Author's Note: In honor of Unwholly coming out very shortly, I figured it was time to write one last bit of fluff for my favorite book couple before everything changes. (Forgive the sappiness.) This is set a few years after the book, but there's no specific date or anything. Please enjoy, and reviews are always ever so appreciated! :-)
Disclaimer: Think about it. If I owned the great work of teen literature that is Unwind, why in the world would I be putting this on a fanfiction site? I own nothing but this story.
Connor yawns, bending sideways to stretch out his back, one way, then the other. His whole body is stiff from standing in the same position for almost thirteen hours straight. He spent the day leading a peaceful protest against unwinding, standing in front of the capitol building of Santa Fe, thousands of people of all ages holding picket signs and chanting. He never ceases to be amazed at the turnout of the events, young people, the elderly, even parents bringing their small children. They may not have rid the world of unwinding, but their years of effort have paid off. While the business still exists, laws are shifting, and their cause has been garnering more and more support. Connor is convinced that their work is having as significant of an impact as it can, and he and Risa spend many a late night imagining what it will be like when there's no such thing.
After fumbling with his cell phone, he realizes that it must have kept turning itself on in his jeans pocket and run out of battery life. Cursing himself, he walks out of his cheap motel room and onto the busy street. It's 11:30 at night, but it's a Saturday, so there are still people out and abut downtown. Normally with these kinds of trips, he would have plenty of Graveyard kids to borrow a phone from, but since they had a huge shipment of newbies coming in tomorrow from NYC, most everyone was needed. All Connor has to do is give the customary speech, but the others do most of the surface work. Not to mention that if Risa was here with him, his need to call home wouldn't be nearly as urgent.
Shivering from the cold of the city in November, he looks up and down the sidewalk for someone who looks kindhearted. Making sure to look as young and earnest as possible, he approaches a short red-haired woman, probably in her mid-forties.
"Excuse me?" he asks. "I'm not from here, I'm just visiting. But my phone died, and I need to call my...um... someone. Can I please borrow a cell phone?"
"Sure, baby," she replies sympathetically, with a slight Southern drawl. "I'm just visiting too. I understand. Talk for as long as you need to."
"Thank you so much," he says, the relief obvious in his voice. What it is she understands, he can never be sure, but it doesn't matter. She hands him a fairly cutting-edge model, and he effortlessly dials the number he knows so well. He steps slightly away from the woman, but not so far that she'll think he's trying to steal it.
After three rings, an exhausted-sounding female voice picks up.
"Risa?" he asks.
"Connor? Whose phone are you on?" she responds, instantly recognizing his voice.
Connor chuckles. She doesn't miss anything.
"It belongs to this woman I met on the street," he tells her.
"Should I be concerned about you meeting mysterious women on the street?" she inquires jokingly.
"Nah. My phone died again, and I felt that I should call you."
"That's sweet," Risa says, sarcastic. "Glad to know you would leave me at home while you go off on your adventures, but make sure to call me."
"Oh come on," he laughs. "You were in no state to riot this morning."
The woman that he borrowed the phone from looks at him curiously.
"I suppose you're right. I'm still not," she sighs.
"Protesting wasn't the same without you," he sing-songs.
"I can imagine. I'm always there with you, but I'm just still so beat."
"I'm really sorry I left you at the Graveyard. It's just that this was a really important demonstration, and, well, I booked this a long time ago, before I knew..." Connor trails off, making sure she hears the genuine note of apology in his voice.
"Don't be. I'm fine. I just needed more time to rest," she says, yawning into the phone.
"Is everything prepped for the new city slickers tomorrow?" he inquires.
"Yep. Hayden and crew have been working their a- oops, I mean, butts off all day. The place is so clean and shiny, you wouldn't believe it. We've got the new jets outfitted as dorms and everything. It looks great."
"Have you been getting enough sleep?" Connor asks her.
"Well, I've gotten a couple of decent naps, but various Graveyard-ers keep asking me for my approval on this, my approval on that. I told them no one bothers me after eight o' clock, so I finally got them to leave us alone," Risa laughs.
"I'll be home tomorrow," Connor says. "I'll make sure they leave you be."
"Well, we're doing okay. Amelia's a little confused by all the hustle and bustle, but she's been asleep most all day."
"How is she?" he asks, feeling his voice catch.
"She's doing just fine."
"That's good," he says, finally feeling himself exhale his worry. "I just think about her constantly, you know. I just need to know all the time that's everything's all right."
Risa laughs quietly at this.
"Daddy's instinct, I suppose," she says, and Connor smiles at the unfamiliar title.
"I'll never get used to that," he says in awe.
"You've only had a week," Risa replies knowingly. "She's still not doing much. You know how newborns are, all they do is eat, sleep, and cry. And besides, you've only been gone a day and a half."
"I miss you both a lot," Connor whispers.
"I think our little Amy misses you too. A couple of times she's sort of looked around like she's wondering where her dad is."
"Wow, I didn't know I was worthy of being remembered."
"Yeah, I certainly think so," Risa says.
"Well, I should probably give this lovely woman her phone back," Connor mutters. "She lovely woman's probably getting annoyed with me for running up her bill."
"Your daughter looks so much like you," Risa says suddenly.
"Well, let's certainly hope she gets your intelligence. Bless her if she turns out just like me," he jokes.
"Bye, Connor," she says.
"Bye, Risa. See you tomorrow." And with that, he hangs up and gratefully hands the woman back her phone.
A little over five hundred miles away, Risa wheels through the darkness of her bedroom to her daughter's crib. She picks up the gently sleeping baby, and holds her affectionately to her chest. Risa knows how much this child means to Connor, and awaits tomorrow, when he'll come back and be with them again.