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In the End

Title: In the End
Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Captain Planet and the Planeteers
Character/Pairing: Wheeler/Linka, hinted Captain/Gaia, Ensemble
Rating: PG-13/T
Challenge/Prompt: whatif_au 4: Apocalypse
Warning(s): Future Fic, [Spoiler (click to open)]Implied Character Deaths
Word Count: 1,586
Date Written: 14 July 2017
Summary:
Disclaimer: All characters mentioned within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission.





"Linka," Wheeler calls, running to catch up to the woman who, after all this time, he still considers his dearest friend, if not more, "wait up!"

She pauses but doesn't turn around to look at him until he places a hand on her shoulder. He wishes the gesture was reassuring, but he knows, in this final hours, there is nothing he can say or do that will truly be reassuring. He seems to have lost the power to reassure her when he can no longer reassure himself. "Let me come with you," he says, panting. His breath suddenly comes even harder when he sees the tears in her blue eyes.

It's been years, but those tears still move him like no other power on Earth. He pulls her quickly into his arms, and for once, Linka doesn't hesitate to let him hold her. She buries her face in his shoulder with a loud, shaking sob. He strokes her back, threads his fingers through her long, blonde hair, and tries to calm them both. He's glad she hasn't cut her hair after all this time, but whereas when they'd been together in their younger days, he had been unable to think of her hair without going off into a daydream about what he would like her to do to him with her long, blonde locks, the thought doesn't even come into his mind now.

It can't. His mind is far too full of everything else that's happening. Their world is ending, and even if they had never given up being Planeteers, even if they still wielded all the power they once had, there would still be nothing they could do about it. She murmurs something into his jacket as he strokes her back. He can barely hear the words, and her Russian accent is the thickest he's heard it in years. Still, he knows exactly what she's asking. He knows what she's asking, but he has no more answers for her than he does for himself.

He glances back toward the tent they just left, wherein their hero is kneeling beside Mother Earth made flesh and both are flashing in and out. The earth rumbles underneath their feet. Linka jumps but doesn't run; she only holds tighter to him and cries harder. It's not fair, Wheeler thinks, his mind racing. It's not fair! After all they did as Planeteers, after all the generations who have followed them have done, the Earth is still dying, and it's not being caused by any great catastrophe.

It's being caused by millions upon millions of misdeeds done by their own species over the millennias. Every piece of trash that's ever been dropped onto the ground, every chemical that's ever leaked into the waters, every bomb that's gone off in the atmosphere, every manmade thing that has ended up somewhere, anywhere, other than where it belongs, every animal that's been killed and tree that's been cut . . . It's all added up to this very moment.

They have saved the planet time and again, as have the Planeteers who have come after them. They have risked life, limb, and love countless times to save the world, and yet now that the end has come, Wheeler knows that all they were ever doing was delaying the inevitable. "Humans stink!" he grouses.

Linka's shoulders shake. At first, he thinks it's because she's crying harder, but then she peels away from him, smiling and laughing through her tears. She lifts a hand to dab at her tears, but he brushes them away instead, his fingers on her flesh as gentle as feathers. "That," she says, "is an understatement!"

He grins, though his heart isn't in the gesture. "Understatement of the century."

She shakes her head. "Millennia."

How is it possible, he wonders, staring into her teary, blue eyes, that age seems to have only made her more beautiful? He reaches out and takes her hands in his, entwining their fingers together. Why did he ever let her go? What kind of a fool was he to let her walk out of his life?

"Walk with me, Wheeler?" she asks softly. Looking around at the rainforest, she says, "I want to remember our planet as she was, not as she will become."

This is the perhaps the last forest left on the face of the planet, Wheeler knows, dropping their joined hands in between them and looking around at the lush, green forestry. They hear laughter, and both look over to see Gi and her husband, a man whose name they both only vaguely recall, having just met him today, chasing their youngest daughter. The child can not possibly understand what is happening. She's young and carefree, and Gi's determined that her children should not know how bad things are until it's too late. She wants them to enjoy their last moments.

Wheeler follows Linka's traveling gaze to where Kwame stands, holding his wife, his hands on her large belly wherein lives new life that will never get to breathe the air. A monkey screeches, and their gaze moves to where Ma-Ti and Suchi are playing with both the former's adopted children and the monkey's actual offspring.

"So," Wheeler speaks quietly, glancing down at Linka's hand in his, "no husband?"

"No." Linka shakes her head, glances at him, and looks away. "There was only one special man in my life," she admits shyly, "but at the time we parted, he was still too much of a boy."

"I wonder who that could have been," Wheeler mumbles, and when she cuts sharp eyes at him, he bursts into a genuine grin that fades as quickly as it appears. Her hands still in his, he steps in front of her and tugs on her hands until her curious eyes lift to his. "I'm sorry I screwed up."

Linka stares at him for a moment before looking around them again. The earth trembles underneath their feet once more, and pain grasps at her heart. Neither of them liked walking out on Gaia and Captain Planet, but they'd always obeyed their Captain. He'd asked for time alone with the spirit with whom his own being is forever linked, and they had granted it though knowing they would never see either of them again. "I used to believe," Linka says softly, "that if being a Planeteer had taught me one thing it was that we are never too late."

Wheeler sighs and follows her gaze. In the distance, he hears a tree fall. Monkeys scream, and Ma-Ti's family stops playing. The children, both primate and human, start howling instead. The young boy clinging to the hand of Kwame's wife, his mother, also starts to wail. Gi quickly pulls her daughter to her; her husband wraps them both in his arms.

Wheeler steps up to Linka, and she lets his arms surround her again. His forehead presses against hers, his lips only a breath away. Gazing into the eyes he's seen for years every time he's shut his own eyes, Wheeler speaks with a grin that doesn't touch his eyes, "You know, I think Gi might be on to something."

"There's nothing else we can do," Linka murmurs.

"Not to save the planet," Wheeler agrees sorrowfully. "It's too late."

"There's three words I never thought I'd hear you say."

"Here's three more," he whispers, releasing one of her hands to stroke her face, "I love you. I always have." His grin falters. "I should have told you long ago."

"We both should have said it," Linka acknowledges, "because I always loved you too."

"Spend your last moments with me -- " Wheeler starts to ask, but Linka cuts him off, stepping up to him and pressing her lips solidly against his. For hours now, the sun and moon have been traveling at lightning speed. Day has been changing into night every thirty minutes, and night into day just as swiftly. Now, as the sun blazes red hot upon them once more, neither Linka or Wheeler looks up.

Linka starts to cry again as they feel Gaia's pain stretching beyond them. Tears slip silently down Wheeler's face, too, and they mingle in their kiss. Linka holds tightly to Wheeler's hand with one hand while her other keeps an equally tight hold on the collar of his brown jacket. She kisses him hungrily, kisses him, some would say, like a drowning woman, and indeed as he kisses her back with equal furor and passion, they are drowning.

They're drowning in a world that they saved countless times as children, teenagers, and adults. They're drowning in a world whose supposedly most advanced species always took it for granted. They're drowning in a world who once pure, blue seas are churning with blood, in a world made black by a sun that no longer returns. They're drowning in a world they'd give anything to save but in which they can no longer make a difference that truly matters. They're drowning together in their very last seconds.

Linka's hands move to Wheeler's face. Her fingers trace his face before clasping his jaw and holding tight. The trees are screaming now, and more are falling. Animals cry all over the world. Mother Earth's final scream splits them apart, but even in the end, they're still looking at each other. They still won't let go. They cry each other's names and grab one another's hands. They kiss again, and their lips are still pressed firmly together when they breathe their last.

The End

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