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Return Of The King

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At first Kal’tsit thinks she’s dreaming. Thinks she’s having another one of her nightmares, and that Theresa is going to fade to dust before her very eyes in that hospital bed. She had woken up, had her coffee, and then gotten an urgent message from Dr. Silence that made her drop everything and rush to the medical ward. It was something she dreamed about at least seven times a week, seeing Theresa again; it was a nightmare she had just as often, seeing Theresa disappear from her life. That pink hair, calming presence, and kind smile. She remembered them as vividly as if it were yesterday. Kal’tsit hadn’t even gotten to say goodbye to her. Kal’tsit just stood and waited for it all to end, for Theresa’s Oripathy to overtake her body, turn her into ash and dust and stone. This nightmare always ended like this, and she had long since steeled herself for the inevitable.

But Theresa doesn’t vanish. Silence prattles on about cryostasis and recovery periods and those rings on Theresa’s hands, and she doesn’t vanish. It sinks in like a capsizing boat, slowly taking on water before becoming completely engulfed in the truth of the situation. The way Theresa’s head bobs back and forth with exhaustion, trying to keep awake and to listen to Silence’s monologue. She seems frailer than usual, more emaciated. Silence says it’s due to the life support systems of her stasis chamber, and it’s not a part of the dream. The chunks of black rock protruding from Theresa’s body are no longer there, no longer capable of turning this into another night of waking up in Closure’s arms, shaking and in a cold sweat.

Kal’tsit’s own arm feels sore as it does in her every day life. She still has a lot of tissue to regrow after the removal of her own lesions. That was a new addition to her consciousness, she supposed. Rhodes Island had finally done it, even if it took them years of work and struggle and strife and bloodshed and pain.

Then it hits her. Her boat reaches the bottom of the lake. A commonly known fact of dreams; she’s not meant to feel pain, not really. That makes this all real. She breathes in, almost drowns on reality. Silence is too busy burying her head in her notes to notice Kal’tsit’s first steps towards Theresa. Theresa, by contrast, is unsurprisingly not busy. Her eyes meet Kal’tsit’s; tender strawberry-pink against a harsher lime. Kal’tsit closes the distance between them, taking a seat by her bed. Theresa stretches out a hand, and Kal’tsit takes it. Her hand chilly, her grip weak, and her skin rough with lack of care. But it’s real. It feels real. Kal’tsit just asks one question to make sure this is all happening.

She whispers, careful not to interrupt Silence’s review of Theresa’s temporary dietary restrictions, “Theresa… Is it really you?” There’s a tinge of longing in the question that isn’t lost to Theresa.

The Sarkaz king nods, with a tear in her eye. She must have no clue how long its been, but it’s obvious from the lack of those horrid crystals on Kal’tsit’s shoulder that it’s been far too long. It's starting to feel like more than one burden has been lifted from her shoulders.


Within weeks, Theresa's discharged from the medical ward and it's like she was never gone. Kal'tsit escorts her out of the medical wing when she's free, and aside from the occasional stumbles, it's not even noticeable that she hasn't walked in ages. Theresa makes small talk with her, asking about Rhodes Island, Oripathy, and world affairs. A lot has happened in the past years, and Theresa needs to be caught up. When Theresa mentions the Doctor, though, Kal'tsit clams up. She didn't really want to talk about them just yet. Not so soon. Thankfully Theresa gets the hint and changes the subject.

Kal'tsit can only marvel at how fast she recovered. Cryostasis wasn't gentle on a human body by any means, and neither were the life-saving Oripathy treatments Theresa needed after she woke from her years-long nap. Silence and her medical team had come a long way, when Kal'tsit thought about it. Six or seven years ago, it would've been unthinkable to cure anyone's infection, but now even patients with more serious cases are seeing remarkable progress in the stabilizing and curing of their condition.

Then they arrive at Kal'tsit's personal suite, and Theresa immediately becomes acquainted with the kitchen. "Just like your old one at Babel," she says.

"Planning on doing much cooking?" Kal'tsit says, leaning against the counter while Theresa digs through the cupboards next to her. It brings a smile to both of their faces, and then-

"Home already, honey?" comes a bratty, teasing voice as Closure slinked into the kitchen.

Closure freezes. Kal’tsit freezes. Theresa closes the cabinet with a tilt of her head before spotting Closure. Kal’tsit awkwardly remembers that she neither told Closure that she would be bringing Theresa home nor told Theresa that she and Closure were a bit more than intimate, to say the least. Closure and herself both take turns looking to each other and Theresa in turn. Theresa herself approaches Closure. Despite being the same height, Theresa still seems to tower over her.

“Ada? Is that you?” she asks.

“Y-Yeah, it’s me, Theresa.” Closure seems far too shocked to give Theresa any of her trademark snark; it’s not like she would do so anyway.

Within the blink of an eye, Theresa’s scooped Closure up into a hug, picking her up off the ground and lightly swinging her around, “It is! I’m so glad to see you, Ada.”

“Me too,” Closure ekes out, “Kal’tsit, honey, you didn’t tell me you were bringing Theresa home today…”

“I apologize, it seems it must have slipped my-”
“Oh, ‘honey?’” Theresa says, setting Closure down. “You two are…”

Closure and Kal’tsit both nod.
“I suppose that makes sense, I was gone for… how long again?”
“Seven years, three months, two weeks, and five days,” Kal’tsit recites the tally she’s run in her head since the day Theresa went under. Closure gives a low, impressed whistle.

Theresa fidgets for a moment, taking her turn to look between the two of them. “So then, I presume that means that we’re no longer an item, Kal’tsit?”

Kal’tsit flounders for a moment. Of course Theresa would be the only one willing to ask her that so openly. Closure picks up the slack for her, “Not exactly. There’s more than enough room in our bed, after all.” Relief washes over Kal’tsit. Even if Closure could be insufferable at times, she still knew Kal’tsit more than just about anyone. "If you're okay with it, of course?" Closure adds, sticking her tongue out.

She's still not certain how Theresa will react though. The way she puts her finger to her chin with a considerate hum only makes it worse. Kal'tsit keeps her stony poker face up though, and soon enough Closure starts to laugh. Right, they're fucking with her. Equal parts relief and annoyance wash through her, something she experiences often around Closure. Moments later and Theresa begins giggling as well, and a brings an exasperated sigh to Kal'tsit's lips.

"Yes, yes, I'd love that, Ada!" Theresa says between giggles. Then she moves to lean against the counter with Kal'tsit. "Oh! That reminds me, how's our dear Amiya?"

Kal'tsit smiles, barely noticeable to anyone not looking for it. "Our girl is fine. She's been cured as well, and is turning eighteen in a few months."

She expects Theresa to be jubilant, but she isn't. Instead she stares off forlornly into the floor tile with a bittersweet smile on her face. "I see… I missed so much, didn't I?"

Neither Closure nor Kal'tsit say anything as the atmosphere takes a sudden dip. Just as quickly though, it climbs back up.

"Is she still around Babel-" Theresa stops herself, "I mean, Rhodes Island, was it?"

Kal'tsit nods, "Yes and yes."

Closure clears her throat. "She runs the whole place, actually! She's been signing my paychecks for the past few years…" Closure pouts; it's not a small secret that Amiya is much less lenient about paying Closure to slack off as Kal'tsit did.

Theresa clapped her hands together, "Oh, wonderful! In that case, we should invite her over for dinner, I'd just love to see her."

Kal'tsit runs a hand through Theresa's hair. This is all still all real. "She'd love it too."

"And what about the rest of the family?" Closure adds, no doubt hell bent on making Kal'tsit squirmin front of Theresa. The sentiment is appreciated, but inconvenient.

"There's more family? How many?" Theresa asks. Closure begins to count on her fingers.

"You'll meet them in time." Kal'tsit says.

"I'll meet them tonight for dinner, hmm?" Theresa insists. She leans into Kal'tsit a little with a smug grin, just enough to get Kal'tsit to not even bother putting up a fight.

Kal'tsit had missed the way that Theresa made her chest pound.

"Where at?" Kal'tsit asks.

"Here, of course."

"Where are you going to get the ingredients?"

Closure chimes in, putting an arm around Kal'tsit's back. "I can go pick some stuff up from the kitchen if Theresa gives me a list!"

Kal'tsit scoffs, "That's unusually helpful of you. What's your plan?"

"I guess I'm busted." Closure sticks out her tongue. "I'll tell you later?"

Kal'tsit rolls her eyes. Theresa puts an arm around her as well. She's hesitant at first; it's apparent she's mimicking Closure. When Kal'tsit doesn't flinch, though, she goes through with it.

The two of them, Theresa and Closure, quickly sandwich Kal'tsit between them as idle arms turn to a tight hug. With Closure at her back and Theresa's head under her chin, Kal'tsit feels something welling up in her chest; old and new love reacting violently within her, threatening to bubble over. Just as quickly, they let go of her with a giggle each, and with it her heart lets go of whatever emotion Kal'tsit was about to fail to repress.

"I'll be needing a list then, Theresa!" Closure says.

"Oh? Can't I just come with you, Ada?"

Closure wags a finger at Theresa, "Uh-uh! You stay here, wouldn't wanna ruin the surprise, would you?"

"I suppose…"

"And besides," Closure steps between the other two of them, putting a hand on both of their shoulders, "Kal'tsit is going to be the one getting everyone here, and you should spend some alone time with her." She winks as she says it. Something Theresa chuckles at and that Kal'tsit blushes at.

Still, Kal'tsit is thankful that Closure knows better than to take Theresa away from her right now.

 

So they spent the next few hours in comfortable silence. Closure arrived from her grocery 'shopping' quickly, all things considered, and for some reason Kal'tsit didn't feel like getting up to much with her other partner hanging around. Not that she would've, anyway; she felt this situation required much more caution than she wanted to take.

Other partner. The thought hangs over her head, the sword of Damocles hanging by a thread, wondering how Closure and Theresa really felt about each other. For the moment though, that doesn't matter.

What matters is the smell of Theresa's cooking. Kal'tsit can tell right away that she's making some old dishes from Kazdel, buried as she is in a tablet, typing out a message to Mudrock. Closure teases her about not using a group chat, but this always feels more personal. 

She sends the message and doesn't wait for the reply. She knows they'll all come; whether she likes it or not, they all see Kal'tsit as family. If it wasn't for Lappland constantly calling her 'ma'am,' she never would've caught on. At least, they say it's 'ma'am' when pressed, but they say it an awful lot like 'mom.' She never corrects them, though. Kal'tsit shakes her head. She's far too nice for her own good.

The kitchen is full of welcome smells, a veritable feast of Kazdel classics and common dinner staples. It reminds Kal'tsit of Babel, of the last time she got to enjoy Theresa's cooking.

Would Kal'tsit still love it as she did back then? Would Theresa's cooking still be the same? Or had some core part of one of them drifted off course after all these years, leaving them as passing ships in the night, never to link up? It eats at her, and she sighs internally. Catastrophizing would get her nowhere, a lesson Kal'tsit had learned a long, long time ago. Still, the worry lingers on in her mind.

Closure sneaking in after her brings her back from her reverie. This doesn't end well for Closure. She tries to sneak a dinner roll while Theresa is preoccupied, but the moment before her hands touch it-

Whack.

Theresa slaps the back of her hand with a spoon.

"Ow!" Closure pulls her hand back, shaking the pain off. "That thing is made of metal, you know?"

"Then perhaps you should reconsider your dastardly actions." Theresa's response brings a sly smile to Kal'tsit's lips. Things still haven't changed a bit. Not the things that matter.


Theresa finishes preparing dinner just in time for the first of their guests to arrive. The table is set, despite Theresa's shock that yes, there are that many guests arriving. With nothing left to do, Kal'tsit, Closure, and Theresa are all sitting when the door's buzzer rings. Closure answers the door, as she always does. It slides open to reveal Amiya, with Rosmontis looming behind her.

"Amiya, so good to see you! And you too Rosemary!" Closure steps aside to let them in.

"Good evening to you as well, Closure, I-" Amiya's eyes spot something - or someone - behind Closure, and she freezes in the doorway.

"Theresa, would you like to introduce yourself?" Kal'tsit says as Theresa stands from her seat.

"Amiya…" Theresa says.

There's a palpable moment of tension, lost only on Rosmontis.

Then Amiya rushes forward, composure discarded and shed like a heavy coat. Theresa embraces her, chuckling while small tears roll down both of their faces. They don't let go until Kal'tsit clears her throat.

"My dear Amiya, it's been too long! Look at how much you've grown!" Theresa says, hands on Amiya's shoulders.

Amiya laughs nervously, "I actually stopped growing a few years ago…" It's true. Rosmontis is easily taller than her by at least a head.

Theresa turns to Rosmontis, who is stepping inside after being subtly filled in by Closure, "Oh? And who's your friend, Amiya?"

"They're another one of mine," Kal'tsit says. "Their name is Rosemary."

"Oh! Like Amiya's sibling!" Amiya tenses up, as do Kal'tsit and Closure. Theresa very much doesn't know about Amiya's crush on them.

"N-Not quite, Mom," Amiya says, blushing lightly.

"But they are Kal'tsit's child, right?"

Kal'tsit coughs into her hand. She wouldn't say child, but Theresa isn't wrong.

"Well, yes, but-"

"I see then. Not quite your sibling." Theresa picks up on it quickly, to her credit. "Either way, come here, Rosemary," Theresa says as she opens her arms.

Rosmontis holds out their hands, gently refusing. "My apologies, miss Theresa… I don't do well with hugs…"

Theresa draws her arms back to her side, smiling gently, "That's alright too, you're still a child of mine all the same. And you can just call me Theresa."

Rosmontis shuffles on their feet. "What about… Mother?"

Closure can't help but giggle. "Of course! I would be honored," Theresa says.

It's odd, for Kal'tsit, seeing the love of her life - along with Closure - so readily accept one of Kal'tsit's own. She knows nothing about Rosmontis, about the troubles they face on a daily basis, but Kal'tsit's 'endorsement' seems to be all she needs to love them. Kal'tsit realized she was going to have to come to terms with the whole 'family' thing faster than she hoped.

"I just remembered!" Theresa says, turning to Kal'tsit. She winks, "There are still dishes from all the cooking that need to be washed, and my back is so sore…" Theresa bends over in mock pain. Such a ham-fisted performance. "Could you and your partner be dears and go do that for me?"

It's an innocent word that doesn't quite have to mean a romantic relationship, and it does accurately describe her attachment to Rosmontis, but Amiya still blushes furiously. She shuts down for a solid few seconds before Rosmontis taps her elbow.

"That sounds good… C'mon, Amiya… I'll walk with you," Rosmontis slides an arm through Amiya's and leads her into the kitchen.

Closure breaks out into laughter the moment they're out of the room. "Theresa, you're such a matchmaker!" 

"And here I was thinking she'd never make a move," Kal'tsit says. It's impressive how readily Theresa paired them off together in the kitchen.

Then a familiar face pokes her head into the door frame. It's Folinic, welcoming herself in through the open door. 

"Ada, Kal'tsit, good evening." She nods to Closure and Kal'tsit, and then turns to Theresa. "And you are?"

Kal'tsit clicks her tongue "Right, you were very young at the time, so you must not remember her. Luiza, this is-"

"Luiza? Are you Lillia's daughter?" Theresa asks.

"How do you-" Folinic is cut off as soon as she starts.

"Luiza," Kal'tsit says. "This is Theresa."

"A-ah, hello, Theresa." Folinic immediately flushes lightly, probably partially embarrassed she didn't realize sooner.

Before they have time to do the whole mother routine that Kal'tsit just knows Theresa is planning on doling out to every guest here, the next guest arrives. She recognizes Theresa immediately. Mudrock enters the room, and gives a startled gasp the moment she sees Theresa over Folinic's head. Not even Kal'tsit would've been able to keep Mudrock from rushing to kneel at Theresa's feet, head bowed in reverence. 

"M-My king..." she says, her horns inches from Theresa's dress. "I-It is an honor... to meet you in the flesh after all this time…" She's clearly shaking.

Theresa kneels down with her, guiding her back to her feet with a gentle hand. "You need not flatter me so," she says.

"And this is Mudrock!" Closure says. She does a stage whisper, covering her mouth and jabbing a thumb towards Folinic, "They're engaged!"

Theresa pauses for a moment, Kal'tsit presumes she's working out some bizarre family tree in her head. She even begins working one out in her own head. Folinic is Lillia's daughter, who was a close friend of herself until she left Folinic with her, who's currently in a relationship with Theresa, which makes Folinic Theresa's daughter (In Theresa's eyes. Kal'tsit's not going to claim Folinic is her daughter yet), and if Mudrock and Folinic are engaged, then-

That's what she assumes Theresa is thinking when she wraps Mudrock up into a hug, surprising everyone by lifting her a few inches off the ground.

"My goodness, I have such a large family!" Theresa exclaims.

"F-Family?!" Mudrock struggles for breath in Theresa's grip. 

"Yes, yes! I've always wanted a Sarkaz daughter!"

"D-Daughter…" Mudrock looks like she might cry. Whether from happiness or embarrassment, no-one can tell.

Folinic stifles a giggle where Closure fails to. Kal'tsit finds the situation humorous as well, but barely smiles. Once she's had a second to compose herself, Mudrock is back to her usual, quiet self. She even makes some small talk with Theresa in the living room, although she still treats Theresa with a certain amount of reverence that isn't likely to go away.

"So, who else are we waiting on?" Folinic asks Kal'tsit.

"Scavenger, Lappland, and Red. Though if I know them, they'll be arriving together." Kal'tsit answers.

"And why's that?"

"You know why. Red's like family to both of them."

"To all of us, you mean."

Kal'tsit sighs. "Yes, but more so to them. Scavenger's been like an older sister to them, and Lappland is one of the few Lupo aboard willing to interact with them."

As if on cue, Closure answers the door to reveal the trio. Scavenger and Lappland look healthier than ever, due to recent breakthroughs in Oripathy treatments. Scavenger is no longer a gaunt, shambling mess, but she's still lean and wiry. Lappland, meanwhile, has been keeping weight more easily without Oripathy eating away at their body, and changed their image entirely. Silver hair shorn short, sable slacks, scarlet shirt, and a shiny, expensive looking cane. They were the spitting image of old Siracusan charisma. Red has grown as well, having at least a foot over both Lappland and Scavenger, and sporting a longer red coat to match.

While Scavenger and Red don't seem to quite know who Theresa is, they both at least understand that she is likely why they were summoned. Lappland meanwhile, doesn't quite get it. They cross the room fairly quickly, even on their cane, and take Theresa's hand in a mock bow. Kal'tsit rolls her eyes. She used to find the Siracusan a potential problem, but now they were just an occasional annoyance. All the same, they made Scavenger happy, and that's what was important.

Lappland plants a kiss on Theresa's knuckle, "And just who might this beautiful woman be?"

Theresa just chuckles, "I'm Theresa, Kal'tsit's-"

"Wife." Kal'tsit finds herself interjecting before she realizes. The whole room stares at her, even Closure, with a beaming smile. Mudrock nods, clearly impressed, but Lappland looks almost mortified. "Aren't you married anyway, Lappland?"

As if to answer for them, Scavenger goes to Lappland's side, guiding them down into a chair despite Lappland's protests.

"It's a pleasure to meet you, miss Theresa," Scavenger says once Lappland is seated. "Please don't mind Lelia, they're a bit…" She trails off in thought. "Just please don't mind them?"

Theresa just nods and smiles, "It's not a problem, I assure you. And you can just call me Theresa, if you'd like. And you are?"

Scavenger flushes with embarrassment, "Ah, yes, my codename is Scavenger, but I usually go by Luna these days." Red takes a step closer, taller than both Scavenger and Theresa even while slouching.

"And I am Projekt Red. You smell… alright." 

Theresa just nods. If she's taken aback by it, she doesn't show it. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Projekt Red." She turns to Kal'tsit, "Are there any more members of your family that we're waiting on?"

Your family. Kal'tsit ruminates on that. She did take in just about all of these metaphorical strays on her own. It was secretly a relief to have Theresa around to take the burden of being seen as a mother. At the same time she felt some sort of pride at this gaggle of misfits being called hers

"I don't believe so." Is what she says to Theresa. Then, to the rest of her guests, "Shall we all go to the dinner table?"


Moments later, they're all seated at Kal'tsit's dinner table. Closure has had to replace it over the years as they started having bigger and more frequent dinners together. This time is different though. Everything is the same, but nothing could ever make Theresa being back normal. Kal'tsit could never take that for granted. Amiya and Rosmonstis are seated next to each other, with the former furiously blushing. Presumably about her proximity to Rosmontis, but judging by the way Rosmontis is smirking, something must have happened while they were washing dishes. Kal'tsit is happy for them.

Folinic and Mudrock are dining together as well. Folinic has taken to feeding Mudrock a bite of her food every now and again. Mudrock, while clearly embarrassed, doesn't protest in the slightest. Lappland, meanwhile, complains about Scavenger intercepting everything before Lappland has to move. Kal'tsit knows that Scavenger is a caring wife for Lappland, but even this is a bit much.

Theresa is smiling, though, and that's what's most important to Kal'tsit. She's smiling, and talking with Closure and Red as if nothing ever happened. From her point of view though, it probably was like nothing had ever happened. Like waking up from a long nap.

Kal'tsit sighs to herself. No, it wasn't like that. She saw how sad Theresa was at missing out on a huge part of Amiya's childhood, she's taking all this as well as she can. Trying to make this all normal.

Dinner passes jovially. When dessert rolls around, everyone is complaining about being absolutely stuffed. Save for Lappland, who strains to reach for a slice of cheesecake before Scavenger slaps at their hand.

"Lelia, for fu-" Scavenger catches herself, as Kal'tsit shoots her a withering glare, "for Heaven's sake, here, I'll get it."

Amiya points it out first. "Luna, haven't you been… a bit too overbearing towards Lelia tonight?"

Scavenger flushes, and Lappland grins devilishly.

Closure chimes in, "Yeah! I've never seen you like this, Luna."

Kal'tsit clearly sees Theresa connect some dots that nobody else has. Theresa claps a hand over her mouth with a loud gasp.

"I wasn't quite used to being a mother yet, let alone being a grandmother…"

Closure chokes on her drink. Folinic stops feeding Mudrock and drops her fork. Amiya blushes just as furiously as Scavenger. Rosmontis continues to eat their desert, as does Red. Lappland, however, breaks out in laughter.

"Haha, I guess the cat's out of the bag, huh Luna?" They think for a second. "Or I guess the Lupo's out the bag? Anyway, yeah, I'm uh, kinda pregnant, I guess? Only have been for a few weeks..."

Mudrock coughs nervously.

"We were, uh, hoping to surprise you all later, but I guess Theresa was a bit ahead of us?" Scavenger says.

Lappland fidgets with something in their pocket, before pulling out a confetti popper and pulling the string.

Scavenger jumps, "Jesus fucking Christ," she turns to Kal'tsit, "Sorry for swearing," and back to Lappland, "Do you just carry those with you everywhere?"

"Congratulations," Kal'tsit says. "I suppose this makes me a grandmother too?"

That sentence is even more shocking to everyone but Amiya, Closure, and Theresa.

"What? You've all been thinking it, have you not?"

There's a slight mumbling of agreement at the table.

"Good. Then carry on with dinner." She doesn't quite feel like going too in depth into her spur of the moment decision. The truth of it was more complicated, that she'd been thinking about it for years. Had she just been thinking of herself as a mother out of obligation towards everyone present? Or had she been denying herself that title out of some sense of self-deprecation? In any case, Theresa's rather… aggressive method of warming up to Kal'tsits surrogate family had helped Kal'tsit sort through her feelings. It was easier to accept that these were her children if Theresa did as well.


Eventually dinner ends, with guests trailing out into the living room for small talk, and then out into the hallway as the night went on. Save for Amiya and Rosmontis. Amiya by no choice of her own; she's fast asleep on the couch, her head in Rosmontis's lap. Kal'tsit allows them to sleep in the guest room. She's not heartless, after all. As a bit of a tease though, she makes sure to mention that there's only one bed. When she asks if that's a problem, Rosmontis assures her that no, it's not. Kal'tsit hasn't seen them blush like that ever, so she counts the result as satisfactory. Theresa was right about Rosmontis being her child, but not Amiya's sister. 

Kal'tsit can't help but notice how giddy Amiya looks as Rosmontis jostles her awake. Sleepy, but giddy. She hopes the two of them sleep well.

Naturally, by the time Kal'tsit has ensured that Rosmontis and Amiya are ready for bed, she enters her bedroom to find Theresa and Closure already in hers. Closure pats the empty space between her and Theresa, cramped as it looks.

Kal'tsit awkwardly clambers into bed, the only thing she's done awkwardly in a long time, and is immediately beset upon from both sides.

"Is this going to be a thing every night?" she complains. Not that she would mind if it was a thing every night.

"Most likely," Closure says, teasingly. "Is that okay?" 

"Well, I suppose if there's no helping it…"

"You were right, Ada, she has softened up," Theresa says. 

With two loving women on either side of her, it's easy to feel warm. So, she lets herself blush, just this once.

It's also easy to feel that this is all so tenuous, like a bubble that's been around for too long, even if it's only been floating about for a few moments. If she sleeps, the bubble pops, and Theresa will be gone when she wakes up.

Right now, though, this is all very real. The way Theresa's arms criss-cross with Closure's over her body, the feeling of lovers both old and new nuzzled into her neck, the warmth of their breath on her skin. It's all so viscerally real. It's overwhelming, really. If she's not cautiously skeptical of this whole thing, it could vanish overnight. Like a dream that she's still convinced she's in. After all, the higher the climb, the harder the drop.

Theresa plants a kiss on her jaw. "Kal'tsit, honey, you're overthinking again," she whispers. "I'm not going anywhere, okay?"

That reassurance is all she needs. A crack in a centuries old dam. She would repair it, in time, but right now, she lets herself shed a single, happy tear. The feeling of it rolling down her face is what keeps her grounded to this reality. It's all the emotion she needs to show for this all to sink in.

There's so much she missed about Theresa. From her smile to her cooking to… well, everything about her. She knew, deep down, that Closure and Theresa would be fine 'sharing' Kal'tsit, even though she was worried Theresa would judge her for having moved on. But that's not like Theresa. That's not like Closure. These two aren't going to leave her no matter what.

"Goodnight, Theresa. Goodnight, Ada," she whispers to the night.

"Goodnight honey, love you," Closure says back.

"Yes, goodnight, Kal'tsit. I love you," says Theresa.

Kal'tsit feels a lump in her throat. It had been so many years since she'd heard that.

"I love you too." She doesn't respond to either of them in particular, but she's choked up enough that just the one sentence will have to do.

Kal'tsit cries another, solitary tear as the night takes her. While she might feel like an island, she knows better. She has a family. She has Theresa.