“The problem with finding him is that he didn’t take a beacon with him. There’s no way to trace where and when he went or recall him, even though we’re pretty sure where,” Liam said.
“I’m willing to bet that’s why we have the paradox. He’s outside the chronometric shield,” Adrienne piped up.
Duncan paced the control room thinking. Suddenly he came to a halt and snapped his fingers. “Override the security lockouts and get access to the control systems of all the travellators. At this time of night nobody would be using them, so narrow it down to the most recently used. Check the backup logs. Ryan may have erased the system logs, but I’m hoping he forgot about the backup logs. Match the geographic coordinates to those we have in our logs for a match to Ethan’s. I bet we can find him that way.”
“On it Boss!” Liam acknowledged Duncan’s orders enthusiastically. A few furious keystrokes later, Liam shouted triumphantly, “I got it! I have the temporal and geographic coordinates!”
Duncan began slowly, “We can’t afford any mistakes. Are you absolutely sure about that?”
“Yep! The geographic coordinates match those from Ryan’s last trip back. We’ve found him.”
“Punch them in. Colin, go!”
Colin’s habit of keeping a beacon on him at all times while on duty served him well in this instance. In the blink of an eye he was dematerializing, wondering how he was going to accomplish this particular mission.
Snuggling against Ryan after an intense round of lovemaking, Ethan planted a light kiss on his pectoral muscle. “Are you sure you want to give up everything to stay in the past with me?” He asked, not sure he really wanted to know the answer.
“Some things should remain in the past, and I’m one of them!” Ryan exclaimed.
“Time and time again you surprise me. How did I get so lucky?”
“It was meant to be, baby. We were meant to be together,” Ryan quickly assured him. “I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure we stay together, no matter what.”
Colin suddenly materialized in the living room, scaring the shit out of Chris who was dozing in front of the TV. “Chris, where’s Ryan?”
“He’s upstairs. Why?”
“I need to get Ryan back to his time. We’re about to have a paradox,” he said in an anxiety-ridden voice.
“I take it from the tone of your voice that’s bad,” Chris observed.
“We’re talking end-of-the-world bad.”
“Holy fuck!” Chris cursed. “What can I do to help?”
“Get him down here and fast.”
Chris flew up the stairs and pounded on Ethan’s door, startling the occupants of the room, “Ryan, you need to come downstairs now. Colin’s here and he said something about a paradox about to happen.”
“Shit!” Ryan exclaimed as he and Ethan rushed to get dressed. Throwing the door open they rushed from the room practically mowing down Chris in their haste.
“Ryan, you need to come back. There’s a paradox coming!”
All color drained from Ryan’s face. He turned to Ethan, whose face was as white as Ryan’s. “I gotta go. We need to stop this paradox from happening. The consequences are too great if we don’t.” Ethan heard his unspoken words, before the world and all like as we know it comes to a violent end. “Somehow, some way I’ll find a way for us to be together,” he promised Ethan. He grabbed Colin’s arm and said “go!” The last thing he saw as he dematerialized was a violently sobbing Ethan falling into the supportive arms of his brother.
Suddenly all was quiet in the control room. No alarms going off, no conversation. Everyone assembled there turned and looked at the travellator as Colin and Ryan materialized. Seeing Duncan advancing on the travellator menacingly, Colin quickly stepped out of his way.
Duncan grabbed Ryan by the shirt collar, pulled him out of the travellator and slammed the stunned man against the wall. “Edwards, you should be executed for the stunt you just pulled! You nearly caused a fucking temporal paradox you moron. You’re suspended without pay until further notice. Get the fuck out of here before I change my mind and have you shot!” He released Ryan and strode angrily out of the room, leaving Ryan to slowly slide down the wall. In the ten years he worked there, Duncan never called him, or anyone, by their last name. Everyone stood around with their mouths agape. No one had ever seen Duncan that angry.
Ryan slowly got to his feet and left, heading for the nearest bar to get falling-down drunk. From his point of view, he had nothing left to lose. He lost his job and the love of his life. He wondered how long it would be before he lost his life as well, for that was the standard penalty for anyone who caused a paradox, intentionally or not. “Goodbye, Ethan. I’ll never forget you and will always love you.