She was gone.
This was the thought that filled Nathan Wuornos's head as he lay on the ground. Everything was over. The troubles. He could feel the cool dew on the grass and a slight breeze. Two bullet holes from where they pierced into his torso. He hated it. A constant reminder that she wasn't there.
She wasn't the only one not there. Duke had gone with her. Much as he hated to admit it, he missed his childhood friend - or perhaps friend wasn't the right word. He didn't know if there was a word that fit what they had.
If he had missed the pain of bullets lodged in his chest, it had only been because he couldn't remember it correctly. Hopefully this would serve as a reminder. He wouldn't miss this when she came back. If he made it. The thought didn't bother him so much now. He was supposed to save her. He had never stopped to think about the alternative. What if he didn't?
He had brushed away the thought before. He had to save her. There was nothing else. Failure hadn't been a real possibility. Now it was here. Now that question mattered. Twenty-seven years was too long a wait. He had to find another way. He could still save her. What if she really needed saving? Howard wasn't in there driving, as he put it, so what if it didn't work right?
He winced at the pain from the bullets. It was getting worse. His thoughts were getting less coherent and slowly deteriorating. Maybe someone would find him. Help him. He still hoped for that, if only for Parker's sake.
Parker. Audrey Parker. He didn't care what she would call herself next time; she would always be Audrey Parker to him.
The meteors were roaring across the otherwise black night sky. It would have been beautiful if he didn't know that each of them was bigger than he was, and they would kill people and destroy homes. He had to help those people. That was his duty right then.
He tried to rise to his feet. Pain pierced through his entire body, and he lost his balance. He toppled back into the grass.
"Need some help?" He glanced up at Dwight, who now stood above him.
"Yeah, I guess I could use a drive to the station."
"Looks like you'd be more suited for a trip to the hospital." Dwight was eyeing him and his look seemed to confirm his original opinion. It made Nathan feel a bit uncomfortable. He knew it was probably the right solution, and he was in too much pain and losing too much blood to get anything done at the station. He could use a quick fixing up. He gave a slight nod. Dwight helped him up and into his car.
Dwight's car was neater than Nathan had expected. It almost made him feel guilty that he was getting blood all over the passenger seat. The town needed his help, and he didn't have too much confidence that the hospital had made it out of the meteor shower okay.
They found the hospital in about the condition Nathan had expected. The west wing had been hit by a meteor. All of the patients there at the time were dead. They were moving the others to a safer hospital in a nearby town. It was just a safety procedure, and Nathan protested his having to go to a nearby town but had to go with the others. They drugged him, which he was also unhappy about. He slipped into an unhappy sleep.
Where was she? The barn. It was the barn. She had gone in.
It felt like they weren't moving, but she knew they were. Didn't the barn move?
Her surroundings slowly registered in her mind. The white hallways with the doors that didn't swing out. James. Someone she wasn't expecting. She felt like there was someone else there too, just out of the limits of her eyesight. She recognized the first person immediately.
"Duke!?" Her exclamation woke him the rest of the way. He rolled over and glanced at her warily.
"You shouldn't be here. How did you even get in here?" She sighed. She wouldn't tell him how happy she was to see him. She knew it was selfish, but she loved seeing him, even just for a little while longer. Duke rose to his feet and stretched.
"Now, I don't think that's any way to greet a friend." She glared at him.
"I told you not to come. In fact, I told you not to let Nathan come. I suppose he's around here somewhere too?" She gave him a playful, cross look, but his expression had changed. It was more somber. What was wrong?
"Duke," she said, getting his attention, "What is it? What's up?" Panic rose in her gut.
"Nathan got shot. Twice." He had a pained look in his eyes. He hated giving her that news. No. Oh no. Not Nathan. He wasn't dead. She tried to calm herself. Duke didn't say he was dead. Was that what he meant? Did she really want to know?
"Is he..." She couldn't say it. He knew what she meant. He always knew what she meant.
"I don't know. I didn't stay long enough to see. He told me to come." He looked into her eyes. She knew it scared him too. She had already seen him die twice. Once she had made time repeat. The other she had triggered a girl's trouble. She would find something to do this time. This wouldn't be the last had been gone. He would have felt it.
"He shot Howard first. Then I shot Jordan. They're dead." He looked down at his feet. Agent Howard was dead? Would that change something? Didn't he say he was the driver?
She stood and moved toward the other person she had seen, desperately wanting to change the subject. Arla had gotten in somehow. She was healing well. Her eyes opened; they filled with a deep anger. It was lucky that she was too badly hurt to stand up yet. Audrey didn't know if she was ready to fight someone yet. She backed away quickly and nearly tripped on Agent Howard.
"He didn't kill him in here did he?" She looked at Duke. Everything about this confused her. Without waiting for a response, she continued, "I don't see any bullets. No blood either." Duke looked as confused as she felt. Agent Howard opened his eyes.
Audrey jumped back looking like she had just seen a ghost. Then Duke saw why. Agent Howard rose up. He looked just fine. Unharmed. Definitely not like Nathan had shot him just a half hour before. He looked like he didn't get why Audrey looked so surprised.
"You can't kill me. I was charged with getting you from place to place. Death doesn't change that," he smiled at them, "I see you've brought a friend." He eyed Duke, and Duke backed up. He decided he didn't like this guy. Audrey seemed to trust him a little too much. A voice spoke. Duke jumped at the sudden sound from behind him, then felt silly. It was only James.
"You guys are already up," he gave Audrey a confused look, "You woke up? You didn't last time." Duke wished he could punch this guy for the look he was giving Audrey, but he knew she wouldn't like that.
"What did I do last time?" Audrey looked curious. Duke could see that she trusted James much more than James trusted her. He inched away from her and looked tense. Audrey was stressed. Between her son, Nathan, and the lack of answers they were getting, he couldn't blame her.
"You just stayed asleep. I guess you might have woken up but gone back to sleep. I didn't wake up for a little while." Her eyes widened in panic. Worry sparked in Duke's gut at the thought that she would be going back to sleep soon.
"Hey, do you know how to stop this thing before that happens? 'Cause I kind of don't want to stick around for the 27-year experience."
"The time passes faster here than out there. A couple of days, maybe a week, and we can get out again." Duke tried not to think about all the things he was leaving behind. Twenty-seven years was a long time. What would change?
"Okay, I don't entirely understand how that works." Duke wouldn't have given up any time with Audrey, even if it meant losing 27 years. He knew even a few hours or days were worth it. He didn't tell them any of that. He didn't tell them how much he loved her.