Frank, good old trust-worthy Frank. He's been so loyal. When I hear the soft crumph crumph crumph of feet through snow I find it hard to keep my stoic composure as he comes towards me. He is holding a small medical bag that looks ridiculous against his huge frame, like a purse against his huge hand. He nods silently as his greeting and we head into a small, sheltered area beneath some trees where he takes a look at my hand, doing what he can with the tools from the bag. He's a man of many talents.

I wince as he works, but he cleans up the wound with all the professionalism and skill a surgeon would. In that moment I want something I can't have, we both see that, reflected in each others eyes. Frank breaks the gaze and turns his head, grunting. I follow and see a couple standing in the snow, not far off. The park is empty except for our two couples, it must be them. I recognise Red from an old police photo, during my investigation when they tied the name to the man they dug out the old files on him. A minor infraction as a boy got him snapped. He looks so different now, but even through the snow and fog of his breath, I can make out the boy in the man.

The she kisses him. Interesting. I make a note of that.

I look up to Frank, a silent exchange happens, then we cross the icy ground towards the enemy of our enemy. They turn to face me as they hear our footsteps in the snow and the woman stiffens, Red instead seems to loosen up, like a cat ready to bolt. Or pounce.

"Red and whom I presume to be, what was it? Emma B? We have much to talk about, you and I."

I make a point of ignoring the woman's presence, not out of any sense of chauvinism, but out necessity. Red needs to feel in control here, the others need just the opposite. Two kings on the board, directing their pawns. To give them an advantage of 2 over 1 would be foolish and besides, the friction such treatment inevitably plants between a couple is always useful.

"Red, I wont try and appeal to your sense of compassion by attempting to say we are the same, we're not, but you have no idea of what I've been about. I'm not the monster you think I am. Not entirely. I'm just a symptom of the disease infecting this city. When you get rid of a disease, the symptoms fade away. That's what I'm offering. We work together on a cure and when it's run it's course I'll fade away. No more persecutions, no more paintings. I'll just vanish and you'll have this city to yourself. Are these terms acceptable?"

The End

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