A/N: I sort of edited this story. I re-read it a few times and found some (gasp) grammatical/spelling errors. So, I think I've fixed it all, but please let me know if I haven't. I tried to slow down the proposal, but it always seems too fast, so I'll live with it the way it is.

Same as before, the Wind on Fire trilogy are the best books EVER and if you haven't read them, you should. Set after the last chapter (but before the epilogue) of Firesong

Coping

Bowman had secluded himself from the rest of the Manth people for three days now. Pinto knew what a hard time he must be going through, losing Ma and Kess at the same time. Not that she, herself, wasn't having a hard time. Losing family was the worst thing in the world, especially when they had been as close-knit as the Hath's.

But Pinto knew something else was wrong with Bowman. He was sad…but it was probably not just for the reasons everyone else thought.

He needed to be talked to, and Pinto was convinced she was the only one who would get through to him. Unfruitful attempts had been made by both Sisi, his love, and Mumpo, his greatest friend, to communicate with him. But what Bowman needed right now, Pinto knew, was family. It was family which he had lost and it was family which he needed.

She entered his tent. It had been set up immediately upon arrival to the homeland. He had helped establish everyone else's dwellings as well, being the empathetic person he was, but had failed to say more than three words at a time, and had been pale throughout.

"Bo?" she asked, hesitantly, knowing he could hear her, but unknowing if he would comprehend.

He made no indication of hearing her. He lay on a small cot at the other end of his tent, his back turned toward the entrance so she would have no way of knowing if he was awake or asleep.

"Bo, I know you're awake. I think we need to talk," she said, not really knowing if he was awake or not; but if he was, she would be right, and if he wasn't, no one would know she was wrong, anyway.

She sighed. "Listen…I know you're sad about Ma and Kess," she saw him tense slightly at the mention of his twin's name and now knew he was truly awake and listening, "but we need you, Bo. You…know things. You've done things that can help us. We know it. You changed. You've been taught to use your powers and we need you to use them for good…for the world; to help us rebuild."

Bowman said nothing, but shifted slightly, as if trying to hear her better.

She looked to the ground. "Honestly, if you ask me, you got the harder job of the two of you…"

She had known this would strike a chord with Bowman, and surely enough, he tilted his head just so that he could see her out of the corner of his eye.

"What? You think I got the harder job? Pinto, Kestrel's gone. She never gets to see any of us again. She sacrificed herself, and here I am lying on a cot in a tent in the homeland. And you're telling me I get the hard job?"

"Yes."

Bowman turned slightly more, confused and angry, yet intrigued, "Why?"

"Because you're left here without her. She fulfilled her destiny and now she's…gone. You, however, are left not only to cope without her, but to take care of all of us here, now."

Bowman sighed. "It's not fair. I was the one who was supposed to die…or at least I thought so. I was prepared for it. I thought that, after all those years of messing up…with the Morah and everything, I would be able to redeem myself and make everything right."

"But you have, Bo. You have."

"How?"

"You returned to us. You were trained (as you've told us) to rule and take care of people in this world. You're the meeting place for all of the desires of mankind."

Bowman scoffed, "A fine job that it. It just means that, no matter how I try to be good, I will never fully be good because I've been touched by and evil from which I cannot escape. That's not redeeming myself, that's…showcasing my faults."

"Everyone has faults, Bo."

"I know," he said sadly, "I just wish it wasn't so."

They sat in silence for awhile.

"She's not really gone, is she," Pinto said. It wasn't a question.

"No. I guess she was so much a part of me that, in the end, she was able to transfer as much of her into me as possible. I have as much of Kess as I've ever known in me…but that's just it. There were parts of her I never knew, and now they're gone forever. I can speak with her in my mind, but I can only talk to the old Kess…there will never be a 'new Kess' because she can't learn and grow anymore."

"Bo, I just wanted you to know that we need you; all of us do. Sisi cries everyday because you won't speak with her…she thinks you don't love her anymore. And Mumpo is very sad about Kess, Bo," though it nearly killed her to admit this because of her jealousy. "He needs a friend," her voice started to break, "and so do I."

Bowman finally sat up and looked at her. Upon seeing the tears slowly streaming down her cheeks, he was immediately saddened and he took her in his arms and began to murmur words of comfort into her ear, meanwhile, he, too, began to cry in empathy.

"The world needs you two, Bo," Pinto said, "I need you. And Kess is inside of you, still. When you grow, she grows. She's still alive, but the only way we're going to get to know her again, and the only way you will ever get to know a new Kestrel, is if you go out and get new experiences for the both of you. She is a part of you, now. And you're a part of us."

Bowman was shocked by the wisdom in the words of his little sister and began to realize that, not only were they wise, but the were also true. Kestrel was Bowman and Bowman was Kestrel. They had always been two halves of one whole, but now it meant so much more.

"Thank you, Pin," Bowman whispered into his sister's ear.

Thank you, Pin, he heard the familiar voice of his sister say in his mind.

He smiled, "Kess says thanks, as well."

Pinto's sobs softened. She smiled, too.

"Love Bo. Love Kess."

"Love Pinpin," it seemed as though the voices of both her brother and sister answered her and she knew Kestrel was safe inside of Bowman.

Sisi then entered the tent. "Did I hear you talk?"

Bowman smiled a small smile. "Yes, you did," then he looked into her eyes, and knew what he wanted to ask.

But, he realized, he would need to ask her very soon if he was to fulfill his destiny.

"Sisi," he began, his voice shaking, "would it be alright if I asked you something?"

"I don't know," she said, suddenly full of pride. "You've ignored me all week. You don't love me anymore, do you? If that's what you're going to ask me about, then I refuse to listen to you, Bowman."

He could see her eyes brimming with tears at the thought of him not loving her, and he felt a similar burning sensation behind his own eyes. He needed to ask her quickly; needed to reassure her of his undying love.

"I love you, Sisi, and this is going to seem very out-of-place and very fast, but I think we both deserve it right now. I need you. Will you marry me?"

Sisi was caught off-guard. All this week she had thought he hated her, and now he wanted her to marry him?

But, of course, it had been her dream to marry him from the first moment she had found out her best friend Kestrel had a twin brother. It was so simple. Why would she refuse?

"I love you, too," she smiled. "And that's just plain silly to ask, Bowman. You know my answer.

Bowman smiled happily, but then became quite serious. "Yes, I do. It will be our duty to rule, though, Sisi. It won't be easy. I have all of the goodness of the Singer people, but I know what it's like to be a slave to greed and corruption, so I will know how to stop it. I am the meeting place. I am the new ruler," he said with more pride than he had previously felt.

Mumpo soon entered the tent as well.

"Bo! You're alive! You had us worried you were going to die, too. You know how you guys always said that if one of you died, the other would die..."

"But if one of us lives, the other one lives," Bowman clarified, using Kestrel's own words to explain.

Mumpo thought for a moment. "You know, I don't think both of those can be possible. It really doesn't make sense. But I'm glad you are okay, anyway," he said happily.

Bowman closed his eyes and reached into his mind.

Are you there, Kess?

Of course, stupid. Where else would I be?

You know I love you.

Of course, stupid. By the way, congratulations on the betrothal.

Thanks. Oh, and Kess?

Yeah?

This 'being-in-my-head' thing will be weird for you…because we'll have to 'go' together…always together…if you know what I mean by 'go'…

There was silence in his mind.

Kess?

I'll be hiding in the back of your mind paying no attention if you need me.

Bowman smiled. Everything was going to turn out alright in the world. No, not just the world anymore, his world.