The Second Key

By Be Boring

Epilogue: 4 Months Later

Kay sat at the kitchen table of the house she'd been living in for the past few months, picking at her eggs. At times her appetite would soar, but the rest of the time even the thought of food would make her stomach lurch in protest. Eggs weren't the best thing to eat when she was in that mood, but Ames insisted that she cram something down her throat or he'd do it for her.

She had been alone for about a half hour now, Ames was taking Ray to school. They lived so far out in No-man's Land that it took him that long just to get to Ray's school. At least the boy was happy, every night when he got home Kay was bombarded with stories and projects until she wished she could tie him up and tape his mouth shut. Ray was the only person she spoke to anymore, the only person other than him living with her was Ames and she never talked to him. Every now and then he would say something to her, but for the most part Ray was the only one she ever spoke to. Thankfully, she didn't have to deal with Ames much, he was always at work. He had about three jobs now, so he was rarely ever home. That suited her just fine.

For probably the hundredth time she let her eyes wander over the gun that Ames always kept in one of the kitchen drawers. She took it out every morning after he left and stared at it, wondering if she would have the courage to pull the trigger today. She had gone through her life here in a daze, barely seeing anything as she went through the days. Her life basically consisted of eating, sleeping, picking up Ray's toys when they nearly killed her in the morning, and watching old reruns on TV. It was a lonely existence, and it was one she wanted to end. Her only problem was that she could never work up the courage to end it all, something would scream out at the last minute that maybe things weren't over and she could still go on with her life.

It wasn't really her life that was on her mind anymore, it was the life inside her. That doctor's trip that seemed so long ago had completely changed her life, she just wasn't sure if it was for better or for worse. She could still remember every last detail.

Kay grunted as she came to and tried to sit up. Her first reaction when she saw the white walls was to throw off the covers and try to get out. Everything in her mind was screaming that this was Manticore, that she had been sent back as a punishment. She was stunned to realize that her arm was hooked up to an IV, she had nearly pulled it out with her feeble escape attempt. She stood there for a moment looking around, then looked down and saw that she was wearing a normal hospital gown.

Just as she slid herself back into bed, she heard a loud thud from the other side of the wall. It sounded like someone had just punched it. Her memory started to slowly come back to her, she could remember fighting with Thula, talking with Ben, and finally having Ray defend her. The only thing she could come up with for her presence here was that Ray had convinced Ames to take her to the hospital. She only hoped that she didn't wind up being lynched or something by the public.

The door to her room opened and a woman in a doctor's uniform walked in. Kay was tense at first, but something in the woman's eyes calmed her down. She had the feeling that she wasn't in trouble.

"You'll have to be more careful next time."

Kay raised an eyebrow. "What are you talking about?"

Ames' face appeared briefly in the doorway behind the doctor, he looked completely pissed off. The doctor, however, was oblivious to this. "You put yourself through too much stress, you nearly lost the baby."

Everything went dead quiet as Kay stared up at the doctor in shock. "Excuse me?"

The doctor smiled kindly. "I'm sorry, I should have realized you might not have known about the pregnancy. It is in the first trimester, after all."

Kay looked down at her stomach, could there really be something growing in there? "How far along am I?"

"Almost a month."

Well, it wasn't like she really needed to hear that, she already knew. She must have gotten pregnant during her last heat cycle. The tears seemed to burn far back in her eyes, but they never really made an appearance. She just didn't how to react to this. The doctor seemed to sense how she felt.

"I'll leave you alone to your thoughts, but if you need me just ask the nurses for me. I'm Dr. Shankar."

Kay nodded blindly, not even watching as Dr. Shankar walked out of the room. This couldn't be happening, it simply couldn't. These thoughts were still running through her mind when she heard Ames' angry voice in the hall.

"Doctor, no one is to know about this, do you understand? I don't care who asks you, this is to be kept completely private."

That hadn't even occurred to her. What if Max or any one of the others found out? What if Ben found out? She couldn't take it if that happened. She didn't even look up as Ames entered the room and stood next to her bed.

"What do you want?" she asked blankly, not a single drop of emotion escaping into her voice or onto her face.

He studied her carefully for a moment. "I don't want anyone outside of this room to know about this. The Conclave can never find out, and I'm sure you don't want your transgenic friends to know either."

Kay kept her eyes on her blanket at all times. "What do you suggest I do about that? Abortion is too risky these days, every woman who goes for it seems to get an infection and die. It's not like I can just tell this baby to go away."

"I'm not asking you to. I'm going into hiding with Ray and I want you to come with us."

Now she looked up at him. "You've got to be kidding."

He looked back down at her steadily. "Do I look like I'm kidding? I want to keep an eye on you and the child, I don't want any chance of this coming out."

"And to think I believed you were doing it out of the kindness of your heart!" she snapped sarcastically. "Do you really think I want anyone to know about this? I'm not going to be stupid enough to advertise it."

"Be that as it may, you're still coming with me."

She held up both hands in mock surrender. "Fine, I'll come. Just don't expect life to be happy."

Ames sighed and stuffed his hands in his pockets. "I'm not. In fact, I think it's going to be downright miserable."

Well, he had been right on the money with that one. Life was miserable, at least it was for her. The gun on the counter still looked so tempting, but she knew she wouldn't use it. She had to think about her child, she couldn't just take away its chance for a life. Whether she gave birth to a boy or a girl, that child deserved to have its shot in this world, no matter how cruel the world was. She wasn't even sure what it would be. Her entire family was only supposed to give birth to girls, but his family only produced boys. She supposed it was more likely that she would have a son, but there was always a chance of it being a girl.

Kay's eyes glanced at the clock. She had been alone for nearly an hour now. Just seven more hours to go before Ames brings Ray home and leaves me alone with the kid again. Ray couldn't be more excited to be getting a brother or sister. It didn't seem to affect him that it wasn't Wendy having the child, he still knew it would be his family. At least my baby will have someone cheering for it in the real world.

Throwing the gun back into the drawer, Kay made her way to the bathroom. The only positive thing she'd been able to come up with in all of this was that they had hot water.

Max rolled onto her side and opened her eyes. Even though this was how she'd been waking up for the last few months, she still couldn't get used to it. It was still a thrill to open her eyes and see Logan laying next to her, sleeping soundly without a care in the world. Well, he did have some cares, he was back to being Eyes Only full time again. She'd even done a few missions for him, but he hadn't given her anything serious to do. Most of the major stuff he gave to Alec and Jondy, they were the ones with the most time on their hands. She had other important things to think about.

Ever since the night of the battle, the whole country was confused. It was practically split right down the middle. The transgenics had made a good video from the footage they had of that night, and that tape made it clear that the transgenics weren't the enemy. Some of Thula's blood that was found in the heating room had been tested to give proof of the virus in her system, then the blood had been disposed of. They had basically given all the evidence they needed to prove they were on the country's side, but people seemed to still hate them. At least the number of transgenic haters had gone down, but those people were out there all the same.

Max scooted closer to Logan and put an arm around him. His eyes fluttered open after a moment, then he lifted himself up onto his elbow and smiled down at her. He leaned down and planted a gentle kiss on her lips then pulled back to look down at her again.

"Good morning."

She smiled back at him and relaxed into the soft bed. "Good morning to you too."

He flopped onto his back again and stretched out. "I don't suppose you're waiting for another culinary miracle, are you?"

She grinned and cuddled up next to him. "Does that give you an answer?"

Logan laughed as he felt her stomach growl against his ribs. "I guess this means I have to get out of bed. What do you want for breakfast?"

Max rested her head on his shoulder and smiled thoughtfully. "I can't decide. Why don't you surprise me?"

"One surprise miracle coming up." He slid out of the bed and pulled on his robe, then slowly made his way into the kitchen. Just before losing sight of the bedroom, he turned and watched her pull the blankets around herself and curl up into a tiny ball.

Logan couldn't believe how new things still felt. It had been about four months now, but every time they touched it still felt like the first time. He remembered the thrill that had gone through him after she had taken the shot of blood from the vial. Just to make sure it worked, they had let it go through her system for almost a week before letting them touch. Everyone had even been forced to separate them during this time, they wanted to just hold each other so badly that they couldn't sit in the same room together without trying to sneak closer together. Brin had finally threatened to make him live with Zack if he didn't cooperate, that got him to shut up pretty fast.

He heard the shower turn on as he cooked and studied what was in the pan. It was almost done, he could just stuff it in the refrigerator after that. He smiled to himself, he may as well not throw away a perfectly good opportunity to be with Max. For some reason they had never showered together yet, that was something he wanted to change.

Max smiled and rolled her eyes when she felt his arms go around her waist. She turned to face him, the grin never leaving her face. "Can't a girl get any alone time?"

Logan could see by her eyes she didn't mean that. "I'm afraid not. If you want to be alone, you'll have to make me leave."

"I just don't seem to have the energy this morning." Although she kissed him sweetly, he could feel something was off.

"Are you missing Joshua?"

She sighed and stepped away from him to grab the shampoo. "I guess I just feel kind of bad that I'm here with you in his old house and he's still in Terminal City."

"Other people still don't feel right about the ones like him though, you can't change that for him."

"I know, but I wish I could. If anyone deserves to be free, it's Joshua. All of his friends are gone. I'm here with you, Luke, Mole, and Dix are dead, and Jondy, Brin, Alec, and Zack are outside Terminal City. Not even Gem and Ty are there to keep him company anymore. Pretty much the only friend he has is Petey, but I don't know if that's worth much."

"He'll be fine. Joshua's a lot stronger than you give him credit for. He made it through Annie's death with flying colors, and it's not like you're dead. You can still go visit him."

A tiny smile crossed her face. "Maybe I'll go see him after work. Speaking of work, I have to get moving. Normal will shoot me if I'm late."

Logan chuckled as she hurriedly rinsed the suds out of her hair. "Same old, same old, huh?

She grinned back at him. "Blah blah woof woof."

Alec grimaced slightly at the grin that broke out on Normal's face when he saw his favorite employee. Why did I ever let Jondy talk me into this? Jondy just snickered under her breath at his reaction. He had been doing his best to get another job, but they had finally come close to going broke. That was when she had told him he had to either start working back at JamPony or she would go live on her own.

"There's my Golden Boy! I don't suppose you want to take back your old place here, do ya?"

Alec hesitated, then continued when Jondy prodded him in the back. "Uh yeah, I, uh, kind of need my old job back. If that's a problem I completely understand and I won't bother you again." Please tell me you don't have any room left, pleasepleasepleaseplease! Well, that wasn't going to happen.

"Of course you can have your old job back! What kind of person would I be if I just turned my back on a good man like yourself?"

"Uh, not a very good one?" At this comment Jondy burst out laughing. Now Normal looked over at her.

"Who are you?"

She smiled sweetly and let Alec throw a protective arm around her. "I'm Alec's roomy."

Normal looked confused for a moment, then the true meaning of what she had said finally hit home with him. "Oh, I see. Do you need a job by any chance?"

She grinned and wiggled her eyebrows at Alec, who just rolled his eyes in response. "I'm so glad you asked."

About a half hour later they were arguing again as she went with him on a run. "Why did you need to work here too?"

"Do you have a problem with your girlfriend working with you?" she teased.

"No, it's just that you're not really my girlfriend, you're more of my girl. The word 'friend' doesn't fit in there anywhere. You're too mean to me to be my friend!" he protested.

She just laughed as he walked up and got the signature for his package, then started talking again once he came back to her. "You haven't seen Brin or Zack today, have you?"

"I didn't until right now."

Jondy turned to see Brin and Zack headed for them. It was still hard for her to picture them together, but it seemed to work for them. Brin was nearly bouncing with excitement.

"Is Max back at JamPony?"

Alec straightened his backpack out on his shoulders. "She's running late, but I don't think that surprises anyone. She'll be in sometime today."

Jondy couldn't help but laugh at her sister's antics. "What's going on? What's got you so excited?"

A half smile came out on Zack's face. "Maybe we should wait until we get back to JamPony and see Max. She should be around when we share the news."

"What news? Oh come on, you know I'm gonna bug you until you tell me!" Jondy insisted. He just shook his head and smiled slightly again.

"You'll have to wait."

An hour later Jondy was shaking in place in JamPony, struggling to wait for Max who seemed to have decided not to show up today. What really made her mad was that Brin knew what the news was but wouldn't tell her. What kind of sister was that?

Max found herself nearly tackled when she walked into JamPony. "What's going on?"

"We've been waiting for you so we can find out!"

Max didn't know what to say. "You'll have to say that a little slower so I have a shot at understanding you."

Alec just grabbed her and dragged her over to a table. He wanted to get this done as soon as possible so Jondy would calm down. As soon as everyone was sitting, Zack reached into his pocket and handed a slip of paper to Max. Jondy's head popped over Max's shoulder to read it.

Max couldn't have been more confused. "This is just a bunch of addresses. Why did you want me to see these?"

Brin's face split into an eager smile. "After some persuasion on my part, Zack finally coughed up the addresses of everybody. Syl, Krit, Zane, and everyone else, they're all on that list."

Max couldn't believe her eyes. She had always wanted to find them, but Zack had been obstinate about it and refused to let her know. She jumped up and threw her arms around Zack, who looked a little embarrassed at the public display of emotion.

"It wasn't that big of a deal, really!"

Max rolled her eyes. "Not that big of a deal? I've been wanting to see everyone for a long time, this is a huge deal! When can I see them?"

He shrugged, it wasn't something he'd really thought about. "I guess anytime you want to. We could go see them this weekend if you wanted to."

"You'd better start hotwiring cars, I'm ready to go now!"

Kay sighed in contentment as she started rinsing the soap from her body. If there was one thing about the bathroom that she loved more than the hot water, it was the shower. She had to lock the door every time she used it, otherwise anyone could just walk in and see her. It was completely open, no curtains or anything to block the view of her. That didn't really bother her, after all, she could lock the door. The actual shower stall was large enough for ten people to stand with plenty of personal space. She liked having open space like this when she showered, it somehow made it more enjoyable.

She paused in her rinsing as her hands fell over her belly. Being five months pregnant, she was just starting to really show. It would be another month before it became truly noticeable while she was wearing clothes, right now it just looked like she had gained some weight. Still, without anything on she could look down and see the change of her stomach. She actually looked pregnant, but she doubted she had the glow most mothers seemed to have. If anything, her glow had completely disappeared after she found out the news.

A tear ran down her cheek and landed on her swollen belly, just making her cry harder. Wasn't this supposed to be the best time in a woman's life? Rather than a life beginning, she felt like hers was ending. She turned the water so it was almost scaldingly hot, then stood under it to let everything fade away. Right now if that gun had been sitting in front of her she might have made a grab for it.

As she turned off the water, she tried to dry her cheeks. She wasn't sobbing, but the tears just seemed to keep coming. When she reached for a towel, something near the door caught her eye. Almost as if in defeat, she just sighed and pulled the towel around herself.

"How long have you been standing there?"

Ames stepped away from his comfortable position by the door. He had been leaning there for the past ten minutes with his arms crossed while he watched her shower. It wasn't to be perverted, it was simply a good way to think. He had always used to watch Wendy shower, that was when he got his best thinking done. There had been a shooting on the street where his first job of the day was, so he'd gotten the day off. Now he didn't have any work to do until he went to get Ray.

"Just a little while."

Her expression hardly changed, it was almost as if she didn't care that he'd been watching her. Somehow that didn't surprise him. He'd noticed one time when he came home that she'd forgotten to put the gun away. He knew perfectly well how she was feeling each day, the same as he knew there wasn't much he could do about it. It wasn't like he hadn't tried, he'd attempted to start conversations before but all he got in return was some grunts. It wasn't that he wanted to suddenly become friends, but he didn't want to be so damn uncomfortable in his own house. There wasn't much left in her, that much he knew for sure.

Kay walked towards him so she could get out the door. For some reason it didn't even bother her that she was crying in front of him, she simply didn't care anymore. As she started to step past him, her wet foot slipped slightly on the tile floor. Ames immediately reached out and grabbed hold of her arm, easily keeping her up. He could feel her shaking under his touch. How upset could she be?

Kay didn't mind his hand on her so much, but after nearly a minute when he didn't release her she tried to pull her arm back. "Let go."

Ames removed his hand and she nearly fell down again. This time he moved forward and wrapped his arms around her, then scooped her up into his arms and carried her to her bedroom. After dropping her on the queen-sized bed he had gotten for her, he pulled back the blankets and covered her up with them. It was almost like having another child in the house, there was something wrong in her head and it seemed to have made her almost helpless. He reached under the blanket and removed the wet towel, then when he reached the door he turned around and looked back at her. She was laying in the exact same position he had dropped her in, she hadn't moved an inch even to make herself more comfortable.

Against his better judgment, Ames walked back over to the bed and sat down. "Do you plan to keep torturing yourself forever?"

Now her eyes looked up at him, still striking him as blank. "Do you think I'm torturing myself?"

"You sit there and stare at a gun every morning, trying to decide whether or not to kill yourself. You don't consider that self-torture?"

"How did you--"

"I saw the gun out one day. I know what you were doing because I did the same thing after I killed Wendy. The thing that always convinced me not to kill myself is the exact same thing for you, I had to take care of my child. I knew I couldn't kill myself and leave Ray, just as you know you can't kill yourself and kill your child along with you."

Kay rolled over so she wasn't facing him anymore. "This kid is the only thing left, if it wasn't for him or her, I wouldn't be here right now."

"I kind of figured."

"Why do you even care?"

"I don't, but it's kind of uncomfortable living with you right now. I've had more interesting conversations with the walls."

She turned her head to look at him again. "Do you really expect me to be talkative?"

He clenched a jaw tightly, he was sick of her feeling sorry for herself. "I expect you to move on with your life and to stop moping around. You asked me once if I would be able to go on without the cult and I've proven that I can. Now you need to prove you can move on without all your old friends. I've made a fresh start, it's time for you to do the same. The way you walk around it's like you're a dead woman walking."

She scowled at him and looked away. "Don't try and give me a pep talk, you suck at it. What do you expect me to do, kick your ass just to prove I'm alive?"

"Something like that would be nice. As long as you do something out of your everyday routine. What would you do if I did this?"

Kay couldn't have been more surprised when Ames turned her face towards him and kissed her. If she had thought he was really going to do something to get a reaction out of her, she never would have expected him to do that. She didn't really know why, but she let him kiss her. When he pulled his head back, he looked down at her almost in disgust.

"You didn't even do anything to that! I would have at least expected to get hit in the head."

"To hell with what you expected." With that she grabbed his head and pulled it back down. He wanted a reaction, well he got one. She only parted their lips for a moment. "Why don't you work a little harder at getting a reaction out of me?"

"As you wish," he whispered huskily, then slid under the covers with her.

Max's hands were twisting in her lap as Logan drove the Aztec through the middle of Chicago. Brin and Jondy were sitting in the back seat while Zack and Alec were crammed into the space in the very back of the vehicle. The four of them had had a fight over the back seat which they finally just solved by flipping coins. Brin and Jondy had won, but Alec was still complaining they had done something funky to tip the odds in their favor. Jondy had laughed it off saying it was a coin toss, what could they have done to favor themselves?

Max couldn't wait to see her family. Right now they were headed to Zane's place and Max could not have been more excited to see her big brother. She had managed to get as many details about him as she could out of Zack, but he wasn't really good at telling stories. She would just have to wait until she saw Zane in the flesh to bombard him with questions.

"Is that it?" She pointed to a white house off to their left. Zack shook his head from the back of the Aztec.

"No, he's on the next street over."

"But you said he lives in a white house!"

Logan laughed out loud. "Max, there's lots of white houses in Chicago."

Jondy turned around in her seat. "So Zack, what's the name of his dog again?"

"Keisha if it's female, Pablo if it's male. He gets a different dog right after one dies or he's forced to get rid of one, and those are the names he always chooses from."

Logan turned down a side street into a residential area, they weren't so much in the industrial section of Chicago anymore. The houses here looked a little more like a normal town. Max frowned and bit down on her lip.

"Which one is his? They're all white!"

Logan looked at the slip of paper with the addresses. "Look for number 309."

Brin pointed out her side of the Aztec. "That's it right there!"

Sure enough, they could see a large German Shepherd dog in the backyard. Logan pulled up into the driveway while Max, Brin, and Jondy were already starting to open their doors. He hadn't even put the vehicle into park when they jumped out and ran up to the front door. Alec and Zack pulled themselves into the back seat and Zack slid out the side door while Alec just stretched out in his spot. Logan turned to look at him from his spot in the driver's seat.

"Was that a fun ride?" he joked.

Alec rolled his eyes. "If I'm ever that close to Zack again, you have my full permission to shoot me. I don't know why I came along anyways, I don't know this guy and I wound up getting the worst seat in the whole damn place!"

Logan shrugged. "I don't know him either, but I know how excited Max is to see him. I'll wind up talking to him sometime or another, so I figured the least I could do was drive."

"See, I'm not like you. I care about Jondy and all, but I still prefer doing things for me. If you can tell me one positive thing I'll get out of this, I'll give you twenty bucks."

Logan thought for a moment, then looked at the house to make sure no one was listening before he said "She'll be pretty excited by the time she gets back in bed with you tonight."

Alec's eyes lit up. "Logan, my man, I didn't know you had a dirty mind! Here ya go, you just gave me the best reason for coming along!" He slapped a twenty dollar bill into Logan's hand, then jumped out of the Aztec and hurried up to the door to stand next to Jondy while Max rang the doorbell. Logan looked at the money in his hand and chuckled, then stuffed it into his pocket and followed Alec's lead.

Brin gave Max a tight squeeze from behind as she pressed the doorbell. They heard it ring throughout the house and the dog's barking came from the backyard. They could clearly hear someone walking through the house, then the door opened and Max, Brin, and Jondy's faces lit up. Things were starting to look brighter.

Kay's eyes opened slowly as she leaned back into the warmth behind her. Ames was sound asleep with his arms around her, keeping her back pressed firmly against his chest and one of his arms protectively gripping her pregnant belly. As strange as it was to think of who she was laying there with, she couldn't have been happier. She glanced up at the bedside clock. Ray would be getting out of school in a half hour, which would give them just enough time to make it there.

She moved her elbow back to bump him in the ribs. "Get up, we've got to go get Ray."

A muffled 'hmmph' came from her hair, then Ames released her and slid back so he could see the clock. "Damn, time flies," he groaned, then stretched out on his back and grabbed the phone.

"What are you doing?" Kay asked as she slid closer to him to hear the conversation.

"Calling someone."

"I think I noticed that!"

She heard the phone ringing on the other end, then a woman's voice came on the line. "Hello?"

"Danielle? It's Ames, Ray's dad. Could he spend the night at your house? I'm kind of busy and I know he's been dying to stay at Ricky's house."

Kay slid back, her curiosity satisfied. As soon as Ames hung up, he dialed another number."Dave, it's Ames. I won't be coming into work tonight, I just can't seem to get out of bed."

Kay covered her mouth to keep from laughing, she could see what he was doing now. He made another similar call to his last job of the day, or rather his night job, and said he couldn't get out of bed. Once he finally put the phone back, she raised an eyebrow.

"Can't get out of bed, huh? That must be awful."

"Oh believe me, it is." He slid up behind her and wrapped his arms around her so they were in the same position as before. Before she knew it, he had fallen asleep again with his face resting in her hair.

Although she wasn't altogether unhappy anymore, Kay knew things still weren't going to be good again. She didn't love Ames any more than he loved her, in fact they were closer to hating each other than anything else. Still, the facts were that they understood each other and had no one else to turn to. This wasn't going to be happily ever after, she knew that, but it wasn't necessarily going to be horrible either. As long as they didn't get in each other's way, they would be just fine.

The entire warehouse was dead silent, the only noises in it were too muffled to be heard by the average ear. A man sat in a dark room, fighting his restraints but getting nowhere. The back of his neck was still sore from earlier, the tattoo on his neck still stung. He had thought before that he had a chance of making it out of here alive. There had been another man here with strange red eyes, and he had been kind and kept trying to convince the captor to let him go. For some reason he had dropped to the ground in a seizure the other day and his captor had proclaimed him dead. That had been his last chance of survival.

His captor's dark shape suddenly entered the room, staying just out of the man's line of vision. He already knew what his captor looked like, this was more just to make him feel uncomfortable. He felt his wrist restraints being taken off, then the legs. The cold metal of a gun was pushed into his hand and he gripped it gladly. He might get away now.

As soon as the door was open, he shot out. He didn't know what was going on, but he wasn't about to question it. Had his captor had a sudden strike made to his conscience? He didn't really care, just as long as he made it away.

The woods seemed too quiet as he darted through them. It felt as though anyone could hear the beat of his heart right now, not to mention his heavy breathing. A slight rustle in the leaves behind him made him jump around and fire his gun on impulse. When the silence resumed, he nearly burst out laughing in relief. It must have been a squirrel or something. Yeah, that was it, it must have been a squirrel.

Another rustling sound made him jump again, but this time he held his fire. Shooting would just give him away even more. Sweat dripped from his body as he flattened himself against a tree. The noise was somewhere in front of him. It's just a squirrel, it's just a squirrel, it's just a squirrel! After about a minute, the rustling stopped. He let out his breath in one long whoosh as he stepped away from the tree. His relief wasn't long lasting, but neither was his fear. He only felt the hands on his neck for a moment, then the world went black.

Ben leaned down and lifted up the dead man's body, pulling off the necklace of the Virgin Mary that dangled from his neck. He smiled coldly as he dropped the body against the bent trunk of a tree. This spot would do fine for the display, it wouldn't take too much for anyone to find him here.

Chris had died the other day from the implant. Ben still felt lonely, after all, he had spent so much time with that man. Even after Ben's body had recovered they had stuck together. Now Ben looked exactly as he had before the incident in Gillette. Better yet, his strength was back to normal. He indulged in another smile as he broke his victim's arm so he could position him better on the tree. He had told Kay that he had his own life to get back to, now he couldn't have been happier to be back. All distractions were gone now and he planned to return to his life with a flourish.