Jr. gives her one last hug before he has to board the Elsa. It's the tightest hug MOMO has ever given.
"I wish I could go," MOMO says. The Elsa's entrance is wide open before her eyes, ready to separate them. She really wants to go.
"Yeah, I know," Jr. replies. He pulls back, holding her at arm's length. "But don't worry. You have Juli and the old man so you'll be fine."
MOMO closes her eyes. "Yeah." She opens them. Jr. is smiling at her; she smiles back.
"Besides," Jr. says, swinging his arms back down to his sides, "you'll have that new network up in no time. We'll be able to talk again before you know it."
MOMO giggles behind her hand. Jr. always knows just how to cheer her up no matter what. She thinks she might miss that the most. She feels her face light up from its previous overcast, if only just a little. "I'll work extra hard everyday then," she says.
"Good," Jr. says. "And who knows? Maybe we'll find Lost Jerusalem before you get done."
"What do you think it's like there?" she asks, tilting her head.
Jr. shrugs quickly. "I dunno. It'll be interesting to see."
MOMO nods. She hopes they'll both get to see the whole thing instead of just a small piece. The urge to go with them swells up from her stomach again, but she pushes it back for now. She knows they all have very important things to do - now more than ever - but splitting everyone up feels too much like a goodbye she may never get to take back. Like she may never get to say hello again.
If she could, MOMO would take Mommy and Ziggy and they would all go on the Elsa together. MOMO knows she can't and it breaks her heart. She never wanted to be apart from her friends like this.
"Hey," Jr. says, widening his stance with a quick look to the floor. "You still have that charm I gave you, right?"
"Of course!" MOMO says.
"Well, don't lose it, okay?" Jr. says with a gesture towards her. "You can use it as something to remember me by."
MOMO nods with a smile. "I will."
Jr. looks over his shoulder at the Elsa. "I guess I better go now."
The smile fades from MOMO's face slowly. "Okay."
Jr. waves to her as he walks away.
Later, the Elsa lauches and flies away from the Dämmerung, headed into deep space.
Heart lodged in her throat, MOMO waves goodbye to her friends.
MOMO lies in bed awake, staring up at the ceiling of her new home. Mommy fell asleep a long time ago, but MOMO isn't tired enough yet to sleep.
When she gets up tomorrow, MOMO will begin to work on the new network with Doctus. The thought is a bit heavy in her mind for many reasons.
She sits up in bed and slips off as quietly as she can, her bare feet feather light on the floor. She doesn't have to dig very far into her things to find the bullet Jr. gave her after they first met. MOMO squeezes the bullet in her palm, the metal cold against her skin. She misses wearing it all the time like she used to.
Many memories are attached to this one small bullet. Even if she doesn't wear it with her everywhere she goes anymore, MOMO couldn't bear to completely part with it. Opening her fist, MOMO looks down at the tiny bullet. It looks exactly the same as when she first got it, like nothing has actually changed at all between then and now.
Except she doesn't feel the same as she did back then. Fear left her behind a long time ago, but the road away from it stretched out for miles, the end almost out of sight even with her eyes. MOMO remembers thinking how she might never stop being afraid. Remembers wondering if things would ever change for her. Remembers thinking about Daddy all the time and wishing she could have met him just once.
Remembers having to see Daddy fall off Labyrinthos and crash into the ground at her feet. She might never forget that, but it's not as painful now. Daddy was a good man, just like she knew and believed without the proof to back it up. She was so full of faith, and how could she not be? Her memories of Daddy from before she was born could only be a sign of goodness. Back then, not just anyone would have told a Realian girl she could be human just like everyone else. She had to believe, had to have faith from the moment she was born.
MOMO remembers so many times when these feelings pulled through for her, lifted her up out of danger and fear. Saved her from being held captive by U-TIC, rescued her from Albedo all those times he was a threat.
She hopes Albedo is better now, for Jr.'s sake. She's already forgiven him for what he did. MOMO doesn't have it in her to be angry at anyone, and Albedo... He just needed help, needed to be saved. The pain he caused her wasn't completely his fault. MOMO had the time and support needed to cope with that trauma, and she wants Albedo to have it as well if he needs it.
Those were bad times, regardless of how they eventually came to a head which lead to the present. But they did give her Ziggy, who she still feels happy to see everyday, even if he is reserved to the point of seeming unkind. MOMO knows, though, that Ziggy is kind in his heart.
And, despite what anyone says, Ziggy still sounds a lot better than Ziggurat 8. Not that Jr. will ever let anyone forget how it sounds like a dog's name. MOMO doesn't particularly mind Jr.'s words, as long as Ziggy feels more human with a different name. She feels like she might have changed him too, like how he helped her through her changes.
MOMO has to hold back a giggle behind her free hand so she won't wake Mommy. Having Ziggy around, especially when Mommy is there too, makes her so happy. She's overjoyed at seeing Mommy be more open, but the road to having Mommy look at her for more than a minute seemed just as long as her own.
That was painful too, if not just as painful as not having Daddy in her life. Mommy was her whole world when she was born, the only person she had in the entire universe before Ziggy came along. Having Mommy be with her more often was another desperate feeling that buried itself deep in her chest.
It really hits her, sitting with a bullet in her hand and Mommy asleep in the same room as her, that things are finally okay. She is okay and there's something wonderful to look forward to. Something that will be good for everyone.
MOMO climbs back into bed. bullet held in hand, and her last thought before she falls asleep is if Mommy would let Ziggy live with them when they get to Lost Jerusalem.
Mommy is outside their room waiting for her when MOMO finally gets up.
Mommy smiles and says, "Hello, MOMO."
MOMO steps closer to her, her chest swelling with warmth. "Good morning, Mommy."
Mommy begins to walk away from their room and MOMO follows beside her immediately. "You've got a big day ahead of you," Mommy says, glancing down at MOMO as they walk.
"Yes," MOMO replies. "I'll do my best to help Doctus."
Mommy smiles. MOMO loves seeing her smile, and it makes her forget about all the times she didn't get to see it in the past. "I know you will," Mommy says.
Silence takes over for a moment before MOMO breaks it, eyes down to the floor. "I hope they're okay." Her hands twist together in front of her skirt. It hasn't been a full day since the Elsa left, and the ache of parting is still as strong as it was yesterday.
Mommy takes a breath before she speaks. "They'll be fine." MOMO moves her head up to see Mommy looking at her. "We have to have hope now." She stops at the door where MOMO will be working on the Dämmerung and it slides open with a quiet sound. "Are you ready, MOMO?" she asks.
MOMO nods, a new feeling blossoming in her chest. "Yes."