Alti stared out the window as the mass of motorcycles coasted past them a second time. She noted that several of the people riding past them had begun to give them suspicious looks.

Suddenly, she sat up straighter, her eyes wide. A large green and white three-wheeled motorcycle coasted past them. In the back seat of the vehicle, she caught a flicker of something.

Two helmets and a black coat lay in the back seat. Alti stared at the driver, a short, pudgy man, wearing full riding gear. Then her eyes fixed on the articles of gear in the back seat once more. They narrowed in suspicion, and then went wide.

"Stop the car!" she barked in fury. "Turn around!"

Finch expertly slowed the car and wheeled around in one of the narrow islands that dotted the interstate, he sped off back the way they had come.

"What is it?" he asked as they accelerated.

Alti was cursing elaborately in several languages. Her anger was burning through her, making her blood boil.

Something seemed to snap within her mind and she felt the power wash over her. Her magical blindness was gone!

"Pull over," Alti ordered. "Pull over now!"

The car screeched to a stop at the side of the road. Alti stepped out and breathed in the cool air, stretching her limbs and her mind.

Her mind drifted up and away, scanning for her prey. She found her easily enough. A soft white glow emanated from her that was easy to trace.

She found the car, coasting down a dark country road, its engine roaring.

She knew better than to attempt entry into this vehicle, lest the man do to her what he had done before. She could not risk discovery. She simply let her mind hover outside the moving vehicle, moving like a wraith around the exterior and peering within at the occupants. He could see her, looking down at the Amulet, her amulet. The topmost crystal pulsing like a living heartbeat. Gabrielle had a different light about her now, and it seemed to connect both of them together in some way.

"They're lovers," she thought with malicious glee. "Perfect."

11:35 PM

David and Gabrielle watched as the late night mists flowed past the windshield. As they drove, David and Gabrielle watched for the entrance to the Serpent Mound Memorial Park. The central upper crystal seemed to increase in intensity, as if telling them they were getting close. Suddenly David frowned as the car barreled through another bank of thick mist. He looked out the window and around.

"What?' Gabrielle asked, seeing concern on David's face.

David looked about for a few moments longer and then sighed. "Nothing. I guess I'm getting a bit paranoid." He tried to laugh it off, but the next bank of mist revealed the nebulous shape he had spied moments before, wraithlike as it circled the car.

"Ah, shit," he muttered. The cell phone rang.

David flipped it open. "Talk to me."

"Shaky, we got a problem," Tommy's voice sounded nervous.

"She dropped out of the pack and bugged out, right?"

"Bingo," Tommy replied. "I think she's on to you. Better hoof it."

"We're hoofing," David said grimly. "Later." He snapped the phone closed and looked at Gabrielle. "She figured it out and I think her abilities have come back."

"Is that what you saw?" Gabrielle asked nervously.

"I'd bet my trust fund on it," David replied. He pressed the accelerator down a little further. Suddenly, he slammed the brakes on and Panama came to a screeching halt before a yellow metallic gate. The sign upon it read "Authorized Personnel Only" and beneath it in smaller letters were the words "Serpent Mound Memorial Park."

David got out and popped the truck, removing a large pair of bolt cutters. He stepped over to the padlocked gate and easily snapped the lock, pushing the gate inward.

The car crunched forward on the gravel. He closed the gate and hung the lock back in place, then the car moved down the access road, engine rumbling.

"Keep going," Gabrielle said anxiously. The central crystal had begun to glow faintly.

Serpent mound was a two mile long section of raised earth that "snaked" its way in a tight winding path through the park to the site of an ancient Indian temple or burial mound. As the David coasted the car through the misty night, he could felt the energy of the place building up as if anticipating the coming event.

"Who'd have thunk it," David smiled wryly. "The first stages of Armageddon would happen in my own back yard." He shook his head at the irony.

11:50 PM

Finch stopped the car at the gate and looked out into the shadows. He and Alti could barely make out the faint glowing of headlights further up the gravel road.

"It's them!" Alti smiled. "Go!"

Finch hit the accelerator and crashed through the flimsy gate. They stopped the car a little ways back and got out, moving quickly and quietly through the trees towards the other vehicle.

As Alti gazed up at the sky, she saw thick clouds beginning to form with unnatural swiftness, blotting out the pale blue moon. A subtle green glow could be seen within the clouds.

"Faster," she thought. "We have little time!" She looked over at Finch. "When we find them, kill the man. Leave the brat to me!"

"As you wish," Mr. Finch said agreeably.

11:55 PM – The Convergence Begins

Gabrielle and David followed the strange device to the center of a larger raised, flat area at the head of the mound. The green crystal was pulsing alone now.

"We're here," Gabrielle said, looking about the place.

David looked about, not really sure what to expect. Aside from the neatly trimmed grass beneath their feet, there was nothing.

"You sure?" he asked. "You're reading that thing right, right?"

Gabrielle's eyes also scanned the flat ground before her, her frustration building.

"It should be right here!" she said, her arm pointing at the ground before them.

"Well, its not," David replied. His eyes searched the cloudy heavens and he saw the build up of energy in the form of a lazy pale green spiral, high above them. "But something's definitely happening."

"So," Gabrielle asked helplessly. "What now?"

"Now," A menacing female voice answered. "We tend to the matter at hand."

Alti and Finch stepped up onto the mound. Alti's eyes locked on Gabrielle hungrily, while Finch kept his eyes on David.

"Finch?" Alti said. "At your leisure."

"Of course," Finch smiled politely.

The heavens above suddenly exploded with energy. A brilliant green vortex of power began slowly spiraling down towards the earth. At the same moment, the conical shape of the Chronos Stone seemed to materialize out of thin air, resting on the ground to receive the incoming torrent.

Gabrielle took a step forward.

"Finch!" Alti barked.

David saw the short silver revolver an instant before Finch fired. Something slammed into his upper chest and he staggered back and fell.

Gabrielle screamed in shock and paused, torn between running for the stone and running the aid her lover. She turned and, with tears in her eyes, ran after the Stone.

She dove beneath the falling bubble of energy as Alti brought it around her. The edge of the power nicked the heel of her boot and she saw the smoke from it as she lay on the ground.

Alti laughed out loud. "Foolish, child!" She cackled. "You're no match for my powers!"

Gabrielle rose to her feet and stared at Alti, tears steaming down her cheeks and rage boiling in her heart. Her gaze flicked to David, lying motionless outside the circle.

"You can't stay here!" She cried out in a hoarse sob. "I won't let you!"

Alti smiled at Gabrielle's bravado. "You have little choice, now."

Instantly, the world changed, and Gabrielle stood in a field, dressed in her regular clothes. Several yards away, Alti stood, now in her normal Shamaness regalia, her eyes alight with hunger.

"For me to return, one must die." She said hungrily. "Your soul will clear the way for my return to power!"

She reached out her hand, and like before, Gabrielle felt Alti's invisible fingers about her throat while at the same time, watching as Alti lifted another version of her from the ground, squeezing the life from her.

She remembered that trick, but this time, she was ready. Instead of fighting the feeling in one body she willed the other body to move. Her double lashed out, boxing the Shamaness's ears with savage intensity.

Gabrielle felt the grip on her throat loosen as her double fell from her opponents grasp and vanished.

Then Gabrielle lashed out with an attack of her own, attempting to trap Alti in a similar death grip, only to have Alti smile coldly and fling her back like a rag doll.

"You have no power over me here, child." She scoffed. "Time for you to join your lover!"

Finch smiled coldly as he moved around the perimeter of the circle, his gun trained on the motionless man. He saw the smoking hole in the jacket, on the right side of his chest and shook his head. "Off by that much," he chided himself. He knelt down to inspect the wound and make certain his target was dead.

David's eyes popped open and his fist slammed into Finch's jaw. The man went rocking back, the gun falling from his fingers.

"Actually," David said as he leapt to his feet and continued the assault. His fist found Finch's face again and the man spun to the ground.

"It was a perfect shot," David rasped painfully. He lifted the outer garment revealing a large and now misshapen pin that had been riveted to his coat. At the center of it were the mashed remains of Finch's expended bullet.

David's foot kicked up into Finch's face and blood erupted from his mouth as he rocked backwards on the ground. He got up and raised his hands; a razor was in one of them.

David only smiled fiercely.

"Oh, yeah?" he growled. "Come on! Cut me! Cut me deep you son of a bitch!"

Finch slid in and slashed with the weapon. David's martial training took over and he trapped the razor, feeling it slice into his inner arm, then he had Finch standing straight up and his hand came around in a vicious chop that knocked the killer to the ground with a bone jarring thud.

David stooped and picked up the razor, and then threw it into the darkness.

"You'll have to do better than that," he growled. Finch was up again, backing away in sudden fear. Then something hardened in his face, and Finch charged in like an animal. David met the charge easily and deflected him into the ground near the edge of the vortex.

"You mess with me," David said, slamming his fist into Finch's bloody face again. The man staggered. "You mess with my friends!" David continued. He struck Finch again. The man stood, dumb from the impact, hands hanging at his sides.

"You mess with my whole life!" David bellowed in rage and he struck Finch in rapid succession in the body and face before wrapping his head under David's left arm and spinning him so that Finch saw the roiling clouds above.

"I know no beast that has but some touch of pity," David quoted. He wrenched upwards and felt Finch's neck snap. Then he flipped him forward into the wall of the vortex. Finch's semi-lifeless body dissolved in the torrent of energy.

"But I have none, and therefore am no beast." He studied the scene beyond the wall of energy.

The two women were facing off as Gabrielle fought a war of wills over control of the Chronos Stone. It was immediately apparent to David that Gabrielle was not faring well.

David stepped forward, his hand out to the wall of energy. He felt it scorch his flesh on contact and cried out in pain as he jumped back.

"No cheating," A voice said calmly from behind him. "You remember our agreement?"

David turned and saw Ares standing against a nearby tree, surveying the action within the circle.

He had that same self-engrossed grin on his face.

"She can't win!" David cried.

"She was never supposed to win!" Ares shot back. "She was supposed to try, and in so doing, weaken Alti to a point that, even in victory, she could do nothing."

"What?" David through his arms out. "What the hell are you talking about?"

"Leave it alone," Ares barked. "Your part is over." He snapped his fingers and smiled that interminable smile. "Oh, that reminds me." He stretched out his hand and David felt something pull from inside him. The "gifts" Ares had bestowed were suddenly gone. "You and yours were never a part of the deal." He shrugged.

"She's gonna die!" David cried in desperation.

Ares merely shrugged. "The alternative is a lot worse."

David stormed towards the barrier.

"You can't help her!" Ares shouted from behind him.

David wheeled about, his eyes afire.

"I won't lose her!" He cried.

Ares stepped away from the tree, stalking towards him. "She was never yours to lose!" he bellowed back. "If she dies here, she dies among friends, with someone she cares about! If she survives, she goes back and she ends up dead at the hands of some bounty hunter, compliments of Gurkan! You know, the guy who likes to play Palace Guard in his own house? Either way, she's already dead! She's been dead to your world for more than two thousand years!" His roar died and he smiled coldly. "Let it be. There's nothing you could do anyway."

David lashed out and his fist landed squarely on Ares' jaw. The God of War staggered back a step and looked back at him with amusement.

"Watch me," David growled. He turned back to the wall of energy.

"It's gonna hurt a lot!" Ares called after him, rubbing his jaw thoughtfully. "What I could do with a dozen like this one?"

David's hands touched the wall again, and he felt the jolt of power course through him, knocking him back to the ground.

"It's energy," he growled, getting back on his feet and ignoring the tingling sensation in his lower arms. He licked his fingertips and stretched out his hands again. "Just like tuning a piano. Find the right pitch."

This time he held his hands in contact for a few seconds longer before stepping back.

Gabrielle felt the cold vise clamping onto her heart as Alti reached through her chest. She struggled to pull away from the Shamaness, but she was pinned and unable to move. The universe was beginning to fade from consciousness when suddenly, the pressure ceased.

She looked over weakly as the edge of reality rippled with crackling bursts of power. A hand pushed through with determined strength.

"It's not possible," Alti gasped. She focused her mental energy into the barrier, trying to reinforce it, but the apparition continued to press inexorably through.

Gabrielle rolled weakly away, trying to get closer to the Chronos Stone and seize it.

Alti waved her hand sharply, and Gabrielle was sent rolling away from her prize as if she had been struck.

A thundering bellow resonated in the small reality as David's face broke through the invisible wall between the real world and this false one. He roared in pain and determination, his body smoking from the energy that surged through him as he pushed through with glacial determination.

Both Alti and Gabrielle looked at the sight with gaping wonder.

Lightning crackled about him, rolled over him, scorching his clothing and his flesh as he came. He finally broke free and staggered a few steps, bent double from the pain, and then he stood up, his entire body smoking.

"Yes!" He roared. He shook his head to clear the pain and howled. "Oh, that'll wake you up in the morning boys!" he shouted, his face an expression of tortured joy. Then his eyes fixed on Alti and she beheld the same man from her last encounter, wolfish and savage, filled with malicious hunger.

"You shouldn't be able to do that!" Alti cried out.

"Hey! Hey! Hey!" David bellowed. He stalked quickly forward and rammed his fist into the Shamaness's face. There was a flash of expended energy and the old shaman was flung onto her back. She rolled over and looked up at David hungrily, licking her lips.

"Pick on someone your own voltage!" David challenged her.

"Oh," Alti said in a suddenly calm, calculating voice. "That was good. You have strength, my friend. Why are you wasting it on her? You could be so much more if you join me!"

David didn't answer, but instead let loose with a blast of lightning that arced and wreathed about the old shaman. Alti raised her hands, crossing them over her chest, palms out. Instead of causing her harm, the energy expended itself on an invisible barrier, mere inches from her body. Her gaze was intense from the strain as she repelled David's onslaught.

David focused his entire being on penetrating that defense. He could feel the energy that had been stored within him for so long, draining away faster than anticipated. What had for the longest time felt like too much was suddenly insufficient for the task at hand.

Alti managed a smile and settled herself back down before the stone, her eyes fixed on the heavens in anticipation. The alignment finally reached its apex and the vortex of energy seemed to fill the entire place. The wind howled and crackled with green fire as it was drawn down into the glowing stone. David could see the shadowy shapes of the coven, standing in the ritual room, so many miles away, chanting spells to stay the opening of this portal, but it was evident that nothing short of an act of God would stop it.

At the moment, God seemed rather busy, somewhere else.

Alti's eyes closed in rapture as the energy diffused itself within the stone and then flowed into her body. David could see the fusion of the two aspects of the Shamaness's soul molding together. The ancient shaman was becoming a whole being right before his eyes. The transition of energy was both horrible and fascinating to behold.

David was filled with a sudden rage at his own inability. In that brief, desperate moment, he recalled his conversation with Shilah, nearly two weeks prior.

"A battery," He realized. "An over charged battery!"

Gabrielle slowly got to her knees and looked over in his direction. She read his intention and her mouth opened to cry out.

David stalked towards Alti and towards the stone. The energy around Alti was a glowing sphere of power. He staggered into that spinning chaos and fell to his knees allowing the raw energy of that exchange to enter his body, filling the empty well of power he so desperately needed. Alti clutched the stone in her hands, desperately as David lay his hands over hers and willed the energy to enter him. In a flash, the power was diverted from her. It raged like an ocean during a hurricane, washing over David again and again in waves of pain so pure that white was all he saw. He fixed his gaze on Alti, now staring at him in disbelief. Then she began to pull the energy back towards her, attempting to force the transformation. It was a temporal tug of war as the two bodies strove to monopolize the energies of the universe. David could feel the clawing of her mind as she sought for the energy to complete her task. At the same time, he could feel the level rising within him, like a wave of pressure reaching a critical point before explosion.

"You cannot stop me," she said through clenched teeth. "I have all the powers of the Dark Arts at my call!"

"Dark arts?" David said, breathing hard. "All the powers of the Dark Arts?" He grinned maniacally like a rabid beast.

"Bitch, you're only batting five hundred!" He stared at her through the windows of pain.

He could see Gabrielle kneeling on the edge of the chaos, her expression one of fear. She tried to reach David, but the energy forced her back with fiery determination.

"I also have the Dark!" David said through clenched teeth. "But I have more than that! I have light!" and she recoiled under a sudden blast. "I have sorrow!" Another lash. "Joy!" and another lash. "Screams! Songs! Despair! Elation! Friendship! Solitude! Hate!"

Each word was a command that pulsed energy into the shaman, knocking her further and further back. The universe of the dreamscape was faltering, and reality was reasserting itself.

David reached out and grabbed the throat of his opponent, watching as the consciousness returned to her eyes.

"And I got the one thing that you don't!" He roared. David looked over at Gabrielle and the pain in his body vanished in the sight of her. He realized what he had to do. "Love!"

The built up energy that she was attempting to pull from him blasted into her in one massive, devastating pulse. She screamed in sudden agony and patches of her flesh seemed to blister and char in that instant as webs of uncontrolled energy snaked over her body. Her eyes went wide and she toppled to one side, quivering. At the same moment, the dreamscape collapsed and David felt the damp, cool of reality around him.

David staggered back a few steps and sank to the ground. He rolled back over and looked at Alti, smoking on the ground. A tormented, yet strangely satisfied smile formed on his lips and then his body convulsed in pain and exhaustion.

The vortex, now expended, faded to nothing as the planets moved out of their alignment and the world became still and silent. David gazed up into the last whispers of that energy.

He suddenly felt weak. Weaker than he could ever remember feeling in his entire life. Weaker even than when he had survived the crash a few days past He stumbled painfully back to his feet, staggered a few more steps towards Gabrielle, before collapsing again, completely spent. Gabrielle also got to her feet and came over to him. She knelt down and held his head in her lap, smiling.

"You did it," she said, stroking his hair. David smiled through the numbing pain.

"Uh, uh," he corrected her. "We did it."

Gabrielle let him lay back down and turned towards the center of the circle. There in the grass, sat the Chronos Stone, still glowing brightly in the darkness. She stepped toward it and knelt down.

"No!" David tried to cry, but his voice was gone and he could barely breathe, his hands clawed at the frozen ground as he tried to stop her.

"Don't touch it!"

She took the stone and pulled it to her. Immediately it began to pulse with renewed internal fire.

Gabrielle looked up at David, and he saw the shock and understanding in her gaze.

He tried to will the power to cease. Tried to reach his mind out to that stone and force it to die, instead there was a flash of green, and Gabrielle sat, beaten, bruised and beautiful, bathed in a fresh green glow.

"Gabrielle!" David croaked in desperation. He clawed his way through the frigid mud, reaching for her. His hand bounced against the green shell of light that encircled her. He saw her call his name, saw her hand reach out to him. Felt the terror and loss in her gaze as they both realized what was about to happen and then she faded from his sight and was gone.

Somewhere in the back of David's mind, he heard a heart rending cry of agony. Only dimly was he aware that it was his voice.

When he opened his eyes again, he saw Alti, slowly getting to her feet, her clothes and body still steaming from the transformation. She was laughing with manic glee.

"No," David groaned, forcing his leaden limbs to move.

Alti stood, tall and proud, looking down at her hands in wonder. The irritating voice to the late professor was gone at last! She was whole once more!

She turned at the sound of David's groan and smiled.

"Thank you," she said. "I needed one soul to exchange for my own." She shrugged. "I suppose Finch was as good as any."

"No!" David roared hoarsely as he struggled to his feet and fell down again.

"This has really been entertaining," Alti said darkly. "But I think its time for you to die now." She stretched her hands out and stared at him coldly.

Nothing happened. She paused, suddenly alarmed, then she repeated the action.

David laughed hoarsely, his body wracked with pain as he got to his knees.

"Welcome to the twenty first century, bitch!" He growled. He staggered up to his feet, his gaze dark and filled with heart broken rage. "Looks like you needed the soul of a Shamaness to stay a Shamaness!"

His face twisted into a cold, malicious, savage grin. He stumbled up to his feet, letting the pain of the movement feed his rage instead of adding to his heartbreak.

"You may be alive now!" he rasped. "Enjoy it while you can!"

"You can't harm me!" Alti cried, suddenly nervous in her vulnerability.

David's eyes went completely black with anger – or perhaps madness. His lips twitched as he muttered to himself.

"I know no beast that had but some touch of pity. Yet I have none, and therefore am no beast," He hissed.

He staggered towards her, the intent in his eyes was perfectly clear. Those words repeating mechanically from his lips.

Alti saw her death in this man's eyes and she backed away. Even if she had been in control of all her old powers, she doubted if she would have been able to stop him. He was consumed with rage and pain. His very essence of goodness seemed smothered in a dark blanket of insanity.

She backed away, looking behind her towards the spot where Finch had parked the car.

"I know no beast that has but some touch of pity. Yet, I have none, and therefore am no beast."

Alti turned and bolted towards the waiting car, her mind suddenly filled with the sensation of panic, a feeling that she had never experienced before. She ran, still seeing the image of that man, dressed in the long dark coat, stalking after her.

"I know no beast that has but some touch of pity. Yet, I have none, and therefore am no beast."

She got to the car and dove into the driver seat. Her newly acquired experience from the late professor told her how to operate the vehicle and the black Chevy careened out of the park and down the dark country road.

Alti looked in the rearview mirror and let a sigh of relief escape her lips. Then she saw the headlights behind her. No matter, this vehicle was the same as the ones that the local law enforcement officials used. It was built for speed. She pressed the accelerator down and felt the car respond. She focused her eyes on the dark stretch of road ahead.

The headlights stayed behind her, and much to her shock and growing horror, they were closing.

Panama's engine roared with fury as the Cutlass rocketed through the thick night air, slowly, inexorably, gaining on its prey. Behind the wheel, David sat, eyes locked straight ahead, his lips moving automatically as he felt his enemy being drawn into his grasp.

A voice tried to cut through the madness that had consumed him.

"Okay," Ares said nervously, sitting beside him in the car. "I admit that I was a bit harsh with you."

"I know no beast that has but some touch of pity. Yet, I have none, and therefore am no beast."

"And, I agree," Ares continued. "This was a bad setup from the start. Fine. But you could do so much more, provided you don't kill yourself tonight!" He grasped the dashboard as the car screamed around a bend in the road.

"I've had an idea," Ares said, trying to sound casual. "I think you and I could do some really interesting things together. If you would just let her go!"

David's eyes didn't move, they didn't even flicker in his direction. The God of war was not used to being ignored, but he simply swallowed that miniscule bit of pride and grunted as Panama navigated several small bends and a couple of hills. He felt the suspension protest as the car launched itself into the air as it crested each one. Sparks erupted as the metal contacted the road with each landing.

"I know no beast that has but some touch of pity. Yet, I have none, and therefore am no beast."

David's thumb hovered over a small red button on the front of the shifter. The words "oh shit" embossed in black on the white cover.

"David," Ares said, trying to sound agreeable in spite of the nervousness that even he was feeling. He had seen madness before, both temporary and permanent, and he wasn't sure which category David currently fell in. "You could do so much more than just this. You can be a lot more, with my help. You know that!"

For the first time, David's eyes drifted over to look at Ares. The gaze sent a chill up the War God's spine.

"I am," David said absently. "Exactly what you made me."

His finger pressed the button.

Panama's engine screamed as the tank of Nitrous Oxide emptied its contents into the injection system. The rear end of Alti's car rushed up towards him as he slammed the accelerator to the floor. There was a brilliant flash and a small explosion as the Cutlass's front end blasted into the rear of the Chevy. Both cars went sailing off the road in a tumble of earth, rocks, and metallic components.

The Cutlass flipped and bounced sideways while Alti's car rolled end over end once before slamming into the trunk of a massive old tree.

David opened his eye; the other was blind for some reason. He clawed his way out of the tangled wreckage that had been his car. He felt the earth beneath him and noticed that his left arm was useless, wreathed in fire. Something wet coated his face, and he felt the wind blowing through the numerous rips and gashes in his clothes and flesh.

He saw the steaming wreck of Alti's car and moved towards it. He felt the fire shooting up his left side. His lungs were on fire. Every move was an accentuation of the pain he felt in his very soul. He slumped against the rear of Alti's wrecked vehicle and pulled himself around to the driver's side door.

"I know no beast that has but some touch of pity. Yet, I have none, and therefore am no beast."

David wrenched the door open and reached within to grasp the throat of the woman that had cost him his only remaining chance for happiness. There was nothing there. His fingers snapped on vacant air. Alti was gone.

David stared, bloody and in pain, at the place where his nemesis had sat.

Another wail burst from him and he fell to the earth, feeling the universe slowly return to its normal rhythms beneath him, then all went dark.

He remembered the red flashes of light. A part of him knew that he was in the ambulance. That people were working to save his life.

"Just let me go," his mind cried in despair.

They didn't let him go. When he awoke, he saw the pale white light reflected off the ceiling. He could hear the constant "beep-beep-beep" of the monitor. His arms and legs were bandaged, and gauze obscured the vision from his left eye.

Through the drug-induced haze, he caught a sight of dark hair. A figure was seated next to him, her head resting on the mattress at his side.

"Gabrielle?" he croaked.

Katrina sat up from her involuntary nap and looked at him, alive and awake, though completely dazed.

"Shakespeare?" she asked timidly as she leaned closer to him.

"Gabrielle?" David asked again, his voice thick and hoarse.

Fingers stroked his hair, and his eyes closed. The tears began to flow. They weren't Gabrielle's fingers. It wasn't her voice. The sobs began slowly, making his entire body quiver and reawakening the pain he felt in his limbs.

"God," Katrina whispered, feeling her own tears well up in her eyes. "My poor, poor, beautiful man." She kissed his cheek and held him gently as he gave himself wholly over to grief.

Gabrielle was gone.

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