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Clearing the Air

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Angela Abar sat by the edge of the pool, thinking about what had happened earlier. What it meant for her, for her family. For everything. For the world, maybe? Would she begin to experience time the way that Jon had? Would everything become nonlinear for her?

So it was almost a relief when Special Agent Laurie Blake opened the back door. “Thanks!” she called over her shoulder. “Your grandfather told me you were out here. Is he really a hundred years old?”

“Seems to be so.” Angela shrugged, squinting a little at the older women. “What’re you doing back in Tulsa? Kind of thought you were happy to see the back of us.”

Laurie smiled, though it didn’t reach her eyes. “Just came to town with Mirror Guy – I mean, Wade – to keep an eye on him while he packs. He’s going to be helping with Adrian’s case. Veidt, I mean.”

“You afraid he’s a flight risk? Wade, that is.”

“Can’t be too careful. He does seem a bit, well, nervous.”

“Can you blame him? He was in Jersey City when it happened. 11/2.”

“And that’s why this would be a healing experience for him. Adrian finally paying for what he did.”

Angela nodded slowly.

“Even Dan’s gonna testify – Dan Drieberg, he was Nite Owl. In the old days." Laurie shrugged, showing about as much emotion as Angela guessed she ever did.

“Take it there's a story there?”

“He’s my ex. After . . . well, you know who I am.”

“After Jon?”

“After Jon.” Neither woman spoke for a moment, and then Laurie continued. “Angela, you . . . you did something I never could.”

Angela waited, for the bitterness, the jealousy, for whatever it was Laurie was feeling in the moment. But instead, the other woman smiled again, this time warmly. “I left him, you know. Took up with Dan, because Dan was so real, and human, and flawed. I could breathe, with Dan. But you, Angela, you helped Jon find his humanity again. You made him, somehow, a person again. Not just a superhuman, not just an abstraction, but someone who could exist in our world, in linear time. That’s remarkable. You’re remarkable.”

“We loved each other. That’s all there was to it. And we found a way.”

“I was much too young when I met him. And we lived in a lab, under government surveillance. And even from the first moment, he knew it would end. But I think we loved each other, too.” Laurie felt silent for a moment. “You didn’t steal him from me, like I did him from Janey. Although with Jon, it was as if everything was fated, what with the way he experienced time. How did . . . how did he become Cal?”

Angela explained, the short version at first, but in answering Laurie’s questions she felt a relief at being with someone who could understand.

“And Cal . . . he really didn’t know he was Dr. Manhattan?”

“No. It was the only way to keep him safe. You were the only one to see through the total amnesia, by the way. Everyone’s seen it on TV, thinks it’s real. What Cal was, was a husband, a lover, and when we adopted my partner’s kids, he was a father. Living day to day, like everyone else.”

“And it really worked,” Laurie said, clearly amazed. And then she snorted, “And also embarrassing, that I kept telling you how hot your husband was, not even knowing he was my ex. Did you--?”

“Know that Agent Laurie Blake was Laurie Juspeczyk, the Silk Spectre? Not at first, but I figured it out.”

Again they fell silent. “Well. I guess I just really wanted to thank you. For making him happy. For loving him. For being with him at the end.” Laurie turned to go.

“Wait,” Angela said, and Laurie turned back. “The way he experienced time . . . he loved you, too.”

The other woman shrugged. “I know. But you brought out the best in him. You changed him, literally – I saw, in the cage, how he kept Cal’s face. Remarkable.”

For a moment, Angela thought about confiding in this woman, who knew so much about Jon’s powers. Who maybe could help her understand his parting gift.

But then the moment was past.

“See you again, maybe,” said Laurie.

And with some certainty, the source of which she was not yet ready to examine, Angela replied, “Yes. Yes, I think so.”