We'll Marry Our Fortunes Together

As they walked up the road, Maria marveled at the differences in this version of Window Rock compared to the town back home. Mom had some pictures of Window Rock that she'd taken when she'd come back from China... even then, there were more buildings along this road, none of them trailers. And the road was wider... in better condition, too. Though from what Andrea and Ryan had said, resources were allocated where they were most needed and Window Rock wasn't exactly a tourist attraction anymore... or not much of one.

Even Grandpa Nelson and Grandma Sandy's photos showed paved roads all around the loop to the Window Rock observation point. The back roads didn't just look to be in disrepair, they looked like they had never been paved at all. How peculiar.

Vin stopped as they reached the parking lot for the observation area, and got that look on his face that meant he was talking to someone. Maria smiled as she slid her arm around his waist and looked at the town's namesake.

It was just as beautiful here as it was in her world. She had to admit to herself that she was relieved. This world might be falling to the Darkness, but at least there was some beauty left in the world.

When Vin finished his conversation, she urged him forward toward the pathway that wound close to the rock itself.

"So what's up?" she asked as they walked. "We've still got plenty of time to romantically enjoy the area, right? I figure we ought to at least give the impression we've been doing something newlyweds would do, or our siblings will tease us mercilessly until Aunt Lin puts us in full out Wolf Pack mode."

Maria looked at Vin, sighing as she smiled. "Of course, knowing the two of them, they'll probably tease us anyway. At least until our folks put a stop to it."

"Nothing out of the norm. Mom wants me to talk to the local telepaths when they gather. Said we don't need to come back yet," he answered as they walked along.

"That's why you get paid the big bucks, dear," Maria said with a smile. "You use more of your brain than the rest of us." She walked closely tucked against him, every step in sync. "I understand why you took over running the school when you did. Mom was kind of a mess for a while after Dad died, and Aunt Lin... well, I never got the impression she wanted to be doing it. You know, it was like she and Mom took turns doing it because they loved Uncle Charles so much. And the two of them have some kind of connection that I can't quite see... neither can Paul... but they seem to know the very instant the other is in trouble or pain."

"Yeah, and mom thought Uncle Charles was quite insane when he asked her to run the school."

She paused and shook her head. "You know," she said almost to herself, "he keeps saying we knew what it was and we decided to forget that one thing because they got it worked out." She shook herself again and smiled at Vin. "I think the point is probably that our mothers are really eerie, and that it's best for you to be running the school. Making those big bucks and all." She winked at him.

"I get paid?" he asked in feigned surprise. "Where does it all go?"

"Knowing you? If you do get paid, you just turn around and give the money to someone who needs it more than you do." She chuckled. "We're a weird family that way. Mom says it's all Aunt Lin's fault."

"Well, it's not like I need it. Professor X set the school to last into perpetuity, and mom added to it."

He looked around then gave Maria a mischievous smile. "You know, I don't think I've ever been out this way. Show me around, mon amour?"

She noted the mischievousness in his smile and tsked. "Vin, even in our world the Window Rock is the biggest deal around town, so pardon me while I suspect you're pulling my leg." Then she gave him a smile that was more sultry than anything else, as she let him up the path. "The view from the middle of the rock is spectacular... even looking back on the town makes everything look better."

"I've never seen this as a newlywed before, you know," he said. Then he simply enjoyed the scenery as he followed her to the center of the window.

She stopped at the split rail fence that surrounded the base of Window Rock, about half a dozen paces from the break in the fence that allowed access to the path. "There's no one to give you a break... not for any length of time, anyway. You know I've always worried about you." Maria held her husband close. Husband. It seems so odd.

He smiled over at her. "I don't need a break as long as you have my back."

Looking up into his eyes, she asked, "Should I feel different now? Setting aside the teasing for a moment, have our lives changed enough that I should feel different about me, about you, about us?" She smiled that crooked little endearing smile she inherited from her father. "Maybe it just hasn't completely sunk in yet."

He offered a shrug next. "I don't know. Do I feel different? A little... there's a... a peace, I guess, a contentment, knowing that whatever happens we face it together. I suppose it's a bit like when my folks finally committed to each other after your mom brought Oncle Rene out from the bad place. Em knew right away. She said there was a different feel to them. There was an outpouring of joy from dad and real peace from mom, no more pain. Her pain was always there, and then it wasn't."

She nodded. She and her brother hadn't decided to be yet – at least she didn't think they had – but she thought she understood that. Tilting her head, she thought about what Vin said about... peace. Contentment. "Maybe that's it," she whispered. "Peace." She felt a gentle nudge on her back, and she rolled her eyes even as she smiled. "Either I'm a total ninny or Deer enjoys it just a little too much when I finally get it."

She paused a moment, then shook her head. "You know... I've always thought of myself as more of an adjunct faculty member at the school. Coming onboard for a semester or two when you needed my specific skill set or an extra pair of hands in the infirmary. Despite the ridiculous outfits, I've always thought of myself as an X-Man first. I guess I'm kind of slow, but I never realized until just now how much you rely on me to simply be there." Maria hugged him, held him close. "This is good for both of us then. You don't have to worry about a 'someday' when I might get up and go on Walkabout like the rest of our family does. And I don't have to feel like I'm mooching off the school when I'm not busy all the time."

It didn't take long to reach the rock and stand in the center of the arch. It almost seemed as if words were inappropriate as they looked out over the other rocks in the local formation and the desert beyond.

"Once we leave the Diné lands, you know our mothers and your dad will be all business. And your sister probably will be, too. My brother, on the other hand?" She shook her head. "He'd still be cracking wise if Armageddon were zooming toward us at the speed of light."

"And do you really think our mothers will put a stop to the teasing? They'll probably be worse than our siblings.

"All business or not, Paul gets his smart mouth from your mother. Remember, it's Ninja's 'trademark'," he told her, even adding the air quotes.

"Yeah, even Dad says he absolutely can't believe that smart assery is an inheritable trait, but that Paul certainly got a healthy dose of it. And he still does that thing where he goes all theatrical with the Woe, oh woe! Where has my sweet Andrea, my delicate librarian gone? whenever Mom goes Ninja." She giggled. "I have to think he likes getting smacked on the back of the head. Because even after he died and became a Spirit, Mom can still move faster than he can and because of her Gift, she can still smack him on the back of the head. Oh gods, the first time she did... the look on his face! And Uncle Rene laughing so hard he was nearly crying!"

The view was beautiful, out there before them and right here next to him. He was inspired to enjoy the view with his lips as much as his eyes and leaned in to kiss his Wife. There were no impressionable students here to worry about, and so he did not hold back.

Standing in the Window Rock always made Maria feel like she was truly home. She didn't have an actual home within the Nation, but just being on Diné soil called to her soul. She loved to run the land as wolf or soar above the desert and mountains as eagle, falcon, hawk. Even here, in this universe that wasn't hers, that didn't know her... she felt that same sense of home.

And now home meant even more, as she gave of herself completely when she kissed her husband... heart and mind and soul.

I love you, my beloved Vincent.

He once again lost himself in the feel of her lips and arms.

And I love you, my beloved Maria.

He might have kept going except for the sudden presence of his mother's mind voice.

About ten minutes, Vincent, so get your snogging out while you can.


He sighed and leaned his forehead on Maria's.

"I hate when mom does that. She says we've got ten minutes to get back, and, I quote, to get our snogging out while we can."

Maria sighed, too.

"Your mother and my mother are utterly incorrigible. And it took us nearly ten minutes to get over here." She kisses him softly, a promise of more intimate activities later... assuming their families ever let them have any peace.

"Come on," she said with resignation, taking his hand. "Let's go face the music. Jobs to do, and all that. Well, you have a job to do. Maybe I'll just fly around until our ride gets here."

She had to let go of his hand at the bottom of the path because it was fairly narrow. In those few moments, she felt her brother's crushing sadness... understood it... and regretted allowing him to talk her into remembering Before. He had made such a good argument for it, but were the lessons learned going to be worth this much pain? The doubts she always had were not going away.

And then Vin took her hand again, smiling at her with such radiance that she had to smile at him in kind. Oddly — or perhaps not — holding Vin's hand cut off the flood of Paul's pain. She would ask Mom about that, except... yeah. Maybe in a couple of years she'd ask Mom about that.

In the meantime, it was nice to walk hand in hand with Vin for no other reason than to hold his hand.

© Kelly Naylor and ividia kt