Echo, Part 15

“Why are you laughing?”

“I’m sorry,” Charles held up a hand in apology and then, once he had controlled himself, he added, “It’s just that it is all so crazy.”

Veronica seemed confused.  “What do you mean?”

“Well, here we are, two people on the run from the government because of things we’ve thought, not things we’ve done, and we are trusting in a system, or the people behind that system, to help see us through this crazy situation.  We have been forced together due to a similar circumstances, and there is some comfort in knowing that we do not face the future alone.  And yet, I have found my own thoughts to be childish and you are proud of them?  You admire the very thoughts that the FBI thought was enough of a crime to hunt me down.”

“What of that is funny?”

“None of it.”

She seemed to be growing annoyed, “So, again, why did you laugh?”

“Because sometimes that’s all we can do.”

Charles turned to walk away but Veronica put a hand on his shoulder to keep him there.

“We are in this together, now, you know?”

“I know.”

“The system says they are working on our new credentials, our new lives, but now that they’ve put us together they will have to keep us together.”

“I know.”

“So we might as well make the best of this and attempt to be friendly.”

“I agree.”

“I’m not as crazy as you think I am.”

She smiled warmly and Charles couldn’t help but smile back.  “I’m learning that.”

“Good.”

Charles put a hand on Veronica’s and gave it a squeeze, expecting her to release him, and she still held on.  He looked at her questioningly and she winked at him before saying, “If you ever need to talk about those thoughts again, I’m here for you.”

“I appreciate that but you can trust what I said before.  I have no intention of ever acting on those thoughts.  I have no interest in suicide.  I never really did.  I want to see what happens next.  I will always want to see what happens next because there will always be something else, there will always be more.”

“And that’s why I’m proud of you.”

Veronica released him with that and walked away.  Charles watched her go.  Despite the rocky start to their time together he was starting to feel like the coming days could end up being very exciting.

It took him a moment to realize he’d been standing there for quite some time, lost in his thoughts of the past and future.  A quick glance at a nearby clock confirmed it was time for him to check in with the system.  Turning around, he went to the garage and ducked into the car.

“Hello, Charles.”

“How do you know it is me?”

“As you know, this car can read some of your biometrics and you have a very different signature than Veronica.”

“Obviously.”

“We have good news to report.  You and Veronica will be able to leave this location shortly.  We have all the details worked on the next steps.  If you’ll go and get her, we can walk you through them.”

Charles left the car without a word.  This was the first time that the system had asked to speak to them at the same time and while he was a bit nervous about that change to the protocol that had been established he was excited to hear what the system had come up with.  What were they going to do about the chips in their heads?  Where was the new safe house going to be?  What were their new identities?  And, likely, what other problems and solutions had arisen that would need to be addressed?

And, begin:

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