Disclaimer: Characters belong to Alan Moore.
Rating: PG-13, het/gen, Laurie/Dan, Laurie/Jon.
Summary: Laurie lives happily ever after. Or not.
Notes: The 'Dan and Laurie flee south' thing is bit of a homage to Empire - Our Man In Mexico. Crossing the border to avoid US authorities has always been a pretty sound idea.
Sandra Hollis is going to be stuck with New York and Karnak for the rest of her life, but things have definitely got better.
They no longer have the nightmares, for a start. It has taken eight years, but she thinks they've finally stopped. She no longer dreams of a silent city full of open mouths and sightless eyes, and Sam no longer dreams of being ripped apart cell-by-cell. It's not quite the same as forgiveness, but it'll have to do.
They've found ways to distract themselves. They have a son. Sam would like a larger family, but one kid is quite enough - and, well, Sam's a good man, but he's spent most of his life as a bachelor, and Sandra refuses to babysit both of them. James Theodore Hollis is now three years old, and Sandra still wonders if bringing a child in to Veidt's brave new world was a good idea. Sandra still wonders if a lot of things were a good idea.
Her relationship with Sam hasn't been all hearts and flowers. They were brought together by loneliness and desperation, and they married too quickly, but they're as intimate as two people who've witnessed a terrible tragedy together can be, and Sandra is just grateful that she doesn't have to carry her secrets alone. They have plenty of things in common, and they're both equally selfish in completely different ways. (She's a stroppy hedonist, he's a flaky manchild.) They argue, but never in front of James. Sandra doesn't always know when to back off, and there's no-one to hold her back any more, while Sam is more the sort of guy who'll go quiet and shut himself in his workroom for hours on end. They both expect different things from each other, and resent it when they don't get them. It can get ugly. Still, the long nights spent holding each other almost make up for it.
It has been a long eight years.
Sandra likes Mexico city.
They had to get away from New York. Hell, they had to get away from North America. It wasn't just because they were criminals (wanted for rescuing a man who, days later, would be little more than a greasy stain on a patch of snow); there were other things that they needed to get away from. Everything just seemed contaminated by the emotional fallout from the attack. It was the survivors that Veidt had harmed the most. Veidt was clearly trying to engineer a sense of optimism, but it was a like sticking a band-aid on a sucking chest wound.
So, Mr. and Mrs. Hollis fled south, hoping to leave Laurie Juspeczyk and Daniel Dreiberg behind with the rest of the dead.
First they lived in Janos, then Carmago, then Torreón, then Fresnillo, until they made one hard push and spent a few months in Ixtlahuaca before settling in la ciudad de México. (Since then, Laurie has vowed that she'll punch somebody if she has to spend another night in a hotel room.) Sam still gets homesick; Sandra likes the climate, and the locals, and the numerous opportunities for action.
The resident masks still don't know what quite to make of her, and regard her with quiet suspicion (after all, she's a woman; an Anglo woman) but she's grudgingly accepted. Detective work was never her thing, but she's seen her fair share of combat, and she feels a lot more effective now that she has body armor and proper equipment. (Her biggest problem with her old costume was the lack of pockets, rather than the cold - she could've done with a utility belt.) She's a good fighter, because when you're used to apprehending criminals while wearing nothing more than your underwear, you kind of have to be.
Hell, one of the younger ones (a hard-eyed little 19 year old girl who goes by the tongue-twisting alias of Tepanpapalotl) seems to see her as something of a mentor figure. It's... cute, Sandra guesses, and Sam teases her about having her very own sidekick. (Sometimes, she wants to take Tepanpapalotl by the shoulders and shake her, and tell the stupid girl to stop fucking around with cartels and weapons and go live a normal life. But Sandra knows all too well that a normal life isn't always an option for everybody.) Sandra can't see herself as the world-weary veteran; in her mind, she's still a skinny 25 year-old whose mother makes her go in to fistfights while wearing high-heeled shoes. She might be Sandra now, but in her head, she's always going to be Laurie. (Little Laurie Juspeczyk, who still gets the blame for Doc Manhattan's disappearance. It's not fair, but as the saying goes: life's a bitch, wear a helmet.) Putting on a costume was never really about escape for Laurie, although it's rather different for Sandra.
The dopey middle-class white girl in her feels kind of racist for it, but Sandra thinks that Mexicans are a very melodramatic lot. This isn't a bad thing (the dopey middle-class white girl doth protest much) - it's just that masks seem to work better in Mexico than they did in, say, New York. Mexicans love drama, and they love their folk heroes. Wearing a mask is still as much about giving a performance as it is about fighting crime, and Sandra finds that the less seriously she takes things, the more fun they are. Granted, it can be a rather bleak sort of fun sometimes, but it helps keep her sane. Well. Relatively sane. You can laugh, or you can cry: Sandra chooses to laugh. (Although things don't feel particularly hilarious when she finds herself knee-capping a serial rapist with a power-drill at 1 o'clock in the morning.)
In addition to her guns, she has a whip. She never uses it, but it's wonderfully kitschy, and people appreciate the whole 'leather-clad mistress of vengeance' schtick. (And Sam likes it.) It doesn't bother her that she's not always trusted by the other masks. She's only really in the scene for the shits and giggles, and maybe the occasional opportunity to inflict grievous bodily harm on someone who deserves it. She doesn't kid herself.
And because she doesn't kid herself, she's constantly harried by the fear that her actions will put her family in danger. But she also knows that there's always going to be fear, whatever she does. The world does not feel safe. Despite Veidt's plans. Because of Veidt's plans. There are no white picket fences to hide behind, and there never were. The best thing that she believes she can do is raise her son to be a fighter, and enjoy the good times while they last.
They live on a united Earth, but it's an Earth that has spent the past eight years united in stockpiling weapons, ever alert for another attack.
Sandra doesn't know what's on the horizon, but it doesn't look good.
(Then again, did it ever look good?)
Sam is feeling his age, and he's longer as active as he used to be. He'd rather stay back at home and look after James, or tinker with equipment, while she goes out on fieldwork. She keeps a close eye on him and lets him know whenever she suspects that he might be moping. (Sandra can be a bully at times.) It's deceptively easy to mope. After what happened in New York, there was a goddamn epidemic of PTSD, and she knows that they didn't come away unscathed. But, well, therapy isn't really an option, because where would you start? 'Hello, I have severe case of survivor guilt because I stood by as one of my long-term colleages killed half of NY. With a squid.' No. It's so absurd, she could weep.
They have their own methods of dealing with things, and for Sandra, said methods usually involve a good fist-fight and a chase across the rooftops. Her lifestyle is pretty bad for her health, but most fun things are. Adventuring (if you can call it that) is all she's ever known. Runs in the family, even.
Sam is more interested in making things for her: weapons, equipment, protective gear, stuff like that. Sandra sometimes feels a bit guilty about it, like she's getting the glory for using his gadgets, but Sam doesn't really want glory any more. All Sam wants is a device to invent, a crime to solve, a plate of buñuelos now and then, and maybe some kinky sex. He doesn't really approve of her firearms; he claims that he never had much use for them, despite Archie's machineguns and flamethrower. Guns might be a necessary evil, but Sam has seen enough necessary evils for one lifetime.
It's not a bad life.
They have a small aviary on the roof of their apartment building. Mainly tropical birds, including a placid cockatoo called Baby, who likes to stand on Sandra's head and preen her hair. Aside from the aviary, they don't really have the room for any more animals, although they both have the bad habit of feeding the neighbourhood strays. Sam would like to keep raptors, but it wouldn't be terribly practical, and even he is willing to admit that raptors don't make very good pets; they're the sort of birds that are best admired from afar. They seem so graceful and coldly intelligent until you get close to them, and then you realise that they're actually kind of stupid and horrible. Raptors aren't cute. Raptors aren't expressive. Raptors don't like to be touched. Raptors are single-minded, vicious killing machines. Sandra wonders what Sam sees in them.
One day, Sandra sits in front of the TV with Baby on her shoulder, while James lies on the couch next to her, fast asleep. On the television, there's a news report about the cease-fire negotiations between Bosnia and the Croat Defence Council; one of their colonels is threatening to destroy an entire town if the Bosian forces don't lay down their arms. Lots of people will die - but it's all happening on another continent, so the report is only a brief one.
Sandra grunts at the television, and fights the urge to grab a smoke. If world peace is truly what Veidt has in mind, then she really does want him to succeed.
(Which is a little funny, given that she gets off on violence.)
With the tentative, paper-thin peace between the USA and the USSR, Sandra supposes that eventually the two world powers might be able to work together, and break up the bullshit squabbles of 'lesser' countries. Perhaps that's Veidt's plan. If the USA and the USSR aren't using the less powerful countries as pawns against each other, then that has to count for something, right? Right. It's an ongoing process. Rome wasn't built in a day. She's grudgingly willing to give Veidt some credit. After all, he is smarter than she is.
Often, though, she wonders if he knows what he's doing. As they say, there's a fine line between genius and insanity.
Once you've killed thousands of people for the supposed of humanity, where do you stop? What else might you do for the supposed good of humanity? Veidt isn't an 'official' leader, bound by law; he's the power behind the throne, so to speak. Adrian Veidt is only accountable to Adrian Veidt. Whenever he's on television, Sandra always searches his eyes, but the most that she can make out is that he seems tired and perhaps a little sad, and that might just be for the benefit of the cameras. It's not just his ruthlessness that makes her see him as a monster; it's also the fact that she can never tell what he's thinking.
Veidt might have postponed nuclear armageddon in 1985, but Sandra still thinks that he's an asshole. And he's the worst kind of asshole. He's an Asshole With A Plan.
She switches the TV off (she's sick to death of hearing about important men who make decisions that, inevitably, usually result in lots of people being killed), and reaches over to stroke James's hair.
The problem with marriage is that once you're in it, people seem to expect certain things of you, and if you're not careful, you can fall in to particular roles without thinking about it.
Sandra is James's mother; therefore, she ends up cooking his meals, taking him places, keeping him entertained, and the thousand and one other things that mothers are meant to do. Her life keeps her busy to the point of exhaustion. Before James was born, Sam promised to do most of the work - and for the most part, he's been pretty good - but it's just not that simple. Sandra finds that she's unable to just dump the kid in Sam's hands and go off gallivanting about, free of worry. A lot of people might argue that it's pretty selfish for Sandra to have believed she could do that in the first place, but Sandra is selfish, and she doesn't necessarily see that selfishness as a bad thing. She's had enough of living for other people. For God's sake, she only had a baby because Sam wanted a family, and they were both so lost and miserable that it seemed like a good idea at the time. She's never been a particularly maternal woman. She never wanted children; she wanted adventure.
She's always had a quiet, bitter suspicion that everything would be easier if she'd been a guy; if she was James's father, she could simply leave him in his mother's care and send them money. It wouldn't be right, of course, but it wouldn't be anything unusual. She could still do it. Or perhaps she couldn't. It takes a special sort of asshole to ignore their own child, and for all Sandra's flaws and fuck-ups, she's not quite that bad.
Perhaps her gender has nothing to do with it; perhaps it's more an issue of morality. She takes good care of James, not because she has the cuddly maternal feelings that people keep expecting her to have, but because it's the right thing to do. Sam pulls his weight - as he damn well should - but Sandra still finds that she's not as free as she hoped to be, and she spends a hell of a lot of time doing Mom Stuff. She refuses to let it dominate her life, though, just as she refuses to let adventuring dominate her life. Somewhere, there's got to be a balance. Agape and thanatos, or what the fuck ever. (Sandra reads some of Sam's books, sometimes.)
It's pretty difficult to look after a kid and be an active vigilante, but Sandra fully intends to have her cake and eat it.
Perhaps that's more than she deserves.
It's some time around midnight, and Sandra sits in the kitchen, poking a brush down the bore of one of her pistols. She can't sleep. Sam is the one who sleeps too much; Sandra is the one who sleeps too little. Lately, she's been unable to unwind - and while she normally uses sex as a way to relax, Sam's been going through a low period. It's probably because it's December; December brings back bad memories for them. She worries about Sam, but he does okay. They have good days and bad days, and she knows that he worries just as much about her, if not moreso. Generally, the two of them are just fine, so long as they keep busy.
...And that's why her insomnia is such a bitch. It gives her too much time to sit around and think about things.
They should redecorate the kitchen. It's rented accommodation, but the landlord is pretty lenient and will probably give them permission. It's funny; after all these years, they still can't quite bring themselves to buy a place for themselves. Sometimes they worry that they're being watched. Then they worry that they're being paranoid. In reality, the truth is probably somewhere between the two; Veidt doubtlessly knows where they are, but their actions are tolerated. So far.
(Blake was tolerated for a while, until Veidt decided to kill him.)
Sandra lifts the gun and aligns the sights - she really needs to find the time to get some dry-fire practice in - and reminds herself that there's a limit to how many bullets a man can catch.
She then puts the gun back down, feeling a little silly.
Maybe they could just give the room a new coat of paint. Sandra tiredly stares at the wall in front of her, trying to focus on the innocuous subject of which color to use. Her eyelids are heavy, but she knows that she won't be able to sleep if she goes back to bed. She rubs at her face, grimacing as she pulls a bit of old mascara off her eyelashes, and blinks hard. The room seems to have a faintly bluish tint to it. Perhaps she should rest her eyes, maybe just lie down and listen to some music or something. They say that your vision changes as you get older, so perhaps it's due to that. Her eyesight still seems fine, though - she hopes it'll be a good two decades or so before she has to use glasses. She's doing pretty well, even if she doesn't recover from injuries as quickly as she used to. Her reactions are still good.
Or at least, she thought they were.
She glances to the window, to check the color of the streetlamp outside, but of course it's just sodium yellow. The blue glow is definitely coming from somewhere within the room.
Realization dawns, just as Sandra hears a quiet voice behind her say, "Hello, Laurie."
She almost jumps out of her skin.
Rationally, she knows he's standing there behind her - she's just heard him speak, for Christ's sake - but he doesn't have the same sort of physical presence that normal people do. A random snatch of nonsense poetry pops in to her head; Yesterday upon the stair, I met a man who wasn't there...
She fights the urge to scream, and slowly turns around to face him.
He looks exactly as he did eight years ago. Just your regular, garden-variety glowing naked blue guy with the physique of a classical statue. Okay, putting it that way, he seems a little ridiculous, but in the right circumstances, the ridiculous can be terrifying. Laurie - Sandra - has to remind herself that she's looking at her ex-boyfriend. He belongs to another lifetime. It's alarming, how much you can forget in eight years.
Superficially, his appearance is the same as it was before, but there's something different about him. Perhaps he hasn't changed, but her perception of him has. She's no longer so blase about him, and she suddenly remembers how uncanny he seemed to people; he scared them, and rightly so. When she first met him, she was young, fearless, and stupid. Now she's a sensible woman of 44, and her instincts are telling her that fear and awe are perfectly reasonable reactions.
Then he cocks his head to one side, curiously, and Laurie silently chastises herself. She's looking at Jon. Gentle, patient, quietly-spoken Jon. He was human once, and she loved him - and she still does, probably. She recalls: he didn't sleep, but he'd lie next to her and pretend to, for her benefit, and he didn't eat, but he'd still cook her meals sometimes. (Even though he was terrible at it.) He didn't smile much, but he smiled at her.
Of course, that was before things turned sour.
"Jon. Oh, Jon. Jesus Christ," she says, then thinks, okay, not quite. He's probably the next best thing, though. She slowly stands, leaning on the chair for support, and wanders over to touch his chest. His body seems to repel her fingers - it's less like skin, and more like a forcefield in the shape of a man. The contact makes her hands tingle slightly. He's just as beautiful as she remembers him. "You're a sight for sore eyes."
She thinks she sees him smile briefly, but she might have just imagined it.
"I... God, I didn't think you'd come back," Laurie adds - and then she starts to worry, because why the hell is he here? Does he intend to apologize? Unlikely. Perhaps he wants an apology from her? Probably not. And she sincerely doubts that Jon is dropping by for an interstellar booty-call. Laurie can be as glib as she likes, but she's frightened, and she she has a creeping suspicion that he's about to tell her something horrible. He's like the goddamn Ghost of Christmas future, and the last thing she needs right now is an old flame with a Cassandra complex.
Is he working with Veidt?
Would he harm her, if he was? More importantly, would he harm Daniel? Initially, she isn't worried by the thought of Jon hurting James, simply because she can't imagine him doing that. Then she thinks of the corpses of children on the streets of New York, and how the three of them were complicit in Veidt's actions. She knows how Jon views mortality. A corpse is no more or less important to him than a living body, because all corpses are still living bodies at some point in the past, just as all living bodies are corpses (or smudges of blood on snow, at least) at some point in the future. So it goes.
Laurie withdraws her hand, and takes a step back away from him. Maturity has turned her in to a pessimist. "Jon. Why are you here?"
Jon's attention seems to be focused solely on her - although it's really hard to tell where he's looking, given his lack of pupils. Perhaps, technically, he doesn't really have eyes - he just has things that look like eyes, when in reality he's perceiving her in ways that she can't even fathom. His expression is tender, but that doesn't mean that she isn't completely fucked if he is working with Veidt. Veidt and Jon always had... a sort of rapport. The two of them were always thinking about the big picture, although Jon's picture was considerably larger than Veidt's.
Laurie now wonders where she fits in to said big picture.
"I'm asking you if you'd like to come with me," Jon says, and Laurie is so surprised that she takes another step backwards and knocks the bottle of gun cleaning solvent off the table. It's a good job that she wasn't smoking a cigarette, or she might have swallowed it. The solvent spills on to the floor, making the kitchen smell like kerosene.
"Come with you where?" she asks, in her best, 'what the fuck, Jon?' voice. She hasn't used that voice in a very long time, although it used to see regular use towards the end of the 1970s.
Well, that was a suitably nebulous reply. "Why are you asking me now?" Laurie says. If he'd asked her back in New York, when it happened, or maybe at Karnak, she might have said yes.
He gives her one of those blank looks. "I have to."
According to what? Laurie wonders. Time isn't a linear thing for you. Why are you asking me now, rather than yesterday, or a year ago? Why this particular second, at this particular hour? Does he miss her? Has it taken him eight years to realize that he misses her? Does the span of eight years really even mean anything to an entity like Jon? Couldn't he have predicted that he was going to miss her, and asked her at a time when she would be more likely to say 'yes'? Laurie rubs her temples with the heel of her hand. She's tired, and she's not sure that she'd understand Jon's explanation, even if she wanted to hear it. She gave up on trying to understand Jon a long time ago. "You already know my answer, then," she says, as gently as possible. "Sorry."
She could ask, what will happen to me if I don't go with you? But she doesn't, because she still wouldn't be able to leave her family.
He nods, unsurprised, and reaches out.
Laurie closes her eyes.
Jon strokes the side of her face.
Laurie hesitates, then holds his hand against her cheek. She tries to see things from his perspective, and pictures his past and future laid out before him, like a tableaux. He can probably see all the mistakes his made, and all the mistakes that he's due to make, and he has to make them anyway. What a fucking miserable way to live.
...Although, maybe she's just projecting herself on to him. In truth, she has no idea how Jon perceives the world, and that's pretty grim by itself. For all the years they've spent together, he's still a stranger to her. Laurie remembers that, when their relationship was in its final throes, she used to look for papers that he'd written before the accident. She'd read them, using her hodge-podge knowledge of nuclear physics to try and make sense of the technical details, but she never learned much about their author.
There was one woman who'd known Jon before the accident, and she...
Laurie takes a deep breath, and gives his hand a gentle squeeze. "Janey died several years ago. I spoke to her a few months before she passed away. Sam - Dan - said that I shouldn't do it, because we were meant to be keeping a low profile, but I phoned her anyway. It didn't do any good. I'm just mentioning it because, well... I thought you should know, that's all."
He watches her, unreadable, then nods back at her.
Laurie knows that Janey died hating him, and it made her vow to never let another person sour her life like that. Sometimes this is easier said than done, especially when she thinks of Veidt. "I'm told that she was pretty out of it when she died," Laurie adds. "So she wouldn't have been in much pain, towards the end." She doesn't know if it helps, but a painless death is the best sort of exit you can hope for in this world.
Still no reply. Laurie puts her hand on his arm. Neither of them really deserve to be squeamish about death, so Laurie decides to push her luck.
"With Rorschach... It didn't hurt him, right?" she asks. Jon was never a cruel person; not on purpose, at least.
Jon answers her immediately, as if the question is a welcome distraction from the subject of Janey. "No, it didn't hurt him."
"I thought so. Good." Laurie has told Dan as much, and she just wanted to know that she'd been telling him the truth. She never liked Rorschach, but there was something too pathetic about the dark smudge of blood and the abandoned hat on the snow - and, over the years, she's come to see Rorschach less as 'that creepy little bastard,' and more as 'that creepy little bastard my husband worked with for twelve years'.
It had taken them a while to figure out what had happened to Rorschach, actually. Laurie suspects that Daniel figured it out before she did, but it took him longer to believe it.
Laurie hopes that Daniel is sound asleep, because if he walks in and sees Jon, it's going to be very awkward indeed.
"You got any idea what my death is going to be like?" she asks, only half-sarcastic, and notes his reaction very carefully: Jon seems to be holding his breath, which is remarkable for someone who doesn't actually breathe. It makes Laurie want to laugh and cry at the same time. "It's okay, don't answer that. I was just kidding." Ha. Ha.
Jon doesn't reply, but leans in, and quickly kisses her.
It's chaste and platonic, but it isn't empty. His lips are cold. Laurie feels static electricity tickle against her skin - and for a few brief seconds, it's as if he's never been away.
When she pulls back from him, she's left feeling surprisingly miserable. "You never said goodbye."
"I knew we'd see each other again," he says, absently, and Laurie wants to smack him, because she had no way of knowing that, back then. He probably notices her expression, because he quickly adds, "Sorry. I thought that it would be for the best." Jon then glances to the kitchen's only doorway. "Where's Dreiberg?"
He probably knows the answer to that already, but she has to say it anyway. They both have to say their little lines. "Dan's asleep, like most sane people." She smiles ruefully. "Does Veidt have trouble sleeping?"
"Yes," Jon answers, but Laurie doesn't find this as reassuring as she thought it would be.
"You're still in contact with him?" Again, Laurie feels that tickle of paranoia at the back of her mind.
"Hardly. I avoid Earth."
Except when you're dropping by to visit ex-girlfriends, Laurie thinks. Actually, it would be flattering to believe that he's only there because of her, but she doubts it. Jon is probably up to something - and if he wants to discuss it with her, then he will. Laurie isn't going to ask. She feels a strange lack of curiosity. She doesn't want to hear about Jon's grand plans - she wants to live her stupid life in Mexico, and beat people up while wearing a lot of leather, and she wants to look after Daniel, and she wants to raise her son right so that he doesn't turn out to be batshit insane like his parents.
"Can't blame you," Laurie replies. We're all mad here. She smiles at Jon, then goes to pick up the spilled bottle of solvent from off the floor. Jon glances down to it, and the liquid seems to evaporate off the tiles. Laurie feels the bottle in her hand suddenly grow heavy. She screws the cap on without batting an eyelid, but she's still reminded of exactly why she wouldn't be able to live with him: Jon is just too unthinkingly weird.
A thought occurs to Laurie, out of the blue. (Get it? Blue? Ha.) She places the bottle back on the table, and stalls for time by appearing to tidy up the disassembled bits of gun that are spread out over the tabletop. She wants to say to Jon, 'if anything happens to us, could you look after James?' But she's not sure if that would be fair to Jon or the kid. Having your own personal deity keeping an eye on you sounds like a pretty grim way to live. So, she turns the request over in her mind, and rephrases it. "Jon, would you do me a big favor?"
"Yes," he says, patiently.
"Jon, if... anyone decides to kill us, can you make sure that my son survives? I know that Daniel and I, well... We've lived interesting lives. And I don't want James to suffer because of the actions of his parents," she says, knowing what an unrealistic expectation that is.
She swears that she sees Jon smirk. He nods in acknowledgment of the request, but nothing more.
Laurie doesn't want to impose on him, but he has all the time in the world, and one life is just so very, very small. Perhaps, from his perspective, it's not a big favor at all.
Laurie purses her lips and tries to smile. "Thank you," she says, and is dispirited to find that she can't keep the uncertainty out of her voice.
"Thank you," he repeats, and there's a lot more gratitude in his words than there were in hers.
There's a ghost of humanity in his voice, and it's enough to make Laurie wonder what life with him would be like. She tries to picture herself standing on the cold sand of a distant planet, under the light of a young sun, while Jon does... Whatever the hell it is that Jon does, and shit, she can't even imagine it. He'd probably show her things beyond her human imagination. There's no point even trying to speculate what things would be like, because it'd be so alien, there'd be nothing she could compare it to. Would she still be human - a woman alone, light-years away from Earth - or would she become something like him? She's not sure which option is more horrifying. She'd guesses that, at the very least, she'd be a very different sort of person. But would that person be happy? Would that person even be capable of happiness?
"My offer still stands," Jon says - probably because he knows what she's thinking, probably because he knows what she's about to say. Laurie knows him that well, and she recalls the horribly circular arguments that they used to have, back when they were together. He might not be omniscient, Laurie thinks, but he can get kinda recursive.
"My place is here, Jon." It's not always a great place, but it's one that Laurie has made for herself. She wouldn't swap all the violence and horror in the world for the empty void of space.
"Of course." He just had to ask, though, and Laurie is glad that he did. He gives her another one of those barely-there smiles, and before she can say anything else, he says, "Goodbye, Laurie."
And then there's a flash of blue light that leaves after-images behind, and he's gone, just like that.
It takes Laurie's brain a few seconds to process it. He must have got better at the whole teleporting thing, because there's very little change to the atmosphere of the kitchen. At the very least, there used to be a slight change in air pressure, or the faint smell of ozone - but no, there's nothing, other than the after-images, and they fade after a few seconds. It's as if Jon was never there.
Laurie wishes that he'd left something behind, like a scorch mark on the floor tiles, or heat damage to the wall adjacent to where he had been standing. Anything, really, no matter how trivial or dumb.
"Jerk," Laurie mutters, very quietly, and suddenly thinks of all the things that she still wanted to say to him.
She sits back down heavily in her chair, and rubs at her eyes. Eventually, she covers her face with her hands, and thinks: always, somewhere on Earth, the world is ending for someone, a little bit at a time.