Actions

Work Header

A Life Without You

Work Text:

A Life Without You

Amelia’s life ended at Gura’s funeral.

None of them knew Atlantean customs, and the city had been destroyed over five thousand years ago, so it wasn’t like they could ask. Amelia, Kiara, Ina, and Calli all went out to sea on a dingy little boat, and poured her ashes out into the ocean. She always loved the water, so it felt like it was fitting. Since none of them talked about death, it was impossible to know if it was what Gura would want, but Kiara whispered reassurances to Amelia as she shakily held the urn over the water and dumped the ash out. She watched as it hit the water’s surface, before they faded from view, sinking to the depths to be scattered all over the world.

She’d been to other timelines far into the future, and in those ones, Gura’s life lasted for tens of thousands of more years, so she sincerely wasn’t expecting her death so early along. She could use her watch to go back and talk to her, but actually changing the past wasn’t possible, not anymore with Kronii’s intervention. The concept of time had collected the Amelia’s of the multiverse and told them they couldn’t do that anymore, it was literally breaking the fabric of space-time when they tried to change their entire timeline to fix mistakes, and it wasn’t worth the hassle of repairing it when it was just a single human on a remote planet in the distant corner of the universe.

That was to say, Gura was dead in this timeline permanently, and that broke Amelia.

She stared down at the water, the muted cries of Kiara and Ina not bothering her. She just stared, and her expression didn’t break even as the four of them finally came back to land and tried to move on with their lives.

Amelia locked herself in her room on her lonesome in their shared home, and she didn’t come out for days other than when she was forced to eat and use the bathroom, and even then, she didn’t say much. This understandably concerned her friends, and they decided they had to try to do something to help her, even if they didn’t know how to help.

It started with Calli, the reaper had come in to talk to her, she brought up Gura, telling her that the Atlantean wouldn’t want her to mourn her death, but Amelia hardly listened. It frustrated Calli, and she started to yell to try and get her attention, but it didn’t work, and she eventually just left Amelia alone in her dark room.

Kiara came next a few days later, and Amelia just told her she needed space. The phoenix tried to talk to her like Calli did, tried to tell her to get out of her room, but she didn’t listen. In the end, Kiara just left the room dejectedly, glancing once more back into the darkness at Amelia, before she closed the door.

Ina was the last to reach out for her. She entered her room, and walked quietly over to her bed, and seated herself at her side. She didn’t try to speak, nor did she even look at her. She just sat there with her hands folded neatly in her lap, just looking down at the floor with no expression. Amelia spared her a single glance, and turned over in her bed, trying to get back to sleep – if Ina wasn’t going to say anything, then all the better.

“How are you doing, Ame?” Ina asked softly, her voice was barely above a whisper, and there was a trembling edge to it. She sounded tired, but still near to tears.

Amelia sighed, “I’m fine.”

“Hm.” Ina nodded.

Another long silence, and Amelia spared her another glance. She was still just sitting there, not saying anything. Amelia shifted over just a little bit more, she wasn’t sure why, she just wanted a clearer look at Ina.

“I don’t know what to do,” Ina admitted softly.

“Neither do I.” Amelia mumbled.

Ina stood up after another minute, “Kiara’s making dinner. It’ll be ready in thirty minutes.”

Amelia watched her start to walk out, and she wanted to stop her and say something, but she couldn’t work up the words or the courage to do so. She just watched, her heart a mixture of conflicting feelings. She wanted her to stay, but at the same time she wanted her gone. She just watched quietly as Ina opened the door, and stood there for a few seconds – far too long to be natural. She didn’t know if Ina was trying to work up the courage to say something, but she took a shuddered breath, and then she closed the door.

With the door closed again, Amelia let out a soft breath she didn’t know she’d been holding.

Her life just felt horrible now. She was worrying her friends needlessly, and she couldn’t understand why. She was just a worthless human compared to them. She had no value, and nothing to give them. Her own power would let her go to the past, where she could see Gura again, but she wouldn’t be able to change the outcome… She gritted her teeth, her anger and hatred overwhelming herself for a moment.

She couldn’t handle this. She didn’t want to be with Ina, Kiara, or Calli. Not when they were just putting up with her out of pity… She didn’t want to be a burden to them, and she knew that any day now they were probably going to get sick of her and kick her out, and she would deserve it, because she was a stupid, worthless, dumb… She shook her head, she didn’t want to linger on those thoughts, no matter how true they were.

She eyed the watch on her nightstand.

She couldn’t change her timeline, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t visit other timelines.

Amelia gently touched the watch, a decision made, she got up and changed into her usual detective outfit. Once dressed, she looked at her door, wondering if she should bother telling the others, but she shook her head. No, they’d be better off without her. She didn’t want to have to burden them anymore than she already had.

With one last look at her watch, she pressed the button on the side, and disappeared from her timeline.

XxXxXxX

Traveling the timelines was a lot of fun, and it allowed her to forget Gura’s death in her own timeline. She couldn’t bear to see Gura in these alternate timelines, but hanging out with her alternate self was always a treat. There were so many different versions of herself that she never knew about. She came in so many different shapes and sizes too, and even different genders here and there! Not to mention, in some timelines she was just a normal human mortal, while in others she was a supernatural being. It was incredible to see how just minor changes to the timeline would make it drastically different from her own. Some worlds for instance had humans mingling with super natural creatures like it were completely normal, while others had a utopian government ruling the world (for better or worse). Good or bad, every world was a new adventure.

The weeks turned into months, months into years, and years in decades. Being an immortal time traveler, she was hoping to forget her timeline in due time. Hell, she couldn’t even really remember the smaller details of her own timeline, and she wanted to keep it that way, especially after she learned quite a bit from the alternate Amelias.

First, the five of them always meet in the timelines. There were of course timelines where they weren’t friends, or they were even enemies, but they always met in one way or another. Secondly, any of them dying so early on in her life was apparently a very rare event. In the hundreds of worlds she traveled to, she had never once talked to an Amelia who had to bear the weight of losing a friend, the only exception were the timelines she visited that were thousands of years into the future.

Third – and rather embarrassingly – she seemed to always be in a relationship with someone within their little friend group. It wasn’t always Gura, often times she’d be in a relationship with Ina, Calli, Kiara, or sometimes she’d even be in polyamorous relations with them. The first time she’d ran into an Amelia that admitted to dating all four of her friends, her jaw dropped – she couldn’t even imagine dating ONE of her friends, the thought made her cheeks warm just thinking about it! There were other Amelias who weren’t dating, but had obvious crushes on one of the girls, and Amelia had to scoff at them – why would they act like some lovestruck high school girl?

“Oh? And you don’t like anyone, then?” One of them snarked back after she had laughed at them about that very topic.

She went to retort, but paused – Gura flashed through her thoughts, and she paled. Her alternate-self gave her a quick look, and frowned in worry.

“Are you ok?”

“Fine,” She snapped to her alternate-self. She felt bad for that though, and quickly tacked on, “Sorry. Lost in thought.”

The subject was dropped rather awkwardly, and Amelia made sure to get out of that timeline as soon as possible.

She tried not to tell anyone about her timeline, mostly because she was beginning to understand that she drew the proverbial short stick as far as her timeline went. Gura’s death so early in the timeline was exceptionally rare, as stated before, but not only that, she was just a simple detective in her timeline. She didn’t have huge aspirations or goals, and seeing all of her alternate selves that made it big, while she was just some stupid girl with nothing to her name made her feel… Well, it definitely didn’t feel good. Especially with the knowledge of the fact that she was actively avoiding her timeline.

She tried not to think about it much, but she would occasionally wonder how Ina, Calli, and Kiara were doing. It had been a few decades now since she’d been home – 30 years, if her math was correct, and the thought sent guilt going through her. She knew that the other girls in her timeline didn’t want her around, that they probably thought she was a useless piece of – she took a deep breath – but she should have maybe said goodbye.

She fucked up though. Gura was dead, and she should have done something to prevent it. These other timelines proved as much. Somehow, she messed up, and it only reinforced how worthless she was… She hoped no alternate Amelias visited her timeline in her absence, so they couldn’t see how much of a failure she was. She shook her head, trying to get the awful thoughts away, since going down such a dark trail of thoughts always left her not wanting to do anything other than just curl up and… Well, it wasn’t important.

She used her watch to travel to another timeline, and appeared in the field of a secluded little home. The house was actually pretty cute, a little cottage situated on a little hill right by the ocean. The sun was high in the sky, and the ocean sparkled like dozens of gems in the distance. The waves lapped up against the pristine white sands, the cries of the seagulls in the distance, and the gentle breeze all created a calm cacophony of sounds. She heard more sounds – children laughing, and she saw two young girls off in the distance along the shore, laughing and squealing together. It was relaxing, and Amelia felt her shoulders droop as she took it all in.

She wished she could get a chair and just sit down to watch it for a little while. The peaceful atmosphere was almost hypnotizing in how calming and relaxing it was, so much so that she wasn’t paying attention as someone crept up behind her and settled their hand on her shoulder. She let out a yelp, and quickly turned around, and her eyes widened in shock. Her heart felt like it stopped in her chest, and her face paled to an almost pure white.

It was Gura.

The shark girl smiled warmly at her, the familiar dimples appearing on either side of her mouth, and her eyes crinkled upward happily. Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail, and she wore not the familiar shark outfit that Amelia often saw her wearing in her timeline, but instead she was wearing a cute blue sundress that gently flowed in the breeze. She was absolutely breathtaking, and Amelia’s mouth was dry, unable to come up with any words for her.

“Ah, you’re not my Amelia.” Gura’s smile dimmed only the slightest bit, and she gave Amelia a motherly look – something that was almost complete foreign for her. Gura and motherly didn’t belong in the same sentence as far as she was concerned, but she supposed Gura – much like herself – could be vastly different in the alternate timelines… She never really met up with her if she could help it, especially since she could feel that yearning in her heart, and all of the horrible thoughts of guilt and shame welled up within her.

“G – Gura…” She muttered, trying desperately to stop the shaking in her hands. She wanted to just lift up the watch and leave, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. Not when Gura was right in front of her.

Gura softly tsked, and she gently reached forward and took the watch out of her hand with no resistance. She held it in her hands, looking down at the watch with a stern gaze. She looked back up, and the smile was back, though it wasn’t as strong, “Why don’t you stay for a while?”

“Uh,” Amelia tried to gain her equilibrium back, but it was hard – nearly impossible. She just shook her head, “I, uh, sh – should go…”

“Do you have to?” Gura asked with a raised brow, and Amelia felt like a child under her gaze, despite the fact that she was looking down at her. Somehow, this Gura just exuded matronly energy. “Come on, you can stay for a little while, can’t you?”

“I guess…” Amelia muttered.

Gura took her hand, and Amelia felt like crying. She wasn’t even sure why she was so close to tears; she had gotten over her Gura’s death already! They walked through the sandy shore, crunching through the sand until the ground hardened a bit as they walked on the soil. The tall sand grass tickled her thighs, and she swatted them aside as they marched through it and up to the cottage. Eventually they stepped on pavement, and Gura opened the front door, allowing her in.

The inside was just as cute and quaint as the outside. She took her shoes off at the small foyer, and stepped up into a small hallway. All along the wall were dozens of pictures, and Amelia spared them only a brief glance. She saw group photos of this timeline’s Amelia’s friends, even photos of children she didn’t recognize. Additionally, there were photos of other women she just straight up didn’t recognize outside of Kronii – she balked at that photo. As far as she was aware, the Warden of Time didn’t involve herself in mortal affairs, why was she here?

She couldn’t look any longer, her heart felt like it was breaking at the sight. This timeline’s Amelia was a successful woman, and from the looks of things, she was apparently married to Gura… One photo she saw was them holding two young girls in their arms looking so happy – it was a foreign concept to her.

“Can I have my watch back, please?” Amelia asked as they walked into a small kitchen. The room was surprisingly clean, especially since she and Gura never really cleaned up. Gura didn’t answer her though, and instead she pulled out a seat for her. Amelia frowned, but allowed Gura to seat her.

“I’ll make us some tea,” Gura decided, setting a kettle on the stove, “Do you have any preference?”

“Not really,” Amelia shrugged.

“My Amelia likes earl grey tea,” Gura replied offhandedly, “I’ll make you some, you’re basically the same person, right?”

“We’re not,” Amelia muttered darkly, “We’re very different.”

Gura let out a hum, but didn’t respond to Amelia’s brief moment of self-pity. She felt like a child again as Gura rummaged through the cabinets, using a stool to help her reach the higher one where the tea was apparently stored. Why they stored tea so high up, Amelia didn’t know, but it was a cute sight all the same, even if it made her heart hurt the longer, she watched it. Gura set her watch down on the kitchen counter, and she wondered if she could grab it before Gura would be able to stop her.

“You two are pretty similar actually,” Gura replied after a moment, looking back at her with a gentle smile, “despite what you may think.”

“Mommy!”

Amelia glanced up and saw the two little girls from the beach baring in. Her heart seized at the sight – seeing them in a photo was one thing, but seeing them up close was quite another. The older of the two had the same hair as her, except there were blue highlights in it, and additionally she had a fat shark tail wagging happily behind her, and she had a lemon hairclip in her hair. The younger of the two looked more like Gura with white hair with blue highlights in it, but even then, there was a hint of her blonde hair in there. She too had a happily wagging shark tail behind her, and instead of a lemon, her hairclip was instead a sunflower.

“Oh! Mom’s home too!”

Amelia wasn’t prepared at all for the two girls to rush her and wrap their tiny little arms around her as much as they could. She saw their tails wagging like a dog’s would, and she couldn’t even stop the tears this time. She shakily reached up, and hugged them back, “Um… I’m not your mom, girls.” She admitted even as she hugged them.

“You’re from a different timeline?” The older one’s eyes sparkled as she looked at her in awe, “Are you on a secret mission?!”

“Y – Yeah,” Amelia said, trying to laugh even as her heart trembled, “That’s exactly it!”

“Naomi, Clementine,” Gura walked over and set a tea cup in front of Amelia, “Amelia and I have some things to talk about. Go outside and play for now, ok?”

The older of the two frowned, but the younger one happily nodded along, “Come on!” She said, smiling at her older sister, “Let’s play some more!”

“If it starts to get dark be sure to come in!” Gura happily smiled at her two baby girls, “I’ll start preparing dinner soon, ok?”

Naomi huffed, “Fine. We’ll go outside.” She peered over at Amelia, and gave her a salute, “Good luck on your mission!”

“Yeah…” Amelia saluted back, her hand shaking, “I’ll do my best…”

Amelia and Gura watched them leave, and Gura turned back to her, her expression suddenly much harder than before. Her eyes weren’t threatening pain, but it was clear that she would act if needed. “Do you plan to hurt them?”

“Wha – What?!” Amelia gasped, “No! W – Why would I do that?!”

The intense gaze immediately lightened, and Gura smiled at her apologetically, “Sorry. The alternate Amelias that visit almost never mean us any harm, but we had a run in once with one that wanted to hurt them… It only happened once, but I’m not going to risk it happening again.”

“Seriously?!” Amelia bristled, glad to have another emotion to work with other than wallowing misery, “Someone would actually hurt those two?!”

“Like I said, it only happened once.” Gura reassured her quickly.

“Huh…” Amelia leaned back in her seat, especially when Gura sat down beside her, “Um… Do you get a lot of, um, different versions of me visiting often?”

“Quite a lot,” Gura replied, “Amelia and I built this house about five years ago, and ever since then, it seems like every other week we have a new version of her wandering in.”

“Sorry…” Amelia replied guiltily, “I didn’t mean to barge in like this.”

“You never do,” Gura laughed gently, “But it’s ok. The Amelias that come here usually only want to talk. I think Kronii intentionally makes them come here to work out their problems.”

“I don’t have any problems.” Amelia said far too quickly. She winced at how defensive that sounded, but Gura didn’t even flinch, she just drank her tea in the picture-perfect form of serenity.

“That’s fine,” Gura replied, “We can just talk, then. I love hearing about your adventures, no matter what timeline you’re from!”

Amelia’s heart trembled again, and she had to quickly look away to wipe her eyes. Seeing Gura again after so many years was already hard, but hearing her speak and express so much genuine excitement about her… It reminded her far too much of her Gura, and it reminded her of the failure of her timeline. It reminded her of how she hadn’t done anything resembling detective work since Gura died, of how she’d just been cruising along timelines, just trying to forget…

“I’m fine,” Amelia said, feeling a little more composed, “Really. There’s um, some difficulties here and there, you know? But there’s nothing wrong. I’ve just been traveling around for a while.”

“How long?” Gura asked.

Amelia frowned, “Does it matter?”

Gura’s eyes showed genuine concern as she asked, “How long as it been since you’ve seen your friends?”

Amelia didn’t answer. She felt that familiar shame and guilt welling up inside of her, even though she knew that her so-called friends all thought she was worthless, and she knew they were probably happy she was gone and out of their lives.

Gura took another sip of her tea after the silence dragged on for a little too long. “I’m sure they miss you dearly.”

“They don’t,” Amelia said, her voice rough, “Trust me, they don’t.”

“Why not?”

“We’re not friends,” Amelia replied, trying to keep her emotions in check, “I, um, kind of messed up things in my timeline, you know? Something really bad. They want nothing to do with me at all. They – They’re probably much happier now.”

“If they’re anything like the girls I know, they miss you quite a bit. If I haven’t seen any of them for a year, I start to get pretty angsty.” Gura laughed gently, and it made Amelia want to throw up. How would this version of Gura react if she’d admitted that she hadn’t seen them for over three decades, she wondered?

“All of the timelines are different,” Amelia replied with a shrug, “In some we’re not friends.”

“And your timeline was like that?”

Amelia growled, why was Gura pushing this so damn hard? She knew the shark girl could be a little dense, even though the memories were super painful, she could recall times that she grew exasperated with her version of Gura over such trivial things.

“It wasn’t like that,” Amelia finally admitted, “We – We were friends at one point.”

Gura nodded, “I see.”

“That’s it?” Amelia asked, raising a brow, “You see?”

“What did you want me to say?” Gura asked, tilting her head cutely to the side.

Amelia frowned, “I don’t know. Can I have my watch back, now?”

For the second time that day, Gura showed a bit of force. It wasn’t overt, but Amelia could sense that Gura wasn’t happy with her. She could see the slight frown that marred her face, and she could see her shoulders tense very slightly. She was sure that if she tried to get up, Gura would stop her.

“Your friends do care for you,” Gura replied, “It’s one thing I’ve noticed in all of the timelines the various Amelias and I talk about. If you truly were friends with them in your timeline, then I guarantee you that they still love you.”

“Please, can we talk about something else?” Amelia asked desperately, “D – Do you guys have some games or something we can play? Mario Kart or something?”

“Amelia.” Gura’s calm voice was more than enough to chastise her, and Amelia’s head lowered.

“I fucked up,” She admitted, not able to look at Gura, “Big time. I told you already.”

“And how did you mess up?”

“I’d rather not say,” Amelia gasped out, her heart was pumping quickly, and she felt like she couldn’t breathe. Her head felt faint, and she wanted nothing more than to grab her watch and get the hell out.

“Oh, Ame…”

She wasn’t expecting Gura to hug her. It was so sudden that she didn’t even have time to react, to pull back or push her away, but really, she didn’t want to do either thing. The warmth of Gura’s hug was the first form of affection she’d had in, well, decades, and she couldn’t stop the tears. She didn’t want to cry though, not at all. She didn’t cry at Gura’s funeral, and she didn’t cry when she left her own timeline. She refused to cry, so she buried her head into Gura’s shoulder, trying desperate to keep the tears in, and to hold in her sobs.

“It’s ok, Ame.” Gura said gently, her hands gently rubbing her back in soothing little circles, “I’m sure whatever happened, it wasn’t your fault.”

“Y – You died…” Amelia croaked out.

Gura didn’t stop her ministrations, she continued to hold Amelia and rub her back, gently humming a tune that Amelia could remember her version of Gura used to hum as well. The nostalgic memory of her and Gura hanging out brought renewed tears to her eyes, and she brokenly hugged Gura back, her hands shook as she tried to hold tight.

“I doubt it’s your fault.” Gura replied soothingly, whispering into her ear, “Why do you think you did it?”

“Because every other timeline I visit you’re still alive.” She whined, gasping for breath, “So many other worlds you and I go on big adventures with all of our friends. We save the world and become heroes, or we fall in love – it’s something I will never experience because my timeline is broken. I must have done something to break it, it’s the only explanation…”

“You don’t get to decide what happens in your timeline, Amelia.” Gura replied, “And comparing yourself to the alternate versions of yourself is no good. Your circumstances are way different, not to mention their worlds are completely different too. It’s like comparing apples and oranges.”

“We’re all still the same. If I was in their situation, the chances are I’d act the same as they have,” Amelia muttered, “They’re all driven to be the best they can be, and I’m the only one who isn’t… I’m a failure. I’m worthless.”

“You’re not worthless, Amelia H. Watson.” Gura scolded lightly. “You’re a kind woman who’d do anything for her friends. You go out of your way to help anyone in need, and you have a heart of gold. No matter what version of you I meet, that’s always true – even the one who tried to hurt my family was the same, even if her methods were wrong. You’re such a wonderful person Amelia, please don’t call yourself worthless.”

Amelia had to bite her lip to stop from openly crying, she wanted so badly to believe Gura, to believe that maybe there was still a chance for her, but it didn’t change the fact that Gura was dead, and if Ina, Calli, and Kiara didn’t blame her for it, they undoubtedly hated her now after going away for thirty years.

“I’ve been gone for thirty years.” She said softly, perhaps morbidly curious to her if this version of Gura would yell at her.

“Oh no, Ame…” Gura’s hold tightened, “Why would you go away for so long?”

“I – I don’t know…”

“Your friends are probably worried sick about you.”

“They probably hate me now…”

“They don’t, Amelia. I know they don’t. They’re probably upset, but I think they’re much sadder that you left than anything. Seeing you again would probably relieve them – trust me.”

“Y – you think so?”

“Of course.” Gura replied, “Our friends are all so understanding and loving. The only problem you’ll face is that they’ll never let go of you again!”

Amelia let out a watery laugh – a few little chuckles that broken down into quiet sobs.

“And Amelia,” Gura spoke softly to her, “If your world’s Gura is anything like me, then she’d want you to be happy. It would break her heart to see you so unhappy because of her. She’d want you to be with your friends and move on with your life as happy as you can possibly be – to go on new adventures with your friends!”

Amelia’s shoulders trembled, and the dam finally broke.

It was the first time she’d cried since Gura’s death. Thirty years of pent-up emotions let out, and by the end of it, her throat was raw, her eyes and nose were both red, and she was shaking like a leaf in the wind, but she couldn’t remember the last time she felt like the future wasn’t a black hole of nothing… Maybe she did have something she could look forward to.

She thanked Gura that night, and hugged Naomi and Clementine one last time, before Gura finally gave her the watch back. She waved to them all, and with a click of the watch, she was gone.

Amelia had something she had to do, she had to go back to her own timeline.

She just hoped Gura was right, and her friends truly would forgive her for leaving them all of those years ago.

XxXxXxX

It took her longer than she’d like to admit to work up the courage to go back to her own timeline. She didn’t want to call it home, because well, she truly didn’t feel like she belonged there anymore, but Gura had told her that somehow the others forgave her, and… Well, a part of her wanted to see them again, even if they didn’t want to see her. Even if it was to just give a proper goodbye, she felt that they needed to talk at least one last time. She didn’t arrive back to her timeline for another few months after her conversation with Gura, and when she arrived to the house they used to share, it was no long occupied.

The building was completely abandoned, and when she stepped inside, the interior was void of all furniture. The realtor sign out front should have clued her in, but she was hanging onto hope that perhaps there was something still inside, a hint of where everyone went.

“Well,” She sighed to herself, “Time to make use of your detective skills…”

She had called the realtor asking for information on the whereabouts of the previous owners, and they didn’t have much useful information, much to her complete displeasure, but she just thanked them politely anyway and went back to her search. It actually wasn’t that difficult in the end – she had visited a public library, and while browsing on the computer in there, she just randomly looked up Ina’s name.

“Huh…” She blinked a few times – it appeared that Ina was pretty famous now, an artist whose paintings sold for millions. She typed in Calli’s name, and saw that she too had made something of herself, a famous musician touring the world. She followed up with Kiara’s name, and saw that her ridiculous fast-food chain appeared to be known world-wide, becoming a multi-billion-dollar business.

She just stared at the monitor in silence, and felt even worse. She’d wallowed in misery and abandoned the timeline, deeming it a failure, and here were her friends – associates really, friends felt a tad too personal, honestly – who went out and made the most of their lives since she’d disappeared. They followed their dreams despite the sadness of Gura’s death, and went on to become very successful in their chosen fields, not letting anything hold them back.

She didn’t know it was possible to feel even worse than she did, but it seemed that ground zero just kept going further and further down. She could remember her goal, how she wanted to be a famous detective and solve crimes. She remembered everyone encouraging her, and even helping her out from time to time, and she just threw it all away.

The dreaded thoughts hovered over her head, how useless she was, how she wouldn’t amount to anything… A few new thoughts joined those now – everyone moved on without her. They were all successful women running their own businesses and had no time for an immortal time traveling detective who felt sorry for herself. Her hand gripped the watch tightly, the urge to run away growing yet again…

No. Gura wouldn’t like that.

She let go of the watch and abruptly stood up. She had Ina’s address, now she had to get there.

Another two days, and she was halfway across the continent. Ina lived in a very humble little home in an unsuspecting rural neighborhood, despite her status in the art work. Her neighbors were quite far off, and she was secluded in her own home, surrounded by the woods. She supposed it made sense, she wasn’t quite a movie star or someone else the public would generally go absolutely crazy over, so she supposed that the paparazzi wouldn’t harass her and force her to get severe security measures. From what she’d manage to gather the last two days, Calli and Kiara didn’t live with her. Calli was just busy and traveled the world, though from what Amelia could understand, she was apparently living somewhere in Japan at the moment. Kiara in the meantime was off in Austria, where the HQ of her fast-food chain was situated.

Honestly, she felt sad that after Gura’s death it seemed everyone drifted apart, but then she chided herself for feeling that in the first place, she had no right to feel anything regarding it, considering she’d just gotten up and left without so much as a goodbye.

She shook the thoughts away, and slowly made her way up the driveway, her heart hammering away the closer she got. It was fairly late, the sun was already setting in the horizon, and the shadows loomed over her. Her fears and doubts were eating away at her, and the worst-case scenarios were being drafted up and discarded so quickly in her mind that she couldn’t even keep track. The only thing she knew was that this felt like a big mistake, and she wanted to just leave and not come back, surely Ina didn’t miss her?

Gura’s words echoed in her head again, and she bit back a bitter curse. She was at the door, and she looked at the wood silently, her thoughts going crazy. Every time she went to lift her hand to knock, her anxiety forced it back down, and that went on for a good twenty minutes. She was sure if anyone walked along the street in that time, they’d think she was a freaking weirdo for just standing still, but she couldn’t help it.

“I should just go back,” She mumbled, taking a step back – that was the easiest thing she’d done in the last ten minutes. Her mind was screaming at her, begging her to just turn around and leave, and that step proved just how easy it would be! But… But she knew she couldn’t do that, she had a responsibility, and she didn’t want to back down, she didn’t want to let the Gura she met in that alternate timeline down. She tried her best to shove aside the negative thoughts roaming in her mind, and she finally managed to lift her hand and knock on the hard wood. The knock sounded like a bomb going off with how loud it was, and she couldn’t stop herself from shaking like a leaf.

A minute passed, and no one answered the door.

“Well,” She muttered to herself, and she felt a little guilty at the flood of relief coursing through her, “I guess she’s not home. I can try some other time.”

Before she could even start to turn around though, the door clicked, and she saw the knob slowly turning, before the door itself opened up.

“Sorry about that, I was in the middle of something, and…”

It was Ina, and she stopped speaking the moment she laid eyes on Amelia. Her gaze was unbreaking, the shock clear as day in her expression. Amelia took the moment to look at her for the first time in thirty years – the years did her good, she decided. She’d cut her hair down to a bob cut, her hair ending just above her shoulders, though her tentacle hair was the same length as always, and her two flaps atop her head were very still, perhaps due to the shock. She was wearing some ragged looking clothes, a white T-shirt with some holes cut in the back for her wings and some shorts, both covered with paint, though she had on a purple apron over them, which had even more splotches of paint and ink all over it. She wore glasses, something that Amelia didn’t remember her needing, but other than that, she looked almost exactly the same as she remembered. That made sense, Ina – much like herself – was an immortal, due to the Ancient Ones influence.

In contrast, Amelia must have looked like a ghost from the past to Ina – she was still wearing the same outfit she’d worn all of those years ago, when she had big dreams of being a detective. It wasn’t because she still wanted to be a detective, but because she just never really got around to picking out new clothes, she was too busy touring the other worlds and just trying to forget about her problems that she never made time for it.

The silence was growing more awkward by the minute, and Ina didn’t seem likely to say anything, so Amelia forced on a large smile. “So, how have you been?”

Ina looked taken aback by the question, finally blinking a few times, “Good.” Her voice was quiet, though it still had that soft gentleness that Amelia always attributed to her.

“That’s great to hear!” Amelia continued smiling, continued to try and make it out like absolutely nothing was out of the ordinary, “So, are you just going to stand there and stare, or are you going to let me in?”

Ina moved aside, opening the door fully, and Amelia felt absurdly relieved that she even let her in, and she felt even more happy when she saw just a small hint of a smile playing at her lips, “Come in, detective.”

Amelia walked in, and embarrassingly nearly tripped due to how tense her legs were. Ina was still watching her, so she played it off with a short laugh, and closed the door behind her. She took off her shoes at the door and put them beside the only other pair there – cute little purple shoes that she was sure were Ina’s, the artist always loved the color, after all. There were stairs leading down to the basement immediately to her right, but Ina beckoned her to follow her instead down a short hall to her left which immediately opened up into a large living room with a massive fireplace. There was a television set there as well, and a couch and small little table, and it just looked so cozy.

She continued to follow Ina though, taking a turn away from the living room, into another wide-open room with a large dining table set up. Next to this was a kitchen, and a little beyond it was a door that was just barely open – she could make out some easels and paint in there, and she smiled at the sight. She settled down at the dining room table, while Ina went immediately to the kitchen, but she made sure to turn on the light switch, and the small chandelier above the dining room table lit up. Amelia heard her messing with some pots in the kitchen, and a few seconds later, she came out with a kettle and two cups.

“Expecting visitors today?” Amelia asked, trying to think of any small talk.

“I had it prepared for myself, actually.” Ina replied softly, “I only have green tea, is that all right?”

“Fine,” Amelia said, watching as Ina poured the drink into her cup.

Ina poured herself a cup, and then walked back into the kitchen to put the kettle away, before coming out and sitting down on the opposite side the table. Amelia truly couldn’t make out her expression, it looked almost emotionless, and she just continued to look at her. She reached for the cup of tea, trying to distract herself, but she hissed as the hot tea scalded her tongue.

“Careful,” Ina said softly, “It’s still hot.”

“Yeah,” She muttered, “I figured that out.”

Ina let out a soft laugh, it was a faint thing, but Amelia swore she heard it.

“So,” She tried to think of something to say, “How, uhm, how have you been?”

“I’ve been doing well,” Ina replied after a second to think about it, “I’ve become a pretty famous artist. I draw manga, paintings, and basically whatever I want, and, well, people buy it – for a lot of money.” She bashfully smiled, “It’s a living. I’ve also been making sure that the cult that follows AO-chan’s will are staying out of trouble. They’re a bunch of crazy people, but they can do a lot of good if they put their mind to it. I’m trying to make them out to be a humanitarian group, that way I can get a deductible on my tax return.”

Amelia let out a little laugh at that, “I never took you to be that kind of person.”

“Well, a lot can change in thirty years, I guess.” Ina replied, and Amelia felt like she was punched in the gut. This was a bad idea, and she took another long drink of tea to try and hide her frown and to get her emotions under control.

“Calli and Kiara are both doing well too,” Ina continued, as if she didn’t just say anything out of the ordinary, “They visit me occasionally, and Calli sometimes gets us tickets to her shows, but we’re all so busy with our lives that we don’t see each other more than a few times in a year. We all just have our own things to work on, though we still try to make time for each other when we can.”

“Ah,” Amelia muttered dumbly, not sure what to say. She wasn’t sure if she could say anything actually, it was clear that they all moved on, and… That was fine. Great, even. She was glad that some people managed to move on just fine, “That’s… Good to hear.”

“How’ve you been?” Ina asked, she was no doubt curious, but Amelia could see the hard stare in her gaze. How she was focused intently on what she was saying.

“Uh, I’ve been fine,” Amelia replied, “I just have been traveling through all of the alternate timelines. Just trying to find some adventure and do something with myself. I just, um, decided to come visit you guys, because it’s been a while and all, you know?”

“I do know,” Ina replied, her voice was still so soft and sweet, and another sweet smile appeared, “I really missed you, Ame.”

Amelia’s façade of indifference cracked. She wished Ina would yell at her and just tell her to get out – justify her irrational belief that they all hated her now. This was so much worse. It made her lips tremble, and she could feel that awful feeling of tears welling up in her eyes. She quickly wiped them away, and she tried desperately to suppress the guilt once again. She let out a half laugh, half sob, and managed to say, “Y – Yeah? I – I missed you, too!”

It was becoming too much, there was no way she could hide her burning hot tears any longer, and she abruptly jumped up from her seat, nearly knocking it to the floor. Ina just continued to watch her passively, and Amelia marched over to the light switch and flipped it off, plunging them into darkness. The sky outside was a dark blue, and while a little bit of natural light was still present, everything was covered in shadows. It gave Amelia a little bit of comfort at least, to have her face hidden – it allowed her to freely cry without Ina being able to see. She still can’t bring herself to face her, she still had her back was to the priestess, and her shoulders were very tense as she held back a flood of emotion.

“I’m sorry.”

Her voice was gruff, struggling not to cry. The guilt and shame and despair and were roughly crashing through her thoughts like the rough waves of a stormy sea.

“It’s all right.” Ina replied softly.

“W – why aren’t you angry?” Amelia asked, “Yell at me – please. I know I fucked up. I want you to…”

“To what, Amelia?” Ina asked, “To tell you how awful it is that you left us when we were all mourning? How you didn’t say anything to us – you didn’t even leave a note.” Her voice cracked, “We hoped you would come back for years, we held out hope for so long…”

“I’m so sorry…” Amelia cried; she wiped her eyes again.

“Like I said, it’s all right.” Ina said, Amelia couldn’t see her, but she could hear her voice trembling too, “I was upset for a very long time, but as the years went on, I just wanted you to come back home to us.”

Amelia cleared her throat, though it felt no less swollen than it did before. She swallowed, trying to find the right words to say. “I couldn’t handle it…” She struggled to think of something else to say, “After Gura, uhm, after she d – died…” The words hurt to say, it was like pure acid in her throat, “I just had to travel to get away from it. I lost one of my best friends, someone who – who I maybe liked more than that, and I – I just couldn’t do it… I couldn’t stay here, in a world where she was gone.”

“We all were hurt, Amelia. We all felt that loss just as much as you did, she was our friend too.” Ina took a deep breath, “And she wasn’t the only person I lost that day. When Gura passed away, I didn’t expect to have to mourn the loss of two of my best friends, Ame.”

Amelia covered her eyes, unable to stop her tears. She leaned forward until her forehead hit the wall. She couldn’t bear to look at Ina – it would only make her cry harder. She was so busy wallowing in her tears that she didn’t even notice Ina getting up from her seat until two warm arms slithered their way around her, and she felt Ina’s head lean against her back. She froze, “I – Ina?”

“It’s ok, Ame, I forgive you for leaving.”

“It’s not,” Amelia whimpered, her eyes squeezed shut, hot tears dripping down, “I’m just a worthless idiot who abandoned you guys. I don’t deserve your forgiveness… I want you to hate me.”

Ina didn’t let go, if anything, she held her even tighter, “I can’t hate you, and you’re not worthless Amelia. You were in pain just like the rest of us… You chose a poor way of trying to deal with it, but you came back.”

“After thirty years,” Amelia cried, “It took me too long to figure out what I had to do.”

“We’re all immortal.” Ina said reassuringly, “What’s thirty years to the rest of our lives? Please don’t beat yourself up over this, nothing is your fault. J – Just please…” Amelia felt Ina shaking, her fingers digging into her back painfully, “Please don’t go again… Please stay with us.”

Amelia let out a shaky breath, “O – Ok…”

She turned around, Ina letting go of her so she could, and Amelia reached into her coat pocket. She pulled out her watch, and with her other hand, she grabbed Ina’s hand, and lifted it up, before putting the watch down in her open palm. Amelia closed Ina’s fingers around the watch, and then pushed her hand back towards her chest. Ina looked down at it with wide eyes, “Ame?”

“Keep it,” Amelia muttered, “Just… Throw it away, or destroy it, or do whatever you want with it. I – I don’t want it anymore. I don’t want to run.”

Ina let out a shaky breath, “I’ll hold it for you,” She mumbled, “Until you’re ready to take it back.”

Amelia shook her head, “I can’t… I’ll run again.”

“You won’t,” Ina said, holding the watch close to her chest, almost reverently, “I know you won’t.” She leaned forward and hugged Amelia again with her one free arm, and Amelia, after a moment of hesitation did the same.

She couldn’t stop the tears, but for the first time in years, she felt a spark of hope. Perhaps she could move forward with her life… She didn’t know exactly how to get started, but with Ina at her side, she was sure she could do something.

XxXxXxX

It was rough getting back on her feet. She had nowhere to live, so Ina offered her a room in her house. She was loathe to accept any help from anyone, but she had no choice – she’d been gone so long that she had no money nor a place to live, and she had no real ways of traveling around without the watch, and considering she didn’t have access to that anymore, she had to accept Ina’s hospitality. To her credit, Ina wasn’t annoyed, if anything, she was more than happy to help her, much to Amelia’s embarrassment.

She dreaded the eventual meetings with Calli and Kiara though. She was emotionally drained the night she first talked to Ina, but the following day Ina managed to get both the reaper and phoenix on a voice chat, and that conversation went about as well as her talk with Ina. She thought she had some experience with dealing with her emotions now after opening up to Ina, but the moment Kiara started crying, she started crying too, and even Calli was teary eyed by the end when they all promised to meet up again soon.

Afterwards, Ina had forced her to go to the doctor, much to her chagrin.

“I’m fine!” Amelia replied evenly, trying to keep her temper in check, “They’re going to make me see a shrink or something, and make me takes some meds that I don’t freaking need.”

“Amelia,” Ina whispered, and Amelia’s protests died on her lips when she saw how sad she looked, “Please? For me?”

She ended up going the following morning, the two drove to the nearest doctor’s office, waited in a waiting room for nearly two freaking hours, and then they met with a doctor. Amelia felt idiotic, especially with how agitated she felt, and she was constantly shaking. A part of her was embarrassed that Ina was there to see her being so fidgety, but another part was very thankful that she was there, and she took her offered hand as they went into a small room – it was about as generic as a doctor’s office can get, a bunch of posters showing the human body and other medical science things, and the counters were full of various jars filled with cotton swaps, wooden sticks, and everything else a general practitioner would need. There was a window shining in some natural light at least, which made the room feel at least a little lively.

Amelia sat down on the provided seat for patients, while Ina sat on a small chair against the wall, watching silently. Already she was missing Ina’s touch, and she frowned as she turned to the doctor who followed them in.

“Hello Miss Watson,” The doctor smiled. She looked tired, but friendly enough. Amelia wondered if every doctor wore that white coat, if it made it official or something, and she shook her head, returning her attention back to the woman before her.

“Hey,” She replied, “How’re you doing?”

“I’m good,” The doctor replied, “And you?”

“Fine, I guess?” Amelia shrugged, and then saw the pointed stare Ina was giving her, and she relented, “ugh… Ok, I might have some problems here and there.”

The doctor smiled, and she grabbed a clipboard and started asking her a bunch of questions – her health history, if she was on any medication, and so forth. She did a general exam afterwards, and finally they got down to the real point of the visit. She asked Amelia why she was visiting, and when Amelia was quiet, Ina spoke up.

“She’s been…” She paused, not sure how to explain it.

“It’s ok,” The doctor assured them, “Everything you tell me here will be confidential.”

“I think I might…” Amelia struggled to form the words, and glanced over at Ina again for support. She was surprised when Ina got up and went to her side instead, holding her hand again, much to her relief. “It… It started when my friend died…”

She explained everything. The poisonous thoughts in her head, how she kept running, how she felt the entire time. When she couldn’t hold back the tears, she leaned into Ina’s side, shaking like a leaf. The doctor was gentle as she asked several questions, and when they started to grow annoyed, she quickly calmed them down.

“I apologize,” She replied, “It’s just procedure. I need to make sure you don’t have any medical conditions or other symptoms that could be contributing to this.”

Amelia and Ina both calmed down, and the questioning continued, though it was thankfully brief. The entire meeting with the doctor couldn’t have been more than a half hour, but by the end, Amelia was feeling physically and emotionally drained. The doctor wrote a few notes on her clip board, and then she left, leaving them alone.

“Fuck,” Amelia sighed once she left, wiping her red rimmed eyes.

“You did good, Ame.” Ina assured her, patting her back comfortingly, sitting right beside her, “I’m proud of you.”

Amelia let out a broken chuckle, “You don’t have to treat me like a kid.”

“I’m not – I’m serious! I’m happy that you were honest with her. I was afraid you were going to say that there wasn’t anything wrong.”

She frowned as a spark of anger flared up within her, but she beat it back quickly. After all, she did abandon Ina, so the priestess had absolutely no reason to trust that she would do the right thing. She looked down to the floor, remembering how Ina had tried to talk to her before she left… Yeah, she understood where Ina was coming from.

“Amelia,” Ina sighed, “I didn’t mean it like that.”

“Huh?” Amelia blinked a few times, looking up at her.

Ina hugged her, much to her surprise, “I’m sorry.”

“You don’t have to apologize,” Amelia replied, her gloom was still hanging over her like a curtain, but Ina’s touch made it feel just a little more bearable at least, “You’re right, after all.”

Ina sighed, looking sad as they parted, “That’s not true…”

Before they could talk further, the doctor returned, and had a prescription ready. “I’m also going to refer you to another doctor who I think can help you further, and adjust your medication as necessary.”

“Ugh,” Amelia groaned, “Damn it, I knew I was going to get a shrink. Damn it.”

“It’s a good thing,” Ina nudged her shoulder, “Do it for me?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Amelia rolled her eyes, “Sure.”

XxXxXxX

She had to take her pills every morning when she woke up, often times having Ina remind her. Aside from that, she was basically just lazing around in her home. It was fine for the first two days, when she was readjusting to not only returning to this timeline, but connecting with the friends she abandoned, but as the days dragged on, she was quickly growing stir crazy. Ina was more than happy to have her around, and that made her feel inexplicably guilty, so she cooked, did laundry, and every other chore she could think of to keep the house clean.

A week of that though, and Amelia felt like she was actually going to go insane. She was not built to be a maid, and she wanted to get a job, and what better job than a detective? Unfortunately, leaving the timeline for thirty years pretty much destroyed her reputation in the timeline, since she’d been gone for so long, so she was going to have to start from scratch. She decided to set up an office in Ina’s home, and made sure to get the legalities out of the way, before she went to advertise herself… The first day there were no clients, same with the second.

“Amelia,” Ina came into her makeshift office on the third day, “Did you take your medicine today?”

The room was very small, almost a closet, but it was the only option Ina had available, since most of the other rooms were either for sleeping, her own work, or storage. Amelia’s desk was nearly as long across as the room was wide, and she had to jump over it in order to sit down in her own chair behind it. In front of the desk were two chairs for her clients – if she had any – while there was a filing cabinet against the wall to her left, which she was nearly smushed against there was so little room. On her desk was her computer, which she’d been mindlessly tapping away on when Ina came in.

“I did,” Amelia replied, “You don’t need to remind me every day, Ina.”

She gave her an unimpressed look, “Ame… You’ve forgotten several times now.”

Amelia winced, “Uh, ok, I guess you’re right.”

“Anyway, I thought you should know, someone knocked on the door, and they wanted to see you.”

“Wait – really?!” Amelia sat up straight, smashing her knee on her desk. She hissed out in pain, but looked up anyway, “Why didn’t they call?! Never mind! Just bring em in!”

Ina looked amused, and left, closing the door behind her. Amelia sat up straight, making sure her detective jacket was in good condition, and she neatly folded her hands, unable to hide her smile. The smile dropped though when a young boy walked in, followed by who she could only guess was his mom.

“Uh,” She looked at the two of them, “Hello?”

“Hello,” The older woman said, taking one of the available seats, the child sat beside her, looking down at the floor at the dejectedly.

Amelia eyed the boy curiously, her brow raising, “What can I help you with, Ma’am?”

“Spot’s missing…” The boy muttered.

“Spot?”

“Our dog,” The woman replied, casting away Amelia’s confusion, “He ran away two weeks ago, and we’ve looked all over. We’ve put posters all over town, told so many people, but no one’s seen them.”

“Can you find him?” The boy looked up, and his eyes were shining with barely contained tears – the poor boy looked seconds away from bawling his eyes out.

Her talents were kind of wasted with a request like this, but Amelia had a soft heart, and the moment she saw how sad the boy was, she knew she wasn’t going to say no. After all, at one point she had dogs too, and she’d have been heartbroken if they escaped. She nostalgically thought back to them for a brief moment, before putting on a kind smile.

“I’ll have him back to you as soon as I can.” She replied, and both the boy and his mother looked relieved.

She spent a little bit of time taking their details – names, address, and any other contact information, and then it came to pay. Finding a dog wasn’t necessarily the hardest of tasks, nor was it something that paid especially well, but it was worth it to build up her reputation. After that was settled, she started to ask the real questions.

“Alright, so what does Spot look like?” She asked, typing away at her computer as they answered. She asked more questions:

“Where was he the last time you saw him?”

“Have you tried leaving out something with your scent?”

“Has anyone said they’ve seen him recently?”

“Are there any foods he likes best?”

She wracked her brain for any question to ask to help make this easier for herself, trying to explore it from every possible angle. When she exhausted all of her questions, she thanked them again, and saw them out the door.

Ina walked up to her, “Good meeting?”

“Huh?” Amelia glanced over, “I mean, I guess so, why?”

“You’re smiling.”

“I am?” She looked startled, “Well… I guess it’s just been so long since I’ve done something like that… I forgot how fun it could be to try and solve something, even if it’s as simple finding a dog.”

“A dog?” Ina looked over, “You need to find a dog?”

“No task is too small for a detective, Ina.” Amelia grabbed the bill of her hat, and this time she intentionally smiled, “We help everyone who needs it, big or small.”

Ina returned her smile, “Then good luck, detective.”

“Thanks.”

And with that, Amelia went to her office to compile her notes, and then left Ina’s home, feeling like she had a purpose for the first time in decades.

Even when she got dirty digging through the dirt and mud of the countryside, even when she had to swim through trash, or go through scary alleys, or talk to random people walking by, she kept her head held high. She was on a mission, and she wasn’t going to falter from that. She remembered talking to alternate-Gura, to Ina, and then to Calli and Kiara, and she knew that she had to do this not only for her client, but to prove her worth to herself. She was going to find this dog no matter what.

“Spot!” She cried, seeing a dog matching the description digging through the trash by a small shop that was closed that evening. The setting sun painted the landscape in an orange hue, and she could see the reflection of the trashcan like a beacon in an endless sea of browns and grays. She’d gotten a tip from a young kid running around the rural neighborhood about a stray dog been seen over here, and she’d followed it, hoping that her hunch was right.

The dog looked up, its brown fur was tangled and matted, and it hesitantly looked at her, ready to bolt in a second.

“Come here, boy.” She whispered, getting on her knees, holding out her hand. She was holding a dog treat, one that the young client actually provided her with, and the dog’s nose twitched the moment he caught a smell of it.

She smiled as Spot hesitantly shuffled over, stopping every few feet to stare at her, until finally he took those last handful of steps, and took the treat out of her hand, devouring it like it was the first real food he’d eaten in weeks, though she dearly hoped that he had eaten something since then.

“Good boy!” She praised, gently going to pet the dog. He paused when her hand touched his head, but then their tail started wagging, and Amelia was assaulted by wet dog kisses as the dog whined as he licked her face like an all you can eat buffet. “H – Hey!” She cried, unable to stop her laughter, “Stop it!”

Returning Spot to his family was the highlight of a day full of hard work, and after she received enough praise to make the tips of her ears pink, she made her way back home, a happy smile on her face as she entered Ina’s house.

As if summoned by her presence, Ina was already there, “How’d it go?”

“Mission accomplished!” Amelia gave Ina a thumbs up, and the priestess clapped happily, her smile absolutely infectious. It was silly, but Amelia appreciated her enthusiasm, even if it was a little embarrassing. She’d just found a dog, but then again… Maybe she did more than that?

She may not be saving the world like some of her alternative selves, but that was ok. Even helping just one person with a relatively small problem was fine – after all, to her clients, the problem was catastrophic, and she had to fix that. It was rewarding to see their happiness, to know that in their lives she made a very real and positive difference, and she found that it made her happy to help them. She didn’t have to be the world’s savior, just being a hero to one child was more than enough.

In the end, it helped her realize that maybe everything would be ok.

XxXxXxX

The cases were starting to pile up, and old skills she thought she’d forgotten began to resurface. Having to prioritize which cases to solve first, having to determine which of her clients was lying about something or was being truthful, and managing to survive on three hours of sleep a night were all things she never truly forgotten, but they were just dormant. It was startling how easy things felt when she started to get back into her role, and she honestly missed it so much. It was so nice to be back in her own element. It just felt nice to actually be doing something again. Traveling timelines was interesting, but she’d spent so long feeling envious of her alternate selves that she forgot what she was capable of on her own.

Still, she felt bad imposing on Ina for so long, and she started to make plans to move out. She already managed to rent an office for her job outside of Ina’s house that was much more spacious with the money she’d earned over the last few months, but now she had to figure out where to go from there. She was seated at Ina’s kitchen table, a cup of coffee beside her steaming away, left ignored as she typed away on her laptop, trying to find somewhere nearby to live.

“Hm?” Ina stalked into the kitchen, wearing just a single long purple shirt and little else. Her hair was a tangled mess – it was clear she’d only just gotten out of bed. She yawned, noticing Amelia sitting at the table already fully dressed, and she looked at the clock, “It’s not even ten yet,” She mumbled, wiping her eyes, “Why are you up?”

“I don’t sleep in all of the time,” Amelia huffed, “Not since I got my job, anyway.”

Ina conceded the point – often times, she would wake up and Amelia wouldn’t even be home at all. Due to her own work, Ina found herself staying up until well past midnight, so their sleeping schedules typically aligned for a while. It was nice to have someone around to eat breakfast with and talk to, doubly so since it was Amelia. Still, she was curious to know what Amelia was typing away about on her computer, so after helping herself to a cup of coffee herself, she sat down opposite of Amelia and asked, “What are you doing, then?”

“Looking for a place to live.” Amelia replied.

Ina paused, her tired brain working overtime to process that, “You’re moving out?”

Amelia nodded, “Yeah. I don’t want to impose on you any more than I have.”

She took a sip of coffee, hiding her frown behind the cup. “You don’t have to go.”

“I want to,” Amelia replied, “You’ve helped me so much, but I don’t want to be a burden to you anymore.”

“You’re not.” Ina said quickly, “I like you being here.”

Amelia stopped in her typing, and looked up at Ina, over the computer’s screen, “Huh?”

“You can stay,” Ina reached over and touched one of Amelia’s hands, “I really don’t mind. I like the company.”

Amelia stared down at their hands, her gaze unreadable to Ina, and then she pulled her hand away. Ina felt her heart ache as Amelia’s eyes crinkled, her lips forming a thin line – she looked like she was in pain, “I can’t.” She rasped out, “I – uh…” She cleared her throat, and the edge in her voice disappeared with it, “I need to go.”

Ina’s heart constricted; the remnants of her sleep quickly faded as various scenarios played out in her head. A part of her knew it was childish, but it almost felt like if she let Amelia go, then they wouldn’t see each other again, and they’ve only just recently met up again after so long… “You do?”

Amelia looked down at the computer, focusing hard on that rather than how small and vulnerable Ina sounded just then. That all so familiar guilt gnawed away at her, “W – Well…” She mumbled out, “I mean, if you don’t want me to go…”

Ina took another sip of her coffee, “I… don’t mind…” Ina slowly said, as if sounding out each word before committing to what she was about to say, “I like it… That you’re here with me.”

Amelia’s heart fluttered at the admission, and she knew her cheeks were growing red. Such genuine affection – platonic or otherwise – was rare. The last person she felt really close to was Gura, and after she went away, she’d made a habit of blocking out everything. She’d forgotten about her bonds with the others, and rekindling them these past few months was eye-opening. It astonished her that everyone cared for her so much. Ina’s friendliness and love was unfamiliar to her, it was not something she was used to anymore. Kiara and Calli called often too, wanting to check up on her, and it just hurt her heart each time they called, because she’d nearly ruined this in her grief.

When Ina touched her, she could feel that same thump in her heart every time Gura did the same. She could recognize she was growing perhaps a little too attached to Ina, since the priestess has hosted her here, she’s done so much for her. From helping her with her clientele, enjoying eating with one another, and just hanging out, she could feel that familiar attraction forming, and… A part of her was worried, and another part guilty. She was worried that it was some sort of delayed rebound, that the first person to show her any kindness since she left, and she was naturally just growing too attached to them. Additionally, the guilt was because in some way, feeling some sort of attraction towards Ina felt like it was a betrayal of Gura.

She could still recall the alternate Gura’s words though – that she would want Amelia to move on with her life and be happy… Would she be ok with this? Would she be ok if she felt attracted to another woman, and agreed to live in their house despite that? Would Gura be ok if she fell in love with a different person? She didn’t know, and it made her feel miserable.

“I like it here too, but I don’t know…” She finally said after a long moment of silence. Ina had just been carefully sipping her coffee, awaiting a response.

“You don’t have to,” Ina replied, “I won’t force you to do it…”

“I want to stay, but… It’s just…” She didn’t know how to word her worries to Ina. She was scared that the priestess would scoff at her concerns, and tell her to grow up. She knew compared to Ina, she was a nutcase, and knowing that made her feel worse.

“What’s wrong, Amelia?” Ina asked softly, her hand resting on Amelia’s again, “You can tell me.”

“I don’t want to burden you,” Amelia muttered, she could feel tears in her eyes. She took her medication that morning, but even still, she could feel that horribly oppressive atmosphere again – she felt closed in. She was beginning to shake.

“You’re not.”

Amelia shuddered at the words, because she knew Ina meant it. It was in how she said it, how gentle her voice was. It was in how she looked at her, those eyes were filled with so much concern and – and love… She quickly wiped her eyes, realizing that she was going to cry again. She bowed her head, trying to hide behind her computer, “U – Um… Sorry.”

“You have nothing to apologize for Amelia.” Ina said soothingly, “It’s ok.”

“Then…” Amelia whimpered, “I can stay…?”

“Yes.” Ina breathed out, and Amelia noticed the hint of relief in how she said it. That happy sigh after she said it, and the way she felt her grip on her hand tighten up a little more. “Please.” It came out a little meekly, but the words made Amelia smile – it was like a light piercing through the darkness clouding her mind.

“Then I’ll stay.”

She didn’t even have to look up to see Ina’s smile – she could hear it just fine.

XxXxXxX

Amelia was practically shaking the day Kiara and Calli were scheduled to arrive. Both were super busy women, but they promised to take time off to see Amelia. Granted, it took a few months – being the CEO of a major company and an incredibly popular musician didn’t leave a lot of free time, but they managed to pull it off, and coincidentally, they were both arriving on the same day. Ina and Amelia had spent the day before they were to arrive cleaning their household from top to bottom, attempting to make it at least a little presentable. Neither of them were particularly clean women, so it was quite an ordeal.

She nearly jumped out of her skin when she heard the doorbell ring, and Ina let out a little laugh at Amelia’s panic, and went to get the door, letting in their guests. Amelia felt her heartbeat in her ears as she heard Ina greeting them around the corner – she heard her name mentioned – and then they came walking into the little dining room she and Ina cleaned up yesterday. Kiara and Calli both looked at her like she was a two-headed cat for several long seconds, and no one said a word.

Amelia put on a happy smile – surprisingly she didn’t even have to feign it, she truly was happy to see them again – and she tipped the bill of her hat towards them, “Hey there guys! Long time no see!”

She let out a shout as Kiara dived at her, the phoenix’s arms wrapping around her and squeezing her so tight that she was starting to see spots in her vision, “Amelia Watson!” Kiara cried, “Don’t you EVER go away again! You hear me?!”

“Didn’t you already scold her for this over the phone?” Calli asked with a laugh, and she ignored Amelia’s gaze pleading for help, and she smiled happily as she patted her shoulder, “But she’s right. If you ever leave again, I will find you.”

When Kiara finally let go of her, Amelia wheezed out, “R – Right! I won’t leave, got it!”

Kiara hugged her again, but this time it was much softer, “I missed you so much, Ame-chan.”

Amelia felt tears prickling in her eyes, and she hugged her back, “I missed you too, Kiara.” She then looked at Calli, “missed you too, Calli.”

Calli huffed, and leaned down to embrace her beside Kiara, and the three held each other for so long that it was only interrupted when Ina let out a polite little cough as she entered the room with a tray of tea, “Tea, anyone?” She asked with a happy smile of her own.

Amelia could understand Ina’s happiness – this was the first time that they’ve all gotten together since, well, since back then. There was of course one person missing, and there was always going to be that Gura-sized hole in their hearts for the rest of their lives, but for once that didn’t send Amelia’s mind spiraling downward. For the first time since she arrived back, she actually believed alternate Gura’s words, about how she believed that her world’s Gura would want her to live happily after her death.

Calli and Kiara took seats on either side of Amelia, much to the detective’s embarrassment, and she continued to flush red as Kiara wouldn’t stop touching her. She would have asked her to stop, but she knew it was because the girl wanted the reassurance that she was really there – that she wouldn’t disappear. Calli was also keeping tabs on her, albeit in a much more subtle manner. She could occasionally catch the reaper staring at her from the corner of her eyes, and occasionally their legs would touch. Across the table, Amelia caught Ina’s smile, and she had no trouble returning it with one of her own.

Catching up with everyone was fun – Calli told her about her music, and even brought her the latest album, which Amelia promised to listen to as soon as possible. Kiara meanwhile told her about how her business was going. The KFP franchise had a presence all over the world now, in nearly every single country, and Kiara was determined to expand to those countries which weren’t permitting her access. They asked Ina how her artistic career was coming along, and she of course had nothing but good things to say.

“How about you, Ame-chan?” Kiara asked, “You never really tell us anything about yourself when we call!”

“Yeah,” Calli agreed, “Usually Ina has to fill us in.”

“Well…” She tried not to let it dampen her mood, but she honestly felt a little overwhelmed being around all of them. They were all successful women making tons of money, and all of them were big names within their fields, and here she was, just a regular detective. Her business was doing well, and she was self-sustainable, but she wasn’t anywhere near their level. Compared to her, her mythical friends were titans, she didn’t feel like she compared to them at all, and talking about her job just made it feel more pronounced. “It’s going well.” She finally decided to say.

“That’s great!” Kiara exclaimed with an easy smile, settling Amelia’s unease quickly, “I’m glad it’s going so well for you!”

“Thank you,” Amelia replied.

Calli looked like she was going to speak, but stopped – she closed her mouth, thinking better of whatever it was she was going to say, and instead gently gave Amelia a pat on the shoulder, “I’m happy for you, Amelia.”

The rest of the evening passed peacefully, with easy small talk that soothed Amelia’s mind. She missed them dearly, and when it came time for them to leave, she found herself feeling sad. She wished she could ask them to stay over, but she knew they were busy, they had their own things to get back to.

“Keep in touch, Ame-chan.” Kiara hugged her tightly, before parting again, tears in her eyes, “Alright? Stay safe too!”

“Yeah, I will!” Amelia said.

Calli surprised her by giving her a hug too, and Amelia’s surprised expression caused the reaper to huff, “I missed you too, Amelia.” She said softly, holding her tight, “Don’t be a stranger, and ask me if you need anything, ok?”

Amelia nodded, her throat suddenly felt tight, “Ok.”

Calli gave her one last squeeze, and then let go. They exchanged a few more words, promises to meet up soon in the future, and then they were gone.

“It was nice to see them.” Ina said later that night, as they were cleaning up the dishes from dinner.

Amelia nodded, “It was.”

Ina smiled, not saying another word as she turned on the sink to scrub the dishes as Amelia went to gather up the rest of them.

XxXxXxX

Even with her medication, there were days where Amelia would wake up and just not feel right. Days where the oppressive negative thoughts lingered heavily over her head, where she would just curl up in bed, deciding to just take the day off work. She was a freelance detective after all, she could afford to take a day off, and if her client complained, well, they could go to some other lesser detective for all she cared.

She knew that she wasn’t worthless – Ina and her therapist reassured her of that every time they saw each other, not in just their words, but their actions as well – but it was hard to accept it as fact when she felt like this. It was difficult to overwrite several decades worth of self-loathing after all, and she tried not to wallow in the horrible thoughts. She just wanted to sleep so when she next woke up, she wouldn’t be so affected by the nightmarish untruths. She wrapped the blanket around her tighter, trying to ignore the voice in her head saying how she would never amount to anything.

And then her door opened.

“Ame?” Ina asked softly, looking in, “Shouldn’t you be at work?”

“I’m taking a day off,” She replied curtly. She didn’t want to snap at Ina, she didn’t deserve it at all. She knew she didn’t deserve it, but it didn’t stop that horrible thread of envy working its way through her anyway.

“Oh,” Ina mumbled softly. The way she said it, Amelia knew she figured out what was wrong. “You took your medicine, right?”

“Yes.”

“Hm,” Ina nodded, “Is there anything you need?”

“Nothing,” Amelia replied, biting back a snarky reply, “Just… Please leave me alone for now. I – I don’t want to say something to you that I’d regret.”

She heard Ina exhale, and was both thankful and mournful when she said, “Alright, I’ll let you have some space for now. If you need anything, I’ll be in my office.” Her office being her painting room, of course.

Amelia nodded, not vocalizing her acknowledgement, and Ina closed the door. Locking her in her room to linger in her thoughts and misery. She just curled up in bed, and turned over, tightly closing her eyes and desperately wishing that time would move faster and the day would be over so she could just stop feeling like this. Sleep was proving difficult to do, but after another fitful hour of flailing around, she finally managed to pass out.

When she next opened her eyes, she was groggily looking at Ina’s concerned face. She frowned at the sight, feeling awful to see her looking so sad, and she mumbled, “What time is it?”

“A little after two,” Ina replied softly, her hand gently ran through her hair, and Amelia exhaled – it felt nice. “Have you gotten out of bed at all today?”

“No.”

Again, Ina frowned, and Amelia felt guilty just seeing it. “Do you want me to get you something to eat?”

“I’m not hungry.”

A sigh. “Amelia… I know you don’t feel like it, but you should really eat.”

She knew Ina was right, but she just didn’t have an appetite. She still felt absolutely awful, with her thoughts continuously tormenting her now that she was waking up. She just felt sad and down, and she didn’t even really have a reason for it, she just had days like this… She wanted to curl up again, ignore Ina and go back to sleep, but one look at Ina’s eyes, and she knew that she wouldn’t be able to do that. She slowly took off her covers, and though Ina smiled at the sight, Amelia only felt a fraction less bad due to it.

“Come on,” Ina held out her hand, and Amelia took it, allowing the priestess to pull her up to her feet, where she was led out of her room and towards the kitchen. Ina sat her down at the table, and went to the stove, looking ready to cook, and Amelia straight up wasn’t going to have that.

“Wait, no.” Amelia stood, “I – I can cook myself, Ina.”

“Sit down, Amelia.” Ina admonished lightly, “I’m going to cook for you.”

“You don’t have to.”

“I want to.” Ina replied, staring at Amelia intently, “So sit down and try to relax, ok?”

Amelia sat down. She knew Ina was trying to be nice and support her, but a part of her resented her for it – did the woman think she was a cripple? It wasn’t her fault that her stupid mind made her feel like this sometimes. She could feel anger welling up, and she gripped the side of the table tightly with her hands. And then she felt guilty for feeling angry in the first place, and she miserably groaned, leaning forward and nearly smashing her face into the tabletop. She covered her head, hating how she felt like she wanted to cry now.

She felt Ina’s hand gently touch her shoulder, “It’s ok, Ame.”

She just nodded into her arms, not trusting her voice, nor wanting to look at Ina.

The meal was nothing special – Ina artistic merit laid in artwork, not so much cooking, but it was serviceable. To Amelia, the taste was rather muted, and she kept stopping to just stare off into nothing. Several times throughout the meal, Ina would look at her in concern and say her name, snapping her out of her thoughts, and she’d just go back to eating the food.

“Thank you,” Amelia muttered, though she wasn’t feeling like much right now, she at least knew to be polite.

She had wanted to just go back to bed after that, but Ina had other plans. She instead dragged Amelia into their small living room, just outside of her little painting studio, and they bundled up on the couch, Ina turned the television on to some random channel, Amelia actually wasn’t sure what was on, she really wasn’t paying much attention. She just sat there, leaning into Ina’s side, trying desperately to keep her thoughts organized, and not focus on what she knew were bad and awful thoughts, but it was hard, so very hard.

She felt Ina’s arm wrap around her shoulder, and she finally broke, “I’m sorry…”

“Hm?” Ina glanced over, “For what?”

“I’m… I’m not very good company right now.” Amelia admitted, “You can go, I know you don’t want to be around me right now.”

Ina just smiled sadly at her, “Ame, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than at your side.”

“You’re just saying that…”

“It’s true!” Ina insisted, leaning further against her, resting her head on Amelia’s shoulder.

“You want to just sit in here in the dark watching…” She looked at the tv, trying to discern what was on, before just sighing, “Watching who knows what?”

“If it’s with you, I’m ok with anything.” Ina replied, letting out a content sigh that made Amelia’s heart race.

“… Really?”

“Mhm.” Ina nodded into her shoulder, “This is what I want.”

Amelia wasn’t sure if she was being truthful – a part of her mind was bitterly telling her that no one would want to be with her ever, but there was another part of herself that did think she was being genuine. The conflicting emotions were warring in her head, and she just whimpered as she cuddled closer to Ina, hoping that the priestess didn’t notice her shaking or her tears.

Ina never mentioned them, and true to her words, Ina never left her side.

XxXxXxX

A few days later, Kiara and Calli were over visiting again, and thankfully Amelia was feeling better. Kiara was chatting animatedly with Ina, something about Ina creating a mascot and haggling prices regarding it, which left Amelia and Calli both standing awkwardly side by side as they chatted.

“Want to ditch them for a bit?” Calli asked, turning to look at Amelia.

“And go where, exactly?” Amelia asked with a raised brow.

“You got something to drink?”

Amelia laughed, “Sure, we can go to the kitchen.” She watched Ina lead Kiara into her studio, both girls were completely lost in their own world. “They’ll probably be like that for a little while.”

The house was pretty small, so the epic journey to the kitchen took all of five seconds, and once they entered, Amelia opened the fridge and pulled out some orange juice.

“Orange juice?”

“Well, we also have cranberry juice. Milk too, if you’d rather have that.” Amelia replied with a cheeky grin, her smile only widening at the flat stare Calli was giving her. “Sorry, we don’t have anything alcoholic.”

“Why not?” Calli asked with a raised brow.

“Doesn’t play well with my meds,” Amelia replied, “And Ina doesn’t drink. We don’t really get visitors often enough to let it take up room in our fridge either.”

With a sigh, Calli nodded, “Fair enough. Cranberry juice sounds fine, then.”

It felt a little ridiculous drinking juice in the kitchen, just standing rather than sitting down, but it was among friends, and they didn’t have anyone to impress. Amelia poured herself some juice, and leaned against the counter beside Calli, taking a sip, and just staring off into the same space Calli was.

“Can I ask you a question, Calli?”

“Hm, sure.” Calli shrugged.

“Were you the one to, uh, take Gura to the ‘other’ side?” She asked, seeing Calli still beside her, “Um, sorry, was that too forward?”

Calli looked over sharply, she wasn’t glaring, but it was more of a look of concern, “Why are you asking?”

Amelia let out a huff, “I dunno, I just want to know, I guess.”

Calli’s eyes looked up and down Amelia’s face, as if she were searching for something – Amelia wasn’t sure what to make of it. After a few seconds Calli seemed to have found what she was looking for, and she closed her eyes with a sigh. She opened her eyes, staring directly into Amelia’s eyes, “Yeah.”

Amelia felt her heart constrict. She had a feeling it was Calli, but she’d never been sure, nor had she been brave enough to ask. “Ah. Well… Did… Did she have any last words?”

Calli nodded slowly, “Yeah.”

Amelia’s brow raised at her silence, “Well? What were they?”

“She said that she wanted us to be happy and not linger on her death,” She replied after another long moment. She then took a soft breath, “She also had a message for each of us – she loved us all you know.”

“Yeah.” Amelia nodded, not exactly surprised when she could feel her throat starting to constrict, she squinted her eyes, trying to keep the tears at bay, “I know.”

“I’ve already told Ina and Kiara what she wanted to say to them, but I never got the chance to deliver her message to you.”

“Hm,” Amelia nodded, “C – Can I hear it?”

“She loved you.” Calli said softly, setting aside her juice so she could cross her arms. She couldn’t bear to look at Amelia, “She was so sad when she realized that your time together was cut short. She was really insistent that I tell you how much she loved you, and she said she knew you’d blame yourself for her death, she wanted me to tell you as soon as possible not to blame yourself, and that she wants you to find someone else to love and be with…” Calli sighed, “I didn’t tell you right away, because I didn’t think it would be the right time.”

“You might be right,” Amelia replied as she wiped her eyes, “I don’t know how I would have reacted if you told me all of that back then… Probably not believe half of it.” It turned out that the alternate-Gura she talked to all of those months ago had been right on the money. She shouldn’t have doubted her really, after all, she was Gura, just from a different timeline.

“Yeah,” Calli muttered, “Still, I’m sorry for waiting so long to deliver the message. I wasn’t sure if you were ready for it yet, so I’ve been keeping it to myself…”

“I don’t blame you,” Amelia said with a watery laugh, looking bemused despite her tears, “I think I’d be a hypocrite for getting upset with you after I left for so freaking long!”

“I wouldn’t blame you for it.”

Amelia shrugged, “Calli… I’m kind of sick and tired of being mad or sad all of the time, you know? I’m working on getting it all fixed now, hell I don’t know if I can ever really be fixed anymore.”

“Hm.”

“But I have you and Kiara, and Ina too.” She smiled at Ina’s name, “I don’t think I will ever stop loving Gura, and… and I don’t think Ina expects me to stop loving her. Gura will always be in my heart, but I will try to move on, if only because Gura would be pissed at me if I didn’t.”

Calli laughed at that, “Yeah, probably.”

“I need some help though, Calli.”

“How can I help you, dude?” Calli looked so very earnest, and Amelia couldn’t help but laugh at it, it was absolutely adorable. She wiped her eyes, smiling appreciatively at her.

“I’m gonna ask Ina out to dinner Friday night, where the hell should I go?”

Calli blinked once – twice – and then grinned, “Alright, your boy knows all about this kind of thing! Now listen up!”

Amelia did just that, glad that the lingering awkwardness between her and Calli was finally gone.

XxXxXxX

It had been over a year now since Amelia came back to her own timeline, and in that time, she’d built back up her business, and was starting to get some really big clients. She still lived with Ina, of course, and their relationship was going absolutely perfectly – thank you for asking! Though there were still some days that were more difficult, for the most part, her life felt so much more complete, she no longer had the guilty conscious tying her down every day, and she felt like she could breathe easier than she had in a long time.

It was her day off from work – an Ina mandated one – since she’d been working nonstop for nearly three weeks, and her girlfriend was not having that. Her projects were put on hold for the day, and for the first time in a month, she felt like she could relax. She was sitting with Ina in their living room in her pajamas despite it being well after noon, the fire was going, a steady snowfall outside, a cup of hot chocolate in her hands, and she’d never felt more content. They’d turned off the television, since neither were really watching it, and just enjoyed each other’s company.

It was only when Amelia was dozing off that Ina shifted, and her eyes fluttered open, “Hm, Ina?” She mumbled, “Getting up?”

“I just remembered something,” Ina replied casually, “Something I’ve been meaning to give you for a while now.”

“Oh? A present? For me? You shouldn’t have!” Amelia laughed when Ina shook her head, and she just waited patiently on the couch, feeling too lazy to get up and follow Ina as she wandered off. She did at least put her and Ina’s cups aside so they wouldn’t be knocked onto the floor – they were empty granted, but no point in letting the possibility be open anyway.

Ina arrived back a few minutes later, her arms behind her back, “Did you even try to get up?”

“Nah,” Amelia shook her head, “You told me today was my day off, so I’m not doing nothing.”

Ina’s responding smile made Amelia feel warm, and she wished Ina would sit down so she could just cuddle up next to her. “Sit up at least,” Ina said, sitting down beside her, she maneuvered her arms so the gift was hidden at her side. She was being secretive, and that certainly piqued Amelia’s interests.

“Alright, I’ll bite. What do you got there?” Amelia finally sat up, but she leaned into Ina’s side anyway. The priestess didn’t mind, though she was still hiding the gift.

“Don’t get your hopes up too much, Ame.”

“Ugh,” Amelia rolled her eyes, “Stop with the suspense! What is it?!”

Ina chuckled, that loving look Amelia was becoming intimately familiar with appearing in her gaze. That look usually promised a good time, and Amelia’s cheeks started to warm up at the sight. Ina let out a bark of laughter at the sight, “No – Ame! Head out of the gutter!”

“W – Well?!” She huffed, “Then tell me what it is!”

Ina finally showed her gift, and Amelia’s heart stopped. Her smile dropped, and the temperature felt like it dropped several dozen degrees, it was so cold all of the sudden. It was her watch – the very watch she’d used to travel through time and visit other timelines. It was actually cleaner than she remembered, she wondered if Ina had taken it somewhere to get cleaned up. At any rate, she just stared at it with wide eyes.

“Ame?” Ina’s voice had a hint of concern, “Are you ok?”

“Keep it.” She rasped out, pushing the gift back towards Ina, “I don’t want it.”

She scooted over, as if she were afraid of the device, and Ina looked more confused, “Ame? What’s wrong?”

“I can’t take it.”

“Why?”

“I – I’ll mess up again,” Amelia muttered, she crossed her arms, looking away from Ina. She could remember the decades she spent traveling timelines, how she just abandoned everyone. She could remember the ease at which she used it, how she just traveled wherever her heart wanted, without a care for others.

“You won’t,” Ina’s voice was soft, and she gently held it out again, “I trust you.”

“This is like giving a drug addict some coke after they’ve been clean for a while,” Amelia replied, still not looking towards Ina, “If I take that thing, I’ll – I’ll go back to – to…”

“Amelia… Look at me.”

Amelia shuddered at that tone, but she obliged, turning her head very slightly so she could see Ina out of the corner of her eyes. She could see the watch from this angle, and she felt another shiver coming. “I don’t want it, Ina. I – I’ll fuck up again.”

“I promise, you won’t.”

“How can you be so sure?” Amelia whispered.

Ina cupped her cheek with her free hand, forcing her to look at her fully, “I’ve already said, I trust you. You’ve built a home here with me. You’ve gotten back all of your friendships, and even made some new ones. The fact that you’re so worried about ruining it tells me more than enough – I know you won’t abuse this.”

Amelia frowned, “I… I don’t know…”

“Ame,” Ina leaned forward to give her a tender kiss, “You need to learn to forgive yourself, and trust that you won’t abuse your power again. All of us know you won’t, so it’s about time that you realize that about yourself as well.”

Amelia didn’t stop her this time when she grabbed her hand, and gently placed the watch in her grasp, closing her fingers around the device. It felt cool, and though it had been over a year since she’d used the device, she moved it in her hand until she held it in the familiar position, and she just stared down at it.

Nothing happened.

Nothing would happen unless if she wanted it to, and… She didn’t. She didn’t want to leave, she didn’t want to abandon her friends, she didn’t want to abandon her love, she wanted to stay here.

“See?” Ina said softly, “It’s fine.”

Amelia let out a soft laugh, “I – I guess I looked kind of dumb there, huh?”

“Not dumb,” Ina replied with a shake of her head, she smiled gently at her, “I would never think anything you do is dumb.”

“I can think of a few things I could do that would be really dumb to prove you wrong.”

“Amelia,” Ina struggled to hold in her laugh, “I’m trying to be serious here.”

She grinned, “And I appreciate it.” She hugged Ina, the watch still held in her grasp, “I won’t leave you ever again.”

“I know you won’t.”

She had to learn to trust herself again, and she felt that she’d finally taken the first step on that journey. It would be a long one, and she wouldn’t use the watch right away, not even to go back in time to help with her cases – it would be a while before she could ever use it like that. For now, she’d found a new purpose in life – in her timeline – and she was going to face it all with Ina and her friends at her side.