To Be Resolute

Ezra looked up as his mother stepped into the room. She hated hospitals. She hated being around the sick or infirmed. He knew that and understood it. That was the reason she hadn’t visited him since he’d been admitted. What he didn’t understand was that she’d come now.

“Mother?” he said, tilting his head to one side.

She looked uncertain, which was strange to Ezra – as strange as her very presence. “Chris… said you might appreciate a visit,” she said, shifted uncomfortably.

“Well, yes,” Ezra said, dropping his gaze. In a softer voice, he added, “I never expected one, but… I do appreciate that you’ve come.” He looked up at her through his lashes. “Why don’t you take a seat?”

Maeve sat down on the edge of the bed, just a bit stiffly. She fussed with the edge of Ezra’s blanket and then looked at him. “I should have come sooner,” she said, shaking her head.

He caught her hand and smiled when she blinked at him in surprise. He shrugged. “You taught me to be self-reliant, Mother. I… I honestly didn’t expect to see you until they released me.”

“I… wasn’t certain they were going to release you,” Maeve murmured.

Ezra closed his eyes and then nodded once. Opening his eyes once more, he said, “I’m recovering faster than they thought possible. I’m – I’m determined to get better.”

A smile touched Maeve’s lips and she leaned in to kiss him on the cheek. “You’re so strong, my dear,” she said, as she sat back. “Where did you learn that?”

“You,” Ezra said. It was a simple and straightforward answer. It was also the truth. From the time he was little, his mother had pushed him to always work towards his goal – to not show any signs of weakness. She’d also taught him by her own example. Nothing ever got her down for long.

However, hearing that single word got through to her more than any of the times Ezra had told her how he cared for her. Before Ezra realized what was happening, his mother was hugging him tightly and crying softly.

Ezra let her cry herself out. Then, he eased her back and looked into her eyes, which were still shining with moisture. “Thank you, Mother,” he said, his own voice thick with emotion. “For everything.”

Secrets

“Whatever is the matter, darling?” Maeve asked, tilting her head to one side.

Connor bit his lip. How could he ask her without giving away what he already knew? He swallowed and then said, “I stopped by earlier and… you weren’t here.”

“I was having lunch with a friend,” Maeve said, shrugging.

Frowning, Connor said, “What sort of friend?”

Maeve took the question exactly how he’d hoped she would. She assumed he was jealous because she might be stepping out on his late father. She chuckled softly and patted his hand. “Don’t you worry, honey,” she said. “He’s recently lost his wife and we met at group for people who’ve lost loved ones. We’re just friends. Neither of us is ready for anything more than that.”

A faint smile touched Connor’s lips. “So, you just… meet up because you’ve forged a friendship over your… shared grief?”

“Well, of course,” Maeve said. She chuckled. “I don’t even know what he does for a living.” She shook her head, still chuckling, even as a wave of relief washed through Connor.

Watching you like a hawk in the sky

Connor sat on the rooftop and stared downward at his mother. His brows were furrowed. He had seen her with his target several times and had watched them closely. However, in spite of that scrutiny, he still didn’t know what they were up to. Why was she spending time with a criminal?

Sighing, he shook his head. He drew out his cellular and called Ezra. “Why would our mother be having lunch with someone in the Underground?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” Ezra said, his voice soft. Concern tinged his tone. After a moment, he added, “You’re watching her?”

“I’m watching him,” Connor said, shaking his head. He sighed again. “What’s she playing at, Ezra?”

“Watch her and you may find out,” Ezra suggested. “Get one of your teammates to keep up surveillance on your target. You need to watch out mother.”

“Got it,” Connor said, nodding. He hung up and then sent a message to Chris. Someone needed to watch their target. He was going to tail the person the target had met with. He was a little surprised when Chris gave his permission for the action.

butterflies and hurricanes

Ezra felt a bit of trepidation as he stepped out in front of the press. He seldom felt nervous when addressing them now. He knew the butterflies in his stomach had far less to do with the press and far more to do with the fact that his mother still hadn’t called him.

Shaking his nervous tension away, he stepped up to the podium. He had just opened his mouth to speak when his cellular rang. His eyes widened. For a moment, he was torn. That ring tone was the one he used for his mother’s cellular! But the press…

“That’s my mother,” he said, his brows furrowing.

“Answer it,” Danny said, nodding. Several other members of the press corps nodded. A few echoed Danny’s words.

Ezra nodded and spun away. Yanking the cellular out of his jacket pocket, he flipped it open. “Mother?” he said, his voice strained.

“Hello, Ezra,” his mother said. From her tone, she might have been calling him from the hairdresser’s, rather than a place that had been struck by record setting rainfall, high winds and flood.

He chuckled softly as all the tension slipped away. “You all right?” he said. He was now keenly aware that several members of the television press were filming him. He didn’t care.

“I’m fine, Darling,” she said. Sounding just a bit annoyed, she added, “The house is a wreck and I’m at a shelter with about a hundred other people, but I’m fine. My cell was absolutely soaked! It’s finally all dried out and charged up. That’s why I called. I’m sure you and Connor were worried.”

Ezra nodded. “We were,” he said. Tears filled his eyes and he shook his head. How could he be smiling so much that his face hurt and still be crying? “Thank you for calling, Mum,” he said. “I’ve got a room full of press here…”

“I’ll let you get back to work, Darling,” Maeve said, chuckling. “I love you.”

Blinking, Ezra nodded. “Love you too,” he breathed. His mother almost never said those words to him. It was a testament to just how bad things were in South Cove if she were going to say that. He closed the cellular and tucked it away again.

Sighing, he said, “Now, then… morning announcements…” He brushed away his tears and then ruffled through his papers, struggling to refocus on the task at hand. He was still smiling, though. His mother was safe and well. That, to him personally, was all that mattered.

Eats, shoots and leaves

Connor leaned against the wall of the little shop. He was still following the same target – still gathering intelligence on his actions and associates. He munched on a corndog as he watched his mark settle down at an outside table in the cafe.

He tossed away the empty stick as a car pulled up. His mother stepped out onto the sidewalk and smiled at Connor’s target. She stepped over and leaned in to let him kiss her, unaware that Connor was getting pictures of the exchange.

As Maeve sat down, Connor spotted Harmony standing on the other side of the square. He nodded once to her and then slipped around the side of the building. He’d let her see if she could figure out why his mother was there. For now, he had to go back to the office and file a report on the photographs and information he’d gathered so far.

Silent Uprising

Allen watched the news with keen interest. Connor and Finian were sitting on the floor, playing. He’d done this for them. He knew that change would come too late to prevent them from losing Connor. However, he hoped that the change would open up opportunities for both of his sons that they might not have in the world they currently called home.

Maeve came in and sat beside him on the bed. “This your doing?” she asked, nodding at the news story. All over the city, quiet resistance was stirring. One by one, people were refusing to bow to the oppression under which they’d all lived for so long.

Giving her a wan smile, Allen shrugged. “Not mine alone,” he said. “I only played a small part, Maeve.”

Frowning, Maeve shook her head. “You need to take better care of yourself, Allen,” she said. “Your condition is so delicate right now.”

“I need to help anyway I can,” Allen countered shaking his head. He sighed and shook his head. “I’m trying to make a better world for our boys, Maeve.”

“What use is a better world if they lose their father in the process?” Maeve said. Then, she shook her head and headed back out of the room.

Allen looked down at Finian and Connor. Connor was sucking his thumb and Finian was scowling at them. “People who love each other can still disagree,” he said. “It doesn’t change the way they feel towards each other.”

Finian nodded and went back to his game. Connor stared a moment longer before doing the same.

Two solitudes that meet

Connor stood on the street corner, watching his mark. He was surprised when he saw a familiar face. The woman stepped over to his mark, kissed him on the cheek, then sat down at the table with him.

Frowning, Connor zoomed his camera in a little closer and snapped a picture. “Subject met with Maeve Sweetin at approximately 1900 hours,” he recorded, his voice soft. His brows furrowed. What was his mother doing here? Did his mother realize this man was the target of an Agency investigation. Was it possible that the widower and the widow just met to give each other company? He hoped it was the latter.

Telling Tales

Ezra’s brows twitched as he listened to the story his mother was telling about his childhood. It wasn’t a complete falsehood. Some of those things had, indeed, happened. However, his mother made it seem as if she’d not only been there, she’d played an active role.

“What’s wrong?” Morgan whispered.

“Mother… tends to embellish stories,” he murmured, shaking his head.

Nodding, Morgan said, “People do it all the time: exaggerate how exciting something was, add things they wish had happened or that they considered saying.”

A faint smirk touched Ezra’s lips and he nodded. “I don’t,” he said. If anything, he tended to downplay the role he played in certain events of the past and gloss over the details. He looked thoughtful for a moment, then he said, “I think it’s because Mother adds things to fit how she wished the past was and I leave things out to hide things I wish had never happened.”

“Is it really that much different?” Morgan asked. “Both of you tells your own version of the past, rather than what ‘really’ happened.”

“I guess not,” Ezra said, his voice faint.

What shall I say from a heart that loves you?

When Ezra left his home and settled in Lyroron, he’d never expected to see his mother again. Now, here he was, standing on her doorstep. He hesitated for a moment as he realized that he had no idea what to say. Then, he closed his eyes and took a deep breath. It would come to him. He opened them, just as the door opened.

His mother stood there, just as he’d remembered her. Her blue eyes widened in shock. For a moment, they simply stared at each other.

“Hello, Mother,” Ezra said, his voice faint.

Tears welled in her eyes and she let out a shuddering breath. “Fin,” she said. Then, she threw her arms around his shoulder and hugged him close.

Ezra felt tears sting his own eyes. It was, he thought, the first honest hug she’d given him since his father died. He realized, for the moment at least, there was nothing that had to be said.

Breathe Again

Maeve stared at the gallery’s front facade. She could only watch, stunned, as the workmen eased the sign down. Other workmen were carrying the packed up painting and stowing them in a truck.

Shaking herself, Maeve looked down at the letter she was clutching in her hands. Her love was… stifling? Tears welled in her eyes. Ezra – her darling little boy – had grown up and he’d done the very thing she’d feared he would do – although not in the way she’d ever thought.

She’d held onto him so tightly that… he’d slipped through her fingers. She let out an explosive sigh. She needed to find him and tell him how she felt. She had to go on without Allen. She had to go on without Connor. She couldn’t go on without Ezra.

He was out there, somewhere. She would find him. She had no idea what she would do then, only that she couldn’t breathe without him. Once she found him, she could breathe again. Once she saw Ezra again, she could live.

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