A/N: I'm sorry this final chapter took so long. After updating the second part, summer really started to get into my head and I lost interest in Night at the Museum altogether. Considering the large number of fanfics I have in-progress right now, however, I made myself write, and brought this to a conclusion I am satisfied with.
"I-I don't know what came over me," Octavius stammered to Nick. They were sitting on a bench in front of the Hall of Aquatics, almost across the museum from the Hall of Miniatures. "I have never lost control like that. Of course Jedediah and I always bickered, but I never actually wanted to hurt him before."
Nick shifted. "I don't think you meant to hit him. You were mad, and it just happened."
"Friends should not use violence against each other, no matter what," Octavius said resolutely. He sighed heavily, removing his helmet and bowing his head. "Perhaps…perhaps your father is right. It is time to move on."
"When I was six," Nick began thoughtfully, "my pet fish died. My parents were still together then, and they tried to buy me a new one just like it. But I knew the difference. I wanted Brian to come back to life more than anything—I asked my mom if magic could do that, and she…" he paused, frowning, "…she told me magic wasn't real. My dad…I know he always believed that stuff like this museum could happen. Magic is real, but I guess it isn't always enough."
Octavius nodded his agreement. "Not always," he echoed. "I simply feel as though there is more I could have done to help. To stop him."
Nick frowned. "I don't know," he said finally. "Maybe…"
Octavius sensed he had distressed his friend, who was, after all, still a kid. He shouldn't have to deal with this issue at such a young age, and the Roman's heart suddenly went out to him.
"I'm sorry," he apologized gently. "If you want to go find Rexy, I am sure I can handle myself now."
"Not sure I feel like playing," Nick mumbled unhappily. "I keep hoping this is a dream, and I'll-"
"That's it!" Octavius suddenly shouted, leaping to his feet.
"What?" His companion blinked down at him.
"A way to revive Jedediah! Or, at least, a way to try. I communicated with our friend while dreaming—if I could do the same once more, only this time find some way to bring him back with me…it might work!"
Nick looked doubtful. "But-"
"We've tried everything else," Octavius insisted. His voice dropped. "I need to try one last time. I cannot rest knowing there may be a way…a way to bring him back."
Finally, Nick nodded. "All right. What can I do to help?"
"You can keep this a secret. I'm afraid the others may try to stop me if they believe it's hopeless. I need to speak with Ahkmenrah. Can you take me to find him?"
"Okay," the boy agreed, and he lifted Octavius to his palm as they set off to find the pharaoh.
As it turned out, their search was short-lived. Ahkmenrah was pacing, alone, just around the corner. He smiled vaguely when he saw them approaching.
"Hello," he greeted softly.
For once, Octavius skipped the formalities. "I need your help."
The boy-king's face was guarded.
"I am going to contact Jedediah in a dream, as I did earlier. This time, I am going to attempt to bring him back with me. As an added measure, I would like to be near the tablet while I do this."
"How is that possible?" Ahkmenrah asked, brow furrowed.
Octavius took heart by the fact that the other had not immediately tried to discourage him from his plan.
"You told us that we have the ability, when we dream, to slip into our native worlds. I know I can make myself return to Rome, where I am hoping to find Jedediah again and have him transport us to Egypt. I would like for you to dream of your homeland so that you can produce the tablet for us when we arrive. Perhaps its power will assist in the endeavor."
Ahkmenrah considered this. "All right," he said finally. "It cannot hurt. I will do as you ask."
Octavius smiled. "Thank you, my friend. It might be best if-"
"-if I do not speak of this to anyone else? I had guessed. You have my word."
The two men nodded in agreement, the thrill of their secret plan filling them. Ahkmenrah was as committed to the mission as Octavius—he had not given up the hope of restoring the cowboy's presence in the museum.
"Uh, guys?" They had forgotten Nick was there, standing quietly throughout their conversation. "I think I'm going to go find my dad now. I won't tell him anything."
"Yes, of course." Octavius nodded. "You may leave me here if you like."
Nick bent down and let the tiny Roman step off his palm.
"Good luck, he said, before straightening and starting toward the elevators.
It had worked. Octavius was dreaming again.
He could tell he had returned to ancient Rome, yet he was not on his balcony. This time, he stood in a large, empty banquet hall. The echo of footsteps on stone reached him from elsewhere in the palace, but none grew louder as if coming near.
Jedediah was standing a few yards away, his arms crossed over his chest and a look of mild surprise on his features.
The emperor stepped closer to his friend. "Yes. And I'm not leaving without you this time."
A spasm of something crossed Jed's face.
"I already tried to go back," he said finally. "Didn't work."
"Perhaps you did not try hard enough?" Octavius suggested. When he received no response, his voice sharpened. "We need you to come home, Jedediah. Everyone misses you, but they are all preparing themselves to give up the hope that you will ever return. Do not make me do the same."
The cowboy swallowed. "I don't know what I was thinking, leaving like that. I didn't even really mean to—I was thinking about how much I wished the tablet had never worked on me, and the next thing I knew, I was in a different world. It didn't take long to figure out what had happened. I know I was overreacting…"
"No one ever said you were," Octavius cut him off. "But if you could return, right now, would you?"
"Yes," Jed said automatically. "I've thought about it, and yes, I would."
Octavius smiled. "Good. Then let's go to Egypt."
"Ahkmenrah is waiting there with the tablet. It's your only hope—the magic might reverse what it did to you if you reverse your decision near its source."
Jedediah nodded slowly. "Okay. I know what to do to get there, but I'm not sure I can take you with me."
Octavius stepped up next to his friend and placed a hand on the man's shoulder. It was not solid; the hand sunk into the ghostlike image of the frontiersman, but it was the best they could do.
He shut his eyes. "Try."
For a few seconds, there was only silence. Then Jed's voice spoke in his ear.
Octavius opened his eyes and his heart leapt. Endless sand and towering pyramids met his gaze. They had arrived at their destination.
"Brilliant," he said, attempting to clap Jed on the back and pulling back when his hand went straight through. "Now we find the pharaoh."
And then Ahkmenrah was there, standing before them with the tablet clasped tightly in his hands.
Octavius jumped. "How did you-"
"The tablet knew where to find you. I do not know how. It led me here."
Jed grinned, looking more like his old self.
"Great. Now what do I need to do?"
Ahk lifted the golden slab higher. "You simply need to want to return. To wake up in your body in the museum. Since desire brought you here, it can lead you back."
This was met with a nod and a deep breath.
Ahkmenrah began to chant softly in Egyptian. Octavius watched carefully until he felt a familiar tug.
"The sun has set; it is time to wake up," he warned his friends. He shut his eyes and hoped. 'Please. Let this work…'
He woke up. He blinked blearily for a moment before immediately turning to the secret tunnel and hurrying through to the Wild West diorama, his heart yearning, hoping…
His breath caught in his throat and he froze.
Jedediah was moving toward him, completely solid and un-plastic. He was grinning wildly, practically running.
The men met in the middle and shared a quick, but heartfelt, embrace. Then they stepped back and surveyed each other.
"It worked!" Octavius exclaimed unnecessarily.
"Yeah," Jed said happily. "Thanks…thanks to you." He flushed slightly.
"Thanks to you," Octavius corrected. "Only you could have made the ultimate choice. I just…nudged it along."
Jed shuffled his boots in the sand, avoiding his friend's eyes. "Still…I owe you."
"I will always be here to help you, Jedediah," Octavius told him seriously. "Whenever you need me. You know that, right?"
Jedediah nodded, smiling softly. Octavius' mouth turned up as well.
"Jedediah! Octavius!" Ahkmenrah skidded into the room, his face flushed in excitement. He beamed when he saw them. "Welcome back, Jedediah."
Before Jed could respond, Larry, Nick, Teddy, and Sacajawea entered the hall, obviously alerted by Ahkmenrah's shouts.
"Jed!" Larry said in elation and relief. "You're back."
And then the other western inhabitants were cheering for their leader, surging forward and surrounding him. Octavius was forced backwards. He crossed nearer to his larger friends.
"I think Jedediah is going to be just fine," he told them. "As long as he knows we will never give up on him."
"And we won't," Larry said with certainty. "We never could."
"Speaking of Jed…where'd he go?" Nick said suddenly. The cowboy was nowhere in sight among his fellows.
Before Octavius had time to react, he spotted his friend racing for the rope to the floor, laughing at him.
"Hey, Oc! Last one in the car is a flat-faced lizard!"
Octavius shook his head in amusement before pursuing his friend.
Some things would never change.
A/N: Thanks for reading! Hope you like the ending. Review to let me know! :)