Comments: A tag to the episode "Shadows."
He stopped a ways off to study the scene laid out in front of him. The number of people already present didn't really surprise him. Bonnie was an amazing woman, and she had many, many friends.
The day was perfect, too, the sky clear with a few small white clouds here and there, just enough to draw attention to the deep blue above them without graying the day. The grass was green and the flowers in bloom all around the old church; birdsong filled the silence. Spring in all her glory, it was Bonnie's favorite time of the year.
He sighed softly, his heart no longer heavy with sadness, but the phantom pain remained, an emptiness that he knew could never be filled. She had, for all intents and purposes, been more a mom to him than his own mother ever had. And it felt like he'd lost his mom
At least her suffering was at an end.
But he still couldn't be glad that she was gone. He missed her too much for that.
Jamie was talking to the Rector, Eva balanced on her hip, her husband hovering close by, but trying not to interfere. Kayla was with Richard, her hand on his arm. Richard was sitting on one of the benches scattered over the church grounds, using a Kleenex to wipe at his eyes, which were red and puffy. He was taking the loss hard, but then he'd loved her for over twenty years.
Martin had loved her longer. He'd loved her for as long as he could remember. It was her eyes he saw when he thought about his childhood. Her hands he remembered comforting him. She was the one he'd gone to with his questions, his fears, his hopes and his dreams. She had nurtured him, taught him, instilled in him the values he now claimed proudly as his own.
God, how he already missed her.
He jumped slightly at the sound of her voice and pulled his gaze away from the gathering funeral crowd. Sam was looking at him, her expression one of sympathetic concern.
"Are you all right?" she asked him.
He nodded, not sure he could trust his voice. His throat was too tight. He knew he was going to lose it, eventually, but he needed to hold it together until the funeral service was over. He had people counting on him.
Her hand on his shoulder, they continued on to join the gathering. Upon seeing him, Jamie wrapped up with the Rector and came over to join him. She wrapped him in a hug, and he took Eva from her, holding the baby in his arms, buoyed by her grinning smile and gurgled happiness, being with her uncle.
"Are you all right?" Jamie asked him, her tone so much like her mother's that Martin could only nod in reply. The young woman glanced over his shoulder, smiling at Sam. "Agent Spade, thank you so much for coming."
Sam stepped up next to Martin, taking Jamie's hand in hers. "I'm so very sorry," she said.
Jamie nodded. "Thank you, Samantha, but Mom was ready, you know?"
Sam nodded, but Martin couldn't quite bring himself to do the same.
"We're going to get started in a couple of minutes," Jamie said, taking Eva back as Kayla walked over to join them.
"You want me to take her?" the teenager asked, nodding to the toddler.
"Thanks," Jamie said, handing her daughter to her sister. Then she took Martin's arm. "You're going to sit with us, okay?" she asked softly.
"No, Jamie, it's okay."
"Marty, you belong with us," she pressed, her grip on his arm tightening.
Martin nodded and allowed her to guide him into the church and over to where Kayla and Richard and Eva sat. Jamie's husband joined them as well. The agent sat when Richard patted the chair next to him. The older man looked devastated.
"I'm glad you're here," he said, his voice rough, but the sincerity was clear. "She would have wanted her 'son' here, you do know that, don't you?"
Again Martin only nodded, sure he wouldn't be able to get a single word out past the lump in his throat. He had grown up knowing and loving Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Roger. But Roger had died of a heart attack when Martin was twelve. Jamie had only been two at the time. Four years later, Bonnie remarried.
Richard had loved six-year-old Jamie, but sixteen-year-old Martin was another matter. Bonnie treated him like he was her son, but he wasn't her son, and Richard wasn't Roger in Martin's eyes.
It had taken several years, but Martin and Richard had finally reached a truce of sorts, their love for Bonnie making their discomfort with each other easier to bear.
And then a surprise: Kayla was born. Jamie had been ten at the time, and Martin twenty, but he'd made sure that he was a large part of the child's life.
Her birth had brought Martin and Richard closer, but a gulf had always remained. Now that gulf seemed to have shrunk to almost nothing, their shared pain bridging the last remnants of the gap.
The mourners fell silent as the Rector stepped up to the pulpit and opened the funeral service, the man's words washing over Martin without the agent actually hearing him. He was lost in a sea of his own memories.
When the mourners stood for a prayer, Martin blinked, his attention returning to the funeral, and those in attendance. He glanced around, wondering who most of the people there were, and realizing that many of them were probably the families and friends of the people Bonnie had helped to die. He still wasn't sure what he felt about that. As an FBI agent, he was supposed to uphold the law, but he knew Bonnie, and if she was doing something, it was because she believed in it, one-hundred and ten percent.
Having seen how Bonnie had suffered at the end, he could easily imagine someone in that kind of pain wanting to put an end to it. And he could understand how someone like Bonnie, whose heart was as big as they came, would want to help them. That was also why she had been growing marijuana in her hothouse.
Even as she lay dying, her thoughts had turned to others. Bonnie had begged him to make sure that no one but herself got into any trouble for the marijuana, or the mercy killings, and Martin had made certain that his official report did just that. He'd worried that Sam might not go along with it, but she'd simply read over the report and then signed it without comment.
He reached up, wiping a tear from the corner of his eye. It seemed impossible that he'd never see her again, never talk to her, hug her
He drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. To distract himself he glanced around at the other mourners. To his surprise, he saw Jack, Vivian, and Danny sitting with Sam at the back of the crowd. Danny noticed him first and, after crossing himself at the end of a prayer, offered him a sympathetic, supportive nod and smile.
Martin found himself responding in kind. Jack's response was almost identical to Danny's, and Vivian's delivered with watery eyes. He hadn't expected that from his teammates, but he thought now that maybe he should have. He nodded to them all, hoping it conveyed some of the gratitude he felt for their support. He needed, he knew, more than they might realize.
The door at the rear of the church opened, capturing his attention, and his gaze slipped away from his teammates to his mother and father. Shit.
Martin watched as Victor and his mother made their way inside, fashionably late, as usual. They found the only empty seats next to the other FBI agents. Victor and Jack exchanged a terse greeting, Malone's gaze remaining on the Rector. That won him a scowl from the AD and a softly exhaled snort from Martin. Jack and his father had an honest deeply held dislike for one another and that, he suspected was putting it rather mildly.
Victor glanced up, catching Martin's gaze and gesturing for his son to join him, but Martin felt Jamie's fingers close around his bicep again. She leaned in next to him and whispered, "Stay here, Marty. This is where you belong. Please?"
He turned to look at her, a little surprised by the anger in her eyes. "Jamie" he started in a whisper.
"Mom always thought of you as her son, Marty. You're her oldest child. You belong with us."
He smiled down at her, his eyes filling with tears, and he nodded. "I'm not going anywhere," he said, turning his attention to what the Rector was saying. He didn't glance back at his parents again until the service was over.
And, when it was, the Rector stepped over to Bonnie's family with a silver tray on which sat four small clay pots. "Jamie?" the man said, turning over the next part of the service to her.
The young woman took the tray and stood in front of her mother's family and friends. After a deep breath she turned slightly and spoke directly to her family. "Mom made these pots about two months ago. She had a feeling things weren't going to go well for her and she wanted to make them by hand before she got too weak."
She picked up one of the pots that had been painted green and covered with red and pink hearts, and handed it to Richard. "She said she thought it was a little silly, but that whenever she thought about you, all she could come up with were hearts," she told him. "She loved you so much "
Richard nodded, accepting the small pot that contained a quarter of his wife's ashes. Tears streamed down his face.
Jamie looked at Martin next. "This one is yours, Marty," she said, handing him the one that was painted blue and had a series of runes on it. "Mom said the color reminded her of your eyes," Jamie explained. "And the runes are all the things she associated with you strength, honor, love I have a note that explains it all for you."
Martin took the clay pot, his own tears dangerously close to spilling.
"This one is mine," Jamie said, picking up a yellow one that had been decorated with kittens, flowers, and bumblebees. She handed it to her husband to hold, Eva immediately reaching out to touch it. "She wanted to show me how much we shared in common, how close we were " Her voice caught and she had to stop for a moment. "Sorry," she apologized to everyone as she squared her shoulders.
Jamie handed the last pot to Kayla. It was painted white and had angels, dogs and tiny microscopes on it. Around the top were beautiful swirls of purple and blue color. "Kayla, you know she always thought you were her own personal miracle, a gift from God. And she loved the fact that you want to be a veterinarian, but the swirls at the top are supposed to represent all the hopes and dreams that are still unformed in your life. She wanted you to know that, even if she can't be here with you, she'll always be with you in spirit, all of your life."
The teenager took the clay pot, sniffing as she did. "I know that," she said.
Jamie paused to take a deep breath and wipe away her own tears. "Mom wanted each of us to take a portion of her ashes and scatter them someplace that means something special to us. She said she didn't want to be trapped in the ground that she'd felt trapped by her cancer for long enough already. This way she can ride the wind or the water, or embrace the earth. She wanted her body to be as free as her spirit is now. And even though I know she's free in heaven now, I'm really, really going to miss her." And with that the young woman sat down and began to weep.
Martin slipped his arm around her back and pulled her to him, letting her cry softly against his shoulder.
The Rector took over again, bringing the service to an end, and telling everyone present that Bonnie had asked him, on his last visit to see her, to ask them if they would all make themselves a promise: to love as well as they could, for as long as they could.
The service completed, the mourners rose and filed out past the family, everyone expressing their love and gratitude for a life that had truly been blessed to have Bonnie a part of it.
Jack, Sam, Danny and Vivian came at the end.
"She was an amazing woman," Sam said. "I wish I could have known her better."
"Thank you for all your help, Samantha," Jamie said, reaching out to take Sam's hands. "Have you called your mom?"
The agent's cheeks colored slightly. "No, not yet, but I think I'm going to fix that today."
"Good," Jamie said, smiling at her. "I know that would make Mom happy."
"I'm very sorry for your loss," Vivian said to them, but her gaze was on Martin.
"Thanks," he said, accepting a hug from the woman, which surprised him. And when they parted he realized that he felt a sense of peace. The differences between them had been laid to rest.
"Need a lift home?" Danny asked him.
"Uh, no, I'm going over to the house for a while," he said. "But I appreciate it."
Taylor nodded his understanding. "I'll be around tomorrow," he added, not needing to add, "If you need anything."
"Appreciate that, too," Martin replied.
Jack shook Richard's hand. "I'm very sorry for your loss." With Martin he reached out and gave the younger agent's arm a supportive squeeze. "If you want some time ?"
Martin shook his head, but then reconsidered. "Yeah, maybe a couple"
"Take three," Jack said before he could finish. "Call, if you need anything."
His blue eyes rounded slightly with surprise, but he was grateful. "Thanks," he said.
Jack nodded and then he and the others left Martin with his family.
Victor stepped up. "Martin," he greeted a little stiffly, then he looked at Bonnie's family. "Richard, Jamie, Kayla she's in a better place."
Jamie huffed out a breath, but Richard said, "Thank you, Victor," before she could say anything.
Victor's gaze shifted to the clay pots. He chuckled softly. "Bonnie always was a unique individual."
"Yes, she was," Jamie snapped. Then she turned to Martin and said, "You can ride with us, Marty."
Victor frowned. "Martin?"
"I'm going over to the house," he told his father. "Some of Bonnie's friends are making a meal for us."
The frown deepened. "But your mother and I are only here for a few hours. We thought we might go out to eat before we have to head back to the airport."
"Sorry," Martin said, knowing he couldn't handle putting up with his parents' usual games tonight. He glanced over at his mother, who was talking to the Rector. "You and mother have a good flight." And with that he let Jamie lead him away.
Victor watched his son go, a mixture of anger and sadness on his face.
The following morning
Dressed in a casual jogging suit, Martin stepped out of his uptown condo and started for the Park, stopping when he saw who was waiting for him.
"Danny?" he said. "What are you doing here?"
Taylor pushed away from the building, his expression uncharacteristically serious. "I just thought you might want some company," he said, then nodded to the object Martin was carrying.
His gaze dropping to the small clay pot in his hands, Martin said, "Danny "
"Hey, if you'd rather do this alone, I understand. Really. I just wanted to give you the option," the man said. "I I wish I'd been there for you, when your aunt went missing."
Martin looked back up, meeting Danny's eyes and holding his gaze. The man meant every word he'd said. He smiled, his eyes filling slightly. What had he done to end up with friends like this? Then he nodded and said, "Yeah, I'd like that. Thanks."
"No problem, m'man," Danny replied, a bright smile flashing across his face. He was dressed in sweatpants and an FBI T-shirt.
The pair set out for the park, jogging slowly. Martin led the way, taking Danny to a spot off the beaten path that he'd never seen before. It was beautiful, though, secluded and quiet, except for the birds.
Martin stopped and stood there, drinking in the beauty. After several moments had passed he said softly, "I remember the first time Bonnie brought me here She told me it was her 'special place' She'd found it when she was a self-described 'flower child,' in the late 60s She and a friend used to come here to share Well, it was a different time."
Danny nodded, a grin on his face. "Besides, she probably didn't inhale."
Martin laughed. "Oh, yes, she did," he said, then sighed and shook his head. "I still can't figure out how my grandparents ended up with two kids so polar opposite."
"Bet they couldn't either."
"No. No, they never did," Martin said sadly.
"Why did she bring you here?" Danny asked when they drifted into silence again, Martin's chin beginning to quiver. "That first time, I mean."
"Um, she, uh " He took a deep breath and collected himself. "She brought me here the first time to tell me that she was pregnant, with Jamie."
"How old were you?"
"Eleven," Martin said. "And I can tell you, I wasn't excited about the prospect of sharing her I guess she knew I was going to That I'd be scared, about what a child of her own would mean to the relationship we shared." He walked forward, stopping next to a large boulder that was ringed by flowers. Reaching out, he ran his hand over the smooth surface of the rock, remembering that moment as if it had happened yesterday.
Danny sank down to sit cross-legged in the grass to wait and to listen.
Martin set the clay pot down on the big rock and turned, leaning back against it so he could see Danny as he continued. "She called me the 'son of her heart.' And she was like a mother to me She was my 'mom.' She brought me here to prove to me that she was willing to share all of her secrets with me. She promised me she'd never brought Roger here, and that she'd never bring her child here, that it would always be our special place "
"Cool lady," Danny said, watching the blue eyes fill with tears.
"Yeah," Martin agreed in a whisper. "We came here a lot, just the two of us, to talk She told me about Uncle Roger's death here that she was going to marry Richard and that she was pregnant again, with Kayla And that she had cancer, and that she knew she was going to die from it." He looked down, his hand coming up to wipe away the first tears that touched his cheeks. Then he looked up at Danny again. "And I told her my secrets here, too That I wanted to be an FBI agent, that I wasn't going to marry Allyson Hyatt just because my parents wanted me to that I was taking a position with the Missing Persons Unit, even though I knew Jack and my father couldn't stand the sight of each other."
"And other, more interesting stuff, too, I hope," Danny said.
Martin smiled shakily, grateful for the man's humor. "Oh yeah, and lots of other more interesting stuff, too. She really loved this spot "
Danny watched as Martin turned around and climbed up to stand on the boulder. Then he reached down and picked up the pot, carefully removing the top and sliding it into his pocket. He looked around at the small clearing once more, then looked at Danny and asked, "Come help me?"
Taylor rose and walked over, a little uncertain about what Martin wanted him to do.
"Here," Martin said, handing Danny the pot. "Pour it into my hands."
Danny took the small container and carefully poured the ashes into his friend's hands. When he was through, he took a step back to watch.
Martin looked down at the ashes, then out at the beauty surrounding them. "I love you, Bonnie," he said. "Always Mom."
And with that he threw the ashes high into the air. The breeze caught them, blowing some into the trees, others raining down on grass and flowers. And through it all, the birds continued to sing.
Martin stood on the boulder, watching until the last traces of ash disappeared from the air, then he climbed down and sat on the stone, the sobs he'd been holding back since Bonnie had died finally breaking free.
Danny stepped up in front of him, wrapping his arms around him and silently holding him as he grieved.
Author's Note: This story first appeared in the Without a Trace zine, Vanished #2, published by Neon RainBow Press, Cinda Gillilan and Jody Norman, editors. When we all decided to post the stories that have appeared in the issues of WaT zines that are more than two years old, we opted to use a generic pen name because, while Dani Martin is the primary author of this story, she had so much help from the other folks writing for the press that it just made sense to consider the story to be written by the Neon RainBow Press Collective! Resistance was futile. So, thanks to the whole Neon Gang Dori Adams, Sierra Chaves, Dana Ely, Michelle Fortado, Patricia Grace, Deyna Greywolf, Erica Michaels, Nina Talbot, Kasey Tucker, Rebecca Wright, and Lorin and Mary Fallon Zane. Story lasted edited 11-30-2006. Art by Shiloh (firstname.lastname@example.org)