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The Last Goodbye In The Universe

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It’s the morning after the latch runner brings me Lanaya’s message, and there’s a tapping on my door. I’m thinking, what’s up now? The Bangers never knock, and I’m about to slam the door open in the face of whoever’s out there, when the person says “Chox!” and then I gasp and my eyes bug out, and the door opens, and in runs Little Face.

“Chox! Spaz, chox!” He cries. I look up, and there’s Lanaya with a little smile on her face.

“I made sure to teach him your name,” she says. “I figured he should know the name of the person that saved his life.”

“Ryter saved his life,” I go, “Not me. But Ryter’s—”

“Dead, I know.” Lanaya’s lip begins to quiver, and then she starts crying. I’m so shocked I’m standing there like a googan thinking, what’re you doing, you mope. Don’t just let her cry. Pat her on the back or something, but my feet won’t let me move, and then I lurch over and pat her shoulder. She looks at me and then kind of collapses into my arms. Little Face is looking at us like we’re two actors in an old 3D, which makes me realize I’m hugging a proov girl and she’s not telling me to back off. That scares me, so I back up on my own and watch as she collects herself.

“Sorry, Spaz.” she says. “I just can’t believe it. I knew he was old, but he seemed so strong and smart. I didn’t think anyone or anything could hurt him.”

“Yeah, but he didn’t run,” I tell her. “There was a mob when we came back from Eden. The probes got shut off, and they had to have someone to blame. Since we were with you, they came and wheeled the Ryter. I wanted them to wheel me, but Billy Bizmo made sure it was him. Oh, Lanaya,” I go, “I found out that Billy’s my father.”

“Oh,” she goes. “Oh Spaz, I’m so sorry. If I’d tried harder to let you stay in Eden, none of this would have happened. I know we shouldn’t despair, like I wrote to you, but it’s so horrible.” She gasps. “How’s Bean? Nothing’s wrong with her now, right?”

“No, she’s fine. She said she would visit me, but she hasn’t been able to yet. I think Charly will do whatever he can to stop her, but she’ll come anyway. That’s just how Bean is.” Lanaya gets this fierce look, and she says,

“Don’t worry. We’ll go visit her. Little Face has wanted to see you both since you had to leave, and today I bent to his will and came with him.”

Now I’m about to go and hug her, but I stop myself. It’s just I’m so filled with relief to have my friends back. So I get my carrybag and put my voicewriter in it. Then I find a choxbar and give it to Little Face. “All right, I’m ready to go,” I tell Lanaya, glad she’s here with me again. But then the smile melts off my face as I remember the last time we were together and Ryter was with us. I sigh and we go out and get in Lanaya’s takvee.

***

As soon as we’re in there Little Face falls asleep, so I have some time to talk with Lanaya.

“So, how’s Jin doing? And Bree? No one’s found out about Little Face, right?” I’ve got all these questions about Eden, but Lanaya is calm and she answers all of them. We’re sitting there, comfortable, and the takvee’s taking us to Bean’s latch. Then Lanaya turns and looks at me. She takes my hands, and I’m thinking they’re probably dirty, but she doesn’t seem to mind. She’s looking into my face, and I’m wondering if I’ve got snot up my nose or something, to make her stare at me like that. Then she tilts her head and says,

“You look older, Spaz. A lot older. And it’s only been a few months since you came to Eden!” She kind of laughs and then drops my hands quickly, like she’s embarrassed to be touching a normal. Or maybe it’s just me being embarrassed. Not by touching a proov, but by Lanaya. If Ryter was here he’d spout off some nonsense about true love or something, but it’s just me, and I’m thinking, God, she’s even more beautiful, and I’m still ugly, and I want her to hug me again because it felt good. Then I’m slapping myself and muttering,

“You mope—don’t go falling in love with some proov girl. It’ll never work out,” and then I realize she’s looking at me. I blush, thinking she’s heard what I said, but she has another reason.

“I heard you’re writing now. Someone told me you were the Ryter, and at first I thought I was wrong and he wasn’t dead, but then I saw you…” Her voice trails off and I’m looking down, thinking she didn’t come to see you, just forget it, but then she’s saying really quick, “Oh Spaz, I wanted to see you, but I didn’t want Ryter to be dead, so I was just wishing.” She smiled and touched my hand. “I’m glad to see you again.” It’s like she means it, and I look up, and there’s this sparkle in her eyes. I can’t figure it out, but then she leans forward and kisses me. It’s a quick kiss, but I feel like I’ve been run over by a jetbike and can’t move. When she backs up and touches her face, I notice she’s blushing, and it makes her look younger, and then I don’t know what I’m doing, but I kiss her again, and she puts her arms around me for a minute.