The professor lay prone, his toga pulled off his shoulder. The long hands of Astraia rubbed oil into his skin, and below them on the floor, a meerkat stood sentinel, one glass claw hanging by its side.
“I can’t believe it,” she said, “you look about twenty years younger!”
“I suppose it was Vivienne’s last gift to me.”
“Are you sad that she had to go?”
He hesitated, feeling her hands massage his back.
“Yes, I suppose. She meant a lot to me.”
“I know.” Astraia straddled his back, and put pressure on him. He moaned. “She was special to all of us.”
He let his thoughts drift. On the way back, he had so many questions. Questions about the very foundation of life, about how a creature like Vivienne could exists. Questions about her nature. Was she divine? He kept thinking these things on the plane. And if not divine, was she a perfect being? Obviously there were others like her throughout time, but just who were they? Was Jesus one? Was Joan of Arc? These were just some of the questions he fruitlessly examined. There was no test he could do. No answer he could gain through his own study or experimentation. He know that the only person who could answer these questions was Pythagoras.
So he returned to the bunker under the bean field. He returned knowing that by doing so, he would step out of time, leaving his life on the surface of the planet forever. He just knew this intuitively. When he washed himself in the hot spring, he washed away every trace of the outside world.
“I’m sorry to hear about your master,” William Borgiac said.
“Death is just another part of life,” she said, finishing his massage. She sat down on the stone bed, and he rolled over, a man in his early thirties, lean and powerful. His previously grey hair was dark brown, and the creases in his face had been ironed out. He was jubilant and vivacious, filled with an energy of robust youth. He grabbed her and pulled her down, kissing her neck ferociously. Astraia squealed in delight.
“You know,” he said, “I feel like we’ve all been given a glorious second chance.”
“We have,” she replied and kissed him back. “Thanks to you.”
“And thanks to the Master,” William said. “Wherever he might be now.”
Astraia smiled knowing that things turned out just as they were meant to be.
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