His voice pierced the air with his strangely alluring laughter, genuinely contained yet artificially condoned, as he finally toppled Teddy's remarkable five-in-a-row streak of winning Go Fish. David had kept himself and his companion engrossed in steadfast competition ever since having first been tought to play by Monika a few days ago. With the exception of night and tabletime, the fun never seemed to wear out. He cheered in his mysteriously charming manner as he indulged in victory, and tossed all of his cards down before him on a feintly painted and chipped lacquer tv tray.

"I beat you!"

Sitting across from him was Teddy, whose strangely comforting face remained emotionless and complacent as he gracefully accepted defeat as always, and simply tossed the rest of his hand down on the tv tray. His glossy, ceramic black eyes peered over their mismatched numbers and colours against David's full set of 3's.

"Yes, you did."
"I beat you again!"
"Yes, David."

As David laughed ceaselessy, his tiny processors caught up in the excitement of the moment, Teddy prepped to stand up. The gears and hydraulics within his fabricated legs gently purred in nearly inaudible ballet. David's bright blue eyes watched Teddy, and as soon as the supertoy was fully upright, it struck David to follow suit - and he leapt to his feet ecstatically, grabbing at the tv tray. Teddy regarded his friend with open arms.

"Let's go tell Mommy how well you did."

David took a step forward, but froze solid in his tracks as a thought interrupted any and all transmission within as he felt compelled to say something. He turned around to look at Teddy, still holding the tv tray.

"Maybe Mommy will play with us!"

*************

Monica sat at the foot of her bed, motionless, as she always did during these long and winding battles of undeniable guilt within herself. She had sat this way unmoving, all morning long, since first awakening. She barely stirred, even as David had come to give her First Light's greeting and bring her her coffee, and spoke only once to send David off to play - and had David's little ears not been quite so receptive to such quiet sounds, he'd have heard not even that.

No matter how hard her conscience tried to exonerate herself, she couldn't escape the inferno of her thoughts - today, she must take David away.

She stared long and hard at the pamphlet of stirred papers strewn across the nightstand, the bright, blood red label affixed to the front page staring right back at her. As she read each word printed across its glossy surface, each beat of her heart panged with regret, more and more, until she was sure it might press its way right out of her chest in its retaliation.

CIRRUS SOCRATES...

Monica raised a trembling hand to her brow, yet her eyes still traced the words in painful memory.

PARTICLE DECIBEL...

As her afterthoughts plagued her in sadness and despair, she could almost make out the incarnate of her wicked selfishness, prodding its mythical blade deep into her temple.

HURRICANE...

The tears that took prevalence in her eyes kept her from making out the last two words. Her fragile stasis inevitably and instantly collapsed as the piercing shrill of David's laughter reverberated off the empty walls and shocked Monica back to reality. She pitched forward and buried her face in her hands, her sudden coming-to releasing all of the emotion within her in a violently engulfing manner. If she would have waited. If she would have only waited.

"Why did I do it? Why did I do it?"

She crushed her hands hard against her face to silence herself, to avoid David hearing her. No longer able to contain her intense distress, she clamped her teeth down hard upon her first and second fingers - the raw, alarming taste of blood suddenly filled her tongue, and its scent made her choke as she collapsed to the floor. She just rocked back and forth upon her knees, pleading in silent whisper into the carpet.

"Why was I so impatient.."

She rocked back and forth for a few moments, her chest heaving and her breath hard, until she had managed to calm herself down. She just maintained a dead stare into the firbers of the carpet, focusing in on the individual strands, the blood that danced across it, the imperfections of its mend, anything to keep her from thinking about what must be done.

"What are you doing, Mommy?"

She froze instantly at the voice. Holding her breath, she looked up. Out of the corner of her eye, she could make out the figure of David standing in the doorway, his arms wrapped tightly about Teddy's belly. They both stood there, perfectly still, watching her - and smiling.

"Is this a game?"