Chapter 16 - Kevin and Josie

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Where do we go from here now that all other children are growin' up?

And how do we spend our lives if there's no-one to lend us a hand

I don't wanna live here no more, I don't wanna stay

Ain't gonna spend the rest of my life, quietly fading away

-- The Alan Parsons Project (Games People Play)

=/\=

They beat a hasty retreat from Deepwater Horizon. "We should check news sources for tomorrow," Tom said, "and confirm if we succeeded."

"Right," Dan said absently. They were back on the shore and he looked out onto the Gulf. It seemed peaceful and gorgeous. No – the correct word was serene.

"I'm about ready to go back to the ship," Tom yawned.

"There is only one good place to sleep in there," Marisol pointed out. "If we are staying in this time period anyway, two of us might as well sleep on the surface."

"Hmm, Grant, can I talk to you a sec?" Dan asked.

"'Course."

They walked several meters away. "I think I might have a chance," Dan said, eying Marisol.

"I dunno," Tom said, "she's aloof even under the best of circumstances."

"Still. Please don't begrudge me this. You got Eleanor and all."

If she was restored. Tom felt a pang, again, thinking of her, somehow, consigned to oblivion.

"Grant, are you paying attention?"

"Huh? I guess not. Tell you what, stay on the surface but lemme beam you somewhere away from here. By the time they figure out there's an issue, we need to be outta here."

"Right," Dan said, and then he approached Marisol, "You're right about getting a hotel. But Tom says not around here."

"Oh? You think you're coming with me?"

"We'll be able to talk," he explained quietly, "about, uh, you know.'

"Very well," she said, "but if you think you are going to get to touch any part of me, you are sorely mistaken," she paused, then, louder, so that Tom could hear, she added, "Mister Beauchaine and I would like to go to Rome."

"Sure thing."

=/\=

Kevin was busy leaning over the Audrey Niffenegger – the only time ship currently available to the Human Unit. If Carmen needed it, Kevin would make sure that Audrey was ready to go, even though she – Audrey, not Carmen – was painfully slow and clunky. He didn't hear Yilta enter the service bay. "Huh? Oh, hi."

"Can ya tell me now?"

"Uh, tell you what now? And, please, can I have the magnetic wrench? Thanks."

"Where ya were last night, what happened to ya?"

"I was at home," he said cautiously.

"Why didn't ya try to call when you noticed I was missing?" she asked, a little sharply.

He kept working, unsure of what to tell her.

"Kevin, do ya mind answerin' that one?"

He finally straightened up. "I can't say."

"I don't understand what you're sayin'."

He sighed. "This was a big line change," he finally explained, "and, and I wonder if making Deepwater Horizon explode again has been enough to, to put a, a certain thing back."

She stared at him, thinking. Finally, she said, "My ex-husband came back. It, it was as if he had never left. And he couldn't understand why I was kinda cold to him," she paused, "and now, are ya tellin' me, that I wasn't the only one who, who had that kind of an experience?"

He nodded. "I didn't know what to, to tell you. And I am, right now, I can't tell you how scared I am, to either beam over to Andoria, or open up a communicator channel to there, because, well, because I know that, at some point, I'm gonna go there, or I'll call, and she'll be gone again. And I, yanno, I went through losing her once already. I can't bear the thought of going through another round of it. Even if it isn't Piaris Syndrome this time. Even if it's just she's here today, gone tomorrow. I was almost recovered – almost! And now ...."

"Kevin," she said gently, putting a hand on his arm, "ever since there started to be all these temporal disruptions with that Perfectionists group tryin' to mess around with the human line, things have affected us, too. And it's wrenching, yanno. It gets you all turned around. My parents are supposed to be gone, yet maybe eight months ago, they were briefly alive."

"What did you do?"

"I told 'em I loved 'em. Now, I had said that many, many times before, but it was important to me to kinda get that in one last time."

"I –"

"Go home," she said, "and if Josie is there, get in your last good-byes and I love yous and anything else ya need to do."

"You're being very, very, I dunno what the word is – amazing, yes, that's it – amazing about this. Not to question you but, uh, why?"

"I know that when the line's restored, she will be gone. I know you can't promise that all will be well between us when that happens, but I do hold out hope for that." She left.

He sighed and went back to working on Audrey.

=/\=

"Things you don't really mean?" Rick asked as they stood in the Cairo early evening light. "What kinds of things?"

"I'm not sure," Alice said, "I mean, I know we're in Cairo to assure an assassination. And I know that we're going to a banquet tonight. After that, it's a tad unclear."

"What do you think of the Egyptian people?" Polly asked, point blank.

"I don't know," Alice said, "I mean, most people call them heathens, but I wasn't raised that way."

=/\=

"Menlo Park, California!" Sheilagh smiled, and then frowned a little, "air's kinda smoggy."

"I wonder if that's some sort of an effect from the temporal disruption in 1981," HD mused.

"You may be right." They stood outside a small coffee shop. "Now, let's go meet Google's founders."

=/\=

They emerged from the Ready Room after a few hours. "That's enough conquering for one day," the Empress said. "Maybe tomorrow you'll let me play with your ... time ship."

"I don't know," Milton said, mindful of the fact that she was still, in her sixties, rather captivating, had enormous amounts of power and he didn't have many bargaining chips. He sensed she would not want to buy the cow if she could get the milk for free, so he vowed to hold off, at least for a while, on giving her that.

As for giving her other things, it had been a long, long time, a long drought of celibacy. Like Andrew Miller, Travis Mayweather and countless others before him, he had succumbed, for she had been impossible to resist.

=/\=

Games people play, you take it or you leave it

Things that they say are not right

If I promise you the moon and the stars, would you believe it?

Games people play in the middle of the night

-- The Alan ParsonsProject (Games People Play)    

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