The dim, shadow filled interior of Claire's apartment was motionless until her front door swung open and she came in, stepping across her doorstep. Outlined by the street  lights outside, she paused, breathing contentedly for a moment, listening to the quiet serenity of her home, a subtle joy exuding from her.
            With a subtle click, Claire sealed the door shut behind her,  falling back into the comforting shadows. She walked further in, slipping her coat easily off her shoulders. It dropped absently from her hands onto the back of the couch. She walked past it with a smile, not even watching where it fell. Claire's face was glowing. Somehow, she finally felt completely alive. Her mind, her heart, was still a million miles away, lingering on her incredible day with Trevor. Even without him there, Claire still floated, distracted as she crossed her dark living room. Every part of her body was still swimming in the warmth and exhilaration of the past 24 hours. Her skin still seemed to tingle with hundreds of remembered touches, like phantom caresses across her form.
            She could still feel Trevor's mouth on hers, and thinking of that she grazed her fingers over her lips. The day had left her flush and warm with a universe of possibilities. Without a second thought, Claire walked towards her kitchen, already humming a happy tune to herself, when suddenly she stopped as an unexpected coldness hit her. She pulled her arms in tight, crossing them across her button blouse, rubbing her hands over her arms as she shuddered. Standing there alone in the dark, Claire looked across her living room. Outline against the window, the large shadow of one of her house plants inexplicably... moved. Claire looked at it for a moment, wondering. Curious, she walked towards it.
            Suddenly, she stopped again, her body tensing as the large plant shifted again, the white sway of curtain behind moving too. Worried, Claire came closer, now cautious, slowly reaching out. Grabbing the curtain she quickly slid it back, blinking at what she saw.
            Behind the curtain, she had left the side window open. Another icy breeze wafted through, swaying the plant and the curtain again, before washing coldly over her skin.
            Shivering, Claire stepped forward. With both hands she pulled the window down with a loud comforting thump, sealing her home into a calm stillness again. Thinking, she clicked the locks into place, trying to recall when she had last opened that window, not able to remember doing it. It must have slipped her mind with all that had happened. She turned and walked away, humming happily again, already thinking about her and Trevor and not giving it a second thought.
            After moving out of sight, the sound of her humming faded, growing dimmer and dimmer. Soon there was the soft sounds of her steps on the stairs, rising as she walked up in the dark. Left there in silence, the white curtain became completely still. The plant no longer swayed. Dim on the wall nearby was a closet door, the cool surface of it's doorknob reflecting the small light penetrating through the window. Everything was quiet, motionless in the deep shadows, covered in night. Then, after several long moments, the unnoticed doorknob on the dim closet door ever so slowly... began to turn.
            Upstairs Claire flipped on the lights in her darkened bedroom, two lamps on night stands driving away the shadows with a soft, comforting glow. Passing them by, she stepped quietly onto the floor of her tiled bathroom, another light flicking brightly to life above. Her hand reached down. Without thought, her fingers moved over the silver surface of the shower's water faucets, spinning them both on, water spraying suddenly down with a soft hiss. Tired, Claire opened a cabinet beside the shower and took out a towel, laying it down within reach as she started to unbutton her blouse, eager for a shower at last.
            Downstairs, surrounded on all sides by darkness, a few delicate beams of moonlight were angling in through the windows and onto the floor of Claire's living room. In the silence, a shadow moved. Without warning a silver handgun lifted into the light, held there as a woman's pale fingers moved over it's cold surface lovingly, the metal glinting in the glow of the moon. With a slow click, the woman's hands quietly checked, making sure it was fully loaded. The only other sound sound was the soft hiss of the shower running upstairs. Silent, the unseen form holding the hand gun disappeared again into the shadows, heading towards Claire's bedroom.
            Bathed in the bright lights of her bathroom, Claire was looking at herself in the mirror over the sink, noticing blemishes on her skin, the occasional new wrinkle. Intent on her inspection, she continued, still partially dressed in a bra and dress slacks, her button shirt set aside nearby. Behind her the shower was still running, unnoticed, when suddenly Claire felt a familiar chill crawl across her shoulders, just like the one she felt downstairs, Tensing,  she somehow felt exposed and didn't know why. She slipped the blouse back on for a moment, feeling cold. But there was something more, something else she was sensing, making her slowly turn her head. Claire strained to hear... sure she had heard something just a moment before.
            Claire moved, facing the open doorway behind her. The interior of her bedroom was dim beyond, seeing only the bed and wall. The door was still open, wide and empty, nothing moving in the room. Claire blinked, waiting. Something struck her as odd, unable to put a finger on the sudden nervousness she felt, just watching, not moving. Reaching over, she quickly turned off the running water, the bathroom going quiet except for the slowing residual drops falling from the shower head. Claire paused, listening even more intently now in the new silence, growing more concerned. The looming open doorway to her bedroom felt menacing somehow she couldn't explain as  carefully, she continued to listen. And finally, she heard it.


            Claire's breath stilled, a coldness flowing over her exposed, wet skin at the sound of the dim, far off music playing in her home, inexplicable, halting, haunting music, just perceptible to the ear. She didn't move, her face going blank. Staying calm, finally she buttoned her blouse again, stepping out of the bathroom. Cautiously, she stepped into the dimmer light of her bedroom, concern in her gaze, eyes steady before her. The open door into the  hallway door was dark, like a shadowed portal into something unknown, growing larger as she slowly approached. The strange, ominous music grew louder slightly. It was still dim, coming from downstairs.
            The dim shadows of the hallway walls slid slowly by on either side of her as she moved. But there was utter silence in her home  except for the music, as if every other sound was hiding, waiting. The approaching stairwell opened like a pit before her, and she paused, looking down. There was nothing but shadows and faint light beneath. And softly rising up to her, the sounds of an orchestra, more clearly now. Gripping the rail for support, Claire took a step down into the darkness, her eyes adjusting, searching.
            The plane of the ceiling rose out of view, revealing her dark living room. No one was there. Nothing moved except the shadows of trees on her curtains, trees dancing wildly in a silent wind. And above all now, music. Slow, ominous music. Her eyes moved to a small blue light glowing coldly across the room. She walked through the darkness and over to it. It was the digital display on her stereo, playing a cd, no other light in the room. It's blue glow lit her darkened face as her brow wrinkled, blackness behind her as she wondered why her stereo was on. She hadn't turned it on when she came in. Blinking she looked at the readout, the music still playing, soft, eerie as it scrolled a title, The Nutcracker Suite..
            Claire blinked. She didn't even own a CD like that. What was going on? She looked around, but nothing moved in the shadows. Still, she had the strange sensation that she was being watched. Confused, she looked back at the stereo, and then something caught her eye, making her lips part in surprise. Slowly reaching out,  her fingers slipped over a small golden statue of Eros that wasn't hers. she had never seen it before, it's face frozen in a silent laugh, it's arrow pointed straight at her chest.
            Without a sound, Claire's body froze, realizing who that statue had belonged to, recognizing it. The sensation on her back of someone watching her grew even stronger, but she couldn't bring herself to turn around. And then somehow, she felt it. One of the shadows behind her... was already moving. Claire's breath was soft, quick and shallow, her pulse quickening as the music played and she tried not to move, the stairwell a few steps behind her. Without turning her head, she could see it out of the corner of her eye, a new outline moving against the light of the windows. And then, something lifted, and the small,  quiet click of a lever being pulled back.
            The living room around her burst into dizzying motion as in an instant, Claire darted for the stairs, desperate to leave as she ran upward, her breath loud and fast as she pounded up the steps, the walls bouncing and quivering in a dizzy vista of motion. The music followed her, filling her home all around her, slow and patient. Claire plastered herself against the wall in the hallway, looking back. She could still hear pounding like someone was running up the stairs, until she realized it was the frantic sound of her heart beating in her ears. Her breath was going a thousand miles per hour, as she watched, waited. . But now, there was no sound but the music.
            Claire darted across the hallway and into her bedroom, quietly closing the door. She began to clear her head, thinking what to do, eyes locked onto the doorknob, watching it. She grabbed at the cordless phone, taking it with her, her mind working. She knew someone was down  there. She was certain she had heard the sound of a gun, heard it click, ready to fire.. But above all, she knew that statue downstairs. She knew who that shadow had been. Claire reached over, turning out lights quickly, not wanting to be an easy, well lit target from the shadows. She rushed into her bathroom, locking the door. Quickly she dialed 911.

            In the shadows downstairs Faith waited, listening calmly to the music. With a smile she watched, watching as the phone near her suddenly came to life with a red LED light, next to the words In Use. She waited patiently, giving Claire the time she knew she needed.

            A calm voice picked up, speaking through the phone  against Claire's ear.
            "911. What's your emergency?"
            "Hi. I'm trapped by an intruder in my house. My name is Claire Allen at--"

            The interior of the cop car was silent, it's engine quiet until the dispatch radio screeched suddenly to life, grabbing the attention of the two police officers in the car. The same female voice came blaring through, breaking the quiet as the two men leaned forward in attention.

            "Unit 323, report of an armed intruder, possible mental patient--"

            The engine suddenly roared louder as the car accelerated, one of the men answering the call as the other buckled down loose objects in the compartment. The two police officers watched the reflected city lights of Chicago swivel over their dark hood as they raced around a corner, the world around turning to motion and light as their siren suddenly broke the night air and slower cars sped past on either side, a blanket of red and blue flashing out over everything as they raced forward.

            "Ok, Ma'am. A cruiser is on the way. Stay on the line with me. Are you in a safe location?"
            Claire was crouched down, listening to the voice of the 911 operator on the phone as she tried to stay calm, eyes locked on the door. "Yes, I'm in my locked bathroom, but please, hurry! I think---"
            Without warning the house went dark. Claire paused in the new silence, her breath sounding quick, loud, the only sound for several endless moments. The bathroom was now dark, and the cordless phone was dead against her ear, the base unit dying once the power i shut off.
            Claire tensed, remaining motionless, engulfed in darkness, listening intently. Then without warning, her bedroom doorknob shook violently, her frightened eyes locking onto it as it twisted frantically.  Someone beyond was trying to open the door. And then... it stopped. The doorknob became still.
            Claire held her breath for several seconds, listening in the silence, wondering if Faith had given up. She was just about to exhale when a loud, close bang cut into her ears, followed by another and a searing flash of very bright light as fragments of wood pelted her. Two new smoking bullet holes were in the wall inches beside her head. Her eyes traveled to the lock of the bathroom door, seeing it was shattered and twisted, totally shot away.

            In the squad car interior as it raced along, still miles from Claire's home, the radio burst to life again as swirling police lights swept the dark streets beyond.
            "Shots fired, shots fired. Receiving reports of the sound of gunfire inside the--"
            "Damn it... Step on it." The other officer muttered to the driver, the car engine revving louder as the cruiser sped faster, the streets blurring as he reached down and unholstered his gun, cursing softly.

            Claire watched as more fragments of her bedroom door fell loudly to the ground from where it had been shot away, the eerie nutcracker suite music still playing from downstairs. Through the hole she could see a shadow in the dark, something was moving quietly, carefully coming close. The door began to slowly open..
            With a yell Claire jumped to her feet and charged, desperately slamming to door at a full run with all her might from the inside. she felt it hit something solid on the other side but she didn't wait, the world spinning as she wrenched the door open and sprinted past into her darkened bedroom and out into the hallway. Breathing loudly in total fear, she fled mindlessly, feeling her back exposed, dreading the puncture of bullets that at any second could be slicing through her body, her head, tensing for the painful impact. All her body tingled with fear as she ran, bounding desperately down the jet black hallway, knocking pictures off in her haste to steady herself in the dark.
            Music was growing louder, coming from the stairwell at the end of the hall. There was a dim light rising, realizing there must still be power downstairs. She was running. Always running. Like the recurring dream she had over and over. This was usually only a few seconds distance, but now it seemed so far. The hallway had never seemed so far before. There were already running steps behind her, but she didn't turn. Then she knew. She wasn't going to make it.
            Suddenly there was another bang and flash of light. The glass covering a picture of her father in a frame shattered at the end of the hall. Claire cringed down, darting to one side, her shoulder slamming the guest bedroom door beside her open without thought, entering to get out of the open, realizing that had ll happened in less than two seconds. She quickly closed the guest bedroom door and locked it. Turning s he searched  immediately for where she could escape to, her eyes darting to the dim glow of the window, thinking of the drop beyond. She would go ahead and risk it. Resolved, she was about to step forward, her breath racing with fear when in the quiet and without warning, only a few inches behind her head, she heard a soft, unexpected metallic click. She froze instantly, knowing that a round had been chambered yet again.
            Claire's breath stilled, body trying not to shake, feeling the raised gun invisibly, mere inches from her skull. Slowly she turned around. Faith was standing there, watching her calmly, her arm extended straight. In her hand she held a cold silver handgun, its metal glinting in the soft light from the window. Unwavering, the dark opening of the gun barrel was pointing right at her face, close enough to smell the gunpowder from the previous shots. Behind Faith, the locked bedroom door was mysteriously open and against the wall, as if Claire had never closed it at all. Faith had come through anyway, without even a pause. Claire had not even heard it open.
            Looking into Faith's blue eyes, Claire realized realized in shock that there was no anger there. Only... emptiness. Resolve. Certainty... Faith's hair was unkempt, frazzled, as if it had been through dirt and rain, hanging down like a dead, decaying thing. Underneath the new looking coat she wore, she still wore the now blotched hospital scrubs she had escaped in, the leg bottoms caked in mud.
            "Mary--" Claire began, trying to sound reasonable.
            Faith's fingers instantly gripped the gun tighter, shoving it forward.
            "Faith!" Claire corrected quickly. "I meant Faith. Faith... everything can still be okay. Its not to late to stop. We can both stop this. Right now..."
            Faith watched Claire curiously, as if barely listening, analyzing her instead, sizing her up. "Why do I need to stop? I'm the messenger of the gods," she said simply.
            Claire slowly backed up, putting space between the two of them, trying not to be noticed doing it. "Faith... I know you. I know you're hurting..."
            Not moving from where she stood, the gun Faith held still slowly tracked with Claire as she shifted, not leaving her. Claire inched even further back.
            "Faith you're in pain. You don't have to do this. Deep inside, I know it's because you're hurting--"
            "Now you'll be hurting too..." Faith took a small step forward, following Claire, leaving the open bedroom door behind her. The gun remained steady on Claire's face as she stepped closer, "You're not so much, you know. I see you. You're nothing special. Me and Trevor. We're different. But I look at you, I just can't figure it out..."
            Claire kept backing away, the gun inching closer. Not watching behind her, she bumped into a dresser sending a vase crashing loudly to the floor. There was another loud crash beyond the bedroom door, another picture falling in the hallway perhaps. Claire looked into Faith's eyes, trying to keep her talking. Trying to buy time. "What can't you figure out, Faith..."
            "Why he loves you..."
            Sliding sideways, Claire was now backed up against the wall, but Faith kept coming closer. Claire listened desperately for the sound of approaching police sirens, but she could only hear the music downstairs. And the unexplained thumping, growing louder, heart racing. "Trevor's not here, Faith. You can't hurt him..."
            Faith pointed at the center of Claire's forehead. "I'm not here to hurt Trevor. I'm here to save him. He's not yours. He's mine. I  finally figured it out. He needs to go home. The only thing keeping him here... is you."
            Claire realized in that moment, what Faith meant, knew what she was so resolved to do A tear fell down Claire's cheek, knowing it was too late. It was over, just the two of them. Claire closed her eyes, waiting for the shot to come, lips quivering as she whispered.
            "I love you, Trevor..."
            Claire screamed as there was a flash of light and a loud bang, the sound of things falling as Claire opened her eyes to see a blur being tackled to the ground, crashing to the floor beside her as the fragments of the window to her side where the bullet had passed through broke onto the floor. There was a flurry of motion, the gun sliding across the floor and far out of reach, barrel still smoking. Two people were fighting on the ground, wrestling fiercely. Shocked, Claire realized Trevor was there, there wrestling with Faith.
            Moving forward, Claire tried to help, but Faith saw her coming a leveled a kick directly into her stomach, doubling her over in a blinding pain. Eyes clearing as she collapsed down, Claire saw Trevor rolling over Faiths body, a fiery combative glint in his eyes. But Faith was suprisingly strong, spurred on by  white hot certainty and fervor inside her, almost inhuman. Tiny as she was, she held off Trevor as they both rose to their feet. Her hand slammed across him, blood coming down his forehead. Then with a feral yell, she threw Trevor across the empty bed, crashing him down to the other side. Claire watched Trevor's head hit the corner of the night stand, and Trevor struggled to regain his senses through the pain.
            "Trevor!" Claire called out, trying to rise off the floor and go to him, but Faith stepped between them. Frantic now, Faith looked around, eyes desperately searching for her gun again, but she couldn't find it. Behind her, it was obvious Trevor was already beginning to come to, about to get up again. Faith's eyes locked with Claire's and they both knew it. Faith was out of time. She had to act quickly. Reaching into a pocket in her scrubs, Faith pulled out a long knife, stepping towards her. Claire scrambled on the floor. Trevor was nowhere near. He was too far away as Faith loomed over, knife raised, ready to plunge it into Claire's body.
            Faith whispered, certain. "May the gods guide my path..."
            Suddenly, all Claire saw was white, and a loud bang. The knife slipped from Faith's fingers, clattering to the floor as she stood there. Faith looked down, hands touching the small hole in her scrubs over her chest that had not been there seconds before, the fabric around it already growing wet, a darkness spreading out slowly through the fabric and down, streaking red.
            Claire couldn't believe what she was seeing. Faith's body collapsed onto the floor. Beyond, Trevor was sitting up, Faith's gun held in both hands unmoving from where he had fired into her. And then... Faith smiled, eyes glittering as she lay there on her side, watching Trevor lovingly across the room. "Always the marksman... Thank you. Thank you, Trevor. You saved me. Always knew you would. Right on cue." Faith gave a watery cough, blood trickling from the corner of her lips. She lowered her head down, as if tired, needing to rest, eyes glittering happily. "Free now. I'll be waiting... on Olympus my love..."
            Faith's breathing stopped, her eyes turned to empty glass, smiling, blood still pouring out of her, spreading on the floor. Trevor was still in shock, not sure what had just happened, the gun in his hand. His jaw dropped, realizing what he had just done, whispering.
            "Oh, I am fortune's fool..."