As soon as Alex made it a few blocks away, he had a sinking feeling he should turn around. There, within plain view, was the Tower he had just been in crumbling to the ground. A wave of naseua over took him and he got sick by the side of the road. This couldn't be happening. This was unreal. He had no idea of what had happened, just that something terrible was going on, and he had to get home.

Home. Did his Mom and Dad know what had happened? Did Andy? Or Jennifer or Mallory for that matter? They'd be worried sick if they knew what he'd just been through. So with trembling hands he reached for his cell phone, only to discover there was no service.

Damn, he thought. This could not be real. This was not his life. His life, as he knew it, was over.

0000

After he'd reached his home, he finally got through, after seven or eight hours, to his parents. One thing taken care of, he thought bitterly. He didn't know when and he didn't know how but he would find his way back to Columbus Ohio.

Columbus. Who would have thought that his hometown would hold so much meaning for him? This was New York, and he loved every bit of it. The hustle, the bustle, the flow of things just suited his personality to a t, and now nothing would ever be the same. By now he'd turned on the news, only to view the most terrifying sight of two planes coldly and calculating hitting the towers. That should have been him in that building. He should have died, and it was a miracle that he hadn't. Why or how he would never know. All he knew was that he had to make it home.

His coworkers, his boss, his friends- more than likely they were all gone. Just the very thought was overwhelming to him, and he got sick once again just thinking about it. His head hurt like it never had, so before he could think about driving home, he knew he had to get some sleep. If it would happen.

0000

There were flames everywhere and all he could hear were cries for help. His friend James looked at him and told him to go on. He'd be okay.

The next thing he knew was that James was jumping out the window, both of them knowing his fate.

I'll be all right, Alex.

0000

Alex woke with a start. Was that real or had he imagined it? It was too soon to even begin to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Who would jump out of a building? Why? The answers came to him slowly as he splashed water on his face. Because they knew it was the end.

It really was the end, wasn't it?

0000

Finally after fifteen hours, fifteen long hours, he pulled up into the driveway of the quaint little home that he'd known for all of his life. Every light was on. His mom surprised him by running out of the house towards him, grabbing on to Alex as if her life depended on it. And in a way, it did.

"Oh my God, Alex..you're okay. You're okay," she cried as she planted kisses all over his head.

"Mom, Mom, calm down. I'm fine. Is everyone here?"

"Yes, they're all here. Andy...he's devestated. We all are. I can't tell you how happy I am to see you. i've never been so frightened in all of my life," Elyse proclaimed as she tried to pull herself from her eldest child. Tried, but failed.

"It's okay. I'm here. I'm safe now. Nothing bad's going to happen to me."

The thought of something bad happening to Alex hadn't really hit her until that moment. "Oh my God. You're here. Are you okay? Should we take you to the hospital? How did you get here? "

"Mom, you can see I drove here. No, I dont't need a doctor. All I need is my family. I'd like to go in now, if that's okay with you."

Brushing herself off, Elyse sighed. "Of course. You're right. You should go in. Let's get you in here in case..."

He looked at her before running inside, where he was flooded by his family members. First his father, then Jennifer, then Mallory, and finally Andy. Alex held on to Andy the longest, for their bond was always the strongest.

"We thought we'd never see you again, Alex," Mallory proclaimed before getting shushed by Elyse.

"You're here now, and that's the important thing. Come on, let's make you some cocoa and get you something to eat," Steven spoke up.

"I'm not hungry guys..." Alex protested, but it was no use. Elyse started a pot of cocoa and then began to fix bacon and eggs, Alex's favorite.

Andy couldn't take his eyes off of his bigger brother. "Alex..."

There wasn't a dry eye in the house as everyone observed the two brothers.

"Hey, hey, I'm okay. It's okay little brother. Alex is here. did you really think anything like a terrorist attack could stop old Alex?"

Everyone stared. "Alex, I thought you were...I didn't know what had happened...you are my hero, you know. If something happened to you..." Andy's voice cracked. "I don't know what I'd do."

"Show him what you dug out," Jennifer smiled, hoping to break the tension.

"Your first tie? I remember that. I remember buying that for you. You wore that to your first day of preschool," Alex grinned. "What, what's everyone looking at?"

Steven walked up and pulled Alex to him. "I'm never going to let you go, Son. You're here now, and it will all be okay. I promise."

"Thanks Dad." He hugged him back, and then pulled back. "If you don't mind, I need to use the phone. Do you mind if I have a little privacy?"

"Of course."

He pulled out his cell phone. Still no service. So after grabbing the phone and the phone book, he placed the second most important call of his life. He was calling Ellen.