Duncan had the worst nightmare while he was asleep - burning meteors and the extinction of people and dinosaurs, the stars falling and the whole world fried like an egg.

He woke up in his own bed at home, confused and more than a little afraid.

No, the extinction part probably wasn't real. But he had been in space on a mission yesterday - assuming he was out for less than a day, which seemed reasonable as he wasn't in the hospital or anything. Duncan covered his eyes and tried to think.

He remembered the asteroids...and hitting his head somehow...even the fact that there was only three minutes' worth of oxygen left when it happened. Obviously, he survived - due to his friend's quick thinking, most likely - but what happened to her?

Are you worried about me, Gluestick?

She had said it so carelessly. At the time he had become flustered, responding with a series of um's and I just's.

To be honest, he really hadn't actually worried that she might get hurt on this mission: it was so simple, and there wasn't even a bad guy to fight. And now...

Maybe he should have been worried.

He sneezed, and somewhat reluctantly answered the comlink, afraid of what he might hear.

"We've got a mission," Ruby said. "Get ready and come outside. You have five minutes."

"Wait. Is - Matilda, is she -"

"Matilda is alive. She used her line to send you back." Ruby paused pointedly here: if she had died, I would have never forgiven you. "She was unconscious when we found her, but the Lunch Lady said she'd be okay when she woke up. We're going to get her once you come out here." Ruby's next words were so soft that Duncan wasn't sure if he had heard correctly. "I can't believe I almost lost two of you on such a simple mission."

Duncan could sympathize with that. He worried over Flinch and Matilda; Ruby worried over the three of them, and Jackson too. Leaders just had to live like that.

"I'll be out soon," he said, and told himself to thank Matilda for saving his life.