Twenty days had passed since Nico had last laid her eyes on Karolina.
It has also been twenty days since she had gotten real sleep. While her world was falling apart, she did everything she could to keep the group from doing the same. In fact, they had been brainstorming ways to save her, each coming to a dead end. It was either too risky or they couldn’t agree on a set plan. Xavin told them it would be hard but Nico didn’t expect it to be this difficult. All she wanted to do was see Karolina again.
However, Karolina wasn’t the only one missing. At one point, the team had begun to break. Molly had convinced Alex that they needed to save Gert. Meanwhile, Xavin and Leslie wanted to continue figuring out how to get Karolina back, which left the ball in Nico’s court. Of course, she wanted to find Karolina but Gert was her friend too.
This led Alex, Nico, and Molly to separate from them and hunt down Gert, which meant they had to figure out where Dale and Stacey were. Once Alex had a set location on Dale, they sought her out. When they found Gert, it was the first time in a few days Nico felt relief.
When they returned to the Hostel, Xavin and Leslie had decided that they wanted to infiltrate the church first. Leslie explained that there is an underground area where Jonah would go to when he wanted to be alone. The only thing about her plan was that she had never actually been down there, so the team would be going in blind.
“Even if we could get in, how can we ensure a way out? This is supposed to be a rescue mission and rescuing won’t happen if we get caught too,” Alex argued, not understanding Xavin’s plan one bit.
“Now that we have that thing” Xavin looks at Old Lace, “we can use it to distract the guards and slip in.”
“No, we aren’t risking Gert or Old Lace again,” Molly speaks up defensively, “we just got them back.”
Arguments ensues between them, all having their own input to add to this plan. Eventually Alex calls it a night, saying that we can discuss it tomorrow. Molly agrees, holding tightly onto Gert and following Alex out of the kitchen area. Leslie is fatigued, especially with the baby being ready to come out anytime soon. This leaves Xavin and Nico alone. Xavin takes a long breath before getting up.
“Are you sure it’ll work?” Nico questions, eyeing the taller girl in front of her.
“According to my calculations, this maybe our only chance to save her.” Xavin says, before walking away from Nico.
Nico stood alone in their kitchen space, staring at the wall now filled with scribbles and pictures. Her eyes dart to the one of Karolina in the news article with her parents. We’re going to get you back Karrie, I promise. She felt tears inching to fall but knew that if she were to give into her emotions, she didn’t know if she could stop.
“Just breathe…” Nico whispered to herself, “just hold it together Nico, you need to do this for the team… for her…” she lifts her hand to touch the photo before turning away and heading up to bed.
She walked passed her old room and into the area where Old Lace would be sleeping. She prayed that Old Lace wouldn’t mind her crashing there. I mean, she has been for the past couple days. When she lifted the curtain, she found Gert laying down.
“Oh sorry,” Nico said, a bit caught off guard by seeing Gert here. “I thought you’d be sleeping with Molly.”
Gert looks at Nico before sitting up, motioning Nico to join her, “I did for a bit, but once she dozed off I came here to see Old Lace.”
Old Lace was lying down on the floor right next to the bed. The two of them sat in silence, not knowing what to say to one another.
“I’m sorry about Karolina,” Gert finally whispers, she turned to face Nico.
“I’m sorry about your dad,” Nico responds and Gert nods.
“He wasn’t all that bad…” Gert starts, “I mean, kidnapping is still kidnapping but he didn’t physically harm me. Let’s just say I hate cages now more than ever,” Gert jokes, deflecting how she really felt.
Nico sits still, listening to Gert ramble.
“I’m sure she’s okay Nico,” Gert says, which catches her off guard.
“I miss her so much…” Nico mumbles very quietly, that Gert just barely hears her. Gert nods and pulls Nico into an embrace.
“We’re going to get her back Nico,” Gert reaffirms, “no matter what it takes.”
Nico wants to fight the tears that are falling from her eyes, but with Gert holding onto her, she finally lets it out. Gert rubs her back, holding her so soft yet firm. After Nico finally stops, she pulls away from Gert, rubbing the remaining tears from her eyes.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Gert questions, looking up at Nico.
“Do you want to talk about what happened to you?” Nico rebuttals, causing Gert to give her a look.
“Touché” she responds, “but thank you for saving me.”
“We should’ve done it earlier,” Nico commented. She was upset with herself for not prioritizing the group equally. They waited how many days to save Gert, it wasn’t fair to her. “You still saved me,” Gert reaffirms, “and I’m grateful for that.”
Nico nods before getting up, “It’s getting late. We should get some rest, especially with whatever plan Xavin has brewing. I’ll just sleep downstairs tonight.”
“Nico wait,” Gert calls out, “there is more than enough space on here for us to share.” Nico considered Gert’s option but ultimately declined, “it’s okay Gert, you and Old Lace get some rest tonight, there are many other rooms available anyways.” Gert nods her head and Nico walks out, closing the curtain behind her.
She walks down the corridor before reaching their room. Her’s and Karolina. She hasn’t been in here since the night they lost her, too afraid to change anything. Too afraid to contaminate it.
She quietly opens the door and walks into their room. She takes in the image of the room, her heart aching at how it embodied her and Karolina. Flashes of Karolina began to flood her mind. She pushes them away and quickly grabs everything she needs before making her way out. She walked down the stairs, past Alex’s bedroom to Chase’s old workshop.
She sets up a comfortable bed before laying down. Usually she was unable to sleep, however after the day they had, she allowed for pure exhaustion to take over.
Nico hated mornings. Mainly because she hated having to wake up not next to Karolina. Not to mention, the morning sun had peered through broken window, causing Nico to grumpily wake up. Alex appears suddenly causing her to yell.
“Jesus Alex,” Nico mumbles, her head was beginning to hurt.
“Meeting in the kitchen right now.” Alex says flatly before walking away. Ugh here we go again. She gets up and fixes the bed before walking out to find them all discussing. She groans, at least none of them were yelling… not yet.
“Please listen. You have not considered the plan as a potential option.” Xavin pleaded.
“I did and the answer is no. We can’t risk it. Going in blind with no idea where to even look based on what Leslie has to say? I don’t think so.” Alex argued. Nico ignored the both of them, her headache worsening. She needed food, she glances at the table and leans over to grab a day old-muffin.
“I’m sure Nico agrees with me.” Alex says, causing Nico to look up, all eyes on her.
“It’s not the best plan Alex…” Nico begins, “but it’s the only one we have.”
“What?” “Yes exactly” Alex and Xavin say at the same time.
“It doesn’t mean we should go in blind. We should do some recon first, maybe verify what Leslie is saying about the underground layer,” Nico reasoned.
“We don’t have that time.” Xavin pushed, causing Nico to look at her differently.
“What do you mean we don’t have time?” she questions, fear beginning to seep through.
“On the ship, the Magistrate talked returning to their home. It has been days since we last saw them. Who’s to say they haven’t found a way to leave?” Nico freezes. The thought of Karolina gone in space forever made her nauseous.
“That’s not fair, we don’t even know if that’s true” Alex pushes, his tone almost yelling.
“Xavin is right Alex,” Molly speaks up, shocking everybody.
“Yeah, we have to look out for each other,” Gert says, putting her two cents in. “And I know me and Old Lace are up for it.”
“No! We just got you back from your psychotic father Gert. Now you’re telling me you want to risk everything by engaging in a fight with three powerful aliens? We almost lost to just Jonah. I don’t think we can afford that.” Alex summed up, glancing over to Nico pleadingly.
Nico is overwhelmed at the fact that this decision lays with her. Of course, she wanted Karolina back. She needed Karolina back more than ever. But at what cost? Could she be willing to risk her friends lives to rescue the love of her life? Yes, the voice rang in her head. She would risk everything to get Karolina back.
“Nico?” a voice calls again, bringing her out of her thoughts. The voice belonged to Xavin but she looks at Alex, pain splattered across her face. She felt a breakdown inching and tried her hardest to push it away. Stay strong for the group she reminded herself.
Alex Wilder was the brains of the operation. After catching his parents, he felt unstoppable. However, seeing Nico in pain did a number on him. His mind flashed back to when they arrived at the Hostel and she had realized Karolina was gone. I can’t lose Karolina like I lost Amy. Those words rang in his head.
Although him and Nico never worked out. He has always wanted what was best for her and he knew Karolina was just that. Seeing her in pain grounded him. He takes a deep breath before saying the words he knew he would soon regret.
“Okay,” he says looking at Xavin, “we follow your plan, but we take my lead.” Everyone stared at him, shocked. This was the last 360 they expected. Honestly they thought he would put up more of a fight.
After going through a rundown, everybody had dispersed to do their own things, leaving Nico and Alex.
“You didn’t have to do that Alex,” she says, crossing her arms.
“No, you’re right. We have to think of one another” he stands up, “we leave no one behind, remember?”
“Thank you Alex,” Nico responds warmly, he nods at her.
“Yeah, let’s go get your girl,” he smiles.
Leslie explained to them the potential security they were about to face, and this was for the trip down. They still had no idea what would happen once they get pass the elevators. Alex had come up with a plan that corresponded with Xavin’s plan. They feared that their parents would use the same technology that they created, so they had to make sure it was foolproof.
The plan was that Xavin would shape shift into one of those maintenance guys and sneak Alex into the church. Alex would then hack into the churches mainframe, with Leslie’s old information, praying that it wouldn’t have changed. Then Xavin would shape shift into one of the Gibborim security and simply walk down to the ground floor, making sure the coast was clear. At her signal, Nico would lead Gert, Molly, and Old Lace using an invisibility spell. Once in, they had ten minutes to find Karolina before they are at risk for being caught.
When they arrive at the church, they are able to enter without any resistance. Xavin took care of the other security guards, making a clear entry way for the rest of the kids. They found a large door that was a bit suspicious. Molly then used her powers to open it. When Nico had entered the chamber, it was dark and cold. Gert then found a switch and when the light turned on, the imaged horrified all of them. The room was white and in front of them were three large pods encasing Karolina, Chase, and Janet.
“Holy shit.” Gert mumbles, rushing over to Chase’s pod. “Chase…” she speaks sadly.
Nico walks over to Karolina’s pod, her hand resting on it. She looked at peace and it weirdly felt wrong to see her at this state.
“Wow what the hell?” Alex arrived with Xavin, he looked stunned at the sight in front of him.
“How do we get them out?” Xavin questions, looking at Alex. He walks over to the computer and began typing away. Within a couple minutes, the pod is opened. Nico caught Karolina as she fell. Gert had caught Chase and Molly had caught Janet.
“So this was not the plan” Molly speaks up, holding Janet, “do we take all of them?”
“Yeah, but we should get going now” Alex speaks up. Molly switches with Gert, carrying Chase since he was probably the heaviest. Gert and Alex help lift up Janet. Meanwhile, Nico holds onto Karolina, fearing that if she moved in the wrong direction it would hurt her.
“Here let me,” Xavin says, carrying Karolina bridal style. Nico didn’t like this image but if it meant rescuing Karolina, so be it.
Nico led the way out and they were so close to making it when she was suddenly being flung to the side. When she regained her balance, she found herself staring at the one and only Tina Minoru.
“Hello daughter,” she smirks, turning on what looked to be a mind scrambler.
“Oh fork” Nico attempts to curse. She looks over at her friends, “grape office onward halt” UGH, she groans. Here we go again. She meant to tell them to get out of here. She shakes her head and runs towards Tina.
“I can help her” Gert says, throwing Janet onto Alex, “get them out of here.” “No Gert.” Molly argued.
“Now is not the time to argue with me Mols, just listen.” Gert says, she places one of the fistigons onto her hand and motions Old Lace to follow her, hitting any security guards that were coming for them.
Before Molly could resist, Alex pushes her to run.
When they reach outside, they get into the car. They stuff Chase in the front with Alex and Janet and Karolina in the back with Xavin and Molly.
“Should we wait for them?” Xavin questions.
“Yes” Molly responds. Alex looked at the door, seeing security running in.
“No we should go.”
“WHAT?” Molly screams.
“Gert told us to leave. If any other alien shows up, we’re going to lose.”
“But we promise to not leave anybody behind.” Molly urges. Alex sighs before turning on the engine.
“Mols, we have no choice. I’m sure they’ll make it back to us, I just know it.”
Molly wants to fight it but she knows Alex is right. She sulks quietly, looking at the church as Alex drove away. The last thing they could afford was getting caught.
Nico and Gert barely make it out alive.
Gert was able to keep the security off Nico as she fought Tina. Nico eventually found a way to destroy the mind scrambler. Once that was done, she ran to Gert and Old Lace and used a teleportation spell.
They ended up a few miles away from the Hostel. As they began walking back, Nico spoke up.
“That was pretty brave what you did back there.”
Gert shrugged, “yeah, you get kidnapped by your crazy father once and it changes you.”
“Thank you for not leaving me behind.”
“Let’s just hope Twiddle dee, do, and dumb made it back to home base.” Nico laughs for the first time. Her heart racing, from the adrenaline of the fight. Her mom landed some pretty good hits, she could feel her lip bleeding. But she didn’t care. All she was looking forward too was seeing Karolina again.
When the two entered the Hostel, they were quickly embraced by Alex and Molly.
“Oh thank God I don’t have to murder Alex,” Molly says, grasping onto Gert and Nico tightly. Nico smiles before letting go to hug Alex.
“Thank you for listening,” she says, he smiles at her. “She’s in Leslie’s room if you want to see her.” Alex whispers. She nods, walking towards Leslie’s room. Her heart was racing. She feared that Karolina was mad at her or maybe not in love with her anymore. As she walked up to the room, her mind went to the worst places possible. What if they used the memory serum on her? What if-? She lifts her hand to knock when the door is opened.
“Nico dear,” Leslie smiles at her, “she’s sleeping right now but feel free to come in.” Nico takes a step forward, her eyes darting to the figure laying on Leslie’s bed. She walked over slowly, her heart racing and palms getting sweaty. When Nico finally reached out to touch Karolina, tears fell from her eyes. She was here. She was really here.
“She woke up earlier looking for you.” Leslie spoke up, “she was pretty hysterical so Xavin gave her a sleeping pill or something to calm her nerves down.”
Nico nods, holding onto Karolina’s hand. Okay, she remembers.
“Thank you for bringing my daughter back” Leslie says, putting her hand on Nico’s shoulder. Nico turns to face her and nods. Leslie smiles one last time before heading out, leaving the two of them alone.
Nico scanned Karolina. For the most part there were no visible injuries. She held onto her hand and listened to her breathing, just to make sure. She then cried. She let her tears finally fall.
“I love you Karolina,” she whispered.
The second time she’s ever said I love you to her and she was still asleep. Nico didn’t want to leave her though. She ended up falling asleep right next to Karolina, still holding onto her hand.
This was the first time in almost a month Nico was able to feel herself breathe.
Karolina stirred. Her eyes fluttered open to a figure sleeping right next to her. She felt her hands become sweaty, but when she laid eyes on Nico, her heart soared.
Karolina prayed that she wasn’t dreaming. That she was really here. She began to shift, which in turn, woke Nico up. They stared at each other, Nico’s eyes widening turning red, probably embarrassed from holding onto Karolina’s hand for so long. Karolina smiled the sight in front of her.
“I lamp you too Nico Minoru” she finally utters out, causing Nico to break out in a smile. Nico gently nudges her.
“You know what I meant,” she says.
“Actually I don’t,” Karolina says suggestively, “why don’t you tell me what you really meant?”
Nico pauses and stares at her. She brings her hand up to Karolina’s face and caresses her cheek. Karolina melts into Nico’s hand, her eyes staring intently at her.
“I love you Karolina.” Nico finally says. Third time was really a charm. This time, Karolina was able to hear her say it.
Karolina leaned in and closed the gap between them. Their lips still fit perfectly together, as if they were made for one another. The world around them began to disappear. This was their first kiss back and it was perfect. It was one that was full of I love you’s and please never leave me again.
When they finally separated, Karolina stared lovingly into her eyes.
“I love you too Nico,” she affirms, “I told you I’d always come back to you.”
Nico smiles. She looks at Karolina and for once she felt at peace. That regardless of what happened, they would be able to get through anything. As long as they had one another.
The sad part about life though, peace never lasted that long. As soon as everything felt right, it took a horrible turn. Janet had recalled waking up to hear Victor-Jonah’s plan to sink the world. They intended on building their ship regardless of the consequences it would take for them to leave. Something about how if they use that power to leave, it may cause a shift in the earth’s pull, leading to massive earthquakes that would put potentially turn LA into a landfill.
The group argued once again, but everybody ultimately made the decision to keep fighting the Magistrate. They couldn’t go on with themselves if they didn’t.
Nico stared at Karolina, even if she feared the future, she was glad that Karolina was here with her.
Few weeks later, Leslie had given birth to a little boy, and had decided to name him Nicholas David Dean. This was a tribute to Nico after saving Karolina. However, there were complications with Leslie’s health post-pregnancy and she passed away. The team didn’t know what their next move was.
Karolina was sitting in their bedroom, the sounds of Nicholas cries echoed. Her heart broke. He was going to grow up with no mother and no father because of his crazy family. And no matter how evil her mom was, at the end of the day, losing her mom was the hardest thing Karolina had to deal with.
“Karrie?” Nico knocks on their door, Karolina wiped away her tears before looking up at Nico.
“I finally got Nicholas to sleep” Nico says, walking over to sit next to Karolina, “do you want to talk about it?”
Karolina shakes her head, tears falling once again. Nico holds her tight that night, promising to never let her go.
Fast forward, Karolina had come to the decision to raise Nicholas as her own. At first this startled Nico, but seeing Karolina with Nicholas warmed her heart. They were only seventeen but she could definitely see this as their future. This was something she wanted. Karolina. A family.
However, they were still runaways, and this was no place to raise a family. And she wasn’t the only one who felt that way.
“Karolina, we’re in the middle of a fight with your alien ancestors, do you really think keeping him is the best option?” Chase speaks up, this causes Gert to scoff.
“Are you implying that just because she is young she is unable to raise a child? Teen pregnancy is a thing and if Karolina wants to raise Nic, she should be able to do what she wants.” Gert spites back. Honestly, Gert knew Chase was right, but she was still not over him betraying the team.
Meanwhile, Chase had done everything he could possibly think of to get Gert to forgive him. This meant, not engaging in a fight with her. So he remained quiet before Alex speaks up.
“Karolina, I just don’t think we can take a kid right now… we’re just kids.”
Karolina wants to consider their options, but she stands her ground. Nicholas was her family and she didn’t leave her family behind.
A few days pass and Nico can see the toll that Nicholas was taking on the team. Karolina was more agitated than usual from her lack of sleep. They were pulling crazy hours in order to please him and it was beginning to get overwhelming. Not to mention, they were still knee-deep in a fight with the Magistrate.
“Karolina?” Nico speaks out, this time Karolina knows what Nico is about to say.
“I know Nico, but he’s the only family I have left. I can’t just get rid of him.”
“We aren’t getting rid of him Karrie, we’re just getting him somewhere safe while we fight this battle.”
For the first time in weeks, Karolina agrees.
They decide to take him to Vaughn’s house.
“I think I will stay here too,” Janet speaks up, taking Nicholas into her hands, “to make sure he is okay.”Karolina nods, looking between Vaughn and Janet.
“Promise me you’ll do everything to keep him safe,” she looks directly at Vaughn, who is still in shock that Karolina has a kid.
“Yeah,” he says, smiling at her. Karolina walks over to Nicholas one last night. She holds him close and places a kiss onto his forehead.
“I’ll be back in no time Nic” she whispers.
However, Karolina Dean never makes it back.
It was supposed to be an easy mission. Get in, destroy everything they had built, and get out. However, they were misinformed about what was happening at this dig site. They thought it would be a simple mission. The last thing they were expecting was for the Magistrate to show up. The thing is, Alien Tina, Alien Stacey, and Alien Victor had finally created their ship was preparing to leave.
Since they had gotten in quietly, the only upper hand they had was that they were hidden. Xavin and Nico got close enough for Nico to do a spell that would separate the alien form the host, courtesy of Xavin’s previous knowledge.
The aliens appear in their true form, which is even more powerful and terrifying. The kids are definitely outmatched and are about to lose until Karolina found a way to end everything once in for all.
“HEY!” she screams at her friends, “get them into the ship NOW! I have a plan”
Xavin, Chase, Gert, Molly and Alex all nod in agreement, not knowing where she was going with this.
Before she can move, Nico grabs her arm.
Nico looks at her, catching onto her idea. “No, no. Whatever you think you’re about to do. I won’t allow it. I’m not losing you again.”
Karolina smiles weakly at her, “Nico, there’s no other choice”
“There is always another way. Don’t do this, I’m begging you Karolina.”
Nico pauses, as deja vu begins to seep through her. She knew what was happening and she feared that there would be no coming back from this one.
Karolina smiles softly at Nico before pulling her closer. She ghosts her lips, waiting for Nico to meet and she complies, kissing her so softly yet with so much force. As if she knew this would be their last.
“Please take care of Nicholas” Karolina says once she pulls away. She grabs one of the bombs that the Yorkes had made that was designed to kill the Magistrate. She turns back and smiles at Nico, “I love you,” she says firmly before flying towards the ship. She uses her power to lift the ship up with her, the bomb in her hand. 3... this was the only way she tells herself, 2... Karolina gives one last look at her friends down below her. Oh, how she hated having to leave them. She scans and finds Nico, even from far up here she could see the pain on her face.
“I’ll never stop loving you.” Karolina whispers ...1
And just like that, Karolina was gone. The ship had blown up as colors of dust fell from the sky. The group stared, waiting for Karolina to appear. However, Nico knew that this time, she was gone. Really gone.
Nico felt her heart break. And this time, there was no way to fix it.
A few months had passed by and the runaways were out of the Hostel. In fact, they were able to send their parents away for the murder of Destiny and the other kids. This gave them access to their parent’s fortune, which they argued about what to do with. Alex decided that he would go back to college and make an honest living. Chase wanted to do the same with his fathers company, turning PRIDE into something that was good and honest. Gert eventually saw that Chase had truly changed and fell in love with him all over again. Finally giving them the chance they needed. Meanwhile, Molly wanted to continue being a badass, however she had to finish school first. She went to live with Gert and Chase for bit. This left Nico.
Before Karolina had left she made Nico promise to take care of Nicolas and she intended on doing just that.
Nico was seventeen when she decided to legally adopt Nicholas. Well not legally, she used the staff of one to create legal adoption papers. But she wasn’t going to risk losing Nicholas to a broken system. That would mean letting down Karolina and after everything, she needed to be able to uphold this promise.
Nico was twenty two when she moved into her own apartment with Nicholas. He was five at the time and ready to start school. They were unpacking boxes when he laid eyes on a photo frame.
“Mom, what was she like?” Nicholas questions, bringing Nico back from wherever her mind had traveled too. She looked at him as he held a photo of Karolina.
“She was.. well the most selfless, beautiful person I have ever met. And she didn’t have a bad bone in her body. She always did everything she could for the people she cared about. For you, for me. For your Uncle Chase and Auntie Gert. She-she once said that no matter how far she goes, she will always be with us.”
“Is she with us now mom?” he questions
“Yes she is” Nico reaffirms.
“I miss her…” he says sadly, eyes peering at the photo.
“I miss her too,” he crawls onto her lap, hugging her tightly, “don’t you ever forget that she loved you and I very much.” Nico says, a tear escaping from her face.
“Can we visit her tomorrow?” he questions and she smiles at him, “of course we can.”
And they do just that. Nico makes it a habit for Nicholas and her to come visit Karolina. As the walk up to the grave, Nico gives Nicholas the flowers to place them on top.
“So what do we do now?” he questions. She takes a seat and he crawls onto her lap.
“Well we talk to her, tell her about our day, why don’t you tell her about that friend you made in class? What was his name?”
“OH! His name was Chris!” Nicholas begins telling Karolina about all his adventures and about how much he can’t wait for kindergarten. Once he finishes, Nico notices Gert and Chase’s presence.
“Auntie Gert! Uncle Chase!” Nicholas yells, running over to hug them. Chase picks up him and they walk over to the side to play. Gert walks over to Nico.
“You guys came?” she smiles sadly at them. Gert takes a seat next to Nico.
“Of course we would. We never forget this year Nico.”
This was the fifth year anniversary of losing Karolina and it still didn’t make it any easier on them. Gert places the flowers onto the grave, holding Nico.
“Why don’t I give you two a minute?” Gert says, Nico nods. Gert stands up and walks over to where Chase and Nicholas were.
Nico looked at the grave in front of her.
“I miss you Karrie” she whispers, “you’ll never believe…” she continues to tell Karolina about her day. Once she finishes, she gets up and walks over to her friends and Nicholas.
“C’mon, let’s go get some ice cream.”
Far, far away Karolina looks down at Nico, tears falling from her eyes.
“I miss you too Nico” she sits and watches, her heart yearning for the day when they would finally reunite.