(Hello everyone :) So sorry for the huge gap between posts, I just moved back to my home country, so there wasn’t a lot of time for me to write. I also knew this was going to be the final part in this story, and I didn’t want it to be over. But I may write another Hermitcraft fanfic soon. Because this is the final, it is quite a bit longer than usual, hope you don’t mind. Enjoy!)
As soon as Grian landed beside him, Mumbo pelted him with questions. “Are you okay? Who was that? What happened to him? I’m sorry I was no help, I couldn’t climb down the tree fast enough…”
“That’s all right Mumbo, I don’t blame you. I’m fine, a few scratches and bruises, but otherwise unharmed,” Grian assured him.
“Who is he, though? You must know him, or at least, he knows you, or he wouldn’t have attacked out of the blue like that.”
Grian shrugged and brushed his fringe out of his eyes. “I don’t know, Mumbo. He looked at me like he knew me, but I’ve never seen him before. If I had, I would remember.”
Mumbo nodded thoughtfully. They decided they should probably tell Xisuma what happened; perhaps he knew more. They found the other hermits still sitting on the side of the road, Tango, Xisuma and Keralis trying to convince False to start singing again.
“False can sing?” Grian asked, surprised. He momentarily forgot what he came to them for.
“Right, yeah! You and Mumbo haven’t heard it! She’s phenomenal!” Tango told him. His crimson eyes sparkled, but then he clenched his fist behind his back and his smile faded. It looked to Xisuma like he was punishing himself for something. He pushed the thought aside for now.
“Yeah, Falsie sang in Argentina, and she really is incredible.” X agreed.
“I need to hear this!” Mumbo said excitedly.
“You know what, guys? When this is all over, I’ll sing for everyone and get us into the new year.” False decided.
Everyone smiled triumphantly. They continued to chat about other things, until Grian remembered what he came to tell them.
“Wait, guys. There was something I was trying to tell you before, but I forgot. A man attacked me when Mumbo and I were over yonder. I don’t know him, but we figured he must know us to have any reason to attack me. I was wondering if you guys knew anything about that.” Grian said to all of them, but facing Xisuma. He figured that if anyone knew, Xisuma would. He knew everything regarding the hermits.
“What did this man look like, Grian?” Xisuma asked him.
“Um… quite a handsome man, olive skin, but bloodshot eyes. He had a long scar along his right cheek.” Everyone except Mumbo gasped at his description. “What?” Grian asked, confused. He glanced at Mumbo, who shrugged, feeling just as out of the loop as Grian.
Xisuma was the one who responded. “Remember that night in the other world, when Tango and Keralis were held hostage, Tango died, and you two had to capture a bunch of people?”
Mumbo and Grian nodded, starting to understand.
“The man that attacked us back then matched that exact description. Malus.”
They recognised the name from the recount the others had given them after the fight. Their eyes widened in surprise.
“I assume your fight led to him being thrown into the black hole? It would explain how he got in that world.” Xisuma guessed correctly.
“No point dwelling on it, there’s nothing we can do about it, and we shouldn’t mess with the past anyway.” Keralis said, looking at Grian, knowing the latter would beat himself up over bringing the dangerous man to the other world for many nights to come if wasn’t reassured. Keralis knew Grian would blame himself for Tango’s temporary death, once he connected the dots.
Grian smiled at Keralis gratefully, aware of what he was doing. Keralis smiled back.
At that moment, light returned to the road up ahead; the black hole had closed.
Everyone hurried back to the taxis, this time not fussing over who sat where, so Tango ended up next to False, with Xisuma in the passenger’s seat.
Xisuma motioned for the driver to continue, and looked via the rearview mirror at the two in the back. Tango was sitting very stiffly, arms on his lap, like he really didn’t want to come in contact with anything.
Before Xisuma could dwell on that realisation, Tango noticed him watching, and looked in his eyes through the mirror. Tango blushed slightly from the embarrassment of being watched, and looked away. Nobody talked for the rest of the trip.
At some point during the drive, Tango sensed the other hermit’s minds. He could only really feel their aura, not their thoughts, but if Cleo was paying attention, she would feel them nearby too. Though to be fair, they were probably still recovering from the black hole and watching the six of them get sucked through, so it was unlikely that she was paying attention.
Then, suddenly, Tango felt an overwhelming wave of emotion. Pain, sadness, loss. This grief came from someone else’s mind, and he immediately recognised the aura. It was Impulse.
“Stop! Stop the car!” Tango shouted. He needed to get to Impulse, now.
The startled taxi driver hit the brakes, and Tango jumped out. He couldn’t bear the pain that wasn’t even his own, it was too much to know what his best friend was going through.
He sprinted in the direction of all the presences, but there was still a long way to go. The reach on his telepathy was quite far, so he felt the hermits far before he was anywhere near them. Then Xisuma was next to him. Without a word, he super-speed-ran all the way to the Hermits, taking Tango with him.
They stopped behind a few trees that hadn’t been torn from the earth, a few meters from the hermits, and Xisuma let go of Tango. Tango immediately ran through the group gathered around a single person, curled up in a ball of dread, arms wrapped around his legs, trying to protect himself from pain that came only from within.
“Impulse!” Tango screamed as he pushed his way through the mass of people.
Impulse, the one on the ground, just shook his head and whimpered, rocking back and forth. He mumbled to himself, “That’s not Tango, he’s gone, he’s never coming back.” And he let out a scream.
But then comforting arms wrapped around him, and the same voice that had called his name whispered, “Impulse, it’s all right, it’s me, I’m okay.”
Something in Impulse’s heart mended, a hole sealed. Even though it went against everything he just saw, Impulse wanted to believe him. And he did.
There’s some strange connection that forms in friendships such as these, and when your best friend is nearby, you just know, even when every logical part of your brain says it’s not possible.
Impulse carefully raised his head, and looked directly into his favorite pair of blood-red eyes. And as the final cracks in his heart and soul mended, miraculously, Impulse smiled.
“Tango! You’re alive!” he yelled, and despite himself, giggled with relief. “Wh- how? I saw you die!”
“You didn’t see me die, you saw me vanish into the black hole,” Tango corrected him. “It wasn’t deadly. Long story short, it led to another world, we traveled back in time, and now we’re home!”
“We? Where are the others? Did they make it?” A new expression of worry clouded his chocolate eyes.
“Yes, they-” before Tango could finish his sentence, someone else jumped playfully on top of both of them, knocking both of them over, and embracing them.
“Zed!” Tango laughed, and hugged him back. Then he smiled again, to himself. I’m back with my family.
All the hermits gathered around them just stood, some confused, most just watching the trio’s heartwarming happiness. Xisuma had not yet emerged from the trees, trying to get everything together and prepare to see all the people he was closest to in the world, after all those years. He didn’t quite dare to believe it, and once he’d laid eyes on them all, he stood frozen. Xisuma had always been the sensible and logically thinking one in the group, their leader of sorts. But now he was just afraid of it all being a dream, and he was terrified of getting his hopes up.
He stood there, numb but scared, between the trees, and watched team ZIT wrestle and roll around playfully. But then Cleo, having sensed him telepathically, and noticing his hesitation, came towards him.
“Xisuma, it’s okay. It’s really us. I know how you feel,”-she gestured at her head- “obviously, but you don’t have to worry that it’s all a dream”. Xisuma didn’t move. “You’re making me do this,” she said, and in one movement, twisted his arm behind his back and forced him to the ground.
“Ow! What was that for?” Xisuma demanded, coming to his senses.
“Could you have dreamt that?” Cleo asked, releasing him.
“I suppose not…”
“Good. Come join us. Where are Grian and the rest? The ones who went with you?”
“They took the taxi. They should be here soon.”
“Taxi? From where- you know what, tell everyone the whole story later. I’m just glad you’re all alive”.
They joined the people still huddled around the now again-hugging team ZIT, and once people saw Xisuma, he was embraced by at least ten different hermits.
Just then, two taxis appeared at the end of the street, and Grian and Mumbo tumbled right out. They jumped to their feet as False and Keralis stepped out a bit more gracefully, but all four of them sprinted over to their friends. Everybody was hugging everybody.
“Bubbles!!” Keralis yelled, peering over the many heads in search of the little fella. And he was tackled to the ground and embraced tightly by bdubs.”Bubbles!” Keralis said again, happily.
But then Grian caught sight of team ZIT, still lying on the ground in the middle of the crowd. “Group hug!!” he shouted, and flopped on top of them, Mumbo right behind him.
Impulse grinned. “Hey G! Welcome back!”
Then another body added itself to the pile of happiness. Scar threw his arms around Grian and giggled in a way only he could. Then Iskall threw himself on top of Mumbo. After that, the rest followed, one by one, until all twentyfour of them were one big pile of pure euphoria. Even Jellie perched on top.
They could have remained like that for hours, just soaking up each other’s warmth and friendship, but eventually Zedaph said, “Um, I know we’re all very happy, but perhaps Impulse and Tango would like to breathe. I wouldn’t mind some fresh air either, actually.”
Everyone laughed and started gently trying to disentangle themselves from the heap of limbs. Before they could all disengage, however, two more young women showed up and just stood watching them, confusion on their faces, but also an expression that said, ‘yeah, seems about right’.
“Uh… Hi! I thought this was a New Year’s party?” one of them asked in her Australian accent.
At this, someone deep within the pile somehow jumped up, throwing all the hermits off him. Grian attempted to flatten his now messy hair with one hand, while he waved at the girls with the other. “Pearl! Right! I forgot I invited you… years ago.”
“Ehm… I’ll ask later. Is it still okay that we’re here? Oh yeah, I hope you don’t mind, I brought a plus one. This is Gem.” Said Pearl, gesturing at the woman beside her.
In a voice a hundred times sweeter than candyfloss, Gem said, “Nice to meet you all. You must be Grian, judging by the chaos around you.” This was met with welcoming laughter from all around.
Pearl and Gem helped everyone out of the mess of bodies, and then everyone- some skipping, some running, some just walking- went back to the ballroom where, a few hours or a few years ago, depending on who you asked, everyone was dancing, not a care in the world. Grian flew through the open doors and looked around at the place he had always continued to call home, with every day that had passed in the other timeline.
As he flew around, Mumbo and Iskall jumped up to reach him and each grabbed hold of one of his legs, pulling him down. “Come back down to earth, Grian!” Mumbo joked.
“Yeah, get your head out of the clouds,” Iskall added, laughing his contagious Swedish laugh.
Grian allowed his friends to pull him down, and hugged them again. “I love you guys.”
A few minutes later, it was as if no time had passed. Everyone stood around the room in little groups, chatting, while the big clock on one wall ticked off the minutes until the new millennium began.
Team ZIT stood around the same high table as they had before everything happened. They were talking about all sorts of things, but not the one thing everyone was wondering about. They had decided that was a story best told when everyone was together and listening, so all six time travelers could talk about it together.
“Oh, by the way, did you know False speaks Spanish?” Tango asked his two best friends.
“What? No way!” Impulse said in disbelief.
“Of course she does. That sounds like something she’d secretly know.” Zed grinned.
Their conversation was interrupted when False came over to their table.
“Hey Tango, wanna dance like we did in Argentina?” she asked with a smile, not knowing how pained that made him feel.
But he didn’t want to disappoint her, so he said, “Can you give me a few minutes?”
She nodded and slipped back into the sea of people.
“Tango, are you okay?” Zedaph asked, watching the way his friend stared after her.
Impulse saw it too, and had also noticed the flicker of hurt in Tango’s crimson eyes when she asked him to dance.
“I don’t know what happened in Argentina, or how in the world you even got to Argentina, but something changed, Tango, and it’s hurting you. We don’t want to see you hurt.” Zedaph told him.
Tango tore his gaze away from where False had disappeared between the mass of bodies, and turned back to face him. “I- I think I’m in love with her, guys. But I don’t want to be, I don’t want to ruin our friendship, or make things awkward with the rest of the hermits.” Tango confessed.
Impulse nodded, he’d suspected something like that. Zedaph looked surprised but understanding, and asked, “Have you talked to her? Maybe if you just told her how you feel, you can get it off your chest. It might be awkward for a bit, but you’re both mature…ish, your friendship will survive.”
“I think Zed is right. Maybe you should just confess.” Impulse concurred.
Tango sighed. “I guess it’s worth a shot. I don’t want to live like this.” And with that, he trudged to the dancefloor, where False was waiting for him. But when he put his hand on her waist, his mental connection with her seemed to become more focused, and narrowed down from his general view of all hermits’ thoughts, to only her’s. He felt her every emotion with every fibre of his being, and while that may seem romantic, it had the opposite effect. He felt everything she felt towards him, which was pure friendship and platonic love. And as he felt that, all his romantic notions seemed to melt away. He valued their friendship more than anything, and didn’t believe in lost causes anyway. He knew how she felt, and now he felt that way too. And he was grateful for it.
They tango’d into the final five minutes before the clock struck twelve, and Tango happily led. They were already warm from the wild movements when Xisuma approached them. “Two things. One, Falsie, were you going to sing us into the New Year?” he asked.
Tango and False stopped dancing to face him. “Yes, I’ll head to the stage.” False confirmed.
“Hold on. The second thing was that I was just talking to Stress, who was watching you dance, along with the rest of the hermits, I might add, and she mentioned the year the tango was invented.” He paused, looking at them meaningfully. “1880.”
False and Tango glanced at each other. “That was the year we went to in the time machine.” Tango said, realising. “Do you think we-?”
“I think we did!” False said, laughing.
Xisuma smiled. “Now you can sing, Falsie.”
And sing she did. Even more beautifully than in Argentina, over a century ago. She sang them all the way into the New Year, and everything was as it should be. As Xisuma watched Tango watching False, he saw no sign of his strange behaviour from earlier. He smiled to himself. Whatever had been going on with Tango, he was alright now. And the two of them, along with the rest of their family, shouted, “Happy New Year!”