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This story arc has been published as a novel!

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You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To

The sun was shining brightly for the first time in several days and the air was crisp and cold. There was a thin rime of snow on the grass of the front lawn, but none of it had stuck to the street, so Suzanne felt all right wearing her heels. She was grateful for the warmth of her big pink down jacket and the fact that she'd chosen the calf-length brown corduroy skirt instead of the shorter black linen one she'd contemplated. The car was a welcome refuge from the chill breeze.

She was singing along with the radio when she pulled up at the mansion gate on Marigold Lane, and Simon's grin warmed her right down to her toes. As he trotted around to the passenger side. she admired the vision of him in black trousers, a Golden Guardian ski jacket, and leather boots. He hopped into the car, leaned across, and kissed her eagerly.

"Hi, there," he said, looking over his tinted glasses with melting honey eyes.

"Hi, there," she echoed.

They stared at each other, fairly tongue-tied for a minute.

"You're gorgeous," Simon said. "You keep surprising me that way."

Suzanne shook her head. "You're the one that's gorgeous. You take my breath away sometimes."

Simon shook his head, then leaned forward and butted her shoulder with his forehead in a friendly way. Suzanne felt laughter and a bizarre sensation bubbling up in her and thought Is this joy? Again? Finally?

"So where are we off to, lady?" Simon said. "Because if we don't go somewhere, I'm going to be all manly and drag you back up to my apartment."

Suzanne batted the back of his head. "Off, you neanderthal. We're going to dinner."

"The sun's still shining." He sat back properly and grinned.

"Early dinner, then."

"Where?"

"I was thinking about the Great Bird," she said.

Simon's eyebrows rose. "That's expensive. Are you sure?"

"Best food in town, I'm told, barring the Wonder Hotel's Coolidge Room," she said, putting the car in gear and pulling out into the lane.

"Well, then, pretty lady," Simon said, "you're in the driver's seat. Drive on."

The trip to the Great Bird was uneventful and lovely in the slanting golden rays of the setting sun. Suzanne took the most tree-lined streets to get there, and pulled into the parking lot serenely. They got out of the car and, holding hands, started toward the building with the Southwestern theme and enormous copper thunderbird sign.

Then the Kosmic Klaxon went off.

They both flinched because one of the speakers was not quite directly over their heads, but then they gave each other sweet, private smiles, remembering.

Simon glanced around and pointed, "There's the closest entry, I think."

Suzanne peered. "I think you're right."

"After you, Mrs. Robinson," Simon said, bowing. Then he straightened up quickly, looking upward. "Shit, incoming!" he said, leaping for her.

They both hit the ground, though Simon had rolled to take most of the impact. A light like a thousand thousand suns flashed over them, hot and blinding. But no explosion, no shockwave, nothing.

Suzanne blinked hard, her eyes watering against the searing light. Finally, the light dimmed just enough for the figure in the midst of it to become visible.

Tall and straight and muscular, red hair blazing over his shoulders, white robes shining, brilliant blue eyes locked on her. His perfect mouth opened and his perfect voice emerged.

"I am here for you, Suzanne."

Suzanne stared at him, felt Simon staring at her in turn, and managed to squeak out, "... Josh?"


----

A Note from the Author:
I've updated the ChipIn widget to account for the off-the-slate donations. The day that we hit the ChipIn goal, I'll post the next episode. Because surely you don't want to wait until next Monday for what happens next, right?





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