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What Hope Gave Back - Chapter Seven

xxxx

Time seemed to stop as stood there, hugging, crying, each hardly able to believe that the other was really there, really alive. Everything else was unimportant for the moment – they were together again and there was no holding back the emotion. At some point Saint Walker was vaguely aware of Arkillo making a noise of disgust and flying off, but when that happened he couldn't say.

Right now, all his attention was on the daughter who'd been given back to him.

Peesh's sobs had quieted somewhat, though she still shook and hadn't yet made any attempt to speak. That was fine, he didn't trust his own voice either. His arms were still around her and his own eyes still wet. Whenever he thought he might be regaining control, he looked down, saw her there and the tears began again.

It was when she sagged weakly against him that he finally came to his senses. Suddenly, he realised that he was a father again and his child needed him. Wordlessly, he gently guided her into a sitting position, staying next to her the whole time. He doubted he could have moved away, even if he wanted to.

He waited a few moments, centring himself, finding his voice. What did you say to the child you'd given up for dead?

"Peesh, I..." He sighed. "I do not have the words to express how I feel."

There was a silence as she sat back just a little and, in a moment that might have been amusing in other circumstances, copied his breathing, his centring. "Me too." She looked up at him, eyes blinking. "You're here. Alive." Her gaze dropped as she fought tears again. "I never thought... I missed you so much."

"It's okay to cry," he reminded her, smiling gently. "I missed you too. Peesh... I hope you know that had I thought there was even the slightest chance you were alive... I would have come back for you."

The short, dry laugh that followed, shocked him.

"Of course I know that... It's not your fault. We... We're here now... That what matters, isn't it?"

"Of course it is," he replied with conviction. "I know only a little of what you have been through, but we will overcome it together."

She smiled faintly, but turned her head away. She wasn't ready to talk about it yet. She would, in time, but it wasn't anything she wanted to relive just now. Just the mention of it brought back memories of digging a hole in the dirt with her bare hands and pulling her mother's lifeless body into it. “Can we... Talk about other things first?" She picked anxiously at her fingernails, as though the dirt from that terrible day was still under them.

"Anything... Whatever you want. You must have questions." It hurt him to see her clearly holding back her experiences, but he knew not to push. The truth would come in time and with it, healing.

Peesh nodded. "So many questions... about what happened, where you've been.” She looked at him, feeling anxious despite the joy of having him back. One question had haunted her for years. “Daddy, where's Jatt?”

Bro'Dee drew in a sharp breath. He had forgotten, in his elation, that she wouldn't know.

"He's not here and... he'd be with you unless...” She paused, hearing his intake of breath and feeling him tense up beside her. “He's dead too, isn't he?"

"Yes," he answered softly. "He... passed a few days after we lost you and your mother.” Sometimes he wondered how even hope had got him through so many losses in so little time. “We... We'd been climbing for days. What little food and water we'd had was long gone. When he saw fruit, he ate it before I could stop him. He didn't... couldn't know it was poisonous." Even now, years later, he recalled the moment vividly. He couldn't bring himself to go into any more detail. Jatt's death had been the longest, the most painful. He'd held him and been utterly unable to help him.

Peesh was visibly shaken at the details of the terrible death. “I think I knew,” she whispered, wiping a fresh slew of tears from her eyes. There had been many stories of her father's 'death' but not one of them had ever mentioned Jatt. “But I hoped...”

"I'm sorry.” He said quietly. A lost hope always hurt, but when it was so personal, it was so much worse. “I thought I was doing the right thing when I took you with me. Perhaps... I should have gone alone. But our village was in chaos, I thought you would be safer with me."

"I've thought about that a lot," she admitted. "You did your best, Dad. It wasn't your fault." She paused, looking away from him, up to the leafy trees overhead. "I was angry, at first. I wished you'd just left us at home." She reached out to play with a leaf, clearly agitated by the admission. "Eventually I remembered what home had been like when we left. With the riots and everything... We could have died there too. You just wanted to help everyone...” she rubbed her eyes. “That made me miss you even more."

Walker took the leaf and set it aside. "I tried," he said. "In the end I... Found what I was looking for and our planet survived, but the cost... Was our family."

She jumped up suddenly, breaking contact for the first time. "I still don't understand!" She cried, her hands waving around wildly in her distress. "How can you be here!? They told me you faded away in a blue light... After the sun went blue... That you died saving the planet! How can you be here?!" She looked at him intently, taking in every detail through the tears that just wouldn't stop. "You look like one of them. Like a Lantern. But I've only seen green and yellow and white and... and nothing makes sense!" Her hands clenched and unclenched as she tried to work it out. “Nothing makes sense.”

In two strides he was in front of her again, catching her hands in his. "Peesh... When I reached the top of the mountain, I found nothing. Nothing but a tall stone. No saviour, no messiah. I screamed and I shouted. I demanded answers. God gave them. That was the day it rained. The water washed down that stone and then, in it, I saw myself. It was me, Peesh, I had to become the one to save our people. So I went back, started trying to spread hope. In time, people with nothing else started to listen. It spread. In the midst of a gathering, we noticed the sun changing. You must have seen it go blue..."

She nodded. The sky had changed forever that day. "I knew something had happened. I... Believed it was you. Then when they told me you'd faded in blue light... I thought God had taken you too."

Rubbing her hand, he shook his head. "Oh, Peesh, no. You have now seen a little of what exists in the universe. Most of our people have not and they did not understand what they saw." He moved one hand, showing her his ring. "The ring came to me as our sun regained its youth. I am the first and currently the only Blue Lantern. My power comes from hope, in the same way the Green Lanterns are powered by will, or the Yellow by fear."

"Hope?"

He nodded

"That... That's... She laughed then, though the tears were still falling. "That's... So you."

"That's why the ring came to me," he smiled. "It needed someone with strong hope. And I have always had that. Even after I lost you all and my heart was broken, I held on to the hope that it was not all in vain. That the loss meant something."

"I think it did,” she murmured. “But... I wish you'd been able to save us all."

He hugged her tightly, trying not to think about his much taller she was now, how she was older than any child her age should be. "So do I, Peesh. So do I."

Resting in his arms, she listened again to his heartbeat, letting the steady sound soothe her. "What do we do now?" Would they go back to Astonia? Did either of them have a home there any more? She quite liked it here, on Mogo. Perhaps they could stay.

"I have not given it much thought yet. But there is no rush. We have both changed - I am content to spend time with you, to know the person you are today. The future will show us the way soon enough."

"I'd like that..." She agreed as they sat again. Oh, she was tired. Not since the day she'd buried her mother had she felt so emotionally drained. "Daddy?"

"Yes?"

"Please don't leave me again."

He couldn't promise her that, as much as he wanted to. His life was dangerous and probably always would be. But, as always, he could hope. "I promise you, I will do everything I can to avoid parting from you again. It may not always be easy, but all will be well. That belief has kept me strong, has brought me to today. It can do the same for you."

It wasn't what she wanted to hear, but in a way, it was better. Her father had never been one to make promises he may not be able to keep, to know that hadn't changed was comforting beyond words. The promise that he'd try was enough.

"Thank you," she murmured, clinging to him. For that moment, she was warm, happy and incredibly content. She had her father back. Everything else would fall into place soon enough.

Walker held his child, finding that he had run out of words. The past could wait, as much as he worried about what she had been through, they had tomorrow for that. Time was on their side again and time was a great healer.

At last, he grew aware of the temperature dropping. The sun Mogo was currently orbiting had a long cycle, but the dusk had finally come. "We should go back..." He could feel that she was undernourished when he held her, she did not need to get ill from the cold.

She didn't respond and he looked down in concern... To find her eyes closed and her breathing soft. The emotional exhaustion had finally taken its toll and she had fallen asleep to the sound of his heart.

The love he felt in that moment was worthy of a dozen star sapphire rings. He bent, dropping a soft kiss to the top of her head, before picking her up with the greatest care and flying back to the others with her cradled in his arms as she had not been since she was a baby.

Xxxxxxx

"Waiting here is pointless," Arkillo growled, looking up at the setting sun. "Who knows when they will return. This is a waste of time."

"Why are you still here then?" Kyle replied. "No one is forcing you to stay. You can leave any time. Kilowog would probably appreciate it," he grinned. He knew Kilowog was using every inch of his willpower to stop himself attacking Arkillo.

Arkillo glared but didn't reply. Though his loyalty to Saint Walker was rarely spoken of, it was real enough. Perhaps it now extended to his daughter too. They all knew Sinestro would have a fit if he ever found out and that probably wouldn't end well for Arkillo. Sinestro wasn't loyal to his own daughter, let alone anyone else's.

Kyle chuckled and ignored Arkillo's muttered curse as they continued to wait.

At last, a soft blue glow came from the woods and then Saint Walker appeared, Peesh in his arms.

Realising she was motionless, Kyle grew worried and flew up to meet them. "Is she okay, Walker?" he asked anxiously.

"She is fine, Kyle, thank you. But she is exhausted and I do not know where to take her."

"I do," Arkillo's voice said, as the yellow lantern appeared beside them. "Follow me, Walker." He flew directly up, towards a tall building near the medical centre. “She's been staying here.”

"You have all been so good to her," Walker murmured as the door slid open. "I cannot ever repay it."

"Just keep her alive, Saint Walker," Arkillo said as he made to leave. "That's good enough."

"I agree," Kyle said, following Arkillo to the window. "We don't need anything more. I'll send breakfast by in the morning." There was no sense in offering Walker his own room, he wouldn't be leaving her. "Sleep well." And he dragged Arkillo out before Bro'Dee tried to thank them again.

Walker watched them go, then found the bed and set her down on it, pulling the covers over her, tucking her in for the first time in years.

They were a family again at last.

Xxxxxxx
Chapter Six

Please check out the stunning fanart Tricksters-adopts did for this fic! :D
tricksters-adopts.deviantart.c…



Xxxxxx



Peesh was grateful that Arkillo had been allowed to stay. She was starting to understand why so many people seemed to find that amusing, but it didn't matter. She liked this place, despite the constant guards around Arkillo, it seemed friendly and pleasant. Getting used to the planet talking back was the hardest part, although at least she knew she was welcome.

What she didn't know, was why she was here. Although there was nothing for her on her home planet, she couldn't see that there was anything here, either. She had a feeling that something was going on, because she'd seen a few of the Green Lanterns giving her some strange looks, but what it was she had no idea.

Perhaps surprisingly, she wasn't afraid. Maybe it was Mogo, who seemed entirely unthreatening to her, or the way in which she'd been welcomed, but she didn't fear for her safety, or even her future, though it remained unknown.

The Green Lanterns seemed keen to make her comfortable. Soranik seemed happy to share her home and had made it clear that she could have whatever clothes she needed and as much as she wanted to eat.

She had visited the huge dining hall and had found, to her delight, that they had several Astonian dishes to offer her. She indulged willingly, thrilled to taste the foods she'd wanted for years. Yet when she asked where they'd got the recipes, she'd been brushed off, leaving her confused.

She tried not to dwell on it too much, trusting that answers would either come in time, or she would eventually find the courage to push the issue. Instead she concentrated on the feeling of being actually free again.

She'd lost track of how long the slavers had kept her, but it felt like years and she had been free days at most - it was still strange to sleep in a bed, eat when she was hungry and not be put to work. Not that she had minded the work, she had always been willing to work and to help - but the forced nature of it and the punishments still haunted her. She shifted, an old scar on her back twinging as she thought of it.

It was her hope that those memories would fade with the scars. That she could put them behind her, try to forget. It was different from losing her family - those were memories she wanted, cherished, no matter how much they hurt. Those scars she carried willingly inside her heart.

At least there didn't seem to be any rush. She had been told quite plainly that she was welcome here for as long as she liked. And it certainly seemed like a good place to start over. There were many races here, with many skills who could and would help her carve a path for herself when she was ready. For the first time in years the future actually looked bright and she hummed cheerfully as Mogo guided her along a winding path, to a place that he promised was truly beautiful.

She had no idea that it was the same place her father had come when he was heartsick - but Mogo, of course, did.

"It is beautiful here, Mogo." She smiled, feeling the grass beneath her bare feet.

"Thank you. I have been told it can ease the weary soul," the planet responded.

She nodded. "Yes... Yes, I can see that." Sitting down on a fallen log, she watched several treemunks run up and down the trees playfully. "I think I might just sit here for a while."

Xxxxxx

Saint Walker was not oblivious to the eyes that were on him as he and Kyle landed. He was the last to know, it seemed, and perhaps that should have bothered him, yet under the circumstances he couldn't bring himself to care.

He was going to see his daughter.

His world had been turned upside down since learning she was alive. In a way, it was a more dramatic change than when he had lost her, lost all of them. Grief, though terrible, was something that could be understood, coped with and eventually accepted. This - was something else entirely. This was joy, love, relief, guilt, fear, regret, hope, all rolled into one and he didn't know where to start making sense of it all.

How would she react to him? Would she accept that he had truly believed her dead? He had raised her to be forgiving but - and this, he supposed, was the biggest fear - she had been through so much. How much had she changed? Would she even be the daughter he remembered? Did it even matter?

"Bro'Dee? You in there?" Kyle broke through his thoughts. "Mogo says she's in the grove you like... And... Arkillo is over there."

"Oh!" Walker looked up to see Arkillo approach, flanked by half a dozen Green Lanterns. "Arkillo!" He shook his head. "There are no words to adequately express my gratitude but... Thank you. I am forever in your debt."

Arkillo snorted, still not one for sentiment. "You're hard to find, Saint Walker," he said. "Made it difficult."

"I know... I am sorry. I had no idea... Thank you for bringing her here." The conversation seemed surreal, for so long he'd only talked about her in the past tense, when he had talked about her at all.

"Well I wasn't gonna haul her around forever," Arkillo retorted and made to move away. "She's alright though," he added, before turning away.

Kyle grinned. "Did Arkillo just admit he likes her? I've heard it all now!"

"I do not believe anything can surprise me any more..." The Blue Lantern said, before calling out to Arkillo. "Arkillo... Walk with me? I would... Be glad of your company and I hear she... Will be reassured by your presence."

Arkillo growled and fixed Saint Walker with a look that would have terrified a lesser man. But Walker was unaffected. "I mean no offence," he replied, knowing that the very last thing a fear lantern wanted to be was reassuring. "However, these are exceptional circumstances."

There was no verbal answer from Arkillo, but to Walker's relief, he did start walking in the direction of the grove. Yet to his horror, the guard started to follow and he shot Kyle a pleading look.

"I think Walker can keep him in line," Kyle said, catching on and placing himself between the Green Lanterns and Arkillo. "Let him go. I'll straighten things out with Kilowog."

The Lanterns muttered, but stood back.

"I'll stay here... Good luck, Bro'Dee. Not that you need it. It will be fine.”

The confidence from Kyle was reassuring, though not as much as he would have liked. "Yes... It will." Walker smiled at Kyle and then walked off with Arkillo, into the leafy forest that Mogo was so proud of. Before long they were out of sight of the Lantern headquarters, completely surrounded by the tall trees.

"You are afraid." Arkillo stated a moment later. "It radiates from you."

"Yes," Walker admitted. "Right now, I truly am. I am happy but... I do not know what to expect. I do not know what to say. I do not know how she will feel."

There was a rustle of leaves up ahead and Arkillo grinned. "You're about to find out."

Xxxxxxx

Peesh hadn't moved from the log. It was quiet here, with just the treemunks and birds for company, a peacefulness she hadn't experienced for a long time. It was almost a surprise to hear someone moving through the trees, but she jumped up when she heard Arkillo's voice and ran towards it, wondering who he was with. Maybe that nice White Lantern.

You are afraid." She heard Arkillo say. "It radiates from you."

And then, another voice.

"Yes. Right now, I truly am. I am happy but... I do not know what to expect. I do not know what to say. I do not know how she will feel."

She froze, stopping in her tracks. She knew that voice. Heard it nearly every night in her dreams. It was the voice that gave her strength in her darkest nights. And it was completely impossible to be hearing it now. She couldn't move, couldn't...

But the other could. A rustle of branches, heavy feet and light. Arkillo appeared and beside him...

The world spun, stopped making any sense. She couldn't see, hear, Arkillo. The trees fell silent, the treemunks vanished. There was only...

"Daddy?"

She stared, forgetting to breathe, not believing what she was seeing. It wasn't possible. It wasn't. He'd died, just like her grandfather, mother and brother. He'd saved their world and then he'd died. And then - he said her name.

The rush of memories was like a physical force, a thousand images of him calling her name assaulting her mind. It caused her to stumble, but her body didn't know if it should go forward or back.

Her legs wobbled - and then a strong hand caught her, guided her back to her feet.

She froze again, feeling the warm, gentle hand holding her arm. Solid. Not a dream or a delusion. Her eyes blinked rapidly as she breathed and looked. He wasn't fading away, wasn't leaving. The hand squeezed lightly.

"Peesh..."

"Daddy!"

It didn't even make the slightest bit of sense to her, but as she threw herself into his arms, it didn't matter. A miracle was a miracle and she lost all desire to know why. It was, that was good enough. She buried her face in his chest and let out a broken sob, clinging to her father as one sob led to another, until her whole body shook. As his warm, protective arms wrapped around her, she only cried harder.

He hadn't expected this. Had thought he'd have time to approach her, to try to calm both their nerves. But suddenly she was there, right in front him, everything he'd dared to hope for, alive and aware and here. "Peesh..." Just saying her name, calling her was indescribable. Wonderful. Terrifying.

He drank in the sight of her, slightly taller, slightly thinner. Older in a way she shouldn't have been. But alive. Whole. He realised that no matter what Kyle and Arkillo had told him, he hadn't really believed it until this moment. Despite all he'd seen and done, this seemed like a miracle too far, a gift too much.

When she stumbled he didn't think twice, reaching out to catch her arm. It was instinct, but he gasped when he made contact, somehow not expecting the rush of emotion that would come from the simple touch. He called her again, wanting to say her name over and over, just to convince himself that this was real, that he wasn't about to wake up.

And then she moved and he was holding her, really holding her, as he hadn't done in years. He put his arms around her and held her close, knowing he was crying as much as she was. It didn't matter, for they were tears of joy.

"Oh my child... I have missed you so..." She trembled in response and he stroked her back soothingly, just as he had when she'd been no more than a baby. At that moment, whatever she'd been through since the day she was swept away didn't matter. It would, just not yet. Now was for this moment, this perfect moment where nothing was too bad and everything could be overcome.

All would be well.

END CHAPTER SIX
Chapter Five

xxxxxxx

Kyle pushed his ring to the limit as he flew through space, willing himself to go faster, faster. Soranik had run every test she knew, every procedure that would show signs of some kind of duplication or deception. None of them showed even the slightest hint that she was not who she said she was. Her DNA matched, her story held up. She was undoubtedly Peesh Walker. And she was overdue for a reunion with her father.

He'd already left when the results came through, having decided that either way, Walker needed to know what was going on. But hearing that he could deliver good news was a joy - Walker had lost so much and now a little was being returned. The universe did give back sometimes.

He was almost glad he hadn't been able to make contact through the ring. Some things really had to be done in person and this was definitely one of them. Elpis seemed entirely too far away right now.

It was odd to think that he hadn't hesitated to fly off knowing that he'd left Arkillo with reach of Peesh. Of course Soranik was looking after her too and Arkillo was heavily guarded, yet the truth was, he trusted Arkillo with her. After all he'd done in freeing her and bringing her here, he'd earned that. Besides, Peesh clearly trusted him too, even if she was scared of him, as any child would be.

And she was still a child. Despite the years that had passed since her 'death' she was still shy of adulthood amongst her species. He remembered asking Bro'Dee about it, when he realised that the Blue Lantern had aged only slightly in the years he had known him. An Astonian's lifespan was roughly twice that of a humans and they aged proportionally. While a human of Peesh's age would have been well into adulthood at this point, she was barely an adolescent. Although he wondered how her experiences might have changed her. That sort of thing - it could age anyone. Although, she was Saint Walker's child and his positive outlook had hopefully stayed with her. Only time would tell.

By the time Elpis finally came into view, he'd almost lost himself in wondering how his friend would react. Walker was not easily shocked, but this was a miracle like no other.

The planet glowed a soft blue as he approached, making him smile. It had been lifeless for so long after the Blue Lantern Corps fell, but now, thanks to Saint Walker's efforts, it was coming alive again. He didn't know where or when Walker had obtained or built a new central battery, but he had managed it somehow. With the reservoir filled again, hope shone brighter than ever, a power to be acknowledged. Soon, new Blue Lanterns would come here for training and the universe would be a better place for it. Who knew, maybe there was a place for Peesh in the ranks. Certainly something had kept her going these past years.

As he flew through the atmosphere, his ring guided him towards the location of the new battery. Not that he needed it. It stood as a monument to the first corps, on the very spot they had fallen. Here, Brother Warth, Sister Sercy and so many others had given up their lives to let Saint Walker live. To let hope live. That was something that would never be forgotten. Placing the battery here - it was just right.

There was, however, no sign of Saint Walker. In fact, the whole place seemed oddly deserted - though he supposed that wasn't too hard on a planet with an inhabitant of one. "Bro'Dee?" He called out. "It's me, Kyle!"

There was no answer, so he walked cautiously towards the battery. The blue glow was strong and soothing, clearly Saint Walker had been working hard to bring it to full power. But... Where was he?  
"Bro'Dee!" Kyle called out again. "Come on, where are you?" He walked around the battery, looking for any sign of his friend.

"Kyle?" The response was so unexpected that he jumped.

"Walker?" He still couldn't see him.

"Down here..." The soft laugh teased.

He looked down and there, emerging from a tunnel like a curious rabbit, was Saint Walker.

It was such a ridiculous sight, the esteemed Saint Walker popping up from the ground, that
Kyle laughed, the upcoming seriousness fading away for the moment. "What are you doing down there?" He asked, as Walker emerged fully.

The Blue Lantern smiled. "Checking that the battery defences are installed correctly. I am no fan of war, but I will not risk a repeat of what happened here before."

"Good plan," Kyle agreed. Even the eternally optimistic Saint Walker had his limits – and he was no fool.

"It is good to see, you, Kyle," he smiled warmly, embracing his friend. "Though most unexpected. What brings you here?"

"I..." All of a sudden, his carefully rehearsed speech sounded terrible. He'd planned exactly what he was going to say, was going to deliver the news smoothly and confidently. Yet now Walker was in front of him, the words sounded dry, unfeeling. "Um... We couldn't, um... Contact you by the ring..."

"No, my works here have interfered with communications," Walker nodded. "Is something wrong? If you need my help, you have it."

"Wrong? Oh... No. No, not at all, I just... Um..." He ran his hand through his hair. "You know, I'd decided exactly how I was going to say this..."

"How you were going to say what, Kyle?" Walker put his hand on his friend's shoulder. "Please just tell me. You say nothing is wrong but still you struggle to tell me."

"Right. Yes. Sorry.” Kyle rubbed the back of his neck. “It's kind of a miracle actually... you believe in those, right?”

Walker laughed. "Of course. I have witnessed too many not to. Why do you ask? Has something miraculous happened to you?"

"Well, yes... sort of. The truth is – it's your miracle, not mine. And that's why I'm here, to bring you to Mogo.” He shifted awkwardly as he tried to pick words from the muddle in his head.

Saint Walker sighed and blinked a few times before replying. “Kyle, my friend, I mean no offence, but if you could please starting making sense that would be very helpful." He smiled gently. “I have no idea what you are talking about and it is quite confusing.”

Kyle blushed, annoyed with himself for making such a mess of this. How was it that he could face down universe ending threats, but ask him to deliver good news and he was all stutters and awkward words? "Sorry. I'm not good at this.” He took a deep breath and started again. “Um... Some days ago, Arkillo found a young Astonian bring held by slavers on Darvix V. He figured he owed you one, I guess, and decided to... Liberate her."

Walker looked surprised. "Well that was... Very kind of him. I knew there was more to him than fear alone. Although how did one of my people leave Astonia? We have no such means of transport.”

“That's where things get complicated, Walker. She was taken by a group of alien explorers who found her wandering alone. The Slavers didn't get her until later.”

“There was much chaos when our sun began to die. Many families were torn apart,” he sighed.

“Right. But some not as much as they thought. This girl, Bro'Dee... this girl is the miracle. Because her name is Peesh Walker.” He smiled and looked at his friend.

The look Walker gave him then was so sad it hurt his heart.

"Oh Kyle, I know what you are thinking. But as much as I may wish it, it simply cannot be, my daughter is long dead.” Walker looked away, unable to meet Kyle's gaze. “Another child by that name is not impossible.”

"You didn't let me finish," Kyle said. "I know I'm making a mess of this, just... Hear me out, okay? Her story matches yours, so when Arkillo couldn't find you, he took her to Mogo. Soranik had all your medical files from when you were unwell, so we ran tests. Every test. Her DNA is a match. There's no evidence of manipulation, duplication, coercion, anything. And you said yourself you never buried her. Bro'Dee, I know it seems impossible. But here, look." His ring glowed briefly and a picture of Mogo's newest guest popped up.

Kyle found himself having to quickly construct a chair as Walker's legs gave way beneath him.

"Sorry, should have warned you. But... You see? It is her. We've eliminated all chances that it's some kind of trick. This is your miracle, Bro'Dee. And long overdue."

"I... But... How..." Still sitting on the chair construct, he tried to take it in, his mind reeling from the revelation, his eyes never leaving the picture. "She... She died, had I thought there was any chance she was alive I would never have left Astonia..."

Kyle stretched the chair so he could sit down next to his friend. "I know. For what it's worth, she thinks you're dead too. We weren't sure you were okay so... She hasn't been told the truth yet."

"This is... I cannot..." He closed his eyes, covering his face with his hands as he struggled to deal with the onslaught of emotion. Tears fell freely and he didn't care. How had this happened? He trusted Kyle... If he said it was true, then it was. And the image... She had grown a little of course, but it was undeniable.

"Hey..." Kyle put his arm around Walker. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you in a less shocking way but... Good shock, right?"

"Yes..." Walker's voice shook. "The... Very best..." He tried to think, to work out how it had happened. How he had not known and for so long? "I need to see her." He wanted to accept it, but knew he wouldn't until she was actually there, alive and well in front of him.

"Of course you do. We can leave as soon as you're ready." The journey was long enough that hopefully Walker would have time to clear his head.

"I... I need to set the automated defences. It will only take a moment..." He surprised himself by remembering. It was hard to think of anything but the news he'd just received.

"Okay..." Kyle nodded as they both stood. "No rush."

Walker gave him a look and Kyle laughed.

"Sorry."

Xxxxxxxx


Saint Walker was quiet on the trip to Mogo. The stars rushed past them in silence, the only sound the odd ship or blazing crackling of a sun. Kyle understood. Someone coming back - it threw you. Learning she had never died, that had to be taking some time to accept.

"Hey..." Kyle broke the silence after several hours. "You doing okay? I know it's a lot to take in.”

Walker nodded. "I am... managing. I was just thinking." He sighed. "About why I never questioned her fate, why I was sure she was dead, with no doubts. I believe I know but... it is hard to admit.”

"Oh?" Kyle looked over questioningly.

"When the ring heals, you know it shows you what you need. Arkillo saw Sinestro, because that was what would help him. I... I saw my family. All of them. I had no experience with the ring and so I never questioned what I saw." He paused, remembering. "Now I realise I should have looked back, made sure."

“You can't blame yourself for that,” Kyle replied. “You'd only just got the ring, you didn't know how it all worked then. And you'd been through hell trying to save your planet. It could have happened to anyone. What matters is now. You're alive. She's alive. Anything else can come later.”

Walker nodded. "Wise words. Yet I struggle to make my heart heed them. What has she been through? You said slavers had her... what did she endure?" His face creased in worry.

"I don't want to say too much, it's not my place. But they didn't have her the whole time and she seems pretty resilient. Much like you. She seems to be a lot like you, actually."

He smiled softly. "I used to hear that often."

"I'm sure you will again."

"I hope so." He looked at Kyle then, his voice cracking with joyful emotion. “This... is really happening. I am going to see her. I am going to see my little girl.” The blue aura around him intensified as his hope gained new wings. He smiled at Kyle and his speed increased as he flew through the stars as a blazing blue beacon of hope.

End Chapter 5
Chapter 4

Xxxxx

As soon as they landed Arkillo ushered her out. Immediately, he was surrounded by a good dozen Green Lanterns, with Kilowog at the front. She cried out in alarm and the White Lantern hurried over. "It's okay... Greens and Yellows aren't exactly friends... But he's safe enough. Come with me, I promise no harm will come to him."

Peesh looked back, only to see Arkillo waving her away irritably. He seemed more concerned with the presence of so many Green Lanterns than he did with her, so she did as she was asked and went with her new companion.

She followed the White Lantern - Kyle - away from the shuttle. Arkillo, he assured her, would be given suitable accommodations, but she seemed to be in need of medical attention. "Where are we going?" She asked as he walked her towards one of many towering buildings, taller, grander and certainly greener than any she had ever seen before.

"We have our own medical centre. Doctor Soranik Natu will have a look at you. Don't worry... She's very kind. She won't hurt you." He smiled, trying to be reassuring.

She nodded, in no position to protest, and looked up at the vast building that towered above her. "It's so big."

"Well the first few floors are for the hospital itself. Then a lot of the staff live above it. Makes things easier." Kyle explained. "A far cry from Astonia, isn't it?"

"You know it?" It had been a surprise when Arkillo recognised her species, now he did too? It was strange. They weren't an advanced people, in fact, compared to most of the races she'd met, they were positively primitive. She was still reasonably sure that she was the only Astonian to ever leave their world.

"Yes... I... Visited it once, some years ago, though I kept out of sight. I know they're not accustomed to aliens there." He certainly wasn't about to tell her he'd gone to support Saint Walker on a particularly difficult anniversary. "It's a beautiful place."

"Yes, it is..." She managed a smile and the memories kept her nerves from overflowing as they entered the building.

"Wait here," Kyle said once they were in and near some tall, glass doors. "I want to explain things first." He had every intention of getting her the care she clearly needed, but he also needed to explain the situation to Soranik.

He went through and Peesh watched as he spoke to a tall woman with skin that was a deep pink. She kept casting glances her way and Peesh fidgeted under the scrutiny. She didn't understand why she was so interesting to them and would have preferred to just find a spot and go to sleep. Lack of medical care hadn't done her any harm before.

At last they both came back out and Kyle rested his hand briefly on her shoulder. "I have to go and... See someone. Doctor Natu will look after you." He looked up at Soranik and she nodded.

"Come on in, Peesh. Don't worry, we just want to have a look at you, make sure you're in good health." She was relying on Peesh not recognising the procedures to run the additional tests without letting her know what was going on. "Are you hungry? I could get you something to eat before we start."

"No... thank you, I'm fine..." her head-tail swung, showing her agitation. She was far too nervous to be hungry.

"Okay, well... After we're done we'll go and get something. I'll need to eat by then anyway,” Soranik told her. “Come and sit over here." She gestured to a medical bed and watched Peesh hop up into it, pleased that her movements seemed fluid enough. "This is going to take a bit of time, so just relax."

Peesh nodded, but sat stiffly on the bed, hardly breathing. She didn't say a word unless Soranik asked her a question and then the answers were short.

Soranik observed the girl carefully as she ran the multiple tests. Peesh didn't flinch at any of the prodding or poking and seemed unaware of the extra tests. Her tension wasn't entirely surprising for someone who had endured captivity and Soranik hoped she'd recover from it in time.

"Okay, nearly done... If it's okay with you I just need a look at your back, the scans showed some damage there. I'm sure it's nothing, but I'd like to be sure... All I need is for you to take off your top."

If Peesh had been tense before, the request made her freeze completely. Her hands gripped the side of the bed until her knuckles were white from the strain. Her mouth was open as she tried to breathe, though the breaths came in short, sharp, gasps.

"Peesh?" Soranik grew alarmed as the girl descended into panic and stopped what she was doing. "What's wrong?" She moved to face the girl, keeping her movements calm and gentle. "It'll be okay..." She soothed. Whether she was who she said she was or not, it was clear that she had endured something terrible. "You can talk to me." Carefully, she sat beside Peesh on the bed and waited. Her hand brushed Peesh's lightly as she willed the girl to regain her composure.

At long last, Peesh moved, shifting her position. Still without speaking she turned until her back faced the doctor's.

Taking that as permission, Soranik lifted the loose top, trying not to touch her. As the fabric lifted, she could see why Peesh had reacted as she did. A mess of ugly scars covered her back, some long and jagged, others smooth and short. Soranik hissed as she saw the wounds. Astonians naturally had tough skin and she wondered how hard they'd hit her to cause scarring like that. No wonder she was terrified.

"Oh, Peesh..." Very slowly, she dared to touch one of the fresher scars. They were healing, some almost healed completely. But there were so many.

"They used to... To make me take my own top off when they wanted to punish me," she whispered. "When you asked I... I..."

"I understand." Soranik stopped the retelling before it traumatised her further. "Peesh this... This will never happen here. Never." She let the top drop down, watching as Peesh pulled away. "I can help with the scars to your skin... And if you need to talk about the hurts inside... I can help with that too." Her heart went out to the girl and she hoped that, whatever the truth behind her identity, Saint Walker would be able to use his blue light to heal where she could not.

Getting up, she set the tests up to run in her absence. "Come on. Let's get something to eat and find you somewhere to stay."

Xxxxx

Peesh ate little, to Soranik's concern. She was badly unnourished and she was certain the tests would show her lacking in the vitamins her species needed. Still, perhaps once she was settled, she'd eat more. When she could cajole her into eating no more, they left the dining hall to look for some accommodations.

It wasn't easy, most of the Lanterns lived either communally or in private residences. There were no families with children she could stay with. She made a few suggestions, but they were met with looks of abject terror.

"Okay... Okay let me think..." She truly hoped this was Walker's child, either that or he was willing to take her in anyway, because the girl desperately needed a family.

She almost missed the scared whisper. "I don't want to be alone."

She closed her eyes. Of course she didn't. "Okay..." She hesitated, but at that point there was one obvious solution. "Okay. You can stay with me."

"I can?" Peesh asked, surprised enough that her voice was almost at a normal level. She barely knew the doctor, but it seemed by far the best offer she'd had all day. She had a good feeling about Doctor Natu and her instincts rarely let her down.

"You can. Just need to clear all my junk out of my spare room and we'll turn it into a bedroom. You'll like it... It has its own little balcony and you can lock me out if you want to." It was going to be a heck of an adjustment, but she couldn't see another way. And besides, she found that the girl was growing on her already. "Let's go and see, shall we?"

Peesh nodded and Soranik ignored the nagging voice that reminded her she might be letting an infiltrator into her most private space. So far she hadn't said or done anything even remotely suspicious and Soranik was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.

She took Peesh to her rooms, opening the door and letting her look around. "I can't say I'm always here that much, but I try to come back to sleep. You have free reign just... Don't touch anything you don't recognise until someone has explained it to you." She smiled and led the way to another door. "This will be your room. I'll get a team in, we'll have it up and running today.

The room was currently full of Soranik's assorted possessions, the only furniture an old sofa and a table. But it was large, with doors opening on to the balcony that overlooked both corps headquarters and a lush forest.

"All this... For me?" Peesh's eyes were wide with shock.

"For you." Soranik smiled. "Have a look a round while I get some people in to help." The items she could procure were fairly basic at such short notice, but they could add personality later, if Peesh wanted to. For now, the basic comforts were the most important and at least this way, she could keep a proper eye on her.

Xxxxxx

Several hours later, Soranik returned to her lab, Peesh asleep in the hastily put together bedroom and looking like she would remain that way for some time. Finally she was able to look at the now completed tests and check the results. There were a number of species that could pass for another, they had learned with the Durlans that such deceptions required extremely thorough testing to reveal. Sometimes even the subjects didn't realise they weren't who they thought. As such she had taken no chances, subtly subjecting the girl to every test she knew. And now the results were ready.

She took a deep breath, oddly nervous and began to review the results.

When she had done, she looked down at her ring. "Open communications to Kyle Rayner."

Xxxxxxxx
Chapter Three


xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


Arkillo had to admit, he found the next few days interesting. Much to his amazement, Peesh started to open up to him despite his attempts to keep her at a distance. She didn't say much about her time with the slavers, but she became almost chatty when speaking of her family, or the group of scientists who had taken her from Astonia. Though he could see that the topics pained her, they had brought her so much happiness that she couldn't hide that away.

As such, Arkillo learned more about Saint Walker in those few days than he had after spending weeks with the Lantern. Walker was too humble to talk much about himself and, while idle chatter was hardly his thing, he found he liked the insight into his friend. However after several days he was starting to crave silence and found relief when she slept.

She was still sleeping more that he believed was average for her species. But each day he noticed a little more life in her. He'd considered telling her where they were going but he was too cautious - reluctant to tell her until he knew Walker himself was safe and well.

So it was with relief and anticipation that his ring finally told him what he wanted to hear - they were approaching Mogo. From the ship he watched as the Lantern-planet came into view. "Stay in the cabin, lock the door," he told Peesh, a bloodthirsty grin crossing his face. "You may not want to see this."

She looked worried but did as she was told, though she couldn't help peering out of the small window, curiosity easily getting the better of her. Her eyes went wide as bright figures rushed up to the craft, dressed in green and ready for a fight.

"Unidentified craft, you have entered restricted space." The booming voice of Mogo echoed around them. "State your intentions."

Turning on the view-screen, Arkillo let them see him - and he them. He snarled when he saw Kilowog at the forefront- he hated the Bolovaxian, perhaps more than any other Green Lantern. Maybe this time he'd smash that oversized jaw in for good.

"Kilowog," he snarled. "I have no business with you. Where is Rayner? Or do you prefer I beat it out of you. I am happy to do that."

"Arkillo!" Kilowog's face showed his absolute disgust. "What tricks are you playing now? What's in that ship? Or has your ring finally tired of hauling your scaly butt around?"

"Still a fool, Kilowog. You're lucky my time is short. Give me Rayner or Jordan. I have questions that need answers."

"Any questions you got, you ask me, yellow belly." Kilowog's arms were crossed defiantly. "Before I declare open season."

Arkillo growled. He wanted nothing more than a good fight. Yet he was no fool – this was neither the time or the place. He could always come back...

"Just tell me where our Blue friend is and I'll be on my way." He deliberately avoided using Saint Walker's name, sure Peesh was listening to as much as she could.

"And why would I tell you that? He's got enough to deal with." Kilowog, always one to stick to his guns, was spoiling for a fight as well, goading Arkillo with his refusal to answer.

"One of these days, Bolovaxian, I will rip your jaw from your skull."

"Yeah?” Killowog's body tensed, ready to attack. “Come on then, you can have a crack at me right now!"

“As you wish.” He got up, ready to exit the craft and rip the answers from Kilowog.

"No!" Hearing Arkillo about to exit, Peesh rushed from the cabin. Though Arkillo still scared her, she was even more terrified of watching anyone else die.

"Get back in there!" He roared, looming over her in his fury, the yellow glow reaching right to his eyes.

She squealed in terror and fled, a single moment all it took to remind her of just what her rescuer was - and that she still didn't know why he had her.

"Why the hell do you have an Astonian child?" Ready to fire, Kilowog stayed the other Lanterns with a gesture. "Has Sinestro sunk to taking hostages now, that desperate to wipe out the blue rings? Wouldn't surprise me."

"This is nothing to do with Sinestro. It... Is personal."

"Yeah, like hell." Kilowog's eyes narrowed as he considered his options. Whatever was going on, he wasn't about to risk an innocent life. But how did they get the child from Arkillo safely? They had to do that before they could even start to figure out why she was there. "Just hand over the child, Arkillo and I might not blow your brains out. If there's any to blow."

“I would like to see you try,” he snorted. Still, he had come here with the intention of handing her over – eventually. Perhaps it was for the best, though the thought of not seeing things through himself grated deeply.

He went to the cabin and banged on the door. "Stay. There," he growled, before leaving the shuttle. This time, he knew she'd obey.

Flying out, it took barely a moment for the Green Lanterns to surround him. His glare fixed on Kilowog, he flatly ignored the others. "Listen, Kilowog, if you can,” he growled. I need to find Saint Walker. Now. The child is in no danger."

"Yeah, except from you," Kilowog replied in utter disgust.

"I do not intend to harm her." It sounded unbelievable even to him. "She... Is Walker's child."

In an instant Kilowog had grabbed him in a fist shaped construct, the pressure squeezing his arms. "What kind of sick joke is this? His family died! And you wanna torment him with that?!" It was a sore subject for Kilowog, the loss of his own family a permanently open wound.

Countering with construct claws of his own, Arkillo attempted to pry Kilowog off, hoping to rip the Green Lantern's arms off in the process. "I know that! But she IS his child. She survived. And all I am doing is returning her to him."

"You expect me to believe you're doing something nice?" Kilowog snorted. "The rest of your story is ridiculous, but that takes the cake. I didn't hatch yesterday."

"Believe what you like, but it's true. I only came here because my yellow ring will not locate him."

"Of course it won't. Tell ya what... If you're telling the truth, you'll hand her over and let us do the rest."

"No.” Refusing to explain any further, he moved closer to Kilowog.

Kilowog's hammer appeared in his hand and he raised it, but he was stopped from attacking by a flash of white light placing itself between them. “Kyle?”

The White Lantern shook his head and turned to face his friend. "I thought we were past beating up on Arkillo?"

"Never," Kilowog muttered, never taking his eyes off the Yellow Lantern.

Kyle sighed. "Let me talk to him? Please? It's less likely to end in bloodshed." He looked pleadingly at his friend, feeling lucky that he'd arrived when he did. It was only when he'd been alerted to a large number of Red Lanterns in the next sector that he'd decided to get back up before continuing to investigate.

"Not always a good thing," Kilowog replied, but he moved aside to let Kyle talk, much to the White Lantern's relief. He had enough experience with Arkillo to know the alien wasn't entirely unreasonable.

"An' he's got a hostage!" The Bolovaxian yelled, as Kyle moved away.

"A hostage?" Kyle shook his head."Arkillo? What's going on?"

"She's not a hostage!" Arkillo flew at Kilowog, almost forgetting to use his ring and causing Kyle to restrain him.  

"Stop! Stand DOWN, Kilowog." Kyle glared and then gestured to Arkillo to come round the other side of the shuttle. "Okay. Now what the hell is going on?"

Kilowog out of the way, Arkillo put his anger to one side for the moment. "I found an Astonian child with Godorian slavers on Darvix V. I... owed Walker a debt and was sure he would appreciate my getting her out." He narrowed his eyes. "I was only replaying the debt, you understand."

Kyle internally rolled his eyes at Arkillo refusing to accept any possibility that he might be showing a gentler side. “Of course.”

"So I took her. Intending to drop her on Astonia and go. But then I learned she is Walker's daughter.” He held his hand up, stopping Kyle's protests. “Yes, I am well aware she is supposed to be dead. She is not. It is not a trick or a trap. No matter what the Bolovaxian says."

Kyle looked for any signs that Arkillo was lying – and found none. “But... If that's true... How? Walker told me how they died! His daughter drowned."

"He never found the body, you must know that. He didn't have time, his planet was dying. Look.” For a moment, Arkillo actually seemed to let his guard down. “She survived, it's her. I was going to take her to him, but my ring cannot find him. So I came here. I've not told her, in case something... Happened."

"Oh... No, he's fine. He um... He's rebuilding the central battery on Elpis... That probably interferes with communications." Kyle ran his hand over his face. "I can't believe this. Can I... Talk to her?"

Arkillo nodded. "Fine. But say nothing about Walker until he's confirmed safe."

Kyle nodded, hiding any reaction to Arkillo's concern for her welfare. He followed the other Lantern to the shuttle doors and stepped inside, following him to the cabin.

He watched as the large alien banged on the door. "You can come out now."

There was a barely audible patter of feet and the door slid open. He found himself looking at the young Astonian, her dark eyes wide and fearful.

"Hello..." He smiled as he looked her over. "I'm Kyle."

She glanced over to Arkillo, who nodded.

"I... My name is Peesh." Her expression fell short of a smile.

"Nice to meet you, Peesh. I'm a... Friend... Of Arkillo's." He didn't miss the muttered curse that was thrown his way as he said that. "I'm hoping you'll come and stay with us for a while. On that planet right there."

"I already told the Bolovaxian I wasn't giving up that easily." Arkillo interjected, before Peesh could reply. "I started this, I'll finish it."

"Okay, okay.” Kyle replied before it could turn into another argument. “Arkillo can come too. If he promises to behave."

"He will!" Peesh cried, before looking awkward. "I mean... I'm sure he will.” She remembered how easily he'd gutted the slave trader and winced. “I hope.”

Despite the seriousness of the situation, Kyle struggled not to laugh. Just the thought of this girl - he'd forgotten how slowly Astonians age - and the self proclaimed 'God of Terror' forming a connection was hilarious.

He smiled. "Arkillo, if you promise not to attack anyone - including Kilowog - or try to find tactical information or something - you can stay. Unconfined. Though probably not unguarded." Kilowog would never agree to that.

The thought clearly grated at the fear lantern, but, slowly, he nodded. "Very well. But you keep the Bolovaxian away from me if you don't want him dead."

Kyle wasn't really sure who'd win that fight, but he was in no hurry to find out. "Fine. Okay then. Can we go?" Because as soon as they were safely on Mogo, he was flying at top speed to Elpis. Someone else would have to deal with the Reds.

End Chapter 3

deviantID

TuxedoElf
Tuxedo Elf
Artist
United Kingdom
Current Residence: Berkshire, UK
Favourite genre of music: Melodic Metal
Personal Quote: Most of my stuff is at my site. ADULT CONTENT WARNING!
Interests
As tagged by MellorianJ

You can tell a lot about someone by the music they listen to.
Hit shuffle on your iPod/Phone/iTunes/media player and write down the first 10 songs. 
Then pass this onto 10 people.

Cascada - Dangerous
Sonata Arctica - Winter's Gold
Celine Dion - That's the way it is
Luca Turilli - To Magic Horizons
Nightwish - Nightquest
Cantamus - In My Dreams
Enya - One by One
Blind Guardian - The Curse of Feanor
Celine Dion - Have you ever been in love
Nightwish - Dead to the world

Hmmm not sure that says much outside of 'really random tastes' lol.

Unfortunately I don't think I have 10 people reading this to tag back! ;)

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Welcome! One of my fave things... Dick/Babs *and* Mar'i. :)
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