Chapter 20

Thanks to all my faithful readers.


I don't own ice age! (c) 2oth century fox

Buck. Sid. The words echoed through Matthias' mind. The realization dawned on him that Buck might never receive the antidote, nor Sid. The thought struck him hard, a blow to the gut, as he followed the screams and rustles in the bushes to find his niece and the twins. If he couldn't save Buck, then he would save Tabitha. He caught sight of the trio he was after: muddy, sick, slowing down.

"Eddie!" he called, reaching out and grabbing the marsupial's paw. All three came to an abrupt halt.

Panting as she lay on the ground, thankful to catch her breath, Tabitha looked up into Matthias' eyes. Matthias tried to smile, but it felt like a grimace. As hard as he tried to prevent Tabitha from figuring out his feelings, his secrets, the words that he could never admit to Tabitha, she found them hidden behind the blue walls of his eyes.

"We will," she insisted, "We will find the antidote before it's too late."

"Where there's a will, there's a way," Matthias said solemnly. "But right now, let's...Let's get ya back to camp."

"But-but, what about Diego?" sputtered Eddie.

"Fighting that monster all by himself!" continued Crash, gasping theatrically.

"And why is he fighting that monster?" asked Matthias, his voice hard.

"To save you. 'Twould be a shame to waste all his effort, no?"


"Manny can help him," Matthias said gently. "We'll get through this, all of us. You'll see."

Behind the fur, beneath the skin, Matthias was still trying to convince himself of that.

As all this was happening, Buck was in a different situation.

There was no sound, no sight, no emotion. There was only pain, the fiery pain that coursed through his body, piercing him with a thousand arrows; dully washing against him like an ocean of misery. In this place, nothing mattered anymore. There was no Tabitha, no Sid, no Peaches, no Melody, and no Rudy. Names were meaningless, merely sounds that he could no longer hear.

There was only agony.

There is a point at which one stops fighting, gives up the will to live. This is the breaking point, the point that even the most courageous and daring and strong reach. And Buck was there. To him, death would be a sweet bliss. But he could not know this, because there were no thoughts, no sounds, no incentives.

Only the present. Only the fight for self preservation.

Sid had been in this place for longer, but the pain was a notch lower due to Old Maggie's years of experience in the medical field. A nice dose of aspen bark had done the trick. (It contains a sort of aspirin, by-the-by)

Sid, at least, could think a little. The occasional name would float by, he would keep fighting, keep trying even if only for a little longer. For them.

At least when Sid died, it wouldn't be so painful, thought Maggie.

The vein pulsing screaming came after everyone had left in search of Peaches. Muffled by blankets, the herd members did not hear, for they were too far. And so when Dorothy stumbled into the room, she was greeted by silence.

Overwhelming silence, a deafening silence. A strangled sob tried to escape from her mouth, and slid toward her brother to check for breathing. A long breath escaped her mouth. He was breathing, if only a little.

Melody stared down at him, trying to be the stronger sister, the older sister she had always had to be.

"He'll be okay," she whispered hoarsely, a lie that convinced neither her or Dorothy. Their brother was dying, and they knew it. Melody knew it in her gut, that heart wrenching feeling that made her want to break down and cry again as she had so many, many times before. Buck was sleeping, but he didn't look peaceful.

He already bore the look of the dead.