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Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, How Does Your Garden Grow

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1.

When the wind blows, the cradle will rock
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall
And down will come baby, cradle and all.

Mia wakes, disoriented. Even before she opens her eyes, she slides one hand across the bed, slowly, under the cover of the shadows and the blankets, to touch Brian. She can feel his chest rising and falling, steady and slow. He’s alive. He’s alive.

Some nights, she wakes screaming, absolutely certain he’s dead, their children are dead, everyone is dead. He wakes with her those nights, holds her close, kisses her temple, gentle and warm.

But he sleeps deeply, and whatever woke her hasn’t disturbed him.

Mia opens her eyes, sits up. There’s light in the room; the ambient glow of their alarm clocks, the streetlight outside, Brian’s phone blinking with some message or another.

There’s a sound from the baby monitor. That must have been what woke her. She listens, trying to make out if Maria’s just making some noise in her sleep or if she’s awake and about to start crying.

Maria’s next noise is just a small gurgle, but what makes Mia’s breath catch in her throat, makes her heart stutter -- someone laughs, lighthearted and joyous, but there’s no one else awake in the house.

Mia slips from the bed, doesn’t bother to throw on pants, but grabs her gun from the nightstand, makes sure the safety is on. They may be safe here now, but the past few years have been too rough. She pads barefoot down the hall, wearing only a t-shirt and cotton underwear.

Maria’s door is closed. She can’t hear anything inside. When she touches the handle, it is cold against her fingers. She turns it slowly, eases the door open.

For a moment, in the moonlight, she sees Gisele leaning over the crib. She cries out, startled, and Gisele turns. It’s her, the quirk in her smile, the brightness of her eyes -- and then she’s gone, and Maria starts to wail.

Mia sets the gun down on the changing table and scoops up her daughter, holding her close, squeezing her tight. Too tight, maybe, from the way Maria’s cries get louder.

Brian finds them there, both crying, but Mia can’t find the words to explain.

*

She was still half asleep, Mia tells herself in the morning over an entire pot of coffee she’s keeping to herself. She’s exhausted running after a toddler, taking care of a baby. She’s still mourning all the people they’ve lost -- Han and Gisele and Vince and Jesse, their parents, the list goes on and on.

Mia doesn’t believe in ghosts.

2.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Letty’s so focused on the engine she’s rebuilding that she doesn’t hear the first socket hit the floor. The handful that follows after, though, sends her skittering to her feet. She’s alone in the garage, or so she thought. Sometimes, she still feels unbalanced here, even with her memories back. Sometimes, what she remembers feels like a dream. Sometimes, what she dreams feels like the truth.

“Get the fuck out here!” she snaps, because anger is always the easiest emotion.

No one comes out, not that there are a ton of places to hide. Dom’s rebuilt the garage into a wide open, clean space. There are bright white lights and every tool has its perfect place. The toolboxes are sharp red and shiny chrome. It’s a beautiful place to work, and everything is easy to find.

It doesn’t feel like home.

Air stirs the little hairs that have escaped her ponytail, as if someone has leaned in to whisper in her ear. She’s alone in the garage. Dom, Mia, and Brian are out with the kids, and Ramsey is off with Roman and Tej. Probably, Letty doesn’t want to think too hard about what those three are getting up to.

A little laugh escapes, and she smooths her hair out of her face.

“Letty.”

It’s as soft as a whisper, and familiar.

She catches movement out of the corner of her eye. Even as she’s turning, she has a visceral memory of Gisele’s hands on her body, holding pieces of her together, blood smeared between them. Letty was mostly unconscious then, but there was a moment when her eyes fluttered open, bright white lights overhead, Gisele’s frantic, terrified expression.

Gisele stands between Letty and the door, sunlight streaming over her, through her. There’s blood on her hands, and her body is -- her body is --

Letty bites down so hard on the inside of her cheek that the sharp metallic flavor of blood, penny bitter, settles on her tongue.

Letty.

Letty staggers a little, overwhelmed by heartache. When Gisele first fell out of that plane, Letty didn’t remember a thing about her. She was sad because the others were sad, guilty that Gisele died in the rush to save her, but she didn’t, couldn’t, mourn her for her own sake.

She remembers Gisele now, remembers Gisele befriending her when she first went undercover with Braga, remembers Gisele saving her.

She slumps against the car, grounding herself, and when she’s finally settled, she opens her eyes.

Gisele is gone. Gisele will always be gone.

*

Letty knows what it’s like to return from the dead, but Letty had Gisele to catch her when she fell. Gisele had no one.

3.

Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water,
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.

Neela finds Sean sitting in the loft space above the garage, staring down at the cars, quiet in the darkness. He’s got something between his fingers; it catches the light of the city pouring in through the windows.

He doesn’t look up when she approaches, just holds a hand out for her. She takes it, and lets him draw her down to sit next to him. They’re silent for awhile, long enough she notices how fast his breath comes. She presses her fingers against his wrist; his pulse beats quick.

“What’s wrong?” she asks.

He tilts his head toward her. “Do you believe in ghosts?”

Neela absolutely believes in ghosts.

She touches his cheek. “What’s wrong?” she asks again.

“I saw Han,” he says, and his voice shakes.

Neela doesn’t know what to say to that. They’re both feeling guilty, even though his death has nothing to do with them and everything to do with his life before. Sean has taken in the others, the people Han gathered around him. They race together, they party together, they keep each other safe.

But they couldn’t keep Han safe.

*

They sit together like that for a long, long time. At last, Neela urges Sean to come to bed. She stands, helps him up, and as she turns away from the garage, she sees something moving past the cars, just a flickering shadow.

It’s a woman, dark hair, delicate features. She looks familiar -- oh. Han carried a picture of her. Dom brought them another. Neela blinks, catches Sean’s arm. By the time he turns back to her, whatever was there -- ghost or mirage or hallucination -- is gone.

*

They sleep little that night, curled together, not talking about what they’ve seen.

4.

All around the mulberry bush
The monkey chased the weasel;
The monkey thought ’twas all in fun
Pop! goes the weasel.

Something’s going on. Mia’s been melancholy for days, Letty keeps looking behind her. Ramsey’s not sure what to do. She’s not even sure she wants to do anything, because it will bind her even tighter to this family that has already sucked in her so deep.

Ramsey feels trapped, sometimes, but welcome always. Too welcome, if that’s possible.

She sits with Mia after dinner one night while Mia nurses little Maria. They look through pictures on her phone together. There’s plenty from before Ramsey joined them. Most of the faces she recognizes, either because she sees them a couple times a week -- or, like Tej and Roman, pretty much every day -- or because she’s seen pictures of them elsewhere.

They’ve lost so many people. Mia’s voice shakes when she speaks their names. Ramsey, hesitant, pats Mia’s arm. Mia leans into her a little, smiles a little, cuddles the baby close. Ramsey doesn’t know what to say to her, so she says nothing, but sits and listens to every single word.

*

Ramsey goes with the family to the beach, sits a little separate, digs her toes into the sand. She likes to listen to Jack shriek as he runs into the waves then back out when they break against his legs. He’s silly, and sweet, and he makes everyone smile.

Brian swings him up into his arms, spins him round and round.

Ramsey leans forward, wraps her arms around her knees, stares out into the water. She doesn’t know where she fits here with them, if she belongs, if she should even try to have a family. She’s been alone for so long, and she likes it that way.

She likes it here, too, though.

The sun is bright, the wind off the water strong. She squints her eyes against it, and in the sparkle of it off the crest of the waves, she sees something. Someone. The woman sinks into the water, dark hair on dark water.

Ramsey blinks, and she’s gone.

5.

Ring-a-round the rosie,
A pocket full of posies,
Ashes! Ashes!
We all fall down.

The car burns, and Han with it, and in that moment, Gisele stretches down, eyes bright like stars, and takes his hand.