“Well, this is it,” said Sergei. He wasn’t much different from any other day with a slouch and hands stuffed in his pockets. The place itself, however, felt emptier now.
KeA let her gaze rest briefly over Sergei before she took in the couches and the table where they always ate dinner together. She didn’t know when she would pass through the door leading to the small kitchen to cook her family dinner again. When would Uncle Sergei sit in his office again? She knew to expect this chapter’s end. It was so much better than it could have been and more chapters would come. She just hadn’t expected it to hurt like this.
“Here,” Sergei said and held something out. “Can’t exactly find a divine wolf around, but this should give you some extra company. Know you’re into this kind of stuff.”
KeA gasped with delight when she saw the little grey wolf strap. No, of course it wasn’t much like Zeit, but it wasn’t so different from the wolves he looked after in its own cutesy way. “He’s beautiful!” she exclaimed. It was wonderful. Uncle Sergei was always kind even when others couldn’t see it. She felt warm and she felt… sad. She hugged the wolf close. It wasn’t the same feelings as when she nearly lost herself, but it reminded her of that awful lonely time at the end before Lloyd came for her all the same.
There were so many future possibilities and not enough time to sieve through them all before she let go of it all. Yet, no matter what, through them, she knew with an absolute certainty they would all be okay. The corners of her eyes stung. She would see them all again; there was no doubt. They assured her. She assured them. She would have Lloyd and Shizuku with Arios. Zeit continued to watch over her. But, Tio, Elie, Randy and Uncle Sergei and Koppe: they would have to be apart until then…
She suddenly flung herself at Sergei, wrapping her arms around him as tightly as she could and ignored his grunt of surprise while she buried her face in his torso. He smelled like coffee and smoke and the prickling in her eyes broke to tears. He smelled like home.
His hand came to rest in her hair and gave her a ruffle. “Hey, it’s okay. This won’t last.”
KeA nodded with a sniffle and stepped back. “KeA knows.”
His mouth curved in an almost a smile. “Yeah, I’ll bet. You better get going. We don’t have much time. Lloyd and the wolf’ll look after you. Arios… will too.”
KeA cocked her head. There were difficult feelings there and no time to press on. She’d pieced most of it together anyway; it wasn’t hard. Their pasts caught up and so much changed. They would be okay again in time. She nodded and tried to make her certainty clear. For Uncle Sergei or for herself? Maybe both.
“And KeA will look after them! KeA won’t say good bye, but see you again soon!”
“Yeah. Get on with you,” Sergei said gruffly.
KeA clasped the little wolf close to her and turned quickly. Lloyd waited. She couldn’t delay this anymore for his sake, her own and Uncle Sergei’s. She ran. She ran from this wonderful place and knew she would come home again one day.
Sergei stared at the closed door for several seconds before heaving a long sigh. “Good luck kids.” It was time to go. With a last glance at the Special Support Section building he turned out the lights and left, closing the door behind him. Not good bye. See you again.