End of a Dream, Part Seven: Packing Up

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“I can't believe you're not giving us time to organize a good-bye party.” Nadia leaned against the door to Jim's room, watching him pack. “Or taking your furniture.”

“I can build more. And parties aren't really my style.” Jim sorted through clothes, dropping several sets into his duct-tape suitcase, then looked up. “You know that.”

“I know what I know.” Nadia pouted. “That's not the point. Parties are our style, and now you're going away and you might never come back.” Her eyes narrowed. “And don't think I didn't notice you dodging that question when Amber asked. I don't think those two have realized that you're gone for good.”

“If they haven't, they weren't paying attention.” Jim considered his statement, then grinned ruefully. “Maybe you're right. You'll have to get it through to them.” He tossed a pair of lasers onto the bed. “Won't get those through customs. You hang onto them – might come in handy.”

“I'll try.” Nadia leaned against the doorframe. “Or you could just come back in a month or two, when things are sorted out.”

Jim paused. His back turned to Nadia, he looked down at the suitcase. “Please don't make this any harder. You know that I can't. Hell, you know why I can't. I have responsibilities back home…”

“I'm sorry.” Nadia closed her eyes for several seconds, until Jim started packing again. “I know that you don't want to go. Just…” She broke off, taking a step forwards.

Jim sighed. “I know. Things haven't been a lark lately, have they?” Turning, he took Nadia's hand gently.

“Ever since the Antiheroes, it's just been one thing after another.” Flopping down on the bed, Nadia sighed heavily. “And things just seem to keep getting worse. I miss last year.” She grinned suddenly. “Hey, that gives me an idea. I'll be right back.”

Jim raised an eyebrow as she bounded to her feet, jogging out of the room. A minute later, she was back, holding a small bronze statue of a baseball player. As Jim stared in confusion, she grinned. “You remember last year? Ecchs challenged us to a baseball game, we got all those people to help us out, we beat him?”

“Ye-ess…” Jim was watching her warily.

“Okay, well you clearly forgot that he gave us a trophy. And no one else wanted it, because to quote Amber 'It's entirely meaningless'. So I took it, and I put it in my room.” Nadia grinned. “Well… I had it checked for bugs, then I took it and put it in my room.” She held the trophy out. “A reminder of better times.”

“Better times.” Jim took the trophy, turning it over in his hands. Engraved on the plate below the small baseball figure was the phrase '2007 VICTORS: MEDDLING KIDS'. He chuckled despite himself, looking up at her. “He was still kind of peeved about the Halloweed caper, wasn't he?”

“Plus, he seems to think we're about ten years younger than we actually are, yeah.” Nadia's smile turned sad, and she abruptly gave Jim a massive hug. When they broke apart, she looked at him seriously. “Jim, I've got to say – this came out of nowhere, and I'm a little bit emotional at the best of times. But I won't make things worse. You take care of yourself.” She stepped back with a sad smile. “Anyway, my parole's up in a year and a half. When that happens, I'm totally going to come and visit as often as I can.”

“I'll hold you to that.” Jim grinned back, carefully packing the trophy with his other things and snapping the case shut, before walking over to the doorway. “Anyway, I'm not moving to the middle of nowhere. I'll write you.”

“You'd better, pal. And if you ever need help, we're right here.” There was a sound outside, and the two of them turned to see Lucky, Amber, Moonbeam, and Blastwave walking in.

“We came to see you off. Nadia mentioned that you were leaving soon.” Lucky chuckled. “You didn't think you were going to get to vanish just like that?”

“I was planning to. I hate long goodbyes.” Jim bowed to the group. “But I was planning to stop by your apartment on my way out – unlike some people I could mention.” Lucky flushed, and he grinned. “Timebender, Lucky Lad, it has been a privelege and an honour to work alongside you. I'm sorry to leave like this.”

“We understand.” Lucky nodded. “I know you want to preserve your aura of mystery, and all that, but I happen to know for a fact that you're flying out to Washington, and transferring to wherever your secret home is from there. So we'll stick with you as far as the airport.”

“That sounds good to me.” Jim said. “How will you be getting home?”

“Um… with the car?” Lucky's quizzical expression turned stricken. “Your… car… oh, son of a crap.”

Jim watched his face for a moment, then chuckled. “I was wondering if you would twig to that. Don't worry, I can't carry a car on the plane anyway. But you'll have maybe a month before it breaks down enough that it's not useable.”

“Aww, man.” Lucky sighed. “I was getting used to not being a pedestrian.” Mock-grumbling, he led the way out the door. “Well, come on. If we've got limited rides left, I'm damned well going to enjoy every one.”

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