She was there for him when he came through. Due to the time abnormalities, she had been waiting for a long time (or not long at all?) but she was there when he entered the room.
He stared at her with bewilderment. The last thing he remembered was his husband’s face… and now he was seeing a face he had not seen in a long time, other than photos. “Mom…?” he asked, not understanding.
Luna took Sebastian’s hands. “Seb,” she said, softly. She had been waiting, planning, thinking. What to say when he arrived. But now that he was here, the words were gone. So she merely held his hands tighter. “Sebastian.”
“Mom?” he asked again, throat feeling thick.
The others were far from them. Jacob sat alone while Calcifer held onto Serenity. Sen had wanted to go to him immediately and there were tears on her cheeks as Cal held onto her. As painful as it was, Sen knew going to Sebastian was not the best thing to do until he accepted his own passing.
Luna was explaining to her son. Telling him about the room and the afterlife. Sebastian listened, trying to come to grips with the realization of death. He had lost Halbert not long before. How long…? Before his own death it had been perhaps eight months at most. But here in this room… much longer.
He could see Hal. He could be with Hal. They were together when he closed his eyes and let himself drift, as his mother explained. Hal was young again–as Seb was. Young, strong, vivid. They embraced and lost themselves in each others eyes.
They were in a cozy house, a living room. They sank on the sofa and Sebastian once again felt that safe feeling as Hal held him. He wanted to stay that way for the rest of the time–but after a few years Hal reminded him, very gently, about Serenity.
Sebastian was back in the room in an instant. He had been gone only a few, brief seconds but he felt guilty for those seconds. For not seeing his daughter who was now running to him. “Mom!” she sobbed, falling into his arms.
Sebastian wrapped his arms around his daughter and began crying. Sen. His beloved daughter. The only child he had had to lose while he was alive but it should not have happened. He remembered that time–that miserable, dark, despairing time. Of being told of her death. Of her funeral.
No parent should ever bury their child, Seb thought as he clung to his daughter. She had always been so strong but so delicate. He thought back to when she had suffered through loss. Losing Henri. How fragile and despondent she had been.
“My baby,” he said, holding her even tighter. And, after some time, he was holding his mother again. He felt very comforted by her arms. He also saw his grandfather, or who he thought was his grandfather. Calcifer had always been a very old man to him.
“This is Jacob,” Calcifer said after he and Sebastian had their moment together. “My father.”
Sebastian looked at Jacob. It felt strange him. He could remember being given that plaque, the plaque he eventually gave to Serenity–that he now knew she had destroyed. “H–hello,” Seb said, feeling slightly shy which was silly since they were all related… and dead…
“I hate to say it is good to meet you, considering the reason why we’re meeting, but…” Jacob trailed off, smiling. Seb couldn’t help but give a bit of a chuckle at that.
After a while, after a few years of holding and talking and comforting, things were settled down enough to properly talk. Sebastian then asked, “I don’t understand–why are–why are things different for us?”
Everyone but Serenity looked at Jacob at that, as Serenity was curled up on the ground next to her father, busy elsewhere with Henri. Sebastian had always felt a bit bitter and angry at Henri for what he had done, basically abandoning his own children… but now he understood a little more. Henri couldn’t have been a father anymore than smoke could have been. Losing Serenity had taken everything out of him and he had tried, some, to stay together for his children but the pull of the Nether was too much for him.
Sebastian had looked for Chance and was quickly guided to where Chance was. It had taken Sebastian a good year to come to grips with the fact Chance was a living human being. Not only that but happily married with five children? The last time Seb had seen him, Chance was a teenaged ghost. Seb had apologized to Serenity over and over for letting what happened happen. He should have never let Chance go.
But Serenity wasn’t mad. She had seen for herself Chance would have withered if he had stayed in that house. He needed freedom.
“We’re not sure why,” Jacob said, answering the question Seb had asked just a few seconds before. “Perhaps you can help us figure out what those lines are.”
Seb had been told about the lines but hadn’t paid much attention to them. Now he faced them, squinting and trying to figure out what they could be. “No,” he finally said. “I don’t know. They–they could be anything.”
“I think if we figure it out, we might know why we’re here,” Jacob said softly, touching the wall. The lines blurred and then sharpened a bit.
“What about the others though? Zari–and Vi? Why me and not them, or all three of us?” Seb asked, trying to wrap his head around this.
Jacob spread his hands out and shrugged. “We don’t know,” Luna said softly. “We don’t know why only one from each… each generation, so to speak, is chosen.”
“It’s some sort of stupid random pick,” Calcifer grumbled from a corner. “Picking random Danevbies and just…” He trailed off then snorted.
Luna turned to look at her father. “If it was random pick, why always parent-child? We assumed Sebastian would be here, after Serenity arrived, and we were right.”
“Cesario and Viola passed on before Sebastian, we knew it had to be him from that,” Calcifer said, though he knew that wasn’t the reason. He knew, as the others did, it was because of Serenity being chosen.
“We–we assumed Miracle would be here too,” Jacob said hesitantly to Sebastian, “but now with Chance being a living being, it may be him.”
“Why wouldn’t it have been Chance?” Sebastian asked. “Henri was a ghost, and he passed into the Nether, into the afterlife.”
Jacob shifted around then looked at Serenity who was back in their world. “Because he almost came here a few times,” she said, slowly getting up. “He had several near-death experiences. I–I barely saw. None of us really saw except Jacob.”
Jacob looked a bit awkward at that. “I was able to turn him back around and get him back down to the earth… well, sort of.”
“Sort of?” Seb inquired, feeling violently sick and guilty at the thought of his grandbaby having ‘several’ near-death experiences.
“There was something else.” Jacob straightened his shoulders and looked very serious. “Someone else, or–or several others. Stopping him as well. I don’t know who, or why. They’re beyond this… realm.”
“Angels,” Serenity said. “I think they were angels. Protecting Chance.”
Seb looked around and saw Calcifer and Luna agreed at the thought of angels, but Jacob didn’t look too sure. “What do you think?” Seb asked.
Jacob shifted and turned away to face the wall again. “I think it was this. The lines. Or something to do with the lines.” He pressed his palms against the walls. “Maybe these are like a border, preventing those from coming in unless it was their time.”
“Their time?” Seb asked. “How do you–wh–how does someone have a time? You’re saying you know when someone will die…?”
“Oh! No,” Jacob replied. “But I could feel it, with Chance. I just knew it wasn’t his time. And I was right. That was a long time ago. Around… eleven years… going by the time down there. Besides, something else was stopping him too.”
“The same thing that stops others from being in here too?” Sebastian asked. Jacob opened his mouth then closed it, not really saying anything. “I mean, Hal can’t join me in here, right?”
“That’s right,” Jacob said slowly. “But it didn’t feel like something was stopping him from coming here so much as… stopping him from dying.”
“And that’s–that’s not been felt with anyone else?” Seb looked around the room. “When Serenity died? You couldn’t stop her?”
“I don’t think we could have,” Jacob said, noticing Seb’s hands curling into fists. “There was no–warning. Nothing. She was just here.”
Sebastian wanted to argue that, but Serenity was tugging at his sleeve. “Mom, being angry won’t do anything. It’s long over. I’ve been here for–for–” She wasn’t sure how long. “A long time,” she finally settled on. “I know you’re mad but–at least Jacob and whoever else is involved in this was able to keep Chance alive.”
Seb’s fists uncurled. “You’re right,” he finally sighed. “I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you.”
He and Serenity spoke quietly and slowly Luna and Calcifer drifted off. Jacob sat down and thought about everything that had been said.
He had a theory now. A small one, but it was still there. But all he could do right now was wait a very long time before he knew whether or not his theory was right. And it all depended on which one of Serenity’s children joined them in the room. If Miracle did, his theory was out the window. But if Chance joined them…
Well. That was something to think about when and if it happened.