Chapter 5: Forever.

So much of them had died that day. What was left was something else. For a while the group had clung to their past, meeting with the Chi when they could, catching up on the family business. But they were so far removed. The words seemed somehow hollow and unimportant. Fleeting sounds of silence between constant battles.

They could never go home. Years had passed and they remained unchanged. Like dried flowers, only the color remained. How old were they? What year was it? When did it begin?

Marco on the outside aged, and changed. He got into a degree of business at the community collage. His dad had wanted him to do science, he'd gotten the grades for it. But Marco wanted to own a shop. His father finally relented when Marco had reminded him that he had his whole life to try out different things. One night, Marco had a friend home from Collage. The kid was a bit weird. Peter tried to be friendly, but there was something about her that had just freaked him out. Especially when the girl gave him a gruff, manly hug and had almost cried when he introduced his second wife…

Rachel never went home. But that didn't mean that she didn't follow them for a while. In fact she stalked them. Would follow them around the Mall. Watch herself and her sisters from a safe distance. At one point, she'd thought about pulling a Marco and morphing someone random, going up and greeting herself like an old friend. But then she saw Rachel giving Jordan a sisterly shove, and Jordan actually laughing. Rachel realized that she hadn't been replaced. She'd been improved. She'd stopped tracking them after that.

Cassie morphed osprey and glided into the barn. She'd heard him r moving about earlier that morning. And with no battle planned, she decided to spend some time observing.

Cassie was helping her dad mend a broken wing on the old operating slab. The young woman was well on her way to becoming a vet. Her parents were so proud. Her dad, sensing he was being watched, looked up from his delicate work to spot the bird.

"Huh?" he looked confused and Cassie realized how stupid she'd been. Osprey liked to hang around water. And the closest thing they had to the ocean or a lake was a small creek a few Kilometers away. Cassie followed his line of sight and spotted the bird amongst the rafters. She frowned disapprovingly. "What do you think its doing here?" Her father asked as he returned to the careful stitching.

Cassie glared back down at the man and his twenty year old daughter. Her father had a little grey in his hair now. "I think it's just taking in a bit of scenery." Cassie responded, mouthing the words 'go away' up at the bird.

"Do you think it can find its way home?" he asked, sounding as if he were considering a catch, relocate, and release operation.

Cassie sighed inwardly, knowing her two hours were nearly up anyway as she swooped out the open doors. "I guess that answers your question." she heard herself joke as she flew back into the forest.

Decades past, the war over. There was no all out war; a few andilites arrived with something all too familiar. A virus. A mechanical virus this time. To destroy the kandrona ray generators, effectively starving the Yerks to death. Not even Cassie felt sorry for them anymore. No, even for the ones on their side. Because Cassie had realized there was no 'good' or 'evil'. Good and Bad were just a perceptive in the end. She'd killed more people than she could possibly dare to count.

Ax went home.

Tobias, the bird boy, became human and grew old with Rachel. Getting dirty looks as he aged and she didn't. Dirty old man. Pervert. Rape. The accusations never ended, but the relationship did.

Tom died first, overdose. Jake wasn't sure if it was suicide or not. The Chi wouldn't answer him. They all went to the funeral, dressed as someone else.

By the time the next funeral occurred, it didn't really matter anymore. Marco's father. Aged eighty seven. They went wearing their faces and sat up the back. There were a few odd glances from some old high school aquatinces that Marco had obviously kept throughout the years. No one ever said anything. The truth is often easier to ignore.

It was getting thin. Time was getting thin. Rachel felt she could see through it. Like she was more real than it ever was. As if time were just a concept; relative to how she imagined it to be. She could hear Cassie in the next room; she was up writing those books of hers. They'd spent a good twenty odd years apart, the four of them. Played the lives of someone else. Pretended to be real people, with real lives. But that game had worn thin. And here they were again. The Animorphs minus two.

Four dead friends together forever