A story about the tv show, Cupid
Part Six of Five
by Steve 0yervidez

"What is more precious than finding life,
finding joy, finding love? It's finding you...
you give my soul a place to rest.."

                                                - unknown author

            The wipers made soothing thumps across the windshield of Claire's car, sliding back and forth across the glass as they pushed the falling rain away. Claire sat in the silence of the car's interior, sadly watching the blades sweep endlessly in front of her as she waited at a red light, her mind a million miles away.
            Another sweep in the quiet, thump, thump, like a lonely heartbeat, the thumping broken only by the steady sound of the rain pelting her car.
            Claire looked out at the traffic on the street. Everything was wet and dreary, getting drenched under a pale overcast sky. People were wrapped in rain coats as they moved along the crosswalks, their steps splashing through the water on the asphalt. Claire hardly noticed, her eyes focusing instead on the raindrops speckling her windshield that were rolling down like small tears, before the wipers swept them away, instantly replaced with new tears.
            That was exactly how she felt.
            The wipers swept back and forth, a soothing thump trying in vain to clear the glass, but the rain didn't stop.
            A single tear rolled down Claire's cheek. She started to think about all that had happened since Trevor had left her. She missed him so much. More than she thought possible. The empty feeling inside her hadn't gone away. No matter how much she wanted it to. he was in her thought every second of every day. It was as if he had left yesterday. But it had already been months. Nearly half a year. The windshield wipers kept up their rhythm as her car idled at the red light, and her mind began to wander, remembering, as a sad, despondent song began to play. The music started with soft held-out chords, tragic and mournful as the lyrics began.

            It's been seven hours and fifteen days...
            Since you took your love away...

            Claire was sitting in front of her singles group, but as was usual for her lately, her heart really wasn't in it. She was staring at nothing, not really listening to the light hearted banter being thrown back and forth between the group. Everyone else in the room seemed to be happy, smiling as they argued, having a good time. But not her. Claire was quiet, her eyes sad as she looked up, her gaze shifting past the animated singles group and settling on an empty chair at the back. Trevor's chair.
            Lowering her eyes, Claire looked away, still feeling the chair there, empty at the back of the room.

            The Chicago sidewalk was crowded with pedestrians, all hurrying off to work in the cool morning air. Claire seemed subdued as she moved along with them, not really seeing them around her. She carried the same bag of doughnuts in her hands that she always carried. The same sealed cup of coffee. Walked the same route to her office as yesterday and the day before. But somehow, it was different now. Something imperceptible had changed, and she couldn't put her finger on what it was.
            As she looked up, Claire stopped, realizing something. Trevor wasn't there to bother her on her morning commute. She had always felt that having him not accost her on her way to work every morning would be bliss. It wasn't. Ironic, that the absence of the things that Trevor most annoyed her with, now made her miss him even more.
            Then a familiar sight flashed in the corner of her eye. A familiar face, that remembered smile. Turning, a chill went through her. She saw him. She thought she had seen him, in the sea of pedestrians ahead.
            Rushing forward hopefully, she pushed past the crowd, her melancholy falling away, letting the pedestrians blur past her, not daring to take her eyes off the back of... Turning the man roughly around, Claire stopped. It wasn't Trevor. It was someone she had never seen before, and he gave her a strange look. He hadn't really been there at all. The man walked away without a word, leaving Claire there motionless as the moving crowd flowed past her sad form, lonely and alone.
            Pushing her brief moment of hope away, Claire finally turned away and continued on to work.

            I go out every night, and I sleep all day...
            Since you took your love away...

            Deep shadows covered the sidewalk. The sky above was filled with a glittering mosaic of distant stars, unreachable in the night. Claire was slowly making her way down a darkened walkway, wandering, searching. She had looked everywhere. Alleyways, homeless shelters, various other charitable organizations. She knew it was pretty hopeless. The chances of Trevor still even being in Chicago were small. She knew Trevor better than that. If he had left, he had gone all the way and left the city entirely. But she couldn't just let herself sit around at home, alone and useless. She had to do something, even if it was something pointless.
            Claire continued down the dark street, wrapping her arms tightly around herself as she looked all around, finding nothing as her small figure faded into the night.

            Sunlight came streaming brightly in through Claire's bedroom window. Claire was in bed, blinking up at the bright glare as reluctantly she woke up. Looking over at her alarm clock, she realized she was already twenty minutes late for work. With a groan, she pulled her sheets over her head, not wanting to go in today.

            Claire smiled at the patient before her, standing up after their session together, but not really feeling like she was on her game today. Her expression fell once the woman left, and Claire walked over to her window, looking out at the city. Sighing, she turned and looked at the shelf on the wall beside her.
            Trevor's music box was sitting there. Weeks ago she had decided to keep it at work to keep her spirits up. And so she could see it more. Lately it seemed as if her life consisted only of going to work and going home to sleep. There was no light beyond that anymore. But seeing the music box Trevor had given her, with its small angel on its lid, always reminded her of him. Like a small ray of remembered sunshine in what had become a pretty dismal routine.
            She reached out and softly touched the music box, growing sad, trying not to cry all over again. As she took a deep breath, she started to wonder if seeing the music box there everyday was really such a good idea after all.
            Jaclyn came into Claire's office, already asking a question as she looked down at the open case file she held before her, busy with work as usual. When Claire didn't answer her, she looked up, seeing her near the window touching the music box Trevor had given her. Claire hadn't even heard her come in. Jaclyn watched Claire silently, feeling her sadness. Slowly she turned and walked back out of the office, closing the door behind her.

            Claire was at the park.
            She was sitting alone on a park bench, not moving, lost in her thoughts. Minute upon minute passed and still she didn't move. The people enjoying the park seemed to blur past her in her stillness, the clouds visibly rolling across the sky overhead as the sun quickly zipped towards the horizon, turning the sky from blue to gold, then red to purple. As the sun flared and faded away before her, she didn't notice, having not moved, sitting there alone in the dark.

            Since you've been gone I can do whatever I want...

            Walking down one of the building hallways and back to her office the next day, Claire turned when a woman who worked with her touched her shoulder with a smile. The woman eagerly introduced her to the very handsome man she had brought with her. Taken a little off guard by the introduction, Claire tried to smile and show some enthusiasm, awkward conversation passing between her and the man for a few moments. The man didn't seem to mind, looking at her warmly. After having introduced them, the woman stepped discreetly back, looking pleased.
            As Claire spoke with this new acquaintance, she wasn't really sure what she was doing. Before she knew it she was agreeing to have dinner with this man. Trying to find a break in the conversation to take it back, she finally stopped and thought about it. Maybe it was exactly what she needed. She needed to get out for awhile, needed to get out of her own head.
            The handsome man brightened, happy she had agreed, walking away with a smile on his face. Claire turned away and gratefully headed back to her office, simply relieved that the uncomfortable moment had passed. The female co worker who had introduced them watched her walk past, encouraged by what had happened.

           I can see whoever I choose...

            Shadows were stretching well into Claire's living room as the sun set on the horizon, but Claire didn't notice. She was sitting in front of her computer, the screen's glow reflecting off the small round lenses of her glasses, bathing her face in soft blue light as she searched the internet. Her eyes carefully scanned the web page before her, reading archived newspaper police reports of people who had been picked up. She switched windows on her screen, going to a people search site she had been running. Her fingers danced on the keys, typing a name into the blank space where the waiting cursor blinked.
            Trevor Hale.
            As usual, after the screen paused for a few moments the results came back. All the same names and adresses she had seen and checked already popped up, knowing them by heart. Nothing. Not that she had really expected it to be that easy. She had already tried several potential aliases of Trevor's. Max Love, for instance. She knew he had used that one once. But no hits came back. Claire thought some more, going over all the techniques in her mind she had used before when she had tried to find out Trevor's true identity, now simply trying to find Trevor himself.
            Looking down at her watch, she suddenly realized it was getting late. Turning her head, she saw the fading sunset coming through her living room window, just as she heard a knock on her front door. Whispering a curse at her lapse, Claire quickly stood, hurrying towards her bedroom to get dressed as fast as possible for the date she had forgotten completely about.

            I can eat dinner in a fancy restaurant, but nothing...
            nothing can take away these blues...

            The same handsome man from earlier that morning was sitting across the table from Claire in the elegant, up scale restaurant where they had decided to have dinner. Claire was well dressed, looking beautiful in the candlelight after obviously having made an effort to make up for her earlier lapse. But her mind was still a million miles away.
            The man blinked across the table at her, starting to notice her distraction. "Is anything wrong Claire?"
            Claire didn't look up, staring sadly at the tiny candle flickering in front of her, her sad eyes glittering in it's light.
            "What is it?" The man leaned forward. "Claire..? Was it something I said?"
            He looked at her, wondering what he had done wrong, searching for any reaction from her. But there was nothing. She seemed to not have heard him. The silence stretched on, and he grew a little annoyed. Claire didn't move. Didn't react. Finally he picked up his napkin from his lap and angrily tossed it down onto the table, grabbed his coat and left.

            Nothing compares to you...

            Sitting there alone, Claire didn't even notice that he was gone. Slowly she leaned towards the candle, its glow filling her face, before softly blowing it out. A thin wisp of smoke twisted up from it's burnt tip, and she waved her hands through it slowly, remembering what the carnival psychic had told her as the ribbons of smoke bent around her fingers, thinking of Trevor.

            Claire was at her singles group again, not really listening. Nick looked up at her as he relayed the account of his latest romantic disaster to the group, finally asking her what he should do next. He paused when he saw her staring off into space. At the break in the conversation, everyone in the room shifted their attention back to her, wondering what was going on.
            "Claire?" Nick asked.
            Claire shook her head marginally, coming out of it and realizing they were all waiting on her. "I'm sorry, Nick. Could you start over?"

            It's been so lonely here...
            Like a bird without a song...

            Later Claire was curled up on her bed, weeping loudly as she rocked back and forth, her arms wrapped around her knees. The bedroom was empty all around her as night filled the windows. Claire was alone. There was no one else in her empty, echoing house. She continued to cry in the darkness, tears streaming down her cheeks and onto her knees in the dim light. Just one small, despondent figure in her empty bedroom. She knew she could have called Jaclyn, but she didn't want to burden her with this. But beyond her she had no one else to confide in, no one else who knew how she felt about Trevor. No one else who could be allowed to know that she missed him so much, and that she was in love with him. No one else who could know her secret.
            As she rocked gently back and forth, continuing to cry, this time there was no one there to comfort her.

            Nothing can stop these lonely tears from falling...
            Tell me baby, where did I go wrong..

            It was the next morning as Claire stepped into the cluttered space of a private investigator's office. The small room was littered with books and filing cabinets, a wealth of scattered information, case data and contacts everywhere she looked. Walking to the cluttered desk, the thin, graying man sitting there looked up from where he was working on his computer when she came near, recognizing her.
            She looked at him hopefully, not saying anything.
            With a sigh the private investigator leaned back. And then as always, he slowly shook his head, having found nothing.

            Claire was pacing across her living room, the phone nestled against her cheek. She held a phone book open in her arms, her fingers trailing down the listings under U.S. Psychiatric Facilities. Reading off the book, she pulled the phone down for a moment and dialed in a number, her twentieth long distance call since that morning. After a long wait, someone finally picked up on the other end. She asked for the admittance office, presenting her name and credentials from her hospital in Chicago, and asking about any potential unidentified John Does who may have been admitted recently. The words seemed so second nature to her now, having said the exact same thing to dozens of hospitals so many times before. Claire carefully gave them Trevor's description, hoping for some good news.
            Later she pulled the phone back from her ear with a tired sigh as she hung it up, now standing across the room. New York was a bust. Nothing. Walking back over to where she had left the open phone book, she looked down at it, and for some reason, a worried look flashed across her features. Closing her eyes, Claire flipped a few pages, stopping under a new heading. She looked down at it.
            Morgues, U.S.
            Her eyes filled with fear as she looked down at those words, not breathing. Finally she slammed the phone book shut, taking a deep breath, not ready to go down that road yet. Turning back to the listing of mental hospitals, her finger slid down the entries, before she paused and began to dial psychiatric facilities in Seattle, starting over.

            I could put my arms around every boy I see...
            But they'd only remind me of you...

            Claire was slow dancing in the arms of a different man this time. They were swaying in the middle of a ballroom floor full of slowly dancing couples at a charity event. The man in her arms had dark hair, handsome and strong. She knew him from the bookstore. Over the course of several after conversations, she knew he was obviously interested in her. But deep down, she could feel that she had no real interest in him. Not really. Still, she was trying her best to take the advice she had been given. She had to at least make the attempt anyway, no matter how reluctantly. Trevor was gone. He might never come back. She might never see him again. She had to go on with her life.
            Her thoughts wandered. She suddenly pictured her and Trevor in sunlight, dancing slowly in the cemetery, feeling him in her embrace, the touch of his cheek on hers, the sound of his voice as he-
            Claire's face crumbled as she danced, swaying in her date's embrace, head slowly falling forward onto his shoulder. After a moment he blinked, feeling her shoulders shake in his arms.
            Pulling back, he looked into her face and realized Claire was crying uncontrollably, tears streaming down her face.
            Concerned, he held Claire against him, at a loss. Wiping the tears of her cheeks, he slowly led her off the dance floor.

            Claire was in a hallway, pausing outside the door of the staff therapist she had been seeing for the past few months. Taking a deep breath, she was reluctant to go in to her next session, knowing she had really made no progress the past week. Not that she was proud of. But deep down, she knew she needed the help. She needed to address what she was feeling. Finally gathering her courage, Claire resolved herself and walked in, closing the door behind her.

            I went to the doctor and guess what he told me,
            Guess what he told me...

            Claire was seated in front of her therapist, feeling a little uncomfortable. He was at his desk, a graying man with kind eyes. Claire shifted in her chair, not really used to being in session from this side of the desk. Her eyes were sad as she looked at the older gentleman, the hospital's confidential staff therapist.
            "So how did the date go last night, Claire. Did it go well?" he asked gently.
            Claire paused, a little caught off guard. For a moment, his voice had almost sounded like Trevor's, teasing her about her love life, or lack thereof. Pushing the thought away, she realized he was still waiting for an answer. Not saying a word, Claire lowered her eyes, subtly shaking her head no.
            The older man sighed, watching her for a few moments, trying to understand. Finally, he continued. "What happened?"
            Claire looked away, turning her gaze out the window, its light revealing tears forming in her eyes. For what seemed the hundredth time, she wondered when they would finally stop. Her voice was soft and fragile as she answered. "I... I started to cry. We were dancing, and... And everything was fine, and then... I started to cry. And I couldn't stop." Claire tried to smile. "Umm... everything kind of went downhill after that..."
            The man empathized, seeing how much this was hurting her. He put down his pen and leaned closer. "Claire, you have to get past this. Try enjoying your self. Living your life again. It'll be good for you. As your therapist, let me say that you will never be truly happy until you let go. Until you move on..."
            "I know..." Claire nodded, wiping her eyes. "I'll do better next time..."
            He looked at her, his eyes full of sympathy. "I hope so, Claire..."

            He said girl you better have fun no matter what you do...
            But he's a fool...

            Claire was alone under an overcast sky as she stepped forward, looking out from the skyscraper observation deck, high over Chicago. It was the same place where she had thrown off her book. she had never dreamed that someday she would have to discard Trevor as well. There was no one there with her, since it was the middle of the work day. The open walkways were empty around her. Claire didn't mind. Looking out over the crowded city, she always felt alone anyway.

            Later Claire's hair was wet, having come in from the rain falling outside, sitting at the top of the stairs outside Trevor's apartment, thinking to herself. The light in the ceiling far above glittered in her drenched hair. She kept looking down at the landing before her, knowing that was the exact place where Trevor had fallen when he had been shot. Faith had been standing right behind where she was sitting now. Claire kept thinking of Trevor out there somewhere, possibly hurt and in pain, just for being Trevor. She was missing him so much wondering where he was. The world seemed so big in that moment, stretching endless to the horizon in all directions beyond those dimly lit walls around her.
            There was a sound behind her as the door to Trevor's apartment started open. Claire turned where she sat, an hopeful thrill passing through her. Someone was coming out of his apartment. The hem of a long coat that was so instantly familiar swung into view. She had been yearning to see that coat again for so long and she was about to get up and rush into his arms when... Claire's face fell when she realized that her eyes had been playing tricks on her. It was only Allison.
            Allison paused in mid step as she locked her apartment, seeing her sitting there. "Claire..?"
            With a disappointed exhalation Claire turned away, dropping her face into her hands. Allison watched her sobbing, surprised. Slowly she walked over, uncertain what to do. Taking a seat beside her on the top step, she tenderly put her arms around Claire's shoulders as she cried. Claire leaned in to her, wanting someone near. Confused, Allison rested her chin on Claire's hair, wondering what had her so upset. She didn't know Claire very well, having only met her a few times through Champ. But Claire was in pain, so she held her closer, trying to comfort her, even though she didn't know what was going on. The two woman sat there, alone in the dark of the empty stairway.

            Nothing compares to you...

            Claire was standing at the podium in front of the hospital review board, discussing the treatment options for one of her patients. Her voice was a dull monotone, causing some of the board members to look up at her vacant tone. Even as she continued talking, going over all the mundane therapeutic minutiae, her mind was wandering, bored with her work and just trying to get through the day.

            That night Claire was in bed. It took her a moment to remember that she was asleep. And dreaming.
            It was the same dream.
            She didn't know how, but she was running. Running agonizingly slowly down the hallway outside the office where Trevor had punched Richard. Every corridor was empty and in shadows all around her as a dim ghostly light illuminating everything a pale blue. Her achingly body ran through them in slow motion, straining in the unexplained thickness of the air. The corridors seemed to stretch farther and farther everywhere she looked, endless in the distance. Totally empty except for her. No people, no furniture, nothing. She was looking for him, searching everywhere for Trevor. It always seemed like an eternity in her dream. But whenever she rounded another corner, everything moving so slowly, she always found nothing. Trevor was never there.
            The dream always ended the same way, turning that one final corner where she had found him before, standing there in the sunlight beside the window at the end of a hallway. But the window was always dark, no sunlight coming through. And no one was ever there.
            Suddenly Claire jerked up in her bed, realizing it had been another dream. The same dream. It was still the middle of the night, and she was sitting in bed. Turning her head, she laid back down, coming out of the dream with a deep breath. She closed her eyes, trying to get to sleep. But even behind her eyelids, she knew she would see herself running.

            Nothing compares to you...

            Sitting alone near the window at Taggerty's, Claire watched Champ and Allison behind the bar. Champ was leaning close to her as he showed her where everything was, training her to be a new bartender so she could take Trevor's old shift between her acting gigs.
            Seeing her there reminded Claire how much things had changed. Her thoughts filled with memories of Trevor, and the things that had happened, picturing the past. Of walking with him, side by side in the dim romantic light of one of the downtown bridges, alone during their 'double date' with Champ and Jaclyn. She remembered being in his apartment as he had spread himself across his front door, not letting her leave to tell Jaclyn they were onto her and Champ's little plan. She remembered seeing him across the dance floor at her class reunion, kissing her sister Mara. Remembered wiping her tears away, not wanting to admit why she was crying. She remembered her and Trevor running away in the rain from that psychic woman's tent, the rain shining golden in the sun as in relief they had swung around in each other's arms, happy to be home. She could even remember Trevor bending her back in front of her office, and how it felt as he gave her that overwhelming, incredible kiss. A kiss that if she thought about it, she could still feel tingling on her lips even now.
            Champ and Allison were still joking around behind the bar, and Claire's face saddened at all the changes in her life. Remembering all the surgeons hunched over Trevor's body after Faith had shot him. Remembering kissing him desperately on the lips as he lay unconscious in a hospital bed, her tear falling onto his cheek just as his eyes fluttered open. She remembered the hurt expression on Trevor's face when she told him she couldn't be his doctor. And the same expression when she told him she couldn't be in love him. She remembered Trevor's arm blurring as he punched Richard. Remembered chasing him down the hallway, and falling into his arms. Remembered Trevor's farewell note in her hands as the snow fell outside the window of his apartment. And the realization that she would never see him again, reaching up to touch the cold glass, gently tracing the shape of a-

            Suddenly the angry blare of a car horn brought Claire slamming back into the present. Realizing that she was sitting in her car, she listened to the comforting thump of the wipers sliding across the glass of her rain soaked windshield.
            Trying to get her bearings, Claire looked up. The light in the intersection before her was green. Still a little flustered, she wiped a tear away as she started to pull the car forward. Claire looked absently into her rear view mirror where the sun behind her was finally shining through the rain. And suddenly she saw something.
            Claire slammed her foot down onto the brake, her car bobbing to a stop in the exact middle of the busy intersection, rain pouring down all around. Slamming her car into park, Claire threw her door open and rushed out into the rain, running to the back bumper as the rain started to soak her clothing. Eyes filled with wonder, she looked at her back windshield. There was no denying it. There it was, in the rain droplets on the glass. Someone had just traced a shape in the sunlight. A shape of a heart with an arrow shot through it. Claire looked desperately around, water dripping into her eyes as she turned in a circle. Her vision frantically swept over the busy street, standing in the middle of the intersection as cars honked at her in the sunlight and rain.
            She couldn't see him. It had to be him.
            Turning in place in the downpour, now really starting to get soaked, she stood there as a Chicago police cruiser pulled up beside her car in the rain, momentarily flashing a single rotation of it's blue lights as a short wail from it's siren got her attention. The window of the police cruiser rolled down, and the officer inside called out to her, giving her a stern look.
            "Is there a problem, ma'am?"
            Claire gave him only a cursory glance, still turning in place, searching, looking like a mad woman standing out there in the rain. cars waited. people walked under umbrellas. But she saw nothing. Nothing at all. And suddenly she wasn't so sure anymore. Looking back at her rear windshield, her face fell. The falling rain had already washed away the tracing in the droplets. Maybe it had never really been there at all.
            "No, officer." Claire's voice was soft. "There's no problem..."
            Resigned to the truth, Claire reluctantly walked back over to her open car door, the rain pelting her head as she took one last look around. Then she got back into her car and closed the door.
            The sunlight faded as more clouds rolled in front of it, and the light dimmed as Claire started to pull through the intersection as the police officer rolled his window back up. The rain fell loudly all around as the police cruiser pulled away, traffic starting to move through the intersection again.

            A man in a dark coat on the sidewalk watched Claire's car pull away, eyes following it as it moved across one of the bridges spanning the river, before stopping at the light at the far side. Still watching, the man pulled back his rain drenched hood.
            It was Trevor.
            He sighed, wishing he could have talked to her. He had snuck up to her car to trace his heart on the glass. He had almost gone up to her window. He had honestly thought about it. But he couldn't bring himself to do it. He shouldn't even be in Chicago, and Claire definitely shouldn't know about it. But he had felt a pull, an urge telling him to come back because he couldn't stay away. He just wanted to see her, if nothing else. Even if he couldn't talk to her, or even let her know he was there. but she couldn't know he had come back. What he had done was stupid. He couldn't put her through all that again.
            Looking sadly at her car driving away on the other side of the river, Trevor stepped forward off the curb, distracted as the rain continued to fall all around. Suddenly there was a screech of tires splashing through the wet asphalt, and as Trevor looked up he saw the front of a taxi rushing right towards him, an instant before slamming into him as everything went black.

            The rain falling outside Claire's office window had finally stopped. An early afternoon sun was shining in a clear blue Chicago sky cleaned fresh from the rain. Claire was at her desk organizing her notes from the day's sessions, hunched over several case files as she worked. Behind her on the shelf, the lid of Trevor's music box was open, it's gentle lilting music playing softly. Eventually the music began to slow, but for once Claire didn't seem to notice, engrossed in her work. Then the music coming from behind her finally stopped, having wound down. Her pen made scratching noises on the paper as she wrote in the silence of her office.
            Suddenly Claire did notice the quiet around her, and her pen stopped. Lifting her head, she listened to the silence. And for the first time in a long time, it seemed okay. It would be okay. She felt better, for once not on the verge of tears just thinking Trevor wasn't there. With a pleased sigh, she went back to her notes, transferring them into her case files, her mind no longer distracted as she worked.
            Suddenly the phone rang.
            Still looking down at the open file before her, Claire didn't turn her head as she reached over and picked up, bringing the phone to her ear.
            "Dr. Claire Allen..." she said.
            She listened to the woman speaking on the other side of the line for several moments.
            The pen dropped abruptly from her shocked hand in the silence of the room, as Claire suddenly... smiled.

            Jaclyn was walking back to her desk when she was forced to jump out of the way as Claire dashed out of her office, running past her without stopping. The door to Claire's office was left swinging open behind her.
            Confused, Jaclyn turned in place, catching a glimpse of a look of joy on Claire's face before she disappeared down the hallway. She called out after her.
            "Claire! What is it?"
            But Claire didn't stop, disappearing around the corner and sprinting to her car as fast as she could.

            The wet streets were still shiny and clean from the recent rain, their asphalt surfaces a deep rich black, sparkling slightly with the sheen of water. The air was fresh and new. Claire accelerated her car forward, quickly turning the steering wheel as the sunlight shifted on the few remaining raindrops drying on her windshield. The air flowing over her car pushed the droplets up the glass, reflecting golden in the sun, like tiny comets rising.
            Claire was reluctantly forced to stop at an intersection, trapped behind a row of cars waiting in front of her. Her eyes flashed up to the red light above. Claire's hands bounced impatiently on top of the steering wheel, unable to keep the anticipation from her expression, face bathed in golden sunlight.
            "Come on, come on..." she whispered.
            Finally Claire couldn't wait any longer. Thinking about it for a moment, she bit her lip. Then suddenly she turned the wheel hard over and accelerated forward, squealing into the empty approaching traffic lane to her left. Her car sped past the row of cars waiting in front of her, screeching into the intersection and making a sharp left turn, forcing the crossing traffic to come to a stop, angrily honking their horns at her.
            Claire's car sped away in it's new direction, disappearing into the distance.

            The doors to the county medical hospital slammed open as Claire rushed in, her eyes filled with hope. She dashed breathlessly forward, stopping for nothing, in the process almost managing to knock over a hospital supply cart that pushed its way in front of her.
            "Sorry..." Claire apologized to the man pushing the cart, but she didn't stop. She rushed over to the admitting desk, leaning forward. Facing the attending nurse who had called her on the phone, she tried to stay calm.
            "Where is he?" Claire asked breathlessly.

            Claire was running again, trying to contain her hope, but feeling a sense of anticipation course through her body. Dodging forward around several people, she tried not to run over anyone in her way. It was harder than it seemed. As the hospital corridor slid past her, what she was doing suddenly struck her. She was running down a hospital hallway, like in her dream. But this hallway was real, filled with staff and patients. She wasn't there alone. Everything around her was focused and sharp, clear and very very much awake. The hallway slid towards her, bright and filled with sound, her steps free and unencumbered, unlike in her dream, each stride coming fast and easily. This was no dream.
            Claire's eyes frantically passed over each approaching room number, moving around slower people in the hall, letting them blur past her. The entire hallway seemed to be sprinting towards her. Speeding forward she felt the air on her face, leaving each section behind. Suddenly Claire spotted a closed door up ahead, and she slowed to a stop in front of it.
            Pausing, Claire took a deep breath to clear her head. This was it. This was the point in her dream where it always ended, turning the final corner, with Trevor never there. Suddenly feeling a little nervous, she looked at the closed door, not knowing what was behind it. Who was behind it. Trying to steady herself against possible disappointment, she whispered softly.
            "Let it be him. Please... let it be him... I can't bear losing him again. Him not being in there..."
            Reaching forward, she tried to keep her fingers from shaking. Claire firmly gripped the door handle, before pushing the door open and stepping in. She moved slowly into the room, as the hospital bed came into view before her.
            With a relieved gasp she rushed forward, collapsing down against him on the hospital bed, and hugging him for all she was worth. Trevor was awake and lying there, his forehead tightly bandaged, looking a little surprised at her reaction.
            "Well hello to you too..." he laughed.
            Claire giggled, a smile on her face as she touched his, over and over again, not believing it. "Please. Tell me you're real. This can't be a dream. Tell me you're real..."
            "Believe me, I'm real. A fact I'm becoming more and more aware of the more you touch me like that..." His hips shifted uncomfortably underneath him.
            "Trevor, I missed you," Claire took him into her arms, her face pressed against the side of his, feeling him solid and whole in her grasp. "Where the hell have you been? I looked for you and I looked for you. I looked everywhere for months, and nothing. But then the attending nurse recognized you when they brought you in and she called me, and then I didn't know what to think, wondering if you were alright, if you were hurt or in trouble, and now you're here, and you're real, and don't you dare do that to me ever again, or I'll... I'll, I don't know what I'll-"
            He laughed again at her long stream of words, pulling back to look at her. "Slow down, slow down. Everything's fine. I'm okay."
            "Promise me you'll never leave me again, Trevor."
            "Okay,I-... I guess I promise..."
            "I've missed you so much..." Claire looked into his eyes.
            "That's good to know," Trevor smiled, placing his hands on top of hers. "And here I thought you were just being unbelievably friendly..."
            "Trevor.. we have so much to catch up on..."
            "Apparently more than you know..." he answered, seeming a little reluctant, not wanting to break her enthusiasm.
            She hugged him tighter, not noticing, her voice sounding more relieved than it had in months. "We have a lot of things to work out between us, Trevor..."
            "Yeah. Umm, yeah.... But there's something I really have to know first before we get into all that."
            "Sure, Trevor. Anything..." Claire waited.
            Trevor paused as he looked into her eyes, as if searching for what she saw in them. Finally he took a breath and forced the words out, deciding to just be completely honest with her.
            "Just who are you exactly?" he asked.