Author's Note: And so we come to the end of this tale. Thanks to all of my faithful readers and reviewers for joining me on this ride.
It was later in the afternoon. Several hours had passed since Nikola had spilled his guts in that confession, and we'd rejoined the rest of the gang around the compound. I was enjoying visiting with my friends, as well as watching Mom and Will get acquainted with everyone. Mom being Mom, she'd soon produced a notebook and began taking notes on most of the denizens of the Place. I just smiled when I noticed this and went back to my conversation with Long Drink.
Eventually, I noticed that Mom was seated at the bar, talking with both Jake and Erin. Excusing myself from the conversation between Will and Ralph (trust me, watching Will talk to a German shepherd was highly entertaining), I made my way over to the trio.
"Ashley," Jake greeted me.
"What's going on?" I asked, sliding my arm around Mom's shoulders.
"I'm coming to work at the Sanctuary," Erin told me, grinning.
"Really?" I looked to Mom for confirmation.
She nodded. "Erin has expressed an interest in learning more about other Abnormals, and Jake has agreed."
"What about Zoey?" I asked.
"She's fine with it," Jake assured me.
"I have to go pack," Erin told me. "Want to help?"
I agreed to do so. It was the work of only about fifteen minutes for her to pack two duffels of clothing, plus her backpack with her laptop and other electronics. By the time we made it back to the bar, Mom, Will, and Nikola were gathered there. "I've called Henry and he's lowered the EM shield around the main lab," Mom informed me. "Nikola will take Will and I on ahead; I assume you can bring yourself and Erin once you've said your good-byes."
I nodded that I could, and watched as Mom and the others disappeared. Once they were gone, Erin and I turned to our friends, saying our good-byes. I left Jake for last. "I'm glad you found your family," he told me, pulling me into a hug.
"Thanks for the help," I responded. I stepped away and grabbed one of the duffels. "Hold onto my arm," I told Erin. "See you around," I told the gang, waving.
With that, I turned into the darkness again. This time, when it ended, I found myself back in the main lab of the Sanctuary, facing Mom, Will, Nikola, and Henry. I couldn't stop the grin that spread across my face: I was home.