American Triangle 5 : Epilogue

[The First Ending]

He's on the phone. "Yeah. I heard just the other week the clerk at the video store saying he'd seen her. But then I still see her. I still see her everywhere."

The voice on the other end is sympathetic. If anyone were to suddenly come upon Will, alone save the empty boxes in Sydney's old apartment, he would tell them the person on the other end was his mother. That would be a lie. Yet his twice weekly calls to the Los Angeles therapy line are a habit he'd rather keep to himself, if-it's-all-the-same-to-you.

"I mean, I sit here sorting her stuff into boxes and it's all so regular, so boring. You wouldn't have guessed there was anything out of the ordinary about her."

Will wasn't too cheap to get proper therapy, but too embarrassed. It was easier to lie down a phone line.

"I still don't know…There are still so many times when I expect her to come through the door…"

More than that, days and nights and weeks when he just knows she'll come through that door. Knows she will because owes it to him. Because she's never let him down before.

"…And I keep thinking, I should move on. Francie - her other friend, Francie - she says, she says…"

Will practices what he has to say to Francie. Subdues his paranoia, his - what? - his beliefs. Makes it out like he's sorry she's dead, like there's so much tragedy, like he's crushed by the pain, when he doesn't feel that way at all.

Whhen he refuses to believe his own eyes.

"I can't sleep…"

He sleeps too well, too deeply.

"Eating - you know - is hard…"

There's a plate of pizza to his left.

"I keep -"

The voice on the other end cuts him off. "Will, it seems to me that you're not addressing the real problems here. You're fuelling your life on denial. You need to accept that Sydney's dead and - like you just said - you should move on."

The first three weeks after Sydney died Will wrote a book. Four hundred pages, an extended novella, researched and brutally edited. It's the half imagined, half real tale of a young woman caught in a circle of spies. It's pretty much as he remembers it, except each time she survives. He's rewritten the ending, but she still survives.

There are publishers interested, really interested.

"Yes, I should move on."

It's easier to lie down the phone line. It's easier to pretend there that she isn't dead.

It's easier to publish this book thinking of her reading it somewhere, over coffee, laughing at how inaccurate he's been.

It's easier to live that way.


[The Second Ending.]

For a long time the world thought Jack Bristow was dead. More than dead, DOA, fatally wounded, disappeared, alone. It appeared the world didn't know Jack Bristow as well as it thought.

There was a lot to be said for retirement. For Malibu beaches and sun drenched condos. He visited London twice a year to keep up on things but other than that his life was carefree and relaxed. His life was ending.

Sometimes, he had wild notions of a daughter he once knew and a wife who once betrayed him. He would ask the nurses and they would tutt something about a "brilliant mind and a debilitating disease." He wonders what happened to them, his family.

He remembered the daughter had been engaged to a man who didn't suit her. Then the man had died and Jack had stood with her alongside his grave. He remembers a man after that with sharper features and better suits. Another man with messy hair and journalistic pretensions. His daughter had been caught in the middle, all right. He remembers that he thought this was funny, but that he never shared his laughter with anyone. He wonders why he remembers being so grumpy.

He has no pictures of his daughter. Nothing to adorn his wall like the other residents. He has his memories though, and his imagination. In his mind's eye, his daughter sits on a sandy dune, staring at the sea when she's fourteen years old and nowhere near a woman. She cries because he's said they have to go home and because he's pretended for her whole life that he doesn't care about her. He knows he did this to make it easier for her, when his inevitable (and possibly early) death came he had hoped - then - that she would not even cry for him. He wanted to save her the pain. This he remembers clearly and he still supports his intentions.

In the dreams he has, he calls her name but she doesn't reply.

"Hey, Daddy…"

She only replies, you see, when she comes to visit.


[The Third Ending]

So Girl and Boy finally made that sunset big enough to walk into.

{Crying when they were picked up by Vaughn's 'friend.' Crying when they gave her a new social security number and told her she was 'Stacey.' Crying and crying because it didn't matter how many times she cried as Stacey Luckman, occupant of 82 Rheinstrasse. Crying, then, because it was liberating.)

Girl and Boy say, 'I do.'

{He took a book about the KGB to the ski lodge in the Alps. He couldn't ski and he wouldn't learn. There was no skating anymore, either. He had burned the shirt she bought him.)

Girl and boy find normality.

{Often it didn't suit them.}

Girl and boy smile.

(forced, over parent-teacher barbeques, real, those mornings on the balcony, when nobody could touch them)

They were together.


They were in love.


The end…

(… kept them together.)

Sometimes, they wondered.


Thank you for reading this. I know it hasn't always been easy, but thank you. A special shout out to Rach (for writing fabulous stories I envy, for giving me encouragement when I needed it, for understanding an awful lot) and to Ash (for excellent betas, informative e-mails, and a better grasp of Americana than I could hope for.) If you have any questions - pertaining to me writing I story I thought out to the extent that I often forgot the basics - then hit me with mail here: Bishclone If it involves the plot then I will know the answer.