(Disclaimer: I do not own Time Hollow. I sure wish I did. Warnings: Uhm…not much. Shonen-ai (slash, boyxboy), maybe slight OOCness. Note: In Ethan's POV. When I saw the Time Hollow category here on I almost burst with happiness. xD The title? I felt like being witty. –isshot-)

Lydia, I guess I'm gonna dedicate this to you. :D But your friendship is priceless. –insertmorecheesenao-


I slowly walk into Chronos, a bit more apprehensive than I would like to admit. Way in the back of my mind, I know that this whole fiasco with Irving has finally been put to rest, but that's way back there. The more prominent portion of my mind is still worried. I mean, what else can I possibly walk into?

I open the door and, I'm glad to say, the familiar warmth and smells and sounds come out to greet me. And there's Olivia. I warmly smile back at her before Vin and Ben greet me as well. I manage to wrestle down my utter joy at having everything practically back to normal and say 'hey' back. Morris is even here, still studying. Things can't be better. Still, I have to wonder how much has changed and all. I figure I should actually remember all that, but, I don't. It's weird, all of the rules of the Pen, but I'll figure it out.

"Drink up, kid."

I glance to my right and Uncle Derek hands me a cup of coffee. And all I can do is stare. Uncle Derek. The other Uncle Derek. I snap out of it as he makes a remark and I sheepishly apologize. He asks how my parents are doing, and I tell him they're doing fine. It's odd, knowing a different Uncle Derek, but he's still the same. If that makes sense. He invites the three of us to come in sometime. I have to keep a grin from appearing on my face, and assure him that I'll ask them.

"…Hey, I just saw the owner's wife not too long ago," Ben mentions.

The shock quickly goes through me as I turn my attention to him. He mentions something about her being 'a knockout' and Vin ends up in the conversation as well. Then it all clicks. Kori! Of course! The floaty feeling is back, and I can't help but let a smile that I know looks kinda stupid slip through.

Morris is quick to notice it. "Hey, what's with that doofy look on your face?"

I quickly blink and look at him. "Huh? Oh…nothing." I can't help but think there's something else that's on his mind. I'll ask him later.

He gives me a quiet look. It's not angry or annoyed or anything, just…contemplative. And it's making me uneasy. It's like he's trying to figure something out.

I quickly make an excuse that I have something to do and take my leave. It's not really all excuse, I still have to set all the items in place for the past. …Yeah, it doesn't sound like it makes much sense, but it does! …It does.

xxtimehollowpenxx

I sigh as I snuggle into my bed and press my face into the cool fabric of my pillow. So normal. The normalness is comforting. But…there's something that's nagging at me. It almost feels boring. Which probably seems crazy to be saying, but after I sorted out all the flashbacks it all seemed too normal. I carry the Pen with me at all times, and that nagging rarely goes away. After I got over the instant appreciation and joy of everything being the way it was supposed to be, I realized I started waiting for something to screw up again. I started waiting for the next new flashback to tell me that something had gone wrong. That there was something that needed to be fixed.

I guess it's just slight paranoia.

And I've started to get this urge to thank Morris for helping me that one time. I'd presented him this strange idea of a Pen that allowed me to open a hole through time when he was in such a stressful time, and he still agreed to help me. I always wondered how I was supposed to help him do better on that exam, but I never really did it. I guess that worked itself out on its own…I hope it did, anyways. But I haven't thanked him yet, and I guess my mind is telling me to.

"Mrowr…" Sox snuggles up to me, rubbing his head against my side.

I lift my head and look down and gently stroke his back. I smile. Normal isn't too bad.

Then I show Sox the stuffed version I got from Uncle Derek. Real Sox just stares at it and looks at me. "No fooling you, huh?"

"…Mrowr…"

I then see something tied to his collar. Odd. "What's that you got there?"

He just looked at me, as if saying 'I dunno, get it off of me and look.'

I ease it out and unfold it. Whoa. Whoa. I read over the short note again and again. "Where'd you get this, Sox?"

Sox just flattens his ears.

I frown and slip out of bed. I grab a jacket and put it on as I go down the stairs, note a bit crumpled in my hand. As I slide on a pair of shoes I tell my mom (who's somewhere in this house) that I'm heading out for a quick walk and I'm out the door. What could Morris want to talk about?

I speed-walk to the park, passing Jacob and Lucky on the way there as I cross the intersection. I want to stop and talk to them, but it'll probably take a while to introduce myself to Jacob again. At least his parents taught him well.

I reach my final destination of the park and just stand there for a while. I can't begin to say how many times I've wandered over here looking for clues, hoping to find some way to settle everything. My gaze settles over the ocean and I relax. Maybe this place just helps me think. I think it'd be nice to hang out here for a day.

I suddenly fall flat on my butt as a giant ball of white fur runs into me, barking like crazy. I laugh as I try to push Shiloh's face away from mine. He finally stops and settles for just staring and panting happily, tongue lolling out the side of his mouth. I start wiping my face on my sleeve and not soon after I can hear Morris's voice.

"Shiloh! Why'd you run off like that?"

He runs up and stops short as he notices me, on the ground, wiping my face. "Oh. Ethan."

I look up at him, curious. He went from carefree to serious in a snap. "Hey, Morris. What did you want to talk about?"

He went and sat on the ground right in front of me. One of his hands absently went to pet Shiloh. He silently sat and thought for a while. With nothing else to do and feeling quite uncomfortable, I stare into his distant, dark brown eyes. Abruptly, they focus and stare right back. I feel my face heat from embarrassment (though I don't really know why) but I can't look away as he starts talking.

"The owner of Chronos…He's your uncle, right?"

…What? "Yeah."

He silently, absently, nods. "So that does mean that their daughter is your cousin."

I frown, more confused than ever. Why did he need to ascertain that? Well, whatever he had on his mind, it looks like it's been cleared, because his eyes aren't as dark and he now has a small smile. "Thanks, Ethan."

Umm…"You're welcome…?"

Morris seems to ignore the questioning tone, picks up Shiloh's leash and stands back up. "Need a hand?"

I shake my head. "I'm good."

"Alright…C'mon, Shiloh, time to go home."

My butt stays on the ground until both of them are good and gone. That was such a weird conversation. As I walk back home, I notice a strange feeling in my chest. It's sort of a…empty feeling. A hollow feeling.

xxtimehollowpenxx

I might be imagining the sensation but I feel like when I sat in the chair, I just sunk into it. It's not an uncomfortable kind of sink, but really comforting, especially with the warmth and the smell of coffee. It's been a few weeks since that weird conversation with Morris, but I still get a weird feeling every time I look at him. It's not exactly that hollow feeling anymore, but it's still there. That hollow feeling is reserved for when I'm alone and my mind starts to think about him. It's weird.

"Hey, Ethan."

I look over at Vin. "Yeah?"

"What do you think of that Emily girl?"

Huh? "Er…why do you want to know?"

"I dunno. I think she likes you. Whenever you're around she's always so flustered."

"She's not usually like that?" I'm so confused. Strange questions are popping up to me left and right. I mean, last week or something my mom asked me, with this totally concerned face, if I liked anyone. Seriously.

Vin shook his head. "Quiet, but not that flustered."

I shrug and answer his original question. "I don't know her well enough to say anything."

There was a short pause before Ben burst out with: "You don't like Ashley do you?"

What? "No way."

I get the strangest feeling that everyone just let out a silent sigh of relief.

After quite a long and awkward silence, I ask, "What's up with all these weird questions?"

"Nothing…nothing…" Vin muttered.

How am I supposed to believe that? Really now. I want to actually ask them that, but I settle on just looking at them, waiting for the truth.

For the longest moment no one says anything.

Morris finally speaks up. "Could I talk to you…in private?"

Now I'm more confused than ever. "Sure…" I slowly rise and follow him outside of Chronos. We don't go very far, just off to the side, near Olivia's bike. It still looks rather worn out, but that's off topic. I look expectantly at Morris, but he's silent. I shift uneasily. I'm tired of being left out. "What did you want to tell me?"

He looks at me nervously, like he wants to say something, but it's not coming out.

"…Morris, what is it?"

"Um…"

"You can tell me…" Other than the fact that I really feel left out right now, I figure I owe him for being so understanding about the whole Pen issue, forget the fact that he doesn't remember it. "Whatever it is."

"You…weren't supposed to know." …What? I frown. "Don't get angry, Ethan. I can explain." He sighs. "I thought it was just a phase, you know? That it would blow over…I'm still hoping for that, but recently I've drawn the conclusion that it won't."

"…what is…it?" I'm almost afraid to ask.

He sighs again. "I like you…as more than a friend."

Oh. Oh. That explains all those questions. But then that means that Ben and Vin know about it…and that they're okay with it…to some extent. I imagine that Vin doesn't care, but I always thought Ben would be more…obstinate about it. I just hope my mom was just being a mom and that she doesn't know as well. This kind of leaves me in an awkward position. I've never seen or thought of Morris as anyone else but a good friend. But then again, there's still that weird feeling I get when I see him, when I think of him.

"I'm sorry, Ethan…I told you that you weren't supposed to know…and now you know why."

I can tell that he's beating himself up over this. "It's okay." I tentatively touch his hand, as if to hold it, but I let my hand drop back to my side. "It's just…I'm not sure about how I feel. I mean, recently I've been having these weird feelings every time I see you or think about you. I don't know what it means."

He nods.

"How long…?" I'm almost afraid to ask.

He smiles bitterly. "I don't know."

"Oh…" I bit my bottom lip.

He hums softly. "Vin's known for…a few months? He got me to tell Ben a few weeks ago."

I nervously move closer to him and press my lips against his. It's strange; I didn't even register what I'd done until after I'd done it. It only lasts for a few seconds, before I pull back, face heated. I start shuffling away, ever so slowly. I didn't mean to do that. The urge just came over me. Before I can get away, he wraps his arms around me. "You're not sneaking away after that."

I squirm. "Morris! Let me go!" I whine.

After a few moments, he grins ands lets me go. His eyes are shining, and I can tell he's happy. I guess it's not so bad, being embarrassed like this.

xxtimehollowpenxx

Vin smirks as he ruffles my hair. "There ya go. Morris was beating himself up over this for who knows how long."

We'd gone back into Chronos as soon as Morris had let me go. They'd been watching through the window this whole time.

"Was not."

"You so were."

"Guys…don't fight about it…" I quietly say.

"He's finally happy, at least," Ben admits.

"Yeah…" Vin surrenders.

"So…who's the girl?"

"Ben!" Morris says warningly.

"Ethan of course."

"Vin!!" I exclaim, mortified.

And I realize now, I chose these people as my friends.


NK's Normally Huge Paragraph of Rants:
yeah…I just don't feel like it today. Please R&R and be nice about it.
--NarutoKyuu