It was the most difficult walk she’d ever taken, hands down. All the battles she’d ever fought, all the enemies she’d taken down throughout her long career as a hero hadn’t even come close to preparing her for this.

Twenty feet.

The length of the hallway leading to her son’s bedroom.

“I can’t do this. I can’t.”

“You don’t have a choice, Kerri. You have to.” Tonya responded in that voice that said she wasn’t playing around anymore and wouldn’t hear no for an answer.

“Why not? You’ve done just fine raising him up till now.” Kerri snapped, wishing instantly she hadn’t.

”I’m not his mother, Kerri. No matter what I do for him, or how much I love him, I’ll never be his mother.”

“You don’t understand. How can I face him again, with all the time we’ve lost? He’ll hate me!”

“He won’t. He doesn’t. Trust me. I’ve been here Kerri. I’ve held this kid every night as he cried wanting to know where his mom was. He loves you.”

“But the time…”

“Did you ever stop?”

“What?”

“You heard me just fine. Was there any moment during the four years you were gone where you stopped trying to get back home to your son?”

“You know damn well there wasn’t.”

“Then have a little freakin’ faith. Yeah, you’ve lost some time. There’s no way around that short of time travel and I’m not even broaching that subject with him again after his last science project. It doesn’t matter. The only time you need to worry about is what you have in front of you. Get your ass down that hall and tell him you’re home.”

It was good advice, she knew. Tonya would never win awards for her bedside manner, but then she wasn’t a nurse either. She always had a way of putting things that made sense, especially when things looked their cloudiest.

The problem was, talking about it and doing it were two different things entirely, especially when she was having trouble coming to grips with the whole situation herself.

The nerds at NasTech called it ‘Time Dilution’. Whatever the hell that actually meant. The short and painful version was that whatever or whoever ended up stuck on the island experienced a very real difference between time spent on the island and time passing off it. That certainly explained Amelia still being alive and well and looking as if she’d stepped out of the 1930s. It seemed, based on the limited calculations they’d managed to work up before she had cleared quarantine, that while she’d been on the island for just over a month, almost four years had passed in the rest of the world.

Four years.

Gone.

As if they’d never existed. Football seasons she’d never get to watch. Movies she’d forever be constrained to catching on DVD, and most distressing of all, four years of her son’s life she’d never get back.

It was surreal, just considering it in the most basic of terms. Who was Daniel now? She’d known him as a precocious five year old, prone to talking back and spending time on his computer. Sure, he could be a little monster, but he was her little monster and she loved him desperately. He was every inch his father’s son and just watching him grow had been the most incredible time of her life.

Now…he was suddenly nine. She hadn’t a clue what he liked now. Was he still into the same toys as when she’d seen him last? That seemed impossible now, didn’t it? Did he still like the same movies? What about food? It had been murder just trying to cook for him as a toddler, she couldn’t imagine having to learn a whole new menu!

Truth be told, she was stalling, and she knew it. In the end none of that would matter.

“I’ve taken on the most dangerous bastards on this planet, I can handle this.”

With that, she walked quickly down the hall and opened the door to Daniel’s room. No matter what the next few moments held, they’d get through them.

Together.