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A few hours later, Quinn walked into the Dominion. He asked at the desk for his friends, and the clerk gave him the room number. He opted to take the stairs rather than the elevator. It would give him more time to think.

Sooner than he'd have liked, he reached the room. He opened the door, and Megan instantly hurled herself into his arms. He knelt down, tightening his grip on her to avoid looking into her face. Rembrandt and Wade moved to the other side of the room, to give him some privacy. They knew what was coming. They'd offered to prepare her for it, but Quinn had insisted on being the one to tell her.

"Where's Mommy?" she asked as she pulled away, noticing that Quinn had entered the room alone.

Quinn bit his lip. He tried to remember how his mother had broken this news to him, but it seemed ages ago. He decided the direct approach was probably best.

"Well," he said, trying to come up with the best way to put this, although there really was no best way. "Mommy got hurt, and the doctors did everything they could to help her, but..." he stopped when he saw the tears welling up in Megan's eyes. Don't make me say it, he thought to himself. Now he knew what his mother had gone through in telling him about his father.

"She's not coming back?" Meagan asked tearfully.

"I'm afraid not," Quinn said, his voice breaking on the words. He hugged her to his chest tightly as she started to sob. He felt like sobbing himself. He tried not to think about had he not involved her mother in helping them, none of this would have happened.

A few hours later, after Megan had cried herself to sleep, it was all he could think about. Wade and Rembrandt had returned with some food, but he didn't want to wake the child, and he certainly didn't feel like eating himself. He pushed the food away.

"Quinn, you have to eat," Wade said.

He just shook his head. "I have to tell you guys something." He looked at the two of them, and picked up the timer from the table. He handed it to Rembrandt.

"This is the end of the road for me, as far as sliding goes. You're going to have to go on without me."

"What?" Rembrandt and Wade asked in unison.

"We can't take her. I'm responsible for her now. I can't keep going. It's because of me that I'm all she has. I can't just forget that."

"Quinn--what about home. We need you. And you can't just give up on finding home," Wade argued.

"Look," he replied. "My mind is made up. We..I mean you...slide out of here in a week. I'm not going."

"Q-Ball.." Rembrandt started.

"Look--someone has to stay with her. I'm her father. It has to be me." he said, getting up from the table.

Wade folded her arms over her chest. "All right. If you don't go, I don't go. How's that?"

"Dammit Wade, "Quinn sighed. "Why are you making this difficult?"

"I'm not. I just can't believe you would give up on finding home like that, after everything we've been through."

Quinn shook his head and walked to the door. "My mind is made up and that's that. I'm going out to get some fresh air." He quietly shut the door behind him, as so not to wake Megan.

After 10 minutes or so, Wade grabbed Rembrandt's jacket. "I'm going after him."

"Sweetheart, he needs time alone to think. Maybe you better let him be." Rembrandt said, although he knew he couldn't stop her.

"Sorry. He needs someone to talk to, whether he knows it or not. I'll be back," she said, exiting the room.

She found Quinn sitting on a park bench just outside the hotel. She sat down next to him.

"Wade," Quinn sighed. "Please don't start."

"I'm not. But just listen. Can you at least do that?" she asked.

Quinn nodded, and she took his hand. "Giving up sliding...it's crazy. We want to go home. And I know deep down, you do too. You're not going to give that up."

"But.." Quinn interrupted.

"Listen," Wade reminded him. Quinn shut his mouth, instead looking down at their hands, which were still intertwined.

"What if something happened to the timer? Do you think Remmie or I could fix it? I don't think so. You need to keep sliding Quinn. You and I know you are the only one who can get us home. Megan too. You can't stay here," Wade said.

"And what do you propose I do? Drag a three and a half year old across a bunch of parallel dimensions for God knows how long? I can't do that, to her or to myself. What if something happened to her? Haven't I killed enough people on this trip without adding my own child to the body count?" Quinn demanded, choking up on the last sentence.

"Quinn," Wade said softly. "You can't blame yourself for the Professor, or Maggie, or Jane. They all knew what they were doing--they went into everything with their eyes wide open. They knew there were risks."

Quinn just shook his head, still gazing at their hands. Wade decided to switch gears for a moment.

"Why didn't you ever tell me about Jane and what happened? I mean, Remmie filled me in, but..." she asked, looking questioningly at him.

"I couldn't," he sighed. "I mean, I wanted to, but I couldn't bring myself to."

"Why not? Quinn, we used to tell each other everything. Why not this?" she asked again.

"It just was weird," he said. "I didn't want to tell you because I didn't want you to judge me or anything like that."

"Quinn, I would never judge you," Wade said.

"I know," he answered. "It's just...I felt like this was something that would come between us sometime down the line, and I thought if I could just ignore it, I wouldn't have to worry about it."

"Come between us in what way?" Wade asked. "You know that I'll always be on your side, no matter what Quinn."

"Yeah I know," he said. "It's just..."

He wondered if he really wanted to tell her this. But, if he'd realized anything over the last few hours, it was that life was to short to not tell people how you really felt about them.

"It's just?" Wade asked, trying to get him to look up at her.

He turned toward her, looking her in the eyes. "It's that I love you," he said simply. "When all of this happened, I felt like I was cheating on you, even though we weren't..you know, a couple or anything. And the more I thought about it, the more I thought if I told you, things would be ackward between us. I didn't want things to be that way. Especially if you felt the same way about me, which obviously you don't, since I wrote you that letter and you never said anything."

Wade blinked back tears. Leave it to Quinn to turn the tables and leave her speechless. But his last comment left her puzzled. "Letter?" she asked.

"Yeah. Back on the world where we lost..." he started to say "Maggie", but he couldn't bring himself to relive that again. "I wrote this letter to you, telling you how I felt. I put it in your journal, but you never said anything..." Quinn's voice trailed off.

Wade smiled. "There was no letter in my journal Quinn. *That's* why I never said anything. I don't know what happened, but there was no letter."

Quinn let out a small defeated laugh. "Well, that just figures. I write this great masterpiece and the one person I wanted to see it didn't."

Wade gently put her hand on Quinn's cheek. "It doesn't matter," she said. "Because I'm sure that no matter what you said in that letter, I feel the same way. I always have Quinn, since the day I met you. So don't you see why I can't just let you stay here?"

Quinn smiled sadly at her. "I see why, but that doesn't change things. I have to stay, to take care of Megan."

"Maybe not," Wade proposed. "Quinn, you know that we need you to get us home. Much more so than me." She took a deep breath. "I'll stay. You go with Remmie, and I'll stay here to look after Megan."

"Wade, I can't let you do that!" Quinn exclaimed.

"Sure you can. Look, the timer can still store coordinates. You find home, then come back here and get us, then we all go home together," Wade explained. "Look Quinn, it's either this way, or I don't leave at all and we leave Remmie to go it alone. Because if you're not in that vortex, I'm not going to be either."

"And if I never find home?" Quinn asked.

"You will," she replied. "I know you will. I have faith in you--always have deep down, even if I don't always act like it."

Quinn knew there was no changing her mind once she had made it up, She stood up, taking Quinn's hands and pulling him off the bench. "Come on," she said. "We'd better tell all this to Remmie."

read part 18