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Stellar

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Kate couldn't sleep. She walked out of the Gecko's warehouse and wandered under the night sky. After shedding Amaru, she had also shed the black leather. Her wrists, now properly bandaged, were tucked inside one of Seth's large dress shirts. She found comfort in the familiar scent of sage and sandalwood. Black tights covered her legs and she wore the red boots that used to belong to the queen of Xibalba. Now Kate Fuller walked the Earth in them.

She saw a black pick-up truck with the tailgate open and climbed in back. With her legs dangling off the edge, she looked up to the blanket of glimmering stars overhead. It reminded her of how she and Scott used to camp out in the backyard every summer. Every year she begged her parents to take them on a real camping trip. One day, her dad came home with an RV, but before they could go, her mother died. Soon after that, her dad packed up the RV, but instead of taking her and Scott to Yosemite, he took them to Mexico.

Or rather he was forced to take them to Mexico.

“You're not even supposed to be here.”

Kate glanced down at her hands, now clean from her shower, but still stained with the lives she had taken. She may never forgive herself, but God had already done so. She took in a deep breath and felt her lungs expand. Tears prickled her eyes. She was alive, really, truly alive. She had her body back, and most importantly, she had her soul.

“Kate?” Richie approached her, still dressed in his black suit covered in Xibalban dust and wearing his horn-rimmed glasses. “What are you doing up?”

“I spent six months sleeping inside my own body,” she said. “I don't want to close my eyes right now if I don't have to.”

He responded with a nod.

After a moment, Kate said, “I remember everything.”

Locking Richie up in that hospital, messing with his mind so that he would force Seth to kill people. Making him believe that Xibalba was a better place.

“Remember what we shared.”

Kate didn't have to say anything else to know that Richie remembered everything too.

He moved next to her, leaning against the open tailgate. “What do you know about astronomy?”

She shrugged.

“You see that cluster of stars right there?” He pointed to the sky. “That's Orion, the Hunter. And that one there? That's Pegasus, the Flying Horse.” He gave her a boyish grin. “Wanna know which one is my favorite?”

She followed his finger as he moved it to another starry constellation. “Perseus,” he said.

Kate didn't know much about astronomy, but she knew who Perseus was, thanks to Scott's obsession with the old Clash of the Titans movie. The Greek mythology hero who beheaded Medusa and saved the princess.

“Wanna know Seth's?” Richie asked.

“Sure,” she said, raising her brows. She had no idea Seth cared about this kind of stuff. Most likely it was because Richie cared, so he cared.

“Cassiopeia,” Richie said, moving his finger across the sky. “I explained to him there are a lot of dead stars there. He seemed to like that idea, but what he doesn't know is that Cassiopeia is also home to one of the largest collections of young stars in the galaxy. Over the next thousand years, those stars are gonna become some of the brightest ones up there.” He crossed his arms and tilted his head back. “Imagine that. I might be around to see that tiny twinkle right there turn into the baddest star in the sky.”

“Well, I guess that depends if the earth doesn't rotate into the sun first,” Kate said with a small smile.

He scoffed. “Such a pessimist.”

She chuckled and her entire body relaxed. For a few precious moments, Richie had managed to get her mind off Amaru and Xibalba.

Richie turned to look at her, a soft expression on his face. “He really missed you.”

Her chest tightened, knowing he was talking about Seth. In addition to recalling the events in the hospital with Richie, she remembered glimpsing inside Seth's soul when Amaru had him in her grip. The drinking. The nightmares. The guilt.

“You lied. You do have a soul.”

How saving her would save a part of himself.

“When I saw you in Xibalba I knew Seth was either dead or he had finally let you go,” Richie said. “But seeing you, I mean you as in Kate, made me realize I didn't belong there. I might not believe in heaven or even in El Rey like Seth, but he believes in you. And after knowing everything you went through, well, I'm a believer now too.” His steady gaze rested on her face. “I'm glad you're here.”

Smiling, Kate exhaled, knowing she had made the right decision to join Seth and Richie.

I am supposed to be here.

“Hey!”

They looked up to see Seth walking toward them. He had showered and changed into a pair of clean pants and a black T-shirt. The fresh cuts on his face were now covered with small Band-Aids.

“What the hell, Richard?” he said, wildly gesturing with his hands. “I told you to wake me up in one hour. Do you know what time it is?”

Richie put up a hand. “Listen, Seth—”

“It's almost midnight,” Seth said, pushing his brother's hand out of the way. “Twelve hours. You let me sleep for twelve fucking hours.”

“A lot of good it did you,” Richie mumbled.

Seth put his hands on his hips. “What was that?”

“I think he said you're welcome, Sleeping Beauty,” Kate said, giggling.

He finally looked over at her and his shoulders automatically sagged. “What are you two doing out here anyway?” he asked, dropping his arms.

“Richie's teaching me some astronomy,” she said.

Seth moved to the other side of her and looked at the stars. “Oh, yeah?”

“You see that one?” She pointed to the constellation. “That's Cassiopeia. A lot of new stars are born there. I kind of like that.” When she dropped her gaze to Seth, he wasn't looking up anymore. He was looking right at her as though she was his own private constellation. She didn't mind.

“Well, damn.” Richie's voice made them look away from each other.

“What is it, Richard?” Seth asked with an exasperated sigh.

They looked back to the sky just in time to see a shooting star streak across the darkness leaving behind a golden trail. Kate took it as a sign that despite everything, there was good to come.

“Aren't we supposed to make a wish or something?” Seth said.

But no one spoke. As far as Kate knew, there were no more wishes to make.

THE END