What’s in a name?
What’s in a name, but a collection of letters, a jumble of sounds marking you as unique.
But there is power in a name.
In the naming, you can give something power. In the naming, you can take power away.
Your name can become you.
Or you can become your name.
A name can burn you, a brand upon your skin. It can overcome you, until it is all that defines you. Until you’re sick of fighting it, tooth and nail, to be something more. Until you resign to it, until you accept it, and follow where it leads you.
But sometimes, rarely, impossibly… you find someone with the same names as you. With the same twisted brands upon their skin.
And you see that your names, the names those people gave you, the names they gave her… they were true yes, but they didn’t have to define you.
Sometimes a fire can burn brightly enough to cleanse those old names away, can kindle a passion you hadn’t thought yourself capable of. Sometimes you can find something, someone to fight for.
His name sparked off her tongue, in a way that was always so unique.
His mom had used that name in disgust, in anger, hanging like ash in her mouth.
Jaha had used it too heavily, too purposefully, a suffocating weight trying to snuff him out.
The others used his second name… Murphy… and since he met her, since he had started to find a new path, he thought they might use it with fondness, friendship… even with the love of a family.
But when she named him… in joy or anger or passion or fear… it set fire to the space between them, and when he used hers…
…it closed a circle. Together they burned hot and fast, as jumping sparks set alight to dry kindling. They were a constant chaos, and sometimes they burned so brightly that one of them would get hurt.
But they would always be drawn back to each other, pulled to the heat, lips hot like molten gold, blood burning, souls on fire.
Sometimes it comes upon you slowly, steadily, quietly. Sometimes it creeps up from beneath your feet as softly as the whispering trees. Sometimes you think you’re looking for fire when really, you’re looking for something, for someone to ground you.
She would never have thought at the beginning, when everything was new and exciting, that she would have ended up here. When she jumped from the gangway of the Drop Ship and her boots first sunk into the dark, loamy soil, how could she have imagined being where she stood today?
She thought she was in it for the fight, for the rush and the adrenaline and the blink of an eye.
Until she was buried beneath a mountain, and all she wanted was more time.
And he gave it to her. He brought her back from the brink more than once, with a promise of a future. He gave her life, and hope. In a dying world of bloodshed and anger, he believed there could be something better, something more. If only they had the patience to wait, and watch it grow.
“Harper Green, my wife.”
They couldn’t marry, not really, but when you’re the only two people standing, you can make the rules.
“Monty Green, my husband.”
In each other’s names, they found home. They found a life. They found time. Moments of quiet, moments of tears, moments of laughter. Moments of everything a full life should hold.
And with the moments, built each upon the next, with time ticking on as steadily as dawn and dusk on their old world below…
“Jordan Jasper Green, our son.”
So came one last name, born in the same sky as his parents, gifted with a life and a legacy and a potential.
And time kept ticking, slowly, steadily. Each day one more rotation of orbit, each day perfect in its banality, each day breathing in the life of the ones she loved.
It wasn’t what she had pictured, when she met him in the middle of a ramshackle camp in a forest. It wasn’t what he had expected, when he came to know her buried deep beneath the ground.
But they wouldn’t change it for all world, their little life lived long in the shadow of a dying Earth.
In the deep and the dark and the cold, you start to forget who you are. You’re swept away, gasping, drowning in a tidal wave of hate, selfishness and anger.
Survival is paramount.
All else is secondary.
But then how do you stay sane? No one can drown forever and not die.
You grasp hold of something. You take hold with all your strength, anchor yourself against the raging currents that threaten to rend you apart.
One person will sink, claimed by the depths of despair.
Two people will kick and struggle and fight, help each other stay afloat amidst the chaos of a world that makes no sense. When you get tired, you know he won’t let you go.
It creates a love and a loyalty like no other, limitless as the ocean.
And there’s no one to tell you not to get swept away so fast. No one to tell you to think, to hold back, to be careful of getting hurt.
So you give yourself over completely, you trust in him utterly to keep you safe, to keep you sane as you will do for him. You love him with a furious determination, and he loves you with an unending certainty.
A name spoken in a whisper of a breath with questioning eyes. A careful and rare name, reserved. His other names, Miller… Nathan… he gave them freely to people who knew him, to people who cared for him, who laughed with him, who fought with him and watched his back.
But that one syllable, a trickle off the tongue, that name is for the people who love him. Because that’s all his love needs. It doesn’t need lots of words, to be drowned in declarations or complications. It just needs to be returned with as much as is given.
It was an accidental name, a new name, not one he had owned before.
It wasn’t Eric, the name he had never felt he belonged to. The name that died on the lips of his mother, and sometimes came to life on the tongues of those like Kane who had known him as a child.
And it wasn’t Jackson, Doctor Jackson, the name he grew into, the name he used as a shield.
It was Nate’s. Vulnerable and open and honest and theirs.
They belonged to each other, standing fast against the sucking eddies and undercurrents that tugged coldly at their legs.
They wouldn’t drown. They would hold on tight. They would kick and struggle and keep each other afloat, even in the moments when it would be so easy to just sink, sink down to the depths and let the cold fill their lungs.
Waiting until the day the bunker opened, life could flood in, and their heads could finally break above the water.
You don’t know you’re in a cage until you see someone who’s free.
Boundless, intangible, ethereal.
He couldn’t remember the last time he had felt like this, met someone like her. It had been so long ago, maybe he never had.
He didn’t know why he wanted to help her. He shouldn’t. She was the other, the unknown.
But she was also a hurricane, soaring, mind quick as lightning and just as deadly.
How could he be anything but pulled towards her? When she was everything he had wanted to be, back then at the beginning, before he had made his choice and doomed his crew.
His first mistake was to try to catch her, to pull her down, as if she was a little bird in need of protection.
He quickly learnt how wrong that was, how impossible. As unpredictable and changeable as dry autumn leaves whipped up into a dance, she caught him.
Her name heralded her storm, her strength. From the moment he saw that bird shining through her code on his monitor, he knew something was going to change. Something was going to be different, this time.
And when her cool lips caught his in the darkest part of the night, he knew he would follow her anywhere.
Even if that meant pushing through the blood and the screams, even if it meant teetering on the brink of death. As long as he could fly by her side.
She said the name for the first time with a wicked grin and a whispering breath, fingers dancing lightly over the middle name Ezekiel on the monitor, next to where he would lie down to sleep. Her lips brushed his, a ghosting promise.
He would leave Miles behind on the tongues of loved ones long dead. He would keep Shaw, for the people he still wasn’t sure he could trust. But this new name, she claimed it. For the new him, for the new future.
And when they woke, he couldn’t wait to be free. To be free with her and follow her at the slightest changes in the wind.
What’s in a name?
A name is taken. A name is offered. It is so much more than the sum of its parts.
A name can be simple, but it can be said in so many ways that each time it’s different.
A name can be a lingering shadow.
A name can be a responsibility.
And sometimes names can be bigger than themselves, they can stretch beyond their bounds and become a reflection of one another.
The Princess and the King.
Names can cause friction, they can force you down a path you didn’t want to tread, down a path you can’t be followed.
From the moment you say a name, it can be a fight, it can be a plea. It can be a million questions and answers and thoughts spilling out into the stars.
Sometimes you can own too many names, sometimes you can be trapped by one.
Sometimes you can take a name for granted, believing that with every sunrise and sunset, it will always be there to roll off your tongue with a grin or a frown, a whisper or a shout.
Until the day it’s not.
Until the day it’s not there to be said, for over two thousand sunrises, for over two thousand sunsets.
And you realise just how much you had come to rely on it, that name that was one half of your own. One half of your soul.
But when you finally get to say the name again, it trips on your tongue. It gets stuck, tumbling out without the hidden words that need to be said. And then you’re pulled away with a hundred names and responsibilities and fears that you simply can’t do it.
It never seems to come. It always seems like there’s one more disaster, one more horror, one more way to scream their name without saying the words.
Because your names aren’t fire. They aren’t quick to kindle, crackling with heat and passion and urgency.
They aren’t earth, able to grow old in wisdom and in peace.
They’re not water, swept away by a raging flood into a limitless ocean.
And they’re not wind, whipping and turning and wheeling with a boundless freedom.
Your names are precious, they are powerful, they are unique. They shine brighter than only one of you can contain.
And they needed time. They needed to leave the old world, the old sun and constellations behind. They needed to find a second beginning.
He had said her name more times than he could remember, than she could count. But this time it was new, it was different. It held a meaning it hadn’t held before.
It shone in her smile, in her eyes, so bright and blinding and perfect.
Two names, so much more powerful than one, sealed with a kiss on their new world, in the stretching shadows cast long by twin suns.