The group of them all sat together, in Ian's living room, six months after the book had been finished. The story had been published, and the trial was just to finish today after Malcom's miracle lawyer had pushed through an appeal that usually took two years to be taken seriously in five months. And so the group of them were together, for the first time since the book had been published, waiting for the results.
Henry or Henuki Araneal was on the couch, his arm around the small, red-haired woman who was his wife. She and Alyssa had made quick friends, often giggling once they were out of the same room as their husbands. It made the men share anxious looks from time to time, but there was nothing they could do. Mona was there as well, dressed in her usual casual attire, and constantly giving the rather roundly pregnant Mrs. Araneal advice. There were a lot of women, and usually, this would have made Ian uncomfortable, but he liked the people in the room. There was his wife, the thoroughly unintimidating better half to the frightening millionaire, the frightening millionaire himself, and a woman who might just have been a mage of some repute, and it didn't matter. He was content, and in good company, so somehow, none of it seemed to matter.
The book had not sold well. His publisher hadn't liked it from the beginning. He had claimed it was too depressing and far too outlandish for Ian's usual work, but out of a perverse respect for Malcom and a desire to see the story finished, Ian had pushed it through. And, sure enough, it had flopped. True to his editor's word, only a few curious readers attracted by the "similarities" to the life of Malcom Black had picked it up, and had quickly dismissed it. He had read up on the comments online. Fans of his previous works said it was disjointed and thoroughly depressing, and those who were curious about the truth about the mysterious hijacker called for his head for the astonishingly poor "dramatization." Ian would have been lying if he had said it hadn't bothered him, but he'd shrugged it off anyways and, to his wife's concerned look, had told her bluntly: "It wasn't for me. And I did the best that I could."
"You did indeed," she said quietly, and patted him on the back.
Now they were all there, waiting for the results of the trial on the news. Mrs. Araneal wanted to get to her feet to help Alyssa as she puttered around getting refreshments for the group, but Henry and Mona restrained her.
"No, Kayla," he told her firmly, kissing her cheek. "Rest, remember?"
"Rest is good for a pregnant woman," Mona added. "Really. Trust me."
Ian just smiled and went to give his wife hand. Both of them, however, were quickly rushed back in as Mona shouted, sharply, "It's on!" Alyssa settled next to the Araneals, and Ian sat on the armrest, his hands folded tightly in his lap. None of the group spoke as the program ran. An attractive black-haired woman in glasses appeared on the television, a mike in hand as she stood in front of the court building.
"This is Lisa Weddle reporting on the recent Malcom Black trial, requesting a repeal of the death sentence currently placed on Mr. Black. Mr. Black, who was convicted as guilty for the crimes of hijacking and murder, among other crimes, was brought to the stand for his last day of the trial…"
"Probably green-screened," Mrs. Araneal murmured. "Look at her—not one hair on her head is moving."
"Shhhh!" hissed three pairs of voices. She sighed and settled down just as the woman returned to her narrative.
"During the trial, many new pieces of evidence were brought forward, including evidence that Mr. Black was suffering from alcohol withdrawal. However, this information did not seem to change Judge Harper's mind, nor the jury's. Malcom Black was once again convicted of the death penalty, and will be returned to his prison to await the completion of his sentence. The family of the victims…"
"Turn it off." It was Mona who spoke, quietly. The television screen flickered off, and she slumped backwards, her hand pressed to her face. Carefully, Ian slid off the couch and moved to her, placing his hand over hers. Behind him, he could hear the Araneals softly murmuring to each other.
"I can't believe it," Alyssa said quietly. "For a while, I'd thought…well, that he was going to make it."
Ian turned back to look at them just in time to catch Henry's shrug.
"He made his choice," the man said. His voice too was soft, and although it was hard to see past the mask that his features usually resembled, Ian thought he could detect some pain. "It was what he wanted. We cannot say otherwise. Besides." He shut his eyes for a moment, and when he opened them again, the bleakness was obvious. "Perhaps it is a better fate than rotting in prison."
"Oh, I don't know about that."
Everyone turned at the unfamiliar male voice. There stood, in the doorway for Ian's kitchen, a fair-skinned man with white hair and red eyes. He was dressed in an orange jump suit, and looked a bit weary. But he was smiling. Quite broadly.
"After all," he continued, "after the retrial, I'd have to wait for my shot at the lethal injector, and who knows how long that would take? Most people die of old age on death row, didn't you know"
Mona and Henry had risen and were staring openly. The man's smile became a grin.
"Hello, kids," Malcom said cheerfully. "Am I late for tea?"
M'kay...this was originally going to have a miserable ending. And I do mean miserable. But...my loyal reviewer Michelle requested that I give it a...happier ending. And that evolved into this. I know some of you might feel cheated, and perhaps the way it should go, but...you don't need miserable endings to make a good story. And I prefer writing happy ones.
Anyways, thank you so much for reading Malcom, and I hope you have enjoyed it! This is the end, ladies and gents, au revoir! And thanks to all of you who reviewed! You all ROCK!