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A Magic Trick

Chapter Text

Hindsight, being what it was, would reveal to Henry many things after the encounter was over. For example, he would later know with startling clarity that everything had gone to hell the moment he’d uttered the words,

“Would you like to see a magic trick?”

In the months leading up to the capture of Detective Martinez and himself they had been trying to catch the madman who would eventually ensnare them before they could get to him. One would think with the absolute wealth of forensic evidence the man left behind he would be easy to apprehend.

The man’s M.O. was simple. Abduct two people who were in some way emotionally attached to each other. Place these unfortunate souls in a room, and tell them that only one of them was ever getting out alive. The way out was to kill the other person. The slower and more painful the death, the faster your own release. No weapons were provided, although some ‘participants’ were clever enough to break the mirror above the small sink provided in each room.

In one of the scenarios Henry was unfortunate enough to find a female victim still alive whose father slit his own throat to keep her alive. The department hired two counselors specializing in survivor’s guilt specifically for the victims piling up. They knew they used to be good people. It was the therapist’s job to convince them that after starving for ten days anyone would have been capable of what they were forced to do. Half committed suicide in the following weeks.

“I don’t get it.” Jo sighed, looking down at the bodies of two college roommates. The men decided to have a fair fight to the death, as far as Henry could tell. In the ensuing brawl they’d both succumbed to their injuries.

“This guy leaves us DNA, fingerprints, hair, witnesses. Everything we could possible want and we still have no idea who he is.”

Henry tipped over one of the corpses onto its side. A gash down his back was long and jagged. Not the fatal blow, but it very well could have been under different circumstances. Exsanguination was a terrible way to die. The pain, nausea, and resulting heart attack were all terribly unpleasant.

“Unfortunately we know exactly who this man is. We just don’t know his name or address.”

And they wouldn’t know it, not until he pumped a gas into the lab. Lucas was in the room as well, but Henry had faith that the killer left him unharmed. By the time Henry recognized the scent of the ether he was already fading into unconsciousness. He couldn’t even catch Jo as she fell.

“Wakey, Wakey!” The voice was male, in his late 30’s or early 40’s. As his vision swam into focus Henry could make out thick rimmed glasses on a gaunt face framed with an eerie smile. The man’s suit was shabby, though it used to be of good quality. A single hired gunman stood near the door. Not one stick of furniture could be found in the blank room.

“Look at you two!” The man circled around them. They were in a one room house. From the smell alone Henry could tell they were far outside the city limits. “Industrious, the both of you. I’ve been following your work. Ms. Martinez, you’ve been looking into housing and apartments trying to piece together how I rent these places. I know you were close to figuring out my naming system. And you, Dr. Morgan. Combing my DNA for rare genetic markers. Nearly found one, tsk tsk. Couldn’t let that happen.”

He was still smiling. It was making Henry sick to his stomach.

“I think you both have an understanding of what will happen here. There’s a sink to provide you with all the water you need in the washroom. No door of course, but the wall does provide some privacy. I’m sure you’ve noticed that I don’t provide food during the experiment phase. Once one of you kills the other and I assure you, it will happen, I will start feeding you. If you torture your comrade I’ll let you go that day. Mutual fighting will keep you for three days, and just letting someone die of natural causes or suicide will keep you in here with their rotting corpse for a full week. The smell alone will make you want to claw your eyes out.” He smiled and stood.

Once the man was almost to the door he turned around, “Oh yes. Dr. Morgan, I’ve heard of your incessant hero complex. If you try to break out of here via the floor or the ceiling or what have you, I’ll kill her. Remember, the more amused I am, the better your own chances of survival.”

Jo looked to Henry with weary bloodshot eyes. “Think there’s a deck of cards around here somewhere?”

They ended up having to make their own deck of cards out of wallpaper they ripped down. Without having to say anything they both understood that the plan was to wait patiently for help to arrive. They’d left behind enough clues for Hanson to put them together. Hopefully. Henry did not have much faith in the plan, truth be told. All of the other pairs were found within the city. If anything the police would be sweeping abandoned or newly rented apartments there. The scent of lush greenery wafting in through the ventilation spoke of a rural landscape just beyond the walls of their confinement. No one was coming.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

In his long life Henry had never starved to death. Once when entrenched and running low on supplies during WWI he’d put a bullet in his head just to get his body back to normal from its emaciated state after only seven days.

They had now gone ten without.

Jo, who had less body fat and muscle to begin with was terrifyingly frail. When two guards came in to shackle them neither could even pretend to surmount an escape. They were placed on chairs with their ankles bound. Their captor came in wearing the same decrepit suit and holding a bag of fast food. Henry had never wanted a hamburger so badly in his life. With a scrape of metal against concrete the man pulled up a chair not five feet from them.

He began to eat in front of them. Slowly. A whimper escaped Jo. “I don’t know why a week and a half is the tipping point,” He paused for another bite. “but it is. Did you know that I used to be a magician? Low level stuff, never made it to the pros, but I did love the excitement. The amusement. You two sitting here discussing past cases and playing with your wallpaper is just not any fun.” He smiled again and threw a piece of lettuce between them. Henry reacted on pure instinct to get to it first. Jo slammed her shoulder into him and snatched it.

She looked horrified, “Henry I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be.” He said with all the sincerity he could.

“See, now that was fun!” The man cackled.

Not for the first time Henry considered taking the easy way out. He could be gone from this place in the blink of an eye. If he did that though, Jo would be left behind to be killed. Even worse the lunatic and his men would see what happened. But who would believe them?

“Would you like to see a magic trick?” He shouldn’t have proposed it. It was an awful plan. The hunger was just so pervasive, so gnawing. All he could think of was making it go away. He wouldn’t have done it, never even would have considered it if the ache hadn’t gone so deep. The day before he drank so much water he’d been unable to keep it down just to feel full for a moment. He could only imagine how bad it was for Jo who was eating the wilted piece of lettuce that had been on the floor.

The man sat up a little straighter. “What kind of magic trick?”

“The best magic trick ever performed. In fact, if I show you this trick and it is indeed the best one you’ve ever seen in your life, you agree to feed Detective Martinez and let her go.”

That evil grin spread wide, “Finally, someone who knows how to play my game. Will you need any materials for this trick?”

“A gun with a single bullet.”

The man threw back his head to release his laughter. “That’s it?” He rubbed his hands together and sat back in his chair, considering the pair of them. Henry knew the risk he was taking. He had to believe that the clearly criminally insane man in front of him was a man of his word. As Henry ran naked from whatever lake or river he’d get evaporated to he had to trust that the madman would actually let Jo go.

“I have one condition to add.” The man said gleefully. “If it is indeed the best trick I have ever seen you have to do it twice so that I have the chance to figure out how you did it.”

“If he does it twice you have to let us both go.” Jo added.

“No.” The man snapped at her. “He made the deal for you.”

Twice added an element of danger far beyond what Henry had anticipated. He looked over at his partner, panting with the exertion of one sentence worth of lung capacity.

“I accept.”

“Henry, no.” Tears began pouring down Jo’s face. “Why are you always doing this? Why do you always have to sacrifice yourself?”

“I’m afraid you’ll understand far better in just a moment.”

The man came back with a glock complete with silencer in his hand. “So what kind of a trick can you perform with a single bullet?”

“Where is the nearest body of water?” Henry asked, eyes following the gun.

“This house actually sits on a lake. It’s quite serene.”

Henry sighed, “I am going to disappear before your very eyes and reappear, naked, in that lake.”

“Now that is something I’d like to see.” He kicked the gun over to Henry.

Henry picked the gun up, its weight so much heavier with his muscles so malnourished. With a heavy heart he put the gun to his temple and pulled the trigger. Jo screamed.

With a click… nothing happened.

Henry brought the gun back down in dismay.

The man was giggling, “Sorry. I had to see if you planned to shoot me. Actually, I was kind of hoping you were planning to shoot your partner over there. The look on her face would have been priceless, but the look on it right now is almost as good.”

Henry did not dare look at the horror he knew he would find on Jo’s face.

“You know, I have this whole stockpile of weapons available for participants. I’d be perfectly happy to provide them if people would just ask, but no. They prefer fists and teeth.” He shrugged. From out of his pocket the produced a bullet which he handed to Henry.

“NO!” Jo whimpered as he loaded it. “Please Henry, no. We have more time, it’ll be okay. It takes weeks to die from hunger. I’m okay. Just give it a few more days.”

He turned to look her dead in the eye. “I promise Jo, it’s just a trick.”

This time when he pulled the trigger there was a flash of pain, searing light, then the cold of the water. From shore he could hear a guard screaming that a man just appeared in the lake.

 

Despite it having been the middle of spring Henry still emerged from the water with his teeth chattering. At least the restoration had given him back his strength, leaving the clawing hunger behind. As the guard force marched him back to the house Henry memorized his surroundings. It was clearly a cabin. The frame was all wood and brick with a path of planks leading down to the beach. The lot was encircled with towering trees blocking sight of anything beyond. They walked in through a screen door porch. Henry could hear laughter even that far out. The room holding Martinez was reinforced with metal plating that was clear to see as he was shoved through the door frame.

“BRAVO!” The man clapped wildly, laughing all the while. “I was convinced you were simply taking the easy way out. Yet another suicide to avoid confrontation.” He clasped his hands, a dreamy look on his face. “Well done, Dr. Morgan. It’s not often I’m surprised.”

Despite his theatrics, their captor was not what was holding Henry’s attention. It was Jo, still sitting in the chair with wide eyes stained red with tears. Clear tracks ran down her pale face.

“I saw your head come off. There was blood. Brain.”

“I told you, it’s just a trick.” They stared at each other for a long moment.

“What are we waiting for?” He interrupted their silent communication. “It’s time for the encore!”

“First,” Henry’s eyes were still locked with Jo. “Food. For Detective Martinez. That was the best trick you’ve ever seen, was it not?”

The man grumbled, “I suppose.” He tossed to her the bag of food he’d been eating from earlier. She just stared at it.

“Jo,” Henry urged, “You have to eat.”

Her eyes drew back up to meet Henry’s. “Not until after the second time. I’ll just throw it up.”

The guards brought Henry clothes because ‘it was so impressive that you also ditched the clothing!’ and made him change before they handed him another bullet to put in the gun.

“No, no! Not yet! This time I want to watch from the lake.” The man scurried away, leaving Jo and Henry alone together in their prison.

“It’s not a trick, is it?” Jo asked quietly.

“No. Look away this time. It’ll be easier.”

She did as asked. It was far harder to pull the trigger a second time.

 

When he was shoved through the door with another set of sweats Jo’s eyes were still clenched shut.

“It’s okay.” Henry said soothingly. She let one eye open to a slit. Henry crouched down next to her chair, opening one of the cheeseburgers. “Eat. You’ll need the strength to walk. No more than a few bites, leave the buns.” He shouted back toward the door, “Can we get some milk please? She needs phosphate and magnesium.”

Henry didn’t even know if anyone was still there. All of his focus was on Jo, still looking so weary and horrified.

“When he lets you go, walk away from the lake. There has to be a road nearby. Hitchhike. It’s not the safest mode of transportation but you stand less than 3% chance of being attacked and I know you can defend yourself.”

“Did someone ask for some milk?” The man came in with a jug of whole milk. They both flinched away when he let it fall to the floor with a loud thud alongside a bag of red plastic cups. Henry cautiously opened the bag to pour Jo a cup of milk. She drank in small sips, eyes unblinkingly looking up at their captor. The naked hate there fueled Henry’s own rage.

“Well then. I’ve held up my end of the bargain. You’ve always let your subjects go as promised. It’s time for Detective Martinez to be on her way.”

“As a matter of fact, I don’t think you did hold up your end of the bargain.”

Henry’s body was bathed in adrenaline. Jo’s grasp tightened on her cup.

“You see, Henry… My name’s Peter by the way. I’m not sure I properly introduced myself. The problem, Henry, is that you said you’d show me a magic trick, and as we all know, magic isn’t real. What you did? Now that was real. If it was real, it didn’t fit the requirements set forth. You understand. Now, because I saw you put a gun to your head and splatter your brains everywhere…which also disappeared I’m glad to see… I’ll count what happened as suicide. The detective will be let go in seven days.”

Finally Henry understood the term incandescent with rage. He stood, towering over Peter. “Clearly your definition is wrong. What you are used to are illusions. What the bloody hell would you call that other than magic?”

The sole female guard leveled a gun at Henry’s head.

Peter smiled cruelly, “An act of God.”

As he turned Henry reached out to grab him back, but Jo put one soft hand against his side to keep him in place. It was everything he could have feared. Jo was still in captivity, the captors now knew his secret, there was no where to turn. Peter and the guard with the gun walked out talking in hushed tones.

Quietly the remaining guard unshackled Jo and left the room with a resounding thud.

“You’re an idiot, Morgan.” Jo said, meaning every word.

“Oh, I am aware.”

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

“I hate whole milk.” Jo said into the darkness.

They were spooning on the floor. Henry’s sweatshirt was unzipped, lying over them as a substandard blanket. The detective wasn’t producing enough body heat. Shivers wracked through her even as Henry tried to warm her back up.

“I’m sorry. It’s just that the refeeding process can be delicate. It wouldn’t do to have you eat foods that-”

“It’s not a judgment. I don’t care.” She forced herself even farther back into him as more shivers came. “It was just a fact. Something about me. Now tell me something about you.”

It was bound to happen sooner or later. Keeping everything hidden would be impossible now. Jo had seen enough to know that he was withholding more than even she had ever suspected. At least a series of confessions would be easier than a never ending trail of questions.

“I have never in my life sleep-walked to the East River. I also have never been in the water, naked, for fun.”

“No skinny dipping in your wayward youth?” She chuckled, which lead to lung rattling coughs.

“I’m afraid not.”

The pause that followed was audible. “I had a dog growing up that we rescued from the pound. Her name was Lilah.”

Henry almost laughed. Such a soft ball statement to answer to. “The estate I grew up on had many hunting dogs as well as a few horses. Cats were common around the stables, though I wouldn’t have called any of them pets.”

“So you were a rich kid. I knew it. Only a rich kid would wear a full suit to work at a morgue.” Jo poked him jokingly with an elbow. He tried not to wince at how bony it was.

“Your name is Martinez, and yet I have not heard you speak Spanish.”

“That’s racist.”

“Is not! You form some of your words as though you grew up speaking two languages at least.”

Her eyes were certainly rolling, “All right, yes, I speak my fair share of languages. Don’t pretend like you don’t either. It just reminds me of my Dad. I was a different girl back then. It was a different lifetime.”

“If there is anyone who understands abandoning an old life, it’s me. Here’s a fact for you, of all the languages I speak the one with the fewest native speakers is Welsh.”

“Why would anyone need to learn Welsh?”

Henry scoffed, “It’s not what you need to learn! It’s about learning for the sake of-”

The door swung open. The silhouette of Peter and the guard back lit in the doorway was enough to freeze Henry’s blood.

“I was up thinking about it all night. I just couldn’t fall asleep without knowing something.”

Peter flipped on the light. As they blinked while their pupils dilated the figures approached. Henry rolled onto his back just as the shot hit him in the chest.

Right lung punctured, certainly collapsed. He coughed up frothy red blood. As Jo reached out to try and stem the flow of blood he waved her off.

“Don’t… ruin… clothes.”

“You’re,” she swallowed hard and reached for his chest again, “I mean, when the bullet- there’s already splatter-”

More blood coughed up. “Never seen you… loss for words.”

“Yeah well, I’ve never seen you with a sucking chest wound before.”

Peter came to stand over them, peering down at Henry. Jo kept one ineffective hand over the hole and flipped him off with the other.

“How long is this going to take? Wait, wrong question. This does work with bullets in general, right? Or is it strictly a suicide thing? Because if it is, WOW will my face be red!”

If Jo hadn’t been low on energy the swung she took at Peter probably would have landed. Henry liked to think it would have hurt too.

“What the hell are you trying to prove?” She spat at him.

“I was just curious. Does it only work when he does it?”

Jo looked to Henry. It occurred to him that he probably should have lead with that, but he didn’t have enough oxygen left to say anything. All he could really do was pass out.

Before he broke surface on the water he considered, for just a fleeting second, holding his breath and swimming for a different shore. Just floating away.

The burn in his lungs forced him up and out. He wouldn't have done it anyway. He sighed and began his butterfly toward the guard. The man wasn’t even looking at him, just playing on his phone. It dropped into the water when Henry asked for the set of sweats sitting by the shore.

Jo was waiting for him this time, arms wrapped around her knees. “It took longer.” She unwrapped the sweatshirt from around her shoulders, opening it up to him as a blanket again. He gratefully crawled into her embrace. Her back was sticky with his blood.

“So sometimes it takes a while.” She tried again to get him talking.

“I’m sorry. I should have told you. I don’t disappear until I am officially dead.”

“And when exactly is that? When your heart stops? When you brain shuts down? What happens to you? Why does it happen to you? You’re not going to tell me that you’re a water God who needs to be returned to regenerate, are you? I’m not sure I could handle that tonight. If that’s the case, just lie to me.”

Only Jo could make him chuckle under such circumstances, “Last time I was dissected they didn’t have MRI. I can’t be sure about the exact definition. I don’t think it’s heart specifically. There are a few distinct moments after being beheaded that stick with me.”

“Please tell me you’re joking. I already threw up the milk. I don’t need more dry heaving.”

“WE’RE GOING TO NEED PEANUT BUTTER AND SUPPLEMENTS!” The words echoed in the room that was empty except for them.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Peter only killed him twice the next day. Jo tolerated the peanut butter pretty well until the knives showed up. The day after that it was three times.

Drowning. Extremely unpleasant, but quiet.
Shot to the stomach. Slow, painful, and devastating for Jo who held him silently as he bled out.
Cyanide. Quick and to the point.

On day four after the disastrous magic trick Peter brought in a garrote. As the man pulled it taunt over Henry’s throat until he could feel the capillaries in his eyes burst he hoped Jo would be able to keep her bread down. Vomiting was not helping her recovery.

Unfortunately for everyone involved Peter watched far too many movies about strangulation and had never actually done it before. It takes several minutes without oxygen for death. As soon as Henry lost consciousness Peter let him slump to the floor. Henry had to wake up ten minutes later, throat burning, to see Jo screaming at a guard to let her go. She was fighting tooth and nail to get to his ‘body’. The room fell silent when he groaned to get their attention. Jo got one good hit to the guard’s nose. He answered with a hard backhand. Henry’s detective, even weak from hunger, was too tough to let it sway her off her feet. She turned an ugly glare his way.

BLAM!

The guard was sent to the floor in a shower of blood from the bullet Peter sent through his skull. Jo was left paralyzed from fear in the mist that floated down.

“My apologies.” Peter said sincerely, offering her a handkerchief. “All of my people know better than to do damage without consent. I believe the spirit of the agreement I have with Dr. Morgan here specifies you come to no harm.”

She took the cloth. What else was she supposed to do?

“As for you,” Peter turned a wide grin at him, “I thought for a minute there we’d gone and used you all up! Some toys only last for so long you know. When you didn’t disappear, well… guess I should have checked for a pulse, eh?”

He looked down at the body of the dead guard and tsked at it. “It’s a shame not all deaths are self cleaning like yours.”

Even through the excruciating pain of a partially collapsed larynx Henry tried to plea when the gun came out again. Death was a far more fearsome mistress than agony.

It was probably just in his head, but he could have sworn the water was getting colder.

“We need to get you out of here.” Martinez said almost on repeat once he came back. The blood from the guard had been badly mopped up leaving a wide rust colored stain.

“Jo, sit. Please.” She was searching the walls with her nails. Looking for any bare hint of a chink in the armor. “I’m fine.”

“Yeah well I’m not.” She continued undeterred. He had to place his hands on her shoulders, gently holding her in place to get a moment of stillness. She shrugged him off.

“I know that it was… disconcerting when I didn’t disa-”

“Disconcerting? No, Henry. It was not disconcerting. I have watched you die A LOT in the past few days. That sentence was so fucked up my brain had trouble getting my mouth to even say it. Do you get that? Can you even comprehend that I have had to rethink everything I have ever known about you? About life?”

He sighed. He’d interrupt if he thought it would make anything better.

“Knowing that when we were laughing about you being a pervert because you were found in the river really means someone killed you earlier that day? That is disconcerting. Watching that fucking psycho ‘kill’ you and having you just lay there? Terrifying. The idea that I would have to sit here alone and watch you rot was mind numbing in a horrifying way.”

She took in a huge shuttering breath, “But at least I knew, or thought, that you were out. You were free. He’s just running through a list. Bullets? Check. Knives? Check. What fresh hell do you think he’s going to bring in here? I’m just not-” the air caught in her throat, “I don’t know that I can watch this for another three days. And you’re not even getting free then. Jesus.”

She crossed her arms on the wall in front of her to lean her forehead on. The tears she was obviously trying to hide were dripping onto the floor beneath her. Very carefully he placed his hands on her back.

“I’m sorry I never told you.”

She released a wet chuckle, “You can’t seriously think I’m mad at you for not telling me about this. Not when you knew that something like this was a real possibility.”

Those huge brown red rimmed eyes turned to him. “This hasn’t- has this happened to you before?”

He nodded. “A very long time ago.”

She dropped her voice to a light whisper, “When we get out of this, I’m not going to tell anyone. Ever.”

“I have no doubt. Now please, come away. We don’t need him withholding food again because we aren’t behaving.”

There was no furniture for him to steer her towards, so he simply moved her toward the corner where their makeshift cards were left discarded. He could feel her fight the urge to yell at him for guiding her at all. It brought a small smile to his lips. Together they quietly ate some Ritz crackers and washed them down with juice.

“How many times have you died?” There it was. The beginning of the questions.

“I’m not entirely sure.” He answered honestly. “Too many.”

“And the water thing?”

“The first time I died it was in water. It wasn’t what killed me, but it’s where I expired. It could be completely unrelated, I suppose. Some cosmic coincidence.”

Jo began gathering the cards. He assumed they were playing Rummy again. There were only so many two player games. “How much of your resume and employment records are fake?”

“None of the experience is fake. I really am highly trained and qualified, however a few of the dates and more than a few of my references are not as legitimate as one would expect.”

She nodded while rearranging her hand. With a few more players Henry would have suggested poker. Martinez was very good at keeping a blank face.

“Why do you ask, Detective? Plan on having me fired for lying on my application?”

The look she shot at him stated very clearly she did not enjoy his joke.

He drew and discarded a two of spades. “Since you asked I suppose it’s my turn for the next question. If you had to describe your mother in five words, what would they be?”

For several hours they were able to distract each other with more mundane questions. Ice cream flavors, favorite colors, blood type, favorite books, authors, television. When she outright laughed at his affection for ‘I Love Lucy’ it occurred to him that she still had no idea how old he was.

True to form as soon as he was about to reveal which ‘79 he was born in the door opened. The duties of the guard Peter shot were taken over by the female guard. She was a burly woman with an angry red scar across her neck. She conducted a sweep before nodding. Peter wheeled in a defibrillator and monitor. Jo gagged just once before he was even properly hooked up.

“I am so excited we were able to find this!” Peter’s enthusiasm was anything but contagious. “I truly am a scientist at heart. Oh the things we can learn together! Today I’d like to find out exactly how long your pulse has to stop before you evaporate.”

Henry was strapped down on a cot. A pulse monitor was attached to his index finger. It showed the slow steady beat of a healthy heart. Peter pulled up a stopwatch app on his phone. It was all so mundane.

When Jo came over looking for all the world like she was ready for a fight Henry fidgeted. Instead she just knelt by his bed and took his hand in hers.

“Don’t watch. Just hide in the washroom. I’ll be back soon.”

She shook her head. “No one should have to die alone.”

The hum of the defibrillator powering up sounded like pure dread. He was selfishly happy to have the warm human contact she offered.

“Clear!”

That time his last thought was, ‘I wonder if he even knows why they say that’ as Jo slipped her hand out.

Everything was still there when he returned from the lake. Jo kneeling by the cot. The equipment. Everything.

“Forgot to start my stopwatch in all the excitement.” Peter chuckled and pointed to his phone screen. “Guess we’ll have to try again.”

For the first time Henry struggled against his captor. Dying was supposed to buy him time! There was supposed to be a reprieve! Time to talk to Jo and forget for just a minute. All he wanted was a few minutes! The woman holding him was massive, but all of his training had been an exercise in how to take on an opponent larger than oneself. He braced himself for the pain that inevitably followed a head butt.

Peter actually laughed at the ensuing brawl. Henry and the woman were evenly matched until the click of Peter’s gun sounded. Through the blood dripping into his eyes from a cut Henry could see the barrel pressed to Jo’s temple.

“I would be deeply disappointed if I had to shoot Ms. Martinez, Doctor. I find myself conflicted. You see, I told you I would let her leave, and yet at the same time I told you that if you tried to escape I would harm her. You see my dilemma. Since the escaping clause was first chronologically I feel I have to uphold it. Don’t make me.”

“Henry,” Jo’s voice. Soft. “If you can’t anymore…”

He walked quickly to the bed, because he still could. For her he had a few deaths left in him.

She held his hand while he was strapped in. She whispered the last rites in Spanish against it. It had been a long time since Henry considered himself particularly religious. It felt good none the less.

Peter didn’t bother dressing him or making excuses before doing it a third time. Henry wept as Jo whispered to him.