PREVIOUSLY: Glen gave mental suggestions to others, hoping to destroy Julie’s temporal chip. Carrie told Chartreuse she was leaving, and then vanished during the school talent show.
PART 80b: NOT FORGOTTEN
The pink haired girl let out a sigh. “Carrie’s not coming back.”
Laurie flinched. “What?”
Chartreuse turned to look at all of them, though Frank felt she was addressing him and Julie more specifically. “She’s not coming back, and I, like, desperately need some time to process that myself, except I’m pretty sure Glen’s not gonna, you know, give me that time. He might even come after any of you too. So, um, like, heads up on that.”
Frank noticed Julie turn to Clarke and mutter something, gesturing back at the auditorium. The tall blonde nodded and headed back inside. Frank wondered idly whether the two of them were on speaking terms again, or if Julie had simply chosen the closest person.
“Hold on, Chartreuse,” Luci was saying. “You can’t drop a bombshell on us like that without SOME explanation. Where is she? WHEN is she?”
“I don’t know that stuff,” Chartreuse said, looking pained. “I can, like, give you this much though. According to Carrie, we’re currently in timeline five. She’s had to do some, you know, temporal housekeeping, what with Glen and Mindy coming back. I think her leaving fixes things for good.”
“Five?” Frank said, stunned. “Are they running in parallel, or in a destined to go back kind of way?”
Chartreuse looked at him like he’d asked her to give him the 47th digit of pi. “I don’t know about temporal mechanics, Frank, only Carrie. She did, you know, mention overwriting, if that helps.”
“So was timeline four – sorry, one more question if I could,” Julie amended, seeing Chartreuse’s expression. The mystic girl gave a resigned shrug. “Was timeline four one in which Lee actually held onto my chip? Instead of it being destroyed?”
“I think so.”
“So timeline five only now came into existence,” Luci concluded. “Even though it’s been running since last weekend.”
Frank frowned. “But that doesn’t make sense. Carrie went back in time during the show because she knew that she already had. That’s a destiny thing, not an overwrite. How could there even be a timeline where Lee had the chip?”
Luci crossed her arms. “Maybe we’re too deep inside to see it? Thing is, an overwrite would explain why Carrie was taking headache meds this week. When it’s destiny, she doesn’t need them. Er, does she?”
“Frank,” Laurie put in. “If, as you say, Carrie was going to go back because she already had, then why did you even try to prevent it?”
“I…” Frank grimaced as he realized how his actions didn’t match his explanation. “Well, I was hoping that this wasn’t really when she left. Or, in a best case scenario, that talking to her might even change her mind, which might retroactively alter our memories and bring the chip back? Assuming history can even be changed in that way…”
“It might be instead that you, like, originally protested some intention to take the chip from Lee in timeline four,” Chartreuse offered. “And with this timeline being similar, there was no way to, you know, stop yourself from protesting during the show again.”
“All of which brings us dangerously close to a time loop,” Luci mused. “One where we convince Carrie not to go back, restoring timeline four, and then she learns Lee has the chip and goes back, restoring timeline five, the one wherein we convinced her not to go back, restoring…”
“Guys, stop, you’re going to give ME a headache,” Julie groaned.
Frank let out a breath. “If we’re having trouble, I can only imagine how bad it was getting from Carrie’s point of view.”
Clarke pushed open the auditorium doors and rejoined the group. “Glen’s done. When Carrie didn’t reappear in the trunk, or backstage, he claimed she was getting back at him for missing a date. Said she’d likely left and gone home. It actually sounded pretty plausible, so maybe he was using some of his mind control there? He definitely used that power to improvise a new grand finale.”
“A finale?” Laurie wondered.
Clarke smiled wryly. “Yeah, Glen got Mr. Fisk up on stage and used his ‘magic’ to make our dance-hating science teacher cluck like a chicken.”
It didn’t make sense. Or if it did, Glen couldn’t figure it out. Why wouldn’t Carrie have come back? Returning at some later date would simply embarrass the both of them. Had she really been more nervous around crowds than he’d thought?
Glen decided that he should have insisted to Carrie that she simply time jump to earlier in the day. Not back to Lee, the night the chip had been destroyed; it had overcomplicated things. Carrie had insisted on figuring out how to target a person with a time jump though. She’d been working hard on it all week.
Had her vanishing act been due to something her classmates had said? If so, it was liable to have been that Chartreuse girl. She had gone from giving Carrie a good power basis to being a bad influence, and Glen decided it was high time to corner Chartreuse, to learn exactly what was going on between her and Carrie.
Finding her turned out to be easy – she was waiting outside the drama room as he emerged, after putting away his trunk. Cornering her didn’t seem to be an option though – she was accompanied by the others. Frank, Luci, Julie, Clarke, even Laurie Veniti. At least that explained a few things.
“Okay, so, this was all about getting back at me for the minor mental suggestions I gave you last weekend,” he realized. “Grudge much? I mean come on, you’re all free and clear now. If the trigger event, namely waylaying a package destined for Julie’s, doesn’t register within a day or so? The impetus goes away.”
Frank shook his head. “This isn’t about that. It’s more to make it clear to you that if you mess with one of us? You mess with all of us. So, don’t do it in the coming days. Okay?”
Glen looked a little more closely at them. Chartreuse in particular looked stricken, as if someone had kicked a puppy in front of her. He started to get a bad feeling. “Okay Mundanes. When did Carrie travel to?”
“We don’t know,” Frank asserted.
“When is she coming back?” Glen pressed.
The body language of the others seemed to defer to Chartreuse, even though it was again Frank who answered, “She might not be coming back.”
Bloody hell. “Do you have ANY idea how problematic that is? No, don’t even answer that, how could you possibly!”
“Carrie made a decision,” Julie said. “Like she did with her letter to me. You can’t force her to travel the path you want, you can’t–”
“Don’t talk about things you don’t understand,” Glen interrupted. “More to the point, when Carrie sent me back here in time for the training, she told me that it was because she had grown up with me. That I’d helped her through a difficult time in her life. Past Carrie can’t simply reject that! At best, it makes her future self a liar. At worst, it makes Future Carrie EXTREMELY pissed off right now.”
The band of idiots exchanged glances. “Well technically not RIGHT now,” Luci remarked. “What with Future Carrie being in the future.”
“Funny! When the temporal waveforms reach her, she might decide to MAKE your present into her ‘right now’,” Glen snarked. “She could even wipe this whole conversation out of existence. So, in all seriousness, what the hell was my Carrie planning on doing?”
Again, the tendency was for the group to cast sidelong glances at Chartreuse. So he directed his full attention onto her. “You will tell me the truth now,” he insisted, making it a compulsion. “What did Carrie say to you today, before she left?!”
“That she loved me too.”
Chartreuse slapped both hands to her mouth after the admission. With her wide eyes blazing in what seemed to be equal parts pain and anger, she spun on her heel and charged off down the hallway. Laurie fled after her, while the rest of the group gave Glen a mixture of irritated and shocked looks.
Glen raised his hands, palms out. “Look, in my defence, I really did NOT expect that answer.”
Laurie simply held Chartreuse as she cried. Her friend had fled to the washroom the furthest away from the school auditorium, only to find it locked. Chartreuse had then collapsed to the floor in front of the door, which was where Laurie had embraced her. Laurie now hoped the hallway would remain deserted, despite Chartreuse’s sobs. She rubbed the back of the more heavyset girl, pulling Chartreuse deeper into the crook of her neck. Her nicest purple shirt would be a mess, but she didn’t care.
It took about five minutes, but finally the sobs eased up, and a minute or so after that, Chartreuse said something. Except it was muffled. “I’m sorry, what?”
Chartreuse’s grip tightened slightly, even as she turned her head to the side. “I said they, like, know now. They all know.”
“What, that you like girls? Or that Carrie apparently also likes girls? Chartreuse, I don’t think any of our friends will care, not really. And we won’t tell on you.”
“Not that. They, like, know now that Carrie ran off after saying she loved me. That I, you know, scared her off. That I was driven to temptation, and so Carrie freaked, and so that’s why she’s never coming back.”
Laurie frowned. “What do you mean that’s why she isn’t coming back? What did Carrie say?”
“It… it’s not about what she said. Not exactly.”
“You mean you got one of your random impressions off of her?”
Chartreuse squirmed, loosening her hold. “No. But when we met after school, during our second kiss, I…”
“I got overzealous. I mean, okay, I’d had it on my mind for weeks, and it’s been, you know, so long since Tope, and she was going to LEAVE, Laurie, she would leave, and it was, like, my last chance. And maybe it was the kiss, or how I grabbed her, because at first Carrie was into it. She, you know, pulled me back into the corner of the room once our lips came apart, and so I kept at it, and she reciprocated, and ohh, Laurie, that’s when I felt it inside me.”
Chartreuse looked up into Laurie’s eyes. “I truly felt our connection, Laurie, despite neither of us using our powers.” She smiled at the memory. “There was more kissing, and soon Carrie had me, you know, pinned up against the wall, and we were all over each other, and in the middle of it, I blurt out ‘I love you!’ and she, like, said it back. She said it BACK, Laurie, like automatically! For a moment, I was in Heaven. Except I think that screwed her up, because that’s when she, you know, froze, pulled her shirt back down, said she was sorry but she couldn’t, and ran out of the room.” Chartreuse swallowed. “Away from any timeline where we could be together.”
“Oh, Chartreuse,” Laurie sighed. She reached up to wipe off the eye makeup that was staining her friend’s cheeks. “You said Carrie was leaving anyway though, right? So it wasn’t you. No one will think it’s you.”
“It had to, like, be a little bit me, don’t you think?”
“All it sounds like to me, is that she was into you, and didn’t want it to be a one night stand. Geez Chartreuse, don’t tell me Carrie’s ego rubbed off on you along with the rest of her body.”
Her friend snorted, and uncurled more until the two of them were sitting side by side against the washroom door. “Okay. Okay, maybe it’s silly to blame myself. But, like, to have that be our last conversation…?” She sighed. “Oh, Laurie, I really can pick ‘em, huh? Why isn’t there a way to, you know, UNpick ‘em?”
“If you find it, let me know. Remember, you’re talking to the girl who pined after Clarke for HOW long? Even now, I can’t figure out if I’m over him or not.”
“Oooh. Point.” She shrugged. “So maybe it’s better for me this way. Not, like, constantly seeing Carrie, day after day.”
“I don’t know. I don’t think you should give up. If I were Carrie, I’d make a timeline six,” Laurie offered. “One where I swoop back in and carry you off to a majestic palace or a medieval castle or something!”
Chartreuse shook her head. “I can’t handle time travel, Laurie. It, you know, messes with my head.”
“Same as love. So what?”
“So… so yeah, I guess we still charge into that.” She smiled. “Thanks, Laurie. Thanks for helping keep hope alive.”
Chartreuse wiped at her eyes. “Can I ask you to come with me tomorrow morning to see Carrie’s father?”
Laurie blinked. “Sure, but… Carrie didn’t ask you to break the news to him, did she?!”
“No, no, but she did say he was the source of some insight. Maybe knowing what that is will help me too.”
Laurie reached out to grab Chartreuse tightly by the hand. “In that case, I would be happy to.”
They ended up arriving at the Waterson home shortly after Luci and Julie. It wasn’t long before all of them had seen the note.
NEXT: Mum’s The Word
ASIDE: As always, a vote for T&T would be appreciated. Feel free to swoon at the romance or speculate on the future in the comments.