There was, of course, still some other fallout.
Jimmy led everyone back to his cars. His longtime driver and girl friday Andrea met them.
“Hey Boss,” she said.
“Hey,” he said softly.
“What? You’re looking at me funny. You know I always tell you you’re crazy, right Boss?”
“You do, Betty. I mean Andrea.”
Everyone stayed away from each other for a few months. Christmas came and went. And in January of 1938 Senator and Mrs. Grey had their annual holiday party again, down in Orange County. It was supposed to be a festive occasion. After all, they had managed to save the world—twice, in Jimmy’s case. But nobody felt much like celebrating.
Janet found Jimmy in Senator Grey’s enormous, plush library—the same room Janet had talked to them all a year ago and sent them down the road of blood and madness.
“Hello, Jimmy,” she said.
“Janet,” he said. He stared at the diamond ring on her finger. Of all the things to stay unchanged, he thought glumly, that had to remain. That should never have happened.
“How’s saving the world treating you?” She followed his eyes to the ring. She sighed. “Jimmy, I understand. Just because you saved my father’s life ten years ago doesn’t mean you have to marry me. I know…I probably goaded you into it.”
He stared at her blankly.
“What’s wrong with you? I had a crush on you from the moment Dad tracked you down in your office in New York, right before you moved to Los Angeles. You were so…damn decent. And I mean I’m glad you helped Dad. If you hadn’t been there for him…well, I don’t know how it would have gone. He might have been really broken by what he saw.”
“I feel a little woozy.”
“If you don’t want to marry me…I can live with it. If…if you don’t really love me. If you’re only doing this to make Dad happy. He’s in his seventies, Jimmy. He won’t be around much longer…and then you’ll be free, I guess.”
“Your dad…isn’t dead. Right.”
“What is wrong with you?”
“I can’t. I can’t do this anymore. Any of this. I do love you. But sometimes it’s not enough.”
“I understand,” she said bitterly, turning away.
Jimmy stepped outside and flagged down some drinks. When he came back into the library, Janet was holding out the diamond ring in the palm of her hand.
He took it without a word.
“I’m still going to write a book about this,” she said, and then pushed past him and out of his life.
After the party, Ruby finally felt up to going back to the Los Angeles Society for Archaeological Studies. They had a lot of things to file away, after all. Her husband came with her, along with Dr. Orange.
Much to her surprise, the place was humming with activity. They stood in the conference room on the ground floor, staring at the many young women who were busy typing up notes.
Mina came in the door, her long scarf tossed over one shoulder. “Ah, you’re here. We have so much to talk about. I hope you don’t mind, Ruby, I took your office, we’ll get you a better one when we move.”
“Yes, this space is far too limited for what we’ll be doing.” She looked at Ruby over her pince-nez, and sighed. “Look. You need a director, someone who knows what they are doing, can run a large organization. Yes? That’s why you hired me. You’re welcome.”
“Dr. Orange,” said Mina. “We’ve been looking for a man of your skills for our physics department. May I offer you a situation? The salary won’t be much at the start, however you will avoid a rather messy treason trial.”
“That sounds good,” said the German. “I like America.” He began to hum America the Beautiful.
And so four years passed. Millicent, as surprised as anyone to still be around, spent most of her time helping her sister learn to be a human…well, a close approximation of a human. In time, Millicent herself learned to stop worrying about “being real”. There was college—Miskatonic University, of course—to go to, and time to spend with her mother, who was going to come home from the asylum any day now. Sometimes she had long conversations in her dreams with Charlie and Ruby.
“So you’re the dream-projection of a dead demigod,” said Charlie once. “When you get down to it, what’s the difference? I’m just a dream-projection of Ruby.”
“How is that?” asked Millicent.
“Pretty boring. I’ve learned a lot about fashion. I know everything there is to know about Milan; I just don’t care. Although she really should stay away from bias cut…”
Dr. Orange was taken off Project Philadelphia, which was something of a relief since he was pretty sure he could actually build it now. He spent the next couple of years running down any anomalies left over from the great temporal paradox, and speaking out against Nazi Germany. He enjoyed a very pleasant correspondence with Dr. Einstein.