|She felt tears prick her eyes, and reached out for him as he moved away, missing the contact instantly.|
Her hands dropped to her sides limply, and she thought. She thought about the violence, and the terror, and the horrible things. She thought about the children she'd help raised, the ones still there.
She thought about the friends she'd made them go to, thought about real families with parents and bedtimes and walls.
She'd never had walls. They could.
And they didn't need her. Not anymore. Not really.
She slipped off the stool, falling and stepping forward until her body was pressed to Mal's, her arms coming around him and her halo flaring to life.
She thought about Snugglet, about the kids who could care for him there. About how her little family had changed so much, how new and old had circulated in and out. She thought about how, through it all, there'd only been the one constant.
Across the room, Jem sat up, and then scurried over to the two. He skimmed up Aft's leg, using Mal for leverage, and landed on her shoulder.
She thought about those of them still in the desert, still making their way back. She thought about those of them rebuilding their home.
The purple flashed, bright, and though a tear slipped out, a smile accompanied it.
Out on the street, not much could be made of the bar. Mostly closed up, not a lot of light inside, and not in a crowded part of the town anyway.
But little girls, especially bored ones, did tend to notice that kind of thing, and while her mother dashed in a store and left her on a bench just beside the street, she did watch. The two silhouettes, though she understood none of it, fell and stood and fell again, and she watched with the quiet curiosity that children have.
She covered her eyes when the interior lit purple, and when she opened them again, it was empty.
Her mother didn't believe her when she tried to tell the story.
Didn't keep her from forgetting it, though.
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