(Friday, Sept. 30th -- 10 days remain)

Holden eventually works up the nerve to sneak off to the hospital and visit Az, aware that she probably
doesn't want to see him, and that the police might even been looking for him. Az is conscious when he
arrives, but is still badly wounded. She is afraid of him when he appears in her room, but Holden takes
care not to get too close to her, as much as the distance hurts him. He only says that Coral's nightmares
are not ordinary dreams, that she has some of Arcana's power, and that she could be in danger if whoever
is hunting those who hold Arcana's power discovers that she has some of it. After a few moments,
Holden hears people approaching her room, and he quickly makes an exit without a goodbye.

When he returns, Dominick scolds him for going outside -- and then tells him that he's taking him outside.
They're taking a trip out of town, to get Holden away from the mess his temporary lapse of sanity had caused.
Dominick takes him out of the city, to the church where they had lived with Tobias. It's a couple hours worth
of driving, but once they get there, in through a back entrance that they have to break into, Holden feels oddly at peace.

Sitting on the stone stairs that lead up to the church, Holden finally tells Dominick about Vincent,
about his work with Kisoka, about his dreams of Yoshiki. Dominick just listens, and aferwards,
tells Holden that the people he misses most are his parents. He tells Holden that he used to live in this town,
and how he had come home one day to find his father had killed his mother, then committed suicide.
Tobias took him in after that. They sit in silence for a while, before Dom suggests they go to a pub
and drown their sorrows together, to which Holden readily agrees.

Dominick, however, does not get drunk. He stays sober enough to draw more information out of the
drunk and therefore overly-honest Holden, about the nature of his pain-reflection and his ability to draw
people's affection, and about Kisoka's search for Arcana's captor. Holden, now even more depressed
and thoroughly drunk, quietly muses aloud about the upcoming final ten days of his life. He suddenly asks
Dom if he finds him attractive, if he would give up his freedom of mind just to keep him safe -- if Vincent
was insane for doing just that. Dominick is under the full force of Holden's power, but remembers Tobias
demanding that he not get attached to Holden, and so he isn't able to say anything.

Dom half-drags Holden back to the boarded-up church, where Holden is suddenly taken by a drunken,
hysterical fit of emotional instability. He starts laughing at his predicament, at his own weaknesses, at his
failures and mistakes, at the fact that he will be dead in ten days' time. He apologizes to Azriel, to Vincent,
and to Dom for causing him all this trouble. Dominick manages to get him to a bed, abandoned there since
they all left rather suddenly years ago, highly disturbed by what he is witnessing. Before Holden falls asleep,
he becomes calm again, and grasps at Dom's hand, asking him to stay.

While Holden sleeps, Dominick is torn. He leaves the tiny room in the church's basement where Holden fell
asleep, and wanders around the church, holding a cell phone, his finger hovering above Tobias' number
on speed dial. He's debating whether to tell Tobias that the half-harpy Kisoka is on to them. His task of monitoring
Holden and determining if he really is a holder of Arcana's power has allowed him to grow closer to Holden than
Tobias would allow. He does have feelings for Holden, but allowing Holden to know that would simply cause him
more pain in the end, when he realizes that Dominick has not been his friend at all. Letting Tobias know that he
had feelings for their beautiful enemy would also cause Holden pain -- Tobias could use that against Holden
if he found out. And he would find out.

Eventually, Dom goes to the rug behind the altar, and rips it up, revealing the hatch in the floor. He opens it
and descends the stairs, following the tunnel to its end, where locked in chains behind a magical containment field
waits Arcana. He begs her to lift the curse that is on him, though he does not specify what it is. The Harpy Queen
is unable to respond, though she does open her golden eyes to gaze at him. Dominick screams in frustration and
hurls the phone at a wall, smashing it. He slides down the wall and sits there, staring at Arcana, and she simply stares back.

(Thursday, Oct. 6th -- 4 days remain)

Thanks mostly to the books Holden borrowed from Tobias, Kisoka has finally found a way to reverse what
happened to Adonis and Vincent, but is havng misgivings. She visits Vincent again and tells him what the process
entails: it relies on the distinctly vampiric abilities of mental manipulation. Another vampire must enter Adonis'
mind and prod it into action again, and Vincent must give back the blood he took from Adonis by allowing
Adonis to drink from him. However, afterward, Adonis will be back to his old self, and Vincent will remember
everything he had done while under Adonis' influence. Kisoka, who cared deeply about Vincent once, knows
how much pain this will cause him, to have hurt someone he'd loved so much, and asks his permission to go
through with it. Vincent agrees, if only because any change from his current hell is a welcome one, even if it
means more pain.

(Sunday, Oct. 9th -- 1 day remains)

Holden has no means of locating Kisoka, and is starting to panic. He sees and feels Vincent lurking in every
dark corner, even when confined to Dom's apartment. He doesn't let Dominick near him, and he passes his
second last day in silence and solitude.

Kisoka brings Sloane and Vincent to the house where she and Grendel stay, and are keeping Adonis. Sloane
has agreed to be the one to enter Adonis' mind, as they can't afford to waste more time by swaying another
vampire to do it. When asked what he is looking for, Kisoka surprises him by telling him that he's looking for
Adonis' memories of Holden. Sloane physically wanders through Adonis' stagnant thoughts and reflections,
passing by the day that Holden and Vincent first met, and finds what Kisoka is after -- a ten-year-old image
of Holden, cornered in an alley by Adonis and a pack of vampires. They are talking about invading Holden's
mind to discover why he's wandering the streets all alone, and Sloane can only stand by and watch as they
attempt to do to Holden what he is doing to Adonis right now. Before the vampires can figure anything out,
however, they hiss and recoil from him -- the vampire delving into his thoughts is thrown back, and Holden
collapses into the alley's corner. Adonis tells the vampires accompanying him that the thoughts and memories
they were looking for to explain the boy's presence were likely designed to purge themselves from his mind,
to protect his mission, should he be captured. He corners Holden and hisses, 'If it weren't for your blood being
utterly repulsive, brat, you would be dead.' The vampires leave the boy alone, confused and coping with his
memories being destroyed in the attack. Sloane follows him as he eventually makes his way toward an old church,
looming on a hill at the top of a set of long, stone stairs.

Sloane breaks off, exhausted and vexed, quickly relaying what he had witnessed. As Vincent moves to take his
place, coaxing Adonis' soulless form to drink from him, Sloane demands Kisoka tell them what this means, and
she makes the necessary conclusion for them -- Holden is a Harpy. Adonis is drinking from Vincent, who
hears what she says, but gives no discernible reaction. The recurrence of the church in all their searching --
the locations Julie gave them, the place Azriel's parents visited and Coral had unknowingly gained her power,
the same area where Holden and Dominick were raised -- points to that area as the most likely place for
Arcana to be hidden. All that was left now was to figure out who was holding her, and why.

Adonis suddenly spasms and springs to life, thrashing at his bonds and snarling to be let free. Vincent is weakened
by the exchange of blood, and watches as Sloane and Grendel try to restrain the monster successfully torn from inside him.

(Monday, Oct. 10th -- 20:30 -- 2 hours remain)

Dominick finally gets close enough to talk to Holden. They don't go anywhere or do anything most of the day.
Dom, however, manages to snag Holden's cross-scarred arm, and asks him why he did this to himself. Holden
tells him he did it after being released from the mental health ward, when he had mostly recovered, but was not
entirely stable just yet. As a defense mechanism, his mind would sometimes wander back to happier times, to
the days he spent with Dominick and Tobias, before everything bad started to happen. However, he would always
dwell on Dominick's possession, and of Tobias scarring his face to protect him. Slipping in and out of awareness,
Holden had sliced his own arm open in the shape of Dom's scar, in pity of the lonliness his friend felt at having
been marked so. The scar on his arm also served as a reminder that somewhere, the people he shared those happier
days with were still alive, for him to find someday if he chose.

This explanation renders Dominick silent, stunned by Holden's concern for him, though they hadn't even known
each other very well. After a few moment's deliberation on what could be disastrous consequences of his actions,
he kisses Holden, who isn't sure how to react (and forgot his semi-flirting with Dom while under the influence).
Dom suggests that they both leave, and run away from everything terrible happening around them, but Holden disagrees --
if he doesn't meet Vincent, then the lives of his friends could be in danger again. Dominick tries to argue, but can't
defeat that point, which Holden is so dead-set on preventing.

Kisoka hurries in cat form to Dominick's apartment, alerted by Grendel that Vincent recovered from his weakness
the previous night, and is on the move. She's confused, as Vincent seems to be looking for Holden, but the vampire
should be back to normal and not looking to harm Holden any longer.

Vincent is in fact normal again. He can feel Holden's presence as the boy wanders the streets, waiting for him to
show up and take his life, as promised. Upon first seeing him, Holden stands transfixed on the sidewalk, and
Vincent approaches. He asks Holden if he's ready, and Holden answers that he is. Vincent lets his long dark coat
fall open, and he wraps Holden in it, in his arms. Holden cuddles close to him in the cold, and stammers out an
apology, for not being able to save him after all. Vincent simply smiles. Holden is about to ask him what the smile
is for, but Vincent has already slipped his fangs into Holden's neck, and is drinking, sending soothing mental images
at the same time to ease his passing.

Kisoka suddenly screams for Vincent to stop, appearing atop an overpass bridge nearby. Vincent withdraws
from a wide-eyed, shivering Holden, and smiles at her. He shouts that she shouldn't be guilty over him anymore,
that he can probably find it in him to forgive her for letting him die for something more important than he was,
regardless of her feelings for him. Kisoka is already running toward them, crying. With Holden still clutched in
his arms, barely clinging to life, Vincent starts to feel the full effect of Holden's poisonous blood, and drops to
the ground, free from his eternal torment.

Holden is hallucinating from the images Vincent is sending him. He dreams he is laying in bed with Vincent,
who is telling him it's time for them to be separated, for good this time. He insists that he loves Holden,
and that he only wants him to be happy -- and as long as he is alive, as long as Holden is in love with Vincent,
Holden can never be happy. He's had enough of the life forced on him by Adonis, and is ready to give it up.
In reality, Holden loses consciousness from his blood loss just as Kisoka reaches them.


Kisoka takes Holden to Dominick's place. They lay him down on the couch; Kisoka stops Dom from calling
an ambulance. She insists she will take care of Holden, and he'll be all right, provided his blood loss can be
corrected. She then explains that she is half-Harpy, and has been sent by the royal family of the Harpies to
find their prince and queen, and that now she's done both. She says that, following the leads given to her that
Adonis was the last person to have contact with the harpy prince, she made Adonis her primary target. However,
she eventually became involved with Vincent, the human Adonis had begun stalking, but had to give up that relationship
in order to continue spying on Adonis. She continued to keep track of Vincent after he'd been turned, out of guilt,
and couldn't help but notice when he met and fell in love with Holden. Stuck by something strange about his
presence, she expanded her watching to Holden. She eventually pieced together who he really was -- his appearance,
the odd powers he had, his missing memory that was destroyed by the vampires, and his home at the church
where all her searching for Arcana had seemed to lead her, where Yoshiki was last seen by Adonis.
She had only needed proof, and Vincent voluntarily dying from his blood provided that. Holden's desire to save
Vincent, the single-minded protectiveness of his mate, was also a distinctively Harpy trait. The missing prince
had been wandering around for the last ten years, disguised as a human and forming relationships that Harpies
were thought to be incapable of -- and driven away from where his mother was likely hidden after only
staying there for a few months.

Dominick seems to accept this, but is confused by Kisoka's parentage. When asked why she, a half-Harpy
and therefore an outcast to Harpy society, was sent to search for Arcana and Yoshiki, Kisoka is forced to
admit that her father is a person of considerable power -- the King, to be precise, making Yoshiki her half-brother.
Kisoka instructs Dominick to watch over Holden/Yoshiki while she goes to take care of Vincent's body,
and that they would all be leaving for the Harpy city when she got back.

Dominick becomes anxious as soon as she leaves. He slowly starts to bind the wound on Holden's neck,
but continues to wrap the bandages too tightly, choking him, trying to kill him while he's passed out. He
knows that if Kisoka takes them to the Harpies, they'll know Dominick had a hand in keeping Arcana hidden.
Pure-blooded Harpies in control of their powers would be able to tell things about him that Kisoka had missed.
Hurting Holden in this way causes his own throat to constrict, and this forces him to come to his senses.

During the night, Holden dreams he is floating in a dark place, and is being embraced by Vincent. Vincent transforms
into Yoshiki. Holden feels as if he's melting into the Harpy, becoming one with him, and the feeling is broken only by
Yoshiki's claws driving into his back and tearing it open.

Holden wakes up screaming -- and bleeding. Dominick is stunned and watches as Holden writhes the couch, more
blood streaming down the vertical rents in his back and staining his shirt. Sickly, skeletal wing frames are forcing their
way out his back. Horrified, Dominick grabs Holden and holds him to himself to stop his thrashing and muffle his screams
as the wings unfold, but is unable to hold him down. Holden shoves him to the floor and tries to follow him, collapsing
off the couch and dragging his bloodied form toward him as Dominick backs away. Holden is weak, but still seems like
an entirely different person -- the look in his eyes is dangerous, insane. He glares at Dominick with unbridled hatred,
and acidly declares him a traitor before he loses consciousness again.

Dominick knows he's been found out, but Kisoka returns before he can do anything about it.


Next ---> Confrontations