Quick Disclaimer: I do not own these characters or the world they inhabit. They were created by the fabulous people at Zombie Orpheus for their equally fabulous RPG, Masters of the Metaverse! Be sure to tune in to Twitch.TV/zombieorpheus every Monday at 6PM PST to see more!
Abbi stared at the pile of french fries in front of her, avoiding looking at the clock. She wasn’t even sure why she had ordered them, it wasn’t like her stomach was in any position to let her eat anything. Pushing the dish away, she glanced out of the plate glass windows of the Sentinel City Diner. This had been a really stupid idea. Why had she even picked this as the place to meet? She knew why of course, he probably did too which was why he wasn’t here yet. He probably wasn’t going to come at all which was likely for the best.
Then she felt him. Clear as a bell, he pushed out from the hum of emotions that surrounded her every day. He was on his way. Her heart started pounding and the fries became a complete impossibility. Her palms were sweating and she was just about to get up and ask for a glass of water when the door opened. The room was empty except for her and the wait staff, the dinner rush long over and the diner close to shutting up for the night. She didn’t look up as he approached.
Butch stopped at her table and cleared his throat.
“Hi.” Abbi raised her head, trying to smile in the most casual way possible, “Thanks for coming.”
Butch slid into the booth across from her, “Of course.”
They sat in silence for a moment before Abbi said, “So you’re leaving.”
“Tonight. Now. Well, after…” Butch gestured towards her.
“Oh! Oh, okay.”
He was really going. It was happening. She had secretly been hoping that it was a mistake or that he would change his mind. She wanted to ask him to stay, to tell him that she wanted him here, needed him here. She wanted to ask him to take her with him, to let her help or at least be there for him. She wanted to. But she didn’t. She couldn’t. It wasn’t right.
Of course he was going. What else had she expected really? Four hundred years of resets and repeats. Four hundred years of her trying to get it right and failing miserably every single time. Four hundred years of her not being worth that moment on the mountain. Butch finally knew it. He finally saw the truth. That the girl he had stepped in front of, the girl he had died for, the girl who should have been something extraordinary was just a person who felt too much and didn’t do a good enough job of hiding it.
Rita Riot had been a creation of her teenage angst and frustration, born out of a temper tantrum and nothing more. If she could have just been a normal girl then none of this would have happened. She never would have been arrested, never started down the path toward villainy no matter how feeble the attempt had been. She would never have brought down a mountain. Butch would have been saved by the Sentinels and Titan would be alive. Butch would be whole. Migraine would never have controlled the dome. The loops would never have taken place. Everyone in this city would have been able to go on and live happy, normal lives. Butch could have been the man he wanted to be. Maybe he would have settled down, married Molly, done anything other than what he had been forced to do thanks to her. All because she couldn’t control her emotions. All because she had gotten involved. All because she hadn’t been worth the price he had paid.
He was leaving. Leaving the city, leaving his team, leaving his friends, leaving…her. She wanted to stop him. She wanted to tell him that she was sorry for everything. For every moment wasted, every chance lost, for every possibility that was impossible now. She wanted to tell him she was sorry she wasn’t who he thought she would be. She wanted to tell him that he had been her truest and dearest friend for more than four hundred years. That she remembered every moment, every loop, every reset, everything. And that those memories meant more to her than anything else in the world.
She wanted to tell him that she cared about him. That her heart was his and that even if he took it and broke it into a thousand pieces, each one would still belong to him. She wanted to ask him to stay…for her. But she didn’t. She couldn’t.
Abbi forced a smile, “Well, I would say good luck but that seems insensitive.”
Butch chuckled lightly, “Yeah, I guess so.”
“Be careful. Please.”
He looked up at her, an expression she couldn’t read passing over his face. Her own emotions were raging too loudly inside of her head for her to tell what he was feeling.
“I will. You too.”, he said.
Abbi smirked, “Sure. I mean I’ll just be hanging around the city. Not much chance of anything major happening. Unless some random asteroid falls on us or something.”
She looked down at the table and began tracing the long crack in the linoleum surface. Out of the corner of her eye she saw his hand resting near hers. For the briefest of moments she started to reach out to take it. But she didn’t. She couldn’t.
“Are you coming back?” she asked, quietly.
Butch shook his head, “I don’t know.”
Abbi nodded, focusing hard on the table in front of her so he wouldn’t see the tears that threatened to run down her cheeks. She forced them back and swallowed a sob. This was right. This was what was meant to be. The universe had kept them apart for four hundred years. It was silly of her to think she could change that in a day. She had hoped for more time, but that seemed foolish now. She had had decades, centuries even. She had lost her chance to be anything more than a bystander.
“I don’t know what to say.”
Abbi looked up and saw Butch staring at her sadly. She felt the guilt coming off of him. Of course. He felt bad for making her upset. He was a hero. He was doing the right thing. The least she could do was try to as well.
She mustered up her bravest smile, “It’s okay. This is what you’re meant to do.”
“I wish I had your confidence.”
“I’ve always had faith in you, Butch. Even when I was a stupid thirteen year old kid at summer camp.”
A small smile crept across his face as Butch looked down at the table, “Hey, I liked that stupid thirteen year old.”
“You go be the hero you are.”
“You sound so sure.”, he said.
“I’ve always believed in your possibility, Butch.” Abbi said, sincerely.
He locked eyes with her then and she felt her breath stop.
“I’ve always believed in yours, Abbi.”
For a moment the world stood still. She heard nothing but her own heart and his.
Abbi blinked, clearing her throat and ducking her head, “Well, you probably have to get going. Other people to say goodbye to.”
Butch shook his head, “No. You’re the last.”
Abbi nodded. Of course, she was likely his easiest goodbye. No wasted time. This was it then. Butch stood up and Abbi stood with him. They looked at each other for a moment, unsure of how to proceed.
Finally Butch extended his hand, “See you around, Abbi.”
“See you around, Butch.” she said, taking it.
He turned and walked toward the door. Abbi watched him go, her hand still reaching out toward the place he had been. She almost called after him, almost ran up and pulled him into a tight embrace. She almost said the one thing she had wanted to say for nearly four hundred years. But she didn’t. She couldn’t.
And then he was gone.
Abbi paid for the uneaten fries and walked slowly back to her apartment. She sat on her couch in the dark, watching the moon rise and the stars come out. It wasn’t until she felt him go, the one constant beating heart that had walked beside her for so many cycles disappearing beyond the reach of her empathy, that she finally let the tears fall. In the quiet of her apartment she cried. For the first time in four hundred years she was alone.
Her best friend was gone.