Epilogue: 8 Months Later…
She felt whole for the first time in hours, and tired enough that she could sleep—not that she really could. Even if she hadn’t been fighting aliens for the last three hours, leaving her dead tired, but at the same time too full of energy to sit, she was in an airplane hangar. There wasn’t any place to sit down but the concrete floor. Even if she’d wanted to try napping, she was sharing the hangar with nearly one hundred people, all of them veterans of the same fight.
She looked better than most, if only because her body physically changed, and instead of being in her armor, she was now in her clothes, the jeans and white, wool sweater she’d been wearing back when they all thought they were about to go home.
Other people were standing in small groups and talking quietly. In fact, Nick was sitting down on the floor reading something on his tablet, leaning back against the block of glossy gold that had transformed into a suit of armor before the fight.
She thought about going up to him and saying, “hi,” but what would be the point? He wasn’t “her” Nick—if spending a day with a guy made him hers. Besides, he seemed to be deeply involved in reading whatever it was.
Deciding to leave him, she thought about her own luggage. Maybe she could make it comfortable. Maybe the floor wouldn’t be so bad.
Who was she kidding? She knew the floor would be terrible.
From behind her came a male voice. “So, are you going to talk to him?”
She didn’t need to ask who it was. She turned back over her shoulder and said, “Asshole. I already talked to him.”
Mark grinned, managing to look like he always did, overdressed for the occasion. He wore a dress shirt, slacks, and a bowtie. His blond hair was cut short to the point that it was almost a buzz cut.
A cut on his forehead was healing even as they talked.
He put his hands in his pockets. “Seriously? Because I’ve been seeing that look for the last eight months. It’s not the ‘I talked to him’ look. It’s the ‘I don’t have the nerve to talk to him’ look, and it’s getting old.”
“I was in his group. We bonded. It’s okay.” Amy snuck another look in Nick’s direction. He was still reading. That was good. He’d noticed when she’d transformed, and he wasn’t the only one. The light and music had filled the whole hangar—embarrassing.
“But you didn’t tell him, right?” When she didn’t instantly respond, his smile widened.
“No,” she said, “I didn’t. I’m not going to go over and tell him. That goes way into crazy ex-girlfriend territory, and we never got that far in my home universe. I only knew him for a day.”
Mackenzie, Mark’s sister walked up as they talked. She had the same pale blond hair and light skin he did, but her clothes weren’t out of place. She wore jeans and a red top. Her left hand appeared to have been cut off and stitched back on, but there wasn’t a cut. Stitches and a red line circled her wrist.
She looked from Mark to Amy. “Still bugging her?”
Mark scowled. “I’m not bugging her.”
Amy said, “Yes.”
Mackenzie folded her arms across her chest. “I don’t want to run your life, but you might be happier if you said something. It’s obvious you want to.”
Amy held up her hands. “Okay. I’ll introduce myself. Will that stop you?”
Mark nodded his head slowly. “Sure.”
Mackenzie said, “Good luck.”
Amy checked again. Nick was still reading. Well, she thought, no time is better than the present. She hoped they could talk when no one was trying to kill them.
It wasn’t as if she could assume they got along naturally. When she’d met his counterpart in her homeworld, she’d been cut off from everyone she knew and he was the first sympathetic face she’d seen. Of course, she’d been drawn to him. She’d needed someone desperately.
She crossed the short distance to stand in front of him. “Nick?”
He looked up, briefly confused, but then his eyes widened. He’d recognized her. She opened by talking about what happened after they’d separated during the battle.
“Once you got inside, the ship moved too quickly for me to do much good with the Bloodspear. I’m sorry about that. I managed to get a few of them, but not enough.”
She’d been useless by then, Bloodmaiden or not. The only thing that kept her alive was her own magic and the fact that the aliens they were fighting could regenerate. She’d duplicated the power, and it helped so much.
“Don’t worry about it. It worked out. Besides, you were in pretty bad shape. Are you okay?”
They talked about that for a little while, and it struck her how much this Nick was like her world’s. She hoped that he’d survived the Council’s attack. She didn’t tell him about that, though. It was time to end the conversation. She’d tell him someday.
“Anyway,” she said, “I thought I’d introduce myself in case you didn’t know my name. You didn’t, did you?”
“I’m Amy,” she said.
“I’m Nick,” he said, which she found funny because he and his grandfather were every bit as famous here as they were in the Summerlands. She didn’t laugh.
“I know.” She glanced further back into the hangar. “Everyone knows your name.” She gave a single wave as she walked away. “Talk to you later.”
Walking back toward her friends, she wondered how her family was doing. She hoped she’d see them soon.