There isn't anywhere left to run.

He's stalked her, chased her through the empty Encom parking tower for what seems like hours. She's made him work for it. She's smart and resourceful and she knows all the exits, all the ins and outs of this darkened labyrinth, but the main gate is barricaded, all the elevators have been shut down, all the stairwell doors locked and barred. He's watched her bang against them, cursing in frustration. Watched as she changed her tactics to evasion rather than escape, going silent, slipping into shadows. She's good at this, too. Good at conserving her energy, blending into her environment, at making herself nearly invisible. Against anyone else, it might even have worked.

Not him.

He knows her, has been connected to her for so long that he can feel her in the background of his mind as if they were linked by some sort of strange telepathy, and she can't hide from him. She's cornered.

He moves in closer to where she stands, boxed in between the concrete wall and one of the support pillars. The blue lightbulb marking one of the in-case-of-emergency phones on the wall beside her casts her features in an eerie light and makes the white lines of the parking stalls on the floor seem to glow. He's close enough to see her expression now and it's awful, a mix of fear and defiance and a terrible sadness. Why is she looking at him that way?

Lora, he tries to say, tries to reach out to her, but no sound comes out of him and his hands won't move.

There's a noise in here, a constant ticking grumble in the background. She looks up at him, straight at him, and she's trying to speak too but her words are lost in the white noise and he can't figure out where the hell it's coming from… now she's reaching a hand toward him, and he feels his fingers twitch toward her in response…

Footsteps, behind them.

Lora's hand drops, clenching into a fist. Her expression changes, brows drawing together, eyes darkening. It's anger he's seeing on her face now, rage, but it isn't him she's looking at anymore. He wants to look behind him but he still can't move, and when he snarls in frustration that stuttering growl rises a notch.

He's not yours, she says, although he can't hear the words.

There's an answering chuckle from whoever's behind him, a presence he can feel, now, as if he were standing next to a furnace. Then it speaks, and there's no trouble making out these words, oh no. They cut through the noise like a drill.

Well? What the hell are you waiting for?

And suddenly just like that he's moving, moving faster than he's ever moved in his life, muscles obeying commands he never gave them, and there're two objects like bladed rings in his hands, edges glowing the delicate red-white of metal that's no more than a few degrees from turning molten and beginning to drip.

He strikes her, and she shatters like glass.

Then it's over and he simply stands there, strange weapons still in hand and humming, staring dumbly down at the pile of gleaming fragments. In his mind he's screaming, over and over again he's screaming her name, but he hears nothing but that grinding, grating flickering noise as a strong arm wraps around him from behind…


The arm around him tightens, pulls him flush against a warm body. He's shaking and hyperventilating and for a moment he doesn't know where he is, tries to struggle against the hold.

"Alan, stop! You're all right, shhh, wake up, it's okay…"


He opens his eyes.

"Breathe, Alan," she soothes, and he does, blinking as she turns on the lamp on the night table. He's at home, in his own bed, with Lora real and warm and alive behind him, rubbing his back worriedly.

He turns to look at her, wanting to reassure her that he's alright, but when he tries to speak no sound comes out and all he can do is lock his arms around her and wait for his heart to stop pounding.