Today, Clementine packs up and leaves again. She’s been called back to Jhypt, and she sits outside her apartment building, waiting for the cab and driver to come pick her up. She looks at her pale hands, light blue veins shining, and closes her fists. She is angry at Maddigan, angry at her for pulling her away from Cam. She squeezes the girl tighter and places a kiss on her forehead. “Clem,” The young girl pulls away and smiles. It was a good adventure, they’d had. “I’m going to miss you,” Clementine takes her pale white hand and strokes Cam’s coppery hair. “I’ll see you again soon, Clem,” Cameron’s eyes are dry, but Clementine can hear the hitch in her voice. “It was fun playing your mother.” “It was fun playing your daughter. The birth parents Maddigan gave me sucked.” Instead of scolding Cameron for her language, Clem just laughs. “Yeah, yeah they did.” She pauses again and folds her hands in her lap. Her walking cane in gone and the only bag she carries holds the book of her people, and all their stories. Soon the cab and driver will come and she will climb in without objection. Soon the cab will drive off, leaving Seattle and Cameron and Ella and Julie. The cab will drive until the road stops and drop her off in a field as clouds begin to move over the sun. “What about Tempest?” Cam’s voice interrupts her thoughts. Clementine rests her chin in her hands. “She knows I have to leave. It won’t be a shock like it was with Malie.” Malie died a two years earlier in a car crash. “She’s going to miss you, Clementine.” “I know. But she has Rupert and a baby on the way.” “Her wedding was beautiful,” Cam shuts her eyes and holds on to the memory. “She gave me faith again; she and Perry and Rupert and Sally.” “I know,” Clementine looks over at Cam to see silent tears streaming down her face. She closes her eyes; soon, she will be standing in that field, under that tree. Rain will drip down her face, her clothes, and splatter on the leaves. A lighting bolt will strike, running down from the sky in a purple fire and taking her home. Home was where the angels lived. “Jack will be glad to see Julie and I. He missed his Jubilee. He hasn’t seen her many times since 1930.” “He’s a secondary companion. Ella is a primary,” Clementine says. “My brother was never second to Julie. He was her best friend.” “I know.” “He was never just a slip-away time traveler to her. He was a constant.” “Ella was meant to be with her. They’re kindred spirits.” “Darwishi can have more than one,” Cam grabs Clementine’s hand and squeezes it softly. “Remember that; don’t stay lonely waiting for me or Xaverius. Maddigan never gave you a love because she wants you to find one.” Clementine doesn’t respond verbally. Instead, as the taxi pulls up, she pulls Cameron to her feet and hugs her. She can feel Cam sobbing softly into her shoulder and squeezes her tightly. Cam squeezes Clem’s frail body as well, knowing she was never meant to stay a long time on Earth. “Goodbye, Cameron Abbey.” “Goodbye, Clementine Ruth.” “See you when I get home,” Cam lets go of Clementine’s hand as Clem steps into the cab. As Clementine turns to shut the door, she smiles and mouths: ‘you betcha, kiddo.’
Because of all we’ve been through.
“Name?” “Clementine Cremara, first order, first generation Darwishi,” Clementine hands the creature at the terminal her badge and nods. “Returning from?” “Fieldwork, classified.” “Of course, Clementine; welcome back to Central Hub.” Clementine nods and takes back her badge and scans her surroundings. Darwishi and associates mill around the lobby of Center Station, the highly classified center of Central Hub. She snaps her fingers and a cup of coffee springs into her hands; she takes a seat on one of the couches and closes her eyes. Right now, all Clementine wants is to sleep. “You don’t even need sleep anymore,” Clementine opens her eyes to Ivan grinning at her. “How was your trip?” “Please, Ivan,” Clem sets her coffee down and looks at him with electric, bloodshot eyes. “Please, go away.” Instead, Ivan sits next to her, the faint spots on his skin shimmering. He takes her hand. “Why?” Is the only thing Clem can think to say. Ivan just side glances at her, his face a mix of worry and sadness. “Clementine…” “Ivan,” Clementine pulls her hand away and places it on her lap. “Please.” Ivan grabs her hand again and holds it, squeezes it. “I don’t understand you, Clem.” “You left me, Ivan. You left me for Pippa, because Pippa is from the Woodlark family. You had another little Woodlark girl with her, and that little Woodlark girl broke everyone’s heart.” “That was Maddigan’s decision. It wasn’t mine, it wasn’t yours, and it wasn’t your fault.” Clementine takes a deep breath and winces as tears, fresh as the day Malie died, start an attack on her tear ducts. “I know.” Ivan hugs her frail shoulders and kisses her cheek. “We’ll get you all fixed up.” “Why?” Clementine asks, pulling away from him. He looks at her questioningly, but reads the look in her eyes. His mask fades, leaving only his raw emotion to be displayed on his face. Understanding flickers across his features and he takes a deep breath. “Because of all we’ve been through.” “I’ve watched you walk into fire, and I’ve watched you die more times than I can remember. I saw you destroy a city and you watched as I tumbled into the Mist.” “I know,” Ivan holds both her hands now, but can’t bear to make eye contact. “I had to get away; I had to stop hurting you.” Clementine simply stares at him as pulls her hands back, leaving her coffee as she stands to walk away. She shakes her head and feels the tears retreat; they’re replaced by anger as she watches the other angel run his fingers through his hair. His responses, his actions, his everything, she can see now was staged; cliché and outdated. A thin, willowy figure is standing a ways away, looking around the center hub, brows furrowed, a look of annoyance in her eye. Her black ringlets hang over her shoulders and bounce as she turns her head and spots them. “I better go,” Clem deadpans. “Your wife is here.”
The lightbulb’s gone out.
Clementine is lying under a tree on the island of Jhypt, a few miles away from the multi-winged Center Hub. The calls of the lesser forms in the forest serenade her into a relaxed, sleepy bliss. The sun touches her pale skin gently, and caresses her rapidly strengthening bones. For the first time since she arrived back home alone, she is happy. The peace of the forest surrounds her and cradles her to sleep. “Clementine,” A voice stirs in Clem’s thoughts as she comes out of her muggy sleep. Looking up, she sees the fox-like face of Maddigan staring down at her. Maddigan smiles warmly and puts her arm around Clem’s shoulders, pulling her up. She gives her a quick squeeze and lets her go. “Hello,” Maddigan brushes her red hair from her face and pulls the brambles from her clothes. It was obvious she had been out running in the forest. “Monarch,” Clementine rubs the blurriness of sleep away and gives a small wave. She feels better, like she usually does, a week after arriving. “What are you doing here?” “I’m apologizing,” Maddigan crosses her legs and sighs. “I’m sorry I wrenched you away from Cameron.” “I know you wouldn’t do it unless you had to,” Clem has gotten over her anger at the woman. She knows Maddigan has gone through the same thing, but never saw her kindred soul again. “I’m sorry about Killian. It was a freak accident. The rift never should have opened, and he should have never been lost.” “It was a long time ago,” Maddigan rubs her temples and glances Clem’s way again. “I’m sending you out again, in a moon-cycle.” “Where?” “Airveia,” Maddigan waits for Clementine’s reaction. Clementine is silent. “I know you haven’t been to your home continent for a long time, Clementine. It’s time for you to move on. Xaverius and you need to make amends. I know he is a companion to Pippa, and I know how much you hate that he’s involved with the Woodlarks. But he’s your brother. “I know you and Ivan will never be the same, Clementine. I know every person, every being you’ve ever loved has betrayed you: Rupert, Ivan, Sara, Ella, Malie…” Maddigan herself is saddened hearing the list of names and relationships her friend has lost. “But I want you to meet someone I want you to travel with for a while. Jack and Cameron will be gone a long time and you need someone.” “Is he a Darwishi?” Maddigan nods and adjusts the crown of stones and crystal on her head. “His name is Weevir.”
One, two, three, four…
Today, Clementine packs up to leave again. She sits reading the updates on the loading dock, waiting for her ride to Airveia. She is startled as a thin, willowy girl grabs her hand and sits next to her. “Pippa?” The girl nods and smiles with sad eyes. “I saw you and Ivan back there, a few weeks ago.” “It was nothing. He was apologizing.” “You didn’t forgive him,” It was a statement, not an accusation. Clementine takes a breath and looks down. “Don’t,” Pippa drops Clem’s hand and tips her chin up to look her in her sightless eyes. “He chose me for the wrong reasons. But he ran away from you for the right reasons, and you didn’t forgive him for a good reason. Our world is something extraordinarily complicated, and I can’t explain why I love him like I do. I can’t explain why my father was lost in the rift, and I can’t explain why my mother died. But I can tell you this: every single connection you make here, Clementine, counts. The Darwishi are forever, ingrained in this universe like matter and light. We are a web that is intertwined and can’t be broken. So your connections haven’t taken yet, and your world has yet to stabilize. Don’t think yourself homeless and alone, Clementine.” Clementine says nothing, looking at Pippa. She stares for a moment, before something in her relents and she pulls the woman into a hug. “You know this world much better than I do, Pip.” “Only because I can’t leave it; you can go anywhere in time and space and remember it all. You can take someone with you, and travel until your feet are raw and your mind is filled. Now you, get going.” Clementine smiles and stands, pulling her hair back. It was a new day. “Pippa?” “Yes?” “I missed being your best friend.” Pippa stands and hugs Clem again. “Me too.” Clementine turns to go board, walking freely, as if on air. She pauses once more as Pippa calls her name. “Clementine!” She shouts, smiling. “I forgot to tell you; Xay is waiting for you on the other side.”
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