Return from the EDGE

Chapter 38

"Do you think we're really helping her?" Sigmund asked Hannah the night after. They stood on the roof of the Sverre Installation. Just a few feet from where Sigmund was resting his hands was where Bronwyn had faked falling to her death.

In the few days after the Installation Incident when their HCF rights were revoked and they were indefinitely detained at the Alexander mansion, Sigmund had found himself missing all of the places he'd come to know, including this roof, a lot. So many important things had happened here.

Like almost being burned to a crisp by Aurielanus' laser beam.

"Bronwyn?" Hannah asked. "I don't know, I don't think anything is rational when it comes to her. I just like visiting her."

"Me too," Sigmund admitted, even though her latest confession had soured him on it a bit. After further investigation, Mr. Alexander had found a working prototype Embryo Development Chamber in a Dyktige warehouse the authorities had overlooked.

Instead of breaking down over the phone, he had confidently told Sigmund about how this would help him gain some favour with the committee that was examining Alexander Corporation.

"Justice just loves a snitch," were his exact words.

"I understand how it feels to be as angry as she was," Hannah admitted. "When Doctor Gunn lied to all of us and then tried to kill us, I was just so angry."

"But I had you there to calm me down," she said. "Maybe that's what Mr. Alexander meant."

"Maybe," Sigmund agreed.

"I was never this irrational before I met you, Sigmund," she complained. "Caring about people takes up a lot of brain capacity."

"Nice to know you care?" Sigmund said with a snort. He stood up straight and smoothed out the tuxedo Hannah's mother had picked out for him. Canary yellow, just like his Battle Suit. Hannah had insisted.

She stood beside him in a cyan version, and they both looked ridiculous in the afternoon sunlight.

"Where is Zain?" Hannah said impatiently. "He told us to meet him up here fifteen minutes ago."

"Maybe he's doing homework," Sigmund offered, still a bit bitter.

"He actually does all of that ridiculous homework you get handed out?" Hannah asked. "Jules told me she just hands you one complete work-sheet a week to silence you."

"Did everybody but me know about this?" Sigmund whined.

"Sigmund!" Zain shouted as he exited the newly built elevator. The addition of glass doors were a touch too late, Sigmund thought. "Hannah?"

"Why is my name a question?" Hannah wondered.

"Because I invited Sigmund up here," Zain said with a slight grin on his face. "But it's good to see you Wayne. Good to know the Point-Dexters haven't taken the fight out of you."

"Now leave," he insisted, shooing her with one hand. In the other, he held a small box.

"I don't think you understand, TCA Nasser," Hannah said. "I have seniority over you now."

"So you can write some numbers fast," Zain dismissed. He looked to Sigmund with a fire in his eyes that made his stomach flutter a bit. "I'll be right up there with you soon."

"Looking forward to it, Zain," Sigmund said.

Or squealed, he couldn't be sure.

"Unless another unprecedented disaster happens in the next few months, you will have to go through training just like all the other TCAs," Hannah insisted.

"You guys should really just fight it out," Sigmund suggested.

"They won't let us use the HCFs on each other anymore," Zain said without missing a beat.

"Something about legal issues," Hannah added.

That they had looked this up was truly disturbing.

"I have something for you," Zain said seriously.

It took Sigmund a second to realize Zain was looking him square in the eye.

"This is so sudden," Sigmund said.

"Just take it," he said, thrusting the cardboard box at Sigmund.

So he did.

Sigmund opened the box a bit too deliberately. He wouldn't put it past Zain to sneak in a last minute prank. Sigmund knew he could never shut up about his many hopes and dreams...

And fears.

Peeking inside with one eye, he gasped.

It was a tiny crystal cat wearing a tiara and ballet flats, the translucent crystal colours catching the late afternoon sun. The workmanship was beautifully evident with every notch that brought every fold in the crystalline interpretation of the cat's fur to life.

It was beautiful.

"I remembered you liked these things," Zain mumbled, looking away. "And you do that gymnastics stuff."

Hannah started to say something, but Sigmund put a hand up to stop her. Sigmund did like crystal figurines, and he was definitely a gymnast.

Though how that related pointed ballet shoes he'd never know.

Or care, really.

Sigmund could almost imagine putting it up on his now unkempt shelf. He smiled at the thought of having something displayed up there that would always remind him of Zain.

He thought of his jade rose, and how he wasn't afraid of it's otherworldly colours any more.

"Hannah," Sigmund said, his voice steadfast.

"Yes?" she answered.

"You can leave now," Sigmund said forcefully.

"You face one marginally insane girl and you think you've got humanity figured out, Sigmund," Hannah said playfully. "I'll take my leave, then."

"Hannah told me about Dane," Zain said once she'd boarded the elevator.

"What about Dane?" Sigmund asked, ready to rebuild Grmotevici and mow his best friend down himself.

"You helped him calm down that day, when everything was crazy," Zain explained. "He had his head on your shoulder."

"For somebody who doesn't care about feelings, she sure does remember a lot of detail," Sigmund said exasperatedly.

"Dane is just surprisingly touchy," Sigmund said. "In another life, maybe that would be all I ever needed."

"But we're here, together," he continued, tentatively taking one of Zain's hands.

"Finally," Zain interrupted, his curly hair flopping about as he gestured to the elevator Hannah had just boarded.

"In this life, I have feelings for you," Sigmund said slowly, deliberately. "Very deep feelings."

"There you go again!" Zain said, his sarcasm weaker than usual.

He took a breath, his head had not exploded, and Zain seemed fine too.

"Normal people would just say 'I have a crush on you'," Zain said with a laugh. "But to be honest, every time I imagined this a gigantic ball of confetti exploded before our family and friends surrounded us to perform an epic finale song."

"That sounds much better than being afraid the RR Proximity Alarm is about to ring at any second," Sigmund countered.

"Seriously, Zain," Sigmund said. "You're so opinionated and loud and thoughtful. A lot of the time whilst I was in the App-Reactor Factory RCZ I was just thinking about how much I wanted to protect you."

"I was worried about you too; I couldn't help myself," Zain countered. "You're the reason I know why I fight, why I want to move past the things that hurt to think about. You can't even actually fight but you're always just pushing on ahead and trying your best."

"I really really like you, Sigmund," Zain said, tightening his grip on Sigmund's hand. Sigmund took his deepest breath yet, even deeper than the one he took before entering the edges of reality itself, and kissed Zain. It was brief and chaste, but it was everything Sigmund had imagined it being and more.

Zain gave him a surprised look before moving in, holding on to the back of Sigmund's head as he deepened their next kiss.

"Why did we wait so long?" Sigmund asked when he came up for air.

"I think you'd have to ask the giant monsters that keep trying to destroy humanity," Zain said, his breath hot on Sigmund's face. He was still holding on to Sigmund's hair for dear life.

On a normal day, Sigmund would have warned him about it's natural grease level, but he was still a bit too stunned to think about anything other than Zain being right there with him.

"Life can't all be a deadly disappointment," Sigmund quoted.

"Should we go down to the party now?" Zain asked, his eyes seeming to plead with Sigmund for another kiss.

"The Honours will only start an hour in," Sigmund argued, bolstered by what he'd just remembered. "The world owes us this much."

"It does," Zain had barely said before diving back in.

Sigmund's mind was a bit occupied, but he did manage to think about how much farther this journey would take him.

This new world, where Sigmund was always changing and there world was never far behind in it's own transformation, it wasn't bad at all.

-END-

Mrs. Bergman quietly checked items off of her shopping list in her final errand of the day. It was the breezy spring months, which meant people much like herself felt much more comfortable doing their own shopping in a physical store. That meant she had a lot more free time to soak up all the information every newspaper -local or countrywide-, had to offer.

Her son Sigmund had recently taken interest in the paper. It probably had to do with his job with the mysterious government agency that handled the RR attacks. There had been a massive attack a few weeks ago, and Sigmund had disappeared for almost a full week.

The government had insisted that her son was fine, but it was a parent's place to worry. She and her husband had been racked with emotion as they watched the Hedmart exclusion zone grow. Her husband had probably gone through at least a few boxes of tissues. Their daughter Linn seemed to have bought the excuse that Sigmund had been on a company trip to Hedmart when the RRs attacked, but Mrs. Bergman still felt like she would need to be told the honest truth someday.

She made a mental note to discuss the issue with Sigmund.

In the end, Sigmund had been fine, but he'd come back different. He was even more emotional than usual, and he had reconnected with his old friend, that loud mouthed Forch boy. The one who always wore jumpsuits.

Bemused by the large boy's flamboyant choice of outerwear, Mrs. Bergman's cart struck another shopper's. Her shopping list flew out of her hand and landed in-between the carts.

For a moment, Mrs. Bergman had thought she had summoned Lukas Forch by thinking about him, but this tracksuit was what could only be described as 'something else'; a gold velour material that shone under the supermarket lights.

Dazzled by the man's tracksuit and large beard, Mrs. Bergman could only watch as the tall man picked the list up and handed it back to her.

"Sorry about that," the man said. "My mind is elsewhere; it's a big day for my son, you see."

"It's a big day for my son as well," Mrs. Bergman said. Sigmund was being promoted yet again. They didn't know to what he was being promoted, but as worried as they were, they were also proud.

"My son is finally taking the bull by the horns," the man said. "Asking a boy out. He's so excited, even insisted I do some shopping to get some things to make the boy comfortable in our home."

"I would have turned him down, but I know this is a sure thing. My son's just very slow on the uptake when he wants to be, you know?"

"That's wonderful," Mrs. Bergman said, happy to see this man so enthusiastic. He scanned her shopping list.

"Ah, the skyr!" he exclaimed. "Can you show me to the skyr? I'm not sure that is."

They both paused in realization.

"Mrs. Bergman?" the man said, his smile growing.

"Doctor Nasser, I presume?" Mrs. Bergman said, recalling Zain's last name.

The boy Sigmund was always going on about. He'd even mentioned that Zain's father was a doctor.

"What a fated meeting!" Doctor Nasser said, turning his cart around to line it up with hers. "We have so much to discuss!"

"Now," Doctor Nasser said theatrically. "What do you think of the last name 'Nasser'?"

Postscript

Hey guys, engines here. This story took a long time to write, and an even longer time to edit. Getting chapters out wasn't always easy, but I was glad that there were people out there who actually wanted to read my writing.

Norway's a pretty cool place, right? I didn't know much about it until a few years ago, and I learned a lot more doing research for this story. I hope it showed, and I hope you enjoyed it.

Which brings me to the most important part: All of you readers out there! Thanks for reading, reviewing, following and favourite-ing my work. It really made it all worth it. Hopefully you'll continue giving me a chance to show you all the weird ideas I come up with. If there's anything from this story you'd like to see me do more of in the future (probably not a sequel, though) just let me know. I've also got a half-done universe guide, if you're interested in seeing that.

Finally, I'd like to thank Francesco Gabbani, whose song Magellano inspired the original 0.01 draft version of this story in my head with his song Magellano. Check him out if you have the time~

On that note, thank you all again. This whole experience really was something else.