Finally, I have managed to write the….. almost last chapter.
One more, plus a teeny epilogue after this, guys. Then I promise we’re done. xD (Actually, if I finish the last little bits of this before then, you may get it on Sunday.)
If you’re behind, you’re definitely gonna want to catch up on all the crazy time travel stuff that’s been going on down here.
If you’re new, what a great time to show up! You’re here just in time for the end and have like no cliffhangers to hang off of.
Part 19: The Happy Couple
I honestly thought for a few seconds that we might have put the director into cardiac arrest he stood so still, just staring at us.
Finally, he managed to make a small sound, even if it wasn’t exactly verbal. Then he closed his mouth, took a deep breath through his nose and looked to Hudson.
“Well?” his voice cracked a little. “What is the protocol for this sort of situation? It escapes my memory if something similar has ever happened before.”
Hudson blinked multiple times, his jaw working as he tried to find words. He cleared his throat a little. “I would guess that… we simply follow our normal rules for preserving history? Because it seems that this is indeed our history now.”
“But that’s…” Director Loughty dragged a hand down his face. He groaned quietly.
We’d just turned this guy’s whole belief system upside down. He must have felt horrible. Still, I couldn’t help myself from grinning.
“I think history might be a little more resilient than you guys take it for,” I remarked, tilting my head.
“Like I’ve been saying for years.” Jonah spread his hands. “History’s made up of folks making choices like we made. It’s not as set as you think.”
The director looked tiredly over in Jonah’s direction. “Yes, I’m well aware of your opinion, Mr. Harkman.” He let out a long sigh and looked towards the wide window on the other wall.
Chase wasn’t able to cue up a witty comment just at that moment. He looked almost more surprised than the historians themselves. And Jane just looked incredibly confused, but too scared to ask what was going on.
I might have ended up holding my breath for a minute there.
Finally, Director Loughty spoke. “Well. It seems our only choice is to send our guests back to their respective times. And to send Professor Morrow back with… his wife.” His gaze flicked momentarily over to Jane and he straightened his posture just slightly, swallowing. “It would be the only way to keep history on its correct course and… well… that is our duty.”
Happiness inflated inside me and I gave a little hop, barely muffling my squeak of victory as I pumped my fist in the air. I hurried over and hugged Jane.
Chase let out a big whoosh of breath, deflating with relief. Jonah laughed and clapped him on the back.
Hudson didn’t react much to the whole victory dance thing, but stepped over and talked quietly with the director for a second, still looking rather shaky and pale. Loughty nodded a few times, seeming to age a little more as he stood there. Then he gestured to us distractedly.
“Come on, then. Let’s go get Morrow out of his holding room.”
What a dignified name for prison cells. My thought held less malice and more smug glee at the fact that we were getting Demetrius out.
I heard Jonah’s boots on the floor behind me as we started walking after Loughty and Hudson and then his hand ruffled in the back of my hair. I turned for a second to grin at him and he grinned back, nodding. “Good job, kid.”
I bit my lip to hide my wider smile and looked back down at my own boots as I scuffed them along the polished floor.
We weren’t just a couple of stupid college kids who stumbled in to a time travelling crazy guy. We were part of history. And we’d actually helped.
I reached over and squeezed Chase’s hand, keeping my voice low. “So. We did it.”
Chase took a second to squeeze back, having to shake himself out of his shock a little more first. “I-I… guess we did. Us and… our kid or grandkid or something who invents time travel, apparently. Jeez…” he rubbed a hand over his short hair, blinking a few times.
I laughed. “Oh come on. That is supercool.”
“Hey, I’m not saying it isn’t.” A smile pulled at his mouth. “See, the coolest thing to me right now is just the fact that you’re even still here to…” he trailed off, opening and closing his mouth as he tried to find his word.
I tilted my head. “To tell you that it’s cool?”
“Just to be here.” Chase held my hand tighter, looking over intently at me like he still wasn’t sure I was solid and real.
I smiled and reached over to hug him as we reached the bottom of the stairs. “Well. I’m glad to be here too.”
We started down the hall towards the cells. Director Loughty looked back at us and opened his mouth like he was about to say something, but was cut off by a loud crashing sound from down the hall.
We all jumped.
Loughty’s brow furrowed. “That sounded like something broke…” he started moving in the direction of the noise and we all followed him.
Sure enough, I could definitely hear the sound of broken glass crunching and clinking against the floor as we got closer. Maybe someone… dropped one of those fancy old vases? Or…
Wait, that’s coming from the direction of the cells…
The director stepped around the corner and just stopped, looking very ready for this day to be over.
I hurried up to the corner with Chase at my heels and peered around.
Demetrius stood in the middle of the hall, holding one of his tall, buckled boots up like a weapon and wearing the other one. There were a few bloodied cuts on his hands and more than a few on his bare foot.
The buckles on his boots were noticeably more banged up than before. So he’d… just whacked his way out of the cell with the only metal thing he had? For a crazy guy, he actually could be pretty smart sometimes.
He didn’t seem to notice Chase and me at first, just focusing his wild gaze on Director Loughty.
Loughty took an involuntary step back, putting his hands up in a peaceful gesture. “Listen, Morrow. I… this isn’t…”
Demetrius inhaled a shaky breath through clenched teeth and limped a few steps forward, raising the boot. “Where is my wife?” His voice cracked on the last word.
“That’s what we’re here for, actually!” Hudson broke in with forced cheerfulness, stepping between Demetrius and the director and spreading his hands.
Demetrius stopped, blinking. He squinted his eyes in confusion, almost like he was wondering if he was actually seeing Hudson.
“A few things actually turned up and it looks like you and your… Jane…” Hudson trailed off as Demetrius’s gaze pulled off of him and redirected to over his shoulder.
To the woman in the white nightgown who’d just moved out into view.
Hudson and the director moved out of the way.
Demetrius’s eyes widened. The boot fell from his hands. He sucked in a breath, working his jaw and trying to form words.
Jane’s face was practically glowing. She gave a slightly teary laugh, starting forwards. “It looks like you found me, dear.”
Demetrius made a choked noise and rushed forward, his boot and bare foot smacking out an uneven, quick beat on the floor as he ran. He caught Jane up in a desperate, tight hug. His fingers curled into the fabric of her nightgown and he buried his face in her neck. He squeezed his eyes shut, tears squeezing out.
I partly felt like I should look away and let them have a private moment or something. But also I’d been risking my skin for this for the last… it felt like forever.And it made me feel like I could just explode with happiness watching them finally together again.
Demetrius was saying something to Jane, but it muffled too much through his sobs and how quietly he was speaking that I couldn’t make it out. She shushed him, holding him tighter and whispering her response.
I would have captured some of it on my cell phone if it didn’t seem like too holy of a moment to ever be captured. And if my phone wasn’t dead. I was too jittery from happiness to hold a camera steady anyway.
There was a bit of movement in the periphery of my vision and I glanced sideways to see Chase quickly swiping at his eyes.
I punched his arm a little, a grin still just about splitting my face in half. “Admit it, this was worth all the time travel craziness.”
Chase let out a half sigh, half laugh. “Maybe even worth flunking that test I was studying for.” He rubbed at his nose, looking down at the floor, a smile still lingering on his face even as it turned a little red.
I glanced back to Jane and Demetrius, who were kissing now, and almost exploded with joy all over again.
Hudson and Loughty both stood there awkwardly, looking a weird mix of regretful and impatient.
Jonah had to be loving this, after all he was banking on with Demetrius getting his girl back. I turned to look back down the hall and catch his eye. And he wasn’t there.
I blinked a few times, staring. Did he seriously just…?
Director Loughty cleared his throat and I quickly whipped my attention back to him. He shuffled his feet and didn’t look any of us in the eye. “It seems that… some of our rules need reworking. And our… organization in general needs to reconsider what our vision is and if we are truly carrying out our intended purpose. You all have opened my eyes to that now.” He swallowed, turning to look to Demetrius and Jane. “But I think we need to start all of that by sending all of you back to where you belong. The Morrows back to their home in London. Chase and Zoey back to twenty-eighteen. And…”
His words trailed off as he looked back to where Jonah had been.
I couldn’t exactly say I was upset that Jonah was gone now. Because no matter how much this organization planned on changing, Jonah and his time travelling escapades probably merited some sort of high-society prison sentence here.
I held my breath a little, sort of expecting Loughty to explode at yet another thing gone wrong in his day.
But he just sighed. “I suppose there’s not much we can do about Mr. Harkman now. We have more pressing matters to worry about.” He turned to Hudson, “I’ll get Morrow his things back and take these four to the transport room to get ready. Jonah’s almost certainly stolen another warper, so send someone to sweep up the broken display case glass upstairs.”
I let out my breath, holding back a grin. Go, Jonah.
And that’s almost a wrap… -music crescendos-
Come back for the conclusion! Coming your way next week at the very latest.