64 - Where It All Begins Again

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E P I LO G U E

I reached over to my bedside table to switch off the lamp. Instead of turning the knob that would snuff the soft golden light, my hand veered away and came to rest on a small round globe. The flower that was encased within appeared just a little distorted through the thick glass, but was very much the same as it had ever been. The lily had lost the magic to speak a long time ago, but still managed--however feebly--to open and close its petals while silver sparks were released in a puff of pollen. There was hurt and pain and longing in that small white flower when I looked at it, because I knew it would not be able to survive outside its artificial glass home. It was proof that the things you wanted to last never truly did.

I placed the globe in my lap and studied it. My stuffed rhino gazed unseeingly at it as well, his worn grey horn pressed right up against the bubble-like surface while tears dripped and rolled down the sides, creating a dark ring on my pants.

"I miss him. Do you, Horace?" I asked him, hoping wildly for a moment that he would spring to life and comfort me. Perhaps some part of me still clung on to the possibility that there were still Others, that there might even be Others that would breathe some life into inanimate objects. I shook my head to clear my thoughts. There were no Others left, or at least, that was what the news was letting on.

Sitting there silently for a few moments, I ran my fingertips over the flower globe, watching it reach feebly to meet me on the other side. Any day now, my special white lily would stop moving altogether. It couldn't survive when Jacoby was gone.

I sighed and willed my tears to stand down. I wondered what I would do once the lily stopped moving, or worse, wilted. I couldn't bear to look at it these days. It was an ever-present reminder of what was no more, and I so very painfully missed it.

There was a soft knock at the door. I sighed, forcing away my sadness. It would do me no good if my mother saw me like this.

"It's open," I said.

A tangle of auburn hair poked through the door and a heartbeat later--

"Oh my gosh!"

"Um, surprise?"

The rest of him entered the room just in time for me to tackle him. He juggled a box in his hands and set it on my bedside table so he could hug me with both arms.

"You're early! Are you back for good?" I asked, voice muffled by his shirt collar.

"Not yet," he replied, touching his cold nose to my neck. "They'd like me to go on one more rescue mission."

"What are you talking about? You give Others some Demophide. How does that qualify as a rescue mission?"

"Regardless," he began to argue.

"Okay, okay. Are you going to change?"

"In what sense?" He frowned and set me back on my feet, and I tugged him over to sit down on my bed.

"Are they going to give you some Demophide?" I held my breath until he answered. Would they give me some Reduine?

"If I ask for it. They'll let me keep the flowers if I want that instead. Given me a choice this time around."

"Are you going to ask for it?"

He shrugged a shoulder.

I knew why he was being ambiguous. He knew his answer would be yes. But he wouldn't if I asked him not to. He knew I missed them, his flowers. Missed seeing them blush, watching them walk and dance.

He knew I missed our adventure, too. The once-in-a-lifetime trip we'd gone on together. His flowers were our souvenirs, and to take the Demophide would mean tossing away that reminder.

But on the other hand, he could smile as much as he wanted if he took it. And laugh. Really laugh. I'd never forgive myself if I kept him from that.

"I know things have changed," he murmured.

I sighed. Accepted it. "They aren't going back to the way they were, are they?"

He sighed. "We can move on." He picked up the flower globe and inspected the lily, tapping his index finger against the nearest petal. A puff of silvery-white pollen shot into the globe, as if the flower had coughed it up.

"It won't live if I take it," he said softly.

He perched the globe on my knee and cupped my face in both hands. He thumbed my cheek and threaded his fingers through my hair, pulling me in for a hard kiss.

"It'll feel weird," he whispered, his breath warm on my mouth before he replaced it with his lips again. "I won't be very used to it." He pulled back and regarded me with a sad smile. "But I promise you, some things will stay the same."

I blinked, and a tear slid down my cheek.

He wiped it away before it stayed even a second on my skin, and reached over to my table for his box. He held it in his hands with care, stared at it, spoke his next words carefully.

"At the same time...I don't want to stay an Imaginer if you can't be there to, I don't know, laugh at my flowers, or see them blush." He placed the box between us, popped it open and pulled out two vials. "This one contains Demophide." He set it on the bed. "This one contains Reduine." He pushed the two to the centre of the bed. "We'll decide together, okay?"

I met his eyes, bright blue and soft and understanding.

"Okay."

(**A/N: And that's the end. That's it, guys. Imaginer's over. So much feedback to get from you guys.

Favourite moment in the entire story?

Favourite character?

Which do you think they're going to take? Jacoby, with Demophide? Or Jasslyn, with Reduine?

I can't even begin to thank you guys for sticking with Imaginer. Oh my gosh I just...gah. So the next chapter will be a list of everyone I can remember/find who ever voted, commented, sent me a message about Imaginer. Thank you guys so, so, so much. I'll get going on those dedications in a bit.

And oh, eff me. This was supposed to go up yesterday but I went to an art showcase thing at my school and had English homework to do .___. Completely forgot. Say Happy First Birthday to Imaginer! It's been a pleasure having you guys along for the ride! Follow me over to The Whipping Tree? (:

Oh, and please let me know if you'd like to see some deleted scenes :P I'm pretty sure I've got some saved. Don't really like to throw away any of my writing, haha. I'm attempting to compile a list of all the users that've supported Imaginer. Please, please, please send me a message or drop a comment because I don't want to leave anyone out!)

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