This was going to wait until I'd a) figured out a plot for it and b) finished Dark Bank, but my muse is holding back any further progress on my ongoing fics until this gets posted. She's cunning and needs firing. Anyway, this will be continued but I'm not sure when since as I said, I have to figure out some kind of coherent plot first. I have the final scene written though! LOL

Cold Comfort

For Lisa, Caro, Shado, Dorothy and Kira

Prologue

Kurtis lay there on the frosty grass of Hyde Park in the dark, staring up at the stars barely visible against the city light pollution, shining down through the cold, clear early hours of a winter morning as he bled. His eyelids half blinked as his pupils darted slightly from side to side, his throat tried to swallow but failed, and the fingers of his right hand, dropped by his head, twitched. He told his hand to move to above his heart where the blood was seeping out into his clothes, but he couldn't tell whether it obeyed or not.

"You're dying, then?" Lara stepped into view, towering above him, her eyes glinting from the light of the streetlamps nearby.

"Come back to gloat?"

"No."

"Oh, I get it," Kurtis said with a hint of a bitter laugh, "you're my 'on the threshold of death' hallucination. Come to keep me company as I fade away and allow me to make peace with my murderer before the deed is properly done. Right?"

"It's your head I'm in, you tell me."

She crouched and turned a quarter turn, falling back to sit parallel next to him and leaning back on her hands to allow her to stare up at the sky with him. "Nice night to die."

"It's freezing," Kurtis said dryly.

"Is it? I hadn't noticed."

"Well, you wouldn't."

"Anyway," Lara continued brightly, "the state you're in, you could be meeting your maker in the tropics and you'd still be frozen stiff."

"I guess."

"See, I am making you feel better, aren't I?"

"Not really."

There was silence for a few seconds and then she spoke again. "You know that you couldn't have done anything to prevent this. Right from the beginning, this was the only way it could end."

"I know."

"Would you feel better if you reviewed the situation just to make sure?"

"Maybe."

"Go on, then," Lara said, dropping her knees to the ground and shifting to face him again. "Tell me."