Author's Note: So this epilogue is, uh... holy cow, more than three years late. I'm really sorry about that. An RL friend reminded me that even if I was unsatisfied with how this last part was written I should still post it anyway if I'm never going to go back and rewrite it. As it turns out it was better than I remembered, and I was able to adjust it a little during this upload.
Sorry again for the wait, and Happy New Year's!
The next few days passed by in a blur for Rex. They kept Caesar at the Plant's medical center, where Holiday cleaned, stitched, and wrapped up his ankle, before setting him up with an IV and antibiotics.
"He's lost a lot of blood," She explained. "I've done everything I can for him. All we can do now is wait and see if he wakes up."
Rex visited the medical room often at first, but found that staring at his brother's unconscious face for any period of time left his stomach feeling as though it had been filled with stones, one for every minute he sat watching. Soon his visits became shorter and fewer, until he spent more of his time sneaking out with Noah and Bobo than thinking about his brother.
"Rex," Came the call one afternoon. "He's waking up."
"I'm on my way," said Rex without thinking, and then felt a horrible dread immediately after.
"Are you sure?" asked Holiday. Rex could hear the frown in her voice. "He can leave on his own, if you'd prefer."
"No, I'm good," said Rex, waving a hand. "I need to do this." He formed his Boogie Pack build, getting ready to take off.
"Six is in your area with his jet, if you want a ride," Holiday suggested.
"Six?" Rex repeated. He looked up and around at the empty basketball court, and realized that he could just barely make out his mentor standing in the shadows. The man jerked his head in greeting when he saw he'd been noticed, and Rex lifted a hand back.
"He's been following you every time you've left, lately," Holiday explained.
"Really?" Rex asked. "Oh. ... I guess I scared him more than I'd thought."
"I guess so," Holiday agreed quietly.
Rex un-built his Boogie Pack abruptly, and started across the court. "You know what, doc? I think I'll take him up on this 'unspoken offer'. I mean hey, it's a free ride until he finds all the gum I left under his chair again. Rex out."
Holiday was waiting for them by the medical room's doors, turning a clipboard around in her hands.
"He's inside," she said as they approached. "He wanted to leave, but I told him not until you'd had a chance to talk with him."
"Thanks, doc," Rex said, smiling wanly. Then he walked past her, Six following like a tall, threatening shadow.
Caesar's bloodstained clothes had been thrown out, and he'd been given a standard pair of hospital pajama pants, and a small cast for where the bullet had chipped the bone. He was standing when they walked in, wrestling a pair of crutches into getting him where he wanted to go. When he realized he wasn't alone anymore he stopped, looking up at them. His face had regained some color, but the shadows under his eyes still showed up in stark contrast to the rest of him. He looked sickly.
"Rex," he said, and Rex felt something in his chest unclench when they made eye contact. The man's smile was exhausted, and cheerfully pleasant, and nothing else. Though this pained him slightly, the relief it also brought was far stronger.
"Caesar," Rex said, smiling back.
"I'm pleased that the backup programs on the disruptor worked. I'd hadn't expected we'd need them, but I'm glad I decided to be safer than sorry."
"Um, yeah-thanks for that save, by the way." Rex rubbed the back of his neck. "If we hadn't had those, then we'd probably still be stuck there."
"Not a problem, little brother." The man's smile warmed subtly, and that was all it took to remind Rex of another Caesar. Rex's heart started to pound. His own face fell, and he looked away.
"Rex?" The smile was gone from Caesar's voice. Rex wondered if he'd always pay this much attention to his hearing, after those recent events.
"Caesar," Rex said slowly. "We need to talk, hermano."
"What do you want to talk about?" Caesar asked.
"This," said Rex, waving a hand in the air between them, grasping for words. "All of it. You and me. Everything. This isn't just about that interdimensional mess, none of this is working, the way things are now. I don't want things to keep going this way." Rex floundered for a moment, wondering where all these words were coming from, before he remembered a kitchen with his brother and robots and chances lost, and then he knew.
"Going how?" Caesar asked, frowning slightly.
"Like that!" Rex retorted, pointing. "I say stuff, you don't, we both talk about nothing, and we both go home feeling confused and familyless. I'm through with it, done! Terminado!"
Caesar looked a little stunned, and Rex could sympathize, taken aback by himself.
Rex rolled with it. "I don't want things to be this way, and something tells me you don't really, too. Either we're brothers the way we want to be, or we're not brothers at all. That Caesar almost killed me back there. I don't want to go to sleep every night wondering if another one's out there waiting for me, or if you'll be the next when I die."
"Rex..." Caesar said quietly. Both of them seemed to have forgotten that Six was still in the room. "It's impossible to predict the future completely, but I swear to you that I have no intention of turning into him."
"That's not good enough," Rex retorted, surprising himself again. "I don't just want 'not a psycho', I want to know what's going on! I had no idea about half the stuff those Caesars were talking about until I talked with them, and they at least were saying something!"
"What sort of things did they talk about?" Caesar's eyebrows had drawn together, and Rex was getting more undivided attention from him than he'd gotten since his chaotic return after Breach's six-month jump. Rex took that as a good sign.
"You," Rex fumbled, shrugging. "Stuff. What life's been like for you, what you're thinking, what's up with you. You sometimes tell me what you're doing when I ask, but none of that says anything."
Caesar's face had closed off again, but there were cracks in his expression Rex knew hadn't been there before.
"Rex, there are things that are too dangerous to tell anyone at all." He sounded exhausted, and Rex noticed now that weariness was pained, as though it hurt him to talk. "Other things.. they're all classified," Caesar finished gravely.
"So, tell me about the things that aren't," Rex snapped back. "Find something! Hi, my name's Rex, and I think I'm probably going to have nightmares with your face in them for at least a few more weeks. How's your day been?"
Caesar looked taken aback. He fidgeted a little with his crutches, struggling to turn himself to face Rex more squarely. Rex vaguely was reminded of another Caesar tapping his cane to buy himself time to think.
"Hello, Rex," Caesar said slowly, visibly considering each word as it came to him. "I'm Caesar Salazar. Your brother. I'd rather not be in your nightmares, but-I suppose you'd rather not be in mine, either."
Rex frowned in surprise. "You have nightmares about me?"
Caesar shook his head, staring into space. "You and our parents. There was a time after the event when I'd thought you'd died with them," he said simply.
Rex stared, digesting the information. "Okay," he said at last. "See? That was good. We shared something, like normal brothers. Not like psycho siblings in some weird, messed up-whatever it was."
"Normal brothers don't always exercise good communication practices either, Rex," Caesar said reproachfully, and Rex rolled his eyes.
"You know what I meant. Just-so can we try again? Brothers?"
Caesar looked at him and Rex looked back. After a long moment of study, Caesar nodded slowly.
"If that's what you want."
"It is," said Rex, grinning slightly.
Things weren't perfect. Rex knew that their jobs would come between them soon enough, and that in the end he still wasn't really okay from what Caesar 81 had done, but in spite of it, maybe things might get better, and maybe - just maybe-things might be okay.