Four years, eight months and sixteen days later, Terri Ryan awoke with a start. "But that didn't happen!" she exclaimed.
"It sort of did," a voice replied, and she looked around the dimly-lit room, startled. There was a woman standing by the door – a woman with strawberry-blonde hair.
"... I thought you didn't exist," she said accusingly. The other woman shrugged.
"I didn't. Then I did. Hello, Terri."
"Louise," Terri said with a slight nod. "So. Come to gloat?"
Lou shook her head. "I came to give you a present," she said. "It's... well, you know."
Terri frowned. "But that didn't happen," she said firmly. "I remember what happened the morning..." She stopped and took a deep breath. "The morning Narto vanished," she managed. "It... was terrifying. And it didn't involve-" She stopped. Lou went on, in a quiet tone.
"It didn't involve me coming by and explaining everything," she said. "It certainly didn't involve you offering to 'share'. But now, it did." She shook her head. "It's hard to explain without breaking the fourth wall."
Terri looked around. "But my bedroom only has three walls," she pointed out. Lou smiled slightly.
"Exactly. But... okay, basically I have an... an understanding with-"
"Louise," Terri cut her off, "I work for the PPC. I understand superpowers – you don't need to explain. Why are you here?"
Lou took a deep breath of her own. "To apologise," she said. Terri stared at her.
"This is your idea of an apology?" she finally said. "You can't just show up in my room and-"
"I know, I know." Lou frowned and rubbed the bridge of her nose. "I'm not very good at this. Do you mind if I sit down?"
"Sure," Terri said, sitting up in bed and holding the sheets close around her. "Pull up a stack of papers." Lou did so, and looked at Terri thoughtfully.
"Okay," she said, "here goes. I'm... sorry I took your boyfriend. I know it upset you, and I do wish it hadn't."
"I still miss him, you know," Terri said quietly. "Even after all these years."
Lou winced. "I think he misses you, sometimes, too," she said. "That's... kind of why I'm here. I don't want to feel like a thief." She touched one hand to her stomach. "Especially not now."
Terri raised an eyebrow. "So you're apologising to make yourself feel better?" she asked. "Because that's really not helping your case."
Lou grimaced. "Someday I'll be good at this," she muttered, casting a glance at the ceiling. "Look, I... I am sorry. I know how much he meant to you-"
"I loved him," Terri said bluntly. "Sometimes I think I still do."
"I know," Lou whispered. "And... I love him too. That's why I did it."
Terri shook her head slowly. "I... okay, archives mode." She tugged her sheets up with one hand and reached for her glasses with the other. Putting them on, she straightened up slightly. "Okay. In an alternate universe, you were Narto's partner, apparently in order to train him up. When that was accomplished, you merged him with the Narto of my world, giving him two sets of memories and far more skills than he previously had. Is that broadly accurate?" Lou nodded slightly. "Approximately six months later, my Narto – my boyfriend Narto – disappeared overnight, leaving behind a note saying he was leaving with you – who we had all assumed was fictional." Lou nodded again, one hand over her eyes. Terri sighed and lowered her head. "In the final analysis," she said a moment later, "I think I've recovered from... what happened. I haven't gotten another boyfriend-"
Lou cringed. "I'm-"
"-but I have had several girlfriends," Terri went on without pause. "So... was that your doing?"
Lou looked startled. "No," she said emphatically. "Definitely not. I couldn't... well, I probably could, actually, but I wouldn't."
"Good." Terri thought for a moment, and then said, "Well, you knew him longer anyway. One question, then: while you were partners, did you sleep with him?"
Lou spluttered. "You said what now?"
"It's a simple question," Terri said calmly. "While working together in the PPC, did you and he-"
"No," Lou said firmly, "no we didn't."
"Not even in deleted scenes?" Terri asked pointedly. Lou shook her head emphatically. "Good. Then I still got that first. Okay... then for what it's worth, I forgive you."
Lou nodded her head slowly. "Thank you," she said. "I don't... I really am sorry, you know."
"I know," Terri said quietly. "I would be too. So... Louise?"
"The offer to share is still open, you know."
Lou laughed startledly. "I don't think that'd be a good idea," she said. "For my good as well as yours – and his."
"That's what I thought," Terri said. "Okay. Say hi from me?"
Lou nodded. "I will."
"And tell him I was thinking of him while I was naked in my bedroom with his wife."
"Oh, we're not-" Lou stopped. "You're naked?"
"I'm in bed, Louise," Terri replied flatly. "Of course I am."
Lou rolled her eyes and looked up. "You're just malicious," she said accusingly. Terri blinked. "Not you," Lou added. "Okay... I'm going to go now before I embarrass myself any further."
"Sure," Terri said. "And... Louise?"