The euphoric realization of what's coming, then, with a burning half breath he is there.
Anthony focuses. He isn't alone and it takes an amazingly long time for him to piece together the idea of Here and Her.
"Detective? What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?"
Joss Carter smiles. "Still trying to figure that out for myself. Come on, get up." He catches hold of her offered hand and reorients himself in this new space. Anthony understands Detective Carter: how he still tingles from their brief contact, and how her smile is like a bright, birthday and Christmas morning flavored milkshake. Carter, Joss, makes sense, but beyond her, the dim and shadow, the fact that her smile is not actually a smile and his hand was never really in hers, is a neat trick of the haze.
He can just make out the edges of her, soft curves and dark curls shimmering with a faint, smoky gray against the darker charcoal ringing them. She turns and melts into the dark. Anthony follows. They walk, or, at least move through the space, her glow lighting the way until, after some time, some immeasurable time, the beyond begins to lighten from the deep charcoal, to sleet, to haze, to snow.
"How did it happen?" She asks after a while.
"Bomb." He remembers this.
"I don't know."
"Mm." She doesn't say it out loud but he understands. Elias may have skipped the stop here. And, by his count, Anthony should have had more company than just the detective. "He could be waiting too. Here. Or there. But I think Elias made it out. That's why you're here with us," she says, coming to a stop in the nebulous nothing.
"So this is him?"
Anthony becomes aware of a second presence joining them. The blurred shape takes form gently, outlined in a soft flickering of flame and smoke.
"Anthony, this is Nathan."
"Pleasure." A handshake that is not. Nathan knows Harold, knows John by default and Joss by association. Nathan knows Carl through Harold and Anthony understands. "We should go," Nathan says in between the dance of firelight of Anthony pulling away. "Tis the season for a change of scenery."
The beyond opens up. He smells the city first and it breaks his heart. They fly, that's the nearest word he can come up with and no sooner is aware of the word than he is aware that he doesn't need it anymore. Over the Hudson, and the people in their cars and out on the streets, falafels and pizza and tiny cups of espresso. He takes in the bright lights of the tree at 30 Rock and the scrape of blades on ice beneath and the sounds of thousands of hand bells ringing out the day. The city opens up around them. Life goes on.
"The safe house," Anthony says.
Christmas is a time for families, both blood and bond. Anthony's family sits quietly in the dank of the subterranean room: Carl and Bruce playing chess, Anthony's chair empty.
"They can't see you," Nathan says.
"But sometimes they can feel you. It depends," Joss adds.
"Whatever it is you need from them before you can move on."
Carl slides his black pawn forward a square.
Wrong move, boss. They always moved forward, even after the warning from John and Harold. Carl advanced because backing down was not in his nature. But with Dominic, Carl should have defended.
"Tethered," Nathan says as he draws close to Anthony. "You need him to let you go."
"If it's that easy then why are you still hanging around?"
"Guilt is a powerful chain."
"Will you be okay on your own for a while?" Joss asks. This time Anthony is better equipped and as her form brushes along his he comes to understand who holds her here.
"Maybe we'll see you around," Nathan calls, already dissipating.
"Maybe we won't. Either way, good luck." Joss nudges Anthony towards the empty chair to Carl's right. "And thank you, both of you."