockstar's hand.
"I can't regret what happened between me and Katie," he wheezed, "because that's what led to Nathan being here. Without him, I would have had no-one... no reason to go on. He's an angel sent from heaven in return for my sins. But I can say - with all my heart - that I'm sorry for all the pain everything caused you. For how far it drove you... for how it almost caused you to lose your own life. It brings me such relief to know you've had a wonderful life since then, but, please... if you can find it in your heart to forgive a dying man?"
"Yes, Oscar," he said sincerely. "I forgive you. Rest easy, and go with my friendship. I'll see you on the other side someday."
A tear formed in Oscar's eye, glistening under the light of the lamp above his bed.
Sinking back against the pillow, he closed his eyes to get some rest - his breathing heavy and laboured.
Max sighed, and slowly rose - knowing that now was the right time for him to go. He was glad he and Oscar had made peace, but he knew it was only right for his final moments to be spent in the lone company of his beloved son.
As he passed Nathan on his way towards the door, Max stopped and reached out to him, clapping his shoulders in a supportive gesture.
"I'll ask the nurses to give you my details," he said gently. "If you ever need anything... when... when it's all over... you just get in touch, OK?"
"Your father is very proud of you," Max told him. "And if you had been my son... I would be, too."
As he left, a sombre silence fell upon the room... Nathan taking his place beside his father and holding his hand once more, words useless to express the love and the grief between them.
Meanwhile, as Max emerged in the corridor, he was taken aback by a wild flash of black and purple up ahead, blasting its way through various sets of swinging double doors. When this strange phenomenon cast its eyes upon the old rocker, it slid to a sudden halt... revealing itself to be his very excited wife.
"Max!" she gasped. "Thank God I found you!"
"Laura! What's happened?"
"It's the baby, Max!" came the delighted reply. "The baby's here! We're grandparents!"
Upon hearing this, Max's mouth broke out into a wide frenzied grin.
"That's - that's wonderful! Is - Is Mally all right?"
"He'll be just fine," Laura said. "He's asleep right now - he's worn out, the poor dear. Apparently it was a tough labour for him. Things were a bit touch-and-go for a while. If we hadn't got here when we did, he might have - "
She stopped herself, shaking her head wildly.
"No... no, Laura, don't think about that now. The important thing is, he's completely fine, and so is the baby. In a few days, Mally will be fit as a fiddle, and ready to come home. Polly is so relieved. She's in the room now, meeting her little one."
"Well, what is it?" Max asked excitedly. "Boy or girl?"
When Laura told him, he clapped his hands together in joy.
"Phone Thomas," he said brightly. "I'm going to need my guitar."
As a soft, merry gurgling sound reached his ears, an exhausted Mally stirred in his sleep, and slowly opened his eyes. Wincing from the pain in his abdomen as he carefully sat up straight, he gasped as he saw the most beautiful vision standing at the end of his bed.
Polly, smiling, and in her arms... an adorable little infant, with skin of emerald green.
"Hello, gorgeous! My, my... aren't you just the most perfect little girl in all the world?"
Bursting into tears born from overwhelming love, Mally immediately attempted to jump out of bed and run up to them... only to cry out in pain as he felt his legs buckling underneath him, sending him tumbling towards the floor - the new father quickly seizing the mattress to stop his fall.
Alarmed, Polly turned to him instantly.
"Mally!" she cried. "What are you doing? Get back in bed! You've just given birth, for goodness' sake!"
"I... I must hold my baby," Mally croaked, clambering to his feet.
"I'll bring her over!"
"No... no, let me come to you. Please."
Slowly and carefully, Mally made his way over to the cradle, where Polly placed their daughter into his arms. As he looked at her, he couldn't help but think about the string of events and co-incidences that had led to this exact moment. His ancestor Minerva Miskin's intervention leading Theo Creswell to keep his daughter. Max leaving the evil Katie for Laura, which led to Mally's own birth. Him choosing to travel back in time to that park on that very day, leading to his and Polly's meeting, and their subsequent love.
In short, this baby's existence was pretty much a miracle.
"You're right, Polly," Mally said to his beloved. "She really is perfect. Aren't you, darling? Yes, yes, you are! And I'm so very happy to finally meet you."
As the baby began to whimper, Mally lifted her gently and rested her against his shoulder, rocking her back into a state of happiness.
"It's all right, little one," he cooed. "Daddy's here. And he loves you so, so much."
"Mummy does too," Polly added, smiling.
As the child began to fall asleep, calm and content, Mally slowly lowered her back into her cradle. As he stood there, Polly approached him and stood by his side - wrapping a gentle arm around his waist as they looked upon their beautiful new child together.
All too soon, this blissful, peaceful moment was shattered by the sound of the door being kicked open - revealing a grinning Max stood in the doorway, pink guitar in hand, as the infant in the cradle awoke sharply and started to wail.
"Where is she?" Max cried excitedly. "Where's my granddaughter?"
"Over here," Mally hissed back, "And you just woke her up."
Giggling with glee, Max scurried over to the cradle, and peered inside. As the infant stared up at this bizarre pink and silver stranger, she instantly fell quiet - not so much out of love as confusion. (Then again, everything is confusing when you're less than a day old.)
"See?" Max said proudly. "She knows it's me! She knows it's her Grandad Max, don't you, dearie!"
This "Grandad Max" was funny, the baby thought. She knew by instinct who her mummy and daddy were, and she loved them a lot... but she was starting to like this person, too.
"Are you still calling her what you planned to?" Max asked Mally.
"We are, aren't we?" the new father asked Polly - who nodded in reply.
"Great," Max replied, strumming his guitar. "Because that means I get to sing my new song."
Moving into a performance pose over the cradle, Max looked down at his new granddaughter, and began to play.
Born into a long legacy
Eleventh in our family tree
You'll choose your own great destiny
Miss Mina Valentina!
Your daddy went through time and space
Your mummy's of an alien race
But here and now's your rightful place
Sweet Mina Valentina!
The heavens bless the day you came,
And yes, you're strange, but feel no shame -
So's everyone of Miskin name!
Dear Mina Valentina!
And Miskin love is real - no acts,
They all love you, and those are facts...
But not as much as Grandad Max!
My Mina Valentina!
As little Mina Valentina Miskin gurgled away in her cradle happily, Mally began to applaud.
"Thank you, Dad," he said. "That's.. that's so lovely."
"Well, it's a lovely name," Max replied. "How did you come by it?"
""Mina" for the family tradition," Mally answered.
"And "Valentina" after the first woman in space," Polly added. "It felt... fitting. Still, my daddies might be a bit disappointed. It would have been Moses Theodore if he was a boy."
"No way," Max said. "How could they be disappointed with a granddaughter as beautiful as Mina is? I know I'm not!"
The sound of a throat being cleared rang out across the room cutting through the laughter. The three adults looked over, and noticed that a doctor had entered the room.
"I'm so sorry to interrupt," he said. "I'm Dr. Logan Spencer - the physician who delivered Malcolm's baby. If I may, I'd like to speak to him and his partner in private. It's a delicate matter."
"Of course," Max said, taking his guitar and heading for the doorway. "I'll be outside if you kids need me. And Jack and Morgan will be here soon too - Jack just took your sister for some lunch. They needed a break, and he said he had something important to tell her. He said seeing you in danger made him realise a few things about his own future."
"It's about time," he said - having more than a inkling about what Jack's confession was going to be.
As he heard the door close behind him, Dr. Spencer breathed a sigh of relief.... and allowed his human disguise to melt away, revealing an alien body underneath.
As tradition demanded, Polly immediately approached him, and greeted him with the Sixamian handshake.
"Forgive me for being so forward with my true identity," Dr. Spencer told the couple. "I just wanted to make it clear from the offset that what I'm about to say comes from a purely medical perspective, and not some anti-alien bias. After all, I am one myself."
"I see," Mally replied. "What have you come to tell us?"
"I... I'm afraid it won't be the easiest news to hear," Dr. Spencer went on. "You see, Mr. Miskin - your pregnancy, and the delivery of your daughter, has taken a terrible toll on your body. More so than usual, we would say. There were moments during the procedure where... where we thought we might lose you. Thankfully, my team were very skilled, and we managed to pull you back from the brink."
Mally swallowed nervously as a chill ran down his spine. He really was lucky to still be here.
"As such," Dr. Spencer continued, "as a medical professional, I must say that I strongly advise against you and your partner having any further children. We simply couldn't guarantee that you would come through another delivery safely."
As Polly gasped, Mally started to tremble.
"You mean," he croaked weakly, "Mina is the only baby I'll ever have? No sons?"
"If you want to live, I'm afraid so."
After sighing deeply, Mally managed a weak smile.
"That's... that's OK," he said - and he meant it. "Mina is completely perfect. She's the only baby I need. We'll be perfect, just as we are."
"But there's something else," Polly cried. "If we can't risk you getting pregnant, then how can we be... intimate anymore? No-one's quite sure how these human-alien pregnancies work. I mean, goodness, I know that... that... isn't everything in a relationship, but -"
"Ah," Dr. Spencer said. "There is some hope on that front. Medical engineering and testing has produced some devices - implants - than can be placed into your bodies, preventing any further transmission of genetic material, and thereby, pregnancies. Just like contraceptive devices in humans... only these ones will be permanent. You'll still be able to have a full and fulfilling romantic life - just no more children. You'll both have to undergo medical procedures, so you'll need to wait a while until Malcolm's healed. And you'll need to consider it carefully. Once it's done, it can't be reversed. Still, it's something my team will be happy to arrange for you."
He paused, and looked at the couple.
"That is... if you're really serious about each other?"
Mally and Polly turned, looking one another in the eyes as they contemplated the question.
"Well?" Mally asked. "Are we?"
Well, well, well! Mina! What a beautiful name to wrap up a great legacy! You've done it Blue! Congratulations!!!! I'm so glad I got to see it through to the end!ReplyDelete
Polly surely is going to say YES, she's MARRIED to him after all, according to the conversation you prequel-ed this chapter with! All is right and easy in the world with Mina in it, and she's got a rockstar grandpa writing a gorgeous song about her ;)
Even with no more children coming, what a clever way to pass down the torch!
Shit, I'm getting sentimental over here. I better wrap this up before I blubber over the impending end. From Myron to Mina... (sniffles) man oh man.
;~; that song got me all emotional about this legacy, its been such a ride!ReplyDelete