Say Goodbye to Love-Ripley
There was an air of slightly wary anticipation in the room. Some of us fidgeted restlessly. Others were figuratively holding their breath, remaining still as if moving would make the shit come splattering all over us once again. Michón paced back and forth a bit nervously, with Karia’s eyes glued to her every movement. Caily stared in wonder at John, who had paused in his activities with Mikassa to join us. Lombardi focused everyone so that my father Damon could speak. We all looked at him expectantly. “There are no more wars to fight, or at least no wars left we have to fight. There are no enemies chasing us for the moment. We’re all free for the first time in so long. So…what would everyone like to do? Who would like to share their plans? We’re no longer bound to this ship or to any planet. What are your dreams? What would you like to do now that you truly have a choice?” he polled the room.
“I just want to get the fuck out of here,” Joán snorted. “Just take a little ship and travel.”
“I can go with you,” Lucian offered. “I’ve never been off Middle Earth for long. It would be nice to explore. There’s not anything for me on the elven planets to return to. I’d like to join you if you don’t mind.”
“I’d enjoy the company,” Joán smiled warmly at him.
“I’ll go back to my girlfriend. She’s still waiting for me. I know I’m supposed to save the universe and all but I want a relatively simple life this time around,” Soleceet announced. “Ah, but there is one thing I can take care of before I go.” He turned to Stuart, his father. “I can get rid of the tulpa.”
“Do you know who created her?” Josh asked.
Cel nodded slowly. “I’d rather not say. I’ll leave it to them to reveal themselves if they so choose.”
Stuart cleared his throat. “Actually…in light of recent events I’d like to confess something… I’ve chosen to remain with Alana on Middle Earth. She’s my tulpa, born from my guilt. I…have to make things right.”
I think that surprised everyone. That he’d be willing to pay penance for his misdeeds showed how far he’d come. On the reverse, it could also be a testament to how twisted he was inside. Michón apparently believed the latter; she was stock still, glaring at him in dismay. “We can discuss that later. I suppose it’s fair, all things considered. Let’s move on, please,” she said shortly.
“I plan on staying to further help Aeryn. Mark and I actually have a surprise for you,” Archie addressed her.
“J’adore surprises,” she gushed, thankfully seeming like her old self. “I guess I’m officially one of you now. I suppose I’ll stay and get to know you better. Besides, I don’t think either Mark will release me just yet.” Her eyes twinkled at them. My dad frowned, embarrassed, but his eyes lit up with hope that Aeryn might like him now. My other dad looked amused but Michón’s face soured even further. Vaulting forward, I pulled her back with me into the chair before she could delete either Stuart or Mark Blue. Soleceet came over and sat in front of her, stroking her legs and sending her calming energy. My dad’s black eyes dimmed and my other dad shifted uncomfortably. If anything, Cel’s desire for her had only grown if his current energy was any indication.
“As for me, I’ve already promised to rehabilitate Mikassa. I’m sure that’ll take longer than I thought now,” Micala went on, shooting a meaningful look at John.
“He’s all yours now. I’m done,” John revealed.
“I believe I’ll help. I know what it’s like to have your mind crack,” Razi volunteered.
“Thank you, babe,” Micala flashed her a smile.
“I think I’ll head home for a while and then settle down on Xemorf,” my dad Damon piped up.
Karia offered to go with him so he could learn more about daemons. I was fairly surprised my dad was agreeable to it. Lombardi opted to resume his role guarding his universe. Most everyone else was headed home or to new homes. Then everyone awkwardly stared at Caily, my dad Mark, and John. John knelt in front of Caily, reaching out his hands for hers. “My love. I regret you seeing the monster in me but I am not sorry for what I’ve done. I want to share it with you if you’ll let me. I’ve also found a place where I’d like to make a new home with you. Will you give me that chance, Caily?” he pleaded with her.
“John, I… It’ll take time. But of course I’m with you. We can survive it,” she replied, voice thick with emotion.
John held and kissed her hands fervently. Then he rose to his feet and crossed over to my dad. “I love you. That’ll never change,” he sighed. “We both have unfinished business. I know you still need to find out where you come from. I need to come to terms with where I came from.”
“I und, John. I love you so damn much, you sexy man. I’m so glad I’ve gotten to know you. If things ever settle down I’ll come find you,” my father gulped, crying black tears. He’d been so emotional lately. He knew what was coming. “My love. My hearts. God, I’ll miss you.”
“I hope you come back. Return to me, Mark Blue. I’ll wait for you,” John promised.
Stuart crossed his arms, still disliking the notion that they’d ever been lovers but at least acknowledging it for once. “We’ll make sure he comes back,” Stuart added, taking a deep breath he didn’t need.
John nodded at him gratefully and respectfully. Michón let out an exasperated breath and turned into my chest. Soleceet squeezed her thigh. I kissed her forehead and enjoyed her scent. John focused on her with concern. “Michón, you know what I did. I did it for you, baby. You know that?” he said softly, stroking her face.
“I know,” she mumbled. She seemed to be ready to dismiss everyone but gazed up at him instead. His green eyes were filled with so much love and she softened. “Thank you.” Her tone was kinder, heartfelt even.
John beamed with a face that hadn’t smiled in a very long while. I imagined the muscles hurt quite a bit from disuse. “I love you so much, baby girl. I wish I could steal you away and keep you,” he remarked.
“I know, John. I won’t be far. I promise,” she cracked a tiny smile and her eyes brightened.
“You’d better not be. I want you too much to not come after you. Don’t make me break my promise to Caily,” he managed to laugh. It was hoarse but full of joy.
“I’ll try not to,” Michón giggled.
The room relaxed noticeably and chatter started up as people set up visits, future contact info, and transportation. It was lovely to see everyone so animated. Slowly, the A Seriesen crew was coming back to life. Possibilities were once again open to us. Hm, what would I do? I certainly wasn’t going to go back to being a damn tree. Perhaps I’d go shut down those awful, hideous factories. If all this had been done in order to find and power the Spiral, I vowed to find it first. Even though I’d never stop wanting Michón and Stuart I knew there was still so much left for all of us to resolve. I was more like my father Damon in one regard. I was patient. It certainly helped that I was imbued with the timeless source of vitality itself. Patient as a tree. Still, I lifted Michón’s chin and whispered, “It’s time to let them know. They’re all wondering. Except John and Damon.”
“Mm,” she groaned and sat up to face everyone. “So…I’m sure all of you would like to know what the hell was up with Karia, Mikassa, and I. I told John the reason out of time and that’s why he tortured Mik so bad. The truth is that marriage to me has always seemed to be a punishment: a sacrifice of self, slavery, and a mark of ownership. I said yes to him because Mik loved me and Karia wanted me. I accepted it because marriage was my punishment for what I planned to do to him. I used his love against him. Like Aeryn, I took something beautiful and twisted it into something craven. How is that not a breach of the Promise? I’m not one of you but I took my own form of the Promise. So I punished myself by doing something that is so misunderstood, born of ignorance, and stripped of autonomy. I became his wife. Karia agreed to be our third, knowing what I planned to do. He helped me bear it, knowing the burden I’d placed on myself. It was him that got me through my darkest moments; he never judged me.
“Karia never pressured me, never demanded. He made a rather good husband, ironically… Wait, no. He was a great person, a fantastic partner, a delightful companion. I know that may sound really odd. I mean, he’s a virus, a vampire, a mass murderer,” she scoffed. “And I married two of them! Still, I’d rather have real than that bullshit they shill on TV and in the pulpits. They were both genuine. Well, except for when Mik ran away from me. Until his power had fully returned he had to be sure that his love for me wouldn’t overwhelm him. He could never say it aloud. That was the price he paid; the ability to verbally express his feelings for me was gone. In return I was his wife. That’s why I’ve stayed with him and helped him. I gave him use of my Author powers and abilities in exchange for the promise of permanently taking his powers if he ever declared his love for me out loud.”
“What did Karia exchange? What was his promise?” Joán asked.
“You can guess. I served as Mikassa’s weapon whenever he desired to destroy a world. In return I, ah, was able to summon Michón whenever I pleased, if you catch my drift.” Karia let out a short laugh.
“Ha, we all know sex and blood are all you care about, Karia,” Stuart rolled his eyes, smiling. “It’s definitely easier knowing why you did it, Mica. Doesn’t mean I like it but like Joán, you saved our asses the best way you knew how.”
We all murmured our agreement. “We still love you,” Caily assured her.
“Good to know,” Michón replied. “I’m sleepy now. Need blood, too,” she yawned.
“I’ll tuck you in. You can drink from me,” I offered happily.
“Thanks, Santo. Night, guys.” She waved to them as I carried her out.
*Aeryn’s point of view
“Will I ever be able to hate anyone and have it stick? People always surprise me,” I whined.
“Welcome to our universe. Nothing sticks.” Archie patted my shoulder. “Who are you not-hating any longer?”
“Michón, surprisingly. I definitely don’t like her but I can’t discount what she’s done and how she did it. Her methods are right up my alley, after all. I think it’ll still be a while before we talk civilly to one another, though.”
“Why’s that?” he asked conversationally.
“Neither of us will accept that you all can love, or serve, or be loyal to both of us. We both want to be head bitch,” I ruled.
“I’d never imagined our Author could stoop as low as a pissing contest,” Arthur shared his input.
“It’s more than that,” Mark Blue mumbled. “It’s not rivalry. It’s about values and being diametrically opposed. These are things about which each woman is absolute. For us not to choose renders us useless or immoral.”
“Wasn’t it Michón that scolded us for trying to make her choose?” John sighed.
“Yes. But we’ll just have to ride this out,” Damon reasoned.
We sat quietly as people trickled out. Soon only Mark, Mark, Archie, Cel, and Damon remained with me. What a gorgeous bunch. I tamped down on my carnal desires. This was no time for an orgy. I rested my head on my hand and examined this group of men that had been through so much. These beautiful alien creatures. Their energy danced around in spirals and flickers of light. I could almost see their bonds with one another. Mark Blue extended his hand to me and I took it. Lifting me to my feet he said, “I suppose I’m choosing you. Cel, Archie, Mark, and I would like to take you somewhere. Is there anything you need to do before we leave?”
I shook my head.
“John’s letting us borrow his ship,” Archie let us know.
“I’ll miss you fiercely, Aeryn. I hope you come back soon,” Damon told me, giving me a big hug.
“And I you. I want to get to know you better,” I replied warmly.
“For now we say goodbye to love.” He grew a bit sad.
“Only for a bit,” I promised.
“I fuckin hope so,” Mark uttered darkly. “She won’t like this. But it’s important.”
“Now I really want to know what it is,” I said impatiently.
“Let’s go. Before Michón changes her mind and kills us all,” Cel urged.
“I’ll distract her.” Damon looked off in the direction of her room and his heart fluttered. He seemed slightly nervous, a bit distracted himself. Too bad I couldn’t read his thoughts. For a moment, Mark Blue seemed suspicious of him. He shook it off and led me out. The others trailed behind us. Damon left our group to go to Michón’s room while the rest of us headed for the docking bay. As we boarded John’s ship I thought of Jean. I wished I could have brought him with me. But it was best that he returned to his original time to let the others know that there was hope, that I still lived, that I’d be back. Someday. Perhaps.
Someday I hoped I’d be able to stop saying goodbye.