I wanted to write Ralph, fifty years down the road, opening the time capsule and thinking back on everything that has happened since 2015. (This isn't very angsty, I went the feel good route.)
Ralph takes the trunk down from the shelf, using his sleeve to wipe off the dust. It's held up well, over time. This doesn't surprise him. It was crafted by genius.
For a moment, he hesitates. His mom and dad are visiting tomorrow, coming from their home two hours away, amazingly still able to travel on their own, and he'd like to open it with them. But for all the EQ he did have, for as easily as he did manage to navigate the majority of life, he cannot ignore his long dead teacher's instructions: "open your time capsule on this day in 2065."
And This Day has arrived.
Ralph opens the box, and the memories from fifty years ago stare him right in the face.
He picks up the baseball that his father had sent him for the project, because it's rolling around and could damage some of the more fragile items. His father had signed it, "just providing for my boy's future," he'd said. Well, that hadn't panned out, not like Drew had hoped, but the baseball will provide some usefulness now. He'll mail it back across the country to little Brady, who is still grieving has grandfather. Drew's grandson, Ralph's half nephew (that's what Toby says he is, anyway) had finally, after Ralph and then another high IQ son with his now widow Danielle, given Drew a descendant who he found it easy to relate to. Brady's obsessed with baseball. Brady can't believe how lucky he is that he had a grandpa who played baseball. Brady will love this baseball.
The word grandpa stuck in Ralph's mind, and he put his finger on the book that was resting against the back. I Want An Alien For Christmas. "I'll buy another one," Cabe had said. "But this is the one I read to you our first Christmas together and I want you to remember that. I'll be gone when you open this. I want this to be what you think of." Ralph smiles. Cabe's been gone going on twenty five years now, but the books brings back memories of Ralph's childhood as if...no, not as if they were yesterday. As if he were living them right now.
He picks up the photo of Toby, and he's startled. He could be looking at the 2030 yearbook photo of Wally Quinn-Curtis, if the colors weren't wrong. Wally had sure taken after Happy in terms of passions, something that had pleased Patrick Quinn to no end, but the similarities between him and his father at the same age are startling.
He remembers Happy telling him to put the metal nut in the box. Something about how it'd be the only thing left that was worth anything. He's fuzzy on her exact words. But he knows the Happy of today would disagree with the Happy of then, at least internally. They've all learned a lot about how things that aren't metal and machine can withstand the test of time.
He picks up a CD case. The old mix is still inside, what his mom used to play for him when he had trouble getting to sleep. The first song is Rainy Days and Mondays, a somewhat odd choice for a comfort playlist, but Ralph remembers why he loved it so much. The beginning is about feeling like an oddball, not belonging, which would make Paige sad, "Ralphie, you belong, baby." Ralph never told her, and she didn't realize herself until he was a teenager, that that wasn't why he loved the song.
Funny, but it seems I always wind up here with you. Nice to know somebody loves me.
It holds true today. Ralph nods to himself as he turns the CD over in his hands. No matter what he and his mother had gone through before finding Team Scorpion, they never spent a night apart, she was always in the next room or, when he had nightmares, right there next to him, and even when they'd found the geniuses, whenever he was scared or sad, she was always there, as if she knew, no matter how well he could hide it from his classmates or teachers. He's designed to question everything, to try and improve everything, but the one thing he's never doubted is her. She was the first to except him, the first to believe in him, and in some cases, the first to understand him – everyone else, at least initially, would get confused as to who Ralph was talking about – Drew or Walter – when he made a general statement about one of them. Paige caught on immediately. Drew was his father. Walter was his dad.
Speaking of his dad...Ralph looks over to the other side of the capsule. There's the photograph of the O'Brien siblings, both smiling. It's yellowed now, but Megan's smile still shows through. Speaking of similarities...Ralph smiles to himself. He can see his little sister – she's forty five, she hates when he calls her that, but then again their mother still refers to both of them as her babies – in the way Megan smiled. The hair is similar too, and the eyes. It's less of a shocking resemblance than Toby and Wally, but then again, this is an aunt and niece comparison, not father and son.
And the Super Fun Guy comic. "Back in the old days," Sylvester would say if he were in the room right now (and probably would say the next time Ralph saw him). "When the writing was different. Not necessarily better, but different. These comics, the way they evolve, the way they reflect their time...it's almost as if they're time capsules themselves." Ralph knows this is what he would say – he said almost those exact words when he placed a comic – the last issue he'd read to his wife – at the memorial to Megan on the tenth anniversary of her death.
So much has happened since then.
Ralph knows he's lucky. He imagines – and in some cases, knows for a fact – that many of his former classmates are opening their capsules and wishing they could go back, to change something, to try and stop the relationships that were important in 2015 from falling apart. But everyone significant in Ralph's life back then had remained. Yes, Cabe, Patrick, and Drew are gone, but the relationships, all of them, past and present, have endured through to the end, yes, endured is the word to use. Nothing is ever easy. But things exist that are worth it. And Ralph knows he's lucky. They all are.
Ralph closes up the trunk, setting it to the side to show his mom and dad the next day. They will enjoy looking through it, somewhere along the line his mom had gotten his dad fond of reminiscing, especially when, in this case, the memories were all pleasant. The others will enjoy it too, when they get together for Christmas.
Some on the outside criticize the longtime closeness of the group; they call Team Scorpion codependent, unable to get on without each other. "Everyone has to rely on something," Toby always says in response. "And this? I can think of a lot worse things to need."