“I love you.” Flynn said. There was a smile on his face, but Eve felt no joy. He was going to die. And it wasn’t like before. There was no last minute trick, no clever loophole to make him live. He was going to die, and there was nothing she could do to stop it. She’d finally found the person she knew she was supposed to be with forever, and he was going to die.
“Always and forever.” he added, shattering her heart even further. She wasn’t sure if she was angry at him, or the universe, or both. How was it fair that he was leaving her, and not from running this time? How was it fair that he would love her always, but from some kind of afterlife, where she couldn’t see or hear him? How was it fair that she knew she would always love him too?
He was okay. He was in her arms and he was going to be ok. They were going to be ok. No one was dead, no one was going to die. The world was saved, and her family was around her, and the love of her life was in her arms. As she kissed him on the cheek, a single thought rang clear in her mind.
Always and forever
They were home that night, lying in bed, the comforter pulled up to their chins, their faces so close that their noses were practically touching. It was late now, and they were tired. They’d held each other all night, first on their couch and then in their bed, but sleep was calling them now. They’d turned to lock eyes one more time before they drifted off.
“I love you.” Flynn whispered.
“I love you too.” Eve replied. “Always and forever.”
Flynn beamed at her, surprised, and she responded with a soft smile.
“Always and forever.” Flynn repeated, then kissed her quickly before turning out the light.
They never said the words to agree upon it, but it happened. It became their greeting, their goodbye, their goodnight, their own little version of those three little words. And these three words seemed to fit them better than anything else could: Always and forever.
They were on a particularly difficult case that day. Their enemy was relentless. And the moment had come where Eve and Flynn realized they had to split up to succeed. It was the first time they’d done so since Apep had tried to release evil.
Eve knew it was different that time, that they would both be ok, but she still shook as Flynn turned to walk away from her. He noticed the change in reaction and immediately went to her, taking both of her hands in his own.
“Hey,” he said, speaking gently to coax away the tears he saw forming in her eyes. “I’m gonna be ok. I promise. You’re going into a more dangerous situation than me.”
“I know,” she stuttered. “It’s just…”
“Look at me.” he said, cutting her off and cupping her face in his hands.
He lifted her chin so that her eyes met his. They were full of tears that she couldn’t force away. He kissed her gently before saying another word.
“Always and forever.” he assured her.
“Always and forever.” she repeated.
The exchange stuck in her mind and gave her the strength to pull herself together as he slowly pulled his hand apart from her, and to run off to find Stone and Cassandra.
“I’m just going to jump in the shower and then I’ll meet you at the restaurant.” Eve said, on the phone with Flynn. He’d spent the day doing research and she’d been out on a case, and had just returned to their apartment.
“The reservation is for six.” he reminded her.
“Yeah I’ll be there….mmhmm….okay….okay I’ll see you then.”
“I love you.” he said.
“Always and forever.” she replied casually, then ended the call and jogged to the bathroom.
Eve chucked in disbelief as Flynn slipped the diamond ring onto her left ring finger. Her other hand came up to wipe away the tears that had formed. She leapt forward then, throwing her arms around his neck as his came around her waist.
“So we’re really doing this?” she remarked. “We’re getting married?”
“You said so.” he teased.
She laughed and pressed her lips against his. As they fell into the kiss, he lifted her ever so slightly into the air, causing her to laugh even more.
“I love you so much.” she said, settling in now to stare into his eyes.
“I love you too.” he said. “Always and forever.”
“Always and forever.” she repeated. She kissed him again before gleefully burying her head in his shoulder.
Their foreheads touched as they swayed back and forth on the center of the dance floor. There were dozens of pairs of eyes on them, but they didn’t even care to notice. They might as well have been completely alone. They were husband and wife now, and it was the only thought on their minds.
“Always and forever.” Flynn whispered, so only she could hear it.
“Always and forever.” she repeated.
The nurse came over and placed the smallest bundle in Eve’s arms, wrapped in a pale pink blanket. Eve gasped as she looked down at it. It all became real in that moment that she was looking at her child. She had a child with Flynn. She heard him next to her, but she could not take her eyes off of their daughter.
She’d been so frightened for the entire pregnancy, and had practically panicked when her water broke. They were a Librarian and Guardian; they didn’t seem to exactly be the people to be able to handle a family. Even if they weren’t, she’d never had any clue how to raise a family. But now their daughter was in her arms, and nothing was scary anymore. They were going to have a family, and they were all going to love each other, and it was as simple as that.
“Hi!” she cooed at the child. “Hi baby!”
“Hi!” Flynn repeated, reaching over to touch the child. “I’m your Daddy. You’re so beautiful!”
“Have you picked a name?” the nurse asked, smiling at them.
Flynn and Eve shared a knowing smile and nodded.
“Charlene.” Eve answered.
“I love you.” Flynn whispered, turning to Eve.
“Always and forever.” Eve replied. They shared a kiss before turning back to baby Charlene.
“And we love you too.” Flynn whispered. “Always and forever.”
“Always and forever.”
“Mommy Mommy I wrote a story in school today!” Six year old Charlie Carsen came bounding into their apartment after Flynn had picked her up from school.
“You did?!” Eve exclaimed. “Well let me see!”
“You can’t!” the girl shouted. “It’s not finished. I have to finish the pictures!”
She jumped up onto one of the kitchen stools and threw her backpack next to her, before pulling out multiple sheets of loose-leaf paper and a pencil-case full of crayons and beginning to fervently continue her work.
“Well can you tell me what it’s about?” Eve asked.
“Yeah.” Charlie exclaimed, still coloring “There’s a princess, and a knight, and they’re boyfriend and girlfriend. But then the knight loses his memories and he can’t get them back until the princess kisses him and says ‘Always and forever.’!”
“What?” Eve asked.
“She says always and forever. He needs true love! That’s what you’re supposed to say when you’re in love with someone right? That’s what you and Daddy say.”
“Well yes,” Eve explained. “But not everyone says that. That’s just our special thing.”
“Huh,” Charlie wondered. “Does everyone have a special thing?”
“Some people do.”
“Well I think your special thing is extra-special.” She returned to her coloring without another word, kicking her tiny legs as they dangled high above the floor.
“You hear that Librarian?” Eve teased, walking over to greet Flynn. “You’re such a romantic that you’re disrupting our child’s social understanding.”
“Hey I’m not the only one at fault here!” he replied.
“No you’re not.”
“I love you.” he said in jest.
“Always and forever.” she replied before pecking him on the lips.
Eve walked around the darkened annex. She’d first seen it over twenty years ago now, and everything about her life was different, but the little space still looked the same. More importantly, it still felt the same. She’d fallen in love with Flynn, married him, and had a daughter with him, a daughter who was headed to Yale University with a triple major and nearly a full scholarship. Twenty years and roughly a dozen apocalypses later, and the annex was still the tiny, mysterious place that had welcomed her in when she didn’t even know she needed it. One thing was different from that day though: now it was home.
She knew Flynn was there long before he joined her at the conference table. By now she was able to identify the sound of his footsteps as easily as his voice. He didn’t say a word, but simply joined his hand with hers.
“Our Library.” he said, looking around.
“Not our Library anymore remember?” she said, her voice bittersweet. “We graduated the new Librarians today.”
“Oh it’s still our Library,” he argued. “We’re just more like…care-takers now.”
“You’re not going to become like Jenkins are you?” she teased.
“Oh Eve I’m offended! I could never be like Jenkins.”
Eve laughed and he brought up their joined hands to kiss the back of her palm, still his signature move after all these years.
“I love you.” she said, turning to look into his eyes, the eyes that had made her home so long ago.
“Always and forever?” he replied.
“Always and forever.”