---Monday Afternoon: A couple of hours before I leave---
I had texted Quinton that I wanted a day off last night and he sent me a smiley face.
I felt the cool air of the hospital bombard me as I walked up to the receptionist to ask for a visitors pass.
Maven was still unconscious so I hugged her close and left her my favorite dolphin necklace.
This was a final goodbye.
I left the hospital and went back home. Max had left to go back to the orphanage while Teela was at work.
I settled on my bed and pulled out my phone to shoot a text into the group chat.
Me: Hey guys, I'm leaving for a trip to Boulder tonight. I wanted to see you all today before I leave for two weeks.
Tyler: Why so suddenly?
Lincoln: Sure, what time should we come over?
Siobhan: I'll bring Trini along. She's been begging me to come to see you.
Quinton: I'm tied up at work today. But I'll facetime you later tonight.
Knox: Ayy, you're going without me?
Me: Woah, mad texts here. I just want to clear my mind and go for a hike I guess. How does 5 pm sound? That way Lincoln can grab Teela and pick up Max on his way home. Mario's covering my shift at the diner today.
Knox: Sounds like a plan. See you soon.
"You woke up this morning and just decided that you wanted to go to Colorado? Just like that?" Knox asked dubiously eyeing me up and down.
Knox, Ty, Max, Linc, Siobhan, Trini, Teela, and I were crowded in my living room in front of my Roku Smart TV. I paused while sifting through Netflix to answer Knox.
I can't sound unsure. It'll make me look suspicious.
Everybody except Teela stared at me for an answer. Max was one smart cookie because he noticed her reaction right away.
"Er, yes. I've had a lot on my mind. I just need to get away for a bit," I said with fake confidence.
Knox refused to let it go though. "Why don't we go together?" he asked.
I paused again and said, "Maybe next time Knox. I just need to get my shit together. After all, I've been moping around. It's April goddamnit and I still feel lost."
"Alright, just this once," Knox said as he flashed his pearly whites at me.
I looked back at the TV and tossed Lincoln the remote. "Pick any one you want. I have left over enchilada from last night and some pizza that I can heat up," I said.
Trini jumped out of Siobhan's arms and grabbed onto my leg. "I want to help too," she whined.
I caved and said, "Alright baby. How about you get all of the forks and cups?" I rose and grabbed her hand as I pulled her towards the kitchen.
Max and Teela were screaming about whether water was wet and I rolled my eyes. This argument always came up and nobody ever came to a conclusion.
"Water is wet dipshit! How else would you shower?" Teela screamed.
"No, it's a texture. Water has a wet texture but it's not actually wet," Max yelled back.
"Since when are you a fucking chemist that you know the properties of water?" Teela hollered.
"I don't need to be a chemist to be brilliant," Max teased.
Somebody tripped and I heard Siobhan yelp as she was bombarded with pillows from my couch. Knox laughed and tickled Siobhan which caused her to scream even more. Max and Teela were causing a ruckus as they chased each other around the house. Even Trini gave up helping me as she ran over to Tyler who'd been quiet but smiling at the craziness.
I heard Lincoln hysterically laughing at them.
I bent down to put the enchilada and pizza into my oven when Trini ran over to me again.
After a couple of minutes, the food was ready and I gave everybody their dinner in the living room. Lincoln had chosen Avenger's Endgame and I teased him about his choice.
"No chick flick? I was wondering if I'd have to watch Notebook for the last time," I teased.
Tyler narrowed his eyes at my words and I swallowed a lump as I realized I'd slipped up.
"Nah, Marvel movies are the best Kari," Lincoln said with a smirk.
"This enchilada is amazing," Siobhan said and I grinned.
"It's from Maven's magic cookbook. She taught me how to cook," I said as I sipped my Sprite.
Siobhan smiled and continued to each. Max turned down the lights and snuggled next to Teela as the movie started. After an hour, I grabbed the plates and started cleaning up in the kitchen. I cried silently as I washed the dishes.
I don't want to say goodbye. Not like this. Not now, not ever.
I had slipped away and kept the lights in the kitchen off. There was enough daylight for me to be able to see what I was doing. But I had still turned on the small light above the vent on my oven head.
"What's really going on here Karina?" Tyler asked quietly and I jumped.
I hadn't even heard him enter the kitchen. Damn, he moved quickly and quietly.
"I'm washing the dishes Ty," I responded. I tried to act dumb but I was epically failing at convincing him. I could tell from the annoyed look on his face.
Tyler walked over to me and cupped some water from the sink. He gently held my neck and washed my face.
"Now you're awake. Cut the crap and just tell me the truth," Tyler said as he dried my face with the kitchen towel.
I put the dish I was washing down into the sink again and turned off the water.
"The truth is that I'm leaving because I'm scared. I'm scared that one day I'll wake up and never see you again. You all are like family to me. It feels like a dream," I said.
That was as honest as I could get without telling him about the deal I made with my father.
He'd find out soon enough after I'm gone.
"I'm scared too, Karina. You've been pushing everyone away. And then all of a sudden, you decide to up and leave? It's just weird," he said as he pushed his glasses on his face.
This time, they were black and made him look like a dark angel with his stormy eyes and dull attire. I wanted the happy Tyler back but I knew it was a long shot.
"Hell, I don't even want to go. But it's something I need to do. Promise me you'll watch out for my sisters while I'm gone," I pleaded.
Tyler knew I was omitting some of the truth but he let it slide. "I promise I will. Keep in touch with us Karina. You have our numbers," he said and I nodded. I knew that wasn't a possibility.
He came closer to me and all we had was less than an inch between us. He lifted me onto the counter next to the sink and tightly gripped my waist. I was at eye level with him now.
I ran my fingers through his soft hair and smiled at him. I placed my hands on his forearms and waited.
Tyler traced circles on my waist with his thumbs and this time, I leaned towards him. I planted a chaste kiss on his cheek and hopped off of the counter to finish the dishes.
Tyler stayed next to me the entire time and I enjoyed his company. It was close to 6:30 pm and I need to say goodbye to everybody in a bit.
I settled on the couch next to Tyler and we watched the movie with the rest of the gang.
I was sad when the movie ended because I knew what was coming next.
I hugged and kissed every single person's cheek in the room after we took a group picture that Teela insisted on. I knew she did it more for my benefit since she used my phone.
"See you around guys," I said as everybody left the apartment.
Now it was just Teela and I.
"I called an Uber so it'll be here soon Karina," Teela said as she started to cry.
I ran up to my room and grabbed my luggage. I'd get dropped off to the translation and then be on my way. I still had my father's number so I told him where to meet me.
"Teela, I love you. Make sure you check under my bed tomorrow morning," I said as I grabbed my bags to walk out the front door.
She hugged me but let go of me because at the end of the day, we were all too good at goodbyes.