"When I die", she whispers, "I want to fall asleep in your arms."
He stares at the walls for a moment longer, before snapping out of his thoughts, looking down on her dark hair, carefully pulling her a bit closer.
"What are you talking about?"
His voice, he tries to sound cheerful, creating light mood. He fails.
Ever since he took care of her wounds, giving her pain killers, and looked into her lethargic eyes - he can feel this lump in his throat. Something heavy and hot which makes it hard to swallow, hard to breathe. Even hard to hold back the tears.
"You'll be allright", he lies, his eyes blinking rapidly. "Everything will get back to the way it was."
He knows it's over. Deep down, he knows. But he refuses to accept it.
Kat tries to smile, feeling around for his hand. Slowly he takes her hand, gives it a little squeeze.
"Yeah", she says, barely audible, "there's still so much to do."
"Shh, don't talk. You need to get some rest. I'll be here when you wake up."
She sighs, closes her eyes and tries not to think about what she had lost.
His eyes graze over her body, the blood-soaked bandages, covering her stomach and the end of her thigh. That horrible stump, lying in a puddle of wet blood on the mattress, where half of her leg is missing.
His lips are a thin line, teeth pressed together so tightly it hurts.
There isn't much time left.
He tried to give her some of his own blood, in hopes it'd heal her. But the transfusion made it even worse. For both of them. If only he could give up his immortality to save her life. He'd do it - without hesitation, without thinking about it.
"I won't let you leave me", he whispers at the end of the day. Her body leaning against is own, her head on his chest, eyes closed, chest barely moving under faint breaths.
Is there anything he can do to stop fate? He's no God, he's not allmighty, his power - only able to cause death and chaos.
Dante shifts on the mattress, looking at his dirty boots, thinking he should've taken them off before climbing into bed next to her.
On the second day he tries to give her some water. Her lips are dry and chapped.
She coughs up blood and he almost thinks he'll lose her right then.
Somebody help her; he wants to scream, but there's noone around who could help them. It's as if they were alone on this godforsaken planet. All that is left is destruction and demons. And them. Hiding on the first floor of an abandoned detached house, in the only room with intact windows.
It's getting dark outside. She won't make it through the night.
On the third day she's still there. Despite everything.
She's strong, the will to be by his side keeps her going. It seems as if she's better. They even talked for a while, until he demanded she needs more rest.
She's sleeping again now, his gaze wanders to the nightstand. There is no medication left. The little he'd found in the bathroom on their first day, is used up.
"Don't leave me, Katherine..."
And on the fourth day it's snowing.
Big white flakes falling from the sky. Quietly, calmly, immersing the world in tranquility.
She's barely there anymore. He can already sense Death; patiently waiting in a corner of their room.
This room... it reeks like disease, like blood. Metallic, musky, bittersweet. The end is near.
If he doesn't do anything now, she'll just fade away.
"Kat", he whispers, stroking her hair, "Kat, you need to wake up."
There is almost no time left.
She stirs, whinces, slowly opens her eyes.
His heart's beating faster than usual, the sharp sting behind his eyes getting worse.
"What is it?", she breathes, trying to get a glimpse at his face.
There was so much he still wanted to tell her. So much to confess. He's had enough time to think about it. But now it's all swept away. His thoughts are empty.
"You're my best friend", he finally says.
"Dante", she replies, trying to laugh, though only a swift puff of air escapes her lungs. "I'm your only friend."
"I mean it!", he states, vigor swinging in his voice. "I need you, Kat. If only I could—"
With an effort she sits up more straight, pressing her right hand onto the deep cut at her stomach, trying not to look at her legs.
"You must promise me two things, Dante!"
Suddenly her voice is louder, stronger. This is important to her and he already knows he'll do anything she asks him for.
"You musn't blame yourself. This was an accident and you did everything you could possibly do. You're here right now, staying by my side, even if you could've left town days ago. This is something I won't forget. Not in this life nor in the next."
She's breathing heavy, and it's clear she's in great pain. Carefully he helps her lying down flat on the bed, placing a soft pillow under her head. There is no place on earth, he'd rather be right now. Their places are at each other's side - where else would he be, if not here with her?
Though he's scared to ask about the second thing.
Katherine... Kat, Kat, Katherine... Kat... like an infinite loop it goes through his brain, and with every passing second he feels more and more crestfallen.
The silence is unbearable.
"What's the second?", he asks, voice raspy, the lump in his throat almost choking him.
She coughs, her whole body shaking, waves of pain washing over her - the drugs stopped working long ago.
Eyelashes fluttering, she tries to focus on his face, reaching for it with her free hand.
Instantly he takes her hand in both of his', holds it close to his mouth, kissing her delicate fingers.
"It's more of a plea, actually..."
He already suspects what will come next.
"No...", he breathes out. Please don't make me do this.
"Dante, please...", her eyes watering up. "It hurts... I want it to stop..."
"But what about falling asleep in my arms?" He sounds almost accusingly.
She shakes her head. "You're here... that is enough..."
What kind of friend would he be, to refuse Kat her dying wish?
At some point their lips find their way to one another. Kissing ever so gently.
"I'm sorry", he says, "I'm sorry for everything."
Fingertips trailing over her cheek, he smiles, while feeling around for Ivory with his left hand.
And if I pull the trigger? it echoes through his head. So in the end, he will pull the trigger. Only this time, she actually asks for it.
He leans down to her one last time, kissing the tattoo on her forehead.
"I'll miss you", he whispers, and she can feel warm droplets of liquid falling onto her cold skin.
"Thank you for doing this... and... for everything..."
He thinks, he has to thank her, rather than reversed, but he can't talk anymore. If he says something now, his voice will shatter.
Ivory lies in his left hand, heavy and cold, his index finger winding around the trigger.
With his right hand, he strokes down her arm slowly, interlacing their fingers.
Kat closes her eyes, a shiver running through her body.
There's a click, when Dante releases the safety catch. Her eyelids flicker.
And only when the end of the muzzle nudges her temple, the full weight of what he's about to do, sinks into him.
His lips part slightly, his breath coming in short, hot gasps. He squeezes her hand, reassuringly, lovingly.
Eyes wandering back and forth between the gun and a random point on the mattress.
In the end, Dante looks away.
He turns his head, eyes shut, his finger pulling the trigger.
It's only a single shot. But it's almost deafening. It rings in his ears for minutes.
She didn't even flinch. Her hand no longer responding to his touch.
Hours later he's still kneeling by her side; he didn't move an inch.
Finally he looks out of the window. The snowflakes have turned into steady rain, washing the white blanket away.
He won't leave her in this chaos.
Slowly, without a sound, the small, wooden boat glides over the surface of the water.
Dante steps back, water splashing around his boots, soaking his jeans.
The wind is warm tonight, it's coming from the south. He tips his head back and watches the sky, trying to spot the first stars.
It's not fully dark yet, there's still a small stripe of lighter blue with a hint of purple at the end of the horizon.
He looks back to the boat, veering further and further away from the coast.
Lost in thoughts, Dante digs out a small box of matches from one of the pockets in his coat.
He takes two of the small sticks and lights them with a quick motion.
When they drop into the water, they immediately light the trail of oil coming from the boat. Seconds later the boat is on fire, together with the person who lies in there.
Her face appearing briefly in front of his inner eye.
He stares at the burning flames for as long as he can see them.
And when she's gone, he turns around and leaves.