Chapter 20

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It was as though the whole world disappeared. I could no longer hear the loud sound of the battle carrying on around us. My attention was solely on Zack and the life that was slowly leaving him.

I watched, unsure of what to do, as he collapsed to the ground. I followed not too long after, my legs no longer able to hold my weight, and I knelt next to him. My eyes remained on his as I frantically tried to stop the bleeding the knife had caused. No matter how hard I tried though, he still was losing too much blood. Each failed attempt caused a sob to wrack my body and a wave of tears to fall from my eyes.

I wanted it to be me. Not him.

I felt his hand come up to mine and wrap his fingers through my own. My head shook back and forth as he took my shaking hand away from his stomach. His thumb ran across my hand reassuringly which warranted another sharp pain to pierce my heart.

"Please don't cry," he whispered as a tear slipped from his eyes.

I pressed my lips into a thin line as my teeth smashed against each other in an attempt to stop crying. My bottom lip wobbled uncontrollably, but I managed to hold off the tears for the moment.

He laid there, his eyes studying each of my features; my eyes, nose, lips. I wanted to do something, but I didn't know any first aid. I didn't know how to help him.

Zack smiled weakly as he looked at me, trying to hide the pain the best he could even though it showed through his eyes.

"I love you," he said before the smile faltered and morphed into a frown, "and I'm so sorry."

And then that was it. His face went slack and I could feel his hand go limp in my own. His eyes were still open, staring up at the sky. I followed his gaze and could see the sun poking through a ring of dark clouds. My eyes closed and another tear slipped from my eyes as I felt the sun against my skin.

He was gone. Zack was really gone.

Memories of us on the roof all those days ago flashed against the darkness. The way he smiled as he looked at me. The feel of his lips against my own. The way the butterflies swarmed around my insides as I stared at him. All of that was gone. None of it was going to happen ever again.

My eyes opened back up and I stared back down at him again as I finally let go. His hand fell down to the ground and I just sat there on my heels, not caring about the blood that was soaking my pants. I had no more energy to cry. My head felt like it was submerged in water and I couldn't hear anything distinctly. All the sounds were melded into one.

I then felt a pair of strong hands grab my shoulders.

Was it a Feymon? One of them finally realizing that I was there? One of them coming to kill me? I wouldn't put up a fight if that were the case. I wanted to join all the people we had lost: Logan, Wyatt, Zack. I wanted us to be together again.

Willow's face suddenly came into view and her voice floated toward me as all fantasies were stripped from me.

"Zoe, the portals open," she said as she tried pulling me away from Zack's body. "We need to leave now! Please Zoe, get up."

I had no strength. I didn't want to go anywhere without Zack.

I felt Willow's hands leave me momentarily before she came back, but with Matteo beside her, his face blank as his hands grabbed me from under my arms. Then without much protest, –I was too exhausted to fight back– he and Willow both picked me up and half-carried, half-dragged me towards and through the portal, immediately dropping me on the other side.

I could feel grass and dirt against my hands and underneath me and then looked behind me to see Achlys running through and closing the portal behind her. Before it completely shut though, I caught sight of Avery and a few other injured Feymon before catching one last glimpse of Zack. The portal then completely closed and I looked away.

Everyone stood in the small clearing and plopped themselves down onto the grassy ground as they inhaled large breaths of oxygen into their lungs. Our eyes scanned the area in disbelief at the realization that we were safe.

To the right of us was a forest that seemed like it went on for quite a while and on the other side were old crumbled buildings. The sun was out and shown down on all of us as we continued to catch our breath and examine our new home.

* * *

My face remained expressionless as I scrubbed the blood –Zack's blood– from my hands. I still couldn't believe that he was really gone. I hoped while I was leaning over the pond that I would hear his laugh and he would walk out from behind one of the trees, tell me that it had been a prank, that everything that had happened to us had been just one stupid joke. But the longer I knelt next to the pond, the more that outcome seemed less and less hope inducing.

I just wanted him back.

Once the blood had completely disappeared from my hands, I sat back onto my heels and stared out and watched the wind creating ripples along the water.

"May I join you?"

I pressed my hands against my thighs and kept my eyes forward as I nodded to Achlys question. She took a few steps closer to me and sat down to my left. Her legs folded themselves underneath her and she remained silent as she sat there.

I wasn't sure if she was going to speak up at all. Maybe she just wanted to give me some company. Maybe even make sure I wasn't going to drown myself in the pond. Either way, we sat there for a few minutes until she finally broke the settled silence.

"I lost someone too, you know," she said, turning her head to look at me.

I remained still, my gaze not wavering, and she looked away as a frown formed its way onto her face.

"Well, two people if you really think about it." She laughed lightly before the frown took over her features again and she looked at me. "I guess what I'm trying to say is... that it'll be hard to get over, but you will. Or maybe you'll never be able to get over it. In that case, that pain would be a good thing. It means you will never be able to forget them. It means that what you guys had was real."

Achlys leaned forward, hoping to get my attention, but I continued to keep my eyes straight ahead. I knew that if I moved at all, I would break again. The tears would finally fall from my eyes and I didn't want Achlys to see me like that.

She sighed and glanced once more at the water before standing up.

"I want you to know that I'll be here for you if you ever need to talk. I'll give you some time alone right now, but please join us when you're ready."

She stood there a moment longer before turning away and disappearing through the trees to go back to the rest of them. I felt a warm tear finally slip from my eye, sadness for all the people we had lost finally tearing me apart at a crawl. Guilt rippled through me. All of those people... having to go through so much, and here we were completely fine. We were finally safe.

Perhaps what Achlys said was true. The pain was good. The pain would be a reminder of all of the good times we had together.

Logan, while he and Matteo made a funny joke that made all four of us break out in laughter. Wyatt, while he never gave up trying to make us all feel a little better. Zack, during all the times we had spent up on the roof of the compound, away from everyone else and our worries.

Achlys was right. I'll be able to get past this. I'll be able to think of them again without a sharp pain stabbing at my chest. Willow, Matteo, Achlys, Alex, Ezekiel, Xian, we can all help each other to get over all of our losses.

We can all heal together.

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