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Story Data

Posted August 27, 2009

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Series: Eureka Moments

Title: Gift of Light

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Disclaimer: The words are mine; the world is not. I claim nothing but the plot.

Rating: PG.

Summary: What he did know was that his life would not have been nearly as rich without her in it. 800 words.

Spoilers: Eureka post-3.15 "Shower the People"

Notes: My first tag for this week dealt with Jack/Tess; but I thought Henry deserved a moment, too. Title's a roundabout reference from a Sarah McLachlan song.

He didn't visit Kim's grave often-- it was too painful for him-- but it had seemed appropriate, somehow, to stop by in the aftermath of her duplicate's... dissolution.

One couldn't call it death, Henry supposed. As Manlius had said, the second Kim's personality had merely been a computer construct; she'd never been human to begin with. She'd been built to accomplish a mission, and that mission had been accomplished. The fact that he'd allowed himself to be distracted by what she-- by what the agent of that mission had looked like, by Kim's laugh and the echo of her beauty of spirit, shouldn't have had any significant impact.

It shouldn't. But it had. Watching her dissolve in that bath had been like kneeling outside the lab in Section 5 all over again, struggling against Jack in an effort to stop the test he knew would kill the love of his life. He knew that the computer construct and the real Kim Anderson weren't the same woman, intellectually; but logic had no power over the agony of the heart.

He swallowed, fingering the single lock of hair that was all that was left of the organic computer. He'd had it treated with a preservative after the laser had unlocked its secrets-- fortunately, or it would have decayed with the rest of her body. No, she hadn't been human; but she could have been, given enough time. If her original form had been constructed with the standard Earth-centric immunities, the original laser extraction treatment would have worked as intended; she'd have come through the download process intact, and he'd have had time to teach her to interact with a world much larger than the spaceship she'd lived on for so long.

It had been his call, back when the Columbus had been more dream than reality. He'd chosen not to include those immunities-- and doomed Kim's spiritual twin before she'd ever taken her first breath. There was no Beverly to claim the fault this time; it was his, and no one else's.

It was true, she'd probably been able to bring back more data that way. And perhaps-- their effort to save her with the nutrient bath had given Jack clues enough to solve the syn-water crisis that might not otherwise have occurred to him. Last Henry had heard, Tess and Dr. Bell had come through the process just fine-- and brightened Jack's day considerably, according to the gossip at Café Diem.

He wasn't sure how he felt about that. No, that wasn't true; he was happy for his friend. Jack had had a wife, a family, and a bright outlook in both alternate futures, the one Henry had lived as well as the one Jack had lived before coming back in time to stop him. The grim satisfaction that Henry had felt to see the one who'd stopped him from saving Kim-- no matter the cost-- as lonely as he was in their new, jointly created reality had long since waned; it was good to know Jack might have a chance at happiness after all. It simply galled that once again, that happiness would be lived out at Henry's expense.

At least he knew one thing, now, that he hadn't when Kim had died. One fact to tuck close to his heart, that would undoubtedly warm him when the grief was a little less raw.

"She loved you, Henry," the A.I. wearing Kim's face had told him, complete assurance in her tone.

She'd loved him. Twenty years ago, when the ship had launched-- when the original organic computer had taken impressions of their personalities-- she had loved him then. They'd never been quite sure, after meeting again in Eureka, exactly how far back their relationship had gone; there'd been a fundamental uncertainty underlying all of their interactions, due to Jason's liberal use of the memory erasure device. They hadn't even been able to remember whether they'd kissed before, much less what the true depth of their feelings had been for one another.

Well-- now he knew. Kim had loved him. And Henry had lost her-- three times.

Was it really better, the pain he felt, than never having known love at all? Henry couldn't answer that; and he didn't think Allison would be able to either, if he put the question to her. What he did know, though, was that his life would not have been nearly as rich without her in it; and that she'd left him a legacy he would use to make sure she was remembered until the end of time.

And at least this time, he'd finally had the chance to say goodbye.

"I will never forget," Henry murmured to the night air, then bent and left the lock of hair beneath the inscription of her name.


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