A/N: I don't own the characters, I'm just taking them out to play
George was gone.
That thought was like a shard of ice lodges in his throat; he just couldn't swallow it. For centuries it had been Mr. Dawson and Old George. It had been an instant connection when they first met, and they were cracking jokes and taking bets five minutes into their first fight. It had become tradition over the years for the bet's loser to buy drinks, and they hadn't even considered changing their habits just because times were darker now. Maybe they should have…
Dawson choked back a sound, whether a broken laugh or a sob he wasn't sure, as he stared blankly into the fire. He wished they had waited until everything was over, or talked Merriman into joining them. They always tried, teasing him about shaking off the leash Miss Greythorne kept him on. He always said maybe next time, but now there wouldn't be a next time. They had never expected the Rider to be so bold after his setback. The two of them had thought that he would need time to recoup.
Dawson had expected to come to the final showdown with George at his side as they had always been. Now, George was gone and he didn't know where he stood. Who was going to watch his back when the real fight started? Merriman and Miss Greythorne would be revolving around each other like they always did, with Will at the center of the conflict. Without George it didn't balance out.
Dawson listened to Merriman and Will with half an ear, thinking that Merriman was right about one thing. Their enemy had no mercy, because if he did he would have taken them out together instead of leaving a broken team.