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“Mr. Gowda—”

I hung up on his protests and stood, dropping the phone onto the bed. “I’m sorry about that. Let me take her. You get some rest.”

“I hate that those people call here,” she complained, placing Sanjukta gently in my hands.

I drew my infant daughter close, smiling down at her sleepy face, her dark eyes almost closed. Looking up, I said, “I hate it as well. They’ll stop eventually.”

Nandini snorted her disbelief and climbed back into the bed, rolling over to face the wall. Her breathing leveled out in minutes, telling me that she had drifted back to sleep.

Sanjukta was less obliging. I left the bedroom, walking slow circles around the living room as I waited for her eyes to close. “Would you like to hear a story, my love? It’s about some very brave people and the way they tried to change the world.”

I wasn’t lying to that reporter when I told him I didn’t know where Shaun and Georgia—the second Georgia—were. They sent their posts and articles via blind relay. They sent their very rare postcards much the same way. So far as I knew, they were somewhere in the vast empty reaches of Canada, making a life for themselves. Maybe they had come back into the United States to rejoin Dr. Abbey—a few of her letters had led me to believe she might have seen them, at least briefly—but I doubted those would ever be more than visits. The Masons had lived and died in the public eye. Now, finally, they were free of it, and they were living for themselves, rather than living for anyone else. I wasn’t going to be the one to take that away from them.

Especially not now. They were clever to vanish when they did, while the world was still reeling from their final revelations. Things exploded not long after. The new director of the CDC, Dr. Gregory Lake, publicly redirected their research into reservoir conditions and possible vaccination paths, while privately redirecting it into spontaneous remission and transmittable immunity. Oversight committees were called, and arrests were made through all levels of several governments. The world slowly began to change as the people began, finally, to rise.

Maggie recovered, and remained with the site. Her parents even assisted in funding replacements for the equipment we’d lost, both to disaster, and when the Masons insisted on reclaiming their van. Alaric and Alisa moved in with her; Alaric and Maggie will be getting married in the spring, mirroring the ceremony into several virtual worlds for the sake of those of us who have had quite enough of the United States for now, thank you very much.

Alaric took over the Newsies; one of our more promising betas—another George, amusingly enough, although he goes by “Geo” to prevent confusion—took over the Irwins; and I? I took over the entire operation, with Maggie as my second. We work well together. Maybe it’s not as flashy and exciting as it was during the Mason era, but it does well enough by us.

We changed the world. That’s all the news can hope to do, I suppose.

The last postcard I had from the Masons came not a week before that reporter’s early-morning call. It summed up the whole situation rather neatly:

“Still having a wonderful time. Still glad you’re not here.

All our love—G&S.”

Sanjukta sighed, drifting back into sleep. I kissed her on the forehead as I turned to carry her back to her own room, where I settled her down on the mattress of her crib. She fussed, but didn’t wake.

I drew the blanket over her and backed out of the room, pausing in the doorway to whisper, “They may not have lived happily ever after. But they lived happily long enough.”

And then I turned, and I went back to bed.


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