AN: I can feel a maaany fic ideas blooming because of the wonderful book that is Starclimber. And yes, I ordered it from Canada (amazon.ca!!) because I didn't want to wait till March or whenever. So, to those of you that haven't read it yet, sorry to tease you!! Here's just a little drabble, a wee Missing Moment, that takes place directly after Chapter 27.
"We did it!" Kate cried. "We're home!"
I let out a noise of disbelief – halfway between and laugh and a yell – and unbuckled my harness. Kate was already on her feet, surprisingly unaffected by the almost disastrous re-entry. She was laughing and spinning amid the debris, her arms aloft. As I fumbled with the buckles on my harness – my fingers felt horribly weak – I watched her face glow, her grin so wide it looked like her cheeks hurt.
Finally getting the buckles of my harness undone, I launched myself out of the chair. Without sparing a glance at Tobias or Dr. Turgenev, I jumped over the rubble and toward Kate. She saw me coming and paused, breathing deeply and grinning, tears streaking her cheeks.
I took her face in my hands and slammed my lips down on hers.
It took her an instant to respond, her arms winding around my back and curling around my body like a second set of skin. She was smiling against my lips, laughing and sobbing as I twined my fingers deep in her tangled hair.
"I love you," I said as my lips left her mouth and drifted across her face. "I love you, I love you, I love you." We stumbled sideways, still a little weak and shaking. Kate buried her face in my shoulder and sobbed through her laughter.
"Well, is about time," said a quiet voice from behind us. A piece of the ceiling fell and clattered across the floor as Kate and I looked over at Dr. Turgenev, who had woken up in his chair. He was smiling fondly, and I grinned back at him. We had done it. We were back on Earth, and I honestly wouldn't mind staying here for the rest of my life.
"I love you, Matt," Kate whispered, reaching up to kiss the corner of my mouth. My attention rocketed down from the skies and to her. Her eyes were crinkled at the corner, and the obvious affection in them made me feel like I could fly back to Lionsgate City by myself, without the help of an airship. My hand drifted to her cheek and I couldn't help but kiss her again, more softly this time, as if we had all the time in the world.
Which, I guess, we now did.
Tobias groaned in his chair, and for once I took note of what was around me. The hot desert air drifted in through the broken windows and there were banging noises on the lower decks where people were moving around. Was it Miss Karr and Sir Hugh or the Egyptian authorities?
At that moment, I didn't care. Kate was in my arms, and if I had it my way, she would – finally – never leave them.
"Mr. Cruse! Mr. Blanchard? Hello? Is anyone there?" Miss Karr's voice drifted up the stairwell, and Kate stepped over to call down to her and explain that we were all okay. As she did, I saw something unnaturally sparkly on the ground, under a piece of the wal.
James Sanderson's ring. With something like hysteria bubbling in my stomach, I reached down and picked it up. It felt heavy in my hands, but I couldn't tell if that was because of the size of the diamond or because I was unused to gravity. I turned it around in my fingers, watching the stones catch the light. It was very beautiful.
I stuck it in my pocked and looked up through the partially broken windows of the dome.
We were home.