Sharon’s notes: This last entry is a little long, but with romance needs to take it’s time. I hope you liked reading this as much as I liked writing it. Enjoy. Warning: Author is going to miss this story.
Even though it wasn’t silent, the lack of ear shattering crashes and roars made the world seem muffled. Jim cautiously stood up, surveying the wreckage around him. The Tunnel of Love behind him was intact, and he could hear the baby wailing and the mother sobbing. He hobbled towards them to make sure that none of the monster stragglers got any ideas. There was a bubbling hiss and the bitter stench of burnt meat.
“Eww.” He turned to see Wendy jumping off the swiftly melting god. She waved at him, giggling and wafting the air. She dragged her staff behind her and dirt stuck to the blood that covered it. “I do love when they dispose of themselves. Makes things so much neater.”
“We need to go check on-” He was pointing towards the Tunnel, but Wendy grabbed his hand and used it to twirl around.
“Don’t worry so much. Anyone who isn’t already dead is probably going to be fine. The monsters are gone and the carnival is returning to normal.” She pointed at the booths that were whole again, and the distances that had gone back to normal.
“When did that happen? I was watching.” Jim thought he’d handled the whole crazy mess of a night really well, all things considered. This, for whatever reason, really got to him.
“It’s magic.” Wendy sighed contentedly and leaned a head on his shoulder. “Is there anything more satisfying than a job well done? Anywho, can I steal another shower at your place?”
“Yeah. I guess.” Jim experimentally squeezed her hand and was rewarded with another giggle. “Should we at least call the cops or something? There might be some people who are hurt.”
“They’re already on the way. I can hear sirens in the distance.” She tugged, and he followed her towards the exit. He saw the woman creep out of the tunnel, unharmed with the baby in her arms and his relief unwound some of the tightness in his gut. The rest was bruising, and the only thing that would fix that was time.
They passed by a lot of people who were reuniting, hugging and crying. Not a few of them were hurt, but ambulances and cop cars were skidding into the parking lot. Everyone who was left would be fine, and there was nothing else Jim could do.
Other than being splattered with dirt and gore, the walk home was strangely normal. They took turns in the shower, and ended up sitting on his bed, both of them wearing pairs of his shorts and old t-shirts while they chatted. Dodger the cat was curled up on Wendy’s lap, purring like a boat motor.
“So, what are you going to do now?” This was the part that Jim had been dreading. She was a magical girl wandering around slaying evil carnival gods. There was no way she would stay. Even if he really wanted her too. Even if he really liked her, and thought that she liked him too.
“I have a confession to make.” She swallowed hard, staring at the cat in her lap instead of him. “I’m under a spell that affects my memory. Fighting like that, well, it gives me some clarity. My name isn’t Wendy. Someone called me that, because I was a lost girl. I don’t know why I remembered that.”
“What’s your name?” Jim asked.
She hesitated. “Call me Maud. My real name doesn’t matter, and I’m not sure it belongs to me anymore anyway. I . . . I did a bad thing. I betrayed someone. I don’t remember the details, but it was the worst thing I have ever done. That’s why I’m wandering. If I can find them, I can apologize and maybe he can fix this.”
Jim hesitated, then took her hand. He was rewarded with a sad smile and a brief glance of Wendy’s, rather, Maud’s eyes. “Is he your. . . is he something to you?”
She shook her head and sniffled. “No. Maybe once, a really long time ago, but not anymore. Not after what happened, and I don’t know exactly why, but I’m pretty sure we drifted apart before I did whatever I did.”
Jim scooted around to put an arm over her shoulder and feelings of distress and pleasure fluttered through him as she turned into him and cried on his shoulder. He pulled her into a full hug and tried to lighten the mood with a joke. “Pulling me into a quest to find your ex. Weird, but not the worst thing I’ve heard of a girl asking her boyfriend to do.”
Her head snapped up, eyes wide. “Boyfriend?”
“Oh, um.” Jim blushed so hard his cheeks burned. “It was mostly a joke. I didn’t assume-”
“After everything I put you through, you still want to be my boyfriend?” She leaned in so close he could see tears on her eyelashes. It was suddenly hard to breathe.
“If, um,” Jim had to stop and swallow. “If you want me to.”
She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him. He was struck by how good she felt in his arms. Dodger meowed and darted off the bed. It was just a closed mouth kiss, but it lasted a long time, and when she finally pulled away, all he could do was stare.
“Does this mean that you’re going to come with me while I look?” She played with his hands, tracing shapes so lightly it tickled. The shy, mischievous smile she shot him wiped his mind blank for a second.
“I, um, yeah. Of course.” He cleared his throat while he forced his brain to work. “I can’t be gone all the time. Dad would worry, but it’s summer. If I’m careful, I don’t think he’ll notice.”
“Just remind me when you need to come home. We’ll make it work. Being with you is totally worth it.” She nuzzled against his neck like a cat, and he couldn’t stop grinning.