There's only us, there's only this
Forget regret or life is yours to miss
No other road, no other way
No day but today
- "Another Day" from RENT
It took Bex nearly two months to fully heal, even with the aid of Syndrome's "miracle" medicine. She continued to be shaky on her feet and needed help walking after she'd been up for an hour. She also needed longer periods of rest and more food. She got headaches easily and often collapsed into bed with a pounding migraine, and no pain medication in the world could help her.
It was an unhappy trade-off, but Kauri never complained, and Syndrome was more than willing to deal. Mirage spent most of her days playing nurse and getting Kauri whatever she needed. Mirage, too, never complained about the lengthy recuperation. They cared too much about each other for that.
The Incredibles and their Super friends became frequent visitors to Nomanisan, at first only to see if Kauri was safe and then, gradually, to speak with Syndrome and figure just how much the damages would cost him. If parting with so much of his hard-earned fortune caused him any internal pain, he was careful not to show it. He signed the check for the enormous sum of money without even flinching. Admirable, perhaps; but the entire fiasco with Kauri had earned him a contract with the government and the NSA. He would soon be raking in more money than he had ever given away.
During the Incredibles' visits, Syndrome and Bob took to walking on Nomanisan's beaches and talking - not that the two were friends by any means. Conversations between them were limited to passing harsh accusations at each other and discussing financial issues, and the slight possibility that the NSA would be willing to admit Syndrome into the private club if he kept up fairly decent behavior towards the other Supers. One day, however, the conversation turned to Kauri Bexer, and what would happen once she was fully recovered.
"Kauri certainly seems to be enjoying life here," Bob remarked casually.
Syndrome glanced sharply at his former nemesis. "Yes," he said cautiously. "She likes it here. She loves water and the beach and all that. Never was one for the snow."
Bob nodded thoughtfully. "I don't know that she'll want to go back to Metroville," he said. "Too many painful memories. But I'll admit - and I'm sure you won't be in the slightest bit surprised - that I'm hesitant to leave her here."
Syndrome had known that was coming, but it still made him angry. "I won't hurt her," he said heatedly. "You really still think I'd do that, after all the work I've put in to making her better?"
Bob shrugged. "People work in strange ways," he said. "I can't understand them half the time. And all I'll ever really know about you - at least for now - is that I made a mistake that made you turn bad, and you tried to harm my family. You've saved Kauri, yes, but how can I know what your motivations are for that?"
"You'll have to trust me."
Bob shook his head. "I can't do that," he said firmly. "Not yet, anyway."
Syndrome kicked at the sand with a black boot. "So you're going to take Bex back to Metroville, is that it?" he asked, his voice deathly quiet and his eyes downcast. "You're going to take her away from me after all of this?"
Bob shook his head again. "No," he said. "That'd be the wrong thing to do, I think. Kauri loves you too much. I don't pretend to know why, but she does, and I don't want to separate her from the source of her happiness." Bob paused and looked thoughtful. "Ever since her father died, she's been so… lonely," he continued hesitantly. "Life's never been easy for her. You undoubtedly knew that already, growing up with her. Her mother's caused her so many problems, and Eric obviously wasn't any help… it killed her to have to leave you, but she thought you'd destroy her if you knew the truth. And then everything just happened so quickly… it's all taken its toll on her life. Taking her back to the source of all that pain… it wouldn't be right."
"So… she'll stay?" Syndrome asked almost hopefully.
Bob couldn't bite back the small smile that crossed his face. "Yes," he said. "She'll stay. But I'll expect to see both of you at the bimonthly NSA meeting, and if you don't show up without alerting us beforehand and making other arrangements to meet with me… let's just say you'll be toast. Got it?"
Syndrome saluted mockingly. "Got it," he repeated.
- - - - - - - - -
A year later…
The snobby Metroville restaurant was used to receiving large reservations for their dinner hour. In an average week, they received six such reservations, and they handled them expertly. It was the price of being the most sophisticated, uptown, popular and expensive restaurant in a city the size of Metroville, but the owner of the restaurant, Evan Ida, was perfectly willing to pay for such success.
He wasn't sure, however, that he was quite willing to go so far as to serve this particular group. The reservation for thirty-seven had hardly caused him a moment's trouble. He simply reserved the back room for the guests. But when he had asked what name to put the reservation under, the voice on the other end simply replied, "It's for the NSA - the National Supers Association. The Supers have a bimonthly dinner and this week they've decided to try your establishment."
Evan had almost dropped his phone in shock. "Supers, here?" he gasped. "Eating?"
"In their uniforms, of course," the man on the line said casually. "Their dress uniforms."
"They have dress uniforms?" Evan had managed faintly.
He had found out tonight that they did, in fact, have fabulous dress uniforms. These were impressive, more formal versions of their crime-fighting gear, including more elaborately decorated masks to hide their identities from potential enemies. He had recognized all of them the moment he walked into the room - the Incredibles and their children in sparkling red; Frozone in icy blue and white; Static in shimmering gold and black; and, most unusually, Syndrome, the infamous villain-turned-hero who had been building all sorts of machines for the Supers recently, in black and aqua blue.
Standing before all of these impressive personages now, Evan was almost literally quaking in his shoes. He managed to swallow his fear (nervously) and ask the question of waiters everywhere: "Can I take your orders?"
"I'll start!" Mr. Incredible volunteered enthusiastically. "I'd like - "
"Honey," Elastigirl interrupted quickly, laying a black-gloved hand on her husband's arm, "Don't order a ton, ok?"
Mr. Incredible looked slightly crestfallen. "I need to keep up my strength," he said.
"I know, honey, I know," Elastigirl said soothingly. "But that last time was just ridiculous!"
"All right, all right," he muttered. "I'll take two of your steak dinners - medium rare, please - "
Syndrome's eyebrows shot up beneath the mask. "You're really going to eat all that?" he said incredulously. "No wonder you've gotten so fat over the years."
"Gee, thanks, Syn," Mr. Incredible said, rolling his eyes. He was obviously used to such impolite remarks from Syndrome.
"Get off him, Syn!" Invisigirl, Mr. Incredible's daughter, snapped.
"Syn, be nice," Static said at almost the exact same time.
"Sorry, Visi," Syndrome said a bit insincerely to Invisigirl. He turned back to Static and kissed her on the cheek. "Sorry, baby."
Static made a face at him and then took a sip of her water, and motioned for Mr. Incredible to continue his order.
Evan coughed politely. "Can I get you anything to drink, Mr. Incredible?"
"A Heineken, please," Mr. Incredible replied.
"Heineken's disgusting," Syndrome said disdainfully.
"It's an acquired taste," Mr. Incredible retorted.
"I don't get why you'd want to acquire a taste for alcohol," Static said heatedly. "Alcohol only leads to bad things. I should know."
Somewhat surprisingly, nobody commented. In fact, the silence that greeted her words was somewhat awkward.
Daring to break the silence, Evan cleared his throat. "And what would the lady like for dinner…?" he asked, trailing off.
- - - - - - - - -
The waiter left after almost twenty long minutes, looking considerably harried at the amount of orders he had to fill. Syndrome waited until everyone looked as though they were deeply involved in conversation and said to Bex, "Hey, let's take a walk."
Bex nodded her agreement and stood, walking after him to a balcony overlooking the ocean. When they arrived, Bex leaned against the railing and studied the massive expanse of water. "It's strange to think Nomanisan's out there somewhere," she said half to herself.
Syndrome leaned against the railing beside her. "It's a comforting thought," he said.
Bex hesitated, and then said, "I'm sorry I've been so depressed lately. It's just…"
"Eric's birthday is today, right?" Syndrome said.
Bex nodded. "Yeah, yeah it is," she murmured. "I'm not sad that he died, you know. It's just… well… " She looked uncomfortable. "The first time he ever got drunk enough to actually hurt me…"
"Was on his birthday," Syndrome finished. "I'm sorry."
She shrugged. "Wasn't you're fault," she said. She leaned her head against his shoulder. "I'm glad you're letting me stay on Nomanisan with you."
He smiled and wrapped his arm around her waist. "I don't think I could have let you leave to begin with," he said. "I love you."
"I love you, too," Bex said with a smile.
They stood there a moment, watching the sun sink into the ocean. Syndrome broke the silence with a simple phrase: "I've been thinking."
"Uh-oh," Bex said with a smile. "Should I be worried?"
"No, no," Syndrome said quickly. "I just… have been thinking about us."
"This sounds like you're going to say something cheesy and cliché."
Syndrome chuckled. "I'm trying to avoid that," he said. "But there really aren't many original, spontaneous, and un-cheesy ways to say, 'Will you marry me?'"
Bex drew in a sharp breath. "Hold up," she breathed. "Did you just…?"
"You asked me to marry you."
"Yeah. Spontaneously. Without all the cheesy gooshiness and stuff." He smiled. "I was going to go into some long, flowery, and extremely romantic speech, but then you made your comment about cheesiness and clichés…" He turned to her and held out and opened box with a sparkling diamond ring inside. "So…?"
"Yes," Bex said immediately. "Yes, yes, a million and infinity times yes!" She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him. When she pulled back, he was grinning. "So there's your completely spontaneous and un-cheesy answer," she said with a brilliant smile.
He returned the smile and slid the ring onto her finger. "Does this mean our kids are going to be Supers?" he asked almost hopefully.
Bex laughed. "We'll see, Syn," she said. "We'll see… who knows what the future can hold?"
"Time Traveler," Syndrome said, raising an eyebrow. "The Super guy in there who can travel back and forth in time."
Bex rolled her eyes. "You ruin everything, you know," she said.
"Not this," he promised. "Never this." He pulled her against him and kissed her, and seemed intent on holding her forever, when Mr. Incredible came out and tapped him on the shoulder.
"Sorry to disturb you," he said with a grin, "But the food's arrived."
Syndrome made a face. "Ah, well," he said. "I guess we'd have to go in to announce it anyway, wouldn't we?"
Bex smiled and took his hand. "Yes, unfortunately, we would," she said. "But in the meantime… I'm starving!"
With this they turned and walked back through the door, their backs to the brilliant red sun setting behind them.