957: The End of the Story

by Michael Blakeney and Gem Lassiter

…continued from Trapped…


Gem could only bear to let her eyes hold his for an instant, before she was once again forced to look away. She was struggling with the last of her remaining determination not to give herself away; and she struggled for every second of composure so strenuously that she was certain the effort was erasing years from her future lifetime.

She heard a noise, and she glanced up. The man across the room now had her duffel bag in his hands, and he'd taken something out of it.

He held the book in his hands, and he glanced down at the title, then back at her, then down at the book again. His eyes met hers again at last, and he couldn't believe what he was seeing- a sight he'd never seen before.

She had tears in her eyes.

"Maybe you need to think a bit over what ya've done." The man yelling at Gem said, getting more frustrated by the second that she wouldn't offer him any explanation, or justification for her actions even if neither could truly exist. "I need to get some air. Don't let 'er outta yer sight."

The angry man stormed from the room, and after the door closed behind him, the man who remained stepped toward her.

His blue eyes were shining too. With tears of disbelief, of sadness, and regret that he could not help her now, and he knew it.


"So, that's how it works, basically." Michael said to emphasize the fact that he was done and to try to snap her back from watching him so intently as she was.

The air in here was getting thicker by the moment. The last light of the final lantern threatened to desert them at any moment, leaving them in deep, entombing darkness.

Before they lost the very last of that light, there was something she still desperately needed to know and she couldn’t hold back.

"Please." She asked again, making no attempt to hide her desperation. "Tell me your name."

"I's so important to you?" He asked in disbelief. He couldn't understand why, if this was to be among her last moments alive, that insignificant detail meant so much when surely she knew that with decades of experience ahead of hers he could tell her so much more.

"It is." She insisted as she reached out and took hold of his hand, and he startled.

Quickly, and instinctively he withdrew it; leaving her face reddened. She could only hope that in the faint, forgiving light that he didn't realize this reaction. "In your own voice, I want to hear you say in your own words who you are. I..." she looked at him sincerely. "I need to know."

"Wouldn't you rather know how I came to choose the name of Blakeney to use undercover?" He asked, finally allowing his false accent to fade, and then disappear entirely, offering her a little truth in absence of the whole. "'Tis a much more interestin' tale ta tell."

"I doubt that any fiction could be more interesting than the reality of you." Gem whispered, with complete sincerity.

Now he was the one with color rising to his face. He’d heard such words many times before but never spoken with such honest faith in his character and never from one whose opinion so mattered. He continued on without responding to her observation.

"Blakeney, i's the last name of the hero in my favorite book." He explained.

"Oh?" She asked, accepting this information only because she hoped that it would lead him to that she really wished to know.

"Sir Percival Blakeney, Baronet." He said, again employing the British inflections for effect. "Otherwise known as The Scarlet Pimpernel in Baroness Orczy's famous tale. Ever heard of it?"


"Well, our man Percy, he..." he stopped as he found himself shifting toward her, he questioned the wisdom in this decision before he decided to do it anyway, which was one of the wisest things he had ever done.

Time now was really running out, and he couldn't stop himself from trying to offer her whatever comfort he could even if by something as simple as putting his arm around her shoulders. Gem sighed as he did, a sigh that meant so much.

The last of the dying lantern surrendered to defeat, and suddenly, it was completely dark, though in this moment she still saw him better than she had any man before.

She closed her eyes now, and rested her head against him as he tightened his grip upon her to reassure her that she wasn't alone. "...he allowed himself to be thought a boring, fashion-obsessed idiot by all who knew him in order to hide his true mission, which was to save members of the French aristocracy from the guillotine during the Revolution."

Gem offered no response but it was clear she was listening. Suddenly, a picture was coming together in her mind, of the man who'd appeared so perfectly dressed and seemingly clueless on the scene at the Embassy ball; attempting to charm her to get what he wanted and allowing her to think him shallow and chauvinistic when it served his purposes.

Only a truly brilliant man can so convincingly play the part of a fool, she thought. The man who held her now was definitely the former, not the latter.

"Did he succeed?" she asked when at last the picture was complete in every detail.

"In saving the heir to the throne of France before he was exposed for who he truly was and then had to return to England and stay there." He answered, enjoying the telling of the tale and especially so given who he got to tell it to. "I guess since the monarchy was never restored in France, even though Percy was only a fictional man, you'd have to consider him a failure. He won the battle but lost the war."

In this moment Michael felt very much like he imagined that man truly known as Blakeney might have, when he realized at last that the Revolution had come and gone and that the past was a time that would never come again.

"You didn't fail." Gem objected now, reaching out toward the sound of his voice. Her hand brushed against his rough cheek. "The compass is dark. You succeeded. It's my fault that we're in this mess and no one will know the truth. You saved me several times over and I," she sounded as ashamed as she felt. "I fought you at every turn. I'm sorry..." she paused, having been about to say 'Michael' but then she realizing that he'd never actually told her his real name. "I'm sorry."

Michael shuddered, realizing so many things in this moment that he wished he'd have time to say. He had wasted that time, and as he heard her breath becoming short and raspy as his own as they began to feel the effects of hypoxia, he regretted that wholeheartedly.

"Gemini," he drew back from her, slightly, and even just the smallest amount of distance now felt to Gem as if it were a chasm too great and broad to be traversable.

"Your name." She asked again. "That's all I want. And at this point," she managed a small laugh, "I don't think that's a hell of a lot to ask, do you?"


Gem turned toward the man still in the room, and her eyes were so far away, so devoid of all life, that the sensation of looking into them sent a shiver up his spine. Finally he could stand it no more, and he was the one who broke their gaze, looking away before at last she spoke.

"Have you ever...of course you have." She stopped, reprimanding herself for the thought. Her self-correction turned violently inward and resurfaced a moment later as anger.

It was something more than anger that she had in her eyes though, when Keiran O'Sullivan looked back up at her. So much more than that.

He couldn't affix a name to it, not that he’d want a name to make it easier to recall such a thing, but still he kept trying as she sighed with disgust, folded her arms and then turned back toward the window.

"Of course you have. That's why that ring on your hand means so much to you." She took a step closer to the glass until she was nearly pressed up against it. "Why you wouldn't stop wearing it. Well, some of us don't have those kinds of keepsakes when we lose at this, Keiran. Some of us have to remember any way we can."

"Lose?" Keiran asked, unsure if he should as he continued waging an inward battle with himself. He already knew the answers here, or most of them, he was certain of that. He'd been certain of it since he'd spoken with Gem on the Sera before he and Liis had left. He only wondered now how the final pieces fit together. He certainly didn't want to risk making any assumptions; he decided had to hear it from her. "At what, exactly?"

"At..." she paused, barely able to say the word as it was word she'd rarely spoken aloud in her life. "Loving someone."

She turned toward him now, very slowly. Her eyes were at first fixed on the floor. Then they followed an invisible path along the carpeting. Her eyes traced that path, then rose to the door, and then finally, traveled across the wall and back to Keiran O'Sullivan.

"At wanting them so much but not being able to hold onto them. Failing to find a way to keep them with you." She took a step and sank slowly to the couch, unable to keep her knees beneath her any longer at the thought that he was, even at this moment, so close to her yet he still had no clue. No memory of what had been between them.

Again, her eyes moved to the door, then she forced them back to O'Sullivan.

"We aren't all as lucky as you are, Keiran. Sometimes, what Time takes from us, it keeps."

Gem's words were clearly bitter now, as was only fitting from the taste as she spoke them. Keiran showed no reaction to her tone, rather he just sat down beside her and listened patiently as she continued on, accepting her words however she could say them.

"Sometimes, Time shows just how cruel it can be. It vindictively holds that person so close to you that you can clearly see them, just beyond your reach. And every time you do, no matter how many years pass, no matter what happens in your life for good or bad, you never get beyond..."

Gem shuddered and the words stopped dead, her eyes and thoughts falling far off in the distance.

Keiran waited for more than just a few seconds in silence for her to go on but when she did not, gently he finally pressed her to. "You never get beyond..."

Gem was brought back to the here and now and resumed as if there’d been no interruption. "...beyond knowing exactly what it is that you're going without."

Her hands trembled as she wrung them strenuously. "Every goddamned day of your life, you see them, just beyond your grasp. And you know." Gem's voice actually wavered, but she did not stop this time to try to steady it. He already knew too much, he wouldn't be fooled if she tried.

"You and Liis got your chance for happiness here, in this time. And I truly am glad about that." She said honestly, unable to begrudge him his happiness, because a man as good as O'Sullivan truly deserved it. But by god, she couldn’t pretend she didn’t envy him for it. "Some of us will never get that chance."

She heaved a heavy breath inward, but held on to it instead of releasing it, as if that breath was all that was holding her up as it honestly felt like it was. "Thirty-two years, Keiran. Thirty-two years." She dropped her head into her hands, and Keiran's mind began to spin faster and faster.

Suddenly, everything clicked into place in his mind. He looked around the room, quickly, and he assembled the pieces of that puzzle into a picture so devastating that it was something he wished he’d never seen.

"My God," he stammered, "Gem..."

Gem looked at the book he still held in his hands, and then took it from him. "The man I knew as Michael chose his undercover surname to pay homage to the hero in this book." She whispered and Keiran’s heart sank.

Once again he read the cover and now there could be nothing even as forgiving as doubt.

He knew that book, and he knew only one man that had ever had that great an interest in this particular story.

His eyes burned as he glanced over to the bookshelf across the room and faintly made out the spine of a book with the identical title.

The Scarlet Pimpernel.

"God, no, Gem,"

"Yes." Gem Lassiter finally did the one thing that Keiran O'Sullivan had never seen her do, in all the years he'd known her. She openly and completely surrendered the pride she held so fiercely to, and wept.

Tears rained down her face as she put the book down on the table before them. She made no attempt to conceal her emotions now; instead she cast her eyes over toward the engraved name plate that sat on the desk across from them. It bore the title Director of Temporal Investigations, and above it, a name.

"Our Father, who art in Heaven," Keiran prayed softly, closing his eyes in denial of her words as she insisted on speaking the truth aloud for the very first time.

"It's the truth, Keiran. It's my truth." She inhaled again, and forced the words out as searing pain in her heart was overtaken by the sort of numbness that allows one to accept almost anything, even the imminence of death. "Nicholas' father was not Jonas Vox."


Though feeling so safe in each other’s arms, they’d not been safe there from time. It had so very quickly deserted them now as all that had been left in their lives had ticked away to nothing.

Her breaths had slowed to a stop at several points, and then restarted with a shuddering cough that was her body's last attempt to draw in the oxygen it so desperately needed.

"What is," she said, thinking that even if it was to be the last sound she ever heard, she wanted to hear him say this one thing, still. "What is your name?"

"My name, Gem," he replied slowly, but only after placing a soft and loving kiss on the top of her head. "Is William. “

He waited a moment to see if that was enough to satisfy her curiosity, and quickly found it was not as her fading eyes urged him to make full disclosure. If he’d had the strength left with which to do it, he’d have laughed at himself for ever thinking it would. “William Torquil Lindsay.”

In that moment it was if Gem’s entire world had changed. She was sure that, however long and short it was, she’d remember that name for the rest of her life.

Though he’d learned nothing new, in release of that one last secret, he felt the difference just as well. Though at first it was in their hearts and in their minds alone, the change seemed soon to have spread to the real world; completely transforming what they had both considered its permanent, inalterable landscape into a sight neither had ever before seen.

The silence that had existed there outside of their own words was muted, suddenly replaced as the beeping and chirping between the transponder and his compass increased. He thought he must be hallucinating, it couldn't be true. It couldn't be possible that somehow, the signal had gotten through...could it?

He reached out, swept both devices into his hand, and then wrapped his arms around her again even more tightly. Her head lolled against his shoulder, and he was uncertain that she was even still conscious. Fear raced through him, and he shook her strongly enough that it should have woken her but softly enough to cause her no pain.

"Hold on, Gem," he whispered, "Just a little longer. Hold on."


When Gem’s eyes opened next she was no longer in that mine; she was back in another place she recognized, and they were both very much alive.

She didn't remember exactly when she'd regained consciousness, but from the second that she did, all that had happened to them in the deserted underground prison seemed almost as hard to believe as any nightmare she'd ever had. Then, he was an unbelievable man.

When she looked up, she saw that he was sitting on the edge of the bed beside her, just staring at her with a look halfway between longing and concern.

She glanced quickly aside, surveying her surroundings though reluctant to take her eyes from his face. She found there were several hyposprays strewn around her and an opened med-kit on the floor. Clearly, the man had been busy looking after her.

“How long?” She asked, wondering how much time she’d unwillingly surrendered to unconsciousness that could never be regained to spend with him.

“Not long.” He answered, his smile becoming warmer as he was reassured of her physical health by the sound of her voice. “An hour at most.”

"Michael..." she said softly, her head aching as it reeled. "No, wait." A rare, slow and satisfied smile played out across her lips as she quickly recalled and spoke, his real name. "William."

"Aye, so ya do remember that part?" He fully grinned at her now, overcome with relief, and unable to stop himself from taking hold of her hand. He also couldn't stop himself from placing a soft, lingering kiss upon it; he had no such power of will. "I'm so glad that you're still…" he stopped without finishing, but she knew perfectly well that he meant 'still here to remember'.

She sat up, the strength suddenly returning to her as she realized that there was so much more that she wanted to know about him.

A single question formed on her lips, rising above the hundreds of less important ones fighting for the chance to be heard. “How long do we have left?”

He hesitated to answer, wishing that the truth could be anything different. “No more than a few hours. If I stay any longer than that,” he looked at her, for the first time in his life regretting that he wouldn’t have the chance to let someone learn more about him than they already knew. “I have to go back.”

“I know that.” She answered quickly, almost angrily, though her anger was in no way directed at him. “I know.” She repeated much more tenderly.

“Knowing and accepting are two entirely different things.” He thought aloud, not having intended on actually saying the words. He saw the expression in her eyes change, and added, “aren’t they?”

Instantly and without warning her arms raced out toward him, coming together around him and pulling him nearer. Without any time to think about tempering his reaction, there was nothing he could do but return her embrace.

Fiercely they held on to each other, knowing that the moment they let go, all that they’d found in the world worth holding on to would be lost.

He firmly grasped hold of her, his hand behind her head as he finally quit fighting what he wanted and kissed her, only once.

Just as suddenly as he’d done it, he pulled away.

His hand moved upward, softly caressing her face as he stared through her. Her eyes begged him to kiss her again as no words could, as all at once she realized that while the reality of what she was beneath may have been clearly evident to him all along, for the first time, she was looking at who he really was as well.

He gently tugged her hands free of their clutching grip on his arms and stood up, walking several steps away. He sighed, with frustration and an unfamiliar sadness.

Her eyes were at once grateful and pleading, so sure was she of what she wanted, but so unsure that History would ever allow it without demanding far too high a price.

He could stand her stare no longer; finally he was forced to turn away.

She rose and approached him where he stood, leaning an arm against the wall in an attempt to gather strength he doubted he had. She wrapped her arms around him from behind, holding on tightly and refusing to let go. Moments ticked by, and at last she asked him, in a ragged whisper, to turn around. It took a long time for him to do as she requested.

"Gem," he breathed, with a tremor in his voice that surprised her. The bravado was gone, the cocky over-confidence, shaken. He looked, at the moment, as if he was uncertain of what he should do as well.

He was struggling with the implications, with the possible damage that could result from any and all courses of action he could take from this point.

It was something that he, to the best of his memory, could never remember having done before, and he hated the way it felt.

"Don't say it." She closed her eyes as she leaned one hand against the wall, trying to stop the room from shaking around her. "Please. Don't say anything. It's only."

Her eyes settled upon him again, and seeing the passion written clearly on his face, she came to a certain and unalterable conclusion.

For the first time in her life, she knew exactly what she was feeling, the moment she was feeling it.

She'd never experienced these emotions before and so at first she'd had no chance to understand what they meant. As her hands shook and her heart raced to the unimaginable speed of the blood rushing through her veins, there could be no question now. For the first time in her life, she had fallen in love.

Her expression told of all the things there were no words for, but still he hesitated.

She didn't presume to believe, knowing him as she did, that he truly returned her affection in kind. But she did know the gleam in his eye. It was the same one that he'd had the first time his stare met hers, and it told her clearly that if nothing else, he desired her.

Wanting him as she did-- another feeling she had never experienced, wanting anyone this much-- meant that was enough. Her hands sought out his and she tried to lead him forward. He remained where he was, still resisting for her sake though it was getting more difficult by the moment to continue.

She stopped moving and he began again. His hand elevated and moved back to her in halting, incremental motions. Finally, his fingers were tracing the outline of her jaw and he leaned closer, his rough cheek against her soft, warm skin.

"Gem, if we...do this," he whispered, "You might regret it tomorrow."

She was completely powerless; the feeling of his touch so unlike anything she'd ever imagined that she could not accept the voice of reason in her head that kept screaming at her that this was insanity, and that she should turn around and run the other way. She just couldn't will herself to find the strength to move, or the strength to let him go.

"Gemini?" His hand slid down over her neck and came to rest on her shoulder. He gently shook her once in an attempt to bring her back from wherever it was she had retreated to.

"If we don't," she answered finally, her voice even and resolute despite the fact she stood there trembling before him, "I'll regret it for the rest of my life."

He leaned his forehead against hers, drawing her closer while still fighting the overwhelming desire to kiss her again. "I won't remember you. They...they won't allow it."

She took his face into her hands and stared intently into his eyes, into the depths she now saw there.

"I'll remember, William." She promised, as she gently closed her eyes against the tears spilling down her cheeks. "I'll remember for both of us."


Keiran was now the one holding his head in his hands. "Nicholas' father," he whispered in disbelief. "William?"

"Yes." Gem confessed softly. "And I loved..." Her eyes again traced the shadow of the steps that Will had taken moments before to leave the room. “I will always love him.”

Keiran didn't have long to try to grasp all that her words had truly meant, as the sound of the door opening startled them both. He had the presence of mind to take the book and shove it under the cushion of the couch so that Will wouldn't see it, but not to form a sentence to greet him.

"So, things have gotten a bit out of control here, wouldn't you agree?" Will said, as sternly as he could manage, as he folded his arms and sat down on the edge of his desk.

Gem's heart began to race. It didn't matter how many years of time passed for her or how he'd changed as he had, himself, grown older. He never stopped having the same effect upon her from the moment he entered a room.

"Yes. They have. So, what's to be done about it?" Keiran asked as he rose. He now had the book tucked under his massive arm, and managed to return it to Gem's bag, unnoticed, as Will continually stared at her.

"Well, I think that we start by sending darling Gem on a nice, long...vacation." Will decided. "Just a few weeks, to get her head together. And while that's taking place, repairs to the Sera will be completed, and then her Captain, her rightful Captain, will lead the crew as it has been on their next mission. Just as is meant to be."

Gem had no ability, no motivation and no reason to argue anymore. She saw a woman stripped to the bone as she tried to see herself in her mind. She knew that she was going to have to find, again, a way to redefine everything she knew to be true of herself before she was ever going to find a way forward.

"Any objections?" Lindsay asked, not expecting any form of protest from her now.

"Certainly none from me." Keiran said, clapping his hands once as if the matter would then be closed.

"Gem?" Will pressed, the matter not yet closed for him.

Weakly Gem shook her head to confirm she would not fight him on this. Deep inside, she knew that he and Keiran were entirely right. Whatever there was of the woman she once was which still remained was enough to tell her she had to accept it.

"Excellent." Will concluded with the smallest smile, picking up a PADD and beginning to type in orders rescinding the changes that Lassiter had made to the Sera's roster. "Just approve this, then, and we'll put all of this... unpleasantness...behind us."

He moved toward Gem, and Keiran watched as she raised her shaking hand toward the PADD and affixed her thumbprint to it.

"That's my girl." Will winked at her, and Keiran was unable to prevent himself from wincing. He not just thought but knew he could see, in her eyes, the instant when her heart broke all over again.

Gem accepted Will's hand as he offered it to help her rise, accepting any opportunity for his touch, and she moved to stand beside Keiran at the door.

"Next time we talk, Gemini my love, I trust it'll be about much more interesting topics." Will said lightly, feeling relieved that all of this was finally going to be over.

Gem's eyes did not move from him, as he again took her hand and lifted it. Keiran watched her struggle to maintain her composure as Will pressed his lips to it, and then flashed her his trademark, roguish grin. "Topics like how lovely you are, and how you can no longer stand to resist my charms."

Mutely Gem withdrew her hand, and then after a moment's hesitation, rushed out the door.

In that instant Keiran faced a saddening realization. While Gem's secret was certainly safe with him, it meant that there was now something between him and one of the best friends he'd ever had; knowledge that he must keep from him, for his own good and that of History itself.

He could never let Will learn from him a truth that he was never meant to learn at all.

"Always good to see you, Keiran." Will clapped a strong hand against O'Sullivan's back.

Though Keiran smiled and responded in the same way he always would have, deep on the inside he felt different; as if he was really seeing Will for the very first time.

"You too, William." Keiran said, softly acknowledging him once more before he hurried on his way. "You too."


Captain William Lindsay
Director, Temporal Investigations
(and the undercover TI agent formerly known as Michael Blakeney)


//// Gem Lassiter
Director, The Alchemy Project


NRPG: In September of 2008, I first wrote two NPC characters to add color to a few posts telling of the funeral of Keiran O’Sullivan.

Those two characters were Admiral Gem Lassiter, and Keiran's former Jump partner, Temporal Investigations agent William Lindsay.

Lindsay was a man who began as simply a vision in my head of a Scottish guy showing up at an Irishman’s funeral wearing a kilt to settle a bet, and spending the evening clutching a glass of whiskey and telling tales of O'Sullivan's exploits.

As it quickly became clear to me that Gem and Will had potential to be much more than just shadows, as early as October of last year I had the basic underlying idea for this story line.

Months after that, after some inspired joint-posting ventures, (such as this, and this, and these...and this , which set the standard in my mind for Will and Gem banter for the future) I asked the gentleman who writes the character of our chief engineer Rada Dengar if he’d be willing to take over writing Lindsay as he did it so much better than I ever did. He graciously honored my request and lots of great writing has happened since.

As the idea for the Zenith plot came to me, I wished that I could still use that crazy idea that I had from all that time ago, the one about the reason that Gem favored her son over her daughter, and what that had to do with Will Lindsay.

Now that the story's finally been told, I have to say thanks, M, (anyone who knows me knows I have a tendency to refer to my crew by first initial here on the site) for not only allowing me to write the plotline even though Will has been 'yours' for ages now but for helping me to make the story something that really turned out better than my best expectations.

In addition, what you've added to the intrigue of the story and now to TI lore about how the compasses actually work is nothing short of brilliant. It will be added to the site in the future, and you’ll receive proper credit for giving weight and clarity to a vague idea that I came up with one day more than a decade ago as nothing more than a fun piece of technology for Zanh Liis to play with.

Thanks, so much, M, for all your hard work on this amazing plot arc. In doing all this writing for Will in addition to all the posts for Rada, you've gone above and beyond the call of duty. ~ZL