She chokes back her tears when the rift closes in front of her and he is nowhere to be found.
"This is it," she thinks.
Not one of them was strong enough to bring him back. Not the graceless collision of their lips in the locker room. Not her inability to breathe when she thought the void that had inhabited him stole the last bit of life from his body, or her exhale that shook the ground when he opened his eyes. Not him running to her in a dark, sterile room, promising to finally rescue her from the nightmare that had become her reality. Not the overpowering relief in his eyes when he thought she had destroyed herself but she hadn't. Not the affection in her voice or the flicker of hope in his eyes when she told her mother he had saved her. Not the sleepless nights she spent wondering if it was too late. Wondering if he had really moved on. Analyzing their every interaction. Wondering if she had missed her chance. Fearing.
Not one of her memories was strong enough to save him. And now it's too late. He'll never know.
"Keep a brave face," she tells herself. "We've got an entire town to bring back. He's not the only one. There's got to be a way."
Then why wasn't it enough? What could possibly outweigh such a love?
And then she recoils from something she can't identify. She knows by now not to get her hopes up, but she can feel him. She feels him near.
She runs. She runs, as if in a trance. She doesn't know where she's going, only that she's running to him. Somehow, she knows the way.
Before she knows it, she's screaming. And then he's standing in front of her.
He can't be real. She knows she's too late. It would be too easy for him to be here, staring at her in wonder, like he'd waited his entire life just to see her again. She knows he's not real, but she says it anyways.
"I didn't say it back."
And in that moment it's as if he too thought he had missed his chance. That she could never feel the same as he did. That he scared her off before being completely erased from her mind. That she wouldn't know or care to know the aching that had been coursing through his body like a virus for as long as he could remember. But now these fears were being shattered.
She had been strong enough. She had loved him back into reality.
She steps into his arms. Presses her lips against his. Warmth spreads throughout her.
And suddenly, he's real again.