this entire chapter was written by clare alone, so all praise for it goes to her!

The morning light was harsh through the blinds, striking a long band across the bed and bouncing off the metal hospital bedstead. It reflected on the screens of the monitors, making them glint.

The body in the bed moved its head slightly, as if to shake off the morning, reluctant to wake. The mouth yawned widely - the arm that wasn't bandaged so heavily stretched out a little, the fingers flexing.

Reven opened his eyes, and gazed up at a white, smooth ceiling.

Oh yes. The hospital. Was he in there, then? It seemed so. Seemed he'd been more seriously hurt than he remembered - he could feel the slight tug of a drip in his arm; could see the side of the bed drawn up to protect him from rolling out.

Much more seriously hurt than he remembered. Plenty of drugs and plenty of sleep - he could hear that phrase in his head. He'd heard it before.

He remembered more now, of course he did! The horrors at the mansion! Then sirens - agonising stretcher - shouting voices. Soothing words, painful injections, more and more. Curses - shocked voices. Tight bandaging, and firm, professional hands on his body.

He wondered aimlessly if their stitching was better than his.

Didn't want to laugh - he suspected that it'd hurt.

Inoue would get the joke, though, wouldn't he?

He turned his head cautiously to the side, searching out his partner. His appeared to be the only bed in the room. But there'd been another bed - a nurse who'd been very sweet.

A blanket, to warm them both...

He wondered if he'd had some kind of relapse - been rushed off here, confined to bed himself. He took stock of himself - he could feel all limbs, albeit the pain was constant and only masked by the medical relief.

He was reminded of that wound to his leg, all those years ago. He'd thought that the worst thing that had ever happened to him!

He'd been so young then.

No wonder Inoue was impatient with him sometimes.

He could see properly - he could hear the whirr of the monitors. He seemed to have all his senses. It was great, what modern medicine could do, eh?

He must see about getting up and about again. He needed to go visiting again.

The footsteps were very gentle, but he still heard them approaching. There were two people - when they entered his room, he wasn't surprised to see them. A doctor, judging by his coat, and a nurse.

She surprised him - somehow he'd been expecting some other nurse, though he wasn't sure why.

He looked down at his body, suddenly.

He felt a strange relief to see that he had a normal hospital gown on. He didn't seem to be too heavily bandaged, though his leg was strapped from thigh to ankle, and there was webbed bandaging all around his lower torso.

But he wasn't swathed in blankets. Didn't know why he'd expected that.

"You're awake - good," said the doctor, gently. Everything was very gentle - Reven was absurdly impressed by the attention here! The only time he'd been in hospitals before, he'd been a grubby street kid who'd barely merited a couch, let alone a bed, and expert help like this. "How do you feel?"

Damned stupid question! thought Reven. "Fine," he said, instead. "Tired."

"You lost a hell of a lot of blood," said the doctor. He moved to look at the chart at the end of the bed, and for a second Reven caught a glimpse passing between him and the nurse. "We saved your kidney, amazingly enough. But for a while you'll need monitoring - drugs to build your strength back up."

"And the - rest of me -?"

The doctor pursed his lips. "Plenty of stitching, Mr - er - did you say -?"

I didn't, thought Reven. He fell back on one of his many aliases. "Kendall. Rik Kendall."

The doctor looked anything but convinced. "You suffered heavy injuries, Mr - Kendall. You're lucky to be alive, but I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that. You're lucky that you're young and seemingly very fit. I'm sure we can - well, I'm sure you'll answer all our other questions soon. For now, you just need to rest. We've been sedating you - you need complete rest, and this room will remain available for you for the moment."

Reven moistened his dry lips. This was all well and good, but not to the point. "I want to see my partner first. I don't know what room he was in - I'm sure I can walk there. I did before."

There was a sudden silence in the room.

"Your - partner," said the doctor, hesitantly.

"Yes." Reven didn't want to get impatient with these guys, but it really wasn't important how he was, was it? "The red haired man. He was in a much worse state than me. He's not conscious yet, maybe. But I'd still like to see him again. To sit with him."

The nurse plucked at the doctor's sleeve, but she was brushed away. The man continued to gaze at Reven, and his eyes darkened, almost imperceptibly. But then, Reven was trained to notice that kind of thing - those reactions in people.

"What is it?" he said sharply. He tried to sit up, but the drip tugged his arm back down, and the other one didn't seem strong enough to take his full weight. He lay back on his pillow with a curse, and had to be content with rolling his head to look at the staff. "Where is he?"

"There are people that want to see you, Mr - Kendall," the nurse broke in. She looked very young, younger even than Reven himself. "The police - some other agents have asked to talk to you -"

"Hush," said the doctor, sharply, but Reven felt the prickle of fear at the back of his neck again.

"Where is he?" he demanded. "Answer me! Where the fuck is he?"

The doctor nodded quickly at the nurse and she hurried away behind him, closing the door to the room, sealing out the world of the hospital outside. The man in the white coat came over to Reven's bedside, and now Reven recognised the look on his face.

He despised it.

"You need to listen to me, Mr Kendall," the doctor said, in a low voice. "You need to remain calm, and remember that you are a seriously injured young man who needs to have concern only for himself."

Reven's eyes blazed - the doctor looked at his free hand, gripping the rail of the bed, and he took a deep breath.

"The man you speak of - the red-haired man. He's dead, Mr Kendall. You were the only survivor from that house - it was the most unbelievable scene of carnage that I have ever seen. I don't know how you survived, but you were the only one. The only survivor."

"And - my partner," said Reven. His voice seemed to come from a long way away. He didn't want to give these people Inoue's name, but if it was a matter of security or something -

"He's dead," repeated the doctor.

The nurse gasped a little behind him; her face looked all screwed up, like she might cry. Reven thought angrily how he'd preferred the other nurse - she had seemed much more in control of things...

"I held him," he said, more clearly now. "I held him up, and talked to him, and told him the paramedics were coming. We were both going to hospital. He hates them, you see, but this was no time for any stupid phobia -"

" - Dead -" came the whisper.

"No," said Reven. His voice was getting a little higher; a little tighter. "I saw him here - not so long ago. In a bed in this hospital. He was sleeping. I was waiting for him to wake."

Everything was all right he thought. Wasn't it?

The doctor looked at the nurse - she shook her head slightly. He turned back, and Reven searched his face for the signs that a mistake had been made. Some sick joke. Some hideous error.

There was none.

"He was never brought to the ward, Mr Kendall. He was already dead at the scene. His corp- he was brought here, but to the mortuary downstairs. You couldn't have seen him anywhere here. The shock - and the drugs - the sedatives. It's highly likely that you will suffer some hallucinations -"

Reven moved, now. He rattled the bed, and he wrenched himself to a sitting position.

The nurse clucked, but didn't seem to dare to come nearer. The doctor was made of sterner stuff, and put a restraining hand to Reven's shoulder.

"Calm down, lad. It's a shock I know - but he'd never have survived those injuries, even if he'd been brought in alive. Organ failure - blood loss -"

"NO!" shouted Reven. "Take me to him! Shut the fuck up with your blood loss and shock and drugs, and take me to him!"

"I can't," said the doctor. The nurse was fumbling with the internal phone on the wall.

The doctor was looking at the drip, maybe gauging if he should change the dose.

No! thought Reven, grimly. No more of the fucking drugs! I'll find him myself - He started to swing his legs over the side of the bed - looked about for his clothes.

"I can't take you to him because he's gone," said the doctor. He seemed to be losing some patience now. Or maybe he was just a little scared.

Reven knew he couldn't look much like the helpless young child now! He was fucking angry, and he could feel the surge of strength within him that these guys could never imagine existed. What could they know of his life? Of the things he'd been through? Both with and without Inoue?

"His body has been taken away," said the nurse, timidly. "It was - we couldn't have it here any more. It was such a - "

"It's been taken away for investigation," said the doctor, bluntly. "And I'd suggest that you keep calm yourself, Mr Kendall, for it's only my demand that you have rest that's kept the federal agents at bay so far -"

Reven didn't remember many more words after that. He didn't really want to hurt the doctor, or the nurse, but after the drip came out and he found his feet, he couldn't see what else he could do. He couldn't risk being taken under investigation himself - and he needed to find Inoue!

The doctor was felled by a single blow to the jaw - no issue at all. The nurse's eyes got wider than he'd believe possible, but that made it easier for him to stop her scream with the wadded end of his bedding, and drop her with pressure to her neck.

The doctor's clothes were too big, and he looked ludicrous in the coat - but it covered his bandages well. The pain around his lower back was agony, though.

I'll find drugs of my own when I get free of here, he thought. When we both get free of here!

He let himself out into the corridor, never more thankful for the quiet and peace here.

He knew he ought to be leaving the hospital - going to ground until he was healed properly. Fuck, he may even have to leave town for good. It didn't matter - none of it mattered!

Why the fuck did they lie? Why did they lie about Inoue? He'd seen him, right?

The movement at the end of the corridor brought him up sharp - he'd never get away with it for long, not if someone from the medical staff challenged him.

But the person that slipped from an end room was the nurse that he'd seen before. The one with Inoue.

He was almost pleased to see her!

Now he'd find out what was going on! Wouldn't he?


He was shocked that she knew his name. Hell, had he talked in his sleep or something?

Had Inoue asked her to find him?

"Where is he?" he asked. She was only a few feet away from him now, smiling so gently that he wasn't sure if it was conscious. It didn't seem to matter that he was so blunt with her. He knew that she understood what he meant. He thought that she understood a hell of a lot more than he did himself.

"He's gone, Reven. You know that. You know he wasn't going to live through it. You did. That was enough."

"Wasn't! Fucking wasn't!" gasped Reven, like some obstreperous child.

She replied, though he didn't see her lips move. It was odd; he felt the prickle on the back of his neck again. She was moving around him, and whenever she was behind him, he found he couldn't remember the colour of her eyes. "It has to be, Reven. Be a man. Be the man he wanted you to be."

"Where is he?" he almost wept. This time, his question had a diffferent tone - he was asking her a different thing altogether. And she knew it, of course.

"You won't know. It's best that you don't. They will find nothing on him, or about him, and they will dispose of it in an anonymous, hidden place. It's just the shell, Reven. You know that, don't you?"

"What will I do?" he groaned. The tears were falling again, but neither of them acknowledged them. He didn't seem to be able to focus on the nurse at all, now.

"You'll leave here, Reven - now." Her voice sounded different - it sounded like nothing more than an echo of his own. "Listen to your own mind. That's all this is, isn't it? You know all this yourself - you feel all this yourself. Inoue is gone, and now you'll have to go to. Disappear - heal yourself. Take your own advice - heed your own warnings. Make your own life. Make it good."

Reven knew he was alone in the corridor - was this just another of those fucking hallucinations that they said were drug-induced? He was talking to himself, for God's sake - crying with a crushing, agonising grief, and talking to himself! But he was talking sense.

He had to go. There was nothing but danger for him here - there was nothing left of his old life for him to treasure - nothing at all.

"He's gone," came the softest whisper, and he turned to find the speaker. He wasn't surprised to find no-one there.

"He's gone," he said, his own voice loud and harsh in the bare corridor. Hadn't he said once that he could make a life without Inoue - that he had, for all that time his partner had been lost?

But I didn't want to, he said, inside. He couldn't believe the pain - the shock. He mourned!

He had never known such anguish.

What were broken bones - what was ripped, bloodied flesh? His chest felt crushed - he felt every breath an agony; every step out of this place an abandonment.

But Inoue wasn't here.

He never had been.

Not the Inoue he knew.

"We did it though, didn't we?" he cursed, at nothing and no-one in particular. "We eliminated him, Inoue - we took our revenge, and revenge for so many others, too! That was no fucking hallucination, was it?"

The pain was starting up again in his body - his knee throbbed particularly badly. He stumbled to the door at the end of the corridor - was cautiously pleased to find it a door into the deserted kitchens.

There would be a back way out - there would be some time before they found the doctor and the nurse, and know that he'd gone.

And they'd never find him.

He'd return to what he knew - the people and the places that had sheltered him in the past. And he'd find another place there, for him - for his grief, and his misery, and his life ahead.

For now, he saw no future. He saw no reason - no desire to live.

But whatever he did, it would be his choice! His life!

Inoue had helped save it.

So would he.

The swing doors of the kitchen whispered softly as their momentum slowed. there was a gust of air from the outside world, then the fire exit closed again. There was silence in the corridor.

There was no-one there to see.