At this point, I just wanted to crash. Or go home and lay in Tyrus's bathtub. That sounded even better yet. But I knew that once morning came, I'd have to go back to the way things were. I should probably leave my mods here. That whole future tech going to the past thing. It screws up the timelines, rips a hole in the fabric of space. I didn't know much about time travel, but no sense in risking it.
Once we got back to the hanger, all I could think about was that bathtub. The memory of Tyrus coming back from seeing Desi and waking me up popped into my head, filling me with a strange sense of warmth. I liked it, though. Like a hug for my brain. Instead of going home to wander around an empty house by myself, I spent my last night with the crew in the ship. God only knows what kind of repercussions killing a doctor would get me around here. For now, we'd have this. I curled up in Tyrus's bed, ready to go to sleep, until a soft knock pecked at my door.
"Yes, Asher," I stared at the ceiling, "You can come in."
"It's not Asher," Kat came in instead, "Do you have a minute?"
"Sure, Kat," I sat up in bed, "What's up?"
"Well," she played with one of her million bracelets on her wrist. Nervous habit, probably, "You're leaving in the morning, aren't you?"
"I just…" Kat couldn't even make eye contact with me. But without another thought, she threw herself into my arms. If her eyes could make tears, I'm sure my shoulder would've been drenched by now, "I'm going to miss you."
"I'll miss you, too, sweetie," I hugged her tight, "But we don't have to do goodbyes tonight. We'll do that tomorrow morning instead. Why don't you get some sleep, ok?"
"Actually, Ren…" she blushed a bit, "Would it be too much to ask if I slept in here?"
"No," I shook my head, "Go ahead. You'll have to take the couch, though. The bed's on permanent reserve."
"Who's the lucky one that gets that spot?" Kat made herself comfortable on the loveseat, settling in to get some sleep.
I couldn't hold back a smile right now if I wanted to, "That one. Come in, Asher."
"It's pronounced Archer," he corrected me. Huh. That's weird, "I'm missing out on a slumber party in here?"
"There's no slumber party," I clarified, "Kat's sleeping on the couch. That's it."
"I was wondering why you weren't in your room, Kat," Archer sat at her feet, "Is everything alright?"
"Yeah," Kat nodded, "Just wanted to sleep in here tonight. Is that alright with you?"
"Sure," he pulled her to his chest, "That is, if it's ok that I sleep in here, too, Captain."
Did I miss something? Was there some memo I didn't get? Regardless, I couldn't turn Archer away, "Why not? It's fine with me."
"Never slept in the Captain's room before," Archer snuggled Kat a little more, "Not bad."
"I have a couple times," Kat admitted, "Nightmares would get the best of me and when you'd be snoring like a buzz saw, I'd come sleep in here. The Captain had no problem with that. It's why he got the couch in here in the first place. So he wouldn't accidentally roll over in the night and squish me."
"That's sweet of him," I awed, "Tyrus was a good man. I fell asleep in his bathtub once, but he put me to bed shortly after that."
"You got to see his bathtub?" Kat gasped, "I'm so jealous! I didn't even get that far!"
"Alright," I sighed out, "Asher, I'm guessing it's you this time."
Asher came around the corner and into the room, looking like a deer in the headlights. He gave me a couple nods.
"Not up to talking?" I wondered.
Asher shook his head.
"That's fine," I allowed, "Another nightmare?"
He shook his head again. Asher pointed to himself, poked at his chin, then pointed back to me.
"That seems to be the general consensus," I chuckled a bit, "Come here. You know the drill."
Without hesitation, Asher crawled in bed with me, cuddling into my ribs. Archer stared in amazement, "Wow, Ren. Do you have him trained? Did Aeson give you his remote?"
"I don't need it," I cradled him delicately, "And honestly, I don't think he does either. Are you going to be ok without me, Ash?"
Asher shook his head. I could see it in his eyes. He didn't even want to think about tomorrow morning. And I completely understood.
"I know it'll be hard," I empathized, "But I want you to promise me you'll still try talking a little more every day. You have a sweet little voice. Don't rob the world of that."
That put a little smile on his face, which is exactly what I was aiming for. Asher gave me a wave with his ring and middle fingers down.
"I love you, too," I held him tighter, "Now, if it's ok with you guys, I just killed a woman and I played dead today and I'm very, very tired. Can I go to sleep? We can do all this mush in the morning."
"Ok," Asher agreed, "Good night, Ren."
"Good night, sweetie," I kissed the top of his head right on his scars, "Good night, guys."
"Good night, Ren!" Kat chirped.
"Night, Ren," Archer already sounded like he was half asleep.
All I had to do was shut my eyes and I was already under with Asher in my arms. It was going to suck leaving these guys in the morning. I'm sure Aeson and Bona were already asleep. Otherwise, they'd be in here, too. When I woke up again, the sun shone through the windows of the ship, nearly blinding me. I thought about making breakfast again, but getting up felt like too much effort. Although, coffee sounded nice. As gently as humanly possible, I slid Asher off me and tucked him back into bed and left Archer to spoon Kat for a little while longer.
I got into the kitchen and turned on a little music, getting a cup down from the cabinet. So, this is the end of the road, isn't it, Tyrus? Time for the meraculus to go home? What if I already found home and it's not there? Home wasn't with Eddie in whatever dilapidated apartment we're squatting in or the smack dens or anything like that. Home was five people, a beautiful ship made partially out of tin cans, and a four-legged monster with a weakness for bacon. But I had too much to get back to. I needed to find Eddie and beat him until he can't see straight. It's too bad I have to leave my mods here.
"Good morning, Captain," Bona came in and sat at the island with me.
"Morning," I groaned into my cup.
"Today's the day…"
"You know, Ren," Bona insisted, "You don't have to go."
"I do," I corrected, "I got unfinished business there. And I don't belong here. It's a fluke I even got here in the first place. You guys are going to be fine without me."
"I don't know about that," she thought it over, "I'm assuming you'll hand command of the Adelaide and her crew over to me?"
"That's right," I nodded, "It's what Tyrus would've probably wanted anyway."
"I have your crystalized blood," Bona pulled a string out of her pocket with an iridescent crystal hanging off it, "Do you want to do it now and get it over with? Spare the others?"
"Yeah," I didn't even question it. They didn't deserve to go through that kind of pain. They're still reeling from losing Tyrus, "How do I work this?"
"You just have to give it a tight squeeze," she ran me through it, "Picture very vividly your own time."
"I will," I threw the string around my neck, "So I guess this is goodbye for us, too, huh?"
"That's right," Bona threw her arms around me, "I'll miss you, Ren. Where else am I going to find a meraculus to poke around at?"
"We're in short supply these days," I pointed out, "But I have a feeling that's about to change."
"We can only hope," she let me go, "Good luck…"
I followed Bona's instructions and pictured Eddie's and my apartment in my own time. With a tight squeeze of the crystal, I collapsed in our bedroom right on the floor. This place seemed pretty empty. Eddie still lived here, though. Pizza boxes covered the bedroom floor along with the million empty beer cans, so that was fun. He must have gone to see his dealer. I clicked the bedroom TV on just to see what was going on in the world. Or that I even got back to the right time.
There was a report about a missing fugitive on the news that made me shiver. They didn't even use a good picture of me. I'm insulted. Not that it's a good thing that cops are still looking for me, but I hardly had anything to do with it. It was more Eddie than me. How did I figure coming back to this was a good idea? How high was I? Because I must have been on something. I stared at my crystalized blood I threw on the bed. I wonder…If giving it a squeeze got me here, I wonder if I think about the Hub and give it one more squeeze, I can get back there…It's worth a shot.
I shut my eyes and pictured Tyrus's front porch. That big, craftsman style house that I called home. Tyrus had his scooter parked out front. The farm was in the back. All the cows and the chickens and the pigs and Boomer. When I opened my eyes again, it was pitch black outside and I felt like throwing up a bit. Regardless, I could feel a porch railing in front of me and the light in the window was on. A beautiful night, too. Just warm enough to keep the windows cracked. The chatter of some familiar voices bounced around inside.
"I can't believe you let her go that easily, Bona."
"Without even telling us?"
"That was no one else's decision but my own. I was acting as the newly appointed Captain. For the sake of my crew…"
"Of your crew…Come on, Bona. I know I wasn't even Ren's biggest fan, but I still wanted to say goodbye."
"We all do, Asher."
"Well then," I opened the door, "What's with the pity party going on in here?"
As I was tackled with a barrage of hugs and my ears bled at the sounds of their squeals, I could finally say for once in my life that it really was good to be home. Out of everything that's ever happened to me, how did a little street rat, petty thief like me get so lucky to have a family like them…?
A/N: And here we are. We've reached the end. A little pickup chapter to cap the story off. I'm really proud of how this turned out. And not bad for writing it in a month…Then, taking five to edit it…Regardless, I wouldn't say that's too bad either. I promised myself I'd edit it and I did. So, high five for personal growth. Thanks for coming along with me. Really. I've been doubting my writing ability lately and every time someone would say something nice, it kind of picked me up by my bootstraps. Support your local writers. Don't be mean online. And…I guess that's it. For anyone that came here from His Girl Friday Nights, I'm going to be starting up a sequel next week. Something to fill the gap. Ok? Ok. See you later. xx