When Jacky met Jacky
Jacky Clotilde was strolling down an aisle of a library. She paused, thinking of something. She felt a hand on her shoulder. She jumped out of her little boots, landed back in them, turned with a spell on her tongue, and jumped out of her boots again.
“Please don’t say a word,” Jacky Clotilde told her.
Jacky took this in for a minute, happy to oblige. Jacky looked at Jacky, and vice versa.
Jacky, surprised in the library, thought the Jacky who surprised her was older. It was hard to tell, since they both had time warrior rings—they both had the same time warrior ring. It was something about the eyes.
The older Jacky waited. She stole a glance around at the stacks. The younger Jacky presently said, “You must be here for a reason.”
Jacky smirked. “We’re all here for a reason, baby,” she said. Jacky rolled her eyes. Jacky, the older one, the one who surprised the other one in the library, put her serious face on and said, “Well, clearly.” She looked around.
“I know this is supposed to be dangerous,” said the younger Jacky, “coming back to meet yourself. So it must be a pretty good reason.”
“You just made Time Warrior,” said Jacky. “You’re still stupid.” She playfully cuffed her younger self on the top of the head. “It’s not dangerous, it’s just confusing to your companions, of which you currently have none.”
“Hey, I have—!”
“I know, I know, it’s not what I meant. Hell, I have less friends than you do, I know I have less lovers than you do, and I’m only five biological centuries older than you. I just mean I had to find you alone.”
“To do what? Give me hints? Tell me who I should kill right away, and who I can wait on?”
“I’m not going to do that. Sorry. So I—!”
“Not because of paradoxes,” said the younger Jacky. “Tell me it’s not because of paradoxes.”
Jacky smirked yet again. “There are no temporal paradoxes.”
“I knew it. I knew it! So can’t you give me hints? Do I kill Gremhar? Don’t even tell me how long it’ll be. Just do I kill him?”
“Not going to tell you. No, not because of temporal paradoxes.” They smirked at each other, the two Jackys. “Because you deserve some suspense.”
Jacky rolled her eyes. “Okay,” she said. “What are you here for?”
“I need your help with something,” said Jacky.
After one minute and forty seconds of further discussion, the two of them took hands and vanished. Four seconds later, they were back.
“That was actually kind of fun,” said the younger Jacky. “I mean, I can see why you wanted another you for that. But—!” She wanted to ask about time travel again. She felt stupid and young, even though Older Jacky was not especially patronizing and literally looked exactly like her. Jacky felt her inner teenager coming out. “Is this gonna happen a lot?”
“No,” said Jacky. “I don’t think it’s going to happen again.”
“Well,” said Jacky, “if you live forever, then everything happens again. Right? You can literally never say never again. Good or bad. Has that started to happen? Things repeating themselves?”
“No,” said Jacky. “No, things won’t be repeating themselves.”
“But we’re going to—? Wait. What?”
“We’re not, ah, you’re not going to live forever.” She laughed grimly. “We, you used the correct pronoun, we are not going to live forever. I’m very sorry, except in a way I’m not.”
They looked at each other, a million thoughts in each of those two nearly identical, so muscular brains. “Well,” said the younger one, resurrecting her smile, “I better get to my next.” She looked around. “I’m looking for a copy of Lyndon & Schupp.”
“Ah, yes,” said Jacky. “Great diagrams. It’s, um, two aisles down, Aisle K, right near this end, second shelf up from the bottom.”
They smiled at each other a little longer. Jacky giggled and said, “It’s been an honor, I think about you a lot.” They shook hands, then hugged.
“You’re going to go through a lot,” said Jacky, “but trust me? Somehow it’s going to be worth it.”
“You mean everything comes out okay?” said Jacky with a smirk. “It all makes sense?”
“Well,” said Jacky, “it’s going to be worth it.”
They looked at each other for one more moment. “Well,” said Younger Jacky, “Aisle K, second shelf up from bottom.”
“Take care of myself,” said Older Jacky.
“I must get on. Nayori will be waiting. Don’t want to make her worry.”
A shadow passed across Older Jacky’s face. “No, we don’t,” she said. “Don’t, um, make her worry.”
“Jacky,” said the younger one, picking up a hint of something.
“Just tell her, uh, Nayori, hi from me,” said Jacky. She twisted her ring and vanished, leaving the other Jacky gazing uncertainly at empty air.