Reggie opened his eyes, blinking slowly. The sun was streaming in through the dusty window of the room he had slept in. Slowly, he sat up on the bed, groaning loudly. The walk into town had taken more out of him than he had realized.
He stood up, his feet still aching, his back still sore, his legs still weak. He had seen this coming since the Start. He knew he wouldn't make it much farther. Heck, he was surprised he had made it this far.
He tidied himself up as best he could and headed down the hall to find the others. He found Natalia and Sam stretched out on the couch in the living room, chatting loudly.
"Good morning, you two. Is everyone else up?"
Sam nodded. "Everyone but Jayla. Soren and Violet went out, and Tonto went somewhere else."
"Jay's not up?" he asked, confused. She rarely slept in; usually he was the last to wake up.
"Nope," Natalia replied. "Why, you need her?"
"It can wait," Reggie said, walking slowly to the kitchen. Slowly, he lowered himself onto a kitchen chair and pulled close to the table. He set his elbows on the sturdy tabletop and resed his head in his hands. His neck was starting to hurt now, too.
Sam and Natalia joined him, each sitting down at the table. "You okay, Reg?" Natalia asked.
"I'll be fine," he said, trying to sound cheerful, though an edge of defeat had crept into his voice.
"Positive!" he said, sitting up straight.
Sam peered out the kitchen window. "It's been a while since they left."
"Yeah, it has," Natalia said, slightly concerned.
"Maybe you should go look for them," Reggie suggested. It wasn't that he didn't enjoy their company immensely, he just needed a bit of time to wake up and think some things through.
"I think you're right," Sam replied. "You gonna be good her until Jayla wakes up?"
"Oh, I think I can manage."
"Alright." Sam stood to leave, Natalia following behind.
"We won't be gone long!" Natalia called as they went out the door.
Reggie sighed and stood up, heading towards Jayla's room. Now was as good a time as any to talk to her.
"Jayla?" he said softly, knocking on her door.
"Come in!" the voice came energetically.
Of course, she's been up for hours. I should have known she wouldn't sleep in, Reggie thought.
"Whatcha need?" Jayla asked. There were maps and papers spread all across the floor; it seemed as if she were planning which route to take next.
"Oh, nothing really. I just figured I should thank you."
Jayla looked up, confused. "For what?"
"For everything. For taking this old man with you this far. Though I don't think I'll be going much farther." Reggie said solemnly.
Jayla stood up from her work on the ground, turning to face the old man. "What are you saying?"
"I think it's time I said goodbye. I barely made it here in one piece, I don't think I have another journey in me."
"Don't say that! You've been doing great! We can make it! It's only a few miles to the next stop!"
Reggie shook his head. "I need to stay here, Jay. You and I both know I'm done for. I've got a better chance if I stick around here. There's shelter, there must be food around, and there's been barely any threats here."
"I can't… we won't leave you, Reggie," Jayla said, determined. "We're sticking together. I'm not losing anyone."
"Oh, Jay," Reggie said, pulling the woman into a hug. "I can't make it."
She rested her head on his shoulder. "I know."
He pulled away a moment later. "Then it's settled. Though I think it would be better if we didn't tell them until you all are ready to go."
Jayla nodded, wiping a tear from her eye. "We'll still need a day or so to prepare."
Reggie smiled. "Let's make them count."