Epilogue: Three Months Later

: Previews & Popcorn :

"Come on, come on, come on," Alex said, her sandals clapping as she hurried down the sidewalk. She had a large box tucked under her left arm and held one side of another with her right hand. Shana scrambled after her, holding the other end of the box and being dragged after Alex with a look of frazzled harassment.

"I am hurrying!" Shana's sundress caught the light and almost seemed to glow. She nearly fell over Alex was moving so quickly.

Alex had taken to wearing brown. She had her dark hair tied back into a functional ponytail that swayed with her movements. They rounded Shana's car together and shimmied the box into the trunk. Alex stored the other box in the backseat. "I want to get unpacked and changed before the movie," she said. "We're not missing the previews this time."

"Or the popcorn," Shana said.

Alex sighed and leaned against the car. She stared back at the dormitory before sharing a smile with Shana. "I think that's everything."

Shana checked the car again and shrugged. "Pretty sure that was the last box, but we can do a once over to doublecheck."

"No. I think you're right. If I leave anything now, well, then it belongs to them."

Shana laughed and shut the trunk. She went to the driver's seat while Alex lingered at the passenger door. "Say goodbye to this place, at least for the summer."

"Please, don't remind me. Two months isn't enough."

Laughing again, Shana entered the car and buckled her seatbelt. She started the car while watching Alex out of the corner of her eye. A lot had happened since their time in the Emotion, and Alex had changed a lot, too. She was still quiet, and she still kept to herself, but she had grown quickly. Shana was happy for her.

Alex got in, and Shana was checking the rearview and making sure it was clear. She was just pulling out when Alex called for her, and she jerked the car to a stop. "What?"

"Thanks."

Shana rolled her eyes. "For what? The ride? You're welcome. I wouldn't leave you to figure this out on your own, anyway."

"No," Alex said as the car came to another stop. Shana paused in shifting gears and took the chance to look Alex in the eyes. She found Alex blushing. "I meant, thank you for all those years when I was, well, me, and you were—you were you. Thanks, you know, for being my friend."

Shana grinned, her own cheeks feeling warm. She was equally amused and bewildered by the suddenness of it. "Alex, you don't have to thank me for that." Even as she said it, however, she reached out and pinched her friend's cheek. "But you're welcome."

Alex shoved Shana's hand away and grinned despite herself. Amidst their shared laughter, she said, "Alright, alright, let's just go."

"Right, right, we can't leave the popcorn and previews waiting."

: King and Queen :

Ellen was leaned against the wall of the Eralder Bookstore as she watched Isaac at work. She strategically placed herself so that she was away from the mess and also away from him. Isaac had, over the past week, built himself a tiny kingdom of books and folders, and he presided over them diligently.

"I told my you that my father left me the store and his money when he," and that is where Isaac always fell silent. He had his back to her, but she could still feel the hurt in him, even if she couldn't see it in his eyes. It didn't matter, though, because he wasn't actually talking to her. He didn't always talk to her, when he was talking, and she imagined that he spoke like that even when she wasn't there. Three months had passed since they came home. Isaac had returned to the store to find his father hanging from the ceiling one day. He didn't speak of it often, but Ellen could tell that it was always on his mind.

"Anyway, we were wondering where he got all the money from, right? I've been looking into his personal records, and it seems that he was being paid under the table by some guy from some organization, and he was getting paid a lot. I've been doing some digging, and it's all tied to some pharmaceutical company owned by a someone named Lazarus Klein. He's big money and has his fingers into a little bit of everything, and he had my dad looking into something special."

"What was he looking into?" Ellen didn't feel qualified to ask, but she felt obligated to respond anyway.

With his back still to her, Isaac called her over. He pulled a file from one of the many stacks around him and laid its contents on the counter. There were stacks of paper, yellowing with age. Each one was hand-written. "Seems like he was looking into a guy named David Antur. Dad told me about him once. He was like us, Alex and I, and he was one of the first. A lot of what I know it based off of what this guy wrote. In fact, the Emotion? He was the guy who named it."

Ellen leaned over the counter and examined the papers. She picked up one and looked it over while Isaac gathered the rest.

"I'm going to England," he said while he waited for her to finish.

Ellen tensed. She gave him the paper and watched him move about the room. He didn't look at her, and she was glad for that. She didn't want him to see her cry.

"Antur was from England, and there's some missing research by him. Apparently, it's got everything he ever wrote in one place. It was his final report, and it's supposed to really insightful. Klein is looking for it, and so was my father." Isaac sorted the books, stacked them, and moved them from one place to another. "I'll be there until I find it."

Ellen pressed her fingers into the wooden surface of the counter and watched them go white. She drew a deep breath and then said his name. When he didn't stop, she said it again, only this time louder. He stopped, and they made eye contact. Ellen drew a deep breath. "I—I'm—I'm pregnant."

The words hung on the air, and Ellen took a deep breath and blinked a lot. It felt to her like an eternity had passed, and she was just about to leave when he said, "You are?"

She nodded. "Uh-huh." She felt like she sounded nervous. She was nervous.

Isaac rounded some boxes and stopped in front of her. She couldn't tell if he was angry or happy until he grinned and grabbed by the waist, lifting her up with his big, strong hands. "We're having a baby?" He beamed.

She giggled and rested her hands on his shoulders. "Well, that depends," she said as he deposited safely on the countertop. She stared him in the eyes and did her best to look serious. "You are coming back, aren't you?"

"Of course," Isaac said, and he kissed her. It was one big kiss that turned, gradually, into a series of smaller kisses. Then, he scooped her back up in his arms and held her close. "What kind of king would just abandon his queen?"

No matter how long the journey,

No matter how far we go,

We will continue passing through time,

Like sunlight through vapor.

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RWS