Pete The Geek (Chapt 14)

Morale

Nal Leaves

I knew Nal would leave when the first ship docked. I told myself not to make him my life.
Told myself to let Peter and his Dad to bond, because when Superboy left Pete would
only have memories.

Memories used to be things that had happened. Now they were things I did.
I made memories.

Every morning as I woke, I spent a minute looking at Nal. Memorising how he looked, how he smelled, how he felt when I touched him. I took every gesture, word, expression, because I knew one day he would be gone.

I had never lived in the 'Now' as I'd heard it called. I never put so much weight on how another person sat or held a cup or raised an eyebrow. But I did with Nal.

Because one day...when the supply ship docked....
And the supply ship docked.

Nal was sitting on the sofa, I was walking towards him when the announcement came over the intercom that a supply ship would dock in four hours..

He reached for me, pulled me to his body. I stood dead. I knew then he cared about me. It was the first time I believed he cared...
and knowing this was the end....
feeling his body next to mine, smelling him, hearing his heartbeat...this is was all I will get.

"Tell Pete," I say softly.

He let go of me, went to Pete's room. Went as if it was just any day and took him to the Park.

Nal and his son walked out as if it were any day, not the last day.
I stood forever. This wasn't a surprise.
It just felt like it.

I should cry, but I didn't. I walked around the house, straightening, letting the memories
I had saved come falling down, letting my eyes fill until they couldn't hold any more.

When Pete came home, tears covering his face I wanted to believe Nal had cried as well .
I don't know, I can't be sure, but I wanted to believe....as Pete grabbed me, Nal went into the bedroom we had shared, then out of the house without a word, without a glance.

It happened so fast that by the time Pete realised his father had left the house, it was too late. Nal was gone. Gone forever.

Pete began horrible gulping sobs, and I went into my room, leaving him cry.
I refused to cry,

Pete slept in my bed that night, and though he didn't want to go to school, I had to
go to work. I shipped him off, rode my bicycle to the 'Office.'

I acted as if nothing was wrong and for hours I didn't remember anything was wrong.

Being weak

I grokked that once Nal away from here, from me, from Pete, he'd revert. He'd get to Super Planet, mix and mingle, and never let anyone know he'd sullied himself with someone like me.

He'd meet a Supergirl, who'd take him, enjoy him, bear his perfect child. He would never tell her what happened on Smudge, what happened in the lounge of the Space Truck, or here, on Morale.

At least Pete had met his father, seen him go from 'Lonely Pony' to a member of society.
That's more than he might have expected to get.

Sometimes I felt wicked for having gotten Nal's key from Ahmet and migrating here, forcing
him to follow then get stuck for six months.

But mostly I was grateful for the six months.

I knew some place in me where lies can't penetrate that I'd never see Nal again. I knew it, but kept thinking that he'd come back, he'd send a message, he'd keep in touch. I might joke it away, but it kept coming back.

Each day it got harder, not easier. Each day I went lower and lower, until I didn't even want to get out of bed.

Morale was a place to be born and a place to die, but not to live.
I couldn't stay here.

I sent messages to my family, all the rags of cousins and aunts I could recall, as well
as to my parents.

Message after message, It was going to be first response. I had to leave Morale,
take Pete to some world, live some life. Some life....

I knew I'd find myself on a Spuck going to Smudge.
I knew no matter what I promised myself, what I dreamed, I would go back to being Pete the Geek, as if five years fell off the calendar.

And I knew, despite knowing it was stupid, that I was going to look for Nal.

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