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The red vortex swirled in front of the three friends. They'd decided to leave the next day, as none of them were particularly in the mood to slide the day before.

"Well, there's one good thing," Rembrandt said, trying to accentuate the positive. "Now we can take all the time we want to find out if an earth is really our home. No more of that 'countdown to the window' stuff to worry about."

Wade smiled at him. She appreciated Rembrandt's attempt to put a positive spin on things. Quinn had been so depressed he barely said a word the whole day before. She squeezed Quinn's arm. She still hadn't told Quinn how she felt about him, and certainly didn't plan to now. As far as she was concerned, they were right back in the same situation as before. She'd tell him someday--just not now. She knew Quinn was upset not only about their fate, but Maggie's as well. It made her wonder. She'd never gotten a chance to find out if he was in love with Maggie and would have gone with her or not. Maybe she was better off not knowing.

"Well, here goes nothing!" she said, and leaped into the red vortex.

"Q-Ball--don't beat yourself up over it," Rembrandt shouted over the rushing wind of the vortex. "It's like I told ya back at the house--you said it took about 10 minutes for Maggie to start choking. Maybe she figured out she wasn't home and slid on out of there before that." Rembrandt doubted it, but he gave no indication of that to the young man. He took a running start, and leaped after Wade into the vortex.

Quinn watched as Rembrandt disappeared into the mass of red light. He shook his head sadly. Wade and Rembrandt didn't know the truth. They didn't know about the letters he'd written. Maggie had found hers, of that much he was certain. Quinn had found the crumpled up letter in the trash. He'd suspected that she had read it; it was the only reason to explain her careless actions. Quinn had thought that by being harsh with her, he'd make leaving easier on the both of them. He felt a huge wave of guilt wash over him, as he realized what a mistake he'd made.

Then there was Wade. Quinn had searched frantically for the letter he'd written to her, but had been unable to find it. He'd placed it in between the pages of her last journal entry, where Wade would be sure to find it, but when he'd gone back to look for it, it was gone. For some reason, he couldn't bring himself to give it to her in person. He wondered if Maggie had read that one as well, but he hadn't found it in the trash, so he told himself she hadn't. Wade had to have found it, he thought. He'd seen her writing in her journal last night. She obviously didn't feel the same way he did, or she would have mentioned it. Quinn sighed. For someone who was supposed to be smart, he certainly had a penchant for making foolish mistakes that couldn't be fixed.

Quinn took a last look around the park, and followed his friends through the gateway.

Go to part 12