The panicked voice of Kris stopped Jamar mid-laugh. Arthur grabbed his shotgun and ran to the door without a word. Jamar followed.
Arthur threw the door open and cocked the shotgun, ready to take on whatever threat lurked outside the door. All he saw, though, was an out-of-breath fat kid.
“What is it? Where’s Sky?” he demanded.
Kris ignored him and looked right at Jamar. “Kurisu,” he managed between pants. “She’s alive!”
Jamar felt his heart skip a beat. “What?” he asked, afraid to believe, afraid to allow his hopes to rise. “Where?”
Kris pointed at the shed, and Jamar burst into a run. He heard Arthur behind him. Stepping into the shed, he saw at once what Kris was referring to: An open door in the dirt led straight down. His feet hardly touched the stairs as he flew to the bottom.
He found Sky at a safe distance, pointing a light at the huddled form of his wife. She was weeping, her large brown eyes red and puffy. Her shoulder-length hair, the same color as her eyes, was matted and dirty.
In the darkness, Kurisu couldn’t see who’d found her hideout. She backed in the corner and pleaded for mercy. “Please, please…” she begged, her quivering mass wrapped in a blanket.
“Baby, it’s me,” Jamar said, his voice on the verge of breaking. As proof, he grabbed the lantern on the floor and held its light to his face.
Kurisu’s expression changed from fear and confusion to quiet disbelief. “Jamar?” she whispered in the darkness. “Is it…really you?” She covered her gaping mouth with her fingers.
“Yeah, baby. It’s me.” Jamar approached and crouched in front of his wife. How long had she been down here? What happened to her sister? Where were her parents? Despite the questions clouding Jamar’s mind, he knew they didn’t matter; he had his wife back.
Kurisu threw herself onto Jamar and sobbed into his chest. She couldn’t form the words to express her relief, her joy, her sorrow, her pain, her loss—but Jamar felt it. He felt it all spill into him, and a second later, he was weeping too, his tears and saliva mixing with his wife’s as their faces touched after days of thinking they never would again.
It was a long time before they backed away just enough to look at each other. Jamar knew the others had left them, allowing him time alone with his wife. He held her pretty face in his hands, the touch of her soft skin a miracle to his senses.
And then she giggled. Jamar laughed back, and they kissed. As if in a dream, Jamar found himself undressing, and Kurisu stripped too, and they grunted and laughed in existential bliss with one another until collapsing in on themselves, breathless and smiling.
After it was done, Jamar stroked Kurisu’s hair as she lay naked on his bare chest. “I haven’t had sex that good since our wedding night,” he noted aloud.
“I have,” Kurisu said with a mischievous smile.
“Mhm. If I recall, his name started with an ‘M.’ Mike, maybe?”
Jamar laughed aloud. He decided to humor her. “Is he bigger than me?”
“Psht. Who isn’t?” Kurisu giggled. She looked into his eyes. “I thought I’d never see another living soul, let alone you.”
“I knew I’d find you.”
“I was ready, you know.”
“Ready for what?” Jamar said, afraid to know the answer.
“Ready to join you.”
Jamar felt a chill go through him. Her sister had gone that far. Did she know? Instead of asking, he kissed her forehead and said, “You did join me.”
They dressed. Jamar clothed himself quicker than Kurisu and took a minute to look around the room. She had food, radios, lights, a cot, batteries, weapons and firearms—almost any provision Jamar could think of she had in spades. Kurisu could have held out for weeks without seeing the light of day.
“I had no idea your parents were paranoid enough to build a bomb shelter. Guess it paid off, though.”
“It was here when they moved in. They just stocked it.” She buttoned up her flannel shirt. “How did you find me?”
He shrugged. “I checked everywhere else first. This was the last place I could think of.”
“Your intuition never fails,” Kurisu said. “I tried calling you. At least a hundred times.”
“I didn’t know what to do! I thought of my parents and came here.”
“You were right to. Kurisu, about your sister…”
“I know,” Kurisu said, her tone suddenly changing. “I…found her like that.”
“I’m sorry, baby.”
She nodded and rubbed her nose.
“We buried her.”
Kurisu gave him a sad smile. “I love you.”
“What about your parents?”
“They weren’t here when I arrived. I panicked when I found Ryuuko and came down here.”
Together they made their way topside and into the house. The others were gathered in the living room.
“Everyone, this is Kurisu. Kurisu, this is Kris, Sky, and Arthur.”
Kurisu raised a hand and said a timid hello. Sky and Kris returned the gesture, but Arthur, sprawled out on the couch half asleep, only grunted in return.
“I think we should all get some shuteye, huh?” Jamar suggested. “Long day tomorrow.”
“What’s tomorrow?” Kurisu said, looking up at Jamar.
“I’ll explain upstairs, baby.”
“Should we stay in the bomb shelter?” Sky asked. “Ya know, just in case?”
“No way I’m staying in there anymore,” Kurisu said, shaking her head. “I think I’ll sleep soundly for the first time in days now that I’ve got some fresh air.”
Jamar saw the concern on Sky’s face. “We’ll lock up,” he said. He pulled the patio door closed and locked it. He made sure the nearby windows were secure while Sky and Kris checked the other side of the house.
They convened in the living room a minute later. Kris curled up on the floor, allowing Sky use of the second couch for the night.
“We have a guest bedroom, ya know,” Jamar told Kris.
“I-I don’t wanna sleep alone,” Kris stammered.
“I’ll take it, and you can have the couch, Kris,” Sky suggested. She leaned over the edge of the couch to look at Kris lying on the ground.
“No, it’s okay. I don’t want you alone, either.” Kris’s face turned red the moment he said it. “I mean, uh, none of us should be by ourselves overnight, just in case.”
Jamar smiled and gripped his wife’s hand, and she smiled back. “Just in case,” he agreed. “We’ll be upstairs.”
In his in-laws’ bed, Jamar explained to Kurisu that they were leaving Chicago. She didn’t put up a fuss. Her sister was dead and her parents were missing; it was time to move on.
Jamar wondered why Ryuuko had committed suicide, why her parents left without a word. He felt that Kurisu might have the answers, but he didn’t push the issue. It wasn’t the right time—not tonight.
Under the cover of darkness, they made love a second and third time, relishing each other’s presence before passing out until dawn brushed their curtains.