Author's Note – Important! Please read The Immortal Strain before you read this story, as this is a sequel, and you won't completely understand this story without knowing what's happened before! It's only four chapters, so please check it out first!

For those who have read Strain, this sequel's been a long time coming, but I hope you enjoy it! It was fun working with Sarah/Azaelee again, and I also got to work a lot more with Brendan. Please let me know what you think of this so far!


The Immortal Curse

The seconds were counting down, almost deafeningly loud in my ears. I couldn't seem to tear my green eyes away from the wall clock that was above me, and every movement of the second hand was like a physical blow. Three hundred and sixty-five years worth of life was flashing before my eyes, and I could feel my tears falling as I recalled an image of Brendan Hieson – the man that I loved.

'This can't be happening,' I thought in disbelief as I lay in the dark. I could barely make out the numbers on the clock, yet the ticking was the only other sound apart from my choking sobs, reminding me of the passage of time. 'I don't want to die.'

Five days ago, I had no idea that I was going to be facing Death for the second time; no idea that my life would suddenly end. How could I have known? It had all happened so fast, and now here I was, trapped, paralysed, and alone, with no one coming for me. No one to save me. Not this time.

I only had a handful of seconds left; I could feel it. So I did the only thing that I could – I closed my eyes and waited for the inevitable.

0.0

Randall Gibson was a man who wanted to die. It's not uncommon, and in my line of work, I see way more than my fair share of suicides. And just because the victim wants to die doesn't make it any easier. It actually makes it harder in a sense, because I just can't seem to wrap my head around why they would choose death as an option. I guess I don't know what else is happening in their lives, but dying isn't something that you can live to regret in the morning. Once it's done, its done, therefore, I don't like suicides. They have a choice, and they're choosing to give up. When my number had come up nearly three and a half centuries ago, I'd never had a choice, and even still, I'd fought desperately to hold onto my life. I even went so far as to accept the hand of a Reaper, and to become one myself just to escape from the clutches of Death.

So, you can understand why, standing in the shadows of a rather run down and leaky warehouse, that I was just a little bit annoyed. In the rafters, Randall was busy slinging a rather thick rope over an even thicker wooden beam, and I rolled my eyes. Great. Not only was he destroying his own life, but he was also going to make me climb all the way up there to cut his Soul Thread once he was done. Just perfect.

You see, when a person dies, their soul remains trapped inside of their flesh until a Reaper – someone like me – cuts the Soul Thread that binds one to the other, affectively setting them free to go to wherever it is that souls go to. As such, I have to get up close and personal with the body in order to do that, and Randall wasn't making things easy for me. The warehouse was at least three stories high, and he had chosen to climb out to the centre of the roof. By this point, I no longer cared about what his deal was – not that I had cared much in the first place – and was just plain annoyed.

I pulled what looked like a greeting card out of my pocket and opened it up. Randall Gibson was at the top of a list of names that went down the left hand side, about twenty in all, with a series of numbers down the right hand side representing how much time each person had left to live. It was how us Reapers knew when someone's life was about to end, and good old Randall still had another twenty seconds left until his reached zero.

It may have looked like a greeting card, yet a Reaper's list was no ordinary piece of cardboard. It was a device that existed apart from the normal world, much like the swords we used for freeing souls. It was indestructible, and mine had been through everything from deep-water submersion, to fire, to land mine explosions. It wasn't real in the physical world, and so the physical world couldn't harm it. Just like my sword, it was an object of Death, and only other Reapers (beings who existed on the borders of Death) could see it. Well, other Reapers and, if they really focussed, Guardians. But I can explain more about them later.

Randall was standing on the central beam of the warehouse, with the rope pulled in tight around his neck, and he seemed to be contemplating the hole-filled roof for a moment. Then, without so much as a word of goodbye, he jumped. The rope wasn't very long – maybe three meters, if that – and so the fall ended quite abruptly with a jerk and a sickening pop as his spinal cord snapped. His body twitched a little bit, and then it hung limp and lifeless, swinging slightly from the beam.

"Thanks Randall. You've just made my night the best one ever," I muttered with heavy sarcasm, before I started towards the side wall. The warehouse could only really be called a shell of a warehouse, with no additional floors left in it, and the only way up to the rafters above was by climbing up the wall. I'd just watched Randall do it, so it couldn't be that hard.

"Yeah right, fat chance of that," I said after assessing the wall. Randall had been a much taller person, and had also been a man with a longer reach. I, on the other hand, was a young woman of average height, who would be doing good to get my foot up on the first 'step' without some sort of aid. So, I went to plan B instead.

As a Reaper, I have this rather nifty ability to disappear and reappear in a place of my choosing. This allows me to chase up reaps all over the world in an instant, and would also get me up onto that rafter within the blink of an eye. Ok, so maybe not quite that fast. Maybe within several blinks, but my point is that I didn't have to climb.

I focused on the high up rafter, and several moments later I was standing on it, wobbling precariously. Have I mentioned that my balance sucks? Well, it does, and the lag that my teleport had wasn't helping matters. I wasn't sure what the deal was, but I'd noticed earlier that day that my teleporting skills felt a little off. Normally when I reappear, I feel no different than before, and yet today it felt like my organs were two seconds behind the rest of me. And it was getting worse. Lowering myself down onto the beam, I held on with both hands as I dropped one leg down on either side, taking a moment to let everything stop spinning. My organs had finally caught up with a lurch that made me want to puke, and my head was buzzing with the sound of static, making me feel slightly dizzy. Whatever was happening with my teleports, I wished that it would stop. Especially since I was now three stories up.

Taking a deep breath, I started inching myself closer to where Randall hung, lifting myself up with my hands, and then swinging my body forwards, using my feet to balance. It was slow, but I made it eventually. The only problem was, how did I reach him? He was almost three meters down, and I had to be close enough to cut through him with my sword.

"Typical," I sighed. I never got the easy suicides. I got the bridge jumpers that I had to go swimming after, the train jumpers who left me foraging for a large enough piece of them to cut their soul free from, and now this guy.

Twisting my body to one side, I carefully raised one leg and lifted it over the beam so that both legs were on the same side. Sitting sideways, I shuffled as close to the rope as I could, before saying a silent prayer. Keeping my knees tight, I pushed all of my weight backwards, feeling the old timber slide across the palms of my hands as I slipped upside down. Hanging by my legs, I slowly let go with my hands, letting them fall down above my head. My long blonde hair was also hanging down around me now, and I pulled it aside in irritation as I assessed the distance between Randall and me. Considering the extra length that my sword offered, I should just be able to reach him. Yay.

The sword of a Reaper is a dead weapon, and as such it can't harm a living person. It doesn't even do any damage to a dead person (other Reapers are the exception to this rule). All it does is slice straight through the flesh without leaving so much as a mark, and severs the web of threads that surround the body. Once this cocoon is broken, the soul is then free to leave, and focusing on the top of Randall's head, I could see his cocoon like a silvery web surrounding his body. Calling my sword into my right hand – a little bit slower than it normally appeared – I held onto the rope with my left as I extended the sword point towards the dead guy's head. It sank through his skull, and with a grunt of effort I swung the blade, whipping it out through his face and breaking the web of threads. Once broken by a Reaper's sword, the threads would unravel, and sure enough, Randall's fell apart in a matter of seconds, and a spectral form of the man drifted off into nothingness. Mission accomplished.

It was only then that I noticed the falling dust, and the sound of groaning timber. And hanging upside down as I was, I felt a shudder go through the old rafter, and knew what was coming next. Yet what I hadn't been prepared for was the speed with which that beam broke, and with a gasp of shock, I was suddenly plummeting head first towards the ground.

Sword still in hand, I focussed on teleporting myself out of this current predicament, yet something was wrong – it wouldn't work. Real fear gripped me as the ground suddenly loomed very close, and I threw my arms out in a desperate attempt to save myself. Reapers heal practically any injury ridiculously fast, yet broke bones still hurt, people. And plummeting three stories was going to cause a lot of hurt.

The body of Randall Gibson hit the concrete floor first, and as luck would have it, I hit Randall, cushioning some of the fall. It still knocked the wind out of me, and quite possibly broke both of my arms, but when I rolled free of the dead guy, I felt slightly relieved by my good fortune. And then the fragments of the old rafter came crashing down on top of me, and thankfully, my mind retreated into blissful unconsciousness.

0.0

"Sarah?" a voice was calling to me, but I wasn't paying any attention. I had my nose in a book, and was sitting in my tiny back garden where my mother grew azalea bushes, trying to drown out the sounds of London that were all around me. The year was 1665, and I was a typical twenty-one year old lady. Or at least, I was trying to be a lady. Apparently, I wasn't very good at it, as our friends and neighbours so often pointed out.

"Sarah Whitefield, are you even listening to me?" the same voice called again, and this time I actually looked up to see my mother standing with her hands on her hips, glaring at me.

"Sorry, I was reading," I said in apology, and my mother sighed, wiping dirt off of her brow. She held out a bouquet of flowers – azaleas from her garden – and stared at me pointedly. I sighed as I closed my book, and got up.

"I want you to take these over to Mrs Baker. Her son hasn't been well these past few days," my mother said, and I nodded as I accepted the bouquet. My mother grew the best azaleas in our part of London, and they were always in demand. Mrs Baker was an old friend of hers, and her son, Thomas, was ten years old, and a very talkative child. It was very hard for me to imagine the little boy cooped up in bed all day.

Walking through the narrow, twisting lanes, I smiled and waved at the people that I knew. I'd spent my entire life in London, and most of our neighbours had watched me grow up. This was home, and yet as I rounded a corner, something felt wrong. The sky seemed to darken, and the air developed a stink to it that wasn't the normal city stench. There were houses with boards over their windows, with red crosses painted on them. The people began to thin out, and the only ones left looked sickly and deathly ill. A street over, a building was burning, and I could hear people coughing and groaning from the shadows. A sense of urgent fear gripped me, and dropping the bouquet of flowers, I sprinted back towards my own house, hiking my skirts up as I ran.

I crashed through my front door, and instantly scanned the foyer. "Mother!" I called out, yet I got no reply. I ran towards the back of our tiny house, throwing open the doors that I passed, yet I couldn't find her. "Mother, where are you?" I called again, yet still there was no reply.

I pushed open the back door and stepped out into the yard, and stopped dead. My mother was lying on the ground, surrounded by scarlet petals, almost forming a ring around her body. She wasn't moving.

"Mother!" I cried, running to her side. I dropped down onto all fours and rolled her over onto her back, and gasped. Her skin was cold, but more than that, it was covered in circular rashes, and there was dried blood over her lips. I stumbled backwards, throwing up my hands in a warding gesture, before my head whipped around at the sound of yelling coming from the front of the house. Only the house wasn't there anymore.

Startled, I jumped to my feet, yet I was no longer standing in my tiny yard. I could see buildings, yet they weren't the familiar buildings of London. Spinning back around, the body of my mother was gone, and when I looked down at my own arms, I saw to my horror the same red rashes.

"There she is!" came an angry cry, and suddenly I was running, being chased across dark fields. My breathing was coming in ragged gasps, and my vision was blurring. I couldn't seem to draw in a proper breath, and every time I tried, I ended up coughing so violently that I eventually ended up on my knees in the grass.

A man was suddenly standing over me, and he held his hand down for me to grasp. I reached out and took it, and when he dragged me up onto my feet, the scene had changed once again. I was standing on the banks of the River Thames, and London was burning. The year was 1666, and the Great Fire was purifying the city of the bubonic plague that had claimed the lives of so many.

"Azaelee. That will be your new name," the man who was standing next to me said, and I nodded in agreement. Sarah Whitefield was dead, and I was now the Grim Reaper Azaelee. I turned towards him with a smile, and then suddenly backed away in fear.

"Gallen, why?" I asked as he raised his sword high, before swinging it down, catching my left arm and making me scream in agony …

0.0

I awoke from my dream with a muffled gasp that quickly became a groan of pain. As the images from my past faded, I was aware of the fact that I couldn't see. There was a horrible weight holding me down, yet when I tried to move my arms to help dislodge it, a stabbing pain shot through both of my limbs. Oh right, possible broken bones. Somehow, I'd forgotten that.

The splintered rafter had buried most of me, yet I seemed to still be in one piece, which was a good start. But then I felt the warm stickiness that was dripping onto my right arm, and soon enough I could feel a burning pain in my abdomen. I've been stabbed enough times to know what a stab wound feels like, and that was exactly what I was feeling. Something had stabbed into me, and I squeezed my eyes shut tight as pain washed over me. I had to get out of there, but I couldn't shift any of the weight that was pinning me down.

"Please, please, please work," I pleaded, calling up every ounce of mental will that I had, and focussing it on teleporting myself out of the warehouse. I needed a surgeon, and there was only one doctor that I knew of who could handle my case.

"Please work," I pleaded once again as a sob caught in my throat, and the next thing I knew, I was sitting against a wall with blood all over me, and feeling like my insides had been pulverised. My arms were throbbing, my stomach was burning, and I felt like I was going to pass out again. Recent injuries aside, something was seriously wrong with me.

"Lea?" someone asked in surprise, and I looked up at the startled face of Taylor Davies – general surgeon at Royal North Shore hospital, Sydney, and also a Grim Reaper. Taylor had been twenty-seven when he had died in the Somme during World War One, yet like me, the army medic had been saved from a more permanent death by becoming a Reaper in 1916. He was the youngest Reaper that I kept in close association with, and probably the one that I felt the most pity for. Taylor was a good man, and an excellent doctor. He had devoted his life to saving people, only to wind up watching them die. However, it would seem that even Death has a softer side, and in exchange for patching up any Reaper who came looking for medical assistance, Taylor only ever had to reap people who were in his current hospital. For the most part, he got to continue living a normal life.

But sometimes a normal life is too much to ask for, especially when your patients can drop in at any time, and in any condition. I'd seen Reapers come in carrying their own arms, asking Taylor to stich them back on. We can take a lot of damage, yet sometimes we need a bit of assistance with the healing process. Normal wounds, provided that there is no foreign matter in the way, will heal as you watch. Cuts and scraps will vanish completely in a handful of minutes, bruises in about an hour, and broken bones will be as good as new by the next day. However, when there's foreign matter involved (like bullets, or, say, splintered pieces of timber) you need someone to remove it. And that someone is usually Taylor.

"What have you done to yourself this time?" he asked as he crouched down in front of me, frowning at the blood that was steadily dripping onto the clean floor.

"Well, I sort of fell three stories, and then got buried by falling timber," I replied, and Taylor's eyes widened.

"Three stories? What were you doing?" he asked in surprised, and I winced as he moved one of my arms.

"My job," I countered. "Some idiot decided to hang himself from an old warehouse rafter, and it sort of broke whilst I was still up on it. Ouch!" I added as Taylor pulled my left arm straight.

"This one looks like it's broken pretty bad," he said, poking the mass of swelling that was around my forearm. "It's gonna need realigning," he added, and I winced. I mentioned that broken bones will heal in about twenty-four hours, but if you don't get them lined up before the healing goes too far, then the bones will knit in the wrong places. Trust me, it's not something you want to let happen, because then you need to re-break the bone to fix it, and that is never fun.

"What about the other one?" I asked, and Taylor gently poked my right arm. Since my sword had been in that hand, I had naturally come down harder on my left, so I didn't think my right arm was that bad.

"Broken too, but not out of line. It should be fine," he replied, and then turned towards my stomach. Underneath my trench coat, bloodstains had ruined my black shirt, but at least I'd had the presence of mind to change my wardrobe to darker colours in recent months.

"How bad is it?" I asked, and Taylor's frown deepened.

"I need to get you up on a bed so I can get a better look," he replied, before lifting my least-broken arm, slipping it over his shoulders, and hauling me to my feet. The movement hurt like hell, and I'm fairly certain that I said several words that my mother would have slapped me for, yet somehow Taylor managed to get me up and onto a spare hospital bed.

"It seems like you've been stabbed by a piece of timber," he informed me as he cut away part of my ruined shirt, and began poking at the wound. Reapers metabolise anaesthetics way too fast, so they're basically pointless to use. I have this theory that Taylor delights in causing us pain, and uses this fact as an excuse to do so every chance he gets.

"Duh," I shot back, gritting my teeth as tears prickled my eyes. "Can you just get it out already?"

"Hold on," Taylor said with all of the patience of a Saint. He reached for what looked like a pair of rather large tweezers, and a moment later I felt the cold steel touching my flesh. I cried out in pain as Taylor dug around and pulled out the offending piece of timber, and then went back to make sure he had it all. If even one piece remained, then my healing would be compromised.

"I think that's got it," he said, setting the giant tweezers down. He didn't bother covering the wound, as it would be healed in a matter of minutes. He instead turned towards my left arm, and began poking and prodding the bone. It was swollen that much that I couldn't tell how bad the break was, but as Taylor continued to poke at it, I felt a lightness come over me.

"Hey, I don't feel too good," I mumbled; yet Taylor was fixated on my arm.

"You fell three stories, and got crushed by a pile of timber. I'm not surprised," he replied. "You've most likely got internal damage that's healing itself," he added in way of explaining what I was feeling.

"Great," I mumbled unenthusiastically, and Taylor actually looked up at me then.

"Something just occurred to me," he said, and I rolled my green eyes over to look at him. "Why didn't you teleport when you were falling? Three stories would have given you plenty of time."

"I tried, but it didn't work," I replied. "I told you; I don't feel right," I added, and Taylor looked puzzled, before he glanced back at the arm that he was still holding.

"This is going to hurt," he said, before he grabbed on either side of the break, before snapping the bone back into place. I screamed loud enough that reception could probably hear me, and then sank back into the pillow as grey fuzziness swam across my vision.

"Lea?" I heard Taylor say, yet I seemed oddly disconnected from my mouth, and couldn't say anything in response. "Lea, something's not right here. You're still bleeding from your abdomen," he added, sounding just the slightest bit worried. And then the horrible pain was back as Taylor started poking around in my stab wound again, looking for any left over timber. By this point the pain was simply too much, and I closed my eyes as I blacked out once again.

0.0

I sat up with a gasp of pain, shock evident on my face. There were bodies all around me, yet the battle was long since over. Or so I'd thought. Apparently, there was still someone left who could fight.

"There's an arrow in my chest!" I cried, looking down at the protruding wooden shaft in shock. It was the first time anything like this had ever happened to me, but then again, I hadn't been a Reaper for a full year yet.

"Hold still," Gallen – my creator and mentor – said as he crouched down before me.

"Wh-what are you doing?" I stammered as the Irishman gripped the arrow.

"It has to come out," he said, and I was about to protest when he placed one hand on my chest near the entry wound, wrapped the other one firmly around the arrow, and pulled. It tore free of my chest with a squelching sound, and Gallen had to hold onto my shoulder to stop me from falling over backwards again. I'd screamed bloody murder when that arrow had torn free, yet the pain was already fading away.

"See? All better," Gallen said with a kind smile, and looking down, I gingerly poked the hole in my shirt, feeling smooth and unbroken skin underneath. "Come. Let us leave this battlefield behind," he added, holding out a hand to me. I took it and allowed him to pull me to my feet, still in a state of slight shock.

"What would happen if I lost an arm?" I suddenly asked, and Gallen quirked an eyebrow at me.

"Are you planning to?" he asked in jest, and I shook my head, sending my golden hair flying.

"No. But how would I heal an amputation?" I asked, thinking it to be a valid question.

"If you can find the limb, and it is more or less intact, then simply stich it back on and it will heal. If you can't find the limb, or too much of it has been destroyed, that's a different story," he said, and I frowned at him.

"How so?" I asked.

"Well, a limb can grow back, but it is a long and painful process, and it doesn't work on heads. If you completely destroy the head of a Reaper, it won't grow back, and the Reaper will turn to dust. So don't go losing your head, Azaelee," he explained, flashing me a smirk. "We are a fixed point in time, and will not change, no matter what happens to us. We do not grow, and we do not age," he added, before pulling at a strand of my long hair. "So be careful with what you do. If you cut your hair off, for example, it will not grow back. Hair and nails are dead things, which is why we do not feel it when they are cut. But that also means that it will not grow back. Your body is not making new hair follicles, yet it also will not lose the ones that it already has. Do you understand?"

I nodded. "I think so," I said, and he nodded as we continued to walk. It had been a long day, and I could feel my eyes wanting to close. For some reason, my left arm was aching, and when I reached up to grip it, Gallen turned to me.

"There is much that you are yet to understand, Azaelee," he said, and his voice sounded sinister all of a sudden. I took a step backwards, tripped on a discarded weapon, and fell …

0.0

"She's lost a fair amount of blood, has two broken arms, and most likely internal damage as well. But what has me worried is the fact that she's not healing," I heard Taylor say as I struggled back to consciousness. "Wounds like this should have closed already, and her arms should be showing signs of reduced swelling, but they're not. I don't know what to make of it."

"I should be able to heal her," another voice said, and I felt my heart do a little flip in my chest. I'd recognise that voice anywhere – Brendan Hieson.

"That's why I called you," Taylor replied, before I heard him sigh. "But I shouldn't have had to. Something isn't right here."

Brendan gave a grunt of agreement, before I felt his warm hands touching my stomach. Remember how I mentioned Guardians earlier? Well, Brendan is one of them. About a year and a half ago, Brendan had been an ordinary human, and just another name on my list, yet he had refused to die. It wasn't something he'd consciously decided to do, yet Death hadn't been able to claim him, no matter how many times Death had tried. Turns out, Brendan possessed a quirk in his DNA known as the Immortal Strain – an ancient bloodline that had started when an Angel had mixed its blood with a human, creating the first Guardian. This bloodline had been passed down through countless generations, and had been activated when Brendan had experienced a near death encounter.

To cut a long story short, my mentor Gallen had also possessed this bloodline, and being a Druid Priest way back when, he had known about it whilst he'd still been mortal. I don't know all of the details, yet the Reapers had gotten to Gallen before the Guardians had, destroying his wish to do good in the world. Ever since then, he has tried to wipe out the bloodline. Myself and another Reaper named Asher – who had also been given his Reaper status by Gallen – had gone against him in protecting Brendan, and now we both wanted nothing more to do with the Irish Reaper.

The Guardians had also taken Brendan away for a whole year (he'd returned only four months ago), during which time he had learnt all about his new abilities, as well as his role in the world. They were the opposite of Reapers. They existed on the borders of life, and protected the lives of mortals. They guided them through tough times, and saved them from disastrous ends, if possible. Their dominant hands could heal, and I could feel Brendan's working on me as I lay on that hospital bed.

It was like a heat rising through my skin, coupled with the itchy sensation of healing flesh. The heat was pleasant, and not at all painful; the same sort of feeling that a nice warm bath could bring about. That heat coursed through my entire body, healing the damage and bringing clarity back to my mind. I could feel myself smiling, and I felt utterly relaxed.

"Sarah?" Brendan said, yet I didn't want to open my eyes. I felt better than I had all day, but if I opened my eyes now the spell would be broken. "Sarah?" he asked again, this time more insistent, and I sighed as I finally opened my eyes.

What I beheld was the worried face of an angel – literally. His dark brown hair had grown quite long lately, and his fringe was hanging across his face, almost obscuring his clear blue eyes. His right hand was resting on my left arm, and as I shifted it so that I could hold his hand, I felt that pleasant warmth begin to fade.

"Hi," I said with a stupid grin, and Brendan smiled back at me.

"Hello to you too," he said, before he frowned slightly. "Taylor told me what you've been up to, and he also told me that you weren't healing properly," he added, and I nodded.

"I've also been having a hell of a time teleporting, and my sword has been slower than normal in appearing. All in all, I've been feeling a bit off today," I replied, and Brendan nodded, still frowning.

"Well, I think you're more than a little off," he said, and it was my turn to frown. "I've healed a lot of people in these past four months, and I've healed you once before too, so I know what the energy of mortals and Reapers feels like. And you don't feel like you."

"What's that supposed to mean?" I asked, and even Taylor had moved closer in interest. "How can I not feel like me?"

Brendan shook his head. "I don't know, but you don't feel the same as you did the last time that I healed you."

"So what do I feel like?" I asked, sounding just a tad bit worried.

"Well," Brendan started, taking a deep breath before fixing me with serious blue eyes. "You feel perfectly mortal. I can't feel so much as a trace of your usual Reaper energy," he finished, and I felt like I'd been slapped. I swear, I must have sat there for a good five minutes with my mouth hanging open in shock.

"How can that be?" Taylor asked, and Brendan shook his head.

"I haven't got a clue," he replied as I continued to work on my stunned mullet imitation. Me? Mortal? Surely not! The Grim Reaper Azaelee, the oldest within her circle of friends, couldn't be mortal … could she? I had to admit, it would explain a lot. Like why my teleportation skills sucked lately, and why I hadn't healed what equated to minor injuries by Reaper standards. But how could this be possible?

"Sarah?"

"Huh?" I said, blinking as my eyes focused on Brendan's face once more. Both he and Taylor were looking at me, and I realised that I'd been asked a question.

"I said, did you want to go over to Gabriel's place to see if he can shed any light on this little mystery?" he asked, and I took a moment to think about it. Gabriel Roux – also known as the Reaper Asher – had been the bane of my existence since the French Revolution had ended, yet he had proved to be a better friend than I had originally given him credit for during the crazy stuff that had surrounded Brendan last year. Now, I considered him my closest friend (boyfriend not included, of course).

"Sure. Anything to get me out of this hospital. No offence, Taylor," I said, casting the medic an apologetic look.

"None taken," he replied with a shrug. "You always seem to cause me problems anyway, so I'll be glad to see you go," he added with a smirk, and I rolled my eyes as I slipped off of the hospital bed. Brendan held his hand out to me, and once I'd wrapped my fingers firmly around his, we vanished.