Title: Refunded

Summery: Set just after Megamorphs 3. From Marco's point of view.

Disclaimer: Dun own it. Not quite so bummed.

I'd been thinking of all kinds of things. All the ways he could've karked it. All the ways I could've saved him. Only...it didn't end up that way. He'd died. In an instant; a mere split second. There was nothing I could've done. A tiny round bullet had hit him directly in the center of his forehead and blown the back of his brains out.

Musket bullets continued pelting the world around me as I'd lunged across the boat to grab him. I could hear the boom of a cannon. Feel the boat swaying from side to side as other men tried to turn it around so they could head back to the other shore and safety. For them anyway. I was too busy trying to keep Jake's limp body in the boat. I couldn't let him go. I didn't want him to be gone. I couldn't believe it. Jake wasn't supposed to die. We were going to save him. We weren't going to let the Crayak take him from us.

But he already had.

Jake's limp body, so heavy, so much like he was just being stupid and refusing to let me haul him up, was splayed backwards, throat exposed, his eyes halfway open. I could still feel the warmth beneath his skin, only chilled because of the weather. Still see his head lolling backwards as I desperately tried to pull him away from the edge. Still remember being shoved away by somebody else and seeing Jake rolling over the side of the boat. Still remember Jake not reaching back when I yelled at him and stretched out my hand. Still remember the way the icy blackness crept over his body, rolling him around until he was face down before letting him slip beneath it's surface.

Still remember being whipped away to some other timeline before I could leap in and save him.

I felt the sickness rising up from my stomach again. He'd died and sunk to the bottom of a bloody river.

"Marco."

I whipped around to find a perfectly healthy, moving, living, breathing Jake wandering out of Cassie's barn door.

"Hey." I forced a weak smile. I still wasn't ready to face him. It was somehow harder to accept than every other time we'd made it out of battle with someone almost gone forever.

I'd seen him die.

Not lost consciousness as a tiger and nearly not made it out of his morph in time. Not get shot down as a bird by a Howler and sail over the edge of an Iskoort platform.

I'd seen Jake. My best friend, Jake, in his own body....dead.

"Hey Marco?" Jake said softly, nudging my elbow and leaning up against the wall beside me. "You ok?"

I smirked at him.

Well come on. He expected me to be serious with him being concerned?

"Are you ok?" I blinked, wondering how on earth that question made it out of my mouth.

Jake just snorted. "Nothing really happened as far as I can tell. One minute we were crossing the Delaware, the next we were in Cassie's barn." He made an expression I couldn't quite figure out. "Did I really die?"

Boats exploding; freezing water; men screaming; rough hands shoving me out of the way and forcing me to sit down; losing my grip on Jake's fingers and watching....

A tear slipped out the edge of my eye. "Shit, Jake." I gripped the front of his shirt and pulled him into a hug, hiding my face from his shocked expression.

He was alive.

Alive and perfectly capable of giving me a good whack over the ear if he didn't want his best bud being overly affectionate when expressing how upset he was at nearly losing him.

Not particularly manly, but still. He was the most important person in my life aside from my dad and he'd almost become a mere memory floating around my brain, forever fifteen and never allowed to grow in anyway at all.

But he hadn't. Thank God. And he was standing here and hugging me back without too much protest.

I drew away and grinned up at him. "So, shall we ride triumphantly into the sunset?"

"No," he chuckled, slinging an arm around my shoulders. "Home's in the other direction."