Chapter Thirteen: Another Surprise

"Phoebe?" Nick takes a step forward, lowering the gun again.

"Don't do it, Nick," she pleads, looking at the gun. As he watches, she flickers briefly.

"Do what?" Nick asks, taking a step forward.

"Nick, what are you doing?" Whytnee demands, not seeing what he sees. Claire watches him warily, frozen in place.

"You're better than that, Nick," she says, holding a hand out. Nick takes it, and to his surprise, her hand is solid. "I've missed you." She smiles.

"I miss you, Phoebe," he says, squeezing her hand.

"What's going on?" Claire whispers, watching Nick reach out and take hold of the air. "Why is he saying her name like that?"

"I don't know what the hell's going on," Whytnee says, both of them forgetting the current situation. "Nick?"

"Promise me you won't," Phoebe continues, frowning at him. She looks at the gun and then back at him. "It's not the right thing to do."

"I can't make that promise, Phoebe," Nick says, looking down at the gun. "I have nothing."

"But this isn't the way to go!" Phoebe says, louder now. "I know how you feel. I feel it too."

"We could finally be together," Nick says, smiling. "I took that fro you a long time ago." He frowns. "I took your whole life away from you."

"It's okay, Nick," Phoebe assures him, smiling. "I've been watching over you. I was watching over you that night, even." She looks around briefly, wavering in and out of view. "At that moment, when I felt the knife, I knew what had been going on, but I didn't care, Nick. I didn't care that you and Thomas had done all this. I saw a troubled boy who needed someone to care about him, and so that's what I did." She pauses. "You can't blame yourself, Nick. Sometimes, you just get overwhelmed, and you can't control what you do."

"How can you be so understanding?" He pleads, ignoring the stares from Whytnee. She's speechless by this point.

"Because, silly," she says, leaning in close to him, "I love you, too." And she pressed her lips to his for the tiniest moment. Before he can respond, she's gone. He opens his eyes and see Claire, watching him with wide eyes.

"No!" He cries out, looking all around. "Phoebe!"

"I'll always be with you," she says from some unseen place. He searches desperately, but she's gone. "We'll always be together."

"I know," Nick whispers, and a feeling of determination sweeps over him. He looks down at the gun once more, not thinking anymore.

"Nick, what just happened?" Whytnee asks, watching Nick hold the gun.

"I saw her," he says, staring at the floor.

"How?" Claire demands.

"She said we'd always be together," he says, raising the gun. "But that's a lie. We can't be together." He looks at them. "Not this way."

"Nick, don't," Whytnee gasps, suddenly realizing his intentions. She prepares to lunge at him, but he starts to talk again.

"Don't worry, Whytnee," he assures her, pressing the gun to his temple. "I'll be a whole lot happier this way." He looks at her. "And that's all you've really wanted, wasn't it? That's why you spent all that time working with me, trying to get me to function again. I couldn't have survived without you, Whytnee." He pauses, holding the gun in place. "I love you, Whytnee. You're the best friend a person could ask for."

Nick shuts his eyes and pulls the trigger.

"No!"

Nick goes down, blood pooling around him. Whytnee kneels down next to him, and rolls him over. There's a smile on his face. "Nick!"

"I can't believe it," Claire says, looking at Nick.

"I lost him," Whytnee whispers, "I failed." She looks up at Claire, who's begun pacing the room, and then back down at her own gun. She picks it up and holds it. Suddenly, she remembers the situation they've been in, and she jumps up, aiming the gun at Claire once more.

"Don't think I forgot about you, bitch," Whytnee says, finger on the trigger. Suddenly, she lowers the gun. "Actually, you know what? I've got a better idea." She walks back to where Nick lies, gets down next to him, and lays down, her head next to his. She holds the gun to her own temple.

"Whytnee!" Claire cries out, lunging as Whytnee pulls the trigger. The bullet grazes her scalp and explodes into the wall behind her. Claire shoves the gun out of Whytnee's reach and then turns back to face her.

Suddenly, the front door flies open, and Michelle Rogers steps through, holding a gun in one hand and a flashlight in the other. She looks down at Whytnee and Claire and gasps.

"I've got them," She says, holding up a radio. "Get in here, Charlie. It looks real bad." She puts the radio back in the holder on her belt and takes a few more steps inside.

"Where's everyone?" Michelle demands, looking around. "Are you guys it?"

"Dead," Claire says, looking back toward Allan and Caleb. "All of them."

"Are you hurt?" Michelle asks, walking toward them.

"I'm fine, I think," Claire says, "but she's not." She looks at Whytnee, who's unconscious now.

"Is she alive?"

"Barely. She tried to kill herself, but I got to her at the last second." Claire pauses. "The bullet still grazed her head, though."

"And the others?"

"He got them," Claire says, jerking her thumb at Nick, two feet away. "All of them."

"How did he get out of the hospital?" Michelle gasps. "Someone had to have helped him."

"Never underestimate the insane," Claire says solemnly. "They'll surprise you every time."

"He had no accomplice?"

Claire looks down at Whytnee for a few seconds before replying, "No. He did it all himself."

Michelle notices Claire staring at Whytnee. "Why'd she try to kill herself?"

"Nick revealed himself as the killer," Claire says, thinking fast. "She couldn't handle it." She pauses again. "She's a hero, though."

"Why?"

"Nick would have gotten me if not for her talking him down. She saved my life." She starts sobbing.

"It's alright, Claire," Michelle says, helping her stand. "We'll get her to the hospital." Claire nods and lets Michelle lead her to the door, where Charlie now stands, along with an ambulance crew. Two men run in with a stretcher and get on the floor next to Whytnee. They lower it down, lift her up on it and start to wheel it back out to the ambulance. Claire and Michelle step out of the way while they pass.

"Where will they take her?" Claire asks, watching them drive away.

"Hospital first," Charlie replies. "Long enough for her wounds to heal. Then she'll go to Institution for a mandatory assessment." He looks at Claire, who's turning pale. "You want a ride?"

Claire nods, and Charlie leads the way to the car; Michelle follows after them.

. . . . . .

"Why would she have a party when the whole town was on a curfew?" Charlie asks Claire, sighing. They were in the hospital waiting room, waiting on a report about Whytnee. "Especially with a killer on the loose!"

She wanted to get us all together so she could kill us all off, Claire thinks, saying, "I don't know. I guess she thought we'd be safer."

"She's been through a lot these past few days," Charlie says, shaking his head.

"Excuse me."

They both look up and see the doctor standing in front of them, holding a clipboard.

"Claire Masterson?"

Claire nods, standing. "How is she, Dr. Keller?

"She's conscious, but just barely. She was combative upon awakening, so we gave her a mild sedative to keep her calm."

"Can we see her?"

"If you like," Dr. Keller says, glancing at Charlie. "She won't be able to answer questions, though. Not at this point." He motions with his hand and they follow him through a set of double doors, down the hall, and into the room at the end. He holds the door open while they step through and closes it, walking back down the hall.

"Can I have a few minutes alone with her?" Claire asks, looking at Charlie hopefully. He nods.

"Of course. I'll be in the waiting room." He exits the room and Claire walks over to the bed.

"Claire," Whytnee says softly, smiling. She struggles to sit up, and in doing so, allows Claire to see all the wires she's connected to. Two IV's, one in her left arm, and one in her left hand, lead to a monitor with clear fluid hanging from it. A blood pressure cuff is on her right arm, not attached to anything. The worst part is the large white bandage wrapped tightly around her head, stained red in the center.

"I'm sorry," Whytnee says, frowning.

"What for?"

"I couldn't save them," she explains, "or him."

"What?"

"I tried to stop him," she insists, looking at Claire. "I tried to save them, but he killed them all." She pauses. "I don't understand how he did it without any help."

Claire gasps and swallows, choking briefly. She coughs loudly and sits down.

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah, just…swallowed some air," Claire lies, sighing. She doesn't remember, she thinks to herself. She thinks it was all him. Well, it was going to stay that way. Claire couldn't stand to lose the last connection she had to her past. Claire decides to keep this a secret from everyone, especially Whytnee. If she doesn't remember what happened, then nobody will ever know. Everyone will think it was all done by Nick, and nobody will have to suffer ever again.

"Don't worry, Whytnee," Claire says cheerfully, "You'll get better in no time." Don't worry, Whytnee, Claire thinks, squeezing her hand, your secret will always be safe with me.