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He sat hunched on the floor, his brain trying to process the next logical step. He needed a direction, some sort of sign of what he should do, but he had a hard time focusing on anything other than the door across the hall from him. The hall, narrow as it was, barely afforded him to stretch his legs out at an angle without his feet brushing up against the thin but tight barricade he had built. Stretching his long legs out straight was simply out of the question.

His eyes stayed trained on the piece of wood he knew was fashioned as a door jam and placed in the sliding rail of the closet door as he had placed it himself. Though the wood was thick and rather strong, it was also aged. It was just a temporary fix, and he knew it was only a matter of time before it buckled under the pressure on other side of the door. There was no telling how long the rest of the barricade would hold once the door jam snapped.

Breathing raggedly, Nathan tried to calm his racing heart and thoughts. His shoulders shook from silent sobs, and his fingers massaged his forehead while he thought, thought, thought of what he could possibly do next.

He didn’t want to tell the others, but he couldn’t see a way around it. There was no way the closet door could hold for the long haul. Once it gave, he would be hopeless on his own. He didn’t have the strength or the tools, or the will for that matter. But if he told the others, he knew what the outcome would be, and he didn’t know if he could live with it. He saw what Sebastian and Anna, and even Davidson now as well, did when they went on their sweeps, and it wasn’t something that he could bring into this place, especially not in this situation. There had to be another choice, he just needed to think harder. Think, think, think.

The soft scratching started up again on the other side of the door, and he pressed his index fingers against his traguses. The problem, or one of the problems, with his brain was that it required near silence to think properly and silence wasn’t something he had had the luxury of in a very long time. And now this had gone and happened, and silence was the last thing he was going to get out of this situation; of that he was sure. He had seen it happen a couple of times already, and it had been a couple too many. But the problem remained and thus, so did his dilemma.

Telling William outright was immediately out of the question. William was the unelected leader of their rag tag team these days, and though Davidson was the military man, William was perhaps a mercenary. No, Nathan knew what William would do, and it was a decision he could not live with, at least not yet.

The scratching gave way to a softer, lower pitched sound next, and though he pressed his fingers harder against the skin, he couldn’t successfully block the sound from traveling through his ear canal. His shoulders began to shake harder. He wouldn’t be able to ignore the sounds forever, and he certainly couldn’t ignore the problem for much longer either before the decision would be made for him. It was just too big of a secret to keep, and his heart was already bursting in his chest.

“I’m sorry,” he choked out a sob for the hundredth time that week. “I am so, so, so sorry.” Realizing the attempt was futile, he removed his fingers from his ears. With a limp arm, he picked up the little black box at his side. Setting it on his thigh, he pushed the top open with a flick of his thumb. The gesture seemed pointless then as he stared down at the silver band that the diamond sat atop. Eternity, the circular band was supposed to represent. Eternity. Nathan glanced up at the card table propped against the closet door. Eternity.

If he thought she could last an eternity, he would wait. He would wait and see what the future held and he would not give up hope. But there was no eternity left, and all that laid ahead of him was regret and a handful of decisions he did not want to make. He closed the lid of the box and gently set it down on the floor next to him once more.

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