“You’ve got to be the luckiest girl on the planet to have a friend like me…”
“I’m still mad at you.”
I’m sorry, but I am literally carrying Karina like a princess up the stairs to my apartment, so she can’t be too upset at me.
I won’t get into any of the stupid hijinks we got to in our return trip back from R8PR’s hideout, but I will say that running into not one, not two, but THREE muggers is so statistically unlikely in modern-day Atlanta that I feel that the technological dieties are looking down at us with revenge in their hearts. I did not want to get in so many fights when all I wanted to do was get home and get some sleep…
With a special maneuver that I dub the “Can’t wait to get back to the room,” I continue to hold Karina in my arms while, with just my hands and the twisting of my legs, I manage to grab my house keys out of my pocket, and insert them into the door.
To say I have mastered this technique would be an understatement. I pioneered this technique.
“Here we are,” I tell Karina after I push the door open with my shoulder. “I’m letting you down now.”
“Wait, not yet…”
“Oh, fine.” I walk further, into my bedroom, where I set Karina down gently and put a pillow under her head. “Here we are, Ms. Kodama.”
“Thanks, Harding.” She looks at me, reaches out to me. “Are you coming to bed yet?”
“Oh, I was just going to sleep on the couch tonight,” I say.
She giggles. “No you weren’t. Come on. You’re as tired as I am.”
“Well, yeah, but…” It doesn’t take more than a second of hesitation before I climb into bed next to her. I put my head against her back and put my arm around her.
I don’t even have the energy left to change into pajamas…
“I care about you a lot, Karina. And I’m sorry for everything I did.” I whisper it, even though we’re the only two in the whole apartment. Even though we’re right next to each other.
“Me too. I’m sorry. And, Morgan, with all my heart, I just want to say that I…”
She doesn’t respond, because she fell asleep mid-sentence. I remove her glasses and place them on the nightstand, and then take off my shorts and throw them in a random direction.
Karina Kodama. A lifesaver, a brilliant mind. Stubborn as steel. My best friend.
She’ll be leaving Atlanta in a couple weeks, going so far away I’m not sure how we’ll ever communicate. What she’s going there for, to see her grandmother probably for the last time, is very important. I still have a tinge of sadness inside me, but I know that’ll pass. It doesn’t matter how far apart we are, or how long we might be separated; Karina and I are a dynamic duo. And nobody can take that away from us, but us.
We’ll find Jones together. We’ll discover the Ascendants together. We’ll save Atlanta together, and we’ll have a buttload of fun. doing it.
With every fiber of my quasi-human being, Karina, I care about you.
And then I fall asleep with you in my arms.