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Dear [livejournal.com profile] gracent_dic, I deeply apologize for the lateness of my A/R gift. The last few weeks were unexpectedly (or maybe just to me) crazy with exams, papers, and such, and I realize that's no excuse for the delay in this gift. I can only hope that you like and enjoy it in the end. I admit that I am severely out of practice in writing fic, and this came out much more gen and angsty than expected. However, I hope the end makes up a bit for it.

Anyway, onwards!

Title: The Other Side
Fandom: Battlestar Galactica
Genre: Angst/Romance (I hope?), also quite... Gen
Rating: T
Word Count: ~5000
Spoilers: Everything
Characters/Pairings: Lee, Adama/Roslin, and Kara/Sam
Prompt: "A fic that also involves Kara/Sam in some way and is not set on New Caprica. (The K/S doesn't have to be equal amounts as the A/R, I just love interaction between them all.)"
A/N: This was written as part of the AR comm's secret Valentine exchange. Needless to say, I am shamefully, very late. However, I do hope the end results are ok (I have been sadly out of practice), and that it works with the wonderful prompt [livejournal.com profile] gracent_dic provided. I couldn't manage to avoid NC completely, but it's not on NC (unless you count mental space...). I want to thank a RL friend who read through this for me and convinced me that it was NOT too horrendous and that I should post. (Also, I sincerely hope that multiple intertwining narrative lines are ok... It's a habit I have yet to break.) PN: Also, I haven't really ever written some of these characters (three guess which ones) before, so I really do hope it's okay.
Disclaimer: If I owned it, you'd know it. LOL! Trust me, I own nothing.
Summary: The spaces we need to cross aren't always physical, but with time and patience, we trust them to close - healed.

The Other Side

a secret-santa for gracent_dic

The bounce of the grass in the slight breeze is hypnotizing. He weaves along, crunching a new path underfoot even as he feels the slide of the individual blades, catching them between his fingertips – letting them glide along until they are free, gone back to waving in their own mysterious rhythm, dancing to the wind. He sighs.

Kara’s departure had not been entirely unexpected, just uncharacteristically quiet in the wake of so much. Kara Thrace, for as long as he had known her, was never quiet – not in joy, in grief, or even in death. She had never been still either.

Then again, maybe he just never quite knew her when she was actually Kara Thrace, ‘owner of my own manifest destiny’.

Lee lets go of a last, long-suffering breath, a well-earned sigh, before he turns in the direction that the ever-shrinking raptor had disappeared in. He remembers Laura’s few rasping words under the quiet of her lean to, the cool skin of her palm covering his hand. “He’s… going to try to leave. Don’t let him.”

The look she gives him is firm but gentle, her smile deceivingly playful. He had been too afraid to ask if she was telling him this for his sake or his father’s sake, but he doesn’t, because he realizes that it’s an unfair question. (Knowing her, she’d probably say it was for “everyone’s” sake. A boost for morale, or some other such nonsense - as if the sight of this lush, green world hadn’t been enough.) Instead, he finds himself answering, “I’ll get my hunting skills ready, Laura. He won’t get too far away – I promise.”

She huffs a quiet laugh then, an almost-snort even as the fluid in her lungs chokes her, and the end is garbled in a few startled gasps. “I hope you are better at hunting now than on Kobol.”

“That’s not fair! There wasn’t any game there.”

“Sure. Say what you like now.”

He laughs. Then he stops, realizes what she’s done, and begins to laugh even harder. Through his blurred vision, he sees his dad climbing the small incline up to their lean-to.

XxX

Distance is a very illusionary measure. Sometimes, it’s all in the head. This is what Leoben tells Kara each time he visits (she’s not sure anymore if they are dreams or… visions – at that thought, she usually grabs the entire bottle of rotgut with her). He’s always “just” standing right there. There. Horribly near and getting nearer but never arriving before Kara wakes in her bunk with a swallowed cry. She always glances to her right then, hoping for empty space instead of the terrifyingly comforting weight of Sam lying beside her, his arm (the tattoo standing out even in the dim lighting) holding onto her, anchoring her to reality.

And she feels horrible. Tainted. As if the scars from her mother hadn’t been enough, now she has a cylon spouting philosophy in her mind. Stories about turtles and distances and never making up for a lead. It’s all nonsense. (She knows better than anyone how to run. Maybe she knows too well because before she realizes, she’s circled the universe and ends up right where she started.)

Sam shifts a bit of his weight, pressing a little closer to her side, but, even asleep, he’s not trapping her.

He’s so kind.

So understanding.

And she just wants to run before she breaks him too, cuts into him with her own worn, sharp edges. (Grinded to a fine point on evening dinner tables and coffee tables and sofa-couches in a little doll house.)

XxX

Bill Adama makes one of the riskiest moves of his career falling in and jumping out of the atmosphere, but it is worth it. His people are back. She is back, and he wants to thank the gods he doesn’t believe in for giving him this much at least.

But he can’t, because he looks around, high above the cheering crowd and can’t help but notice what’s missing. The things… the people who are gone. Saul is a broken man, his remaining eye looking into an empty distance. Kara is wrapped in the arms of her husband, but she’s rigid and looking like a trapped animal who just had a leg cut off, looking haunted, and Laura… Laura’s still gone. She’s just not there.

XxX

He finds his father a week or so later, the trek stretching out some long unused muscles. He looks… lonely, but resigned – and unsurprised to see Lee marching up the incline of the hill. The foundations of a cabin are already laid out behind him.

“Where are you going first from here?”

“To the east… there are some interesting landmarks out there.”

His father continues digging into the dirt steadily. Lee drops his pack and joins him. They work in silence until his father drops back onto his heels and stares out to where a pile of rocks and a forked branch stand in her memory. (He mentally snorts a sharp, bittersweet laugh. It’s a rather crude marker, but she’d probably joke that she’d earned those horns.)

Lee decides that this is as good a time as any. “She made sure this was my first stop.”

“I know.” At this, some dam seems to break, and Bill Adama laughs. “She always had to have her way – and the last say.”

Lee grins back. “That she did.”

On his first trip back to that hill and cabin, he brings a small, badly shaped earthenware bowl of baked clay and mud. He’s filled it with soil and a few small plants. This he places on her grave, her cairn.

That she was buried beneath stone, a tomb, had been necessary with the dried, hard-packed earth and scavengers everywhere, but he thought it a waste for her not to have some sort of life sprouting around her.

As if by magic (but more likely, it’s the hardy nature of the native inhabitants in this area of the world), the bowl of greenery spills over and grasses start peaking through the piled stones. Fresh rainwater feeds the thirsty roots until green moss and lichen begin to appear on her marker. His dad never tries to remove any of it. They both understand – she’d rather like the weeds, maybe even more than flowers. They are hardy, and abundant, and spread everywhere, stubborn grasses with a propensity towards surprising the unsuspecting gardener. It’s the Adama men’s own inside joke, and they don’t think she’d mind being part of it at all.

XxX

Kara knows somewhere in the back of her mind that New Caprica had been terrible for Sam as well. (It had been terrible for everyone.) She knows that he didn’t join the Circle purely because he thought it was a ‘good idea’.

But she hates that he can still love her as if nothing’s changed. As if nothing has happened. In fact, he seems to love her more.

It makes her want to reciprocate somehow, and she hates that. Feeling obliged to feel something simply because she’s attached to him. (Her heart constantly whispering to her that it isn’t exactly that.) That has never been her. She doesn’t want to be obligated to feel anything, because that’s not how it’s supposed to work. She’s simply supposed to love him because it makes her feel like she’s flying again – without a care in the world. She’s supposed to love him, simply because she does. (And she really still does.)

But somehow, it feels as if it’s just not enough anymore. She looks at him - at the curve of his jaw, at the flex of his muscles as he shifts again, and wonders, not for the first time (or the last time), if she could somehow… just not frak this part of her life up. She knows somewhere inside of her that she wants to not frak this up more than anything right about now.

XxX

Laura Roslin calls him several hours later – after the deck celebration has ended. He knows that she’s already been onboard two hours ago, Colonial One in dire need of maintenance. He had expected her to-… No, he doesn’t know what he’d expected, but he knows what he had wanted her to do, where he had wanted her to go (or come).

Instead, he has spent the last two hours glancing around CIC every few minutes, looking for that shock of red among the gathering of grey and brown and blues and feels his gut drop every time his search comes up empty.

“Hello, Bill.”

He lets out a breath. He didn’t realize he’s been holding it (holding it inside his heart since the Cylons first landed on New Caprica). “Hello, Laura. Sounds good to hear your voice.” (There’s no need to let her know that it is the understatement of the century.)

“Hmm… yes, I’m glad to hear yours too. I… was wandering around the lower deck a bit, visiting the civilians setting up camp there.”

Of course. “How are they doing?”

“I… It’s… As well as could be expected. They are still happy to have finally gotten off that planet, but… that’s not going to last long.”

“So, Madam President, what do you think?”

“I’m not the president, Bill.”

“Not yet you’re not.”

“Hmm… we’ll have to see.”

“Doesn’t seem to stop you from already thinking like one.”

For a moment, Bill is afraid he’s said the wrong thing, that the silence that rises and swallows up their conversation from the other end of the line will eat him whole as well.

The reply is oh-so-quiet when it does come, “No, no it does not. I guess it really never did… Bill, they are going to need help. They’ll need to learn how to feel secure again. There is going to be trauma, and plenty of missing people… I have some kids on my ship that have nowhere else to go.” There’s a strain to her voice near the end that forces Bill to wonder how much of the trauma she’s going to have to deal with is her own. (Knowing her, she’ll probably just tuck it away somewhere. Not in denial, no – just not bothering with it.)

The gulf of silence that swallows their conversation next isn’t interrupted. Instead, while he’s still thinking of a reply, a click sounds down the line. It’s a gentle if sharpish goodbye, and he understands that she can’t say any words of farewell yet. Maybe never again.

XxX

It’s on his third trip back, about five months post-settlement that he sees his father collapse, clutching his chest. In that moment, filled with an almost paralyzing fear and uncertainty, Lee realizes that maybe tossing all of their ships and technology into the sun hadn’t been a completely good idea. That a fresh start and a blank slate were all well and good… until you realize that clean breaks are rarely possible. Not if it’s the past. Not if it’s your life. Your heart.

Bill Adama is dying, and there’s no medication that could prevent that fact. (At this point, Lee also realizes that even with the ships and technology, there wouldn’t have been anything they could do.)

However, there’s no use pondering the past either, and if ever there’s something that military training, years on the run, and Kara Thrace has taught him – it’s to trust his instincts. He knows that the best thing to do is to get his father to Doctor Cottle or find some way to get him here. He can’t leave his father like this, and so the latter is impossible, but the former option…

Lee looks to the pile of firewood his father had been gathering and starts tearing strips off his spare shirt. Gathering those in a pile, he wets them in the stream. The first stick is bound easily. The next few not so much. In the mean time, he’s just talking. Talking to his dad who’s only partially lucid.

Sun. Stress. Old injuries. Any number of things run through his mind. All of them are converted into passable talking material as he works quickly.

XxX

Sam wakes up to an empty bunk. It’s disappointing but not surprising – an all too familiar occurrence lately, but he has all the patience in the world for this. Because at least Kara is alive.

At least she’s still here.

With him.

Most of the time.

He looks to see if her gym stuff is still tossed in the corner. It is.

He falls back onto their bunk and stares at the bulkhead, wondering how much time she still needs to think. How much time he gets to try and bridge this gap in their understanding of the world. She looks at him these days as if she doesn’t recognize him some times. Or doesn’t believe it’s him.

He looks at her, and all he can see is everything he loves. Both the things that have remained the same and the things that are different.

‘That’s it. Enough navel-gazing. Time to go search for the cat.’ He pulls on a pair of sweats over his boxers, and just manages to avoid a charging Lee as he jogs past, the stopwatch in his hand ticking away... The glare he shoots over his shoulder at Sam is the usual.

And as usual, Sam shrugs it away.

XxX

Laura is startled when a woman with a dark red bandana wrapped around her head grabs her sleeve with a bandaged hand. (Three days in Dogsville – as it has already been named by some of the sentries on guard, and she still wasn’t used to seeing grey walls surrounding the throng instead of grey skies. She’s determined though. She will not leave them until she’s as used to their surroundings as they are. As it is, the Colonial One is benched until the deck crew could clean up the gunk in its lower engines anyway.)

“You’re Laura Roslin - You must know Captain Thrace!”

Laura can’t keep her eyes from widening at the relieved grin that breaks across the woman’s face.

“I’m sorry to bother you, and I realize that you don’t know me, but I would be really grateful if you could give this to her.” She passes a folded piece of paper into Laura’s hand. “It’s a drawing and note from Kacey. My daughter. She’d rescued my daughter, my baby from that pit, and she disappeared before I could really say anything beyond thank you. But my daughter, my… daughter’s been crying for her at night, and I think – if she can – it’d be great if she visited. We would both love to see her, and I would like the opportunity to properly say thank you.”

As if suddenly realizing her rambling and to whom she is rambling, the woman’s mouth snaps shut. Laura still looks a bit startled, but her face softens as she glances at the folded piece of paper in her hand. “What is your name?”

“Julia.” This time her words are barely audible. “Please, will you give that to her?”

“I’ll do my best, Julia, but… I’m sure the captain is probably going to be very occupied for the next few weeks.”

“I understand – I just… want to let her know-“

“And I’ll pass the message on.”

XxX

Lee manages to drag his father on the makeshift sledge halfway down the slope of the hill, just managing to keep the both of them from toppling all the way down when he hears his father’s rasping voice, “Lee, stop.”

He pretends at first to not have heard, continuing on the way down, until he hears an ominous creak and one of the branches snap under one of Bill Adama’s insistent hands. “Dammit, dad! Stop!” And he’s not turning to look at his father. Instead, he continues to stare down the slope of the hill. His head is up, and there are two tears sliding down his face.

“Lee…”

He swipes a hand quickly across his face, frustrated and angry and feeling helpless. (Somehow, with his father, he always feels somewhat helpless.) This time, he does bend down and look – really look. His father’s skin is paler than he’s ever seen it – all the more distinct in the bright shine of the afternoon sun. “We have to get you to the doc.”

Bill Adama tries to laugh at that, but fails – it hurts entirely too much. Instead, he just grins at his son as if he was that ridiculous little boy again, trying to walk around the house all day with his father’s pilot helmet on, walking into walls and doors. His hand reaches and grabs on. “Let me stay, son. Let me stay here.”

Lee turns away again, this time to stare at the sun as if he just wanted to go blind. “Okay. Okay, dad.” And because he’s learned the lesson of letting go better than his dad ever had, he drags the sledge back up to the top of the hill. He holds onto the old man’s hand. They stare towards the western horizon for the rest of the day and into the evening, watching the sun set together. He holds on even as the hand goes limp. He holds on until the first few sobs forces him up and away, over to the first grave on the hilltop, asking for her strength as a devotee would seek the goddess’s comfort. As he sinks down near her grave, he could have sworn that he heard the breeze sweeping through his hair whisper, “It’s going to be okay.”

XxX

Sam expected to find Kara running through the hallways as was her wont when she had these night spells – haunted by things (or someone) she’d rather not face, that she’d rather not share (and he’s tried). At least, that is - when she wasn’t in the gym pounding at a bag, her body swinging in and out in a hypnotizing rhythmic dance, partnering with the heavy bag.

However, tonight is different somehow. Instead, he almost trips over her outstretched legs, while she sits on a crate, her head bent. It’s the memorial hallway, and he thinks she might be praying.

Her faith fascinates him, because he never really expected it from her, but he begins to understand that she does believe – in many different sort of things. The fact that she has the strength to believe after so much has happened to her in life just makes him love her more.

With that thought, he sits down beside her without touching, offering space and support all in the same action.

His heart jumps when her hand reaches out and wraps around his.

XxX

Laura finds Kara, after twenty-eight minutes of wandering, some subtle inquiries, and educated guesses, in the observation bay of all places.

The other woman glares at the intruder, but seeing Laura quickly turns away to stare at the stars outside.

“Everywhere else is a bit too claustrophobic?” She’s heard the rumors.

A reluctant grunt is her only answer, so Laura decides to wait her out. Time is something she actually still has (for now), and she has patience in abundance – had to after years in the classroom and then, a government boardroom (which was honestly worse). She joins the young woman on the floor. They are pressed right up to the reinforced glass. (The small metallic compounds mixed in were blended well and transparent.)

“Too many damn people after so long, and it’s like someone is constantly watching – just there – over my shoulder.”

Laura doesn’t know what to say, so she just remains quiet.

“And it’s so damn loud. The Lords know how they manage to get anyone to sleep inside this hulking metal ship.”

Suddenly, Laura understands. “You’re glad to be back aren’t you? Something completely opposite and away from where you were?”

Kara barely glances over at her this time. “What do you think?”

“I think… that you’re about a few minutes away from punching the next person who comes up to you expecting you to be who you used to be. I think – that you’re glad to be back with the familiar, but you don’t like that you aren’t familiar anymore.”

Kara snorts this time, but she does reward the older woman with a somewhat wry smile. “Is that how you feel?”

“Sometimes.” Her shrug is deliberately casual.

Kara turns back to the stars, itching to get into her viper and just go, but as always, not yet. “Is there a reason why you’re here?”

That question seems to give Laura pause, and she hesitates reaching for her pocket, but she does, tugging a folded sheet of paper out. “Someone asked me to give you this, a woman who said you had saved her daughter.”

Kara’s shoulders stiffens, and Laura recognizes the signs and hurries on. It’s too soon. Too raw. Defenses raised. “I don’t know what it’s all about, and I wouldn’t presume to know, but take the paper and keep it for later. When you’re ready – just don’t take too long.” (She understands a bit too well how it feels to put something off for later. Much later. She’s doing it now after all.) With that, Laura tucks the paper, unopened into the front pocket of Kara’s jacket. She stands up then, patting down her slacks out of habit (no dusty dirt here to get rid of) and offers a hand. “A drink? We probably both need it and apologies for apparently being the one messenger you’re not allowed to shoot.”

Kara’s shoulders loosens at that and she chokes back a laugh, finally turning to fully face Laura. She takes the outstretched hand. “That better be an honest offer.”

“Oh, it is. We can talk then about how the alcohol is still just as bad as always. That’s something at least.”

The bitter edge to the young woman’s face and posture is still there, but Laura doesn’t expect that to disappear anytime soon. She feels it herself. The chilly rift inside her that New Caprica has left. She just hopes that it doesn’t suck them all in.

(She decides that maybe she will drop by the Admiral’s quarters later tonight, and maybe, she’ll even say good night.)

XxX

Lee finds the strip of paper in his father’s pants pocket later. (After the weeping. After the rock collecting. Just before the tomb-making.) It is stained and creased, but on it is a familiar script – the smooth black ink faded now but still clear: I look into the darkness, but I fear it not. For it is an old friend, and he has smiled back at me.

Lee clenches his jaw and fights the tears. He slips the paper back into his father’s pocket and fervently hopes – no believes – that she will be waiting. (She's always been good for that - making someone believe, having faith.)

He slips the last stone into place as the sun begins to rise, the night having passed without notice as he worked. As he stares into the beautiful colors streaking the horizon, he decides that this place would prove a good spot to return to when he explored. A good temporary shelter after a few finishing touches to the cabin (like a roof). After all, in order to make dreams real, one has to be practical. And sometimes wrong. (Lee is pretty sure Laura and his dad wouldn’t mind that the roof is a bit crooked.)

XxX

The two graves looked like one, the stones indistinguishable. With time, greenery and earth would reclaim both just as they would surely reclaim the cabin.

XxX

The quiet lull of water pulling and pushing up and down the shore makes her feel sleepy, and she leans into the shoulder of the woman beside her. “Anytime now, huh?”

Laura hums in the affirmative.

“Excited?”

Laura smiles, giving little away. “A bit.”

“Oh come on, Madame Prez! Just admit it. You’ve missssed him.”

“Of course I did, but it doesn’t mean that I’m excited he’s crossing over now. Who knows – maybe he wanted to explore some more with Saul first.”

Now, who’s being ridiculous?” Kara Thrace is bright and happy. “I seem to remember someone teasing me about being so excited to see someone that hadn’t been, and I quote, ‘gone all too long’.”

“Kara, Sam was waiting for you when we finally got back here. You almost jumped into the water.”

“I bet the old man will actually jump into the water when he sees you.”

“Don’t be silly.” But Laura stands up and moves closer to the shore anyway, not turning around to see Kara’s smirk. (I’m not the one wearing his favorite outfit in the world.) The rest of Bill’s family, acquaintances, and old comrades and friends are spread along the shore.

A thin layer of varicolored leaves covers the green grass, giving way easily to her footsteps.

“Do you think we’ll get snow here?”

“Hmm… I wonder. Probably – though I wonder if it’ll be warm snow.”

Kara’s smirk widens, “What would be the point of warm snow?” Her nose twitches in disgust at the thought.

“Indeed, what would be.” Laura laughs then. “I do hope for it – a nice little blizzard.”

“Why Madam Prez, what do you think you’ll be doing while you’re all snowed in?” A wicked slyness has slinked its way into Kara’s words.

Suddenly, another voice behind them chimes in, “Probably what I hope we’ll be doing.” Muscular arms wrap themselves around Kara’s shoulders, and she leans back into the warm, solid form behind her.

“You’re getting ahead of yourself Sammy boy. You’re finally done giving hell to the last of those pyramid buddies that didn’t show up when you arrived?”

“Yep, chased them all down and gave them quite the talking to.”

Laura smiles pleasantly at their banter, “Either way, I’m going to be busy.”

“A little full of yourself aren’t you, Laura?”

Laura ignores her, now walking towards the very edge of the water, bare feet falling lightly in the soft grass and crunching leaves. Her parting shot is dealt over her shoulder. “You don’t know the half of it Starbuck.”

Wild laughter cackles through the air. It’s the first sound to greet Bill Adama as his eyes open to one of the most beautiful sights of his life.



Fin.



Coda:

“Hey, is it ready?”

“My name is Kara Thrace remember? Of course it is.”

“Are you sure this is a good idea?”

“When am I not?”

“That’s what I’m afraid of.”

Sam still wasn’t quite sure how Kara had managed to talk him into this. Zak was surely much smarter since he flat-out turned her down. Either that, or he had a better honed survival instinct – something about not wanting to risk pissing off his sort-of, kind-of stepmom. Which definitely makes Sam the fool in this case, since “stepmom” still sounds a lot better than “I-knew-her-when-she-could-toss-me-out-an-airlock”.

Meanwhile, Kara just continued to ignore his hemming and hawing, untangling the hose from the reel at the side of the cabin. “You’re such a chicken, Sam. Besides, it’s not like we can die again.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Whatever…” Her focus was preternatural, completely zoned in to the tub she was now filling with water. “It’s all their fault anyway. Do you know that they’ve been locked into their rooms doing gods know what since that last snowfall?”

“It’s only been two days since then Kara.”

The snow, as they found out, was indeed cold, but melted quickly in the resumed sunlight.

“But it’s not fair! They’re old. I should be allowed to tease her by now. I mean, even we aren’t locked up anymore.”

Sam rolled his eyes even as he helped lug the bag of ice to the side of the tub. “Kara, do you really think dousing them with ice water is really the thing to do because you’re bored?” In the end, that’s what this all came down to. Kara missed her old adrenaline rushes now that they were finally… wherever this place was, and she missed getting yelled at to be honest.

“Hey, they shouldn’t leave their bedroom windows open in the first place. Who knows what sort of people could be lurking around. Think of this as a good old-fashioned, friendly neighborhood advice and training.”

With a final plunk, Kara dumped the entire bag of ice into the tub. She knocked some of the large clumps of ice apart with a stick. No need for any serious injuries after all.

“We’re really going to do this?”

“YES SAM! Now hurry up!”

With the tub carried between them, they crept up below the sill of the bedroom. This window, Kara knew from previous visits, was the one directly above their beds. She couldn’t wait. She was absolutely giddy at the thought.

“On the count of three… One. Two. THR-!”

The wave of ice cold water splashed over hair and limbs, soaking their clothing all the way through. Kara and Sam, both drenched and shivering now, stared up in shock at the two heads peering out of the window. Laura cupped her chin in one hand, her elbow braced against the sill. “You guys were way too loud."

Bill Adama just chortled even as Kara glared at him. “Don’t look at me, Starbuck. This was all her.”

As if to prove his words, Laura brought up the empty, shiny, silver bucket as it swung back and forth on her fingertips. “You guys would have ruined the bed, and I love this bed.”

“Not me?”

“Oh, silly Bill, I can have you anywhere. A large, comfortable bed on the other hand…”

Kara groaned as she tugged a still silent and shocked Sam away. “Come on, it’s going to make me sick.” She turned at the edge of the fence to shout back, “I’m going to get you guys back some day! You just wait for it. You won’t know when, and you won’t know where, but I’m going to get you!”

Laura and Bill just smiled fondly at the retreating pair. “Should we tell her about the puppy Zak’s going to bribe her with after she realizes that he let it slip?”

“Nah. Zak needs the head start.”

Truly fin.

ETA: A little note to self, just re-read and realized how ambiguous it is is - who wrote that snippet of a note in Bill's pocket... Does anyone have an opinion, if you read this after I've added this. I'm just curious. When writing it, I always thought it's Laura's handwriting, but now reading, I can see it as Bill's as well. :3
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