Part VII - Chapter 43 – Cookies and Perfect Drinks

Year 2170

Pete transported back to the lab which was dark except for a lamp over the dark tangled mess of Charles’s hair. Pete stood in the shadows of the room for several moments, it had taken him years to figure out how to finagle the bracelet to allow him to travel to any date and time that he wished but he still wanted to be sure that he had landed at the correct moment. After several moments of listening to the even breathing and soft snore of the scientist, Pete could finally hear what he had come for. There was a soft giggle from a child, quietly playing and singing to herself.

Seeing that it was safe, Pete silently moved across the room to a corner of the room. Livi was curled up in a tiny ball. She was holding the saddest rag as a kind of doll and talking to it as though it were a close friend. Pete noted that her only warmth was an old shirt covering her like a blanket.

“Livi,” whispered Pete.

Livi opened her eyes and at the sight of Pete she grinned from ear to ear. “Daddy said that you might come back for me.”

“Shhhh! We gotta be quiet before sneaking out on an adventure,” Pete said as he picked her up and balanced her on his hip while trying to fiddle with the bracelet to go back in time.

Livi rubbed her eyes with her tiny fist as though she were starting to become sleepy. “Daddy says I’m not ‘pos’d to go into the cubes.”

Balancing a squirming child and trying to adjust the time and date on the bracelet was proving to be much more difficult than he had expected. So, in an effort to stop the full range of questions from Livi and to better adjust the bracelet, he asked, “Can you give me a hug, darlin’?”

“Sure!” she exclaimed and wrapped her arms around him to give him a giant hug. “Hold on tight!” whispered Pete. Just as he dialed in the time and location, Charles began to stir awake. Pete held his breath hoping that they would escape before Charles fully awoke.

When the light faded away, they found themselves standing in a giant field with the sun shining down on them. Livi began to protest a bit as the sun hurt her eyes. “Hold on there, little lady,” Pete said to calm her down. He pulled sunglasses out of a vest pocket and balanced them over her tiny nose to cover her eyes which enabled her to open her eyes and study what was around her. As she took in the flowers, the grass, and the sky above, she began to giggle and clap her hands.

“Is this a cube? I’ve never been in a cube before! It smells soooo much better than the food and the lab and my dolly. What do you call this? And this? And this?”

About the only question that Pete was truly allowed enough time to answer was, “No, we’re above ground.”

She took a moment to process his response but as she studied him, she had another thought. “You look older and your hair is longer!” she exclaimed.

Pete laughed as he stood and picked her up. “It’s only been a few weeks since you last saw me, but it’s been a few years for me.” She giggled in response to his laugh without understanding what he was talking about. But as she looked across the field, she saw three people walking towards them from a distance.

“Ooooh!” exclaimed Livi in fascination but the closer they came, the more shy she became before she buried her face behind Pete’s knees. The individuals moving towards Pete were Lenore, Rachel, and James, only slightly older since their last conversation at the Winchester Mansion.

“Pete! How the hell are you?” asked James as he extended a hand to shake Pete’s.

Pete shook James’ hand before nodding to Lenore and Rachel to introduce the tiny figure wrapped behind his knee. “Livi, I would like you to meet some really good people. This is Lenore, James, and Rachel.” Livi continued to hide her face but smiled shyly at Lenore as Lenore waved back.

Pete picked her up before saying, “We should talk inside.”

“How did you know that I would be here?” asked Rachel. “I only took the mayor’s aide job a week ago and it’s only temporary until I decide what to do…”

Pete held up his wrist and responded, “Time traveler.”

Lenore was less interested in the comings and goings of Pete but was focused more on the picture of Pete carrying a child in clothes full of holes and dirt while clutching a rag that must have been some sort of doll or comfort blanket. As she watched the shy and abnormally pale and thin child, Lenore decided that her first-priority would be to help the child.

“Rachel, why don’t you take the child to look at the horses?” Rachel momentarily seemed irked to be relegated from a position of authority to the role of babysitter but the look on Lenore’s face told Rachel that any complaint would not be tolerated. Reluctantly, Rachel took the small child from Pete’s arms and carried Livi on her hip towards the stables. As soon as the two were out of earshot, Lenore turned to Pete before loudly whispering, “Pete where did you get a child?”

“From the future-“ came Pete’s vague response.

James frowned while lost in thought before voicing his concerns aloud. “I don’t mean to critique you but why is she here? What about the paradoxes? What if she is too frail and young to handle time travel and now she’s going to be unable to grow to adult-size?”

Pete studied James before responding. The young man still seemed worn through after his traumatic experience of being transplanted from one location to another, not to mention amnesia for an extended period and a battle against the supernatural. Pete had maintained a level of control with his travels while James had been a prisoner of the device. It was only natural that the young man would be afraid for any young person carried through time and the potential long-term ramifications.

Pete turned his attention from studying James to watch Livi in the distance before addressing James’ concerns. “You’ve actually met her mother – the ‘guide’ we met at the mansion.” When the mother and son nodded in recollection, Pete continued. “It’s a long story but Livi’s mother and I have actually known each other for quite a few years, in my timeline anyway. One of her requests was that she observed the three of you during your time at the mansion wanted you to raise her once we defeated the army of darkness at the mansion. She felt that you would best raise her while keeping her safe.”

The thought of a woman giving up her child caused Lenore to burst out the question, “Why isn’t she raising her child?” She hadn’t intended on voicing the question but the thought bubbled out in a rush.

“Raising a child as a ghost and in a haunted mansion didn’t seem like the best environment for Livi. Additionally, the mother felt that it was time to pass through the veil.”

“And the girl’s father?” asked James.

“Time doesn’t pass linearly for time travelers like Livi, her mother, or myself for that matter. Regarding the father, I’m not sure that the girl’s mother even knew who the father was. Long story short, a couple men knew her mother before she died but Charles believed that the mother belonged to himself and to no one else. When Charles discovered that she was pregnant and that the child was not his, he arranged for her discovery and for her death penalty.”

“But if she knew you or has known you for awhile, wouldn’t she want you to be a part of her life?” asked James. He thought back to when Pete was his father’s deputy. During that time, Pete had shared some of his less legal ventures which James, Shaun, and Gus had found fascinating. In fact, James suspected that part of why Shaun and Gus were so successful at posing as psychics was due to Pete’s influence. In James’ mind, Pete could certainly raise a child. It would be an unorthodox upbringing but then this was an unusual child.

Pete had continued to watch Livi in the distance as she pet the horses and giggled with delight when the animal would snort in her directions. But with James’ question, Pete finally turned to look back at Lenore and James. There was a darkness in Pete’s face as he replied, “I’m out for revenge which is not a world for a child. She deserves a stable home. One where she can hide away from the world and from history as a whole,” explained Pete. “At the end of the day, Livi’s mother and I decided that she must be with people who can help her find a sense of normalcy. A place that will value her innocence, imagination, and wonder for the world around her.”

Lenore nodded in understanding and while she did not agree with the decision, she looped an arm around both men’s arms and once between both men, she led them back towards the house. James had wanted to ask Pete more questions but one look from Lenore silenced him. It seemed that Pete was finished explaining himself for the moment which meant the walk to the house was filled with a weighted silence.

But while James was processing the information, Lenore found a smile beginning to grow inside of her. She couldn’t help but begin imagining the future. When Bowler had passed, a cloud had taken residence in the Lonefeather household. And then when James was finally returned, it was clear that he was still shaken to his core. Shawn and Gus had visited shortly after the funerals for Socrates, Aaron, and Whip but so much death and fear made Lenore wonder if anything could bring her son back to the present. Lenore had taken a temporary sabbatical, which the town respected but did not understand.

When Rachel came by to visit and expressed her renewed frustration of Hollywood, Lenore offered the role as mayoral aide. The addition of an attractive actress did help to change the atmosphere at the house. Rachel was a force to be reckon with but she also carried a smile that seemed to brighten through any depression or fear. While Lenore was certain that the girl had an unrequited affection for her son, she could not guess if anything would ever develop between the two. But watching Rachel take on her role as a mayoral aide, only solidified Lenore’s belief that the young actress could certainly be a part of Lenore’s town legacy. With the addition of Livi, Lenore could see Rachel and James fill the shoes of Bowler & Lenore while she could begin the process of retiring back to being a maternal figure to the child of the future. Before following James and Pete into the house, she turned to watch Livi squirm her way out of Rachel’s arms and sprint towards the house before tripping over her own feet. The girl giggled loudly which caused both Lenore and Rachel to laugh at the child’s delight with the world. The sound of the combined laughter shattered the last few clouds over the Lonefeather house. Livi skipped past Lenore into the kitchen with Rachel right behind, both were still beaming ear-to-ear.

“Pete! Pete! Pete!” exclaimed Livi. “I saw a horse! A real one! Well, a few of them. And guess what? It sneezed on me. It was silly. And then we picked a couple flowers and Miss Rachel put them in my hair but I was running too fast and they all fell out-“

“How about some cookies?” asked Rachel.

“Oooh! Cookies are my favorite,” encouraged James.

Lenore smiled and watched both Rachel and James guide Livi to the kitchen with the promise of cookies. Everything seemed to make Livi giggle and the latest cause for laughter was simply the word “cookie.” The child proclaimed the word to be a funny name for something so sweet before she moved onto to talk about the next thing that caught her attention without taking a breath.

Lenore sat at the table, the same one used as Rachel’s surgery in what felt like eons ago. There had been so much tragedy and angst but in this moment, Lenore felt like she had a new motivation for life. A family that she could focus on. A new matriarchal mission to drive her life towards. Life would never be what it was before her husband had passed but she felt reinvigorated about what her new normal and new life would look like. After a few moments, she let go of the dream to refocus on Pete. He had a serious expression and had remained standing near the door as though about to sneak out. As Lenore watched Pete, she realized that he was about to leave. He was calculating the exact moment to disappear while Livi would be distracted with cookies.

She only had a few moments to ask the question that had been on her mind since Pete appeared out of nowhere with the child in his arms. It was now or never.

Lenore cleared her throat before saying as nonchalantly as she could muster, “Pete falling in love and having a child, who’d have thought?”

“Never said that I fell in love or that the child is mine,” commented Pete in the gruffest voice that he could muster. Pete gave one last look at Livi before he was satisfied that the child was indeed distracted and he tipped his hat to signal his goodbye.

“Anything else you would like us to teach her? Aside from morals, wonderment of the world, imagination, and the like?”

Pete smiled impishly before responding, “You teach her the morals and I’ll teach her the best cons as she grows up.”

“So, we will we see you again?” asked Lenore in shock.

“Now and again,” came his sing song response. “Be seeing you,” he said before exiting the house. A familiar noise and blinding light came from outside the house but Lenore didn’t need to look outside to know that Pete had disappeared.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Brisco lost count regarding how many visits, cups of coffee, or jokes that he was able to share with Bowler. He was even able to occasionally chat with James as he grew up, under the strict rule to never speak of it to his friends. Especially, James’ childhood friends Gus and Shaun. Unfortunately, Brisco had been feeling the pain that Pete and Doc had discussed as a side effect. In fact, the last two jumps had not only resulted in excruciating pain but nose bleeds.

As the familiar light and noises faded, Brisco had to put his hands on his knees to steady himself. It took quite a few minutes before Brisco was able to slowly stand back up. In fact, there was still ringing in his ears and it was difficult to walk steadily as Brisco began the short walk through Hard Rock towards Bowler’s house. Upon arriving on Bowler’s deck, Brisco took a quick look in one of the windows lit by a nearby lantern to ensure that he had wiped away all of the blood off of his face.

After ensuring that the blood was cleared off his face, Brisco quietly moved around the side of the house towards the guestroom which he knew had become Bowler’s bedroom. Bowler’s cancer had spread and no one could carry him upstairs to bed anymore, so the household had converted the spare room into a place of peace and rest for Bowler.

“Well!” came Bowler’s voice, this time weakened by the cancer. “Don’t you look like death!” his chuckle turned in a cough as Brisco sat down.

“Me? You look the worst for wear.”

“I do what I can,” laughed Bowler. “So, I see you still time travelin’.”

“Yea, seems so.”

“How much longer you think you’ll live?”

“Probably not much longer than you,” Brisco admitted. “At least, Pete gave me this time with you. Whatever happens after today, it was worth the cost.”

“Well, that’s about the nicest thing you ever said about me… and the sappiest thing. Don’t get all soft on me,” Bowler said as he rolled his eyes. “How ‘bout the comin’ thing or, as I like to call it, the perfect drink?”

Brisco’s eyebrow raised. “The perfect drink?” Brisco exclaimed as he stood back up, slapping his knees in the process. He walked over to a bar that had been set up on a nearby table, as though Bowler had been expecting him.

“Place mint leaves and limes in a glass” instructed Bowler. “Add ice. Pour rum and soda water over the drink.”

Brisco took a sip before smiling at Bowler. “This really is the perfect drink.”

“It’s called a mojito.”

As Brisco made a second one for Bowler to enjoy, he studied Bowler. His frame had greatly sunken as the cancer had overtaken his body. Catching Brisco’s concerned gaze, Bowler broke the silence. “I think this really is the last visit.”

“Bowler,” muttered Brisco with lump in his throat. “I don’t-“ began Brisco but he couldn’t finish the statement. Instead, Brisco elected to stare into his glass and to drink it rather than be forced to say good-bye.

“Now don’t be getting’ all mushy on me.”

“Really Bowler - you’re the best friend I ever had.”

“Well, who else would put up with you and all them crazy adventures and inventions? Anyone else would have run soon as they met you.”

“True,” admitted Brisco in an attempt to be as lighthearted as Bowler wanted the time to be. Brisco took another drink as he studied the angel above Bowler’s bed, “Don’t forget our deal.”

Bowler smiled and said, “When the angel comes to take my hand, I’ll make sure that you can hitch a ride. But if it ain’t your time, I’ll be sure to come back for you myself.”

The two men shook hands and to Brisco’s amazement the light began to swirl around him. “What the hell?” exclaimed Brisco. “It’s never been this fast.”

“Maybe it knows we terrible at goodbyes!” laughed Bowler before it was lost in a flurry of coughs. Before long, the light had died around Brisco but he was again in severe pain. As he lifted his head, he wiped his nose but found that his ears had also started to bleed. At this rate, Brisco felt that if he did even one more jump, there was a strong chance it could be his last.

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