Actions

Work Header

The Librarians and the Return to the Loom of Fate

Chapter Text

The house in what was once known as Portland, Oregon was quiet and dark. It was empty of residents save for two children, living there on their own. The older of the two, a girl of fifteen years, walked around the living room, lit only by weak candlelight. The lamps on the ceiling had stopped working a year ago.

The space was once nothing like this. Often filled with music and games, always alive with family and bright smiles and colors, it was practically unrecognizable now. The furniture was all the same: the cream colored couch sitting against the back wall, the artwork that held stories from every different time-period and land, the television that, now unusable, sat collecting dust. But despite the familiar furnishings, the house was no longer the home it had once been.

The girl found herself looking at the room every night before she went to bed. She couldn’t help but think of the memories she had there, all torn away from her in one blink of her eye. If she thought about it enough, she could practically still hear the sound of her father singing and her mother laughing as he did so; she could still smell the chocolate chip cookies- fresh out of the oven- that her family had baked together; she could still feel the breeze that passed her face when her father lifted her up into the air.

As she carefully blew out each candle, she thought about how normal this life had become for her, and how strange it was for it to feel that way. The life she was living was one she’d only expected to experience through passages in her favorite books, and yet here she was, doing it every day.

Walking down the hallway, she poked her head into her little brother’s room, and once she was sure he was safe and asleep, she blew out the hall candle. She journeyed into her own room then, where one candle still burned on her nightstand. Continuing the routine that was second nature, she pulled back the covers and tied her messy red hair into a ponytail.

She looked over at the nightstand. Next to the candle was the one picture she herself kept on display, the picture that haunted her, but that she couldn’t bear to remove. In the darkness, her parents’ smiles almost seemed like they didn’t belong; so much happiness did not belong in such a dark place. Once upon a time it had been that the light of their smiles cancelled out any darkness.

The girl simply shook her head, reminding herself that grief and memories did nothing. She blew out the last candle, climbed under the covers and went to sleep. 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

19 years prior, on an alternate timeline...

“So tell me what we’re doing again?” Cassandra asked. She, Jake and Colonel Baird had just left the Library and were walking through a so-far unidentified forest. Baird had simply told Jake and Cassandra to come with her, that they had something quick to check up on.

“We’re seeing some unusual layline activity near the Loom of Fate.” Eve explained. “We just need to stop by and make sure everything is in order.”

“And why is it us going with you and not Flynn? You two usually take the smaller missions.”

“Because you have a very good sense of the Laylines, and if something is going on, I need someone besides me who can fight: hence Stone.”

“Wait a minute.” Jake interrupted. “The Loom of Fate? Isn’t that where you almost died?”

“It’ll be fine!” Eve exclaimed, brushing him off. “There’s a lot of magic by the Loom, so it’s not unheard of for the Laylines to act up!”

Jake and Cassandra flashed a look of uncertainty at each other, but said nothing. The job had to be done, no matter how dangerous: that was the life of a Librarian. Still, Baird didn’t have to act so nonchalant about the situation.

Two minutes later they arrived on a bridge by a shallow river. On a patch of grass in the middle of it all stood a giant structure, framing a series of colorful strings all woven together. The sight was mesmerizing, enough to drag you in in seconds.

“So that’s…” Jake began

“The Loom of Fate.” Eve confirmed. Her hand flew to her chest as she felt a blast of pain travel through her. She looked at her hand expecting to see blood, but it was completely normal. She took a deep breath, trying not to let her traumatic memories take control of her.

The Librarians and their Guardian waded through the shallow water to get closer to the Loom. Eve looked it over three times; there wasn’t any cut on the fabric; everything seemed to be fine. She reached into her pocket and pulled out her walkie-talkie.

“Flynn?” she said. “You there?”

“Right here.” he replied, almost immediately. “What’s going on?”

“We’re at the loom. Just looking at it, everything seems to be fine.”

She continued to walk around the loom as she spoke, double checking for any cracks or tears. No matter how many times she looked, everything still seemed to be normal.

“Well that’s good” he said. “But it’s not everything. We need a status update on the laylines.”

“Working on it!” Cassandra shouted from a few feet away. She paced the river to get her bearings, and concentrated on the area surrounding the loom. “What should be the frequency of the laylines?”

It was Ezekiel’s voice who came through next. He was in-charge of keeping track of all the notes they had on the loom.

“Uh…about 510 Hz.” he answered.

Cassandra walked around the area and sensed the laylines and the way light was reflecting off of everything. She studied angles and intensities, and read the energy in the air. Then, her brain was off to work, quickly solving equations for frequency.

“Everything seems to be normal so far.”

“Well maybe we really had nothing to worry about.” Jake said.

No sooner had the words come out of his mouth than Cassandra froze where she stood, staring at the loom. Her face scrunched up in confusion before her eyes widened in shock, and her hand started flailing around to the side of her, what she always did when something was wrong.

“Cassandra?” Eve questioned, both of the others noticing her change immediately.

“I’m getting an unusual reading!” she explained. “There’s something throwing off the equilibrium. This layline…it’s at a frequency of…” Her voice trailed off to whispers, and Jake could just barely hear her speaking the numbers she was working with. “922.”

“Almost double what it’s supposed to be.” Flynn noted.

In the annex, Jenkins head shot up from the files he’d been looking at, something clearly catching his attention.

“Did she say 922 Hz?” he asked.

“Yeah.” Ezekiel said. The thief looked concerned, a feat not often seen in the annex.

Back at the loom, Cassandra stumbled. Jake ran and reached her just in time for her to land right in his arms as she fell. She hadn’t completely mastered her new gift, but a collapse like this hadn’t happened in months. Something was definitely wrong.

“What’s goin’ on Cassie?” Jake asked.

“I don’t know…I just know it’s all very wrong.”

“Miss Cillian” Jenkins asked, grabbing the walkie-talkie from Flynn’s hands. Eve’s handed hers to Cassandra.

“This altered frequency: did you get to note where exactly it was coming from?”

“No.” Cassandra answered. “But I know it was all coming from one spot. I don’t know where the spot was, but it was specific. That’s all I could tell before I got too overwhelmed.”

The horrified look that crossed Jenkins’ face was not comforting to the others around him. Flynn, especially, was growing more frantic by the second. He pushed himself into Jenkins’ side, trying to reach the walkie-talkie

“Jenkins,” he stammered “What’s going on? Eve, Eve!”

“Miss Cillian listen to me,” the caretaker urged. “You all need to get out of there right now!”

“What?” she shouted.

“Am I the only one who hears that?!” Eve yelled.

“The loud ‘whooshing?’” Jake yelled back.

“Yes and…footsteps?!” 

“Miss Cillian, Mr. Stone, Colonel Baird!” Jenkins’ voice grew louder and louder. “Retreat immediately! Get onto the bridge and into the forest right now! You are facing a very dangerous spell!”

“Mr. Jenkins I can’t hear you!” Cassandra yelled, but all in the annex could hear that her voice was breaking up.

“Miss. Cillian!”

“Mr. Jenkins?”

The sound of dead silence that met them on the other end of the walkie-talkie was the most telling sound of the entire conversation.

“Miss. Cillian? Miss Cillian!” Jenkins continued to shout. Still he was met with nothing.

Flynn was silent, staring at his hand where he had held the walkie talkie, the last thing he had used to talk to Eve.

“Jenkins?” Ezekiel asked. “What just happened?”

“The Serpent Brotherhood is messing with the Loom again.” the caretaker panted. “And this time it’s very very bad.”

Chapter Text

Cassandra never knew what happened. One moment she was standing in a lake. The next, she was falling facedown into the grass of an empty forest.

She could still sense the magic she had been trying to read previously, but it wasn’t the same. Something was very different here, very off. For a moment she thought her head was going to split open. She forced herself to sitting and saw Jake and Eve near her.

“What happened?” she called.

“We don’t know,” Eve replied. “But let’s just stick togeth…HOLY SHIT!”

The whooshing sound they’d heard at the loom had returned. Cassandra looked up at the sky and saw a giant winged creature flying right over their heads. She screeched and ducked.

Next came a lighter whooshing sound, then the end of the first one, and then a loud THUD.

“What’s the matter?” a voice said. “You guys never seen a Griffin before?”

Cassandra sat up and waited for her vision to clear. As the blur subsided, a figure came into her field of vision, standing in front of all of them. She was tall and skinny, fairly muscular. Her red hair was pulled back into a braid, and a quiver of arrows was slung over her back.

No one really said anything, and the girl continued to stare at them.

“You never seen a stranger before either?” she continued.

“Sorry.” Eve said. “We’re not exactly from around here. What was that exactly?”

“Well I don’t know how you’d not know what a Griffin was. They’re all over the place, but a griffin is…”

“It’s a mythological creature.” Stone said, cutting her off. “Mostly found in ancient Greece, also sometimes in Persia, Egypt. It’s half Lion half eagle.”

“Well Cowboy over here seems to know his way.” the girl said. “Now do you all have homes to get into? It’s not safe to be out here alone. The Serpent Brotherhood soldiers will be around soon.”

“I’m sorry,” Cassandra interrupted. “The Serpent Brotherhood?”

The girl rolled her eyes, while Librarians and Guardian exchanged nervous glances. It was already obvious they had landed somewhere bad, but if the Serpent Brotherhood was involved here, that could only mean that things were even worse.

“Look,” the girl said reluctantly. “Why don’t you just come with me? I live with some people in this sort of headquarters. We help out refugees every so often. It’s a few miles from here.”

The girl looked young, but she was acting way more mature than she seemed. Cassandra wasn’t sure what to make of it. Either way, since joining the Library, she’d prided herself on her ability to make new friends. Her connections to people of all ages had gotten them out of many bad situations. Attempting something like that here, she brushed her skirt off, stood up, and approached the girl.

“Well thank you that would help so much.” she said. She forced a smile onto her face, trying to hide the fact that inside she was shaking. “I’m Cassandra, and these are my friends Jacob and Eve.”

She immediately noticed how the girls face grew ashen. She froze. If only for a moment, her entire demeanor changed, and Cassandra could definitely tell that she was dealing with a young girl. The fear of a child shone through clear as day. In a matter of seconds though, she’d returned to her old self.

“I’m Summer.” she said. “Follow me.”

“Summer wait!” a voice called. A younger boy came running out from behind a tree.

“Michael!” Summer exclaimed. “I told you to wait back at home!”

“I always wait back home.”

“Because you’re safe there!”

“But I can help!” the boy insisted. “And I never get to see you anymore.”

“You saw me last night.” Summer argued

“Yeah while you were researching, and you didn’t let me help with that either.”

“I’m sorry,” Eve interrupted “who’s this?”

Summer sighed.

“This is my little brother Michael. He wasn’t supposed to follow me but apparently, he can’t follow a rule and Maggie can’t help me with even the simplest favor.”

“Maggie?” Cassandra asked.

“Our cousin. Now come on we really have to get out of here.”


 

            They’d been walking for a few minutes, the Librarians and their guardian staying feet behind Summer and Michael. Up until now, no one had said a word. They weren’t really sure what to say. Eve shuffled over to Jake and Cassandra, who’d been walking together.

“Ok, so something is clearly very wrong here.” she said.

“No kidding.” Jake replied. “There was a griffin in the air, the world is a forest, and did that girl say something about the Serpent Brotherhood?”

“Cassandra,” Eve asked. “You were reading the lay lines when we got here. Do you have any idea what happened?”

“Your guess is as good as mine.” Cassandra sighed. “All I know is that there was a specific spot coming from the loom where the frequency was all wrong.”

“Maybe once we get wherever we’re going we can sneak out and try to find the Library. I’m sure wherever we are, Jenkins is there and he can help us.”

“Hey you three,” Summer called. “We’re here.”

The Librarians looked up and their jaws dropped.

“No way.” Cassandra gasped.

“Holy shit.” Eve proclaimed.

“What the hell?” Jake added.

“Welcome to the Library.” Summer said. “Come on. We have to get inside.”

The Librarians walked in shocked silence as they followed Summer and Michael through the Annex entrance. Everything was there, the place they saw every day: this was it. But things were not entirely the same. Cobwebs hung from the ceiling. The brick was broken down and ash covered the floor in certain spots.

When they entered the main annex it was dark, lit only by the sun outside and candles that they had set up on the center table. The room was a mess. Books with broken spines lay everywhere. There were some shelves lying down on the floor. Most of the papers were burnt on the edges. The backdoor looked as if it hadn’t been used in ages.

“Um Summer,” Cassandra began, jogging up to meet the girl. “How exactly did you guys get here?”

“What do you mean?” Summer asked, not turning to make eye contact. Cassandra followed her around the table as she rearranged things, and Eve and Jake soon joined in.

“Well I mean…” she turned to Eve and Jake for help.

“This is quite an unusual place you got here,” Eve said. “And we’re just wondering how you came about it.”

“You guys really aren’t from around here are you?” Summer asked. “I thought once magic came back everyone knew what the Library was.”

“Magic’s back?” Eve exclaimed, not thinking.

Summer looked at her like she had two heads.

Cassandra, Jake and Eve exchanged nervous glances. With each minute this world just seemed to become more and more wrong, so unlike their own, and with each difference, it just felt like they were further and further from home.

“Well of course we know what the Library is,” Cassandra chuckled, trying to play off of the information they had, and saving them from Eve’s last remark. “We just don’t know how you came about living here. From what we heard The Librarians were all adults.”

“I’m not a Librarian,” Summer explained. “I just grew up here.”

“Our parents worked here.” Michael said, joining in on the conversation.

“Michael!” Summer scolded.

“What? I was getting tired of the back and forth and you were being too vague.”

“I’m sorry,” Eve stammered. “Your parents?”

“Yeah.” Michael said.

“Do you think maybe we could speak to them?” Cassandra asked.

“Um…” Michael’s voice had grown suddenly more serious. Summer had stopped walking for the first time since they arrived. She stared at the floor.

“They died three years ago.” she explained. There was a moment of silence. Cassandra stood back, mortified now at what she’d said. It didn’t take long for Summer to move on and continue her work.

“Do me a favor and don’t pull the whole pity act.” she said. “My cousin Maggie will be here in a few minutes to help you look into a more permanent place to stay.”

She walked away and motioned Michael to follow her. The Librarians and their Guardian gathered together in a huddle and spoke at a whisper, trying to make sure no-one heard them trying to figure out their situation. Summer already didn’t seem to take kindly to strangers. The last thing they needed was for her to think they were crazy.

“So Librarians, what do we know?” Eve asked.

“A run-down library, kids running the place, Griffins flying around, and the Serpent Brotherhood apparently a problem again.” Jake said, listing off what they already knew.

“Could we have time travelled?” Cassandra suggested

“Well we didn’t go backwards. The clothes still look like we never left home.”

“Well maybe we went forwards then.”

“But the question is,” Eve added. “If this is the future, what happened in our time to cause this?”

“That is if we actually time travelled.” Jake reminded them.

Before their conversation could continue, a crashing sound came from behind them. They turned to see a girl standing there dumbfounded with an empty basket by her feet with books strewn all around. She had sandy blonde hair that was messy and falling down to her shoulders, and deep brown eyes that were framed with square glasses.

“Sorry,” she stammered. “For a second you-uh…you looked like someone I knew.” She crouched down and started to pick up the books she’d dropped.

“Here let me help you.” Cassandra said.

She walked over to join the girl, who giggled nervously, then kept her gaze pointed at the floor. Eve watched them carefully. The kids here were acting very strangely, and it wasn’t just the circumstances of the world around them. After a minute everything was back in order, and the girl walked over to join them.

“Hi,” she said, dusting herself off and holding her hand out. “I’m Maggie.”

Eve noted when she shook her hand that Maggie didn’t meet her eye. Something was definitely going on here, but she had no idea what. Flynn was the one who as good at figuring out these sorts of things and he was back…wherever he was. For now at least they were on their own, and it looked like they had a lot to figure out.


 

            “Summer!” Michael called, trailing after his sister. She was walking quickly through the back hallways of the annex and wasn’t making it easy to keep up.

“Summer.” he repeated. “Summer I know I’m not the only one who noticed.”

“Noticed what Michael?” she snapped.

“Oh come on, don’t play that card. I saw it in your eyes as soon as you saved them from the Griffin.”

This finally got Summer to stop walking and turn around to face him. There was a moment of silence as the brother and sister looked each-other in the eye. Michael breathed heavily, angry at Summer’s unwillingness to talk to him, to face the truth.

“We have to tell them.” he said.

“We don’t even know that it’s actually them Michael!” Summer exclaimed.

“Seriously: Jake, Cassandra and Eve? Give me a break.”

“How is it possible that they’d be here Michael?”

“I don’t know. How is anything in our life possible?”

“We’re helping them find more permanent shelter and moving on, just like with all the other refugees we find. End of story.”

Michael stared at her. His fists were clenched at his sides and tears welled up in his eyes. Without another word, he turned and ran out of the room.


 

            “So the showers are this way.” Maggie said, leading the group though the annex. “There’s not running water, but there’s a pump and a bucket. You can wash up if you want and in a bit my Grandpa can whip up some dinner.”

“Maggie,” Eve started.

“Well he’s not really my Grandpa. But we always called him that growing up. It’s just how we saw him I guess.”

“Maggie,”

“But regardless it’ll be some really good food, even with the limited resources we have. You’ll forget you’re eating Griffin you’ll think it’s shrimp scampi!”

“Maggie, we need to talk.”

Maggie’s cheery demeanor disappeared. She turned to face them, avoiding eye contact once again. She wrung her hands together by her waist.

“Listen,” Eve explained. “We’re not from here: this world, this timeline whatever it is.”

“Yeah,” Maggie replied. “I figured as much.”

“But where we are from,” Cassandra added. “You see…the thing is…we’re Librarians.”

“Yeah I know.”

“You know?” Eve exclaimed. “How?”

Maggie kept her gaze at the floor for another moment, then finally looked up at them for the first time. When she did her eyes were filled with tears, and her lips were clenched tightly.

“Margaret Carsen.” she muttered. “Nice to meet you.”

Chapter Text

Eve stepped back in shock. This kid did not just say what she thought she’d said: Margaret Carsen? This couldn’t possibly mean what she thought it meant; could it? Now that she looked closer she noticed how much the kid’s face resembled her own. Her eyes were the exact same shade as Flynn’s. But she looked like a fully grown adult. How on earth could it be possible?

“Wait a minute,” she said, thinking aloud. “Margaret. That was Flynn’s mother’s name.”

“Well yes,” Maggie said “But no. I’m not Margie. It is who I was named after though.”

Eve stumbled back and clutched her head. Stone ran to catch her, and unlike she normally would, she didn’t push him away. She felt woozy. This kid was her daughter. Since when did she have a daughter, and with Flynn? They weren’t even engaged. She hadn’t even given a thought to having his children. And if this was in the future, that begged the question of why the hell the world looked like this, and where she was in it.

“Alright, I know this is freaky,” Maggie said, trying to help. “But I mean, look at it this way. It’s not like you’re actually my mom. There’s an alternate version of you who is, or a future version, I’m not exactly sure what’s going on yet. But it’s not you persay.”

Eve had stood up now and was pacing the room. Why was it that she always ended up caught in crazy situations when she hopped through alternate realities? Kissing Stone, putting on a disgusting man’s clothes, and now a kid? For the first time she was glad that Flynn wasn’t here. He’d be freaking out more than she was.

“A kid,” she ranted, thinking out loud. “How can I have a kid? I’m 43 years old! I thought I was past that. I’m not even engaged yet and I have a kid apparently!”

“Um…I don’t mean to freak you out anymore,” Maggie interjected. “But there’s probably something else you should know.”

Eve turned around, wondering what else this girl could possibly drop on her, when another boy entered the room.

 “Maggie what the hell is going on?” he asked, before looking at who else was in the room with them and freezing up.

Eve was pretty still herself. The kid looked eerily like Flynn, and seemed to be around Maggie’s age. Aside from being unable to move, she felt suddenly nauseous. She had a feeling she knew what the answer to her question was going to be, but she felt the need to ask it anyway. For some reason though, her mouth refused to move. Cassandra must’ve sensed that, because she spoke next.

“Maggie…who’s this?”

“My twin brother: Will.”

“Twins?!” Eve exclaimed. Of all the scenarios she’d imagined in the last seconds, that was definitely not one of them. How did she ever get pregnant with twins?

“I need some air.” she continued. She started to storm off down the hallway.

 “I’ll take you.” Jake offered.

“No,” Eve insisted. “I  think I need to be alone right now.”

“Wait a minute,” Cassandra asked once Eve was gone. “If you two are Eve and Flynn’s kids, then who were Summer and Michael talking about when they said their parents used to work here?”

Maggie and Will looked at each other and frowned.

“I think that’s for them to tell you themselves.” she said.

Jake didn’t flinch, but Cassandra suddenly thought about the color of Summer’s hair. It was the exact same shade as her own. And her eyes were the same shade of blue. And suddenly the pieces seemed to click into place: why she’d felt so oddly drawn to the girl: she looked exactly like she did as a teenager.


 

            “Jenkins where are they?” Flynn asked. Back in their timeline, the Librarians had just disappeared from the other end of the walkie talkie.

“I don’t know.” the caretaker replied.

“What do you mean you don’t know? You were able to tell us that it was really bad.”

“Yes I know what spell took them but I don’t know where they are.”

“Oh sure because that makes sense.” Ezekiel snapped.

“Look,” Jenkins said. “I know the situation is very stressful right now, but I would appreciate it if you two would not be so rash with me.”

“Jenkins,” Flynn said, more tenderly this time. “What happened to them?”

“I can’t be exactly sure.” the caretaker sighed. “What I can tell you of the spell right now is that it’s pulled them to the alternate reality. And it will do everything in its power to make them want to stay there.”

“So like when Prospero sent us to Cicely?” Ezekiel suggested.

“Not quite. That one created an ideal life. This one will play with their actual realities. It’s still your world, just on an altered timeline. It won’t be an ideal world, in fact, it’ll likely be far from ideal, but it will be one that will give them attachments. We need to get them out of there as soon as possible, because they cannot come back unless they choose to.”


 

            “Summer,” Cassandra called, speed-walking into annex hallways. “Where are you?”

“Cassie slow down,” Jake panted, trailing behind her. “You’re acting crazy.”

“Crazy?!” she yelled, turning sharply around. “Oh I’m sorry Jacob, how would you like to me to react to finding out I have a kid?!”

“You don’t know she’s yours.”

“Who else worked in this library who has red hair and blue eyes?”

“Well if you’re gonna look at it that way…”

“What?!” Cassandra snapped.

“Well I was just gonna say that if you’re sure Summer is your kid, then technically you have two kids.”

Cassandra let out an exasperated cry and plopped onto a chair, placing her head in her hands. Jake felt awful immediately, and went to place a comforting hand on her back.

“Hey look it’s gonna be okay.” he said. “We don’t even know where we are yet. It’s not like we’re in our own world and you find out you’re a mother.”

“But what if it means that I will be eventually?” she muttered.

“And what would be wrong with that?” Cassandra looked up at him with a now tear-stained face.

“I can’t have a baby Jake. I don’t even like babies! And I can’t be a mother. Look at me, look at my life. I wouldn’t have a single idea what to do. No wonder Summer seems so miserable.”

“Hey now,” Jake argued. “You would be an excellent mom.”

He wanted so desperately to comfort her and to stop her from crying, but he simply couldn’t find the words. What did you say to someone in a situation like this? The closest he’d come was when…at that thought, it occurred to him.

“You know Cassie,” he said, continuing to rub her back. “My sister was 16 when she got pregnant, and as it often happened, the Daddy didn’t want a thing to do with her anymore. And they’d been goin’ steady for two years. And she was terrified just like you are now, and she was pregnant. She came crying to me, because no one else would listen, because she didn’t think she could be a mom. And do you know what?”

“What?” Cassandra sniffed, a small smile starting to cross her face.

“Well I’d say that my niece is the most gosh darn beautiful thing you’d ever lay your eyes on. And they’re real happy, her and my sister. And she’s seven now, and I don’t think there’s a happier family in my little town.”

Cassandra wiped her eyes and nose as she smiled at Jake. He always knew exactly what to say. And he was right. It wasn’t like she actually had a kid to raise now. Not yet at least.

“So I guess you figured it out then huh?” a voice asked. Cassandra looked up to see Summer with her hand on her hip.

“Maggie didn’t tell me directly,” Cassandra said. “But I put the pieces together.”

“Well now you know.” Summer snapped. “So let’s just figure out what the hell is going on so we can get you of here.” She started to storm away again.

“Summer wait!” Cassandra called.

“What?!” she yelled.

“Don’t you wanna talk to me?”

As quickly as Cassie had thought she could never be a mother, she that quickly felt motherly. She wanted to talk to Summer. She wanted to know everything about her and her life. She just wanted to be with her, and for all intents and purposes they were complete strangers.

“You’re not my mother. You don’t know anything about me.”

“Well maybe you could tell me some things.”

“Like what?”

“Well for starters.” Cassandra stuttered. “What your last name is. What our last name is.”

She couldn’t help but ask it. If she had kids, certainly those kids had a father, whether she was romantically involved with him or not. But Summer and Michael had mentioned their parents: plural. If she was going to have children, she had to wonder: who was it with?

Summer looked at her, and Jake oddly, and rolled her eyes. She hesitated before looking Cassandra in the eyes coldly and with three words, completely knocking the wind out of her.

“I’m Summer Stone.”

Chapter Text

“Jake!” Cassandra called down the hallway, chasing the cowboy who had disappeared into the shelves not long after hearing the news. “Jake! Come on Jacob don’t do this.” She was growing more and more frustrated by the second.

“Can’t we just talk about this? Please? Jacob!!!”

She stomped her foot with a huff as she realized that he was nowhere to be found now, and was probably out of ear-shot. She slumped down on the bench that was behind her and put her head in her hands. This was all too much. It was just supposed to be a routine case. She had plans for a movie-marathon and wine with Baird tonight. She was going to sleep all weekend. Then all of a sudden she’d been tossed into an alternate universe, or something like that. They hadn’t even figured that much out. She was in an alternate universe, and the world was a mess, and she was dead apparently, and she had kids.

She had kids with Jacob Stone. If she had kids with Jake, that meant she married Jake, and that meant that she dated Jake. Not that that was a bad thing, but it was so much to process. And if this was an alternate reality, that begged the question of what led them together. Clearly the circumstances were different because here, in her version of reality, he clearly didn’t feel that way about her. They’d just found out that they had children together in this world, and he wouldn’t even talk to her. Clearly, no matter how much she thought they’d grown, their past issues were still too much of an obstacle for him.

And then there was Summer and Michael. She didn’t know what to do. She wanted to be freaked out by the concept, and she was, she wanted to be disturbed, but god they were just so beautiful. She couldn’t be unhappy at the prospect of having them, no matter how hard she tried, and they weren’t even technically hers. She wanted to share that feeling with someone. Or at the very least, she wanted a hand to hold. The person who should’ve been that hand, the one person who might be able to understand her current state of mind, ran away. She was alone.


 

            Eve was right outside the Library, leaning over a fence and looking out into the distance. The area around the Annex was nothing like what she knew. There was less of a road than there already was to begin with. The whole atmosphere in general just seemed dark and gloomy. It was like she had stepped into the end of the world, and she’d seen ends to the world before; none of them looked this bad.

Working at the Library had trained her to deal with lots of weird situations; she didn’t even flinch anymore. But this was one turn she couldn’t wrap her mind around. She had no idea where they were, or what had happened and thus had no idea how to fix it. She was the guardian. She was supposed to protect them. She was supposed to fix this.

She heard footsteps behind her. She’d studied her Librarians enough now to know exactly who was who, even with the slightest of signals.

“Go away Stone.” she said, not even turning to look at him. “I told you: I want to be alone.”

“Yeah well maybe I needed the fresh air too.” he replied, coming into view and taking a place next to her.

Eve looked at him in shock, but didn’t say a thing. They stood there in silence for a while, staring out at the cloudy sky. It was Jake who was the first to speak, and it was more like thinking out loud.

“How is it that they can be so damn perfect?” he said. “I don’t even know ‘em. I met ‘em five minutes ago, we’ve barely spoken two words to each other, and I just think they’re perfect. And they’re not even really mine. But I feel like they are.”

“Wait….” Eve started confused, but Stone was too caught up in his own head to let her finish.

“It’s incredible the first things that come across your mind.” he continued. “You hear other people talkin’ about it, but, you never really get the opportunity to think it for yourself you know? I mean, I’ve said before that kids look like their mother or their father, but man when I looked at Summer, I thought it and I meant it more than I ever have. She’s the spitting image of her Mom.”

“I’m sorry,” Eve interjected. “Summer is your kid?”

“Apparently. And Michael.”

“And you know who their mother is? I mean, it was one thing for me with Flynn, but…”

“You notice the red hair on Summer?”

Eve’s hand moved to cover her dropping jaw. Stone nodded. That was the embodiment of what he’d been feeling for the past ten minutes. Kids with Cassandra: that was a thought that seemed so….he didn’t really have the word for it.

“How’s Cassandra doing with all of this?” Eve asked.

“I don’t know” Jake admitted with a sigh. “She was real freaked out when she realized they were hers but I calmed her down. After I found out I was the father I sort of ran off.”

“Stone you have to talk to her. She’s probably feeling the same way you are.”

“I know. I screwed up. But I just needed some fresh air before we talked.”

“Why?”

“Well Baird,” he snapped. “Unlike your situation, if Cassie and I have kids together there’s a whole separate conversation that needs to be had.”

“You called her Cassie.” Baird said.

“What?”

“I’ve just never noticed until now, when you weren’t addressing her. You call her Cassie. None of the rest of us do.”

“What are trying to say Baird?”

“Nothing. Just that…maybe talking to Cassandra won’t be as hard as you think.”

Baird smirked at a now very confused Jake and walked out of the room. He stood there in silence for a moment, trying to figure out what the hell just happened. He was pretty sure he knew what Baird was saying, and it didn’t make him feel any better. Baird thought him having feelings for Cassandra would make it easier, but she didn’t know anything. He knew he was in love with Cassandra, had been for a while, but he’d pushed those feelings aside. She didn’t feel the same way about him and it wasn’t fair to either of them to chase something that she wouldn’t want.

To have all of this thrown in this lap was more than he could handle. Hearing that he had kids with her made him think about it too much.  How was he supposed to push feelings aside when they’d been shoved into a universe where they had children together? He’d run away from her because he was afraid if he talked to her he might screw up and say or do something right there. 

“Jacob?” A soft and scared voice filled the silence, coming from right behind her. He didn’t look up at her, nor did he respond, but he didn’t run off either.

He barely heard her footsteps as she came over to join him, but then there she was, leaning over the fence, right where Baird had been before. She wasn’t looking at him yet either, which was not normal for them, and her hands were folded tightly.

“There’s a bench over there,” she eventually said. “If you want to sit down.”

“Yeah.” Jake said, the first words he’d spoken to her since they found out.

They walked silently next to each other before sitting down. Then came another minute or so of silence, of staring at their laps and staying as far away from each other as possible. Eventually, Jake looked over at Cassandra and saw her tight fixed look, and the hastened rise and fall of her chest. He could see in her everything that he’d been feeling. And so without another thought, he scooted close to her and put his arm around her. She shrugged slightly before laying her head on his shoulder. He tilted his own head too so it was resting gently on top of hers as he rubbed his hand up and down her arm.

Neither one of them knew how long they sat like that in the silence, simply being together without words. That seemed to be how their relationship had always gone up until now: not many words, but a complete understanding of one another.

“Jacob?” Cassandra eventually said.

“Yeah Cassie?”

She sniffed and sat up, so that she’d be able to face him.

“How do we deal with this?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” Jake admitted. “But we get to figure it out together okay? We’re here for each other right? We always are.” 

“Always have been.” she smiled.

Things were comfortable again then, changing back to normal as quickly as they had fallen apart. But that always seemed to be their way.

“So,” Cassandra said. “Summer huh? Whose idea do you think that one was?”

“I think it’s a beautiful name!” Jake insisted.

“So it was your idea then?” Cassandra teased. Jake put on an exaggerated look of offense, sending both of them into a fit of laughter.

“I’m kidding,” Cassandra said. “I think it’s beautiful too.”

“Well then we have a success!” Jake exclaimed.

They continued laughing, until eventually, Cassandra found herself looking directly at Jake. Jake, who was always there to catch her when she fell. Jake, who could make her smile after even the roughest of cases. Jake, who always made her feel special just from the way he treated her.

They were locked in on each other’s eyes. And they were smiling, softer than they had a minute ago, but genuinely none the less. And without words, it was once again like there was some shared understanding, but with more significance than ever before. And then Baird’s voice broke the silence, causing them to jump apart from each other on the bench.

“Hey Stone,” she began, stopping when she saw Cassandra there too. “Oh, sorry. They um…they made dinner. I was supposed to find you.”

“Thanks.” Jake stuttered. “We’ll uh…be right down.”

Baird nodded at them and then walked away. Cassandra chuckled nervously and pushed her hair behind her ear. Whatever moment they’d been about to have, it was gone. But to Jake’s surprise, it hadn’t been awkward or nerve-wracking. She’d seemed in tune with him. Maybe the situation wasn’t as impossible as he’d thought.

“Alright let’s go find out what the hell is going on.” Jake said. “But talk later yes?”

“Definitely.” Cassandra agreed.

Chapter Text

Everyone sat around the conference table at the annex, quietly eating the dinner that Jenkins had prepared. The old caretaker was there as well. When Eve, Stone and Cassandra had walked into the room, he’d simply stared at them, and opened his mouth as if to say something, but then chose silence. No one had said a word.

“This is really lovely Mr. Jenkins.” Cassandra tried. “Delicious!”

“Thank you Mrs. St- Miss Cillian.” he said quietly, then immediately returned to his plate.

“Alright,” Eve eventually said, practically slamming her fork down. “I don’t want to bring this up, but clearly no one else is going to.”

Cassandra and Jake eyed her nervously, terrified of the subject they knew she was approaching. Eve hesitated before continuing.

“We kind of came in blind here and…..well it’s just we have no idea what we’re dealing with.”

Cassandra and Jake had broken their hard stares at their dinner plates, and were now looking up at the kids in suspense. Maggie and Will stared at them all dumbfounded, but Summer rolled her eyes.

“Oh my god” she exclaimed. “Who the hell do you think you are?”

“Summer!” Maggie scolded.

“They want to know what how our parents died.” she explained, before standing up and grabbing her plate.

“We don’t owe these people anything.” she snapped, making eye contact with Jenkins and all the kids, before storming out of the room.

Michael gave Jake and Cassandra an apologetic look before grabbing his own plate and following his sister out of the room.

“Im sorry.” Eve expressed.

“No don’t be!” Maggie said. “This kind of thing happens a lot. And you’re right. It would probably help if you knew.”

She looked down at her plate for a while and twirled her fork around her plate. William placed a comforting hand on her thigh. She took a deep breath and looked up before beginning the story. Her eyes never even came close to Eve.

“It was about three years ago” she said. “There was a case one morning. Nothing too major, but my parents felt it would be best handled if the whole team was there. Will and I were almost 16 and so we were able to babysit.”

Maggie still remembered the morning like it was yesterday. It was the longest she and Will had ever babysat, and she had been so excited. They had a whole plan to play boardgames, and charades, and cards, and at dinner they were going to order pizza and watch Jeopardy and then bake cookies so that when their parents got home they could all watch a movie together. Summer was bouncing off the walls with joy. It was supposed to be a perfect day.

“We won’t be too late.” he dad said, gathering up his adventure bag.

“We’ll see you tonight. Call Jenkins if you need anything.” Her mother kissed her and Will on the head before joining her father by the door. Her Aunt Cassandra and Uncle Jake finished hugging Summer and Michael and they all waved a quick goodbye before heading out the door.

“My dad’s never told me all the details. I don’t think he wants me to know. But something went wrong. There was an explosion in the building where they working.”

The Librarians stared on in shock as they heard the story unfold, and watched Maggie’s eyes fill with tears. Her voice cracked slightly and she stared down at her dinner again. The memory filled her mind of the moment when her life changed, the door of their house bursting open to bring in her dad, her mom barely standing and hanging on his shoulder.

“Dad what happened?” she cried.

“You know how to rig up the backdoor. You need to take Summer and Michael to the Annex. Jenkins is waiting there.”

He’d grabbed an emergency bag that he kept in his bedroom, and was already on his way back out the door.

“Daddy what’s going on? What happened to Mom?”

“Where’s my Mom and Dad?!” Summer cried out.

“Just go to the Annex!” Flynn yelled.

“It was really late when my dad came back and my mom was unconscious.” Maggie was in tears now, barely making it through each sentence. “Mikey was asleep on my lap. Summer was dozing off, and I’d been starting to get worried. Will was calming me down. And then my Dad came back and he told us to go to the Annex with Jenkins and we did, and he wouldn’t tell us anything. And then the next morning my Dad came back alone and he took Summer and Michael into the other room and…”

In that moment Maggie knew for sure that something was wrong. Her Dad, always hyper and skipping from one subject to the other, was soft and sullen. He took Summer and Michael gingerly by the shoulders and led them to another room. She still didn’t know where he’d been with her mother last night, or what had happened. No one was telling her anything, but she’d started to put together the pieces, even before she heard Summer’s heart-shattering scream ringing through the Library.

“And then he came back into the Annex and he told us that our Uncle Jake and Aunt Cassandra and Uncle Ezekiel were all killed in an explosion while they were fighting the Serpent Brotherhood, and that our Mom….”

For the first time since she’d started, Maggie met Eve’s eyes. Eve was taken aback. She’d studied human mannerisms in every way you possibly could, and she recognized the panic in Maggie’s eyes immediately. Suddenly, she shook her head and scooted away from the table.

“I’m sorry.” she stuttered. “I…I can’t.”

With that, she got up and quickly ran out of the room. Eve could hear her crying.

“I should…” William said, simply pointing in the direction his sister had run. He began to follow her when Jenkins stopped him.

“Mr.Carsen,” he called. “Would you please bring your father’s plate to his office? I think tonight is one night that we should not be encouraging him to join us.”

“Yeah of course.” Will said. He grabbed the ninth plate that had been sitting on the table and went after Maggie.

There was silence again for a minute. Not even the sound of forks against plates was in the room; no one was eating.

“Jenkins,” Eve eventually asked. “What happened?”

The old caretaker sighed and hesitated a moment before he looked up at them. Physically, he hadn’t aged a day. Eve wouldn’t have expected him to: he hadn’t in centuries. But Eve could see what the past three years had done all in his eyes and his expression. He’d lost a part of himself. She knew he’d seen unimaginable tragedy before, and he’d always survived, so to see him affected like this begged the question of how bad things really were.

“Colonel Carsen didn’t die in the explosion like the others.” As he finished the sentence, Jenkins looked over at Jake and Cassandra, then quickly away again.

“However, she was severely injured. As I understand it, she was desperate to rescue the other Librarians, and Mr. Carsen barely succeeded in getting her out.”

He stopped again, and Eve could barely process what he was saying. It wasn’t the idea of her dying; she’d known for hours now that she was dead here. Hell, she’d come close to death in her own universe more times than she could count. But to hear about losing all of her Librarians on a mission, of failing that badly, of fighting so hard that Flynn had to drag her away, and still losing…she didn’t know how she’d go on from that.

“She was hospitalized that night that Miss. Carsen was speaking of.” Jenkins continued. “She was there for a few weeks, but then she was home and it seemed she was going to be fine. But a month or so later they realized she was sick. Her lungs didn’t survive all of the smoke inhalation. She passed away about a year after that.”

“What about Flynn?” Eve asked immediately, unable to think of anyone else in the moment. “You told William to bring him food before. He’s okay?”

Jenkins sighed and gave her a concerned look.

“He survived, is alive.” he said quietly. “However, I have not encountered the Flynn Carsen that I knew since the day his wife died.”

Chapter Text

Back in the main universe, Flynn was rushing frantically around the Annex. Ten books were already open on the table that he had flipped through, and he was still searching for more.

“Mr. Carsen!” Jenkins scolded. “Please I need you to slow down.”

“I can’t stop Jenkins! I need to get them back.” he said. “You said we need to get them out of there. I’m trying to figure out how to do that.”

He rushed off into the bookshelves again and Jenkins sighed. He shot Ezekiel a look, as if to ask him to do something. The thief just shrugged, knowing there was no way to stop Flynn when he got like this, at least not any way that he could handle. Baird was usually the one who had to take care of it.

“Mr. Carsen!” Jenkins called again, to no response. “Mr. Carsen…..Mr. Carsen there’s nothing we can do to bring them back!”

This last part, delivered at a shout, finally got Flynn to stop in his tracks. He walked slowly back over to the conference table, a look of both confusion and anger on his face.

What?” he asked.

Jenkins sighed and looked at Flynn and Jones, both staring at him with hurt looks, waiting for an explanation. He hadn’t told them this particular piece of information for fear of upsetting them, but he couldn’t withhold the information for any longer.

“There is nothing we can do to bring them back here.” he said quietly. “It is entirely up to them.”

“What do you mean?” Flynn asked. “You’ve barely told us anything. All you said is that they have to choose to come back. I don’t understand.”

“The spell cannot be broken by anyone but them.” Jenkins sighed. “It will force them to stay where they are for a while, and then there will come a moment, and it will come naturally, when they are faced with the decision of staying there or coming back to us. At that time, and only that time, they will be able to return, should they freely choose to do so. All we can do now is to have faith in them.”


 

            It was late back in the alternate universe. Dinner had been cleaned up a while ago, and the annex had remained mostly silent. Jenkins and the kids hadn’t interacted with Eve and the Librarians at all.

Jake and Cassandra were in a corner chatting, and Eve had decided she wanted to be alone. She was sitting against a bookcase, biting her cuticles and thinking of Flynn. She didn’t know how this whole alternate timeline thing worked. She’d been in this world a while now, and she wondered how long Flynn had been without her. If she was remembering correctly, when she and Flynn had travelled through the loom for hours, they came back to find five minutes had passed.

The pain of missing him was strangely unbearable. It shouldn’t have been; working for the library, they were used to going months without seeing each other. But there was something different about this. They were split across two different existences. At this point, with no information, she didn’t know if she’d ever see him again.

Her hand found its way to her pocket. She reached inside and pulled out the small pink carnation pin Flynn had left for her all that time ago, after their run in with the dragons. She’d taken to keeping it with her when she was on a mission without him. The feel of it in her pocket, no matter how light it was, reminded her of having him fighting by her side. And if things ever got too rough, she could reach in and give it a little squeeze.

She laughed slightly as the petals tickled her knuckles. It reminded her of the feeling of Flynn kissing the back of them. She’d wondered what she’d do if she couldn’t get back to him, They’d barely kissed goodbye before she went on this mission. It was surveillance; she didn’t think it was that much of a deal. But, once again, their lives decided to throw them an unexpected twist and shake everything up. Before she could think on the subject much, Maggie came into the room.

“So we have to find somewhere for you to sleep.” she said. “Believe me I’d offer up a place at our house, but since Summer and Michael moved in with us there’s not really any room. They don’t sleep with us anymore and I mean my dad usually isn’t back to use his room, but….you know.”

Maggie looked down and no one responded to her.

“We um…have two guest rooms here in the Library.” she continued. “But that means there’s only two beds. Or I could just have Jenkins set up some cots. Whatever you prefer.”

“I think we’ll just be ok with the guest rooms.” Eve said. “Cassandra and I can share a bed. Right?”

“Yeah,” Cassandra answered. “No problem.”

“Okay. Well, there’s some extra clothes laid out on the bed. The guest rooms are directly to the left of the main reading room. You’ll see two white doors. They’ll be open. I’ll see you in the morning.”

Maggie left them with nothing more but a nod and walked away.


 

            Maggie knocked lightly on the door of her father’s office. A mumble that resembled the words “come in” was the only answer she received. She treaded in lightly, unsure of what she’d be running into today. It was never much of anything, but finding her dad passed out with low blood sugar once was enough to make her afraid every time she stepped into the room. Thankfully, if she could use that term, all she saw was her father hunched over and scribbling at his desk, just like he always was.

“Dad?” she asked.

“Mmm.” he mumbled, not looking up from his books.

“Dad I need to talk to you about something.”

“Not tonight Maggie.” Flynn said, still not looking at her. “I have a lot to look at.”

Maggie did her best not to shout. He’d been giving her that same answer for the past year and a half. There was never time, for anything. It was all about his research.

“Dad Summer found some people today when she was hunting for dinner. They’re staying here, they’re not like the others, something’s up.”

“I am confident you all know how to handle it.”

Maggie stood still as tears built up in her eyes. There were so many things that she wanted to tell him, that she couldn’t. They were things that couldn’t just be blurted out to anyone, but especially not to her father. Since her mom died, they’d been walking on eggshells around him, always making sure not to say any little thing that would upset him too much, that would throw him into the periods where he refused to even eat.

But she needed him, tonight more than she ever had. She couldn’t deal with all of this without a hand to hold, and not William’s. She needed her father, but she knew she wasn’t going to have him. He’d died along with her mother.

Hot tears took the place of words she couldn’t say, that inside she was screaming. These people are more than just different. They’re not from this life. It’s Mom. It’s Mom and she’s here and I know there’s no way to bring her back from the woman that’s here but maybe there is and don’t you care that we could have Mom back?! And I’m trying to be strong for Summer but I can’t be. And I don’t know if I’m crying because I’m glad to see her, or because I’m just missing her more….It’s Mom!

But she couldn’t say any of those things. Her father would go ballistic, and she might lose more of him than she already had. Instead she stood up straight and took a deep breath. The advantage of her father’s eyes never leaving his books was that he couldn’t see the pain on her face.

“Are you coming home to sleep tonight?” she asked. Her eyes still watered at the thought that this was a question she had to ask.

“I’m really not sure.” he answered, after a moment.

“I just need to know whether or not to leave a light on.”

Flynn waited for another moment. His eyes were not focused on his work now, but they had not looked to Maggie either.

“Probably not.” he said with a sigh.

Maggie nodded, holding back tears again. He finally looked to her and for some reason that was the one thing she couldn’t bear. He motioned to say something, but she quickly cut him off.

“Goodnight.” she said, then turned quickly on her heel and walked out the door.

Once she was out of his sight, the tears didn’t pool anymore. With one tight blink of her eyes, they came pouring down her cheeks: the tears she held back in front of Summer and Michael, the tears she wanted to cry every day when she bade her father goodnight, the tears that had not stopped being on her mind for two years, but that she always ignored unless she was alone.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Cassandra was at the conference table before anyone else. She’d always liked the quiet of the annex when it was empty; it was peaceful: no sounds but her own breathing, pages turning, and a pencil scribbling out equations in her notebook. Of course, she did none of this now, and the world she was in was apparently far from peaceful. Still, being in the annex alone was comforting: it was still her favorite way to start a morning, and right now it simply made her feel closer to home.

Breaking the silence, she heard footsteps coming from the hallway entrance. Disappointed, she turned to see who had come in, but when she did, she smiled. Jacob was there: the only person who could make a quiet morning in the annex more enjoyable.

“Hey Cassie.” he said.

“Hi!” she replied, smiling.

“I um…I found some loose leaves and thought maybe you might like some tea.”

“That sounds nice.” Cassandra said, smiling.

Jake sat down across from her and handed her a small tea cup. She chuckled at the sight of it. In all this time Jenkins had still not changed his China. 

Cassandra brought the cup to her lips and sighed gently. The steam was comforting, and the brew was steeped to the perfect combination of bitter and sweet.

“Like it?” Jake asked. He watched her with anticipation.

“Very much so.” Cassandra smiled. “I didn’t know you had such a talent for making tea.”

“I may have dabbled a bit in the culinary arts.” Jake teased, throwing them both into a fit of laughter.

As their giggles and smiles died down, Jake’s face grew more serious. As much as he would have liked to pretend that they were just having a normal morning in the annex, they both knew that that was not the case. They’d been in plenty of odd and scary situations as Librarians. Cassie had always been the one person that made talking about it easy, but this one particular journey was different in every way. He had no idea how to change the subject.

“How’d you sleep last night?” he asked.

“Okay,” Cassandra said. “It was a little weird, but I was tired so…I don’t think Baird got a wink though.”

“Well can you blame her?”

Silence filled the room as a million thoughts ran through their minds. Of course it was hard for Baird; she was dealing with this confusion- for all intents and purposes- alone. They didn’t know when or if they were going back home, and Flynn was not here. It was different for them: they had each-other.

Cassandra opened her mouth to say something, but before she could, footsteps sounded from the hallway again. They turned and saw Eve walking towards them.

“Hey Baird.” Jake said. She sat down next to him clutching her head.

As Cassandra was about to ask how she was, Baird leaned forward towards them. Jake immediately recognized the stance of their guardian in action.

“We need to figure out how to get home.” she whispered.

“No kidding.” Jake argued. “But how do you suppose we do that?”

“If we can figure out where exactly we are, and how we got here, maybe we can start figuring out how to get back.”

“With a little more research maybe I could figure out a spell to get us in contact with Mr. Jenkins back home. And then we could have the rest of the team helping us.”

Baird was about to add another thought, when a voice greeted them from the other end of the room.

“Oh good! You’re up!”

Eve, Cassandra, and Jake turned and saw William walking towards them. They gave each other a silent signal to say that they’d continue their conversation later, then smiled at Will as he walked towards the table.

“I don’t think we’ve ever really properly met.” he said, holding out his hand. “I’m Will.”

Jake and Cassandra smiled at him, but Eve felt awkward as she held out her hand. She still didn’t know how exactly to behave. These were her children from another universe.

“It’s okay,” William said, reading her. “I know it’s weird. Can you imagine for me?”

He laughed, but no one else at the table reacted. Will sighed. He thought maybe he could try and make this normal, but the truth was showing itself now; there was no way to make this easier.

“Maybe we could start things off by having some breakfast.” he said. “We have to grow and make all of our food here, but Maggie and I learned how to make this amazing homemade cereal. We can get you some and then maybe we can start to sort things out.”

Almost as if on cue, Maggie walked into the room, carrying a bowl.

“Oh hey!” she said, her mouth full. “Jenkins is coming with the rest of breakfast. I was just too hungry to wait.”

“You’re always too hungry to wait.” Michael teased.

Maggie walked over and punched him playfully in the arm. Eve, Jake, and Cassandra shot each other confused looks. It was like they’d been thrown right in the deep end of a world they knew nothing about.

“Hey!”

A younger voice sounded, accompanied by fast footsteps, came from the left. Heads turned to see Michael Stone entering the room. He ran right up to Jake and nearly bumped into him, causing Jake to jump back, startled.

“As long as you’re here I thought maybe you could help me with this anagram puzzle book I’ve been working on. It’s really stumping me but it’s so much fun!”

“I…” Jake started to stutter. Before he could get a thought in, Summer entered the room, passing by.

“Don’t bother them Michael.” she snapped. “They’re not our parents and they’re not going to want to spend time with you.”

“Actually I…I wouldn’t mind looking over it with you.” Jake said, smiling. Michael beamed up at him.

“Right, and like your main concern isn’t just getting out of here and taking care of yourself.”

“Summer please.” Maggie scolded, cocking her head back towards her cousin.

“Ask them yourself if you don’t think I’m right.”

“Have some breakfast at least!” Will tried.

“I made oatmeal at home.” Summer said. She hadn’t stopped once to talk to them. “I’m going to practice my archery.”

“Can I come?!” Michael asked, standing on his toes and lighting up.

“No. You’ll get hurt.”

With that Summer was gone. A gloomier air hung over the room, and everyone was silent. Michael looked sullen, and Jake, noticing this, crouched down to be right on his level.

“Come on,” he said. “Let’s go look at that anagram.”

Michael beamed and Jake led him away, putting an arm around his shoulder. Cassandra smiled as she watched them; Jake was so gentle with him.  And while she knew it seemed strange, she just wanted to be with them. She looked at Eve and muttered half of a sentence before pointing her thumb in the direction the boys had gone and turning to follow them.

Eve was too stunned to do or say anything. Was this really happening right now? Five minutes ago she’d been discussing with her Librarians how to get home, and now they were acting like everything was fine.

“Everyone stop!” she called.

No matter what universe she was from, the power of a guardian to silence a room was unmatchable. All eyes fell on Eve and she breathed heavily.

“What is this?” she asked, gesturing wildly between everyone in the room. “What’s happening here?”

No one answered Eve and she sighed.

“Look guys…” she started

Cassandra, who had been carefully observing her guardian, jumped in next to her to interrupt.

“We just thought you could tell us a little bit about your world.” she said. “Since we don’t know where we are exactly, or how long we’re going to end up here, it just seems like it would be helpful to have some extra info.”

“We are in a post apocalypse.” Jenkins said, entering the room with a tray full of bowls.  Apparently the caretaker had a talent for overhearing conversations no matter what universe they were in.

“I have lived through quite a few in my time,” he continued, as he walked up to the table and placed down his tray. “But this is certainly the most devastating one I have ever seen.”

“What exactly are we looking at?” Cassandra asked, reaching forward and grabbed a bowl of cereal.

“Technology is completely gone.” Maggie explained. “Simple science like matches still work fine but there’s no electricity, no indoor plumbing….”

“Basically we’re living in colonial times.” William said, a slight hint of humor in his voice.

“So it’s like when Prospero tried to remake the world!” Jake realized. Jenkins nodded softly.

“So can’t you just magic your way out of things then?” Cassandra suggested. “If the world’s been remade with magic can’t you create the technological elements of the world with magic?”

Eve watched her Librarians carefully. They discussed and theorized and planned as easily as if they were right at home. But that was the problem. They weren’t home. They were in some crazy, messed up place and they needed to get home. She needed to make them realize that. They weren’t safe here; she needed to protect them.

“That’s the thing.” Maggie explained. “We don’t have control over magic anymore.”

“What?!” Jake and Cassandra exclaimed at the same time.

Maggie and William’s faces grew solemn and they looked towards Jenkins. He sighed before looking straight at Eve. She felt uncomfortable, like he could read her thoughts just by looking at her, or like he was trying to tell her something without saying it; that was no different from Jenkins back home, but there was something different in this caretaker’s eyes, something that could only be described as grief.

“When Colonel Carsen was in the hospital the night she…” Jenkins spoke softly and didn’t finish his sentence. “The Serpent Brotherhood used the opportunity to invade the Library. They stole the Crown of King Arthur and Excalibur and released magic into the world. And with the Crown they have complete control of that magic. We have no way of utilizing it.”

“Wait a minute,” Eve interjected, finally speaking. “You mean to tell me that the Serpent Brotherhood took the Crown of King Arthur two years ago and you haven’t tried to stop them yet?”

“Well, we didn’t realize it right away.” Maggie said softly. “Things took about a year to get really bad and in that year no one was really paying attention to cases because our Dad was too busy taking care of all four of us.”

“And how are we supposed to defeat them or even go after them at all?” William said. He’d moved closer to his sister and his gaze towards Eve had seemed to grow a little bit colder. “They have all the magic in the world and anything we could even try to throw against them they’d have control over. We have no way of finding them and without a backdoor or airplanes, no way of getting to them either.”

“Maybe we can figure something out.” Cassandra said, trying to change the mood of the room. “With more of us here, it might be easier. And…we are Librarians.”

“I’m sorry,” Eve said, halting the smiles and hopeful breaths of Maggie, William and Michael. “Cassandra, could I speak to you for a minute?”

“Sure.” Cassandra said cheerily. She offered a smile to Jake and Michael, who quickly returned to their anagram puzzle.

Eve grabbed Cassandra’s arm and walked quickly with her to a back hallway.

“What the hell was that?” she exclaimed once they were out of earshot, shouting at a whisper.

“What are you talking about?”

“I thought we just said before that our goal was to get home.” Eve said. “And then just as I was about to mention that you set them off talking about what the world was like and how we could help.”

“I’m a Librarian Eve.” Cassandra said bluntly. “Our job is to help people.”

“Yes to help people in our universe where you are a Librarian, and where I’m a Guardian! And as your Guardian my job is to protect you. And in my book that means getting you out of a world where you’re technically dead!”

“You don’t get it do you?” Cassandra said, shaking her head. “I told you once, when we went to Wexler, that I had learned that my job was about choosing between what was best and what was right. And when I saw Michael’s face when Summer just walked away from him, I knew that getting these kids’ lives back to normal was what we needed to do.”

As she said this, Cassandra looked over her shoulder where she could still see Jake working with Michael. The kid had the brightest smile she’d seen on any person since arriving here, and Jake beamed too as he pointed at the paper and watched Michael write down new things with his pencil.

“This is not your world Cassandra.” Eve said. “You have to remember that. Summer and Michael, they’re not your kids. We have to be careful and we can’t just let ourselves fall away from our goals because we’re making attachments we shouldn’t be making.”

There was a moment of silence as the two women looked each other over. Cassandra stood tall and held her shoulders high. She never liked speaking against her Guardian, but one of the many things she’d learned over the past two years was that sometimes doing so was a part of doing her job. And when you were a Librarian, doing your job was always the most important thing.

“Like it or not Colonel,” she said. “You’re having the same feelings I am. I’ve seen it in your face. And no matter how much you try to deny them, you know that I’m right, that we’re doing the right thing.”

Wanting to stay strong, Cassandra started to walk away. She stopped as another thought occurred to her and she looked back at Eve one more time.

“And besides,” she said. “Didn’t you hear Maggie? They have no use of magic whatsoever. Unless we help them fix that, we’re never getting home.”

With that, Cassandra walked away and rejoined Jake and Michael, smiles crossing all three of their faces as she did so. Eve watched her and then looked at William and Maggie eating their breakfast. Maggie looked down at the table with her head in her hand, and William had a hand on her shoulder.

Cassandra was right; she knew she should’ve been walking right back into the annex, joining the team, clapping her hands and telling them to make a plan. But something just wasn’t right. Maybe it was her own fear, maybe it was every warning Flynn had given her when they’d travelled through time. Maybe it was her hesitation to ever let her Librarians walk into danger, even when she knew they had to. Whatever it was, it was something she just couldn’t bring herself to overcome. With a tear in her eye she turned and walked away, eager to disappear into some lonely Library corner.

Chapter Text

Later that day, Eve was in one of the reading rooms, sitting on a couch, sipping some herbal tea that Jenkins had prepared for her. He said it was to calm her nerves; she wasn’t sure if that was even a possibility. She wasn’t even sure if what she was feeling could be classified as nerves. But if she’d learned anything from her time at the Library, it was that Jenkins often knew best, and doubting him usually got you into more trouble than you’d started with. So she’d taken the tea. Halfway through the cup though, she wondered if this was the one time the old caretaker was wrong. In fact, all she was thinking about now was if she’d ever see him, at least her version of him, again.

She hadn’t spoken to Cassandra since that morning. She hadn’t really spoken to anyone since that morning, and not entirely against her own volition. She didn’t know how to talk to any of them at this point. Cassandra’s words hung heavy on her mind. She was right. Saving this world was the right thing to do. But as Guardian, she still couldn’t help but focus on getting her Librarians home.

“Hi.” a timid voice sounded from behind her. Instinctively, she startled. She was about to throw herself into fighting stance when she realized it was just Maggie.

“Sorry.” Maggie said. “I didn’t mean to scare you. I just…I know this is all really weird for you and I know we haven’t talked much yet and I feel bad about that. And so I thought you might wanna see something; like a peace offering.”

It was then that Eve became aware of the large book Maggie held under her arm. The girl just stood there, still, smiling hopefully.

Eve didn’t say anything for a moment. Hesitation filled her mind as she thought about what she had said to Cassandra earlier: it wasn’t good for them to make attachments here; she had to get her Librarians home as quickly as possible. But then she thought about what Cassandra had said, about knowing what was right when she saw Michael’s face. She looked at Maggie more carefully. The kid’s eyes were filled with anticipation as she looked back at her. She wasn’t so thick that she couldn’t recognize the look: sitting down with Maggie would make her feel better.

There’s a difference between what’s best and what’s right she reminded herself.

She motioned to Maggie who now smiled brightly and jogged around the couch before sitting next to her.

“I thought I could show you this.” Maggie explained. She placed the book on their two laps and Eve read the cover.

Carsen Family: 2017-2034

Eve was speechless, unsure of what to say. This was an entire book, seventeen years of her future with Flynn. Was it really though? What happened back where she lived? Was she looking at what her life had in store?

“Dad always said he bought the biggest book he could find,” Maggie said, her fingers caressing the cover. “So that we…so that we never had to write an end date.”

Her face fell on this last remark. Something about that moment stirred something inside Eve. Almost as if new instincts were taking over, Eve placed a hand on Maggie’s shoulder. Maggie smiled weakly at her and pulled open the cover.

The first thing Eve saw was a picture of two babies in a tiny bathtub, both of them covered head-to-toe in bubbles. She gasped and laughed a little. She found her fingers reaching for the picture, and then looked back over to Maggie, now years older. She felt a tinge of something, a feeling she didn’t quite know how to explain.

Maggie, seeing her mother smile, started to laugh. It was a moment before she realized she was doing it, and even then she smiled at the thought that she was laughing with her mother again.

“So this is…” Eve started to ask.

“Nineteen years ago.” Maggie said. “I just turned nineteen.”

Eve smiled and gave her a knowing nod. Maggie turned the page, revealing more and more moments. Eve watched the twins quickly growing up, and her heart leapt, though logically she knew there was no reason for it to. She nearly stopped breathing every time she or Flynn appeared in a photo, especially when they were together. There was something haunting about it.

“This was when Willy and I made our communion.” Maggie said, pointing out a picture of the four of them, Maggie and Will wearing fancy white outfits.

“It was the best party ever.” Maggie’s face lit up as she recounted the day. “We decorated the annex and moved stuff around so we had a dance floor. Grandpa Jenkins was so proud of us that he wasn’t even mad, and Mr. and Mrs. Claus were there, and Frankenstein’s creature, and Nessie!”

“Sounds like a great time.” Eve chuckled, thinking about how crazy that would have sounded to her a few years ago.

“Yeah, it was.” Maggie agreed. Her face grew wistful.

“Dad just put the milestones in here.” she explained, moving right on. “He said that way we could fit more. But he insisted on printing every picture we ever took. There’s boxes and boxes full of them in my house.”

Eve watched Maggie’s smile, how it looked genuine but pained at the same time. For the first time since arriving, she felt like Maggie’s loss was her own. This kid had a whole lifetime that she just lost in the blink of an eye. It was more than most adults could bear on their own, much less a teenager, and Maggie seemed to be handling herself incredibly well. Again, without knowing why, she felt an ounce of pride.

Her mind started to wander and she imagined what Flynn would be doing if he were here right now. She laughed; he would’ve run for the hills faster than she did as soon as he saw Maggie and William. But, he was never off track for too long. She looked over at Maggie and thought about Stone smiling as he sat with Michael, and then about all the smiles she’d seen on Flynn in the pictures, and how she couldn’t help but smile herself now. Almost instantly she imagined Flynn’s face slowly lighting up as he let Maggie and William in. It was only then that she remembered that in this world, Flynn was still alive.

“About your Dad…” Eve asked. “I don’t mean to pry or anything it’s just…how is he? I haven’t seen him at all. Jenkins suggested something about him not really being…okay.”

Maggie’s smile fell. She waited for a moment and searched for the right words to describe the situation. She didn’t hate her Dad; he was her Dad, but to an outsider the situation would sound pretty black and white.

“My Dad had a very hard time when it all happened.” she stuttered. “I mean anyone would, but…he shut off. I was still so young then. I didn’t really understand what was happening to him. But I get it now. It’s like he died when my Mom did.”

Maggie had stopped looking at Eve, and Eve didn’t move. She felt like she should put her arm around her, but she was afraid it wasn’t right. And all the same she was haunted by the tale Maggie was recounting.

She’d seen Flynn broken before. She knew how awful it was for him to even almost lose the people he loved. She always knew when it happened that she had to be there for him to help pick up the pieces. She thought back to countless nights in their apartment after he lost Charlene, pressing her head to his shoulder as he cried. It filled her with unexplainable guilt to think about any situation where she wasn’t there to do that.

“At first it wasn’t so bad,” Maggie continued. “Or at least he didn’t let us see how bad it was. For the first few months he never let us out of his sight. I remember feeling like I was closer to him than ever before. Summer and Michael were living with us too. Willy and I slept in Dad’s bed with him every single night, and for the first year he extended that to us if we needed it. Honestly, he’d probably still let me if I asked.”

Eve couldn’t help but smile. After everything she’d heard since coming here, she knew one thing now: Flynn was a great father. Of course he was: he loved more fiercely than anyone she’d ever met. Almost clear as day, she could picture him standing next to her, holding their baby in his arms. It was enough to bring tears to her eyes. She missed him.

“He was the best Dad ever.” Maggie sniffed, nodding. “But he barely comes home anymore. I watched him drift away from us. He just became consumed with this need for revenge, and doing every bit of research that he could to get it. He wants to find out who’s responsible for that explosion. And he just won’t stop trying, even though I know that he knows as well as I do that it’s nothing but dead ends.”

Maggie didn’t know why she was telling Eve all of this. It might’ve been her desperation to just tell anyone what she was feeling. But she was finding that it was comfortable, like there was nothing odd about the words that just kept rolling off of her tongue. It was so comfortable that she had to keep silently reminding herself that Eve was not her mother.

“Sometimes I think maybe if it had just been my Aunt and Uncles…but I think losing my Mom was just the one thing he couldn’t bounce back from. And I mean could you blame him? They were so in love, even us kids could tell it. And when she was sick, his every waking moment became about taking care of her. ”

Maggie started crying and Eve reached for her. But before she could get her arm around her, Maggie sat up straight and promptly wiped away her tears.

“Anyway.” she said. “I mean, don’t take this to mean that I don’t love him or anything. I don’t blame him really…or when I do I shut the thought down.”

Eve stared at Maggie. There were things, feelings, she wasn’t telling her: she could tell that. She desperately wanted to know more, but she didn’t want to push.

“I should go get ready for dinner.” Maggie said, closing the photo-album. When she stood up, Eve’s eyes caught two pictures fall to the floor, face down.

She looked up at Maggie, but the girl looked just as surprised as she was, and she wasn’t moving, a hard stare locked on the pictures.

“Those were never in there.” she said quietly. “Dad must’ve mixed them up. I didn’t know he still looked at this.”

Eve had a feeling that Maggie was no longer talking to her. She bent over slowly and picked them up. When she looked at what was in her hand, she gasped.

Eve said nothing, but Maggie leaned over and placed the pictures in front of her, a wistful smile now on her face.  

To the left there was a picture of Eve, Flynn and a young Maggie and Will, standing on the grass. Flynn and Eve had their arms wrapped around the kids from behind and they all had big smiles on their faces. It was nice just like the others, but the casual nature of it was a different feeling entirely. It was so normal, so every day, that it painted even more vividly what had been ripped from these people.

Eve’s eyes moved to the other picture and she almost stopped breathing. She only processed her and Flynn first, laughing. And then she became aware of the cake on her nose, and then of what they were wearing, and then of the cake they were standing behind. It was a wedding photo.

When Eve said nothing, Maggie put a hand on her thigh, taking over the comforting role now. She stood up again and took the book and wedding photo with her. When she started out of the room again, Eve’s daze finally broke, and she turned towards her.

“Maggie!” she said, holding up the other picture. “You forgot this one.”

“No I didn’t.” Maggie replied. “You should keep it.”

“Oh Maggie, no I…”

“Please. I have plenty more copies trust me. And it’ll be nice. You can show Dad when you get home.”

Maggie turned and left the room, leaving Eve alone again. Maggie didn’t seem to have noticed that she had failed to distinguish between her Flynn and Eve’s Flynn. It was an honest mistake, but it had Eve’s thoughts reeling.

Here was this kid, this whole life behind her that Eve had just seen in pictures. Her family was gone in the blink of an eye, and now she had people here who were them, but weren’t from the same time. And she was pretending she was okay. From what Eve gathered from her conversation, Maggie was always pretending she was okay, and she was far from it.

A kid like that, a kid who could accidentally forget someone wasn’t her mother, shouldn’t’ve had to pretend she was okay all the time. She deserved to cry and scream and mourn the loss of everything Eve had just seen. And she deserved to have someone there to help her through it. She deserved to have the one thing she hadn’t completely lost. And there was only one way that was going to happen.

Eve put her tea down on a side table and sat up straight. The moment came, like it always did, when she was reminded all the ways in which her Librarians were smarter than her. They had to help these people, no matter how much they needed to get home. She took a deep breath and garnered her courage, reminding herself why she was here in the first place: she was the guardian. And as the guardian, she had to protect the Librarians, no matter what Librarians they were.

She needed to find Cassandra, but not yet. After talking to Maggie, she knew that helping these kids was going to take more than just saving the world. There was no more time for thinking. There was no more time for sitting alone and being confused. No; it was time for Eve to pay someone a visit.

Chapter Text

Eve ran through the Library hallways towards the one room that she had memorized better than any other. She hoped it was in the same place here, but she poked her head into open doorways just to be sure.

She’d like to think that she’d thought of doing this before, but really if she was being honest she’d avoided it like the plague. She didn’t know what she would find, what he would look like, or really, what it would do to him to see her. She’d told herself that she would only be making  things worse as an excuse to not have to deal with the hardship of it. Because honestly, she didn’t know which of them would be more affected by seeing each other. But her conversation with Maggie had made clear that she couldn’t wait any longer; Flynn needed some sense knocked into him. There was only one person who had ever been able to really do that, and-in his universe-she was dead. But Eve Baird now possessed the unique opportunity to help him despite that: at least she hoped she did.

She finally found Flynn’s office, but found herself simply standing outside the door. What was she going to see when she walked inside? She had so many memories in here, late night coffee breaks, or planning for a case together, or simply sitting with Flynn while he worked overnight. She could only imagine what memories were held in here in this universe, thinking of that family picture on the lawn.

The door was slightly ajar, and so she poked her head in first. A man was hunched over at a desk. He was more like a shadow of a man, and not the Flynn she knew. His hair was gray and his suit was dirty. Crumpled up papers and empty coffee cups lay everywhere. She wanted to run out of the room almost immediately; he looked worse than she’d expected. Thinking of Maggie, she pushed the door open and walked inside.

She squared up her shoulders and reminded herself that she couldn’t let this phase her; this was not her Flynn, not their story. But she had to treat him like he was. Hearing everything from her was the only way this man was going to look something like the Flynn she knew.

She wanted to march up to him and slam her hand down on his desk. She wanted to go full guardian on him. But she reminded herself then that even her Flynn didn’t do well with tough love, especially not when he was hurting. She only managed to make things worse when she was blunt with him. She imagined that with this Flynn, that factor would only be worse. So she took a deep breath, thought about her Flynn’s smile, and tiptoed towards him.

“Flynn?” she asked. He turned to look at her and she wanted to cry out.

Years of loss and grief and a hopeless search for revenge were evidenced in his face. His eyes were bloodshot and the age that had never shown through…did.

“Eve,” he muttered. His voice was hoarse. He looked as if he couldn’t believe what he was seeing, and she couldn’t blame him. In his world, she was dead.

She walked slowly towards him and at down across from him, still saying nothing.

“Eve?!” he gasped. He leaned forward, and it pained her to pull back. She couldn’t let him think she was his wife.  

“Eve h-how is this possible?” he muttered. “You look so young. You-you’re dead.”

She placed a gentle hand on his thigh, not wanting to have too much contact, but not wanting to keep completely distant either.

“Flynn I’m not your Eve.” she explained. “I ended up here from some alternate timeline. We think. We’re not exactly sure what happened. ”

“Maggie told me something about new refugees…” Flynn mumbled, like he was coming to a realization. “She said they were…they were different I didn’t know she meant…”

“Actually that’s what I came to talk to you about.” Eve said, cutting him off.

His face froze and Eve looked away, feeling awkward. Bringing up the subject was uncomfortable, just as she knew it would be. Flynn’ shock turned into a scowl.

“I’m not having this conversation.” he said, turning back towards his desk.

Eve sighed. No matter what she’d seen, he was undoubtedly just like the Flynn she knew: going to his work when he wanted to avoid something he knew was a problem. She’d softened up so as not to upset him, but maybe being blunt was the only way to get him to actually start listening. She grabbed his chair by the seat and turned him forcefully towards her.

“Flynn Carsen you need to listen to me!” she exclaimed.

The new approach seemed to work, because she had his attention. He looked down at his lap and started crying. She worked through the pain of seeing him like that, and grabbed his hand in her own.

“Flynn I’m not your wife,” she said gently. “But I know how much you must miss her, because I know how much my Flynn loves me, and how much I love him and how much I miss him right now.

“But Flynn you can’t just shut yourself out from everyone! Look at what’s happened to the world: it’s a mess! The Flynn I know would never let it get like that. At least I hope he wouldn’t.”

He still wouldn’t look at her, but his breathing had slowed. He was still, and she could tell he was listening to her.

“You can’t just focus yourself on revenge; that’s not the way to honor their memory. The way to do that is making sure they didn’t die in vain. You need to carry on their legacy, not just in saving the world, but in living your life.”

“What do you know about anything?” Flynn snapped, staring down. “You haven’t lived this.”

“I know, and I know it sounds wrong of me to say anything, but I’ve observed things in the little time I’ve been here. I just got to know Maggie a little better and we were talking and I…”

Eve hesitated. She didn’t know how to go about saying the next thing. Telling a parent something about raising their children never felt right. But it seemed like the way to get him to listen. She’d seen those pictures and she’d heard Maggie’s stories and she knew one thing was definitely true, even back in her world: Flynn Carsen loved his family like nothing else.

“Maggie and William need their father Flynn. You need to be there for them. Summer: she’s just a kid and she’s leading everyone acting like she’s twenty-five! She’s practically raising Michael and that’s not good for either of them. They’re great kids Flynn, but they’re just that: kids. They need someone there for them. The day you lost everything so did they. Don’t make them lose you too.”

He finally met her gaze now with tear filled eyes.

“I know I wasn’t there enough.” he croaked. “I’ve realized how bad it’s gotten, but….I don’t know how to fix it. I never meant to leave them, but the pain was so heavy, and I let it consume me…and I still don’t know how to let go of it.”

“Start to make the change Flynn: that’s how.” Eve said. She was starting to smile. She saw the look on Flynn’s face and recognized it clear as day: it was the look he had when she was getting through to him, and it always made her cry.

“Go to them. Go talk to your kids. You need them as much as they need you. Family needs each other.”

“They probably hate me. I gather I’ve screwed up enough now to have lost any hope for their forgiveness.”

“I wouldn’t count on it Flynn. You’re still their father, and they really are great kids. They might surprise you. And from what I just heard from Maggie, I can tell she loves you a lot.”

He smiled briefly, then let his head fall in her lap, and started crying again.

“I failed.” he cried. “I failed my friends, I failed my wife, I failed my kids. The world is in turmoil and those kids lost all of their family and I haven’t been there for them.”

Eve grabbed his chin and lifted his face so he was looking at her.

“Then start again now. Start being there. It hasn’t been so long that you can’t fix things.”

They sat for a few moments in silence, simply staring at each other. Eve’s hand left Flynn’s chin, but they were still connected. Eventually Flynn spoke, always the one to first break their silences.

“You’re…” he began.

“Henge?” Eve teased. “Key?”

This caused both of them to laugh, and earned a weak smile from Flynn. They chuckled until they realized what had happened.

“You’re not my wife.” Flynn said, more so reminding himself.

“No.” Eve said gently. “But you know me.”

She gave him a smile and then stood up and started her way out of the room.

“Eve.” Flynn called.

She turned and saw he’d risen from his seat.

“Thank you.” he said.

Eve simply gave him a nod unable to say anything else. She walked out of his office and closed the door behind her. She walked down the hallway in case Flynn left as well, but once she was out of sight she leaned against the wall and cried. All she could think about was her Flynn back home. They had no idea still how they’d gotten here, or really what here even was. She didn’t know how or when they’d get back, or if they’d get back, or if she’d ever see Flynn again. The image of Flynn, old and worn, was carved in her mind. She wondered what her Flynn thought had happened to her, and worse, what would become of him if she didn’t return.

Chapter Text

It was nighttime. Maggie and Will were sitting on the couch in their house, doing what they always did now: nothing. Will was reading and Maggie was working on a Sudoku puzzle. Suddenly, they heard the sound of their door opening.

Instinctually always on the defense, they jumped up from their positions, trying to find anything that might have a chance of protecting them. Will pushed his sister behind him and jumped into the fighting stance his mother had once taught him. When someone stepped inside, he pushed Maggie even farther behind him, until he realized who it was.

William stepped back himself now, but Maggie pushed forward. They both stared on in shock. Of all the things they expected to see in their living room, this was not one of them.

“Dad?!” William exclaimed.

Their father was standing in front of them, quiet with his hands held together and held closely to him. Will’s protective stance on his sister almost increased.

“You’re home earlier than usual.” Maggie noted.

She wasn’t sure what to make of this; there had to be some explanation for it. Maybe he was here just to grab a book. Maybe there was something wrong at his office and he needed to finish his work at home. Although, he didn’t have anything with him, and he wasn’t walking out of the room.

“Hi.” he said quietly.

Maggie had seen her father look like this before. She’d seen it when she was six and he’d missed her dance recital because a case ran over. She’d seen it when she was nine and he’d accidentally completed her entire science project when he was supposed to have just helped her. This was how her father looked when he was guilty.

No one said anything for fear of saying the wrong thing. Maggie didn’t know how to react to him, standing here. She was angry that he was only showing up now, but at the same time overjoyed to see him here, loving him because he was her dad, and wanting to run into his arms and stay there until she’d forgotten all the horrible things she’d felt these past few days. But how could she do any of those things? How could she do or say anything at all?

“Do we have any tea?” Flynn muttered. “I figured maybe we could um….have some before bed. And you could tell me about what’s been going on lately.”

Flynn wanted to die in that moment, realizing that things had gotten so bad that he didn’t even know what food was in his house. His children’s hard stares cut through him and made him feel ten inches tall. Eve was right: he needed to be there for them. But once he’d tried, he realized that maybe he didn’t have the right to move as fast as he was trying to.

“Or we could talk about the book you’re reading.” Flynn said, addressing Will directly now. “If that makes you more comfortable.”

Both parties looked at each other without any other words said, like they were trying to read what each other was thinking. They all knew what had happened, and what might be happening now. That much had become clear.

Maggie and William looked at Flynn. And then the debate inside of them seemed to resolve itself. They were angry, but more than that this was their Father. And when they looked at him they couldn’t see the man who’d left them practically alone. All they could see was the man who took them on trips to the museum, the man who told them lavish bedtime stories, the man who pulled them close to him and kissed their heads when he got home from work, no matter how old they got, the man who’d always made sure they knew how much he loved them, the man who was here now.  

Smiles crossed their faces, and soon the same happened for Flynn. There was an understanding between them without speaking. He was here now, he was back, things were going to start to float back to normal. And whatever the past was, it was all going to be okay now; they were going to be okay.

“Willy,” Maggie said. “Do you want to go brew the tea?”

“Sounds perfect.” William said, his voice lifted and cheery. “And I think, don’t you, that we can stand to ration off some cookies tonight?”

“I’ll get those.” Maggie agreed.

They separated and ran off to the kitchen.

“Sit down Dad!” Maggie called. “We’ll be there in a second and we can fill you in on everything.”

“And it’s really juicy!” William added. “Whatever universe they’re from, Aunt Cassandra and Uncle Jake aren’t together yet.”

“They flipped out when they found out they were Summer and Michael’s parents. I know I shouldn’t have found it funny, but…sue me: I was entertained.”

Flynn smiled, and he heard Maggie and William’s laughter. He didn’t realize how much he missed the sound of it. Just like that, in a blink, no questions asked, everything seemed to go back to the way it had been. Seeing his children joking with each other, running frantically around the house, brought him right back to the days before anything went wrong, and reminded him that he could never let himself fall away again. He loved them too damn much.

Flynn walked around the living room, re-familiarizing himself with the space. For the last year or so he’d really only seen it in passing. Every inch of the space held a memory, and he knew he’d spend the next few weeks recounting them with his children. He wandered over to the fireplace, where above the mantel lay the thing that he’d never forgotten the location of.

A wedding picture of him and Eve hung high on the wall, looming over the whole room. It was of their first dance, and the smile on her face captured the exact image and every bit of personality that he wanted to remember her as. He looked up at it now, directly at her smile, and nodded at her.

“It’s going to be okay now.” he said. “I promise.”

Flynn wanted to say more, almost wanted to have a whole conversation with his dead wife right there, but before he could say anything else, Maggie and William came in from the kitchen, smiling and carrying trays of food. He looked at them and then back to Eve one last time: they were that image. He walked over to join them, proclaiming how good everything looked, and when he looked back to the wedding picture, he thought for just a moment that Eve was smiling directly at him.

Chapter Text

The Librarians were gathered around the Annex conference table the following morning for breakfast. Even Summer joined the group at the conference table, though she stared coldly down at her bowl and didn’t speak to anyone. Jenkins silently sipped tea, and Jake and Cassandra were talking to Michael again. Eve didn’t engage, but watched them with a soft smile. On days like these her Librarians made her very proud.

“Good morning!” Maggie’s voice sounded from the back hallway, sing-songy and bright. All the heads in the room turned to see her practically skipping into the room, closely followed by William. Both of their smiles filled their entire faces, and their eyes were wide behind their glasses.

“You seem to be in a good mood.” Eve remarked, laughing at the site of them.

In that moment the urge to want to get to know the kids was stronger than ever. They looked at each other with bubbly smiles as they got to the table, and Eve was reminded of the kids in the pictures Maggie had been showing her the night before.

“Something happen last night Miss. Carsen?” Jenkins asked.

Maggie was about to answer him when Michael piped up from his seat.

“Uncle Flynn!” he shouted.

Without another thought he was off like a rocket towards the main door. All eyes turned in that direction, even Summer’s. Flynn was standing there, Michael now bounding into his arms. The kid collided into him with a crash, and Flynn’s arm immediately wrapped tightly around him. He looked joyfully surprised, and took a moment before he spoke.

“Hey kiddo!” he exclaimed, rustling Michael’s hair. They broke out of their hug then, but Michael still remained held by Flynn’s side.

“Mr. Carsen!” Jenkins exclaimed. “How wonderful to see you.”

“Likewise Jenkins.”

“What, may I ask brings you to us this morning?”

“Oh let’s just say I had a little change of perspective.” Flynn said, smiling brightly down at Michael.

His eyes came up to meet Eve and she was smiling proudly at him. She knew that he would do the right thing. No matter what universe they were in, he was still Flynn Carsen, and no matter what the circumstances, she knew Flynn Carsen would always come through.

“Okay Librarians.” Flynn said, stepping to the head of a table.

Librarianettes.” he teased, looking at the kids. “A couple of little birdies told me that we’ve got some work to do.”

He looked over to Eve again and she simply gave him a reassuring nod. In that instant, he took charge of the room, standing tall with confidence like he was ready to do anything. Immediately, he’d gone right back to being the Flynn she always knew. She didn’t know this Flynn, but he made her feel like she did. He made her want to beam with Guardian’s pride.

“So let’s asses.” Maggie said, looking around at everyone. “What do we know?”

Flynn beamed with pride as he watched his daughter taking charge, standing confidently in front of everyone like it was natural to her. She reminded him of himself in his best days as a Librarian.

 “The Serpent Brotherhood released magic back into the world and they have the Crown of King Arthur.” William said. “They rule everything, we have no control over magic, all technology is no longer working and we have no idea where the Brotherhood is or how to find them.”

“Do we have any leads?” Flynn asked.

“No.” William said.

“So what you’re saying is that we’re shit out of luck.” Summer said, finally acknowledging the others in the room.

“Summer!” Flynn remarked, not really seeing her until that moment.

“Oh finally noticed me did you?” Summer asked. “Don’t worry; I’m not offended you didn’t see me before. It’s not like I didn’t have a year to get used to it.”

“Summer please.” Maggie begged. Every time Summer acted out she said the same thing, and every time she knew it was basically hopeless.

“I don’t see why you’re all being so forgiving.” Summer yelled. “I might remind you that this is the man who left us to survive on our own just when the world was thrown into apocalypse!”

“He’s also your godfather, who I might remind you took you in and raised you for the two years before that and who treated you like you were his own kid your whole life!” Maggie rose to her feet and her voice rose, a side to her that took Eve aback to see.

The room was silent, tensions were high, and the different emotions were almost palpable. Maggie stepped back and slowly sunk down into her chair, realizing what had just happened, what she’d done. Flynn wanted to run away, broken with the guilt that was now hitting strong. Michael looked terrified, and stayed close to Jake’s side, who put an arm around him and pulled him close. And Summer, Summer was frozen, her eyes locked with Maggie’s and almost starting to fill with tears, but her mouth was still sternly straight and her arms were crossed tightly in front of her.

Unbeknownst to everyone else, Cassandra was locked in her own head. Trailing off a thought that had suddenly come to her, she was so deep in analyzing that she hadn’t heard or seen anything of the last exchange.

“Wait a minute,” she said, drawing the attention in the room to herself now. “The Serpent Brotherhood has control over all the world’s magic, but can they control magic that someone else already owned?”

“What do you mean?” Maggie asked, her focus immediately changing task. Flynn only briefly hesitated before turning to Cassandra, his face confused and inquisitive.

“Well,” Cassandra continued. “If someone were to have personal magic of their own, the Serpent Brotherhood shouldn’t be able to control that magic. Artifacts are one thing, they’re powered by the free magic in the world but personal magic…maybe it’s a different story.”

Librarians and Librarianettes alike leaned in close to her, ready to hear more. Jake immediately knew what she was thinking of and exchanged a confirming look with her before moving to interject. Before anyone could say anything though, Summer’s voice interrupted again.

“Great!” she said. “Now the quasi-Librarians who for some reason think they belong here are gonna put in their two sense because they think they’re so special and can just fix everything.”

“Summer you’re being very rude!” William said.

“No.” she said. “I’m being realistic.”

A moment passed and no one said anything. Summer rolled her eyes and grabbed her breakfast.

“Someone come get me when you’ve come to the conclusion that hopelessness is still hopeless.”

She turned on her heel then and walked out of the room. For the first time that Eve and the Librarians had seen, no one made a move to follow her.

“Cassandra what were you saying?” Flynn asked, after a moment had passed.

“Cassandra and I…” Jake answered. He looked at her and she nodded at him with a smile.

“We might have some things that can help.”

“Wait how?” Maggie asked, beaming.

“Well if my theory’s correct,” Cassandra said. “We might have some magic that we can use to defeat to the Brotherhood.”

“It doesn’t do anything about finding them.” Jake continued. “But, if we can do that much without magic…we might actually have a leg to stand on when we get there.”

Looks were exchanged around the table, bright smiles and wide eyes of disbelief. Eve recognized the look immediately; it was the look of a Library team when they knew they’d come up with a plan.

“So this is it then?” Maggie said. She almost cried and her next words were breathy. “We’re going after the Serpent Brotherhood? Taking our world back?”

“Let’s see.” Cassandra said.

She took a deep breath and turned around before closing her eyes and whispering on. Her hands spread out in front of her, as she laid out the map only she could see. She looked around the room and a soft smile crossed her face. Everyone in the room knew what was happening, had seen it before, and their smiles grew as they all looked at each other. They knew it for sure now: they had a plan.

Chapter Text

Back in the other universe, one night had passed since Eve and The Librarians had disappeared from the other end of the walkie-talkie. The annex was dark, and Flynn sat at the conference table alone, staring at the bottom of a coffee cup. He’d tried to research at first, but had quickly realized there was nothing to research. Jenkins had explained the spell to him plain and simple; there was nothing Flynn could do to bring them home. Sitting here, hopeless, he felt paralyzed.

“Mr. Carsen,” Jenkins said softly, approaching the table. “I really think maybe you should go home and get some sleep.”

“What’s the point?” Flynn replied. “It’s not like there’s anything I can do that I’d have to be well rested for.”

Flynn couldn’t bear to think of going home. If he went home his pain would only get worse. All he’d be able to think about as he did everything was that Eve was not next to him. As he brushed his teeth he’d miss the smell of her lotion as she stood next to him and applied it. He’d miss her chidings, telling him to put his book down and get some sleep.

“Come on mate,” Ezekiel tried. “It’s not making anything any better just sittin’ awake. I have an extra bed in my flat if you wanna spend the night.”

Flynn exhaled in disbelief. They all meant so well but none of them understood. None of them understood any of it. All he could think to do was stay there. If he went to bed, if he went to any bed, he’d be going to bed without her. There’d be no weight of someone next to him, no one turning and brushing his arm in the middle of her dreams, waking him up and finally coming to lay on his chest. And all night, without the steadiness of her breathing that he’d become so accustomed to, he wouldn’t be able to sleep; he’d lay wide awake, staring at the empty pillow that always cradled her golden curls.

He could accept that she had to do something on her own. He could accept that he might be spending a few nights without her. Through the years, they’d learned to get through any obstacle, and he’d slowly learned what it really had to mean when he said he trusted her. He’d learned how to stay strong and calm in the face of chaos too. Everything should’ve been fine. But there were certain things he just couldn’t see past.

There was nothing he could do to bring her back. She was gone, maybe in trouble, and there was absolutely nothing that he could do about it. If he couldn’t do anything to help her, couldn’t even know where or when she was, how was he supposed to know that she would ever come home? And what kind of Librarian was he if he couldn’t even look after his Guardian?


 

            Eve leaned on the Library banister, looking over the dark and empty annex. She was in the same spot where she’d first stood with Flynn all that time ago, reading the ledger and finding out about the three random people who they were tasked with saving. She’d gone on some crazy principle of maybe being able to feel him, something her Mother would have preached about she was sure, but it really hadn’t made a difference. Still all she could manage was to be frozen with her thoughts.

Three days they’d been in this universe. She was getting used to the idea that she might be here for a while. She was learning a routine, trying to be comfortable, and it all seemed ludicrous. Her job was always to get in, do what needed to be done, and get her and her team out as quickly and as safely as possible. It was all she’d known her whole adult life, even before she came to the Library. And now she had to get used to the idea that that wasn’t a possibility this time.

They had a plan now; they were working towards a goal, towards a happy ending for people who certainly deserved it, and she was certainly happy about that; she was happy about everything that they’d achieved: Flynn was back with his kids, they’d delivered hope to what seemed impossible before, and a couple of heartbroken children got to see their parents again. But in the ways that mattered towards her getting to sleep at night, all of that meant nothing. Sure they knew how to start defeating the Serpent Brotherhood, but they still knew nothing about what had happened to them, or how they were getting back home.

“Couldn’t sleep huh?”

Eve turned and startled as she saw Flynn standing next to her. He’d been so quiet she hadn’t heard him coming. That wasn’t like her Flynn: just another reminder of how much different this world was from her own.

“I always liked to come here when I couldn’t sleep.” Flynn continued, leaning his own arms on the banister just like her own. “There’s something extra calming about it at night.”

“I wanted to sleep,” Eve said, not meeting eyes with her new company. “I just…”

“You couldn’t.” Flynn said, finishing her sentence. Maybe he really wasn’t all that different.

“Bed didn’t feel right, right?”

Eve looked over at him then with wide and confused eyes.

“I’ve somewhat been in your shoes remember.” he explained.

Eve felt immediately small then, wanting to kick herself for not thinking about that the second Flynn answered her.

“If it’s any consolation,” he continued. “I bet whatever universe you’re in, I’m…Flynn’s not sleeping either. If he’s anything like me he’s still here. So maybe you can feel close to him knowing you’re both awake or something…”

“You sound like my mother.” Eve said with a laugh.

“She did always like me.”

Eve laughed again and turned towards Flynn now. Whether or not he was similar to her Flynn, she’d found that, despite her expectations, company made things a little bit easier.

“I’m really sorry Flynn.” she sighed, after a moment had passed.

“For what?”

“For all of this. I mean your life is well…and I’m sitting here moping like no one’s ever had it worse than me.”

“Don’t apologize! This is hard for you based on what you’ve known, in your life. I’m not gonna be one to tell you to not miss someone…no matter what the context is.”

Eve said nothing, simply staring down at the annex again, thinking about everything she’d seen there in all the different worlds she’d visited.

“I should go.” Flynn said. “I don’t want Maggie and Will to wake up in the middle of the night and think I’ve run off again.”

When Eve still said nothing, Flynn nodded before turning on his heel. As he started to walk away, Eve at last called out.

“You’re doing good with them,” she said. Her smile was weak as she addressed him, hoping she was saying the right thing. “You really are.”

“Thank you.” Flynn said quietly. “That means a lot coming from you.”

He started away again, but then paused before turning back to Eve.

“For what it’s worth,” he said. “I think everything is going to work out, that it’s all gonna be fine…for you I mean.”

“And what makes you think that?”

“Because: I know you two; you always find a way to make it through.”

Without another word, Flynn disappeared into the shelves, leaving Eve alone once again. As she looked over the annex once more, her mind went straight to Flynn back at home. Maybe this was all her mother ever meant when she talked about feeling people: a series of memories with a warmth in your chest. Her eyes drifted down to Flynn’s favorite spot at the conference table, and she wondered if back home, he was trying to feel her too.

Chapter Text

The next day, the team was gathered in the annex, Jenkins and Flynn standing in the front of the pack.

“So!” Jenkins said, pointing to pictures on the glass display wall. “To review: the Serpent Brotherhood released magic back into the world. The laylines are fully present and active, and -because they have the Crown of King Arthur- they have control over all of the magic which they released.”

“So we need to get magic out of the world again.” Eve said. “Recede they laylines like we’ve done before.”

“But we can’t do that while the Brotherhood has control of magic.” Cassandra added.

Jenkins nodded and Flynn paced back and forth in front of the group. Everyone sat there, pensive. It was a rough case to crack, which was why they hadn’t done anything about it yet.

“We know we might be able to defeat the Brotherhood with Jake and Cassandra’s help.” William added.

“That’s not even half a plan.” Summer snapped, sitting alone at the other side of the table.

“We know that.” Maggie shot back, rolling her eyes. “We’re trying to come up with a plan as it is.”

“Wait what happens if we get the crown back from them?” Cassandra asked, having been lost again in her own vexations.

“We’d have control over magic.” Jenkins said.

“So we need to get the crown away from the Brotherhood.” Jake said. “If we can find them.”

“Yes, but that doesn’t solve the problem of removing magic. Magic is in the world and while a single person has control of it, it can still leak out to others. There would still be many issues within our world.”

“So we need to figure out how to recede the laylines again.” Maggie realized, looking up from her lap where she’d been staring.

“Yes, but that’s easier said than done.” Jenkins explained. “Normally, putting Excalibur back into the stone again could recede the laylines. But because of the manner in which the Brotherhood handles returning magic…”

“Excalibur is dead again.” Eve said, finishing the caretaker’s sentence. “We need to find out another way.”

Flynn, who up until now had not said anything, stood up straight and snapped his fingers.

“Clarent.” he said.

Eve and the other Librarians looked at Flynn confused as he raced off into the annex bookshelves. Jenkins, however, had wide eyes, and looked almost concerned.

“Jenkins,” Eve asked. “What’s Clarent?”

Who is Clarent.” Flynn corrected her, coming back into the main area holding a large book under his arm.

How does he always find those books so quickly? Eve thought.

Flynn dropped the book on the conference table and Summer jumped back as a large cloud of dust arose from the jacket. Flynn fanned it away and flipped to a certain page that he knew by heart.

“Clarent.” he stated, pointing to the picture of the sword in the book. When no one responded, he beckoned for the Librarians and children to join him.

“Clarent is an Arthurian sword of peace.” Flynn began to explain.

Great, Eve thought. Another personified sword.

“It was used only ceremonially to appoint Kings and members of the royal court,” Flynn explained. “However, it was only once used for violence. Anyone know when that was?”

“It was Mordred.” Jake said. “He used it to slay Arthur.”

Flynn nodded at him with acknowledgement. He’d gotten so used to letting the whole team contribute over the years, and he was trying hard now to continue the pattern. Plus, it helped to know what level of knowledge he was dealing with when it came to these alternate Librarians.

“Precisely,” Flynn said. “And it is because of those two factors that…”

“Clarent can recede the laylines if placed into the stone.” Maggie said, cutting her father off.

Flynn beamed at her and everyone else simply looked surprise. He didn’t know she knew this much artifact history.

“I read about it a few months ago when I couldn’t sleep one night.” she explained. “I like to learn about the artifacts when I have spare time. Anyway, because Clarent is a sword of peace, he can be used to undo evil. And because Excalibur was Arthur’s sword and Clarent was used to slay Arthur, he can be used to complete the opposite actions of Excalibur.”

Maggie sounded excited, like Eve always heard her Librarians get when they were onto something.

“Are you saying we actually have a shot at this?” Summer asked, finally acknowledging the rest of the group and sitting up a little bit taller.

“Well once we get the crown we have magic back and we can use the backdoor, get to London to get to the stone.”

“All we need to do,” Flynn said. “Is find the Serpent Brotherhood without magic, and then we’re home free.”

Smiles crossed the faces of everyone in the room, and in the eyes of those who belonged in that universe there was something else, something that they hadn’t had in three years: hope.

“Alright Librarians.” Flynn said, with the time tested voice of a true leader. “Do we have a plan?”

Flynn walked to an empty space on the floor and placed his hand out in front of him. Cassandra and Jake smiled at each-other as they walked up and did the same, placing their hands on top of Flynn’s.

“I’ve always wanted to do this!” Maggie squealed, as she skipped over and placed her hand with her father’s. With a soft smile, Will followed suit, and Michael joined in next, landing next to his cousin with a hop. Eve shook her head and, holding back tears, joined the circle.

Eyes all turned to Summer next. She hesitated for a moment before sighing and getting up from her seat. Michael’s eyes filled with even more joy. Maggie wanted to cry.

“I guess I’m in.” she said, placing her hand in the middle of them.

“This doesn’t mean I’m happy about what’s going on.” she clarified, causing a few eye rolls and snickers. “I just wanna do what I’ve always planned to: save the world.”

But in that moment, even closed off Summer could not help but give in and smile. They had hope in a hopeless world. There was no guarantee they would succeed, no guarantee they would even come close, but they were Librarians, and they’d be damned if they weren’t going to try.

Chapter Text

Summer was walking through one of the Library hallways, carrying a stack of books she’d been researching with to reshelf. She’d been on her own the past two days to do as she pleased; Michael had elected to spend the nights with their Uncle. She really didn’t understand him sometimes, but she shook it off. She liked the alone time. It was…she was able to do what she needed to without interruptions or obligations.

 She thought she was alone, being that it was late, and most of the rooms she passed were dark. As she passed the main annex however, she heard light chatter and saw that a light was on. Always on alert for anything that could go wrong, she snuck up against the adjacent wall and leaned her ear close to the door.

Just listening, she couldn’t make out who was there, or what was happening. There was just a lot of giggling and whispering…more giggling now. She turned her head in a bit to see what was happening and immediately rolled her eyes: Jake and Cassandra were having tea at the conference table.

They really were obnoxious, whoever they were; they never let up, ever. It felt like everything she did she had to witness them making gaga-eyes at each-other. You’d think coming into someone else’s life, practically someone else’s home, they could learn to be a bit more subtle.

Whatever, she thought. She shook it off and continued to walk towards the shelves. But her ears were still tuned into Jake and Cassandra, involuntarily or not, she didn’t know. Their laughter had stopped and only silence was coming from the space now. Summer couldn’t help it: she stopped. She may not have liked them, but she wanted them to be okay…and sometimes silence meant things weren’t okay.

“Four days,” Cassandra said. “We’ve been here four days.”

“It’s gonna be okay Cassie.” Jake’s voice replied. “We’re gonna make everything right.”

“I know that I just…” Summer heard the sound of tears now. “It’s so hard Jacob. I love them and they’re not mine and I don’t know why I love them.”

Jake said nothing, but Summer heard the sound of continued tears. She didn’t know why she continued to listen, but she was locked in, tuned into their every word.

“I’m just happy,” Cassandra continued. “That we can help them somewhat. Watching Michael’s smiles whenever he’s with us.”

“It reminds me what I love about being a Librarian.” Jake said.

“But Summer…she just won’t let me in. And I get it, I do, but I just wanna do for her what I’m doing for Michael. I watch Baird with Maggie, and I want that. And I want to help her and I just sit here and I just….is she okay? How am I supposed to feel right with myself if I don’t know? Do you think she’s gonna be okay, once we’re gone from here?”

The conversation continued on, but Summer didn’t hear anything else. A few words that Cassandra had said stayed with her, played on repeat over and over and she didn’t know why.

Do you think she’s gonna be okay?

Why did it sound so familiar coming from Cassandra’s mouth? Suddenly, a memory came to mind, a memory that she didn’t even knew she had. But it stopped her in her tracks and consumed every ounce of her attention, as clear as if it was playing out right in front of her on a movie screen.

She was eleven. She was supposed to be asleep, but there was no way she could’ve slept; she was too excited. Tomorrow was going to be a big day for her: not only was it her first day out in the field with any Librarian, but she got to spend the whole day alone with her Uncle Flynn. She always had so much fun with him. She had lots of Aunts and Uncles, and Flynn technically was not related to her, but nevertheless he was by far her favorite Uncle. And, if she was spending the day with him, that meant she got to spend the whole day with Maggie and Will too. Yeah; there was no way she was getting to sleep anytime soon.

She was, as she often did, hiding underneath her covers with a flashlight and continuing to read the Harry Potter book that her mother had refused to read her just one more chapter of. She’d been up for a while, but the key was to make it look like she was sleeping, which was why her parents did not hesitate to talk right by her door.

She was never supposed to hear the conversation; they were almost whispering too. But she heard it. It didn’t mean anything to her then; she was just a little girl and problems or troubles didn’t exist. But now, the words she’d heard come from her mother’s mouth that night meant so much more, more than they ever meant then.

“Do you think she’ll be okay without us?” her mother asked. She almost sounded like she was going to cry.

Summer’s parents were not coming with her on this case with her. They were going to a funeral in Oklahoma, for Summer’s grandfather who she’d never met. She’d asked if she could come and say goodbye, but her parents had told her it was best if she stayed home. Michael was going to stay with her Aunt Eve and she was going to do some routine artifact retrieval with Flynn and her cousins.

“She’s a big girl,” she heard her father say. “She’s excited. And you know Flynn will take good care of her.”

Summer stood in the annex hallway now, five years later, so fixed on a conversation she hadn’t given a single thought to since it happened. And then she didn’t know what came over her, but she started to cry. She never cried; she couldn’t cry; she was too strong to cry. But now she sobbed and she couldn’t stop the tears. Pain she always pushed away for just this reason filled her up, and she slid down the wall to sit on the floor, dropping her books next to her.

Do you think she’ll be okay without us?

They only meant for the day, for her going on her first case without them. There was no way they could’ve known they’d end up meaning this. If they’d known surely they never would’ve asked, because they would’ve known that she wouldn’t be okay, that she’d never be okay without them, no matter how much she pretended she was, no matter how much she wanted to be. How was she supposed to be okay without them? They were her Mom and Dad.

She continued to cry, to sob, to almost scream, to throw it all out and tell the universe how much she wasn’t okay. She was so focused on the memory, and her thoughts, that she didn’t even realize how loud she’d been, until suddenly she heard the pounding of footsteps running towards her.

She looked up and saw Jake and Cassandra in front of her. They looked terrified and they were just standing there staring at her. Her eyes fell down and she saw that their hands were entwined.

God!” she exclaimed, because of course they were here. Of course they would come when they were the last people in the world that she wanted to see. Of course they would come and see her like this, and convince themselves even further that they belonged, that they were needed, somewhere where they didn’t, where they weren’t.

“Summer,” Jake said, starting to step towards her.

She quickly rose to her feet and backed away from him.

“Must you two always just shove yourselves in everywhere? Aren’t you supposed to be smart or something? Can’t you see I don’t want you here?”

With that she picked up her books and stormed away, leaving the two Librarians standing dumbfounded. She didn’t see Jake’s arm come and wrap around Cassandra’s shoulders, or her head fall on his shoulder.

Once she was finally away from them she ducked in between two shelves and the tears started coming again. She was alone. Who was she supposed to talk to about this? Who was supposed to be her crying shoulder? Her cousins would insist on her being nicer to the strangers they’d encountered. Her little brother insisted on being around their Uncle who’d abandoned them. Her parents were dead. And who was left: two people who she didn’t know, who weren’t her parents, and who would never understand.

Chapter Text

The next day, everyone was hanging around the Library, heavily involved in research. Flynn and Maggie were learning all they could about Clarent. Eve worked with Will on defense strategies. In the main annex, Jake sat with Jenkins going over the artifact inventory so they knew what the Serpent Brotherhood had. Michael was moving around from place to place, eager to help wherever he could, or to simply watch everyone work.

Summer sat at the conference table, assuring everyone that it should be her who figured out where the Brotherhood was. She’d been studying their movement patterns and was now analyzing them in her head. Though she’d refused her offer from help, Cassandra hung close by.

“I think I’ve almost figured out where the brotherhood might be hiding now.” Summer muttered staring into space and moving around numbers that only she could see, just like her Mother. “There’s just this one inconsistency in their patterns that’s tripping me up.”

“Maybe I can help.” Cassandra said, trying to get through to her.

Even if Summer had her abilities, surely they were more mature and developed in Cassandra, and she was pretty certain she’d be able to work through the inconsistency. She reached over and tried to grab the paper. Summer smacked her hand away.

“I don’t need help.” she snapped. “I just need five more minutes.”

Cassandra thought back to the night before, finding Summer crying in the annex hallway. She knew the girl was in pain and needed someone to be there for her. If only she could find the way to get her to accept her friendship.

“How long have you been trying already?” Cassandra spoke kindly, hoping some light joking around would improve Summer’s mood.

“I said I don’t need your help!” Summer yelled.

Cassandra sighed and sat down on the stool next to her.

“Look,” she said. “I know I’m not really your Mom, but…”

“No!” Summer shouted, turning towards her, finally coming unhinged after bottling up her frustration for the five days they’d been there.

“You’re not! You’re never going to be my mother, no matter how long you’re here. You’re never going to be anything like her!”

Cassandra said nothing and sunk back. She wanted to reach out and grab Summer in her arms, to stop her from breaking down, but now she was just continuing to yell, to the point where her face was growing flushed.

Summer hadn’t want to yell, but her experience last night still affected her. One memory had turned into dozens, and now they all spilled out of her, directing at Cassandra her anger about all those memories being so far away from her reach.

“You can’t help me and try to make it the same! You don’t have the memories of doing my math homework with me!” Her voice grew louder and cracked more and more with each sentence. Michael had just walked into the room, and immediately saw what was happening.

“You don’t know what my favorite color is! You don’t know what you and Daddy would read me before bed! You don’t even know what my favorite book is! You don’t know what you told me when you realized I had synesthesia! You don’t know anything! You’re not my mother. You’re never going to be anything like my mother. I’m never going to see my mother again!”

Summer stormed out of the room and down the hallway. Cassandra stood there in shock with tears in her eyes. Michael flashed her a sympathetic smile and raced off after his sister.

He found her exactly where he expected he would: in their Mom’s old lab. She sat on the couch hugging a picture of her and their parents. It was the first time he’d seen her cry at all in years, and now she was sobbing.

“What is wrong with you?!” he shouted.

“Go away Michael!” she jeered.

His hands formed into fists and he found himself fuming. He couldn’t hide his anger anymore. He was tired of getting this same response from her every time he tried to so much as talk to her. He couldn’t live like that anymore.

“I’m so sick of this Summer!” he shouted. “I’m so sick of you pretending like you’re the only person who was hurt by all of this! We all lost people. And yet, you storm around and pout and shove everyone off and we’re all just supposed to accept that and let you be because you’re in pain and you lost everything. Well guess what: I lost everything too!”

“I know you lost everything!” Summer yelled back. “Everything I’ve done has been to try and protect you, to stop you from getting hurt more, to make this world better for you again!”

“Really Summer? Because you’ve done a damn rotten job of it. You know what I needed all this time? I needed my big sister. I needed my big sister who ruffled my hair, and danced with me for hours on end, and tickled me ‘till I was laughing whenever I cried, and played any game with me I wanted to at any time. I needed her more than anything in the world because I didn’t have anything else left.

“If you really wanted to help me you would’ve still smiled at me sometimes. You wouldn’t have walked away every time I asked you to work on my puzzle books with me. You would’ve been sleeping at Uncle Flynn’s with me these past few nights!”

“You’re not being fair Michael! You handled the grief your way but this is how I handled it! Our lives are different! I’m never gonna be that same person I was!”

They’d never fought. In all the years they’d been alive they’d never ever fought. And now, here they were, screaming at each other louder than they’d ever screamed at anyone, hot and red in the face.

“Of course you’re never going to be exactly the same!” Michael continued. “But you don’t have to treat people so rotten! Uncle Flynn’s trying as hard as he can to make up for his mistakes and you won’t give him the time of day. Maggie and Will try to smile at you, to joke with you, to make you feel better, and you shove them off every time! And now these people get here and…”

“If you’re referring to what just happened inside…”

“I know that’s not Mom!” Michael yelled, cutting Summer off. “We both do! But to treat Cassandra like that was just…evil! She knows she can’t be Mom, but she was trying to help you, to give you some semblance of peace!”

“You were only eight when they died,” she hissed. “You don’t remember them like I do!”

“You think I don’t Summer but I do! I don’t have as many memories as you, but they’re just as clear! I remember reading together before bedtime, and dancing around our living room, and Christmas morning, and the vacations we took! I remember what their smiles looked like!

“You are not the only one who remembers them enough to miss them! We had a great life with them, and nothing can ever replace that, not even those people who came here. But you know what? I wished and wished for so long for just one more shot to hug Mom and Dad, or to hear their voices, and now I have that chance. So I’m going to soak up every minute of it. If I were you I’d do the same.”

Michael gave his sister one last hard look and then turned and marched out of the room. Summer leaned over and watched him go. When he got to the doorway, Jake had been waiting there, looking for them. She watched Michael run right into his arms and bury his head in his chest. Jake gave a harsh look at the room, then walked away holding Michael.

She fell back on the bed and cried again, and threw the picture she was holding to the floor. Everyone left her, even her little brother. She was so goddamn stubborn that she’d driven him away, watched with her own two eyes as he chose other people over her.

None of them understood. Everyone and everything in her life had failed her. But today, for the first time, a new pain came to her: she had failures as well, ones that she didn’t know how to amend.


 

Late at night, long after everything had transpired, Jake was lying awake in bed. He was about to give up on tossing and turning when a light knock sounded at the door. Confused and drowsy, he rubbed his eyes as he opened it; he should’ve known right away it was going to be her.

Cassandra stood in front of him, not saying a word. Her hands were held together low by her waist and she was as visibly tired as he felt now. She simply looked up at him with questioning, begging eyes. She didn’t need to say anything. He knew exactly what she was thinking. He was thinking the same thing.

I need you tonight.

Jake stepped aside and motioned her in, closing the door quietly behind them. After the night they’d had, modesty and fear could no longer be afforded. She was the only one who could understand what he was feeling, why he couldn’t sleep. Even though they’d fallen into the same situation, things were different for Baird.

She climbed into his bed and he climbed back in next to her. She inched closer to him and he let her, wrapping his arm around her and allowing her head to rest on his chest. They closed their eyes and through the whole exchange, neither of them said a word.

He didn’t know what any of it meant for him, or for them. He didn’t know if it meant anything other than needing a hand to hold after a hard day. All he knew was that things here were getting too hard to deal with alone, and when things were too hard, she was the only person he wanted by his side.


 

            Baird woke in the middle of the night to see that Cassandra was no longer in her bed. She didn’t know what time it was; there weren’t working clocks here. The only time they could measure was the days passed, by the rising and setting of the sun. It was dark outside, so she knew she wasn’t awake for the morning. She wasn’t usually one to wake up more than once, so she didn’t know why she was awake now. And then her stomach lurched.

Frantic, she jumped out of the bed and sprinted to the bathroom, getting to the toilet just in time for her to vomit right into the bowl. She heaved for a couple of minutes before sitting up and wiping her mouth. She patted away the tears that had fallen from exertion and sat still on the cold bathroom floor.

She’d had stomach bugs before. Things like this didn’t faze her. Any other time she would’ve crawled herself back to bed and detoxed on ginger-ale and crackers all the next day. But this time was different than any other time. This time left her frozen on the cold bathroom floor. Because her mind went to one thing.

Her period was already late, but she’d accounted it to the new amount of stress they’d just thrown into. But now…throwing up when she hadn’t been nauseous a little while after she’d missed her period.

She thought of Maggie and Will. And then she was reaching for the toilet again.

Chapter Text

Two days passed and time dragged by. There was nothing to do but research and plan, to prepare for something that might just leave them all more doomed than they already were. There was not many things they could use to lighten the load, wash the stress away of it all, and time was of the essence too: most waking moments were spent focused on the mission.

Cassandra had taken to the Library hallways to take a walk and clear her head. Lately all she’d been able to think about was home, and if she’d ever see it again. It wasn’t just that they might never figure out how to get home; she might not survive this trip. Going up against a powerful-as-ever Serpent Brotherhood with not much magic at all was risky, riskier than anything they’d ever done. As dangerous as the Library’s missions were, they always went in with an advantage-never as the underdogs.

She thought about all the people she might never see again, the things she might never do again. It shouldn’t have been hard; she’d had to make peace with death at a very young age. But now it was different. She’d just been promised a future for the first time in her life. For the first time-if she died- she had something to lose.

She reached the Annex and seeing it mostly dark, walked inside. She thought it would be a good place to go: where all of her years of adventure had started; there was something peaceful about it.

Given how few candles were lit, she figured she would be alone, so she was startled when she saw Summer sitting at the conference table. Only one small candle was in the room, right next to her. Knowing how easily Summer was upset, and especially given the circumstances of the past few days, Cassandra stopped in her tracks and tried to sneak out before she was noticed. It must’ve been too late though, because Summer started talking out loud.

“He’s never been mad at me.” she said. “Almost twelve years I’ve been his big sister and he’s never been mad at me. Now he won’t even talk to me.”

Her voice was softer and more sullen than Cassandra had ever heard it. There was a pause and She wasn’t sure if she was being addressed, or if Summer had just been thinking out loud. She stayed hidden and didn’t move, just in case Summer hadn’t in fact seen her. After a while, she spoke again.

“You know they really were the best parents ever. I guess every kid says that, but I know for me it was true.”

Cassandra stood and listened, knowing that saying something would get her nowhere. Watching Summer the past week, she’d learned that the girl didn’t always take kindly to others, even when they had the best intentions. Maybe she could connect with her after all. Maybe after all this trying, all Summer needed was someone to listen when she was ready.

Cassandra smiled: seemed Summer was an awful lot like her father.

Summer stood up and stared walking out of the room. She stopped when she came next to Cassandra, and for a moment it seemed there may be a moment about to happen. Cassandra breathed in and stood on her toes, preparing herself for what she may have to do or say. But Summer simply exhaled and nodded.

“Just, blow out the candle when you’re done in here.” she said, and disappeared.

Cassandra walked slowly over to the Annex table trying to absorb what she’d just witnessed. The girl she’d just seen in here was like someone she’d never met before. And yet, somehow she could tell nothing had changed. As she reached the point at the table where Summer had been sitting, her breath caught in her throat, and she realized why she’d just seen what she did.

Pictures were sprawled out all over the table, pictures of Summer and Michael and…Jake and her. Slowly, without thinking about it, she sat down in Summer’s chair and started looking at the photos. She knew maybe it was wrong to- learning too much about her future could be dangerous- but she couldn’t resist. It was like something was pulling her towards them.

Butterflies fluttered around her stomach as she saw each image. Haunting wasn’t the right word to describe the feeling; it was too pleasant. Something similar filled her inside though, something she couldn’t describe: a fact which made her uneasy.

In the pictures she saw, they really were a happy family. Summer had taken out all kinds of pictures: moments she would’ve have memories of, and moments she likely didn’t remember on her own. The girl Cassandra saw in the photos was almost foreign. Looking into her eyes, she could see the Summer she’d met here, but only in appearance were they the same. The girl in the photographs always had a big smile on her face-the most beautiful smile Cassandra had ever seen. In every picture her hair was curled and bouncing above her shoulders. She was bubbly and dressed in bright colors. It seemed impossible that this was the same girl with a tight braid and dull hunting clothes who always wore a frown.

Cassandra’s eyes continued to scan every picture. Then her eyes came on the last one, the one closest to the candle. Her eyes froze on it and it took all of her focus. Apparently Summer had been looking at more than just photos of her own moments with her family. The photo showed Jake and her- just them. She was in a light purple gown and he was in a suit. They must’ve been at some kind of special dinner. Her eyes were closed and she was laughing, and he was kissing her on the cheek.

She didn’t know why her heart stopped now, why a lump the size of a golf ball was stuck on the middle of her throat. She was used to this by now: for a week she’d been learning about the Jake and Casandra of this world, hearing Jenkins trip up and accidentally start calling her Mrs. Stone; she’d met her children for crying out loud. But seeing this picture-a clear visual of what was apparently true- seemed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. She started to palpitate and her hands got clammy. She forgot to blow out the candle, and ran out of the room in a panic.

            She was looking to be alone. She expected the lab she’d been using to be empty when she got there. So when she saw Jake sitting on the desk with a cup of tea, she screamed.

“Hey!” he said cheerily. “Sorry; didn’t mean to scare ya.”

Cassandra said nothing and simply turned away, afraid to look at him for too long. As soon as she saw his face, all she could think about was the picture she’d seen of them, ten years older, giggly and kissing, holding their children, hosting holidays in a home that wasn’t an apartment.

“Cassie,” Jake said, hopping off the desk and walking towards her. “What’s wrong? Did something happen? Did Summer say something to you?”

He reached out to touch her arm but Cassandra pulled back as soon as they made contact. Tears of panic were building up in her eyes and she didn’t want him to see them. She crossed her arms and refused to turn towards him. Jake backed away and his look of concern slowly turned into one of anger.

“Alright Cassie what the hell?” he said.

“What?” she snapped.

“I don’t know, I’m just unsure why I’m being given the cold shoulder when-as far as I’m concerned, everything was just fine between us an hour ago.”

“It’s been a bad day.” Cassandra said through her teeth, trying still to hold back her tears.

“Well then forgive me Cassie,” Jake said, almost yelling now. “I didn’t know that I had to be careful about being near you in that situation. Because you see-I thought- after you’ve been leaning your head onto me every time Summer yells at us, and sleeping in the same bed as me for the past two nights- it would be safe for me to come to your lab and ask if you wanted to have lunch.”

“Jake,” she said, trying to quickly come up with an excuse in her head to get him off of her back without making him angrier.

“No Cassie,” he shouted. “I deserve to know why I’m being treated like this.”

“Because this all sucks!” Cassandra shouted, finally snapping. Her head turned sharply and looked towards Jake, and her eyes were filled with tears. She couldn’t hold it in anymore. She couldn’t not tell him what was on her mind. He wanted to know why she was crying so badly: well he was about to find out more than he probably ever wanted to know.

“You think it doesn’t suck for me too?” Jake shouted back.

“That’s not what I meant!” Cassandra was so heated her voice cracked now, and she took a moment before continuing. After the wait, her voice was a bit calmer, more able to convey what exactly it was she was feeling.

“I never thought it was going to be you.” she said. “Maybe when we first met, and for a few months when we came back from Peru too, maybe I thought that there was something…but I made myself let it go. Nothing seemed to happen and there was Lamia, and Mabel, and Estrella, and eventually it started to become like some weird memory, and I….I never thought it would be you and apparently it is and I just don’t know how to deal with that.”

The tears that were gathered in her eyes streamed down her face now with a tight blink. The things she didn’t say crossed her mind, why it was so hard to know that it was him: because it made so much sense. He was the first person she wanted to tell exciting news, the first person she wanted to run to when she was sad, the person she looked the most forward to seeing every day, the one she missed the most on weekends. He understood her in ways even she didn’t fully, he was always by her side, even when he was mad. And seeing the picture of him kissing her, the truth crashed on her like a wave: it would be so easy to fall in love with him.

“Cassie…” he said.

“What?” she shouted back, looking away, because surely he was going to shoot her down, going to remind her in his gentle way that the truth in one reality did not mean the same in another, that they could love each-other as best friends.

And then, doing the thing he least expected, he walked up to her, grabbed her chin in his hands and kissed her. She stumbled for a moment, trying to register what was happening. He pulled back gently, and pushed her curls behind her ear.

“For a smart girl Cassandra Cillian, you’re pretty slow with this stuff,” he teased. The smile on his face reminded her why that picture had made her heart stop the way it had.

“It was always you for me,” Jake said softly. “It was only a matter of waiting until our time came.”

Cassandra smiled brightly and with a cry, wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him into an embrace. He held her close to him and behind her back, she didn’t see the starstruck smile of a man who’d just seen all his dreams come true.

“So think we’d still be okay to get that lunch now?” he asked, once they’d parted.

“I think the odds would definitely be in your favor there cowboy.”

He beamed at her and her lips turned into a smile of new promises. She edged closer to him and her hand came down until it brushed his and then, ever so gently, their fingers intertwined. They walked out of the lab together, and with each step they took, Cassandra felt the courage to edge closer and closer to him.

They were in for an adventure; getting here had by no means been a straight path and like all great love stories, “easy” would not be the best word to describe what was ahead. But none of it mattered because they knew now they were ready to do this together; they were ready to take the terrifying leap into what they’d somewhat always known was there.

Chapter Text

Jenkins was flipping through paperwork that night in his office. Eve waited with trepidation by the door. She needed answers now, or the back and forth currently going on in her mind was going to continue to plague her- a matter which she certainly could not afford. And the wise old caretaker, no matter what universe they were in, would certainly be someone who could help her get those answers. But it seemed odd to her, that he would be the first person she would tell. They were close sure, and she felt it easy to confide in him, but this situation was different, and she didn’t really know this Jenkins. Her discomfort made it harder to take a usually mindless walk up to him.

She took a deep breath and shoved herself in. Standing and thinking had never been one of her strong suits. She needed to charge in head first: it was how she operated.

“Jenkins,” she said, walking tall as if nothing were wrong. “Quick question.”

“Yes Colonel,” he said, his eyes not rising from his work. He hadn’t looked at her directly many times since she arrived here. “How may I be of assistance?”

“Well, you said that even though we don’t have technology that simple science still works…with chemicals?” she stuttered.

This was going to be harder than she’d thought.

“Yes.” Jenkins replied, still not looking at her.

Just say it Eve Baird thought, as she breathed in and out. You don’t have anything to lose.

“Does that list of things that work include say…pregnancy tests?” Eve inhaled sharply and jerked back as she awaited the caretaker’s response.

Her statement had finally gotten Jenkins to pay her some attention. He dropped what he was holding and looked sharply up at her. His eyes, full of questioning, made her shrink back. This was not something she wanted to share with someone who was practically a stranger. She wasn’t even sure Jenkins would’ve been her first choice to talk to even if she was back home. But fate had afforded her no other option at the time, so now here she was in a familiar but unfamiliar room, the weight of the world sitting in the pit of her stomach, an old man staring at her with intentions she couldn’t yet read.

“Colonel…” Jenkins began.

“Jenkins please don’t make anything out of this.” she begged. “I just need to know and you’re the person who would be able to tell me without any consequence.”

“Well,” Jenkins replied, after a breath. “Pregnancy detection devices operate on the principle of detecting chemicals and hormones in a urine sample so-as long as the particular brand did not involve battery power- I would say they should work just fine.”

Eve nodded, her eyes not focused on him as thoughts ran through her head.

“That being said,” Jenkins continued. “I’m not sure if we have access to any here. There really never would have been a reason for any to be in the Library…not for a while now.”

Eve looked down at the desk and swayed back and forth on her heels, a sight usually more characteristic of Flynn than herself. Her throat felt tight as thoughts raced through her head. Speaking about pregnancy tests made the idea of taking one more real, and thus the idea of needing to take one. She’d done it before in her life of course, but this was different. This time the result would mean so many things, mean so many conflicting feelings…no matter what that result was.

“That doesn’t mean we definitely don’t have any.” Jenkins said softly, noticing Baird’s discomfort. “There’s a room next to where the Sun Room used to be. We put in everything we could gather in there that were remnants of the world before, just in case we ever had the opportunity to repair things, and as a resource for refugees. You may be able to find something there.”

Eve nodded and turned to walk out of the room, not wanting to bother Jenkins any more than she already had. To her surprise, he called out to her before she could leave.

“Eve,” he said. She turned to face him. It was rare he used her first name.

“Whatever should happen…I’d wish you good luck, but I assure you that you won’t need it. And I hope whatever results you’re looking for, that you get them, and that they bring you great happiness.”

Eve smiled and left the office then. Jenkins comforting smile grew into a worried frown as soon as he couldn’t see her any longer. He didn’t tell her why. He didn’t tell her that he knew what spell had brought her here, and that there was a fair chance she wouldn’t ever break it. He didn’t tell her that he now knew exactly what part of her life timeline she came from, because then she’d have figured out that he only knew so because he knew when Margaret and William Carsen were born.


 

            An hour later, Eve walked out of one of the Library’s bathrooms, her hand still trembling from when it had held something minutes ago. She could tell herself it was just one test-and probably a cheap one at that. She could tell herself she needed to get home and see a doctor to really be sure. But when she was honest with herself, the truth was annoyingly clear: a missed period, waking up to randomly vomit, and a positive pregnancy test; any one of them alone was one thing, but all three together was a pretty easy puzzle to solve.

There was another thing, and it sounded so stupid- again something her Mother would probably believe in. It was like she knew, like she could sense it. It could’ve had something to do with the Library, or maybe more to do with meeting Maggie and William.

Whoa she thought, stumbling back. Were Maggie and William who she was pregnant with? Did alternate universes work like that, or were her babies going to be different? All other details so far had seemed consistent. She’d gotten over the panic of having twins here, but the concept became unfathomable once again when it was actually her this time.

How would Flynn react to babies? How was she going to tell Flynn? He’d storm out of the Library in a panic and then she wouldn’t hear from him again for two months. And how was she supposed to be a Guardian when she was pregnant? Weren’t there rules or something about not running or sword-fighting or jumping off buildings with a baby in your stomach? Or two babies?

All these thoughts crossed her mind and she hyperventilated, her knuckles turning white on the Library railing. She wasn’t pregnant. She could not be pregnant! She- Eve Baird- did not get pregnant. That was not in the cards anymore.

“Hey I know you’ve been looking at a bunch of books have you seen the…” Flynn’s voice sounded from her left and she turned to see him approaching her. She jumped back and nearly cried out. She didn’t need anyone to see her now-especially not him.

“Hey,” he said, changing course as soon as he saw her. Her eyes were teary and her face was flushed. “Hey are you okay?”

“I…” Eve started, but couldn’t manage to get anything else out.

He put down the book she was holding and reached for her, but she pulled away, something unusual for her. They’d become fairly good friends in the days since she’d arrived here.

Eve continued to say nothing, and refused to look at Flynn, but his gaze on her did not break. He looked her up and down, and his concerned expression turned into a soft smile.

Of course this would happen while she was here he thought.

“You’re pregnant.” he said, his voice bright, like it was in their happiest moments back home.

“How did you…” Eve started, but decided not to finish the question. “You know what, never mind.”

As much as she found his banter endearing, and was usually charmed to hear him pick apart the tiniest details to come to a seemingly impossible conclusion, the last thing she needed right now was to hear about the circumference of her waist and the mathematical frequencies of when and how often she’d been going to the bathroom.

“It’s nothing that you’d think,” Flynn said with a chuckle, as if he’d read her mind. “It’s just…I recognize the way you look. There was a very distinct glow about my Eve when she was having the twins-the two are the same.”

Eve laughed in spite of herself-almost started to cry- and returned to leaning on the railing.

Of course that would be the reason. Why did every existing Flynn have to be so sweet when she least needed him to be?

Flynn came and stood next to her, leaning over the railing with a sigh. She recognized the moment; it was so familiar to so many days back at home.

“Are you okay?” he asked gently.

“I’m…trying to figure everything out.” she said, deciding it was no use to be dishonest.

“You know when my wife was pregnant,” Flynn said after a moment. “She used to make me give her these foot rubs every night. An then there was the midnight runs to convenience stores to satisfy her Beef Jerky cravings- the back door made that one easier- or how she used to laugh at me when I tried to read to her stomach.”

Flynn laughed and was no longer looking at Eve, but instead out into the distance. Eve wanted to be annoyed, Flynn focusing on himself instead of helping her like he’d seemed to be offering. But she couldn’t spite Flynn his memories, not in this situation.

They stood there in silence for a while, each lost in thought, though in completely different manners. Eve was the first to speak, and when she did she wasn’t even sure if she meant to. It was more like one of the questions that was plaguing her sneaking its way out of her mind and off of her lips.

“How did you…take it, when you found out Eve was pregnant? If you don’t mind me asking.” she said, slight hesitation in her voice. It was an awkward question, and even weirder to be using her own name when not referring to herself.

“I was happy immediately.” Flynn said, smiling as he remembered the moments from all that time ago. “The freaking out came about an hour later, thankfully when we were back home. Though, I didn’t freak out nearly as much as I did the time we went to the doctor and heard two heartbeats instead of one.”

Eve joined Flynn in his laughter. All the descriptions sounded just like her Flynn.

“And for a while I was freaking out.” Flynn continued. “I should’ve been taking care of Eve, but it turned out most nights she was taking care of me. But everything changed the first time I felt the baby kick. From that moment…my life was never the same.”

Flynn stopped talking for a moment and seemed to be trailing off again. Eve noticed him looking at nothing, though his eyes were almost pointed upward.

“More importantly than any of that though was how much I loved being a dad, how much I love being a Dad, though I usually seem to suck pretty royally at it.”

This earned more laughter from Librarian and Guardian, and Eve felt her mind start to come a bit to ease. She could picture her Flynn back home doing and being everything this Flynn had described. And it actually made her smile; she actually started to want all of it. At the same time, she couldn’t let go of the other fear that had immediately hit her when she’d seen the test results.

“How did you…manage everything?” she stuttered. “Saving the world and being parents…they both seem like pretty full time jobs.”

“Well I’m not gonna lie and say it was easy,” Flynn explained, still all bright eyes and wistful smiles. “It involved a lot of complicated schedule arranging, and missing the occasional spelling bee. It meant not being together anymore on most of our missions, cause someone had to stay home with the kids. It was rough. But when the day was over and we would just be sitting on the couch with the twins asleep on our laps…every little moment was worth it.”

Eve smiled as new ideas, maybe memories of a time that didn’t exist yet, flooded her mind. She imagined sitting with her family at home, late at night. She imagined what adorably obnoxious kind of a cheerleader Flynn would be at soccer games and spelling bees. She imagined coming home after a tiring case, and watching her kids race into her arms, with Flynn smiling at her from the kitchen counter.

“Hey, Eve?” Flynn said. She looked down at her arm and became aware that he had placed his hand on it, making contact for the first time since joining her. He was looking right at her now too, and she finally let her eyes meet his.

“You’re going to be really happy,” he said softly. “You and Flynn: I know it.”

“Thank you.” Eve said at a whisper, tears coming back to her eyes.

They were so caught in the moment that they were barely aware of the sound of running footsteps approaching them.

“Oh!” Maggie’s voice sounded. They turned towards her and saw her standing dumfounded and frozen in the corner. “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to…”

“Not a problem.” Flynn said, he and Eve looking away from each other just as quickly as they had connected. “What is it sweetie?”

“Cassandra figured out the last piece of the puzzle in the Serpent Brotherhood’s patterns. Their camp should be arriving about twenty miles from here…tonight. They’ll be gone in twelve hours. It’s time to make a move.”

Chapter Text

After a brief recharging rest and a few hours of planning, everyone was ready to set out to find the Serpent Brotherhood. Waiting for the rest of his team, Flynn found himself alone in the main Annex. He walked around the space filled with so many years of memories, knowing there was a chance that it could be the last time he saw it. He’d done this particular turn about the room more times than he cared to count over the course of the years, and yet he remembered each time specifically, down to each and every second.

This time, however, was different. The Library around him was practically dead. Over thirty years he’d been a Librarian, and now he was a Librarian of a dead Library in a destroyed world. There was a haunting feeling in his stomach, a culmination of all the memories that had come from this place: thirty-two years worth.

This room had seen him find his calling. It had seen him grow into a man. It had seen him through the death of his mother, and Judson and Charlene. It had seen him fall in love multiple times. It had seen him have his heartbroken. It had seen him meet the true love of his life, find his own family, get married, become a father. It had felt his tears, tasted his blood. It had been his life.

He walked around and looked at how dull and dark the space was. He couldn’t help but think of how alive it had once been. When he’d met Eve, found Jake and Cassandra and Ezekiel, everything about that Library had changed. It was a change he’d even struggled to embrace, but when all was said and done, he knew that the Library had never been more beautiful, nor alive than when they were all in it. Now they were all dead…and so was the Library.

He walked across the room and came to the tall, full-body mirror that had been in the Annex for-as far as he was concerned-forever. To anyone from the outside world it seemed to be just a mirror, but he knew much better. It could connect people across continents, sometimes even across realms…allow them to communicate. Once upon a time it had housed the soul of Judson, allowing him to speak to his mentor even from the other side of death. And when he’d lost Charlene, he’d seen her again too: through the mirror. In his younger years the mirror had given him the option to let goodbyes be gradual, to have the people he missed with him, until he was truly ready to let them go.

Charlene and Judson had not appeared in the mirror since the day they’d all saved the world from Apep. And he’d made his peace with that. One day he’d see them again, just as Charlene had promised, and he didn’t need a vision in a mirror to know that, or to know that they were with him. He’d had Eve, and all of his friends, and soon after, his children, to keep his life going on. Now though, he found himself missing them more than he had in decades. But if he was honest it wasn’t really Charlene and Judson that he wanted to see appear in that mirror.

In the time since the others had died, he’d find himself wandering to that mirror over and over, even though he knew there was nothing for him to see. Charlene and Judson had resided in the mirror because they’d been immortal, and travelling into the mirror was the way they were able to disconnect their souls from the material world. But his family had never been immortal. They’d never joined their souls to The Library, never stepped into the mirror. They all died outside the Library, by outside, physical, non-magical, non-voluntary means. They were never going to appear behind the old, foggy glass. And although Flynn knew all this, he stood in front of the mirror now, a desperate part of his soul hoping that maybe some miracle would show him Eve’s face.

“They’re brilliant you know.” he said out loud. “In a few years they’ll be more brilliant than I could ever hope to have been.”

Flynn didn’t know if he was thinking out loud, or speaking to the library, or maybe calling out to someone else in the hopes that somewhere out there, she could hear him.

“I wish you were coming today,” he continued. “You’d be so good at this. And you’d get to see them in action.”

Tears filled Flynn’s eyes, the few that-for now- he knew he needed to allow. It had been so long since he’d been on a case without Eve, and he was frantic and foolish. She’d always made them so much more fun, and it felt good to have her next to him as he battled mummies and monsters. Doing it without her now was going to be a challenge. But all the same, he knew it was because of her that he’d be able to get back out there.

“I miss you.” He muttered, the last thing he said before he broke.

In all that time he’d been shut up in his lab, Flynn had rarely cried. In life he rarely cried. He wouldn’t allow himself to; it distracted him from the important things he needed to focus on. But now, he cried. He took the moment alone, and he cried, because he’d lost the people that had finally given him something to miss.

Footsteps sounded from the back hall and Flynn stood up straight and wiped his tears. It was time to take charge now, to lead again. There was one way to make sure that his family did not perish in vain, and that was to keep being the man they’d always helped him to be.

Eve stepped into the room first with the whole pack of Librarians behind her, each of them toting weapons and backpacks full of supplies. Flynn’s eyes fell immediately on Maggie, who walked into the room with a sword on her hip. Immediately his eyes lit up as he looked at her. She was radiant, and more than anything, looked like a true warrior.

“Alright,” Eve said. “So the plan is to start hiking now, set up camp if we need to, until we find the Serpent Brotherhood. We take out as many as we can without magic until we get Clarent.”

“I have some artifacts stashed in all of our packs that we can use once we have the crown back.” William added. “There’s just a few helpful things: helmet of invisibility, flutes of Pan- I think they’ll all be happy to be up and running again.”

“Very good Librarians.” Flynn said. “Excellent plan.”

“I can try and communicate some thoughts to the Serpent Brotherhood soldiers to distract them and let us get the sword.” Cassandra offered. “I can’t guarantee it’ll work…but it’s something.”

“I can’t wait to kick some Brotherhood butt!” Michael exclaimed, jumping and throwing fists into the air.

The other Librarians and Eve exchanged worried looks, communicating something they knew had not yet been shared with the whole group. Flynn walked up to Michael, crouched down to his level, and put a gentle set of hands on his shoulders.

“Hey there Mikey Mouse,” he said, using the nickname he’d always called Michael by. “You’re gonna stay here while we’re out.”

“What?” Michael exclaimed. “Why?! I wanna help!”

Flynn hesitated and searched for the right answer, but Summer beat him to the punch.

“It’s not safe.” she said sternly. “You’re too young to come out into the field.”

You were eleven when you first went out!” he retorted.

“Yeah, on a routine artifact retrieval!”

“That’s enough.” Flynn said. He turned back to Michael.

“It’s going to be really dangerous out there Mike,” Flynn said.

He tried his best and hoped he was saying the right things. Eve was always better at this than him. But he supposed he had to be good at this now. Luckily, the newfound Librarians that had arrived were apparently good at this stuff too, and weren’t content to let him go this alone.

“Someone needs to stay here and help Jenkins with the research.” Jake said from the sideline. “We have to trust someone important with that.”

Flynn eyed Michael nervously and after a moment the kid shrugged.

“Okay.” he said quietly. “I guess I can stay here.”

Flynn smiled at him then offered a hug, which Michael accepted with a toothy grin. Flynn squeezed him tight and almost started to cry again. After he’d seen what he’d seen, he didn’t want to even come close to losing any of these kids ever again.

He walked away from Michael, who took a seat at the conference table, and was approached by Eve next, looking at him proudly, just like his Eve always had.

“Ready for another adventure Librarian?” she asked.

“I guess I am.” he replied.

“Now remember I’m the Guardian.” she said aloud. “No one be afraid to let me take the helm on things.”

Flynn cringed, dreading saying what he had to. There was no telling Eve she couldn’t or shouldn’t do something once she had her mind set on it.

“Actually Eve,” he tried. “I think you should stay here with Michael?”

“What?” she exclaimed. “No way!”

Flynn put a hand on her shoulder and led her to a private corner. Her arms crossed immediately when they got there, and before Flynn could say anything, Eve was in a rant.

“What are you thinking?!” she shouted at a whisper. “I know maybe you feel like you need to protect me or something, but I’m the Guardian and my Librarians are going out into that field. And you’re going out there and I’m the only Guardian here. My job is to protect all Librarians.”

“Eve,” he said softly. “I know full well that you can be the best Guardian out there, I know that you are. But, you have some very important Librarians to protect right now that I don’t think should be heading into an apocalypse.”

Flynn flashed Eve a soft smile and then looked downward towards her stomach. Eve’s eyes followed his and she soon realized what he was suggesting. Her eyes grew wide and she stumbled as she realized her own mistake. She’d never had to think before throwing herself into the line of danger before. Her life was about to change in more ways than she could have imagined it would before.

“I guess I’m gonna have to get used to this huh?” she asked playfully.

“Maybe a little.” Flynn answered.

They both smiled then turned away and the two of them returned to the group.

“Ready Colonel?” Cassandra asked, picking up her bag.

“Actually,” Eve explained, treading carefully as she noticed her Librarians’ confused expressions. “I’m going to stay here with Michael and Jenkins.”

“What?”

“Why!”

A carcophany of protests rung out from the room. Eve struggled to find how to explain herself; she couldn’t very well tell them the truth. It was bad enough two people already knew before her boyfriend did, even if they were from a different universe. As she stood there, at a loss of what to do, a new voice came from the balcony.

“Colonel Baird needs to stay here in case the Library is invaded.”

Eve turned and saw Jenkins walking down the Annex staircase. She flashed him a grateful smile and he returned the gesture before continuing on.

“Certainly I nor young Mr. Stone can hold off an entire army of assassins on our own, and in the world’s state right now, that could certainly happen. You all will have Mr. Stone, and Miss. Stone, and young Mr. Carsen, and all of you can fairly hold your own. The Library, however, needs a Guardian by its side.”

The others nodded, as if to say that Jenkins was making sense. Eve breathed a sigh of relief. The adventure team gathered up their bags and headed to the front door of the annex. Eve watched them go and worry brewed in her stomach. Maybe it was all the stories she’d heard in the past week. Maybe it was how different this all felt: no rigged up back door, no clippings book flapping on the table.

“Okay Librarians.” Flynn said. “Here we go.”

Eve noticed something, then sprinted up to Flynn. She grabbed his adventure bag, resting on a leg of the conference table, then walked over and handed it to him.

“Think you’ll be needing this.” she said.

“Oh. Yes.” Flynn stammered. “Thank you.”

He and Eve locked eyes, and then, after a few moments of silence, Eve decided, as she often did, to take the final word. She took the word that she knew would keep him safer than any gun or sword or punch she could protect him with.

“Come back alive Librarian.”

He smiled at her before exhaling and turning towards the door, his adventure bag slung across his shoulders.

“Alright team.” he said.

“Let’s go steal a crown.” Jake added.

Chapter Text

The group was making their way to the Serpent Brotherhood’s camp. It was fairly quiet, and they’d been at it for hours now. They traveled in groups- only somewhat unintentionally- Flynn with Maggie and William, Jake with Cassandra, and Summer by herself, holding up the back. She sighed. They were getting nowhere. Everyone had been so focused on being careful and safe that they didn’t seem to care at all for time. She was sure that on her own, this could get done a lot faster.

She looked ahead of her for a moment and then behind her, and considered if anyone would notice if she was gone. She stood still for a moment and grabbed the sash of her quiver. She could do this on her own. She was sure she could do this on her own, and without worrying about all the teamwork and ethics nonsense all of the others would probably spew to her. If they were going to defeat the Brotherhood, they had to be blunt and ruthless, and she was sure that she was the only one at the Library who’d really be willing to do so. Taking a deep breath, she took off away from her team.

She’d always been destined to this: her. No one ever faced realities the way she did. This was her enemy to vanquish, her war to win: she knew it had to be true.


 

            Minutes later, Summer was focused and alert as she walked through the empty trail. They were getting so close to restoring the world, and she refused to take her eye off of the prize. This is what her mother and father were fighting to protect. She had to do right by them. She was so focused on the path in front of her that she didn’t notice the Serpent Brotherhood agent gaining on her-and he had a gun.

Meanwhile, Jake and Cassandra had quickly noticed when Summer had run away, and had taken off after her while Flynn and the twins continued in pursuit of the crown. Jake ran through the path, frantic and running quickly, looking everywhere for Summer. Finally he saw her, and then immediately saw the soldier.

“CASSIE OVER HERE!” he called out, hoping Cassandra was near enough to hear him, then jumped into action.

Summer, hearing him, turned. Her face filled with anger but Jake didn’t pay attention to any of it. He ran as fast as his legs would carry him and dove towards Summer, pushing her out of the way just as the soldier’s finger pressed his trigger. Right behind where Summer had been standing, the bullet hit a tree.

They were lying in the grass, panting, and he found he was still covering her. Summer rubbed her head, not knowing what had happened. She pushed herself up and looked around dazed a bit, before she realized what had transpired.

She was in shock. She didn’t even notice the soldier. The fact that she had almost died was rattling. Then all at once she broke. She burst into tears and fell into Jake’s arms, burying her head tightly into his shoulder just like she always would. She didn’t care anymore what was her reality and what was theirs; at this moment, all she knew was that all she needed was the comfort of her father.

Jake was taken slightly aback and slowly wrapped his arms tightly around her, bringing her closer to him. He still didn’t understand it, but knowing that in an alternate reality this girl was his kid…he loved her with every fiber of his being. To finally have her accept him, to finally be able to hold her like this was one of the greatest joys he’d felt in a while.

Summer didn’t know how, but Jake held her in just the same way her father used to. She didn’t remember just how much she’d missed this. She recognized the way she fit in his arms, and the way his shirt smelt-like musk and beer and the occasional hint of gasoline that lingered from his time working on the pipelines. All that was missing was the strong scent of her mother's perfume...though he already had started to smell faintly of it.

Nearby, Cassandra had heard Jake’s call and had come running. All she’d heard was his shout followed by a gunshot, and she didn’t know what to expect. He had no real way to protect himself, and all she could assume was that something had happened. She couldn’t lose him, not after they’d just come to each other. She kept running and now she heard what sounded like tears. She was panicked and could barely move, but she sprinted forward, looking for the sound.

Eventually she found him, sitting far away hugging Summer. She stopped to take a breath and work through the confusion: what had happened that had brought Summer to him like this? She was about to jog over to them when she saw the Serpent Brotherhood soldier. He was smirking, and pointing a gun at Jake and Summer- neither of whom was paying much attention.

Cassandra didn’t know what to do but feel helpless. She let out half a yelp, and the soldier turned towards her. The gun went off and surely only by some miracle did she duck in time to let it fly over her head.

“Holy shit.” she whispered as she stood up, and brushed away the hair that had fallen in her face.

The soldier cocked his head at her with a smirk, as if to challenge her, and she stared on in shock. There were a fair string of curses she wanted to shout out right about now. She wasn’t fit for this stuff like Colonel Baird. She couldn’t just charge in and knock him out, not without getting shot, which they couldn’t necessarily afford.

If only we were back home and I could use a spell she thought. Or maybe if I had those evil scientist powers the Apple of Discord gave me.

As she was lost in thought, the soldier had lifted his gun again. With another wicked smirk her way, he turned towards Jake and Summer again. His hand was gripping the trigger and Cassandra stood frozen, knowing there was nothing she could do.

She could call to Jake but it wouldn’t be fast enough. Someone was going to get hurt. Consumed with desperation, thinking about how much she cared for Jake and Summer, how unfair the whole thing was, she stood still and she screamed. Maybe it would distract the soldier and throw off his aim. Maybe it would alert Jake and Summer. Regardless, everything happened so fast, it was all she could do.

She heard a shout and-in an unexpected turn of events- she looked over to see the gun flying through the air, and the soldier left without a weapon.

Whoa. Where the hell did that come from?

Realizing what she’d done, she stood staring at her hands. She hadn’t raised them, hadn’t consciously “pushed”, but what had happened was clear. She knew she had magic, but she’d never done anything like that before. But she was a Librarian. She didn’t have time to be freaked out or to think about what had happened or why it did. She had to adjust, go with the flow, and use what she could to save the day.

The only challenge now was figuring out how to channel whatever the hell she had just done. She reviewed the rules of magic in her head that she’d studied over and over.

Power. She’d screamed, stood tall, and been throwing out every ounce of her energy.

Focus She’d been thinking about Jake and Summer. She’d been thinking about what she needed to protect, why she needed that gun gone.

Effect. The gun had flown out of the soldier’s hand.

Cassandra stood up straight, gathering herself in the seconds that the soldier had been brushing off his disorientation. When she’d done spells before, she’d just let herself understand them, and with practice, she’d learned how to use them. But there was no time to practice now. She just had to hope that understanding would get her where she needed to be.

She closed her eyes and she thought about her memories with Jake, mostly since she came here. Joy filled her as she remembered sitting at the conference table, mornings after sleepless nights, sharing a tea and a lighthearted joke with her best friend. She remembered lying in bed with him, feeling safer just because she knew he was next to her. She thought about his smile as he went over puzzles and research with Michael. And finally, she let the image come clear as day into her mind of the pictures she’d seen Summer looking over, that happy little family who’d been torn apart, who deserved a happy legacy. And then, she just thought push.

The force was so strong she almost felt the air move around her and when she looked out she saw the soldier flying back through the air. She took a second to shake off the shock of the fact that she’d just done that, then ran over to Jake and Summer.

“Are you alright?!” she panted.

Almost instantly, Summer screamed and jumped into her arms. Cassandra, like Jake, was taken aback at first. Wasn’t this the same girl who screamed how much she hated her every time they were even in the same room? But she quickly melted into the moment, wrapping her arms around the girl and holding her close.

Just like it had happened with Jacob, Summer recognized her mother in Cassandra’s embrace. She thought about her birthday, and Christmas, and Thanksgiving, running into that embrace first thing in the morning, standing at her mother’s side as she flipped homemade blueberry pancakes. She wanted to rub her cheek against the familiar feel of a scratchy blouse.

“I’m so sorry.” she sobbed. “I’m so sorry I was so awful to you.”

“Don’t be.” Cassandra whispered. It was like maternal instinct had kicked in in a way, and she knew exactly what to say. “You had good reason to be upset.”

She moved Summer away from her and held her by the shoulders.

“Don’t cry now.” she said, wiping away a tear of her own. “We’ve got a world to save!”

Summer chuckled and wiped the tears from her eyes. They stood up and Jake patted her on the back.

“Come on.” he said. “Let’s go find Flynn and the twins and get that crown.”

At that moment, they heard the woosh of something flying over their heads, causing them all to gasp and duck, and Summer to move closer to Jacob again. Looking behind them, they saw another Serpent Brotherhood soldier staring them down. Without much time passing at all, this soldier now flew through the air, landing unconscious next to his colleague.

“What the hell?!” Jake exclaimed, looking to Cassandra.

“Turns out I can do more than we previously thought in a world where magic is rampant.” Cassandra said, smiling and proud of herself.

“Okay,” Summer proclaimed. “That was officially too many near death experiences for a five minute span.”

As Jake and Cassandra chuckled at her comment, she had turned around and looked to where she’d heard the sound land. Sitting in a tree was a sword, poking out far into the path. Summer’s eyes widened as she looked at the hilt and recognized it immediately.

“Guys.” she said.

Jake and Cassandra stopped whatever conversation they’d been having and came to stand beside her. Slowly, they had the same reaction as Summer, and they all came to smile at each other, because they knew exactly what sword was in that tree. They’d seen countless pictures of it just days ago.

Clarent


 

            Back in the Annex of present day Portland, two and half days had passed since Eve, Jake and Cassandra had disappeared through the Loom. Though Jenkins insisted there was nothing they could do, Flynn and Ezekiel had still been hard at work trying to figure out how they might get them home or at least, where they’d ended up.

“There has to be some kind of clue.” Ezekiel said. “If we can figure something out maybe there’s some way to get to them, like when we found Charlene with the back door!”

Jenkins rolled his eyes, not bothering anymore to share how much of a hopeless case this all was, knowing that the two Librarians wouldn’t listen. It was times like these that he really felt the need for Colonel Baird to knock some sense into them….though sometimes she was just as bad.

“You travelled through the Loom with Colonel Baird once.” Ezekiel continued, turning right to Flynn. “Do you remember anything from then? Baird said you saw us all of we had been the Librarians. What were Stone and Cassandra like? Maybe they can help.”

“Who’s Stone?” Flynn asked, rifling through books and not paying the thief much attention.

“What?” Ezekiel exclaimed. Jenkins suddenly looked up, dropping the artifact he’d been holding.

“We have to get Eve and Cassandra back.” Flynn said.

“And Stone.” Ezekiel exclaimed, but Flynn said nothing. “Stone: Jacob Stone: writes all those articles on Native American history or whatever; likes to stash beers in the fountain of youth; always staring at Cassandra and thinking no one notices.”

Flynn stood still for a moment and stared into space, like he was trying hard to remember something. All of a sudden he jolted and shook his head.

“Right.” he said. “Stone. How could I forget? Silly of me. Excuse me.”

He walked out of the room, pretending like the incident was normal, though everyone could tell he knew it wasn’t. Once Flynn was out of earshot, Ezekiel turned to Jenkins, finding the old caretaker looking frazzled and terrified.

“Jenkins,” he asked. “What the hell was that?”

“This is a problem.” Jenkins said sternly. “People back home forgetting those who have gone into the Loom…it’s one of the first telltale signs.”

“Of what? It only happened a few seconds and I didn’t forget.”

“Yes, but, theoretically, you’ve spent more time with Mr. Stone than Mr. Carsen has-he spent the first few years of your time here taking solo missions, or otherwise running off with Colonel Baird.”

“Jenkins,” Ezekiel insisted, easily able to tell that the caretaker was avoiding something. “What just happened?”

Jenkins sighed and looked at Ezekiel with concerned eyes.

“If Mr. Carsen is forgetting our friends from the other side of the Loom, it means that they are getting closer to deciding to stay in that world.”

Chapter Text

In another part of the forest, Flynn, Maggie and William had continued on the mission to find the Brotherhood. They’d wanted to wait for Jake and Cassandra to come back with Summer, but, not knowing how long they’d be looking, they’d insisted on simply catching up. Now, the sound of harsh chatter told them they’d gotten closer to the Serpent Brotherhood base.

Flynn ducked behind a tree and motioned for Maggie and William to join him.

“They don’t have a stagnant base of operations specifically to avoid attacks. Everything they have is with them.” Maggie whispered as they watched the Brotherhood soldiers milling back and forth. “Fortunately for us, that means the Crown is definitely here.”

“Okay, so maybe we can sneak in there and split up.” William said. “When one of us has the crown, we’ll know, because the little magic generators I clipped on our hips will start up, and you’ll feel them vibrate. At that point we run and meet back here.”

“What?” Flynn said. “No. I’m not letting you two go in there by yourselves; it’s too dangerous.”

“Dad.” Maggie insisted, looking him right in the eye. “You have to trust us on this. It’s the only way to get it done and you know it. Being a Librarian means taking big risks for the sake of the world.”

Maggie smiled at her father as she reminded him of the lessons he’d taught her over the course of her years. With a sigh he offered her a proud smile and nodded at them. He’d never been able to be a totally normal parent, and that was coming to a new front now. But he knew he’d raised them well, and now it was time to let them fly free-whatever that meant for Librarian kids.

“Remember,” he said. “Lay low, avoid being seen until the last possible second. If you’re in too much danger, get out- I don’t care; the Crown is not worth your life. If we get the Crown back and you need to use an artifact to get yourself out, remember how magic works…”

“Power, focus, effect.” The twins said, in conjunction with Flynn. He smiled at them again. He’d gotten too worried.

The family gave each-other one final look and squeezed hands. Then, they were off, slipping their way through trees to find the way to bring their world back.


 

            Flynn snuck tightly around a corner as he listened to the different Brotherhood soldiers, hoping that just maybe he would hear something that would help him know where the Crown was hidden. He pushed back thoughts of how many times he’d been in this exact same position, knowing he had to focus on the moment at hand.

Just then, an all too familiar voice, one he hadn’t heard in over twenty years, one he never thought he’d hear again, sounded from behind him.

“Flynn Carsen.”

Flynn turned and saw a smirking face, old like his own, but unchanged from the last time he’d seen it.

“Dulaque.” he snarled.

“Some of my soldiers spotted you,” Dulaque said, circling Flynn. “But I ordered them not to attack. After all the years we’ve known each other Flynn Carsen, I thought you and I deserved a worthy battle.”

Dulaque pulled out the Crown of King Arthur from behind his back, letting it land on the tip of his finger. Flynn’s eyes locked in on it immediately, not thinking about keeping himself devoid of emotion. All this time he’d been thinking about that Crown, where it might have ended up, and now it was right there in front of his eyes, just like that. In the back of his mind he was also reminded that retrieving the Crown was the first thing he’d ever done with Eve and the other Librarians.

“Ah yes,” Dulaque continued, reading him. “I thought this was your purpose in coming here today. I knew after our success that it would only be a matter of time until The Librarians were coming after us again.”

Flynn moved with Dulaque and watched him carefully. He knew from experience just what this man was capable of, and he didn’t dare think about what twenty two years could have done to add on to that.

“You can’t win Dulaque.” Flynn said, smart talk always being one of his strongest assets as a Librarian.  “You know you can’t beat us. You’ve never been able to before. This one victory was just a battle won. Deep down you know that The Library always reigns victorious.”

“Look at the world Librarian.” Dulaque sneered. “We already have the victory. The world is the way we always believed it should be. The Library is dead.”

“Why do you need the Crown anyway?” Flynn asked, ignoring Dulaque’s remarks. “If I remember correctly- and I have to say it’s pretty embarrassing if I know your organization better than you do- your goal was always to have a world full of rampant magic back, to go back to the glory days when magic ruled. How is that possible if you have control over all of it?”

“It was an unfortunate requirement.” Dulaque said, twirling the crown on his finger ever so slightly as he continued to circle Flynn. “One important step towards victory you little Librarians have never been able to learn: there are unfortunate requirements. If we hadn’t had control over magic you would’ve been able to go off saving people and stopping us. The world is full of unfortunate requirements Flynn. Like that little explosion that caused your friends to perish.”

Flynn froze in his tracks now. He hadn’t prepared himself to hear about that day. As much as he wanted to fight through it, anger and pain that he was still fighting to overcome filled his bones whenever he so much as thought about that day.

“Ah I see I’ve struck a nerve.” Dulaque said, getting closer to him. “You were stronger when you were alone Librarian.”

Maggie and William had heard the exchange and come running. Now they stopped as they saw their father and the villain they’d only heard stories about circling each-other, stares of battle etched on both of their faces. Maggie tried to run forward, but Will grabbed her wrist and pulled her back. He shook his head; this was not their battle to fight.

Flynn’s hands started to sweat as he and Dulaque stood still locked in an embrace. He couldn’t let this get to him, he knew he couldn’t. Right now, that meant silence. There was a time when he would’ve been able to answer Dulaque with a smart remark-that was a time before he lost everything.

“Clarent,” Dulaque sneered. “Come.”

Flynn watched in horror as a sword came flying from out in the forest and landed swiftly in Dulaque’s hands. With an evil and sure smile, the knight took the crown from his hand and placed it atop his head, before adjusting himself into a fighting stance. Flynn was lost, unsure of what to do. He couldn’t best Dulaque on his best day, and he was not the person on the team who had brought a sword with him. Just then, he heard a shout from behind him.

“Dad!”

Flynn turned and saw Will, tossing a sword towards him. He quickly became alert, and, a gifted swordsman-no matter how many years out of practice he was-caught it with ease. Then, Flynn and Dulaque were in a heated swordfight, the likes of which had not been seen since their first confrontation at the Loom of Fate, twenty-two years ago.

Maggie and Will watched on with horror, unable to do anything for fear of making matters worse. Flynn and Dulaque made their way all around the field, swords clanking, jumping on top of rocks, dodging each other’s every move. They were both too skilled for either one to best the other-for now- but they both knew the fight couldn’t last forever.

For all of Flynn’s skill, for as much as he wanted to be, he was not an equal swordsman to Dulaque. Quickly, the ex-Knight of the Round Table began to gain on the old Librarian. With an unexpected kick, Flynn stumbled back and had his breath knocked out of him. Maggie let out half a scream, but Will pushed her behind him before she could do anything else. While Flynn was off his guard, Dulaque knocked the sword out of his hand and pushed him against a tree.

It was a deadlock now, Dulaque’s sword held close to Flynn’s throat, the two of them looking each other dead in the eyes. To anyone watching, it would seem clear that the fight was over. Flynn was defenseless. Maggie and Will stood still, terrified, close to each other. All they could do now was watch.

“I always knew I’d have you here someday Flynn Carsen.” Dulaque bragged. “You’re nothing without your little team, nothing against me. Which is why I always knew I had to set off that explosion all those years ago.”

“What?” Flynn growled. With Dulaque’s word his body became less rigid, he started to stand himself up against all the odds.

“It was all planned out so carefully.” Dulaque continued. “Only one of you left and there’d be no replacement Librarians…but still no Librarian protecting the world.”

Dulaque was about to strike when suddenly Flynn lunged. Like it was nothing, he suddenly had the upper hand. It happened so fast that it was almost impossible to see: Flynn snatched Clarent from Dulaque’s hands; immediately the balance of power had changed. Flynn held Dulaque down with one arm and brandished the sword with his other, ready to strike at any moment.

After the initial exchange, Flynn panted, panicked. Frozen still, wanting to strike, but afraid to, tears started to build up in his eyes- no doubt also being caused by the information Flynn had just received. Dulaque, twisted as he was, started to laugh.

“What are you going to do now Librarian?” he proclaimed. “Kill me?”

Flynn still did nothing, but the smile did not wipe from Dulaque’s face. Although Flynn did not strike, he did not let go either, and it was only a matter of time before he found the courage to move. Maggie and Will didn’t know what to do as they watched on. They’d never seen their father like this before, and it startled them to fear him in the moment.

“It’s quite ironic.” Dulaque continued. “Flynn Carsen is the one to bring me down. The gentlest of all the Librarians, the man who made his name fighting evil with love and family…”

Flynn tightened his grip and lunged closer to Dulaque’s throat before he could finish the sentence.

“Shut your mouth you son of a bitch.” he said, his voice shaky, though his eyes were growing angrier. With each second, Dulaque seemed more and more pleased.

“Dad don’t!” Maggie screamed, getting as close to him as she felt she could.

“I need to kill him Maggie.” Flynn said through clenched teeth.

“If you use Clarent to kill him he won’t be a sword of peace anymore!” Will added. “We won’t be able to do anything and the world we knew will be gone for good.”

“I…” Flynn muttered, but he still didn’t move from his position.

“Dad this isn’t who you are!” Maggie said, crying herself now. “You would never kill someone, not unless it was a last resort. I know you!”

“He killed your Mother!” Flynn exclaimed, finally crying himself. “Don’t you understand? Your mother’s dead because of him!”

“Mom wouldn’t want you to kill him for her.” Maggie could barely speak now, struggling to keep her tears at bay. “You know that. She’d never want you to go down that road.”

“No,” Flynn sneered. “She’d want me to kill him for killing your Aunt and Uncles.”

Flynn started to move to stab Dulaque and Maggie and Will screamed. Flynn stopped again but he stood with more conviction now. Any moment, he was going to be ready to make the final move.

Jake, Cassandra and Summer, who had followed Clarent when he started to fly away, came onto the scene now, and stopped abruptly when they saw what was happening. Jake put out his arms instinctively to shield Cassandra and Summer and to keep them back.

“Dad,” Maggie said gingerly. “All the stories you told me, you always talked about how you could never, ever, kill someone. You and Mom, you always emphasized it in every story: we don’t kill unless we have to-that’s part of being a Librarian, or at least the kind of Librarian that you created. Remember? The time Jenkins wanted Mom to kill Morgan Le Fay but she wouldn’t; the time you would sacrifice yourself to stop Apep rather than just killing an enemy: you don’t kill, Dad. You’re never gonna be the same if you do.”

A few moments passed, and Flynn’s face started to soften.

“Don’t make us lose you again.” Maggie said, tears streaming from her eyes.

Flynn stood facing Dulaque, who looked still pleased, but a bit frightened as well. Slowly, Flynn lowered the sword, but kept Dulaque held down with his arm.

“Leave this world alone Dulaque, or know that I’m here to stop you.” Flynn sneered. “And if you ever come after my family again, I promise I will kill you.”

With that remark, Flynn plucked the Crown from Dulaque’s head and shoved him to the ground. With one final look at the fallen knight, he ran to join his family.

Maggie and Will ran to their father as soon as he approached them, making sure he was okay.

“Dad!” They yelled.

Flynn scooped them up in his arms and pulled them close to him. He kissed their heads long and hard, letting himself soak in everything about them that had stopped him from falling, and reminded himself that they could stop him from ever falling again.

“Hey Flynn,” Jake said, holding Cassandra’s hand, Summer close to them. “Remember that thing you say about running?”

Flynn looked behind him to see Serpent Brotherhood soldiers gathering and rushing towards the front of the base, weapons in hand.

“Yeah…” Flynn said. “Librarians!”

With that, the team was off. One part of their adventure was won…but they weren’t out of the woods yet.                                                                              

Chapter Text

The team of Librarians of all kinds ran through the thick forest, the sound of a pack of footsteps loud behind them. As they ran, the tiny packs on their hips began to buzz.

“What the hell?” Jake yelled, startling at the motion.

“The generators!” Will proclaimed. “We’ve got magic folks!”

Will reached into his backpack as they ran and pulled out a small flip-phone from his backpack and plugged it into the generator on his hip.

Whoa Cassandra thought. Those are outdated in our timeline.

“Whoa cellphone!” he said, stumbling back as it turned on. It had been a while since he’d been in contact with anything remotely electronic.

Holding his breath-theoretically-he was running- William dialed the main Library number and held it immediately to his ear. To his dismay, it rang and rang for what seemed like forever.

“Come on!” William groaned.

“See?” Flynn teased. “Now you know what it was like back in the stone age when your dear old Dad was a teenager.”

“Not now Dad!” William yelled.

Finally, a click signaled that the call had been received on the other end.

“Hello?”

“Grandpa Jenkins! Thank God!”

“Ah Mr. Carsen. Good to hear from you.” Jenkins said. “I’m pleased to tell you that magic and electricity have returned to the Library.”

“Yeah I think I got that!”

“Pity. The lack of technology was really making me feel connected to the olden days.”

“Grandpa this is really not the time!” William yelled.

“I’m sorry Mr. Carsen. Seems to me I’ve sat through many the clarinet recital I didn’t want to. The least you could do is silently listen while I…”

Flynn snatched the phone, and generator, from William, before the poor kid, or caretaker, blew a gasket.

“Jenkins we need a door!” he panted, already almost out of breath. Three years away from Librarianing had really left him out of shape. “Way more than we’ve ever needed one before.”

“Of course Mr. Carsen. My apologies.”

Flynn smirked at William, who rolled his eyes.

“Where, dare you say, shall I place this theoretical door?” Jenkins asked.

“Uhh…”

“There should be an abandoned Forever 21 a few feet from where we are now!” Cassandra called out. “I used to go there on my lunch breaks.”

“Did you hear that Jenkins?” Flynn asked.

“I’d need the exact coordinates.”

Jake yelped as a gunshot sounded from behind them, and the group ran faster. Flynn frantically tossed the phone to Cassandra, who caught it with a stumble.

“Hi Mr. Jenkins!” she said cheerily, before recounting the coordinates to Jenkins that she’d calculated and memorized long ago.


 

            Minutes later, Eve was standing with Michael and looking over his shoulder at a book when the back door whirred, opening and throwing Flynn, Maggie, Will, Jake, Cassandra and Summer inside.

“Close it!” Jake yelled. He and Summer rushed to grab either door and slam them shut, while Jenkins frantically shut off the connection.

Everyone stood panting, Jake and Summer’s backs pressed up against the door. But soon, their pants developed into smiles as they realized what they’d accomplished.

“Oh my gosh,” Maggie exclaimed, looking up and around her. “Lights!”

“The magical generators came on right before you called.” Michael said, stepping out into the room. “Welcome back to the 21st century!”

“Michael!” Summer exclaimed. She dropped all her things and ran over to her little brother. Before he could even begin to respond, she wrapped him in her arms and squeezed him tightly.

“Are you okay?” he asked. Summer chuckled.

“I’m perfect.” she said, still holding him. “Everything’s going to be alright from now on: I promise.”

Eve walked up to Flynn with a soft smile.

“Seems you still know how to save the world Librarian.”

“Seems that way.”

They were quietly smiling at each other when Will’s voice interrupted all the chatter.

“I hate to break up the party,” he said. “But we haven’t saved the world yet. We still need to put Clarent back in the stone.”

“Right,” Flynn said, pointing at his son.

Eve turned away awkwardly, realizing in William’s interruption what had been happening between her and Flynn. She quickly reminded herself that she had to go home. This wasn’t her world. She had her own Flynn to return to. But no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t help but feel comfortable here, like maybe it wasn’t so different after all.

“Jenkins.” Flynn said. “Could you please dial up Buckingham Palace?”

Jenkins nodded solemnly and turned to change the coordinates of the back-door. Everyone started to regroup and prepare themselves to head back out, when Summer’s voice broke the silence.

“I don’t think I’m gonna go.” she said.

This caught everyone’s attention, and all eyes turned directly to her.

“Why not?” Maggie asked. “You love going out and fighting.”

“Certain missions involve strength in numbers.” she explained, standing tall. “Like the last one. This one might be better served by a select few. And besides, my impulses nearly got us in trouble today. I should sit this one out and leave it to the experts.”

She turned to Maggie and smiled, who looked back at her with pride. Flynn nodded his head, nothing else to say.

“I think we’ll stay here too,” Cassandra said, Jake nodding to agree. “Like Summer said…select few.”

Flynn, Maggie, and William, though they were confused, didn’t contest the decisions. Flynn nodded curtly and readjusted his adventure bag before turning to the back door again.

“You ready guys?” he said, turning to his children standing on either side of him. Maggie and William simply smiled.

Jenkins turned on the back door and it came swinging open before the family gave each other one last encouraging nod and ran through.

Still in the annex, Summer still hugged Michael close to her. Jake and Cassandra stood close by them, his arm around her shoulders. Baird simply watched on and tried to let her faith in Flynn be greater than the mountain of anxiety building in her stomach.

Ultimately, no one revealed the biggest reason why they’d all stayed behind. This was a mission to save the world, and to save the Library. And with all major matters concerning the Library-just like it always had been, and always would be- this was a job meant for the Carsens.


 

When they arrived at the abandoned Buckingham palace, Flynn found he still knew the way to the underground tunnels by heart. His first mission with Eve…he never could’ve forgotten it. Now through the secret passageway, they’d managed to avoid Serpent Brotherhood agents so far, and they hoped to continue to do the same.

“Is it maybe mildly concerning to anyone else that we haven’t run into any soldiers?” Maggie asked.

“Sweetie when you’ve been in this job long enough,” Flynn explained. “You learn not to question those things.”

“I’m just saying, something as important as this, an organization as smart as the Serpent Brotherhood? It just seems unlikely that they wouldn’t try to…”

Before she could finish her sentence, a thumping sound from behind called her attention to William kneeing a Serpent Brotherhood soldier to the ground.

“I told you it was too good to be true!” Maggie shouted, as more soldiers started to make their wat into the hallway.

“I never said it wasn’t!” Flynn replied.

Swords, knives and hand-to-hand combat were all in play as the Librarian and his two apprentices worked together to hold off a fleet of soldiers.

“There’s too many of them!” William called, his sword locked with someone’s from the Brotherhood. “We’ll never get past them!”

“Hold on!” Flynn said quietly. “We have magic!”

“What?” Maggie called, engaged in a fight of her own.

Flynn quickly reached into his adventure bad and pulled out the familiar artifact that had caused him both triumph and heartache over his years of Librarianism.

“Good to see you old buddy.” he whispered, before letting it loose into the air.

“Maggie, Will !” he shouted, as the flutes of Pan made their way around the space.

Always alert and well trained in Library lore, Maggie and William, like their father, saw the flutes quickly enough to press their hands tightly against their ears. The Serpent Brotherhood soldiers, however, were not so astute, and one by one began to drop unconscious.

Flynn motioned with his elbow for Maggie and Will to keep following him and so, leaving the weapons they’d been holding behind, they quickly made their way into the next passage.

“It’s just this way.” Flynn said, cautiously removing his hands from his ears, and leading his family around the all too-familiar corner.

Hoping that they had enough time before the soldiers started waking, Flynn, Maggie and Will approached the Stone of King Arthur. Flynn’s body tensed when he saw it. He hadn’t been here since the time twenty-two years ago. Then, he’d been dying with Eve by his side; now he was alive, but alone. A lump formed in his throat; he could almost still hear all of their voices calling out to each other, pairing with clanking swords to make a perfect symphony.

“So that’s it.” Maggie said in awe.

“The stone that held Excalibur.” Will added.

Flynn pulled Clarent from his hilt and looked at the stone. He took a deep breath. His mission here was over, his time was passed. He looked over to Maggie, watching the Stone with anticipation and slowly, he turned.

“Only the truest Librarian can complete a task like this.” he said. Maggie turned to him and before the confusion could wipe from her face, Flynn held out Clarent to her.

“What?” she stuttered, realizing what he was saying. “No, no it can’t be.”

Flynn smirked, remembering his own fear and reluctance when he’d first been given the job.

“Dad you’re still the Librarian.” Maggie continued. “You have been for 32 years. That’s longer than anyone could possibly imagine, there’s no truer Librarian than you. No; it’s not me; no way.”

“Times change Maggie.” Flynn said. “Generations come and go and pass on things to each other, and as they do, each new generation takes over for the last one and goes on to do even greater things, even though everyone said the last generation was surely going to be the greatest.

“I’m old; I think everyone, including The Library, knows that it’s time for me to pass things on. And that doesn’t mean I’m not a great Librarian. When I was young Judson was still great, but destiny was in my hands. It simply means, Margaret Cassandra Carsen, that now it’s your time.”

Maggie stood still in shock, her breathing growing heavier. She looked around for some sort of sign to support the idea that this wasn’t right, but all she found was her father and brother smiling at her.

“But it can’t just be me,” she exclaimed, turning to Will. “That’s not fair. Will, we’re twins.  You’re just as smart as me, maybe smarter. And besides, we’re a team; we do everything together. It shouldn’t just be me, it’s not fair to you.”

Will looked down then back up with a smile, and placed his hands on Maggie’s shoulders.

“We both know this is what you’re meant to do Mags.” he said. “You’ve been dreaming of it since you were a little girl. I’ll be okay. After all, there’s more than one Librarian; you’re just destined to be a real special one, the leader. And besides…I think I might be more of a caretaker anyway.”

Flynn smiled proudly at his two children, all grown up now and wise beyond their years. He and Eve always knew they’d grow up to be this great. He looked up and smiled: she’d be so proud to see them like this.

Maggie took a deep breath and grabbed Clarent in both her hands. Slowly, she walked towards the stone, looking down at the sword the whole time. Something felt special about this moment; she knew that a change was coming she couldn’t deny. Her hands shook and butterflies raced to her stomach, but through all the nervous energy, a smile started to form on her face; she was a Librarian.

She reached the stone and took a final deep breath.

This is for you Mom she thought. Then, standing tall and proud, she lifted Clarent by his hilt and shoved him hard down into the Stone.

Giant blue lines of energy, almost looking like giant lightning strikes, attracted themselves to Clarent. The whole room shook and Maggie stumbled back, landing in William’s arms, he having been there ready to catch her.

The whole room glowed and was filled with an energy- an energy of new hope. Flynn looked at Maggie and found that she was practically radiating: beauty and power and strength and confidence and brilliance; she was ready, like he always knew she’d be.

Maggie and Will simply watched the happenings before them in amazement. Flynn, however, still found his mind on other things. He looked up again and thought of Eve. Gently, he brought his hand to his lips and blew a soft kiss into the air.

“Always and forever.” he whispered.

Somewhere deep in a forest, Dulaque gasped as he felt the surge inside of him that indicated the transfer of magic. He stumbled, already weak from the battle with Flynn. Two soldiers that had been watching at his sides caught him, and after a moment, he turned to them with a frown.

“Call all the soldiers to retreat.” he grunted. “This world has once again pushed us out.”

Chapter Text

Minutes later, the remaining Librarians sat around the annex quietly. There was not much to say at the moment, anticipation and shock taking up too much space in their minds. Everything was simple, more peaceful than the Library had seen in years. Jake and Cassandra sat at the conference table, her head rested on his shoulder. In a corner, Summer and Michael sat with their legs crossed on the floor, her arm around his shoulder. Eve stood above them all, leaning on a Library railing, thinking about all that had transpired since they’d arrived here.

Then, out of the silence, with a familiar whoosh, the backdoor opened and Flynn and the twins came stumbling through. Everyone stood up and anxious eyes fell upon the family. They waited a moment and then, in an instant, all three family members simply smiled.

Summer and Michael rushed up from where they had been sitting and ran over to their family, laughing. The Library was filled with the happiest sounds it had heard in three years: laughter, cries of victory and tears of joy. Summer and Maggie shared a large hug as did Michael and William, and then, all four kids came crashing into Flynn’s arms. The newly rekindled family stayed like that, their heads buried in each other’s shoulders. Flynn held them tight as he felt tears come to his eyes and peace wash over him to have them all together in his arms again.

Eve slowly walked down the stairs back to the main floor and tried to meet eyes with Flynn, to express to him how proud she was. But he never looked up; his eyes were solely on his family….and that’s how it should have been. Instead, Eve went to join her own family, making her way to where Jake and Cassandra were sitting. Jake placed a hand on her arm and she nodded before sitting down beside them.

“Wait,” Maggie said, breaking out of the group hug. Everyone looked at her quizzically.

“How are we going to bring the world back?” she said. “I mean, we have electricity and stuff thanks to magic, but the rest of the world doesn’t. Centuries of technological advances are just gone.”

“I actually might know something about that,” Michael said, stepping out. Summer immediately eyed him with proud curiosity.

“While you guys were all out saving the world, I was back here reading about Clarent and the Library to pass the time.” he explained. “It turns out the Library is like an epicenter for the world. And if we put the sword of peace in its center we can bring peace to the world and restore it!”

Everyone looked at him with wide eyes, not expecting a solution to come from him.

“What?” he said. “Just because I’m eleven I can’t be smart? I’m a Librarian kid. Hello?!”

Summer chucked and ruffled Michael’s hair. He pulled away in protest but at the same time smiled….he knew now for sure that he had his sister back.

As everyone in the room laughed, Maggie lifted Clarent from her hilt, laid him across her two hands and smiled down at him.

“Looks like you’ve got one more job to do buddy.” she said.


 

            That evening, the team of Librarians walked into the catacombs of the Library. Eve’s steps were shaky as they entered the room, remembering how only months ago she’d watched Flynn nearly die from this very spot.  Now her mind went back to him, home alone without her. Where did he think she was?

The memory was apparently paralyzing; as she walked forward her legs started to collapse underneath her. Jake, seeing this, rushed over and caught her. As she regained her composure, she realized that her hands had grabbed her stomach. If Jake noticed it, he didn’t say anything, and simply helped her to stand up.

Flynn and the Librarianettes walked toward the center of the catacombs, Maggie leading the pack and carrying Clarent. Said Librarian-in-training looked to the center of the room almost like there was a deity standing there. She’d never been to the center of the Library before, and it was almost like she could feel its spirit alive inside of her. She knew in that moment that what she did next was going to be the beginning of an incredible journey for her, the likes of which she’d only heard about in her Father’s stories.

Maggie looked back to her family close behind her and they met her with an encouraging nod. Taking a deep breath she stepped forward to the base of the tree that was etched onto the tile beneath her. She kneeled down, looked at Clarent and then she smiled: not to the world, not to her family…but to the Library.

“Here we go sister.” she whispered.

With that, she placed Clarent down lining up with the trunk of the tree.

Instantly, light poured out of Clarent, moved up the trunk, and soon began to flood out through all the branches. Maggie stood up slowly and watched it in awe, backing up to stand in her Father’s embrace. The Librarians all watched with their eyes wide open when suddenly, there was a burst and an eruption of light.

The light moved on past the branches, exploding into fireworks in the air. The room was filled with sparks in rainbow colors, and bright cracking sounds. Everyone smiled; Summer giggled: it was like watching a fireworks show at an amusement park, only ten times more magical.

As the Librarians sat and watched the Library fill with light, the magic filling the catacombs began to show itself all around the world. In every dark corner, in every lost city, in every run-down park and skyscraper and home, new life emerged out of what would seem like nowhere.

Families screamed as lights came on where they thought they’d never see them again. In fields and parks and schoolyards, dead and yellowed grass sprung to life and brightened into hues of vibrant green. Engines of cars started. Music started playing from suddenly-stopped record players. Phones rang as loved ones called each-other to remark at the good news.

And from the heart of the Library, a family of Librarians held onto each other, and watched where it all unfolded. Happiness filled their core and showed in the smiles on their faces; there was no better feeling to a Librarian than knowing they had just saved the world.

Chapter Text

Later that night, Cassandra was sitting alone in a reading room, spending some time with her Math. After their endeavor in the catacombs, the Librarians from the two universes had sort-of gone their separate ways and Cassandra had elected to take the evening to get some alone time. She’d joined Jacob and Eve for a drink sure, but back home she never spent every waking second with them; she didn’t see any reason to here. Besides, she missed the hours alone in her lab, doing nothing but letting her gift be what it was and taking time to allow herself to explore her senses a bit. She was just about to focus on a cluster of purple, when she heard shy footsteps coming from the doorway.

She turned her head and gasped with a smile: Summer was standing there, but she wasn’t the Summer that Cassandra had come to know. Her hair was curled and bouncing by her shoulders, all of it pushed up higher with a big headband. She wore a sweater with a collar underneath it and a denim skirt, all paired with bright blue knee socks and tan booties. Perhaps the best part of it all was that she was smiling: she looked like the Summer from the pictures Cassandra had seen.

“Hey,” Cassandra said cheerily, quickly switching off her gift in her mind.

“Hi.” Summer said cheerily.

She was reserved as she walked towards the couch, taking small and slow steps and keeping her arms pressed tightly to her side.

“You look great.” Cassandra said.

This earned a smile from Summer who stopped only a few feet away from her.

“Well thank you,” she said. “But as much as I adore compliments, that’s not why I came here.”

“Oh?”

“If you so desire, Michael and I have prepared a little surprise for you.” Summer giggled slightly and her eyes were bright.

“Oh!” Cassandra exclaimed.

 “You’ll have to come with me though.” Summer teased.

“Sounds alright with me.” Cassandra agreed, before both girls laughed and Cassandra got up from where she had been sitting, placing her notebook carefully down on the table.

“By the way,” Summer said as they were walking away. “I don’t believe we ever really met. I’m Summer Stone.”

Cassandra looked at the girl next to her, eyes wide, smiling big and holding out her hand. She was almost exactly the opposite of the girl Cassandra had first been introduced to, just over a week ago. Crazy how much things could change in a week; crazy how much they’d changed for her. As she looked at the beautiful young girl standing next to her, waiting for her to say something, a surge of joy filled her from her core. They’d been here a week. They’d saved the world. Maybe now they really could start something new. Maybe it was what they were meant to find here all along.

“Nice to meet you Summer,” she said. “I’m Cassandra Cillian.”

Summer flashed her a giant smile, and Cassandra did the same. Then, in an instant, they walked out of the room laughing, hooking their arms and standing so their shoulders touched.


 

            An hour later, Summer had her hands over Cassandra’s eyes and was leading her to what was supposedly some big surprise. Cassandra had already been surprised enough times in the last hour to last her a lifetime: she’d been taken to the alternate Jacob and Cassandra’s home and then dressed up and primped. Summer had even insisted that she wear one of her mother’s old dresses. Cassandra protested, but it had really been no use.

“Summer, I can’t take that. It belonged to your Mom it’s not right.”

“No she’d want anyone to rock it. And she always used to joke about wanting to be younger and wearing that dress again, so I’m sure she’d be ecstatic if you were wearing it. Besides, you’ll look beautiful in this and you don’t have anything else.”

Now, after all of that, Cassandra stumbled through a hallway-Summer was not the best guide- and then, finally, they came to a stop.

“Okay,” Summer cooed. “Are you ready?”

“I guess so.”

“3…2…1!”

Summer whisked her hands off of Cassandra’s eyes and the redheaded Librarian gasped. They were in a dining room and the table was set with candles and placemats and fancy silverware. A bowl of spaghetti as well as a plate of…tiny Ham and Cheese sandwiches?...was sitting in the center and a bottle of white wine sat chilling in a tub. It looked like a scene out of a movie.

And across the table, perhaps the best part of the whole scene, was Jacob, wearing a suit and looking just as dumbfounded as her. Michael stood behind him, and he and Summer bit back cheers as they made eye contact across the room.

“What is all this?” Cassandra asked.

“Well we know you two didn’t get to have a first date yet.” Summer explained, leading Cassandra closer to the table and pulling out a chair behind her. Cassandra raised her eyebrows as she sat down.

“So,” Michael continued. “We thought there was no one better than the two of us to set it up for you.”

“So sit back.” Summer started, backing away slowly from the table.

“Relax!”

“And enjoy a lovely candlelit dinner courtesy of your alternate universe offspring!”

Jake and Cassandra made eye contact from the opposite ends of the table where their places had been set-up and laughed. It was all so endearing. And at the same time, they communicated what they both knew they needed to do.

“Hey!” Jake called out to Summer and Michael, who had started to leave the room. “You gotta join us!”

“What?!” Summer exclaimed. “No! This is for you! We kidnapped you and got you dressed up and everything!”

“No, we insist.” Cassandra said. “You went to all this trouble to make this beautiful meal you should be able to enjoy it too!”

Summer and Michael waited a moment but soon smiled and rushed over to the table, pulling out chairs next to each other. Jake picked up his plate and moved next to Cassandra so that all four were sitting near each other.

“Spaghetti anyone?” he said, picking up the bowl and causing all of them to laugh.

Through the night, three Stones, and one Cillian, laughed over hastily prepared food and stories of each of their own lives. It was the best night Summer and Michael had had in years. It was the best night Cassandra could remember having in a while. She wondered what it would be like if her life was like this every night.


 

            The next morning, everyone sat around the conference table in the annex. With the complete revival of all technology being so immediate, local shops had already started to open their doors the next morning. William had run out early and picked up pastries from a nearby bakery, which the Librarians shared now along with Jenkins’ homemade jasmine tea.

The air in the room was so happy it was almost as if the tragedies before had never happened. Putting Clarent’s peace back into the world seemed almost to be like a giant, magical, reset button. No one thought about the newly-reversed apocalypse as they joked and dined on blueberry scones and chocolate croissants.

“So you really had a run in with the Dorian Gray?” Maggie asked, leaning forwards towards Eve and Cassandra, who had been the last to share an old case story.

“Unfortunately, yes.” Eve said, earning an eye roll from Cassandra.

“Your parents didn’t?” said synesthete asked.

“I guess they just never told us that story,” William said. “That, or some things really are different across universes.”

Everyone at the table laughed, until Summer’s face fell slightly and looked into space with a wistful frown.

“I miss their stories.” she said.

None of the other Librarians, nor Librarianettes, said anything, until a new voice broke the silence.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

Flynn made his way down the annex staircase to join the group for breakfast. He stood between Maggie and Will, who hugged him from the side, and he immediately grabbed a coffee-cake muffin from the center.

“Tale of Two Cities!” Summer chimed, citing her Uncle’s quotes. “Go me!”

Maggie rolled her eyes. While she was beyond grateful to have her cousin back to normal, she didn’t account for the fact that the return of Summer meant the return of the obnoxious know-it-all side of her.

“Um, anyone who’s ever come close to being a candidate for Librarian has known that since the age of 5,” she teased. “You’re not special.”

Summer stuck her tongue out at her cousin who returned the gesture until both were laughing like they were little girls again. Flynn looked at Eve from across the table and she smiled back at him.

You finally got your family back Librarian she thought.

“Oh my gosh!” Summer said. “All this talk of old cases and we haven’t even remotely begun to think about all the new ones!”

“Slow down there Little Red.” William said. “We just got the world back to normal. Don’t be so eager to have to save it again.”

“Oh come on!” Summer argued. “It’s a new age of the Library. New threats are always gonna arise, but we just keep finding new ways to fight them. And now after years we finally get to start making our own stories.”

“Oh don’t jump straight on the fast-track there Summer.” Flynn said. “With the speed things are moving out there I reckon your old schools will be opening their doors again within a week or two. And you’ve still got some time to serve there my dear.”

“What?! Come on! I’m smarter than ninety percent of most of the kids in college. Both of my parents were two of the smartest people in the world, I….”

“All of that may be true,” Flynn said. “But you’re fifteen. You and your brother are going to finish school.”

“Does Maggie have to go back?”

“Um, Will and I were a few months away from graduating when the high-school shut its doors.” Maggie said. “I think we’re covered. But you my dear cousin have just gotta suffer through high-school like the rest of us.”

“This is so unfair!” Summer huffed, slumping back in her chair and crossing her arms.

“Oh welcome to being a teenager dear Summer,” Flynn teased. “None of it is fair. But while you’re impatiently waiting for it to be over, you and Michael can finish school, William can start fine-tuning his research with Jenkins and Maggie….I believe you and I have some training to do.”

Maggie and her father met eyes and shared a smile. She started to think that maybe this wouldn’t be weird or scary at all; maybe it really had just been what she’d always waiting for.

“Oooh I remember our training.” Jake sighed. “In my memory most if it was just Eve yelling at us.”

Cassandra laughed but Eve immediately crossed her arms and turned to her charges.

“Hey!” she exclaimed. “You wouldn’t have lasted five minutes without my help. I could’ve been having romantic days fighting cults across Europe, but I stayed with you instead.”

“Wait,” Maggie chimed. Her voice sounded solemn. “I just realized…now that we got magic back and everything we can try and figure out how to send you home.”

Everyone fell silent. Summer and Michael looked almost dumbfounded and the Librarians simply stared into space; in all the craziness the past few days, they hadn’t given much thought to home, or the idea of going back. Now, the sharp reminder of it shook them, not only to remember, but to think they had nearly forgotten.

“But you just got here!” Michael exclaimed, breaking the silence. “We just started hanging out!”

“Michael.” Summer whispered, scolding him and pulling him closer to her side.

“But…we don’t even know what happened to us yet.” Eve stuttered. “We don’t know how we even got here much less how to get back.”

“I…may know more than I let on.” Jenkins said, suddenly joining in on the conversation and walking towards the group.

The old man looked the group over and sighed before he continued.

“Forgive me. I should’ve told you sooner, but I felt finding the Crown needed to be prioritized.”

“Jenkins,” Eve said straightly. “What do you know?”

Jenkins sighed again, exhausted and frightened. There was no telling what would happen next, not with this magic. And to deliver the news unto this group now meant bringing more chaos into lives that had just newly been made peaceful. But nevertheless they needed to know.

“There is a spell.” he said.

Chapter Text

The Librarians sat staring into space, dumbfounded after Jenkins had recounted the entire spell for them. They’d been sucked into the Loom of Fate, in an attempt to steal them from their own world, and only fate decided when they would get to go home. It was mind-boggling, even for them.

Flynn scratched his chin; thirty-two years as a Librarian and yet somehow he still hadn’t heard of this one spell. It shouldn’t have been upsetting, not with how rare and dangerous Jenkins had described it to be, and there was no way he could have prevented it; it came from an alternate universe. But looking at Maggie and William, frozen still when they’d been laughing five minutes ago, a pit of guilt formed at the bottom of his stomach.

“Do we have to go?” Cassandra said, the first one to brave speaking.

“Cassie what the hell are you talking about?” Jake asked.

“When that portal or whatever opens up…do we disrupt the balance of time and space if we don’t go back? If we stay here?”

Everyone stared at her; it seemed ludicrous, what she was suggesting. Why on earth, after all this time, all they’d lamented this week, would they not go home? But in truth, she was just voicing what everyone had been thinking. They’d all gotten so close; things were so good here right now: what if they’d been brought here for a reason?

“As I said Miss.Cillain,” Jenkins said. “Whether or not you return is each person’s decision. But whatever you decide, I urge you to choose carefully. When the portal appears you’ll have no more than a minute to step through, and if you don’t, it will never appear again.”


 

            Everyone had quickly dispersed once Jenkins had delivered the news. Cassandra had quietly made her way to a reading room alone, keeping her head down. She turned as she heard footsteps, and saw Jake rushing in after her, closing the door behind them.

“Cassie what the hell were you talking about back there?!” he exclaimed.

“I don’t know,” she shrugged. “Does it really sound like such a horrible idea? Staying here?”

“Cassie we’ve got lives back at the Library, at our Library.”

“And we could have lives here too!”

“Why are you so bent on staying in this place we were never meant to be?” Jake exclaimed.

He was worried. This wasn’t like Cassandra at all. Sure she always wanted to save the day, help those who others would write off as hopeless cases. But she’d done that here already, convinced him and Eve to join her too; their work was done. And Cassandra would always put the Library first; from the day she gave up a future to save Flynn’s life, the Library was always first.

Now though, she stood in front of him trembling and crying, not having said a word since his last question. The girl who seemed to love the Library more than anyone else wouldn’t speak a word as to why she was considering leaving it behind.

“Cassie,” he said, approaching her more gently.

“There’s…” she started, but soon stop again as she pushed away tears. “There’s a guaranteed future here. A guaranteed beautiful life that was all mine.”

Jake didn’t say anything but paid close attention to her. Her reasoning was starting to become clearer to him, and he felt guilty for ever doubting her.

“Jacob I never had a promise of a future, not since I was 15,” she continued. “Even when I found the Library, it was just a blessing, a home where I could live out my last few years to the fullest. There was never a guarantee when I went to bed at night that I was going to wake up and see the sun. And then, all of sudden, I wasn’t dying anymore…but that fear never went away.

“There’s no fear here Jacob. Here, in this world, I got my happily ever after. I got all these years with the Library and I got you and I got a family of my own…and it’s all guaranteed. And if we go back home I won’t have that guarantee anymore. It won’t exist yet.”

“Darlin’,” Jake said. He walked closer to Cassie and put his hands on her shoulders. “I know it’s scary, alright and I promise I will be there for you to lean on. But running away to a different realm isn’t the answer Cassie.”

“What about that great night last night?” Cassandra insisted. “Laughing at the dinner table with Summer and Michael: what if we could have that every night? You and me, happy like that all the time, don’t you want that?”

“Of course I want that Cassie,” Jake said. “But...this is not our place to have that. Summer and Michael are half grown-up already. If their parents were alive they’d be gettin’ old now.

Believe me I want that life with you Cassie; I want the dinners and the breakfasts and the looking through family albums with our kids…but I want it from the beginning. I want all that but you know what else I want? I want to get to go on a first date together, a real one. I wanna wake up in our first apartment and make breakfast with you sittin’ around in my shirt. I want to kiss your belly goodnight when you’re pregnant and have dinners with Summer from when she can’t talk until she’s what she is now.

“We’ve been through enough to earn making our own happily ever afters…not just picking one up twenty years from where we are now. Let’s go and find that happily ever after…together.”

“I’m scared…” Cassandra muttered, tears still in her eyes.

“I know,” Jake said, smiling softly. “And I am too. But we got each-other to get through that fear alright?”

Cassandra, still crying, finally managed a smile and nodded at Jake. She leaned up and kissed him softly, before Jake took her in his arms and held her tight. Leaving this new life behind was going to be hard: they both knew it. But God did he make her want to go after all those promises he’d just mentioned.


 

            In another part of the annex, Eve, after walking around on her own for a bit, found herself leaning over the second floor railings again. She’d hoped and hoped for going home, and now the moment was here and somehow it didn’t feel right. And the fact that it didn’t feel right didn’t feel right either. How could she possibly not want to go back yet? She missed Flynn like crazy and it was her home! But then again, how could she ever leave this place, where she’d come to love everyone so much?

Her mind floated to the Flynn she’d met her second day there, huddled over at his desk in the dark. She remembered Maggie’s words to her, about how he’d broken when his Eve died. And she thought about him now, smiling at breakfast and joking with everyone and putting his arms around Maggie and William: he’d become like that again when she’d arrived here; what was to say that if she left, he wouldn’t fall back?

And then of course with that she thought about Flynn, her Flynn, sitting at home doing and thinking God knows what. If she never went back, would he just become what she’d seen this Flynn become? And without a Maggie and William, without some random version of herself coming back to visit him, would he ever bounce back from it? She so wanted to believe that he was stronger than that, that he could move on without her; being Guardian, there was no guarantee that she’d ever come home when she walked through the back door. More than that she wondered if she’d be able to move on without him. Remembering how she felt the day they defeated Apep gave her her answer. But if all that were true, why was this world so hard to leave?

“Thinking about what you want Colonel?”

Eve startled as she turned to see that Jenkins had joined her. She sighed and threw her arms on the railing again. A moment passed in silence until Eve spoke up again, the thoughts that had been plaguing her finally coming out of her mouth.

“Whatever I do,” she muttered. “I’m leaving him. Jenkins, whatever I choose I’m leaving some version of him alone. How am I supposed to make a decision when something like that is true?”

“Well Colonel,” Jenkins said. “No one said the decision would be easy. That’s the nature of this spell, the very reason people use it.”

Jenkins.” Eve insisted.

The old caretaker sighed and breathed as if to say something, but stopped himself. After another moment he exhaled and turned to Eve.

“Colonel…Eve, I once told you…or someone else once told you…that your job as the Guardian was not to save your Librarians’ bodies, but to save their souls. Three years ago, I saw the souls of everyone in this Library, of this Library itself, die, particularly that of Mr. Carsen. Since you have arrived here…well, just look.”

Jenkins indicated the annex level beneath them, where Flynn sat with Maggie and Summer, the three of them facing each-other and sipping tea. Eve couldn’t hear what they were talking about, but she could see the faintest of smiles on each of their faces.

“You think you have to be the Guardian to every Librarian Eve, but you don’t. And even at that, look what you did here…for my family.”

Eve smiled weakly at him.

“There was a Guardian here Eve, and she did her job; she saved Flynn’s soul and you…you did too. And the way I see it…you have Librarians waiting for you whose souls you also saved…who need you to keep saving them.”

“Thank you Jenkins,” Eve said. “But I’m not so much thinking about my duties as a Guardian here. I know what those are.”

“Well in that case Colonel,” Jenkins sighed. “I can’t help you quite as much…but I can offer you this: maybe there are more people you need to consider in this equation.”

Without another word, Jenkins nodded at her and quietly walked away, leaving Eve standing just as frozen as she was before. Everything he’d said only voiced the back-and-forth in her head. But his last words hung on her for a moment. As she considered them, she remembered how cryptic the caretaker had always been. Then, it was like something called out to her and her eyes shifted down to her belly.

She knew what she had to do.


 

            In the main annex, Summer and Maggie sat at the conference table. They hadn’t spoken since everyone else had rushed off. Summer stared at her tea and traced circles on the table with her finger. Maggie kept looking over at her, knowing she needed to talk, but not wanting to push her and make the first move. As much as everything had changed, she still felt like she needed to be very careful with Summer.

“It’s not fair,” the younger girl finally said. “We just got them back and now they’re leaving again.”

Maggie tried to say something, but Summer just kept going.

“And I know they were never really ours…but why couldn’t they just be? We could’ve just pretended.”

Summer started to cry, and for the first time in years Maggie truly saw her little cousin who she loved so much: bright and bubbly, a friend to everyone, but so so vulnerable. Maggie scooted her chair over closer to her and wrapped her arms tight around her shoulders. Finally letting go, Summer grabbed her cousin’s arm and sobbed.

“I just miss them,” she cried.

“I know,” Maggie said, trying to stop her own tears that were forming so as not to hurt Summer even more. “I do too.”

“But look at me.” Maggie moved away from Summer and lifted her chin so that their eyes met.

“You’re not alone in this okay?” she said. “And I don’t ever want you to think you are. You’re like my little sister.”

Summer smiled weakly at her, and the two girls shared a look of renewed understanding. Before long, their heart to heart was interrupted by a calm voice and footsteps coming down the stairs.

“Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us. They existed. They existed. We can be. Be and be better. For they existed.”

“Maya Angelou.” Maggie said smiling. “Nice choice Dad.”

“Thank you Maggie.” Flynn said.

Flynn approached the table and sat down, causing Summer to suddenly move her hands to her lap and freeze up. Maggie looked between the two of them. Two people she loved, and she’d seen them both wounded what seemed like beyond all repair. Now, here they were, back to how she knew them, and yet something was still missing. She hid a smirk; she wasn’t so old that she couldn’t be a master of scheming- she was a Librarian after all.

Putting every ounce of suggestion into her movement and her voice, she slowly and awkwardly rose from her chair.

“I’m gonna go see if Will needs me,” she said, her words long and drawn out. Then, before Flynn or Summer could protest, she walked out of the room, leaving the two of them alone.

For the first few moments, no one said anything. The tension of pent-up anger, though they both knew that it would soon disappear, filled the room and trapped them in silence. After a while, Flynn was the first to speak.

“You know I’ve never been much good at this advice stuff,” he said, stumbling over his words. “But, I think, in any circumstance, there is something to be said for shared experience.”

Summer looked over at him with curious eyes. She wasn’t sure how she felt in that moment; something was telling her she should hate him, but at the same time, her old feelings of affection for her favorite Uncle were fighting for dominance, bubbling at the surface.

“You know I lost my Dad when I was a kid,” he continued. “Did you know that?”

Summer shook her head quietly, her lips still pressed tightly together.

“I was nine. He wasn’t home a lot…but one day he just didn’t come back. My Mom was a wreck, the house was all filled up with flowers and casseroles and family members all the time. And my Dad was never home, so it’s not like it was any different that he wasn’t there anymore, but it felt different to me. And it was scary.”

Summer was frozen, watching him with wide eyes and not saying a word. Flynn stopped; he forgot how easy it was for him to lose his point. Not like any of this was easy to share either; the only person he’d ever told about it…was Eve. He took a deep breath before reaching forward and grabbing his goddaughter’s hands in his own. She gasped when he did so, almost like she was scared, but he looked her right in the eyes- he had to learn to not be alone; maybe it was time that more of his family learned something about him.

“I broke, Summer,” he explained. “When my Dad died, when my Mom died decades later, when Judson died....and when your parents and your Aunt Eve died. It happens to me over and over no matter how much I tell myself I can’t let it: I hide in my books and I shut myself away, and I end up hurting the people who I care abo…who I love.”

Tears formed in Summer’s eyes. She understood what he was saying, and somehow it made her feel better and worse at the same time, if such a thing was possible.

“It’s very easy to let yourself break Summer,” Flynn said, more firmly now. “And I don’t wanna see it happen to you like it happened to me. Do you know the one time I didn’t break? When Charlene died. You know why?”

Summer shook her head again.

“Because I had your Aunt Eve, and your Mom and Dad, and your Uncle Ezekiel, and your Grandpa Jenkins.” Flynn lit up as he recounted the time to Summer, smiling just to say his friends’ names. “They were there for me when I needed them, and they stopped me from falling, because they knew how easily I could.”

Flynn realized he’d gotten off track again. He stopped for another moment and leaned even closer to Summer, now looking her dead in the eye.

“Don’t let yourself break Summer.” he said. “You’re too beautiful and brilliant a girl to let any part of yourself slip away. And I can’t promise you that it won’t be hard to stay on track, in fact I can promise you that it will be. But you have to keep reminding yourself that you’re not alone. None of us are gonna let you fall off track again- especially not me.”

Summer still said nothing, though her eyes were wet. Flynn nodded and rose from the table, thinking he needed to leave her alone. He could say everything he wanted to about how much he loved her, but he knew that he’d lost his place as what he used to be to her. He needed to let her come to him, whenever that may be.

“Uncle Flynn.” Summer’s quiet voice called out when Flynn was halfway to the door. He turned slowly and saw her standing up by her chair, facing him now with her hands clenched together in front of her.

“You and I have always been a lot alike,” she said, ever so softly. “Maybe that means we get to help each other through this one right? Like a team: so neither one of us ever has to break.”

Flynn smiled and walked towards her, trying at an embrace as he held out his arms. Summer took a moment but with a cry and smile, she rushed to him. His arms wrapped around her tightly in an instant, and he stumbled for a second at the feel of it. And then he kissed her on head, letting himself remember to never let this out of his sight.

“You and me Bumblebee.” he said. “We’re gonna get through this.”

Summer leaned her chin upward and looked at him with raised eyebrows and a teasing smile.

“You haven’t called me Bumblebee since I was little.” she noted.

“Well things are changing around here.” Flynn said, his voice loud and melodramatic.

Summer laughed as she shifted so that she now stood at Flynn’s side, his arm held tightly around her shoulders.

“I think maybe I wanna sleep at your house again tonight,” Summer muttered. “If that’s okay.”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Flynn said.

The two walked off together smiling, before Flynn leaned into Summer and teased her again.

“And you’re still little by the way.” he whispered.

She laughed. And for a moment, it seemed like all just might be right with the world.

Chapter Text

Hours later, Flynn and the kids were sitting in the annex waiting for the other Librarians to return. The all stayed close together, and Flynn had begun to recount a story of one of his earlier missions with Eve to keep the kids calm. But no matter how cool the distraction, it could not keep the truth away forever, and soon three more sets of footsteps entered the annex.

The team looked over to see Jake, Cassandra and Eve approaching them quietly. Their faces were solemn and scared-looking. Jenkins, sitting at his desk, noticed them and looked up. The entire team watched them with anticipation.

“Have you made your decision?” Jenkins asked.

Jake looked over at Cassandra and Eve, both of their bodies tight. Baird looked about as silenced as he had ever seen her. Remembering how Cassandra had cried to him earlier, he stepped forward to address the group.

“We’re going home.” he said. “It’s not easy, but…I think we all know it’s what’s right.”

“We understand.” Maggie said, though everyone could hear the hesitation in her voice. “We’re gonna miss you though.”

“We’re gonna miss you too.” Eve said. The two women teared up as they looked at each-other. No matter the reality of their relationship, they’d changed each-other in the week since Eve had arrived here, that was certain.

“There is another thing you should know.” Jenkins said. “Once you go back to your own universe, you won’t remember what your futures turned out to be.”

“What?!” Everyone in the room explained.

They turned to face Jenkins and he looked pained.

“We’re just gonna forget everything?” Eve asked.

“No…” Cassandra stammered, looking back at Summer and Michael, who hadn’t yet shown much reaction at all. “No.”

“It’s the way it has to be.” Jenkins explained. “No one can know what their future holds. It’s simply not the way the universe, nor the Library, works.”

“So we’re just going to forget everything?” Jake asked. “What are we gonna think when we get back to the Library and all this time has passed?”

“You won’t forget everything. Anything that concerns your present selves will remain in your memory. And you’ll remember us and what happened here, just not necessarily who we are. Those details will be fuzzy.”

The Librarians turned and looked at their comrades, knowing now that they were facing a final goodbye to an extent which they could not fathom. It was not just goodbye to speaking, or interacting or seeing each other; it was a goodbye to even knowing each-other. It was a goodbye as if what preceded it would never have happened.

Cassandra studied Summer carefully. Every detail about her seemed more prominent now: the shape of her face, the length of her hair, the color of her eyes. Awkward silence emerged as they were locked in a stare. Cassandra didn’t want to say goodbye to her, but she didn’t know how to express it; after all, they’d only started to get to know each-other less than a day ago.

And then, in all the silence and the waiting, when no one else wanted to move let alone speak, Summer, unexpectedly, made the first change. Strong Summer who twenty-four hours go would barely speak to anyone scrunched her nose and started to cry. Before the first tears could fall, Cassandra found herself reacting the same way.

With that, the two rushed to each other and locked in an embrace. Cassandra hoped that everything she wished she could say and do, things that she did not have time to communicate, could be conveyed from simply that gesture. Summer buried her head in her shoulder and held tight, though she knew she’d soon have to let go. As much as she could deny it, as much as she understood that it was not the same, she knew what this was: her last chance to give her mother a final hug goodbye. Maybe she wasn’t really hugging Cassandra. Maybe Cassandra knew that. But the hug, tight and teary, was all that needed to be said.

After they parted, Cassandra backed up and returned to Jacob’s side, wiping away her tears. The two of them approached Michael next, who stood up straight with his fists clenched at his sides. His eyes teared as well, slightly more blubbery than his sister had been, but his tight stance tried to hold them back.

Jake put a hand on his shoulder and crouched down so that their eyes were at the same level. Cassandra, trying to prevent herself from crying again, simply smiled down at them.

“Be good kid alright?” he said.

Michael nodded. If he opened his mouth to speak, he would have started wailing. Jake brought him into a hug, which Michael accepted but couldn’t return. Jake battled for emotional strength himself. When the gesture ended, Michael and Cassandra shared a soft smile, before he fell into his sister’s arms crying; that was where he needed to be.

Jake stood up and grabbed Cassandra’s hand. They gave Flynn a sympathetic nod before stepping away together: they were ready to go home.

Eve didn’t know what to say. She’d watch the whole event with the Stone kids-that still sounded weird- but she wasn’t sure how to match it. Maggie and William were older; there were no crying children to prompt a need for comfort.

 “Eve?”

She turned to see Maggie standing with her hands held together, clutching something tightly. She was still, almost as if she were hesitant to approach her. Eve said nothing, too surprised, until Maggie reached out and handed her a square envelope.

“Jenkins told Dad and me about the memory loss earlier. I didn’t say anything until now.”

Scribbled on the front in careful handwriting was,

Open in case needing to investigate a level 5 layline disturbance at Dulifax Co. in Bangor, Maine.

“Maggie I don’t think I can…” Eve started, realizing what the letter was. She looked hastily between Maggie and Jenkins, but Maggie cut her off.

“Don’t read it unless what the envelope says happens.” she explained. She looked back to her father, afraid he would not approve, but all he did was observe her carefully. “Maybe you coming here can save more universes than one.”

“It’s still open,” Eve said, noting the open flap as she turned the envelope over.

Maggie hesitated before continuing on.

“Remember that picture I gave you?” she said.

Eve reached slowly into her pocket and pulled out the family picture she’d been presented with a week ago now. She’d barely looked at it, unsure of what to do with it, and still feeling like it didn’t belong to her.

She looked at Maggie to confirm her suspicions and the girl nodded. Her hand shaking slightly, she slowly slipped the picture into the open envelope, then tucked it shut.

“I hope you don’t ever have to open it.” she said. “But if you do, maybe I’ll be there with you already, so it won’t be so scary.”

Eve smiled. That kid sure knew what she was talking about, and she kept proving it to her. Maggie walked back and joined her father and brother. Eve looked at the three of them, and they all smiled. They all seemed to understand that there were no goodbyes to be had here. Even if they hadn’t realized it then, they’d already said all they needed to say.

Eve walked to Jake and Cassandra, and the three of them turned and gave one final nod to Jenkins, who was smiling at them in a way so familiar to their own caretaker.

Just then, a whirring sounded, like high volts of electricity sparking off of a wire. Without warning, a portal opened in front of them, much like when Flynn and Eve had been stuck in 1611. A clear image of their own Library appeared before them.

“Flynn!” Eve called out.

“He can’t hear you.” Jenkins explained. “This one doesn’t work like that. You have to make your decision to make contact.”

There it was: the way home. But the Librarians still stood frozen still. No matter how much at peace they said they were with their decision, something still glued their feet to the floor. They turned one last time to look at the others they were leaving behind. Again, they felt impossible to leave. Cassandra started to say something, but Maggie beat her to the punch.

“You’ll see us again.” Maggie said, an heir of maturity and wisdom about her almost as if she were not real. All the other Librarians smiled.

“Now is the time.” Jenkins urged them. “The portal will not stay open for long! You go home now or never.”

Chapter Text

The back door of the Library whirred and heads turned as Eve, Jake and Cassandra came bursting through. Jenkins, Flynn and Ezekiel turned to see the others trying to reorient themselves.

“Flynn!” Eve exclaimed.

Before he could even register what was happening, Eve rushed to Flynn and crashed into his arms. He stumbled but instinctively wrapped her into a tight embrace. As it started to dawn on him what had just happened, his face melted into a smile to think that he had his Eve in his arms again.

At the same time, Ezekiel had approached Jake and Cassandra, who were still slightly confused as they looked around the room. Then, however, their eyes came to see their hands, entwined together, and their eyes met with a gentle smile.

“What happened?” Ezekiel asked.

“I…” Eve started, ready to excitedly recount their adventures, but soon she found she was drawing a blank. “I don’t remember.”

She looked to Jake and Cassandra for help, but they looked just as confused as her.

“There was some kind of apocalypse,” Jake stuttered. “Post-apocalypse.”

“And these kids…” Cassandra remembered, searching for faces that would not make themselves clear in her mind. “I…I think we were in the Library.”

“Well,” Jenkins said from behind his desk. “We are just glad to have you home.”

“Indeed that’s true.” Flynn agreed. He looked down at Eve, unable to shake off the enormity of his relief to have her next to him again.

Excited quiet filled the annex then, and Eve looked around at the home she almost lost. Ezekiel was already in rushed conversation with Stone and Cassandra, the pair of whom was still tightly holding hands and beaming at each other.

It all seemed so familiar and yet so distant. She knew she’d missed it, but for some reason she couldn’t remember specifically how. Then, a sharp memory came to her attention, and she looked at Flynn, who had not yet said a word to her.

“Come on,” she said, grabbing his hand and smiling widely. “I have something to show you.”


 

Flynn walked into the now emptied and dimly lit annex and saw Maggie sitting at the conference table. She was staring straight ahead at the other end of the table and barely moving. Suddenly she looked down at something held in her lap.

Flynn approached her carefully and gently, sitting down on the stool next to her. His heart shattered when he saw what she was holding: a picture of her and Eve. It had always been one of his favorite pictures; both of their smiles were so beautiful in it. He used to carry it around with him everywhere.

Maggie didn’t say anything for a while, and at first Flynn didn’t even know if she knew he was there. But then, her voice, stoic and quiet, broke the silence, though she still stared straight ahead.

“Do you ever see her?” she asked. As she spoke, her words gradually dissolved into cries. “Like you’re just looking somewhere that she used to be a lot, and you think that you see her for a second, and then you do a double take because of course she’s not there, but you’re so certain you saw her, and for a second you forgot she wouldn’t be there, and then you have to remember all over again why she’s not?”

“Every day.” Flynn said.

Maggie looked down at her lap again and Flynn heard the hastened breathing of her crying. He moved closer to her and simply wrapped his arms around her. And then her head fell on his shoulder and she started sobbing. He squeezed her tighter and pressed his chin on top of her head. He had not held her like this since the funeral, and he was filled with guilt, while still trying to hold back his own tears of grief.

“Shhh,” he said, never having forgotten how he used to comfort her. He lifted his chin up to stroke her hair. “You’re okay. We’re going to be okay. I’m always going to make sure that you’re okay.”

Maggie continued sobbing. She’d gotten over things somewhat in two years, and hadn’t cried like this in a long time. But at this moment, she was overcome with emotion: the grief from being reminded of her mother’s loss, the pain of letting go of her a second time, the relief to be in her father’s arms.

“Don’t cry Mag-pie.” he whispered.

This sentiment caused her to sit up and look at him. Her eyes were red and blotchy, but she took off her glasses and wiped her tears away.

“You haven’t called me Mag-pie in two years.” she said.

“Yeah, well I haven’t done a lot of things.” Flynn said quietly. “But things are going to be different now. I promise.”

“I love you Daddy.” Maggie said, leaning her head on her father’s shoulder again, this time with the softest smile on her face.

Flynn held back tears and kissed her on the head, bringing her as close to him as he possibly could.

“Hey,” he eventually said. Maggie sat up and faced him. “Have I ever told you the story of how your Mom told me she was pregnant with you?”

“No.”

“Well then, what do you say we head home, and I can tell you the story over some milk and cookies?”

Dad, I’m nineteen years old!” Maggie chuckled.

“Oh I’m sorry!” Flynn exclaimed, holding up his hands in exaggerated defense. “I didn’t realize being nineteen meant you didn’t like milk and cookies anymore!”

Maggie laughed, a genuine smile crossing her face for the first time she could remember in a long time. Flynn stood up and held his hand out to her, which she accepted before hopping off her stool. He put his arm around her and she settled into him. He began to tell her the story as they walked out of the annex together.

“It was a random day in the annex. She’d been out on a case for a few days with your Uncle Jake and Aunt Cassandra…”


 

            Eve laughed as she dragged Flynn through the Library, eventually stopping them upstairs, in some secluded spot between two shelves.

“Eve,” he stuttered, completely disoriented. “What is going on are you okay?”

“Come here.” she chuckled.

He sighed and did as she said, though he was completely confused.

“I still don’t see why you had to drag me all the way…”

“Just come here!” she repeated.

He smiled in spite of it all and walked slowly over to her. She grabbed his arm and led him to stand behind her. And then she took his hand and slowly brought it around her waist, until she laid it gingerly on top of her belly.

“Well this is lovely” Flynn said. “But did we have to come all the way over here just to cuddle?”

Eve rolled her eyes.

Flynn” she said. She nodded towards her stomach, indicating for him to look at where his hand was lying. Then she laid her hand on top of his and pressed them both gently there.

He looked at her with wide eyes and his jaw open. She bit her bottom lip, grinning and getting teary, and simply nodded at him. Immediately he dipped his chin down and kissed her deeply. She cried as she returned the gesture, and when they parted they were staring into each other’s eyes.

“We’re going to be a family.” Flynn said.

Mmhmm.” Eve replied.

“Can you imagine it?” Flynn chuckled in disbelief, crashing reality having not yet turned into panic. “Little Junior Librarians running around the annex.”

Eve smiled and looked away from him for a moment. For a reason she couldn’t quite tell, she was filled with a warmth, and even though the memories weren’t clear, something inside of her knew what happened. And in the very back of her mind, she saw a wisp of sandy blonde hair, and two bright smiles.

“Yes Flynn,” she said. “I can. And I think we’re going to be very happy.”