Duncan looked at Ethan sitting in a chair in front of the controls. “How did you get here?”
“My brother found one of your return thingies and tricked me into holding onto it when he pushed the button and here I am.”
Duncan turned to Liam, raising his eyebrows, “and the paradox alarm didn’t go off?”
Liam shook his head, “Nope.”
Slamming the door open; Ryan charged into the room, looking around wildly. As soon as he saw Ethan he ran over and pulled him into a bone-crushing hug and smashed his lips down onto his. When they could no longer breathe, Ryan broke the kiss. Pressing his forehead against Ethan’s, he said, “I can’t believe you’re here. How did you get here?”
“You left one of your return thingies in my shop and Chris found it. He tricked me into coming forward like your friend did to you.”
“I’m so glad you’re here. I’ve missed you so much.”
“I’ve missed you as well,” Ethan replied, a tear escaping his left eye.
“Ahem,” Duncan cleared his throat, “everyone to the conference room, please.” Once everyone was seated around the conference table, Duncan began the inquisition. “Okay, someone tell me what the fuck is going on and how did Ethan get here?” He pinned Ryan with an accusing stare.
“I had nothing to do with it. You disabled my access codes, remember?”
“May I speak?” Ethan asked. Duncan nodded. “I’ve been really down in the dumps since Ryan was brought back here. My brother found a return thingy in my shop. He had me hold out my hand, and when I did, he slapped into my palm and pushed the button. Now I’m here. Look, I know you have to send me back, but please, can I have just a little bit of time with Ryan, to say goodbye.” He pleaded.
Duncan held up his hand. “Hold on. We’re not going to send you back yet. We need to figure out the connection between you and Ryan, and why the paradox alarm didn’t sound when you arrived, but it did when you and your brother arrived with Ryan,” Duncan told Ethan.
“You’re not sending me back?” Ethan cast a hopeful look at Ryan.
“Not yet. Not until we figure this out.”
Anne spoke up, “you know we’ve been trying to figure this out for a while now. We’re pretty convinced that the Ethan and his family are supposed to come forward to our time. We believe this newspaper article holds the key.” She passed the article to Duncan who scanned it quickly.
“That doesn’t explain the malfunction of the paradox alarm,” Duncan argued.
“I don’t believe there was a malfunction,” Liam said, “I ran diagnostics on the entire alarm system and no malfunctions were found. I physically inspected the alarm system and didn’t find any loose connections or circuit boards.”
Cindy spoke up for the first time. “I know I’m new here, but I have a theory. Perhaps Ethan’s family is supposed to come to our time, but not all at the same time. That would explain why the paradox alarm went off when Ethan and his brother came forward together, but it didn’t go off when Ethan arrived alone.”
“An interesting hypothesis, Cindy. It’s certainly worth pursuing. One thing still needs to be addressed, though.” Duncan turned and looked at Ethan. “Ethan, if you were to stay, you would at a terrible disadvantage. You would need to have a place to live─”
“He has a place to live ─ with me,” Ryan interrupted.
“What would you do for work? Not to mention the fact that you’ve missed out on 800 years of
Ethan looked forlorn. “I guess there’s no choice. You have to send me back.”
“No!” Ryan’s response was quick and vehement. “Duncan, we talked about this earlier. Ethan can live with me. If he’s interested, he’d be an invaluable asset as a historian. There are a lot of gaps in our history he could probably fill. That would be a good job for him. As far as his lack of knowledge about the last 800 years we can give him a crash course on the important stuff then fill in the rest gradually.”
Connor jumped into the conversation. “You know, while you guys are sitting here trying to decide on Ethan’s future, you’re overlooking one very important thing; Ethan and what he wants.”
Ryan had the good graces to look sheepish. “I’m sorry, baby. What do you want to do?”
“As much as I’d miss my family, I want to stay. I want to stay with Ryan.” Ryan reached out and took his hand. “I like the idea of being a historian. History has always been a passion of mine. I could also open up a furniture restoration shop like I have back in my time.”
“And if we could find a way to bring your entire family forward?” Adrienne queried.
He looked at Ryan with unquestionable love in his eyes. “I’d be the happiest man on Earth.”
Duncan rubbed his chin as he mulled everything over. “Well, I guess a welcome is in order. Ethan, welcome to the thirtieth century. If there’s any possible way to bring your family forward, we’ll find it.”