"You'll be at the presentation tomorrow, right, Nathaniel? The brilliant but eccentric older man with fly-away white hair and kindly brown eyes was the only one Nathan knew who called him 'Nathaniel'. It seemed Professor Cyril Anthis could not be convinced that 'Nathan' was not merely a nickname and the younger man had grown fond of hearing it, just as he'd come to appreciate the Professor himself. "Of course, Professor." was the reply as Nathan scribbled notes across the desk from the older man. He could feel those wise old eyes on him, fought a smile knowing that Cyril would be frowning in that familiar way at his half-distracted answer. "It's a very important event, my boy. You are the one who came up with the formula. You must be there." A chuckle answered as the young man finally looked up. "I hardly did all the work myself, Professor." He grinned at the furrowing of white brows, forestalling the older man's protest. "I will be there! I promise." Cyril gave him an almost suspicious look. "On time?" Nathan laughed, shaking his head as he went back to his notes. "On time" he agreed. -- Gah! He was late! Nathan nearly cringed when he came into the large room where the university held their public demonstrations. It was usually to get more funding and this time was no different. And people had really shown up this time. The room was packed! His black eyes swept over the multitude of colors that were people until he spotted his parents, right where they'd said they'd be. A smile touched his features, but Nathan didn't head toward them. Rather he weaved his way between people until he came to the red ropes strung between gold posts keeping people from getting too close to the machine in the room. Flashing his ID, security let him past and Nathan looked sheepishly at the Professor through his curtain of brown hair, self-consciously rubbing his palms on his jeans. He knew he should have worn something more 'professional' but Nathan hated dressing up. His black shirt and faded blue jeans were good enough for him. They didn't effect what he could do with his mind, so what did it matter? The older man gave him a rather exasperated, but fond look and gestured him over. His timing and his dress code - or lack thereof - weren't mentioned as the whole team of scientists, engineers, mathematicians and historians went down their checklists, trying to be sure nothing went wrong. The next half-hour was a blur for Nathan, but filled with anticipatory excitement as they were finally given the clear to start the speech that would ultimately lead to the machine being turned on. They were sending a drone back through time....or at least they hoped they were. The science all added up, the numbers were right, but the drone would tell them, once and for all, whether they'd truly succeeded in their goal. To travel through time. The speech was a buzz in his ears and Nathan barely registered when his name was mentioned, his contributions to the project listed. He already knew them, had lived them for the past five years. He just wanted to see if it had been worth it! Soon enough, that moment came as the machine was prepped and then the purr of the massive engine came on. Nathan found himself almost trembling, more excited than he could remember being in a long time. The feeling was mutual from everyone in the room, the entire crowd waiting with baited breath for what they were about to see as blue sparks started to gather in one spot before the machine. Such was the focus of everyone on what was about to happen that no one seemed to notice what was happening NOW. Somehow - why even a mystery to him - Nathan caught sight of the little girl first. She'd escaped her mother, no doubt the woman distracted and her goal was the platform where the drone was moving toward the blue sparks. It looked almost like a toy and the child of four or five was determined to get to it, perhaps drawn by the hypnotizing blue light, as well. She slipped beneath the ropes easily and Nathan felt his heart leap into his throat as she advanced upon her target. Nathan reacted without thought then, his body surging into motion. He managed to get to the child just as the blue sparks were reaching for her, right as everyone started to become aware of the danger and a female voice screamed out a name - no doubt the girl's mother. The young man made contact with the child, but he didn't have time to grab her, pull her away. The only thing he could do was push her and Nathan did without hesitation, sending the young one sprawling with a wail. It got her out of harm's way, though....while putting him right into it. He felt the first blue spark that touched his body like a jolt of electricity through his veins. It wasn't painful, but he suddenly found himself being dragged into the midst of the phenomenon as if invisible hands grabbed him. He was helpless to fight it. In that moment, as the blue gathered around him, Nathan couldn't help but think what they'd say about him. Intelligent, top of his class, perhaps even brilliant but his life cut too short. He'd be hailed a hero for saving the girl, a tragic accident that would forever tarnish the university's name. The project would be halted as they tried to see if he'd lived, perhaps tried to get him back - if he lived at all; would he live? - but eventually science would move on, life would keep going and the time machine would be perfected. Someday someone would travel back, purposefully. Maybe they'd find him. Alive? Dead? He didn't know. And that's when the fear hit. He was going to die, wasn't he? The answer was about to come sooner than he was ready for as Nathan felt a pressure that was almost unbearable start to surround his body. It grew and grew until he felt as if he might be crushed, a wordless scream in his throat as the world suddenly vanished in an explosion of blue-white light as he felt himself hurled through an unimaginable darkness, colder than any winter, sucking the air from his lungs before he was abruptly released from it all. The pressure left, the chill, the blackness, it was all gone and instead Nathan was falling. Quite literally. He didn't get the chance to cry out, to catch himself as his body made contact with the ground and he felt as much as heard the sickening crack just before the pain exploded in his side. He was rolling then, down a shallow hill before coming to rest at the bottom. A new kind of pain flared in his temple and Nathan thought he saw a flash of red, the feeling of something wet before the world started to fade from focus. The last thing he recalled was an incredibly blue sky and what looked like trees and flowers around him, like a garden. He was alive. It was his last thought before he knew nothing more.