Carlos hated to admit it, but Rose was right. The Dolores Flower helped Tess.
His little girl was back to her old self and that was all that matters.
But Carlos also knew that his little girl could go back to her depressed state at any moment and that put him more on edge. He never wanted her to go back to that state again.
Carlos even thought about packing up Tess and leaving NightVale behind for good after he got high radiation readings from Radon Canyon; but his love of science along with Derek and Rose moving here kept him from didn't want to leave the few people that were Tess's support.
It had nothing to do with the a certain radio host that had joined his small family in an unlikely way. Being bestie's with Rose.
Nobody could replace Amy, but Rose had grown attached to Cecil in a sister/brotherly way. In fact, they teased each other like real siblings and were protective of each other.
Cecil always warned Rose of danger before it happened and informed her of Nightvale laws that could get her in trouble. Rose in turn was there to listen to Cecil, giving him advice when needed, and even told off a few people in his defense.
Of course Carlos didn't know of any of this till later. He was too busy with Tess and science to pay much attention to anything else.
Carlos kept very busy in the science part of his life with all that was happening with the town. Between Radon Canyon, the mysterious pyramid, the wheat and wheat by products, and all the other abnormalities in the town it was a wonder he had time to care for Tess.
Then one day after Carlos took Tess to Rose's, one of the most terrifying days since Carlos moved to town happened. Street cleaner day.
Carlos just got to the lab when Derek grabbed him and pushed him in the emergency room, slamming the door shut behind him.
"What is going on?" asked Carlos.
"Street cleaner day." stated Derek as he locked the door.
"And what is that?" asked Carlos as he looked around the group of equally confused scientists.
"Don't look at us." said Josh.
"Derek pushed us all in here without telling us anything." said Chris.
"Do you guys not listen to the radio." said Derek "Cecil just announced street cleaner day. Everyone has to take shelter from the cleaners. Anyone who doesn't, gets killed."
It took a moment for that to sink in, before the group heard sounds coming from outside. It sounded like a humming, vacuum on the other side of the metal door. Then the banging on the door started.
"We should be safe in here." said Derek as he looked at his phone "Rose and the kids are safe too."
That put some of the worry off of Carlos, but that didn't answer the question of if Cecil was safe. Even though Carlos would hate to admit it, the man had started to grow on him.
Just then, Rochelle turned on the radio and Carlos had to stop himself from sighing with relief as he heard that man's voice.
They all sat there listening to the radio and waiting for the all clear, so they can leave. Some prayed that the door would hold, while others just wanted to talk and hold their love ones.
Finally the banging stopped and the humming went away. A few moments later, Cecil gave the all clear, and everyone rushed out of the room.
Carlos, followed by Derek, ran to the Derek's house to check on the family. (Derek always walked to work since they didn't live that far away.)
After confirming that everyone was safe there, there was a knock on the door.
Carlos opened the door, without putting dow Tess, and was relieved at seeing the radio host on the other side. Cecil looked out of breath as he stood there wide-eyed, like he was soaking in everything for the first time. (Carlos didn't realize till later that he was doing the same thing when Derek pointed it out to him.)
They stood there gazing at each other till Tess snapped them back to reality by leaning out of Carlos's arms towards Cecil, who gladly took her.
"Why don't you two come inside and we can have a cook out?" suggested Rose.
"That sounds like an awesome plan." said Derek as he made his way to the kitchen to start supper.
"I think so too." said Carlos as he moved aside to let Cecil and Tess inside. Carlos smiled to himself as he closed the door behind them, thinking how lucky he was that everyone he cared about was safe.
The following weeks were no different. Between time slowing down, the sandstorm, and all other NightVale craziness, Carlos was growing more and more frustrated. Nothing made sense and all that made him more reckless.
Pain. That's all Carlos felt was pain. All he could see was darkness. He could hear shouts and screams, but he couldn't focus enough to make out words. He could make out a far away voice crying, but not the words.
Then it all disappeared and he was at the bus stop, surrounded by mist as it swirled all around him. Besides the bench and sign, he couldn't see anything else.
'How did I get here? What's going on?' he thought looking around.
"I say this is limbo. Not quite dead, not quite alive. Right in the middle." said a voice from behind him.
He whipped around so fast he could have given himself whiplash. He couldn't believe who he was looking at. She looked just like she did the last time he saw her, only she wore all white.
"Amy?" Carlos asked in a whisper.
"The one and only, tiger." Amy said with a wink.
"How?" asked Carlos looking around in confusion.
"Let's just say City Counsel is wrong." said Amy.
"That makes so much sense." said Carlos sarcastically.
"I am a guardian angel, genius. I guide and protect. How do you think you all lived so long? Luck? Maybe, but it was mostly me. I put in suggestions and warnings in his head. I reassured you, guiding you in the right direction. I directed dangers away from you guys." she explained "Of course, you choose to ignore me now and look what happened. It is always your choice in the end. I can only guide after all."
"His head?" asked Carlos.
"Cecil's. How do you think he knows so much? He unknowingly hears angels. We guide him. Not just him either. We are the little voice in your head that talks to you. Sometimes you talk to yourself, but most of the time its an angel. Cecil relies our messages the best, so we communicate through him the most. Not all the time. Only when there is immediate danger. Example being, Street Cleaner day." explained Amy, pausing to let it sink in before continuing.
"He had a warning in a sense before even getting the information. He knew something bad was going to happen that day, so he went to work early. If he hadn't, a lot of people would have died including himself." Amy clarified, "It's not like he has a magical, third eye that sees everything."
'Yet.' she thought as she looked at Carlos, waiting for everything to sink in further.
"He doesn't listen to us all the time thou." said Amy.
She remembered the sandstorm and he told everyone not to kill their double. He followed his words and didn't kill his. That will come back and bite him in the butt later on.
"I know how that is. He can be stubborn." chuckled Carlos.
"You can be too." said Amy "Point and blank. You wouldn't be here if you had listened to me."
"I was wondering when you were going to rub it in." muttered Carlos.
"Every chance I get." smirked Amy.
"What's going on?" asked Carlos getting serious again.
"I already said. Limbo. Not very many people get a chance like this." said Amy sitting down on the bus seat. She patted it as a gesture for him to follow suit. He did.
"How do I get out?" he asked "I don't think I can stay here forever."
"You can't stay. You are right about that." she said "You have to choose."
"Choose?" wondered Carlos.
"Whether to go back, or move on." said Amy "What are you going to do?"
"Tess needs me. I need to go back. I can't leave her alone. She already lost you, she can't lose me too." said Carlos. He was surprised she even asked him that.
"She is not the only one." said Amy.
"What?" asked Carlos.
"You heard me." said Amy "Why are you afraid to open your heart to that man?"
"I don't understand…" said Carlos.
"You do understand. That's what freaks you out. He loves you. Why can't you let him in? He is crying right now for you." said Amy suddenly waving her hand in the air and Carlos can see Cecil threw the mist. Cecil is crying uncontrollably and holding a trophy in his hands. It looked like he was trying to talk, but couldn't. Amy waved her hand and the scene faded away.
"And don't give me the poor excuse of not wanting to because of Tess. He loves her like she is his daughter as well. Cecil still loves you even when he found out you were a father. He grieved over my death, even thou he had only known me for a few days. I am your ex and mother of your child. He still cried for me, for Tess, and for you. He wears his heart on his sleeve, even the times it doesn't seem like he does. He is kind, decent, very genial person. Sure, he has a dual personality, but that makes him Cecil. It is not easy growing up in Night Vale." she said "You love him. Why not ask him out? He has been waiting for you. Patiently, I might add."
"It's not that simple." said a red faced Carlos, from embarassment, or anger he didn't know.
"Loves is never simple. Also life is never simple, but it is short. Why not take the risk with your heart? You never know if it is worth the risk unless you go for it." said Amy "He is not going to break your heart. You have more of a chance of breaking his heart than he does yours."
"Why do I get the feeling you are just saying all this to get your OTP together?" joked Carlos after a long awkward pause.
"I care about you. You deserve happiness, Carlos. Cecil deserves happiness as well." said Amy.
"I have missed you, Amy." said Carlos with tears in his eyes "Tess has too."
"I miss you both as well. I do the best I can for you now, even if it means yelling at you and calling you an idiot. I just want want is best for you and Tess." said Amy as she stood up "Our time is almost up. It is time for you to go back."
"How?" asked Carlos.
"Just open your eyes." said Amy with a smile "Next time I sec better be from old age."
"No promises, but I will try." said Carlos before closing his eyes. Flashes of his life zoomed past his eyes. He saw everyone he cared about, but one scene shone through the most. It wasn't that surprising that it had Tess and the voice of Night Vale himself in it.
Then Carlos heard Cecil and he knew he had to follow that beautiful voice back.
"Let him have your heart. You already have his. You won't regret it." he heard as he faded away.
The next thing Carlos knew was that he was in pain again and laying on the ground in the bowling alley. The pain wasn't as bad as before thou.
Carlos slowly opened his eyes and tried to sit up. He was gently pushed back down by a few hands.
"Hey, Carlos. Stay still and awake." said Teddy Williams as he tended to his wounds.
"I got to go." stuttered Carlos trying to sit up again and clear his dry throat in the process.
"Carlos, listen. You are injured. Teddy is treating your wounds. You need to stay still and get treatment. Rose is with Tess. I called her and told her you were ok. You can see Tess later." explained Derek as he held Carlos down.
"Cecil." muttered Carlos.
"I called Cecil as well. He knows you are ok. In fact, all of Night Vale knows you are alive." said Derek "No surprise there."
Derek got a few chuckles around the room at that, even from Teddy and Carlos.
"Anyway, just relax and listen to Teddy. He is almost done. In fact, I can finish him up. It looks like you are needed over there." Derek said motioning with his head over to the crowd on other side of the room. Teddy jumped up and ran over there as Derek continued wrapping Carlos's wounds.
"What's going on?" coughed Carlos trying and failing to sit up again to get a better look.
"The Apache Tracker. He just collapsed from his injuries." said Derek as he finished "He was the one to jump in and drag you out. I guess he was injured. Stay here and don't move. I am going to go check on him."
Derek walked over and immediately got on his cellphone. He talked for a few minutes before hanging up and walking back over.
"What happened?" croaked Carlos.
"The Apache Tracker…" said Derek. He didn't know how to break the news to his friend.
"Just tell me." begged Carlos.
"He died, Carlos." said Derek handing him some water.
"Who did you call?" asked Carlos dry swallowing and taking a drink of water.
He couldn't feel the pain anymore, he was so numb all of the sudden. That could have been him. He could have died and left the two people he cared about the most.
"I called the Radio station. Had to get the word out about his death somehow." said Derek "It seemed like the right thing to do."
"Yea, I agree." said Carlos "Help me up."
"You need…" said Derek before Carlos interrupted him.
"I need to get up. I need to leave. I want to leave. I have something to do before seeing Tess. Please." said Carlos holding out his hand for Derek to pull him up with.
"Fine, since you said please." said Derek with a sigh. He grabbed Carlos's hand and helped him up. He held onto Carlos till he could stand without failing down. Derek looked down at Carlos and winced. Carlos had blood all over his shirt, pants, and lab coat. Derek didn't want to think about how much was Carlos's, or the Apache Tracker's.
"Follow me out to my car before you do whatever you have to do." said Derek as he guided Carlos outside.
"Wait here." said Derek as he left Carlos in front of the car. He dug around his trunk for a few minutes. While he was doing that, Carlos texted Cecil to see if he could meet up with him in the Arby's parking lot when he can. Cecil texted back that he can meet him in fifteen minutes and if that was ok. Carlos answered him before Derek came back around with a red flannel shirt and jeans.
Derek noticed Carlos had a goofy grin on his face that he dubbed as his Cecil smile. Whenever Carlos talked to, about, and possibly thought about Cecil, he got this grin.
"You are around my size. Here." said Derek trying to hide his grin as he handed Carlos the clothes.
"I can't…" said Carlos.
"You can and you will. I can't let Cecil and Tess see you like this." said Derek gesturing to all of Carlos. Carlos looked at himself for the first time since he almost died and gladly took the clothes.
"You can change at Arby's." said Derek as he pulled Carlos into a manly hug "By the way, welcome back to the living."
"Thanks, but how did you know…" said Carlos as Derek pulled away from him.
"Wife." smirked Derek, waving his cellphone in view before putting it back in his coat.
"And Cecil?" wondered Carlos.
"Yea, he texted her before even announcing it on air." said Derek "You better go."
"See you later." said Carlos saluting him before turning towards his car.
"See ya." said Derek as Carlos walked away "Go get him, lover boy!" Derek yelled suddenly making Carlos trip. Carlos glared back at a smirking Derek, trying to control his growing blush before getting in his car.
Before Carlos knew it, he was turning into the Arby's parking lot. He parked where he could get the best spot to see Cecil's car and ran inside to change. He got changed as fast as possible and threw his dirty clothes in the trunk before sitting down.
He took this chance to think about everything that happened and has happened. Amy's words kept going through his mind and he knew he would regret this if he kept pushing Cecil away. It wasn't because of Tess that he did it. He didn't keep Cecil at arms length to protect her. He used his own daughter as an excuse to run away from his feelings and not get his heart broken in the end.
He did it because he was scared of his feelings for the other man. His feelings ran so deep for Cecil. He never felt like this for another person before. Deep down, Carlos thought he didn't deserve that kind of love and it would shatter his heart if a break up ever happened.
Amy was right. (He never thought he would say that ever again.) Cecil would do anything for Carlos. Carlos didn't have anything to fear except losing him to death.
So, why not take the risk?
After Cecil left, Carlos sat for a little while longer, before he texted Rose. Everyone was at his apartment waiting on him, so he got in his car and drove there.
As soon as he opened the door, he was ambushed. Tess ran into his arms, while Rose and Zander didn't even wait for them to have a tender moment before joining the hug. His team of scientists, minus Derek, followed suit and soon Carlos was in the middle of a huge bear hug with everyone.
Tears were shed, tender words were said, and a few smacks were given before everyone left him and Tess alone.
All that time, Tess didn't let him go, but she didn't say anything either.
"Tess, are you ok?" asked Carlos as he sat down on the couch with her. He noticed her knuckles were white and that she wouldn't look at him when he tried to look at her better.
"La princess, are you ok?" asked Carlos this time using his nickname for her. He wasn't expecting the result he got. Tears started soaking through his shirt as she sobbed into his shoulder.
"It's ok. I am fine, Tess. I am here. I am not going anywhere." said Carlos as he stroked her head.
"No, it isn't ok. I almost lost you like I did mommy." choked out Tess as she continued to cry. It broke Carlos's heart to know that he put her through this again.
Sure, living in Night Vale was dangerous. He knew that, but putting himself in deliberate danger was crossing the line. He let his frustrations over his failed experiments and data that didn't make sense cloud his mind to the point of jumping into potential danger without a second thought. If that had been anyone else, he would have told them off. Safety was top priority. He should never forget that, especially in Night Vale.
He held his daughter tight, stroking her hair, rubbing circles into her back, and rocked her as she cried. When she finally calmed down, he gently pried her hands away from his neck to look at her face to face. He put his forehead on hers and looked into her eyes.
"Tess, I am so sorry for scaring you tonight. I promise I will not leave you like mommy. Well, if I can absolutely help it. That means, I will not go jumping into danger anymore. Unless I can't help it. Got it?" asked Carlos "I can't make a defiant promise that I won't get hurt, or worse. But I will try not to."
"Ok, daddy. But that doesn't mean I forgive you." pouted Tess.
"I know. I didn't expect you too. How about tomorrow I take you to Build-A-Bear workshop and/or spend the whole day with you, doing whatever you want." suggested Carlos.
"Well, that's a start." said Tess. Carlos chuckled at that and kissed her forehead, before announcing it was bed time.
Tomorrow was going to be a busy day and for once, Carlos was looking forward to it.
I guess this is the end story. I may write more chapters. It is possible, but it won't follow any other episodes. If I do, they most likely will be one shots.
But for now, this is sadly the end.
Anyway, I am sorry for the delay and if this chapter sucks. I had a hard time writing it. Thanks for everything you did. I really do appreciate it. I had fun writing this story. (until I got huge writer's block that is.)
Thanks again for everything! Bye!