When they heard Matt say that, Sadness and Anger both sighed, and Fear wailed, “Oh no, now he’s not going to forgive him either.” Joy just sat there, all too lost in desperation.
“But maybe we can find a way to move forward, Foggy.”
The five of them were left to look at the screen, at Matt, lonely, sad, wanting Foggy back. Joy cautiously sidled over closer to Sadness, though for the moment he didn’t try to touch the controls.
“Where do we start, then?” Foggy was asking. The idea bulb they had plugged in was blinking out-it hadn’t extended beyond what Foggy had now done. Joy glanced over to where the others lay, wondering if he could make a bolt and grab one.
“Well,” said Matt, “do you have Marci’s records?”
“About half of them. We’ve got a rendezvous at four and she’ll bring the rest.” As Foggy spoke, Joy ran to the shelf, grabbed the bulb, and before anyone else could protest had come back and made the switch. “You want more information, the cops have to have finished processing Ben’s murder scene by now. Maybe we should talk to Brett-Fisk’s cops will probably try to destroy the evidence, but he might have something. You can go home and change, and I’ll go get some cigarettes?”
They watched Matt nod, and they certainly knew him well enough to know when he was looking grateful and relieved like that. “All right. Come to my apartment when you’ve bought them?”
Joy placed his hand besides Sadness’ on the joystick, and Sadness inched his hand just enough over to let him. “We’re doing this,” he said, as Foggy said, “I’ll be there, buddy.” Joy was extremely glad he’d gotten the word buddy in there when it even got a slight smile onto Matt’s face, though still a sad one. Directing Foggy to raise his fist made everything feel even better, and when Matt bumped it, cautiously, as if he didn’t really believe Foggy was letting him, all five of them shivered.
They heard the telltale jangling, and watched as the new memory formed, a mix of blue and gold. “Please…” Joy heard Fear whisper. Then the levers moved, and the memory dropped down to the tube under the floor; it was going to be a core memory. Of course it was. But that wasn’t all they needed it to do.
When Foggy was walking out of the gym, his dashboard stood unmanned; all five emotions were hurrying after the new memory, watching as it joined the others. When it reached its destination, as one, they looked out the windows, their eyes fixed on the great open space where, until a week ago, Matt Island had occupied a place of pride.
The memory fixed into place, and then the light shot out. And there it was again, Matt Island, even larger than it was before. That wasn’t the only way it had changed, though; the structure was more complicated, and even at first glance they could see darker corners of anger and pain. Still, it was almost unbearably good to see it back.
“Let’s take a closer look,” Joy told the other four. For a moment he still feared they wouldn’t listen to him; they hadn’t much this past week, even though before then, he was always unquestionably been the one in charge. But as one they all nodded their agreement.
Standing at the window looking out on the islands, Joy thought they all looked more stable now. Karen Island especially; there had been more than one moment in the last couple of days where he’d seriously feared for it. He still wasn’t sure how she’d gotten an island to herself so quick-Foggy and Marci had been dating for months before she’d gotten the island that had recently reformed itself, but he wasn’t about to complain. His general Friendship Island looked bigger, and healthier, though like Matt Island, it had gained some new corners that didn’t look too pretty. The others pretty much remained as they were.
Yet when he glanced back down to where, under the floor, the core memories were stored, he noticed a lot of movement going on there. He looked at that flickering of lights, with so much less gold than there had once been-he still remembered when those racks had been uninterrupted gold-and decided a closer examination was in order.
The console remained unattended; Foggy could buy cigarettes on autopilot anyway. Joy did take a moment as he walked, though, to remember the last time he’d operated it alone, that moment with Matt after getting the sign, before they’d gotten the news of Elena Cardenas’ death and everything had gone horribly wrong. He hadn’t had much opportunity to steer at all since then, and never alone; even during sex with Marci he’d still had Sadness there with him, or Anger, or both. He didn’t even think that was going to change any time soon either.
The circular racks of core memories rose up. All of the recent ones such a crazy jumble of colors, except for the vivid purple one of finding Matt near death on the floor of his apartment. Joy took a moment to look fondly at the one powering the new Marci Island, listen to the sound of her, “All right then. All right. I’ll do this,” the only one between that disaster and just now with any gold in it at all-but even that one was tinged with blue.
Even the memory that had generated Karen Island, the one of that night out on the town, was now partially blue, though at least Sadness hadn’t changed that one completely. Minor miracle, Joy suspected. Though it all went to show just how much Matt was a presence in every aspect of Foggy’s life, how much of Joy’s work had been invested in that friendship since the day the two of them met, and how relieving it was to have him back.
The day they had met…that memory was still on the racks, and now, Joy watched as it rolled to knock itself against the new memory of their reconciliation. Once all gold, now all blue. Joy supposed it could’ve been worse-at least it was only blue, but still, it stabbed to look at it.
“Maybe you should touch it.” Startled, Joy turned to see Sadness standing there, looking at that same memory. “I think you should touch it.”
“Why?” It didn’t work that way, or at least, it never had. Sadness touched memories and they turned blue, and sometimes Anger did something similar, but Joy couldn’t reverse it. Though oh did he want to. He had seen Sadness blue out that memory, with Anger actually holding him back, growling, “He has to do it, Joy. You know it.” This was the first time since he’d been able to bear looking at it.
Here went nothing, though. He looked at that image of Matt and Foggy in the dorm room, their smiles, then reached out and rested his hand on the globe.
A dash of gold appeared in it. As Joy lifted it up and took it in his hands, more spread, covering half of the globe. Then he stopped, and while Joy waited nearly a minute the rest of the blue remained. This much was as much as he could ask for, Joy supposed.
He replaced it next to its successor, and the two of them knocked together. A couple of other memories joined them, the most formative moments he and Matt had shared since. Joy touched them, and watched the gold return to them as well. They clustered around the new reconciliation memory, where the purple memory from that fateful night also rolled over to rest against them.
He turned to another part of the racks, the one centered around the memory powering Law Island. Quite a few of those memories needed to be restored as well. He touched the one of Foggy’s first time addressing a jury in a courtroom, which had since turned entirely green. Only a little bit of gold returned, and though Joy held his hand against it for nearly two minutes, that was all that it would take. At least his earliest memories there hadn’t changed recently. All the ones related to his biomom had been tainted long ago, and they thought it likely they were beyond ever being untainted.
“He’s done buying the cigarettes,” Disgust announced from where he’d been watching the viewscreen. He looked over at Joy and Sadness, clearly expecting the command for them all to return to the console to deal with joining up with Matt as his apartment. What was less clear, however, was which one of the two of them he expected it from. In the past, it always would have been Joy.
But now, none of them were surprised when it was instead Sadness who said, “Got it. Everyone back in your seats. We need to do this right around Matt now.” And he went right back to sit in the head chair in the middle of the console, the seat that not too long ago had predominantly been Joy’s. He wondered if it ever would be again, or if this change was a permanent one.
At least he once again took up one of the seats right next to him. Having Matt around always made him more capable, even during the rough times, and though this had been the roughest yet, after seeing what he’d been able to do with those memories, he had the feeling that was one thing that wouldn’t ever be changed for good.