Thanks for the beta work, Jena!

This one is from the end of The Dwarf in the Dirt.

Twelve shots.

Everything will change with the next twelve shots.

If he doesn't recertify as a marksman his entire career will be rerouted. Who he's been, who he's always wanted to be, will be over.

If he does recertify, he will have to face the truth in what the English psychiatrist-turned-chef has told him.

He's built his life around his partner.

He's known, of course, for a while, but he's been trying to do things her way. Stuff it down, ignore it, pretend it doesn't exist.

And while that kind of compartmentalizing seems to work spectacularly for her, he, apparently, can't fire his gun well, anymore.

He's not even going to think about the metaphor, there.

Either way, the next twelve shots hold some of the answers.

He knows she's watching. He asked her to come. He thinks (and even hopes) that Gordon Gordon is right; that if she is there, he will be successful. He picked her up, they rode in together. She told him that afterwards they will celebrate with breakfast at the diner. There doesn't seem to be any doubt in her mind that he can do this.

He will not fail her. Not now.

Not ever.

He takes a breath, raises his gun and fires the first six shots.

Another breath, another clip, and he does it again.


He turns to see her thumbs up signal to him and as hard as his heart was beating earlier, it is louder and faster in his ears now.

Because he has an answer.

It's her.

She's the answer.

And he wonders how long he can keep pretending that she isn't.