We Have Each Other
"You got it, Jack?"
"Almost," Jack answered. "I just... have to..." Jack slammed the palm of his hand against the side of the box, jarring it slightly. He heard an answering beep, and he smiled. "That's right," he said to the box. "Got it," he called down.
Tech 67 looked up at him from his position at the base of the building. "Okay, well come down here, then," he called up.
"Keep your pants on, Tower," Jack called. "I want to make sure it's transmitting at one hundred percent."
"I'm sure it is. John said this thing is capable of transmitting all the way off planet if we want it to. He should know, right?"
Jack checked the signal strength anyway, then climbed back down to where his Jack awaited him. "See, all in one piece."
"Dare devil," 67 groused. "So is it at maximum?"
"Yup, anyone on the planet who has a transmitter should be able to pick it up."
Tech 67 smiled. "I'm glad," he said. "I'm really glad."
"Me, too. But I'm still concerned about the last part," Jack said.
Tech 67 shook his head. "Don't be," he said. "It's not really a lie."
"Besides, I think we owe it to Jack to protect them from an onslaught of visitors, don't you? And it's kinder to the other technicians. It was hard enough for us to come to terms with losing her."
Jack nodded. "And there's the kids to consider," he said.
"Exactly." They looked at their handiwork for a few more seconds, checked the fuel cell attached to the bottom of the apparatus once more, and then headed back to the ship. As he passed by the line of defunct tourist binoculars, Jack smiled and thought about Tech 52.
"Speaking of the kids," Jack said. "Julia's supposed to bring Malcolm this year so we can finally meet him."
"That's right! Yeah, come on," his Jack said. "Let's get back. I promised to teach Harper how to play baseball this year. They're supposed to actually have alcohol at the Festival of Heroes this year, too. I want to find out what it tastes like."
Jack leaned back in his chair and stared out at the sparkling waters of Lake Julia. Ten years had passed since the TET had been destroyed. Beech's tribe thrived, and they had been told other groups of humans around the world were reaching out, seeking to communicate. Many of them – especially in the non-English speaking parts of the world – had ambassadors who were fluent in both English and the country's primary language. Small men, dark-haired, hazel-eyed, answering to the name Jack Harper, and sometimes accompanied by even smaller women – red-haired, blue-eyed, answering to the name Victoria Olsen.
And in the meantime, Jack and his Jack spent their lives the way they had dreamed they would – living by the side of a lake, in a house built by their own hands, with the person that they loved.
Jack turned to look at his companion – his husband. Tech 67 had his eyes closed, and his baseball cap pulled down over his nose. Jack smiled. He would normally have felt guilty waking his Jack, but ever since they'd received their first message from Tech 52 all those years ago (I found her, she's safe, we're happy), Jack found that his restless nights had all but disappeared. And after they met her for the first time at the first annual Festival of Heroes, the dreams had stopped completely. He still thought of her, of course, and he still loved her. But thinking about her no longer left him feeling confused and frustrated, with that awful sense of loss that he'd felt before he knew who she was, and that she was safe and happy. Tech 67 had been sleeping much better, too, so Jack didn't feel so bad about nudging his arm and trying to wake him.
"Hm," Jack muttered.
His Jack breathed deeply, and lifted the cap from over his eyes. "What is it? You okay?"
"Mmm-hmm. I was just thinking."
"You're always thinking," his Jack said. "It's one of the things I love about you."
Jack laughed. "Likewise. But I was thinking about Julia again."
"Yeah. You remember what we told her? What Commander Harper told her?"
"About building her a house on a lake and growing old together?"
"Yeah," Jack replied. "And then... and then they would die, and be buried in a meadow by the lake. And the world would forget about them."
"But they would always have each other," Tech 67 whispered. "I remember. I think about that often, actually."
"About us?" Jack asked.
"Yes." He reached over and touched Jack's hand. "I'm happy that I have you," he said. He laughed. "Maybe if we can convince John to give us enough alcohol, we can even drink too much."
Jack laughed. "Real romantic."
"I'm a regular Don Juan."
Jack smiled and looked back at the water. "Sykes will keep his promise," he said softly. "Someone will come every year, and someone will check on us if we don't make the Festival. And when it's over, we'll be buried by the side of our lake."
"Mmhmm," he murmured, rubbing his thumb against the back of Jack's hand.
"But you know something, Jack?"
"The world will never forget about Jack Harper. Will they?"
Tech 67 squeezed Jack's hand, and they looked at one another and smiled. "No," he said. "No, I don't suppose they ever will."