Cabanela never rushed before as he did now. His mind was blank with only the Police Chief's words echoing through it.

Yomiel escaped. Your gun. Jowd was shot. It was your gun. I'm sorry but I have to take your badge. Jowd. Your gun. Critical condition. Gun…

Hospital. Get to the hospital. Jowd would be okay and they'd work things out. Your gun. He would be fine, he would be okay.

He only barely registered the receptionist's words enough for directions, ignored some apologetic nonsense and raced to Jowd's room.

He stopped dead in the doorway. It was too quiet. Alma sat by the bed her head bowed. A chill passed through him as he slowly approached, refusing to believe what the silent monitors and Alma's posture were telling him.

Alma held Jowd's hand in both her own. He was still. Too still.



He placed a hand on her shoulder and glanced between her white face and Jowd's unnaturally still form. He had to be breathing. He couldn't be…

"I…" He wasn't. Dear gods… "Alma… I…" No. This couldn't be.

Cabanela staggered back. This couldn't be real. The walls of the small room tilted around him. He couldn't catch his breath.

Alma's silence rang her accusations. Your gun.

He spun around thinking of nothing but an escape into reality because this clearly wasn't it. He flung himself out of the room with Alma's sudden cry to wait ringing unheeded in his ears.

He ignored the startled yelps and indignant orders to slow down as he fled through the halls. He made it outside and hurtled around the side of the building where he suddenly sagged against the wall.

No, no, no. He couldn't be. Your gun. He covered his mouth with a shaking hand. He swallowed the taste of bile.

"Sir, are you all right?" a voice called out.

Cabanela stiffened and jerked away from the wall. Get away. See no one. Talk to no one. He shook his head and hurried away from the area.

Get home. This had to be a nightmare. Home. Deal with things there.

What was there to deal with now?

Cabanela stumbled through his door and fell into his couch. He couldn't shake the image of Jowd's pale face from his mind. He couldn't escape the sight of his hand in Alma's nor his still and limp body playing over and over like a terrible movie.

He stared blankly into space, not noticing the room darken as night fell, and not noticing it lighten as morning dawned. The phone rang, sharp and shrill in the silence. He ignored it. More time passed before the phone rang a second time and was also ignored.

It was an unceasing hard and rapid knock that finally forced him to drag himself up and to his door. When he opened it he both wanted to close it immediately and fling himself at the one facing him: Alma.

Her face was wan and her voice shaky. "I tried to call, but you weren't answering. You left so quickly… I… I wanted to…" her shoulders sagged and she reached out a hand.

Cabanela recoiled, shaking his head.

"Cabanela please. They… they told me what…" she swallowed and shook her head. "I don't blame you," she finished in a near whisper.

"I…" Nothing could be said. She needed to go.

She reached out again and this time he wasn't fast enough to avoid her catching his hand. Tears sprang into her eyes as she stared up at him. "Jowd wouldn't want you to hide away. I don't want you to… We need to… together…"

"Jowd isn't here to say what he'd want," Cabanela said, his voice grating out of a suddenly dry mouth.

"He, he doesn't need to be. You know him."

Cabanela's face contorted in pain. It took everything he had not to pull her in right there, yet he couldn't bring himself to either. He couldn't face her. Couldn't see her tears or her pain that he… He turned his head away from her and forced back tears of his own and the threatening scream of fury.

"I can't." He pulled his hand away and stepped further back into his hall. "I'll… see you at the… I'll see you…" he said hollowly.

"Cabanela, don't go. Please!"

He tried and failed not to see the hurt in her face as he closed the door between them.

Cabanela stared at his door and clenched his hands. What could he possibly do? His gun… If Yomiel hadn't escaped the room… with his… but he was dead too. He shot it, he shot it… and died. What was left? Jowd… Jowd… gone…

There was nothing left.