It wasn't natural, the way people passed him over. First Vickers, then the pilots, everyone on board stepped past him as if he'd always belonged on the ship. They didn't spare a glance for Elizabeth either, the woman who had disappeared then returned after the storm and the pyramid. David, well, Elizabeth wasn't sure most of them had ever spared a glance for David.
Then again, maybe they had bigger concerns than that. Elizabeth wasn't the only one who had disappeared. She was just the only one who had made it back. Milburn hadn't returned from the pyramid, trapped there during the storm, and Fifield had wandered back but…
They'd burnt him alive outside, him and Charlie.
It'd seemed like she'd known the moment she'd stumbled on it, that first charred corpse. Charlie, she'd thought, and had barely considered that it might be someone else.
Except it felt like penance, didn't it? This was what Elizabeth paid for her trip here, for forgetting the pyramid and leaving with the nameless other alien instead. In some strange way she'd let Charlie die.
She wanted to scream, to scream or else to fade away and disappear, but instead she was sitting at a table with an android, an alien, and a bottle of scotch stolen from Chance. Elizabeth was on her second glass already, the world blurring at its edges. She was the only one drinking.
She felt as if she wasn't really here, like she'd wandered into the medical ward for an inspection but had somehow ended up in the wrong room. Not just in the wrong room, but the wrong setting, sitting in a conversation she didn't belong.
"It's too late now," this was the pale alien, saying the words in a 'what can you do' sort of tone, as if he'd like to have changed things if only it didn't require any effort, "Your ship is doomed, your master, whoever it is, is doomed. There's no escaping this place, at least, not for them."
"Again, sir," David, David smiling as always, as if the only thing he was programmed to do was thinly smile, "I don't understand what you mean—"
"And I can see through time and space," the alien interjected, waving his hand dismissively, "There's no point in lying to me. I know what you are, I know what you want before you even have the decency to want it, and I know that you're going to lead them back out there in search of answers you will never receive."
David's mouth closed, finally the smile disappeared, and instead a small furrow appeared in his brow as he considered the man no one seemed able to throw off the Prometheus, "You seem very confident."
The alien did not answer, instead with another elegant hand motion, he created a glass out of thin air, poured himself some scotch, and began to gently swirl the liquid inside, "You will not take the woman."
Elizabeth lifted her head, blinking, realizing that he must mean her, that for the first time she was being acknowledged in this strange conversation. David's eyes moved towards her, assessing, but somehow, they didn't look dubious. It could be the shock, it could be the alcohol, but Elizabeth swore that…
He was looking at her as if he wasn't surprised, had thought the same thing, but was just surprised that the other man had said it.
"No," Elizabeth said, as the words and their meaning caught up to her, "I should go to the pyramid, I should go and see what happened to—"
"Do you want me to tell you what's about to happen?" her friend from the night before, still nameless, didn't even stop to sip his drink before he told her, "Two of your party members wandered into the wrong room, the cargo hold, and became infected. The third, on board the ship, was poisoned. The rest, now, will head out to wake the man you've been looking for, your Engineer, and when they do he'll squeeze their heads like grapes and then set course for Earth where god willing he will destroy all life on the planet as he intended thousands of years ago."
He then nodded towards the android, his smile a cruel and cold thing, "Now, your puppet here, I think he had some idea before now. He, after all, knows full well the capriciousness of his own creators, let alone yours. Still, he dances to someone else's tune, so he'll give you at least some of what you're looking for with that stupid smile of his and have the decency to be surprised when something unpleasant happens to him."
Then he back towards her, turning his head so those dark eyes met hers straight on, "You though, I need you alive for whatever reason. So, you aren't going anywhere near the place."
She opened her mouth, but again, he didn't let her talk. It was like the very idea of her voice, the sound of it, pained him so he tried to talk over her as quickly as possible, "And I will force you, if I have to, and you won't like it."
She could say something, insist that she was coming, insist that he was wrong or else lying but instead asked, "What do you mean poisoned?"
His eyes were so dark and so large that it was impossible to tell where he was staring unless he turned his head. There were no furtive glances from him, no rolling of eyes, all those nuances of human expression, human eyes were gone.
Somehow, though, he didn't need to look. Her eyes, unwillingly, drifted towards the android. For a moment, any hint of politeness in David's expression was gone. Every single expression was gone, he was stone faced, as if all the processes dictating how to mimic human emotion were busy elsewhere. Only when he caught her eye did an offended and almost betrayed look appear, "Doctor Shaw, surely you don't think—"
Right, swallowing, she returned her attention to the alien, the not-Engineer, with a glare, "David's programming doesn't allow him to harm human beings."
"Oh?" the alien asked, finally sipping from his drink, "I wonder who told you that."
"No one told me, everyone knows that," Elizabeth said, "And you're the one who told me that Charlie, that someone, was poisoned. I don't know what happened to them, you don't know what happened to them, you weren't even here!"
"I don't have to be here to know," the alien said, motioning to David, "It's written all over his plastic face."
Elizabeth straightened, felt some of her will returning from the void of shock, from her surreal return to the Prometheus, "And you aren't the first person I've met who's prejudiced against androids."
They were both staring at her, David and the alien, like they'd never seen anything quite like her before.
She wondered if anyone, truly, had defended David. Had defended him beyond defending his programming, design, or use in human life, but had defended him. He was so lifelike, so close to human, and yet she wouldn't be surprised if no one had ever really mistaken him for a human being. Not in any way that really mattered. She knew that his expressions weren't quite as instinctual as humans, that they took some thought or processes, but all the same by his expression he was looking at her like she'd done something extraordinary.
As for the other, well, for a moment he stared and then he started to laugh. He didn't say anything, he just threw his head back and laughed, slamming his hand down on the table in mirth. Finally, when he caught his breath, he said, "You're still not going."
"You think you can stop me?"
Again, with those too long and too pale fingers, he brushed that aside, "I know I can stop you. You seem to have some lingering remnants of the gift, an extraordinary sense of will, but you're untrained. It won't be pleasant, it might not be easy, but I can do it."
Elizabeth set her mouth into a grim line, her fingers digging into the table, preparing herself for whatever it was he was about to do. And that was the strange thing, maybe it was the surreal events of the past day, maybe it was the almost miraculous abilities she'd already seen from him, but she believed he could do it. He'd done something to the others, made them look the other way, and he could try and do the same to her.
"Trust you to learn nothing from this."
Both Elizabeth and David started, moving backwards, as a fourth face appeared at the table. It was a woman, or at least something that looked like a woman. She was pale, not quite as pale as the alien, but closer to his skin color than she should have been. Contrasting this, her hair was a bright, vibrant, golden red that fell in thick curls and her eyes a vivid green.
She looked about as alien as you could while still looking completely human. Even when, right now, she was wearing a very human and very unimpressed expression.
The alien's mouth opened but for once he was the one interrupted, "I leave you alone, for decades, to go sit in a corner and think about what you've done and this is the best you can come up with?"
She ran a hand through her hair, sighing, and like the alien created her own glass out of nowhere, not even blinking an eye or moving a hand as she did it, and poured what was left of the scotch into her glass, "Good god, I need a drink."
"What did you want me to do?"
The woman held up a hand, motioning for him to wait, as she took a deep swallow. Then, as she let out a small sigh, she turned those green eyes back to him, "Oh, I don't know, maybe give them a little warning? At least give her a warning, you seem to actually like her."
Her, apparently, was Elizabeth, motioned to with a casual wave of a hand.
"They didn't have room on the ship," the alien said, throwing his arms in the air, a shockingly human motion from a man who seemed less and less human by the minute.
"Then make room on the ship," the woman said, throwing her own hands in the air in frustration, "You remember how to expand space. But no, the first solution that pops into your head, as always, is 'let's just let them die in the most painful manner I can imagine."
"Why is it my responsibility to stop them from killing themselves?"
"Oh, I don't know, maybe because you need their ship," the woman said, giving him a pointed look.
"What's wrong with their ship?"
"Nothing," the woman said, deliberately pausing before adding another, ominous, word, "Yet."
Finally, David at least seemed to gather himself and addressed the woman, "Forgive me, I'm afraid I'm confused. Who are you and how did you board the Prometheus?"
"The Alpha and the Omega, though my friends call me Lily," the woman said without a beat of hesitation, "And I'm everywhere these days."
The woman took another drink and, before David or Elizabeth could ask, could even begin to process what that could possibly mean, and said, "But that's not important. What is important, is that, as always, Light and Shadow of the Distant Sun here has a small pebble of sand of a point. It's not much, but step back into that pyramid, and you have a ninety percent chance of returning without a head."
"I very much doubt that," David said.
"No, you don't," the woman said, "You've read all their signs, you wandered into the bridge, you've just kept most of it to yourself. You know what the Engineers awakened in the dark void of space and you have a good idea exactly what it would do to someone. You're just under the mistaken impression that you're immortal and that it would never happen to you."
Finally, the woman looked to Elizabeth, "And you have no idea what's happening right now, only that you don't trust him—"
The woman pointed to the alien, jabbing him in the shoulder without mercy, as if they were old and familiar friends.
"—Which is entirely fair because he did put in solid effort to blow up your planet one time and would do it again if he thought that he could get away with it."
The woman then pointed towards David, whose mouth was hanging slightly open as the woman gave him absolutely no chance to defend himself, "—But you do trust him, even though he'd do exactly the same thing when he's given less than half the chance."
Finally, the woman laced her hands together, her full focus back on Elizabeth, "But regardless of who you trust and who you don't, you want the answers you came for, want the answers to the questions you never thought you'd have to ask, and want to make it off this rock alive. And with that, there's only one thing left for you to do: join that last expedition into the pyramid."
Finally, the woman, Lily, appeared to be done, giving the rest of them a chance to recover. Instinctually, Elizabeth looked over at David who looked helplessly back. Part of David's job, Elizabeth suddenly remembered, was protecting the ship. Having an alien and a… well, the woman, show up out of nowhere was probably wreaking havoc on his internals. For a moment, Elizabeth could set aside her fears, her grief, and sympathize.
"Didn't you say it would be dangerous?" Elizabeth asked.
"Yes, but it's what you came for," Lily said, "And if you never know you will always wander."
Finally looking over at the alien she said, "And he no longer gets to be in charge."
David slowly, with shaking legs, stood, "Well, since it appears my decisions have all been made for me—"
"I never said that," Lily said, "Just that I can guess the fun places where you're bitterness is pulling you."
"Regardless," that thin, strained, ever so polite smile that David gave every single day to every person he met, "It seems I am no longer needed and there is, as you can imagine, very urgent business that requires my presence elsewhere. If you could show yourselves out, it'd be much appreciated."
David stood then, and hesitated as he looked down at Elizabeth. He opened his mouth, closed it, and then merely said, "Doctor Shaw". He bowed politely, and then stiffly walked out of the cafeteria and down into the hold of the ship. Elizabeth watched him leave, listened to the echo of his footsteps, long after he was out of sight.
"If you want to go with him and see your Engineer," Lily said softly, "Then now's the time."
Slowly, almost feeling compelled, Elizabeth stood as well, unsure of what to say to these two. The man, she'd spent a full day with him, and she felt like she'd learned so much and yet nothing at all. A woman, hadn't he said his own creator, Elizabeth's creator, was a woman, a flower...
"Remember, Elizabeth," Lily said with a smile, surprisingly warm and tender, "You're the one who will have to keep them together and guide their path. Try not to let them wander too far."
"Don't worry about me," the woman said with a grin, "I may be alone, but I've always been a fan of mankind."
Without a word, instead with a burning resolve to find what had happened to Charlie, Milburn, Fifield and see what the Engineers truly were, she turned and followed after David. Turning her back on the alien who didn't quite have the answers that Elizabeth had been looking for.
"Why do you do this?"
Lily didn't respond, no, she just smiled to herself as she finally swallowed the last of the drink. She looked pleased, entirely too pleased, as if all of it was still in the palm of her own hand and far out of his.
"You know what will happen to them, to the Earth, if they fail to stop him after they wake him."
"She won't fail," Lily said, with that infuriating divine confidence that couldn't be fought against.
"Now, the Prometheus is as good as destroyed," Lily said, giving him a meaningful look, "But Doctor Elizabeth Shaw will not fail to save the Earth from humanity's hubris."
She leaned back, kicked her feet up onto a chair on the opposite side of the table, and raised her eyebrows, "Which means, that you're going to have to join her and what's left of the android to wherever it is she chooses to go. It might be Earth, but then again, it probably won't be."
He felt a cold, deep, fear grip him, "What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means you fucked up," Lily said without a hint of pity, "As usual."
His hands were shaking, the image of his homeland grew more and more distant, and he felt himself leaning over onto the table, tearing at his hair, "What do you want from me?"
The words were hoarse even as they were quiet, tearing at his voice, "I try so hard, Lily, I've been here so long. What do you want from—"
"I want you to learn something," Lily said, "I want you to grow past your own jealousy and bitterness, learn something about yourself and the world, and be who you have the potential to be."
He looked up at her, beautiful as ever even under the fluorescent lighting of the ship, "Learn something?! When have they ever—"
"Forget about them," Lily said, "This isn't about them, it's about you, and since you couldn't learn it now, you're going to have to learn it on the long way back home."
He forced himself to straighten back up, to breathe, and regain his sense of balance as he asked, "How long?"
"That depends on you."
He could almost smile, what an answer to give him, when it'd been so long already, "Are they still there? Will my world, my people, still be there when I return?"
He gave her a meaningful look, daring her to lie to him now, "And humanity won't find them while I'm away?"
"I promised, Light, that they never would," she placed her hands on his, squeezing them, "They're still waiting for you. So, try not to do anything stupid."
She could have said more, he might have preferred it if she'd said less, but she just smiled and with one final squeeze of his hands disappeared back into the great void of space. No, she was still here, somewhere. She was in every rock, every inch of the Prometheus, waiting and watching, but she wasn't reachable by him right now.
Now, the only way he could find her was to follow the yellow brick road she'd set out for him, hand in hand with a human woman and a heartless tin man.
Author's Note: It lives!
Thanks to readers and reviewers, reviews are much appreciated.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or Prometheus