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Gordon wasn't sure exactly how long they had been walking.

For him, it only seemed like an hour at most. Time seemed to pass quickly for Gordon; it always had. It wasn't hard for him to entertain himself with his thoughts, whether he was having an entire scientific debate by himself in his head or recalling memories of ridiculous scenarios back at Black Mesa that made him chortle to himself, his favorite of which involved office chairs, fire extinguishers, Barney, and an extremely pissed off Magnusson.

Not only was he great at entertaining himself, the HEV suit was also equipped to keep his stamina up for much, much longer than was usually possible for most people. Of course, he always paid for it later, when he removed the suit and almost passed out on the spot. But it was handy during long fights that would otherwise leave the skinny scientist collapsed in a heap on the floor.

Alyx, on the other hand, was having a hard time carrying on. Gordon’s estimate of it being just an hour was horribly, horribly inaccurate; it had been nearly three and a half hours. She was a very fit woman, able to scale trees and various structures with ease. Walking for this long without breaks, though, was enough to tire out even the most fit person.

As she walked behind Gordon, she could feel herself losing her balance every several yards or so. Her eyes closed involuntarily, only to snap them back open after a few seconds. There was no way around it. She was tried, and she needed to find somewhere to sleep.

But where? They hadn't passed anywhere nearly suitable to rest in nearly thirty minutes, and they wouldn't reach the base where Barney was waiting for them for at least another hour.

Alyx's eyes shut again, this time taking more than a few seconds to open them back up. Before she had the chance to, the toe of her boot collided with a large branch that laid across their path. Her eyes few open as she tripped, her chest thudding against the back of the HEV suit. She grabbed around his waist to brace herself, trying her best to hoist herself back on to her feet. Gordon stopped and turned towards her, studying her exhausted expression with concern.

She didn't have her own HEV suit to keep her going. She was running on absolutely nothing other than sheer willpower, and Gordon felt terrible about it. In a spur of the moment idea, he turned back around and crouched. "Get on," he offered, "I’ll carry you."

On any other day, Alyx would have said no - that she could take care of herself, thank you for offering, it’s no big deal, that whole speech. But it was impossible to fight it this time. She hoisted herself onto his back, her arms thrown over his shoulders as he lifted her thighs up with his hands. Gordon stood back up; with the suit, she felt nearly weightless. He felt her adjust herself a few more times before settling comfortably, her cheek resting against her upper arm, her face turned towards his.

"Hey Gordon?" she said quietly.


"Thank you."

Gordon smiled, turning his head to face Alyx just as she drifted into a much-needed sleep. His heart beating rapidly in his chest, he kissed her forehead gently before continuing on, determined to find somewhere they could both get a good night’s rest.