So, here's the next chap and its not even too late ;)

No Hal in this chapter but hang on, he'll be back soon i promise.

For now, enjoy!

And pretty pretty please? Reviews?

I know you feel like the walls are closing in on you

It's hard to find relief and people can be so cold

When darkness is upon your door

And you feel like you can't take anymore…

-Crash and Burn by Savage Garden

Chapter 3 Tom

Tom paced the small room that was Captain Weaver's office at the school. Both his and Weaver's groups had returned about an hour ago. The agreed meeting time had been about two hours ago. The rest of the fighters had been dismissed after the medical supplies had been collected by Anne, but Tom and Weaver were still waiting for Hal to return along with Maggie and Dai.

"Tom," the captain began, but he was interrupted by the worried man.

"They should have been here by now!" Tom slapped his hand down on the desk where Weaver was sitting.

"Tom," Weaver tried again, more forcefully.

"I've got to go find him. They could have run into trouble." He straightened and turned to the door.

"Tom!" Weaver shouted. "You've have to at least take someone with you."

"Fine," Tom said pulling open the door. "I'll as Mike and Anthony." Without further ado, Tom Mason strode out the door. Captain Weaver just shook his head, uttering a muttered good luck under his breath.

00000 Maggie

As Maggie lay on the hard ground pinned beneath Dai's body she couldn't tell how long she had been there. Only that she had to move. But she was tired and her arm was sending a dull throb though her whole body.

Maggie was barely aware of the figures that were moving around her. She could hear their worried tones and harsh yells, but couldn't make sense of it. She groaned as a voice spoke close to her ear.

"Maggie," It said. "Maggie, stay with me. We're going to get you back to Anne, but you have to tell me, where's Hal. Is he hurt?"

Hal! He was, skitters, hospital- oh god, no! Maggie wanted to answer, but couldn't make her mouth respond. Furious at her weakness, she tried harder.

"The hospital." She got out. "Couldn't find 'im."

"He's still at the hospital?" The voice sounded anxious but Maggie was no longer able to answer.

00000 Tom

Tom stood. "Get her and Dai back to Anne. I'm going after Hal."

"Tom," Mike said. "You can't go alone."

"Yes, I can. And I have to. If these two don't get help they'll be in big trouble, but I'm not leaving Hal out there any longer. Go! I'll meet you back at the school" Tom saw that both men were about to argue so he simply turned and began to walk, knowing they wouldn't come after him.

Tom's mind wouldn't allow him to understand what he was seeing when he first arrived at the hospital. Because, there was no hospital. He only knew what used to be there based on the emergency vehicles left abandoned outside. He began running, narrowly avoiding tripping over the side walk.

There was nothing left of the main entrance but Tom headed towards the side door, knowing that's where Hal would have gone. Once there, Tom saw there was no hope of getting in. Instead he turned to the part of hospital that was the most intact. The door was hanging crookedly from what remained of its hinges but Tom wasn't worried about his own safety.

Entering, he saw that everything from the rocks to the bits of equipment and odd pieces of tile flooring were covered in a thick layer of dust. Tom could also see where someone, presumably Maggie, had left bloody finger print on the concrete. He drew in a sharp breath as he saw a skitter hand that was partly emerged.

Tom began to dig with no thought to his own safety. Multiples of times chunks of flooring from the second floor had narrowly missed falling on him. He had the skitter halfway emerged when he felt it, a piece of fabric. Pulling it loose, Tom saw it was his son's black jacket. Half filled with hope, half with dread, he continued.

The sky was dark, filled with mockingly bright stars, and his hands were torn and bloodied by the time Tom Mason finally gave in to grief. He fell to the ground in the rubble strewn entrance, clutching the filthy jacket. His body was wracked with sobs and his tears fell on the black fabric.

A good while later Tom took a long, shuddering breath, letting it out slowly before standing. He clenched Hal's jacket in one hand and his gun in the other. He walked slowly out of the ruined hospital and, stony faced, began the long trek back to the school.


People moved out of the way as Tom Mason strode down the hall to the makeshift hospital room. He opened the door without knocking and let it swing closed behind him. Anne jumped up from the chair where she had been sitting in between Dai and Maggie, who were both still unconscious.

"Tom!" She said, but broke off upon seeing the jacket. "Is that-, oh my god!" She drew her hands up to her face.

There was an awkward silence as neither Anne nor Weaver who stood in off to one side made a move to speak. Finally, Tom stepped forward and motioned to the two figures lying on the beds.

"Will they be alright?"

"Yeah." Anne said her voice breaking. "Yes. Maggie's lost a lot of blood and Dai's got a fever, but they'll be fine."

Tom let out a long sigh and sank down into a chair. He put his head in his hands, which still held the jacket. A few minutes passed before the captain spoke.

"Tom," He said as gently as he could. "I need to know, what happened?"

Tom didn't answer at first, but replied slowly, "I don't know. I just don't know!" His voiced raised and Weaver wasn't willing to say anymore. Tom continued on his own. "I got there and there wasn't a hospital." He let out a sharp bark of laughter at Weaver's look of confusion. "I had been there, but now, now it's just a pile of rubble. I found this," He held up the jacket, "Next to the body of a skitter. Both were completely buried in rubble. I didn't, I couldn't find,"

"Oh Tom," Anne said sitting beside him. "Tom." She put an arm around his shoulders.

They sat in silence until excited voices echoed down the hall outside. Anne bit her lip. "Matt." She said.

Sure enough, Matt entered a moment later followed by Ben. Tom stood quickly, setting Hal's jacket on his chair as his two youngest sons embraced him.

"Dad!" Matt said, "Did you find the medicine? Did you get a lot? Were there any skitters?" The young boy looked up at his father, eyes wide.

Tom hesitated before saying, "Yeah, we got medicine and my group didn't see any skitters but," He was interrupted by Ben's worried voice.

"Is that Maggie?" He asked, having spotted the two patients. "And Dai?" He slowly turned to face his father. "Dad, where's Hal?"

Tom out an arm around both of his boys. "Ben," He began, then sighed. "Matt. The hospital Hal and Maggie and Dai went to was destroyed. We found Maggie and Dai on the road halfway back to the school. They wouldn't have left Hal behind unless they were forced to."

Matt stared up blankly but Ben was shaking his head. "No, no! We have to find him, he could be hurt, or trapped or lost or,"

"Ben, please." Tom said, voice breaking. "I looked. Oh god I looked. I found the skitter he must have been running from. It was buried beneath the rubble a few yards from a door, right next to this." Anne passed him the jacket without speaking. Ben and Matt just stared at the torn fabric, realization spreading across their faces.

"N-No, he promised. I made him promise! He can't die! He can't." Tears began spilling down his cheeks.

Anne stood. "We'll be outside." Captain Weaver followed her out the door.

00000 Maggie

"Its my fault. If I had gotten there sooner, or," Tom interrupted her.

"If you had gotten there sooner you'd be dead Maggie and we wouldn't have been able to save Dai."

Dai was still weak but he'd make it, thanks to Anne's careful care. Maggie looked at Tom's face.

"Its not your fault either." She said. "Don't you tell me I couldn't have done anything and then go blaming your self. Hal knew what he was getting into." Maggie sighed. "We all know what we're getting into. Life isn't easy and it sure as hell isn't fair, but you have to keep going, for Ben and for Matt, for the rest of the second mass."

Maggie turned to look out the window.