Chapter

37

We make a quick stop back at Rose’s apartment. She understandably wants to pack a few things before we leave this planet forever. Not a whole lot, mind you. It’s not like she’ll be needing many clothes from now on.

Oh, come on. Can we keep our minds out of the gutter for more than two fucking seconds? That’s not what I meant. She’ll have to leave her current body soon if she’s going to survive the absolute realization of her Ultimate Self. The new body I’ve made for her won’t have much use for her usual ensembles. That’s all I was saying.

DIRK: Do you really need all of this crap?

Rose is sprawled out on her bed, resting. It’s pretty much all she can bring herself to do these days. But in spite of her physically incapacitated state, her stare tracks me intently as I root through her belongings at her behest.

ROSE: No, I don’t... I don’t need it.

ROSE: But I’d...

ROSE: I’d like to have it. Some of it.

ROSE: Just the important things...

ROSE: The memories that matter most.

DIRK: We’re going to make new memories.

DIRK: We have countless millennia ahead of us. The entire breadth of infinity.

DIRK: The past seven years on this planet are cosmically irrelevant. When we get where we’re going, you won’t even want to remember this benighted rock anymore.

Rose opens her mouth to launch into what would surely lead to a belabored and cyclical argument, but she doesn’t have the strength. She groans instead. I know it frustrates her. It frustrates me too. That’s why I want to get out of here as soon as possible.

I let my voice soften.

DIRK: Rose.

DIRK: Everything is going to be fine.

ROSE: But, daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad...

She pleads, affecting an exaggerated whine that sounds unintentionally authentic with how weak she is.

Rose has really leaned into this particular line of “irony.” Hamming it up with the dad jokes, as if she derives some bizarre gratification from the fact of our relation. It’s an apparently endless source of amusement to her.

I don’t get it and I don’t really care to speculate. I sigh, and return to picking through her jewelry. The tactic fucking works on me, I guess.

DIRK: Is this the thing you were talking about? This...this rock rope?

ROSE: Rock rope?

Rose lifts herself up barely enough to see. The effort to do just that seems to take everything out of her. She collapses heavily after she gets a look at what I’m holding up, huffing in annoyance.

ROSE: F-first of all.

ROSE: That... the word for that object is... a “necklace.”

ROSE: Second of all,

ROSE: Does that... look purple to you?

ROSE: Don’t... don’t...

ROSE: Patronize me... while I’m dying.

DIRK: I can’t make heads or tails of any of this shit. It’s a big pile of shiny garbage.

DIRK: If you’re so concerned about it, why don’t you come over here and pick out what you want to pack yourself?

I expect at least an aggravated retort, but nothing comes.

I glance back and see that her eyes have grown glassy and distant, like two round-cut amethysts. Her smile seems due less to fondness than stupefaction. The circles under her eyes are dark, and her head is cushioned on an arm bent beneath it. Keeping her eyes trained on me seems to be the only energy she’s able to expend anymore. The omniscience sickness is wreaking havoc on her. I should hurry up.

I’m glad I never had to feel whatever she’s going through. Not everyone can be built like me. It just means I carry a greater responsibility to take care of those more fragile. Especially the ones most important to me.

I go through the motions of picking things out of her drawers. Just grabbing stuff at random, because like I said, it doesn’t matter.

When she next speaks, it seems her mind has wandered. Her voice is as distant as her expression.

ROSE: Are you sure Kanaya is going to be ok with this?

I slide a drawer shut, and shove whatever it is I’m holding into the bag without looking.

DIRK: There’s no need to worry about that.

ROSE: How...

ROSE: How will we break it to her?

DIRK: You’re not well enough to stress over this.

DIRK: You should just let me handle it. I can make her understand.

DIRK: What’s happening here is the best thing for everybody.

DIRK: She’ll come to see that someday.

Rose breathes in deeply, and exhales. She allows herself to close her eyes, and tries to forget these troubling thoughts of the wife she’s about to leave.

Speaking of which, Kanaya is on her way back to the apartment. She’s blocks away, frantically running in the direction of this building. She’s a pretty fast runner, but she’ll have to run faster than that if she wants to bust in here and cause a scene before we go. She senses she isn’t going to make it up here in time, and slows to a stop. She takes a moment to consider how she’s gonna play this.

She’s beside herself with rage. Her phone is out, poised to call someone. Probably me. But she needs to gather her thoughts and figure out what to say. She knows she’s been played by now. She’s sure of it, and so has to think of exactly what she can say to me to stop this from happening, or if nothing else, delay it long enough to force a confrontation. At least, these are all things she’s telling herself right now.

They’re only thoughts, after all. Things she’s decided she believes, after neurotically parsing certain patterns of behavior from me and her wife. I guess from her ignorant alien position it’s reasonable to be suspicious that something shady is going on. But is it really? Is she sure she’s not misunderstanding something? Could she have misread the signals, or falsely assigned nefarious intent to a perfectly innocent series of events? As her breathing slows, and her calm is gradually restored, suddenly she isn’t so sure. Maybe she’s gotten this wrong all along.

If you want my take, I think she has gotten this wrong all along. That’s right, Kanaya. YOU have been getting this all wrong since the very beginning.

Your head is spinning with doubt now. Why were you running so fast? Why is your heart beating like this? You find a nearby bench on the sidewalk, and sit down to really reflect on this. To question everything you’ve been getting so worked up over. The thing is, what you’re suddenly questioning isn’t so much about whether your suspicions that Rose and I have been sneaking around behind your back are wrong, per se. It’s that you’re starting to wonder if they’re right, but you’ve been the one who was wrong to object.

This revelation hits you like a kick in the chest. It’s heavy, it hurts, but only for a moment. Then you find it’s like a weight is lifting off your shoulders. To finally face the truth. If Rose has been spending more time with me than you, if she’s realizing she resonates more with me due to our natural similarities and finds my presence more rewarding than yours, then what does that say about YOU, Kanaya? Doesn’t it confirm what you’ve always suspected deep down? That as flattering as it was that someone like Rose would give you the time of day, and as nice as that made you feel for as long as she was willing to put up with you, the truth is, on some level, you always understood you were never good enough for her?

Pale green tears are flowing down your face. You have no idea how long you’ve been crying. You just noticed only now, because you’ve finally decided to confront the harsh reality of your marriage. It was always an illusion. You put your face in your hands and sob. The catharsis is relieving, bittersweet. Years of suppressed insecurities melt away. You’re finally free of this. Alone, yes, but free. And so is she. You love her with all your heart, and because of that, you genuinely want what’s best for her. Whatever will make her happy. And knowing this—that truly all you ever hoped for was to help her be happy, to be the best person she could be—it brings you comfort. It quells the grief into a dull ache. One that you’ll be grateful to keep for the rest of your life, because it will always remind you of what you had with her.

The tears have stopped flowing. You feel them drying on your face in the cool breeze. Your eyes are clear and focused. You know what you must do now. There is no crisis. There is nothing in which to intervene. Nothing to stop. You tap your phone, and hold it up to your ear.

KANAYA: Rose?

ROSE: Ka...

KANAYA: Rose

KANAYA: Sweet Heart

ROSE: Kanaya, I’m,

ROSE: I’m so...

KANAYA: Rose Its Okay

KANAYA: I Know Everything

ROSE: You... you do?

KANAYA: Yes

KANAYA: I Understand Whats Going On Now

KANAYA: I Just Want You To Know

KANAYA: How Happy You Made Me

ROSE: Oh, Kanaya...

KANAYA: I Wont Be Long

KANAYA: I Just Need To Say A Couple Things

KANAYA: While I Can

KANAYA: Before I Get Too Emotional About This

KANAYA: I Finally Get It

KANAYA: I Know You And He Belong Together

KANAYA: I Really Hope You Will Both Be Happy

KANAYA: Wherever Youre Going And Whatever You Decide To Do

KANAYA: I Will Always Be Thinking Of You

KANAYA: And Be Grateful For The Life We Had Together

ROSE: I...

ROSE: I’ll always remember you, Kanaya.

ROSE: Thank you so much for understanding.

ROSE: I didn’t know how to...

ROSE: I thought surely you would be...

Rose’s turns her face into the bed, to muffle her sobs. I’m holding the phone up to her ear. I move the phone quickly to follow the movement of her head.

KANAYA: Its Fine Really Sweet Heart

KANAYA: I Love You

ROSE: I love you too.

KANAYA: Goodbye Rose

Before Kanaya hangs up, I quickly bring the phone up to my ear to say a few words.

DIRK: Hey Kanaya. Thanks for getting in touch before we take off.

DIRK: We both really appreciate that.

KANAYA: Oh

KANAYA: S... Sure

DIRK: I’ll take very good care of her.

DIRK: I promise.

KANAYA: Thank You Dirk

DIRK: Hey one last thing.

DIRK: Before you head back to the brooding caverns or wherever, think you can do me a favor?

KANAYA: Of Course

DIRK: You’ve probably heard by now that Jade is sick.

DIRK: In a coma or something? She’s in the hospital.

KANAYA: Yes

DIRK: I’ve got an antidote for that. Medicine of sorts.

DIRK: If you give it to her, it should wake her up almost immediately.

DIRK: I left it here on the counter in your apartment.

DIRK: You can come pick it up and bring it to her at your leisure.

KANAYA: I See

KANAYA: Yes I Can Do That

DIRK: Awesome.

DIRK: Well, later.

I hang up and toss the phone on the floor. She’ll be here soon, so it’s time to wrap this up. Rose is exhausted. Emotionally, physically, the works. She’s nodding off but struggling to stay awake. She doesn’t want to miss anything important, but there’s nothing left to do here. There’s no reason to put any more strain on her than necessary.

I pull out a syringe full of the same stuff as usual. Worked wonders on Jake, then Jade. Should knock Rose out well enough for the long ride ahead. I inject it in her arm, and her head drops down almost instantly. I pick her up and carry her like a sleeping princess. It slips my mind to bring along her bag of stuff. I walk to the sliding glass door, open it, and we fly away.

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