• Published 28th Jun 2017
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Comparing Notes - Rose Quill

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Science!

Sunset opened the clear glass door and entered the veranda where the other Shimmers were. Twilight was right behind her and eager for some samples like the one she had gotten from Midnight. The fact that she did not have her lab's large DNA sequencers on her made her sigh. She would not know if her guesses had been accurate until much much later. After all, their knowledge of the multiverse realities was only speculation. Probable but not proven.

Other Sunset broke from her thoughts to look over to the newcomers, who pulled up chairs to the veranda's sole table. Other Twilight continued working on some papers, making calculations for something. The one couple sat down with the other.

"I was thinking we'd try something adventurous today," Sunset began. "But we seem to have something important going on instead, don't we?"

"Middy doesn't just fall for anyone," the other Sunset responded. "You've got one special son there."

"Of course," Twilight beamed and adjusted her glasses while doing so.

"Hmm," other Twilight hummed. "Maybe if..."

"What are you working on?" Twilight diverted her attention to her other self, leaning over her work in the process.

"Talked to him?" Sunset continued with her other.

"Of course. And you talked to Middy?"

"Of course," Sunset replied in kind. "Well, Twi did. I'm curious though...did Midnight's name ever cause any confusion? I mean, does your Twi still transform into Midnight or is it different for her?"

"We still can, but we haven't had a need to since the girls were born," I said. "We named her such because of what happened when Sunshine went into labor."

My counterpart's brow furrowed. "What do you mean?"

I smiled, knowing Twi was busy with calculations and was thereby distracted. She hated the way I told this story.

"When the first contraction hit, she panicked," I said, lowering my voice conspiratorially. "Went full on Midnight mode and accidentally fried the tv. Your story of the tofu kaiju reminded me of it, actually."

My double laughed, and both Twilights looked over at me.

You do realize I can feel when you're being a troublemaker, yeah? she sniped sardonically.

I stuck my tongue out at her.

"I see," Sunlight leaned back in her chair. "We've never had much of a problem with names ourselves. Even if we named him Midnight, it's not like Twi transforms much with him around. We usually only do it to make things more interesting in the-"

"Hey," Twilight interrupted her spouse with a disapproving frown.

Sunset shrugged it off with a grin and gave her other self a knowing wink. "We did call him Sunny a few times when he was a baby, but that got problematic for obvious reasons. So we went with Lighty. I'm sure I'm not the only one who fiunds it ironic that our children that developed an attraction were named after opposing things: Sunlight and Midnight."

"Not at all. And, anyways, Middy has never been the type to crush easily or openly," Other Sunset responded with a grin of agreement. "But you can be sure we've had our suspiscions about her preferences. It's hard not to know our own daughter."

"Same with Lighty," Sunset moved her hand about, wishing she had a drink to grab and then thinking to go back inside to grab one. "But this connecting ability you and your daughters have must have one heck of a wallop. Lighty would never get that forward or bold with a girl he didn't already know darn well."

Meanwhile, Twilight had inched her own chair next to her counterpart's. She looked over her other's work with a curious thought. "You think the hertz can have a relation to the physical similarities between universes or is it just a method of connection unrelated to the multiverse positioning?"

I mused on what my double had said while listening to Twilight with one ear.

"I'm not entirely sure'" she admitted. She pointed to a pair of numbers. "This is entirely theoretical, but given the sheer number of similar events and the relatively modest differences, we would have to be within several hundred hertz according to my notes."

"You have notes on alternate dimensional frequency variance?" The twin of my wife tilted her head. "Do I want to know how?"

"Oh, that's simple," my wife stated. "The mirror used to connect more than just our worlds. Princess Celestia was forced to sever the other connection, though."

"It's part of why the old mare is sad sometimes," I added. "She apparently fell for somepony there and can never see him again."

Turning back to my double, her toned arms folded in thought, I realized we were in a similar situation here.

"It shouldn't have worked," I said finally. "The bond Sunshine and I share is different from what the kids do. That's a projection of emotion using magic as a carrier wave. But normally, only Twilight and I can do it on this side. Granted, Middy has always been more in touch with her Unicorn heritage than Rory, but for her to be able to ping any sort of connection on this side of the mirror, the odds are astronomical."

"What do you mean?" I heard as my thoughts drifted back to the bond between the kids.

"Looking back, Middy was always sad when we had to come back from visits to Equestria or when she couldn't go with me to a summit," I murmured. "Even when she ponies up, she's more pony-like than we ever were. She grows a tail and her cutie mark manifests as well." I looked into the eyes across from me, seeing the wheels turn.

"It's like her magic linked with his latent magic," I said. "And in that moment, there were likely no secrets. Any attraction would have been apparent to both."

"It may also be why she never made any advances," Twilight said, closing her notebook. "She may feel a little like, well, a freak compared to her 'normal' classmates. With Sunlight, she knew nothing done or revealed would seem odd, considering. She might have done it on instinct, not knowing the reason."

"Hmm," Sunset hummed to herself. "I suppose if you believe in fate then this is all inevitable. For me, I'm not sure it matters. He's grown up. As much as I love him, I know he's reached an age where he's going to be moving on. Maybe Equestria will be a part of his life that it didn't end up being for me."

Noticing her wife's body language change, Twilight halted her preoccupation with her other self and came over to lovingly put her hands on Sunset's shoulders. "How about we meet up with Dashie at the south beach, honey? The wind should be sufficient for sailborading."

The other Sunset looked to consider the thought. Obviously her counterpart was open to it. "It won't be easy to get my egghead to put her pen down."

Twilight giggled while looking back to the busy Other Twilight, who had momentarily paused her work.

"That actually sounds like fun," I said, glancing at my bookworm. She shut the notebook and tucked the pen into her bun, which was slowly coming undone. "Finished?"

"Mostly, " she said, rising. "Can't do anything else until I get books to bind the spell into. I'm going to go see if I can find suitable ones on the mainland."

She's still concerned over Sunlight, I heard as she turned to leave. I caught her eye and nodded.

"That's a little unnerving, now that I know what it is," Twilight's twin said. "Don't you get confused?"

I shook my head. "Sunshine and I have gotten used to it over the years. It's practically second nature," I grinned. "And do you really want to hear everything we say to each other, knowing how you and your Sunset are?"

The bright flush of red was just as rewarding as when it appeared on my wife.

"Why do you call her Sunshine?" My doppelganger asked.

"That's a story I'll tell you on the way to the beach," I teased. "But first, you need to recognize something so I don't have to poke you in the head again."

I captured her gaze and held it. "Regardless of his choices made, he is still and forever your son," I said. "Just because he might move forward doesn't mean he'll leave you behind. I know that look and those words you said, I said them myself when Middy moved to Baltimare for college." I grinned. "You see how that turned out."

Sunset paused before turning back towards the villa door. "I...I know. It's just..."

"Empty nest syndrome?" Other Twilight suggested pointedly but with a knowing look.

Sunset gave a "heh" or wordless agreement while her own wife answered for her.

"There are times early on and even inbetween," Twilight verbalized as they set back through the villa to grab a few items in the living room. "Times when you just wish the parenting was all over. But then when they grow up, you miss the times when they were younger. And the thought of them not being there every morning as a part of the routine..."

Sunset grabbed one of the remote controls for the Hydro Star. "It's a little sad."

Other Sunset gently put her hand to her copy's shoulder and looked her in the eye thoughtfully. "Believe me," she admitted, "I know."

"I suppose the times and memories we will still have in the future are the best consolation," Sunset let out with a breath. "Things that are unique to having grown-up children."

"Let's get Lighty," Twilight concluded after she got the last of the drinks together.

"I think we may want to let the lad be," I said. "Since Sunshine and I spoke to him earlier, I haven't seen him or Middy."

"You think they're together?" The other Twilight adjusted her glasses.

"Likely," my twin said, grabbing a duffel with our cutie mark emblazoned on it. "They likely needed to talk to each other as much as we wanted to talk to them." She still had a nervous look on her face, one I recognized easily.

"Do you trust him?" Sunshine asked, knowing where my thoughts led.

"Of course," came the stereo response, looks of reproach on their faces.

"And we trust Midnight," I said. "Plus, after the whole 'meet the parents' morning, maybe we should let them have some time to themselves. It's not like we did anything weird, right?"

The other Twilight froze for a second, then started giggling nervously.

My twin covered her face with a hand, groaning. "You didn't. "

Her wife smiled meekly. "Just a bucal swab," she said.

"Twily," she said with exaggerated patience. "We talked about this last night. No badgering for DNA samples. It's not polite. "

"Do you want to share with the class?" My wife said in her best teacher vioce and face, matched with my Regal Look.

The scientist gulped.

Fearing for the reaction of the other pair, Twilight retreated to her long time refuge. The fortress against all external threats. Sunset "Safehouse" Shimmer. The otherwise mature woman, held onto her wife from behind, using her as a shield. "No..." she whispered out as Fluttershy used to.

Sunset giggled while her other self shook her head with a smile. Sunshine, as she was called by her own wife, made an "oh really" expression.

"I only have a speculation about the genetic disparity between converged universes. This is such an opportuniy," Twilight squeaked out timidly.

"You got a DNA sample from our daughter?" Sunshine raised a brow. "I don't suppose that lead to any discoveries...?"

"My DNA sequencer is back at the lab, unfortuinately," came the slightly less timid reply. Twilight remained behind her spouse purely for dramatic effect.

Sunset added in while leading them out the door and towards their ship. "It's a non-portable machine. You should see it. It takes up an entire room."

"So nothing conclusive while on vacation?" Other Sunset put it succinctly.

"We'll have to give you the results over a journal link or something," Sunset shrugged. She rubbed Twilight's back as she pulled her out alongside her. The woman was wearing a more relaxed tank top that did a flattering job of showing off her curves while keeping her almost as cool as a swimsuit might. Sunset was made to consider ditching the overshirt she had atop her own tank due to the humidity outside the air conditioned villa. She only put it on moments before for the thought of it being useful later on.

I kept the Look going for a few more moments, then relaxed fully.

"Well, I got to admit some curiosity myself," I chuckled. Stopping by the girl's room, I poked my head in to see if Rory wanted to tag along.

She was still out like a light, limbs everywhere and a light snore issuing from her open mouth. The plush of a parasprite that Fluttershy had made her as a child was clutched against her chest tightly.

She's worse than Dash, Sunshine said, her maternal smile matching mine as we gazed on for a moment.

Catching up with our doubles, I tapped the other Twilight on the arm after a glance at my wife to get her thoughts.

"How'd you like to get a complete set?" I asked.

The speed of her halting and turning to face us was astonishing. Her eyes gleamed with a familiar light as she clasped her hands.

"How?" she breathed.

"First, ask permission from Rory whenever she wakes up," I said. "I'm willing, and so is Miss Five-Degrees here."

"One set of sequences," Sunshine put in, elbowing me in the side for tbe nickname. "Then, conclusive or not, the samples are destroyed. You also have to help seal the books so they bind with your realities' harmonic resonance. If it works the way I've got it figured, Middy and Sunlight's cutie marks should appear merged on both covers."

The other bespectacled woman nodded her head so quickly I was sure it would fallen off.

"Mind answering a few questions while we wait on the Star ?" my twin glanced at me.

"What's on your mind?"

She chewed on her bottom lip a moment.

"First is probably common sense, but is there a reason you and the girls use Equestrian terms? It took years to get used to not swearing by Celestia's name."

"Habit'" Sunshine said. "We're there every three months or so for a summit or the Summer Sun Celebration. Hard not to get into the habit when attending."

I nodded in agreement.

"Seems fair," Sunset said, scratching her head. "Secondly, why do you call her Sunshine?"

"It got confusing with two Twilights when we went to Equestria," Other Sunset shrugged. "Sunshine was a useful distinction. As for why that name specifically, it was a nickname she got from her grandmother. She was actually the one to ask me to use it."

"Sunset was going through some bad things back then, with her mother passing away suddenly," Sunshine added in. "I wanted to be her ray of light in the darkness."

"Awww," Twilight cooed in response. "That's so sweet."

"That's you all over," Sunset turned to her wife with a grin.

The sound of lapping waves gave another background to the chirping and cawing of the nearby birds. They had arrived at the Star's dock and the ship could be seen approaching the inlet if one were to lean around the overhanging foliage to see to the ocean's opening. Sunset took the oppotunity to hold her wife up against her side. She enjoyed the soft warmth. Familiar.

"Reminds me a bit of why we named Lighty," Twilight commented while wrapping her arm around her wife in return.

"Oh?" Sunshine asked.

Her twin nodded. "We knew we wanted something that had a meaning in our family, something positive. We went through a lot of names before we combined ours."

"We laughed about it during the pregnancy," my own reflection comented. "But with as often as it came up, we figured we might as well go with it."

"Makes sense," I said with a contented sigh as a cool breeze blew some of my hair free from the kerchief I had bound it up with. "Sometimes you go with what occurs to you."

Sunshine glanced back at the villa, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear.

"Should we leave a note for the kids?" She asked.

I raised an eyebrow. "Beyond the kids being bright," I smirked. "There are these magical devices called cell phones that let you send messages across large distances. And the I have the Royal Voice, too."

"Smartass," she fired back, tongue poking out.

"You know you love it," my twin returned, elicting a soft slap on the shoulder after she said it.

"It's true," I said, giving the bond a quick pluck.

"I'm torn between curiosity and envy when I see that," the other Twilight remarked. "I wonder how it must have affected your children while in the womb, or how it might have physically affecfed the two of you. Oh, if only..."

My copy reached over and booped her wife on the nose, ending the rant.

"What do you know," I said as I grabbed my wife's hand. "Universal remote."

Two tongues were aimed at me.

Just then the gentle "whir" of the Hydro Star could be heard. It gently pushed water aside as it drifted to a lazy stop at their tiny island dock. The automatic mooring system clacked into place as it came to a full halt. The pritsine gangway lowered next before a friendly jingle played off the ship's external speakers to indicate approaching it was safe.

Sunset stepped across the gangway after her wife input the door code. Their matching pair was close behind to enter the cozy and familiar interior. Sunset took to the plush sofa in the back while Twilight grabbed a cold drink from the lounge cooler.

"Don't forget," Twilight giggled after a sip, "this is still technically on loan from my sister-in-law."

"Our sister-in-law," Other Twilight added with a wink.

The smooth motion of the ship caused no lurch. Sunset had used the remote to automate the ship to the desired docking spot on the mainland. She also made sure to open the windows so they had a beautiful view of the short voyage across the bay from King's Land to the resort village.

"WHOO-HOO!" I shouted as I crested the wave and felt the board go limp under my feet. I twisted the sail just enough to cut into the sea breeze and send the board onto a course for the calmer side of the surf. The landing was a bit rougher than I liked, but then, that was the first time I had taken to the air not under my own wing power. I glided into the shallows and stepped off in time to see Dash pull an impressive leap from the wave that ended with a full 360 spin.

"Ah, yeah!" she shouted as she coasted up next to me. "Did you see that sick air?"

"Hard to miss that hair of yours flashing in the sun, Dash," Sunshine smiled, stretched out on a towel with a book in her lap, a receipt from the bookstore being used as a bookmark. Two thick journals were tucked into the beach bag she had hauled along.

"It was impressive," I said. "Nice solid landing, too."

"Please, don't feed her ego," Adagio said from a ways off where she was sunning herself on a rock where the ocean mist kept her cool. "We already have a spare room just for it."

"Not my fault you can't stay on the board, sirenbutt," Dash giggled, going over and giving her wife a kiss. I had trouble reconciling the image, so used to Dash being with AJ or Dagi with Sandalwood.

"They'll probably dissappear soon to be alone," my twin said. "Usually do when they can dodge the twins for a few hours. I feel sorry for Oxy."

"She loves those kids," Twilight said. "Otherwise she wouldn't agree each time."

I was about to open my mouth to respond when an astonished gasp came from behind us, causing all assembled to glance back.

I blinked a few times.

"Hey, Flutters, what brings you out here?"

"Oh...my..." Fluttershy stumbled over her choice of words. She knew that seeing Sunset and Twilight at the resort was never an impossiblity, but certainly seeing twice the amount of them should be. Some activity with the beach was obviously in her plans since she was wearing a swimsuit not dissimilar to Midnight's. "Umm..."

"Didn't expect to see you here, Shy," Other Sunset continued with Fluttershy's hesitation. "Need help there?"

Fluttershy looked down to her bags she was carrying, which were full of beach supplies. She looked back up with a blush but shook her head. "No, thank you...um...Sunset?" she remained confused as she looked between both Sunsets. "I was just scouting a spot for Rarity and Melody. They're getting something cold at the stands. Would it be okay to set up next to your spot? It's very nice."

"Of course, Fluttershy," Other Twilight was quick to agree and even walk over to give the woman a friendly hug before helping her with a sun shade. She took easily to it, knowing it was the Fluttershy from her own dimension. They were hardly strangers.

Instantly, Sunset could tell this was likely not the Fluttershy she knew. Her hair was held up differently, her swimsuit choice was altered, and her very mannerisms were off. That and Rarity. The topic was inevitable and even began in haste.

"Dimensions collided," Twilight answered promptly when Flutterhy looked to her after spreading out her beach towel and getting comfortable next to her.

"Less strange things have happened to us," Fluttershy giggled while taking the idea with remarkable ease. In fact, it was hardly strange that anyone in either set of their friends would be shocked by "weird and extreme" events. They had become rather commonplace.

"I hope I don't sound rude in asking but I'm curious because of how our own version of Fluttershy is," Sunset came over and dropped down casually between her wife and Other Fluttershy. "Are you married?"

The animal lover hesitated a moment due to Sunset's suit. It was far more revealing than the ones she was used to seeing on her more familiar Sunset. For a bikini, it was generous on the skin rather than the fabric. "Oh yes...for quite some time. Rarity and I have a fifteen year old daughter: Melody."

"Oh gosh," Twilight put a hand to her mouth.

"Did I say something wrong?" Fluttershy turned worried.

"No, no," Sunset assured her. "It's just that...well, our friends hooked up a tad differently where we're from," she explained with a light-hearted chuckle. To think that Rarity had gone to Fluttershy is this other reality. "Our Shy isn't married. Single and really strong too," she continued to comment and grabbed a fresh cold drink from the minicooler next to her wife. "Though we've got some serious suspicions."

"She's been meeting with someone for a while now," Twilight explained. "She won't talk about it but we think it's a love interest."

"It's written all over her face when we try to squeeze something out of her on it," Sunset chuckled and then downed a gulp of the iced fruit drink. "She never put effort into dating when we were younger but maybe she's gotten to a point in her life where she wants that sort of thing. You certainly jumped on it earlier, huh?"

"It wasn't as easy as all that," Fluttershy whispered. Though her confidence had grown by leaps and bounds since dating - and eventually marrying - Rarity, she had never truly lost that soft spoken way, especially in unusual situations. "We had a few rough patches, but things, well..." she trailed off as a voice carried over the surf to their ears, a young woman singing wordlessly.

A figure soon followed the voice, a teen with royal purple hair hanging free around tanned shoulders, accompanied by a smiling Rarity. She skipped up and held out a cup of shaved ice to Fluttershy.

"Here, Mum," she said in a voice that held a trace of Rarity's accent. "I got your favorite!"

"Thank you, sparrow," Fluttershy said, prompting a giggle and a quick hug.

"Hi, Auntie Sunset, Auntie Twilight!" Melody said as she went to deliver hugs. "Are Rory and Middy here too?" She hadn't quite noticed the fact that there were two of us present.

"They're back on the island," Other Twilight answered her virtual niece. In her mind, she couldn't help wondering about the details of what was happening on the island - besides Aurora sleeping through the day.

"They'll join up sometime later, I'm sure," Other Sunset added. "But I'm also sure Sunlight will be interested in meeting you if you stick around long enough."

"Sunlight?" the girl asked quizzicly.

Other Twilight made a head gesture towards the other pair of Shimmers and the girl gasped in response.

"You...!" she held her hands to her chest. "Counterparts? Or is this some form of Equestrian magic?" she turned quickly to her own Twilight, though she heard the words coming from elsewhere. The same voice but a different mouth.

"Not exactly," Twilight told her from her laying spot beneath the umbrella situated beside Fluttershy's. "We ruled out both. If it involves Equestrian magic then only in the sense of connecting non-Equestrian worlds."

"Pleased to meet the daughter of one of my closest friends," Sunset remarked as she walked over to greet the girl more properly. She smiled gently to seem less intimidating, though she was certain the familiarity of her face prevented that anyways. "Even if it's a different 'version,' so to speak."

Melody brushed her hands on her sarong and extended one to the other Sunset.

"A pleasure indeed," she replied as her other parent raised a cultured eyebrow as she looked at the two additional members of her inner circle.

"Well, this is a surprise," Rarity said. "It's a little difficult, but I can tell the differences between the two of you."

"Oh really?" I asked, cocking an eyebrow. "How, exactly?"

"It's simple," Melody spoke up, reaching out and putting a hand on my duplicate's shoulder. "She's built a little different from you, and look in her eyes is a little different." She turned and pointed at the Twilight next to her mom. "And this Twilight has different glasses than Auntie Twi, and some difference in how she sits. Anyone that knows you well should be able to tell you apart."

I laughed, feeling humor in the bond as Sunshine reached over to pat the girl on the shoulder.

"Honestly," Rarty said, beaming down at her daughter. "Anyone with an eye for detail could tell. Also, our Twilight would never be comfortable enough to dress in a suit as revealing as those, despite the many times I tried to convince her as to her look. Seems I was correct in saying you would look just as attractive."

I could see the wheels in my wife's mind grind to a standstill as she tried to picture herself in one of the suits our doubles wore. Sadly, or perhaps interestingly enough, images of me in a suit very similar emerged and I grinned as I plucked the bond again, seeing her twitch and the screwed up face she made as she tried to suppress a smile.

"She has a point," Twilight said. "There are a lot of subtle differences, now that I've had time to compare. Like how the point of the chin on my Sunny is a little more narrow than on yours, or how you, Sunshine, are slightly taller than me."

"Well of course!" Sunset replied to that. "I couldn't imagine not being able to use my height advantage against Twily!"

Other Sunset smirked as Twilight stuck out her bottom lip and gently smacked her wife on the arm.

"So are you just here for a regular vacation like our counterparts?" Twilight asked Rarity next.

"Why, of course, darling," Rarity replied as she grabbed some sun lotion next to her wife and began applying it. "Of course we couldn't imagine doing any manner of wor-"

Her words were interrupted by the appearance of Sunset standing back up and straightening out the back of her bikini while eyeing the waves. Like Fluttershy, she had been momentarily derailed, but more for the sake of vindication than distraction. She turned her attention to Other Sunset and nodded to herself.

"I told you that you could be a model if you wanted," Rarity eyed her own Sunset.

The woman shrugged while her counterpart turned back to the group.

"Who's up for a round in the water?" Sunset beamed.

"I'm going to take a minute and dry out a bit first," I replied, giving Rarity the same flat look as the last time she had suggested modeling. "I didn't exactly land all of my attempts at air."

My double shrugged and ambled to the water with a slow walk that I knew was meant to entice her wife. And it worked, since the other Twilight excused herself and followed. Despite the beach being clean and clear, there were a few rocky outcroppings in the surf large enough to hide from view. Maybe they were looking for a bit of the privacy that had been disturbed earlier?

"Level with us," Fluttershy suddenly interjected, ending my reverie. "How did this happen?"

Sunshine shrugged. "We're not exactly sure ourselves," she said. "We're thinking it's a localized distortion of the space-time continuum where two harmonicaly similar realities joined at a sympathetic locus."

The other group blinked in surprise. Then Melody spoke up, looking at me.

"So," she haltingly whispered with a nervous glande at my wife. "What happened?"

As Sunshine facepalmed, I reached out and drew two squares in the sand.

"What we think happened, kiddo," I said, drawing 1 in the first square and a 1.2 in the other. "Is that the two realities were so similar that they were really close. We dont know what, but something caused them to connect here, like when your Mama sews on a sleeve."

Understanding dawned on her, and I saw her parents nod as well.

"Is there another me there, Aunt Sunset?"

I leaned over and poked her nose.

"You, kiddo," I smiled. "Are one of a kind."

She giggled before digging into her shaved ice.

"So, Sunlight," Rarity cooed. "Their child, I presume?"

Sunshine nodded. "He's a nice enough young man," she murmured. "Really connected with Middy, in fact."

Fluttershy tilted her head. "Oh?

I was about to answer when a yelp of surprise and a splash caught our attention. We turned to see a laughing Adagio help Rainbow from the shallows.

"I can see there is a lot to listen to tonight," Rarity said, a smooth smile spreading as she smoothed an errant curl on Melody's head.

My phone started ringing and I put it on speakerphone when I saw the ID.

"Well," I laughed. "Morning, my little love."

Rory's voice mumbled back.

"Where did everybody go?"

Laughter danced across the sands.