Epilogue

May 22, 2038

Rock Creek Park

Mark and Beth sat on a stone bench, overlooking the rushing water, as they took a breather from their Saturday morning jog.

It was a quiet part of the trail. Very green. There had been a lot of rain this spring, and Beth remembered reading somewhere that green was relaxing on the eyes. She had to agree. Even after nearly half a year of being back, she never got tired of looking at green. Mark didn't seem to, either.

She took a sip of her water, sitting contemplatively, just enjoying the fresh air.

Mark was still not much of a talker, with the exception of when he was being a smartass, but that was just Mark, and she didn't mind it. Maybe that was a part of why they got on so well together; as long as they knew where they stood with one another, they didn't feel much need to hash things out. They were good.

On the bench next to her, Mark shifted and was halfway standing, when a voice from behind them startled them both.

"Hey! I know them!" It was a young boy, followed by his somewhat embarrassed mother, who was pushing a jogging stroller and clutching the leash of a yellow lab.

"Hi," Mark greeted the dog, ignoring the boy, as he ruffled the dog's ears.

"You're Mark Watney!"

"Sweetheart, don't bother people like that!" the mother scolded him, and added, to Mark and Beth, "Sorry about him."

"It's okay," Mark shrugged.

"You went to Mars!" the boy said, stating the obvious, hero worship written all over his face,

"Sure did. She went twice," Mark looked at Beth, grinning.

"I know! That was so awesome!"

"Okay, sweetie, we should go. It was nice to meet you both," the mother said, apologetically, tugging at the dog's leash.

Beth couldn't help herself from smirking a little bit at the boy's parting question.

"Mr. Watney? Would you ever want go back to Mars again?" he asked. "I mean, if there was another mission and they wanted you to go, would you?"

"You out of your fucking mind, kid?"

"Mark!" Beth laughed, shaking her head in apology at the mother, and rolling her eyes at Mark. "Sorry! What he was trying to say was," she paused, as Mark snorted with laughter, "was that we have both had enough space travel for our lifetimes. So thanks, but no thanks."

The little boy, still grinning, waved bye at them, as the mom dragged him away and down the trail.

Beth was still giggling a few minutes later when Mark got to his feet and stretched.

"That little guy was pretty cute," he said. "Maybe we should get ourselves one of those, sometime."

Beth was struck speechless.

"Are you being serious right now?"

"Well," Mark paused, "yeah. Why not?"

"You want to have kids? Really?" Her eyes were wide, her voice incredulous. "I mean…" she trailed off. "That's…"

"Kids? Who said anything about kids?" Mark laughed at her. "I was just talking about the dog."


The End.