The guards prepared as well as they could given their lack of experience and dread of the matter. They are, however not prepared for the Inspector's entrance.

"I'd like a moment alone with the prisoner," he says.

"But sir," one of the guards starts to protest.

"Off you go."



The guards jump and scurry out leaving Cabanela facing Jowd alone. He sweeps around to Jowd's front. Jowd sits calmly bound to the chair. Cabanela tries to swallow past the sudden lump in his throat.

"Jowd, I…" Deep breath. When did speaking become so hard? "I was too late." The admission is the final blow. There's a sharp feeling in his eyes he can't blink back. He wraps his fingers around Jowd's hand, sees the placid smile through blurred eyes.

"I didn't expect you here," Jowd says. So close, so damn close. Jowd looks far too passive.

"I'm sorry," Cabanela says in a near whisper.

Jowd's hand tightens around Cabanela's. "This is the way it should be."

Now the tears flow freely and he is only aware of them for the difficulty they cause in seeing Jowd. And he's angry and it's wrong and he wants to scream and rage and cling to the fool in front of him.

"I was going to save you," he hisses through the suffocating tightness in his throat. Gods help him he can barely speak now despite everything he wants to say. He knows. He knows. He never left him. They were going to be victorious. Now he and his dreams of a future are about to be snuffed out.

"No, Inspector. This is how it has to be."

Inspector, Inspector. He wants to shred that title and never hear it again for all the good it did. Useless and meaningless. Wild plans of escape dance through his mind, but they are trapped. They are trapped.

Jowd smiles. "Take care, Cabanela."

Cabanela shakes his head. He lacks the power. He lacks the authority to stop this. All his clawing to the top and it's still not enough. Too late. Too little too late.

He's vaguely aware of the door opening.

"Sir, we have to do this now." The guard's voice is tense.

Cabanela wants to scream at him. What do you know? You, who are about to pull the switch on this infuriating brilliant man? Do you know what you do?

Jowd's hand tugs, but he doesn't have enough mobility to pull away and Cabanela's grip is tight.

"Good bye, old friend," Jowd says and there's a firmness there Cabanela immediately recognizes. I know I'm right and you are being too stubborn about this. As usual. Never explicitly said, but always heavily implied when Jowd tried to get Cabanela to stand down on anything.

Let go.

But this, but this, this isn't right at all. He didn't think this far. He would come up with something at the last minute, the last second if need be, and it would somehow work out. He wouldn't allow anything else. He has come up short.

"Old friend," he chokes out and isn't sure it's even audible.

It takes more effort than he's ever known to pull his hand away from Jowd.

"Sir, please back away," comes the guard's voice again.

He lets go, fingers trailing over Jowd's hand for every last split second of contact. It's giving up and he feels sick.

"Sir please exit the chamber," one of the guards says and Cabanela realizes the man is at his side now.

Cabanela shakes his head. There has to be something else. An order, a demand, pull the man at the switch away. Damn the law and escape. He catches Jowd's eye where there's another look he still recognizes all too well all these years later.

Whatever you're thinking, stop.

The guard at his side catches his arm as he takes a step forward still uncertain as to what exactly he intends to do. The man swallows hard at Cabanela's expression, but stands firm. A tug at his arm and he's being firmly guided toward the door.

A last look gives Cabanela a small nod and another smile.

They step into the hall and in what feels like an eternity in seconds there's a loud bang.

No. No, no, no. For a moment Cabanela feels limp as if he's only being held up by the guard.

It happened. He didn't stop it. Jowd…

Cabanela wrenches away. He ignores the yelp of surprise from the guard and the calls to wait. His mind is blank and he has no recollection of his flight from the hall to the courtyard outside. He makes it half way across before his legs go weak and he drops to his knees.

He… failed.

He had little control over his tears before, but that was restraint compared to the sobs racking him now. He struggles to breathe and struggles against the rage and despair warring for dominance.

He can't shake the image of Jowd's smile from his mind. His fist slams into the pavement. He accepted it. He wanted it. Left him with nothing but a good bye and a gods-damned smile. As if he could just accept this. As if. Five years for this.

He can't stay. He needs to go home. Alone there. Alone is good where no one can see. Alone is terrible. Or see the professor. Tell him… sort out their next move, tell him… he can't, not yet.

There are only two people he wants right now and they are gone.

They are gone.