Ocelot was getting more and more nervous as the day went on.

It was the day following the events at the theatre, and he had spent most of it lounging around his house, working out, and vegging in front of the trideo with procession of beers. Somehow, he couldn't get up the urge to go out and do anything; he figured it was a combination of being tired from his ordeal last night and Kestrel's failure to call him back as she had promised.

He had called Harry as soon as he'd gotten home last night to give him the latest. The fixer, who had been awake and back to keeping his normal hours, had been quite surprised to hear about the incident at the theatre, and had agreed that this was important enough that he could take a bit more time away from his other business deals to look into it. He had called back two hours later reporting that Nuance and APS were completely absorbed in glowering at each other across their metaphorical chasm and were, as far as he could find out, showing no interest at all in hassling the team in any way, shape, or form. Harry's best intelligence was still telling him that they never had had such an interest, although if that were true, he had no idea about who was interested.

Harry had also helpfully checked—very discreetly, given the state in which the runners had left it—into the Petrucci Playhouse. He found out that it had a long and untarnished reputation, and that it was owned almost completely by a family headed by a little old lady who currently resided in Miami. They, too, had a long and untarnished reputation. The fixer said that he doubted that Gabriel knew the owners of the Playhouse, although, in Harry's words, "Nothing was beyond the realm o' possibility. That kid's got his fingers in more pies than anybody I know `cept me." Since the information had come from the bogus Kestrel phone call, Ocelot immediately wrote it off as another falsehood used to lull him into a sense of security regarding the meet with her.

After Harry's call, Ocelot had grabbed a couple hours' catnap and then remained close to home, waiting for Kestrel to call back. By mid afternoon, he was getting a bit nervous. By late afternoon, his nervousness had grown to the point where he decided to call her. Maybe she'd tease him about being too anxious, but if that was the worst he got to make sure everything was okay, he could take that.

First he called her home number, the one she didn't give out to very many people. It rang a number of times, then her machine picked up. He left a message and then called her wristphone. This time, he expected a quick answer, because she always had it with her.

It rang several times, followed by a voicemail message.

Ocelot stared at the phone, then left a brief message there as well. When she got back to her phone, she was going to have quite a trail of messages following her. It was bothering him that she didn't answer the wristphone, though. She always answered the wristphone, unless—

Unless she was with him.

A brief but surprisingly strong surge of jealousy spiked through him as an image flashed across his mind: Kestrel and Gabriel together, the phone beeping away, ignored, on the nightstand—

No, you idiot, he told himself angrily. Don't be an asshole. Maybe she's in the shower or something.

He got up and threw on his jacket, making sure he had his own wristphone with him, and headed out the garage door to the Blitzen. He felt a little foolish doing it, but he was getting more and more worried about her with each passing minute. He would just go by her house and see if she was there, and then they'd have a good laugh over the whole thing. He comforted himself with that thought as he rode at a high rate of speed toward her townhouse.

When he pulled up in front of the neat little house and parked the bike in the driveway, nothing looked out of the ordinary. He knocked on the door and waited, hoping that he'd soon hear the sound of her coming down the stairs to open it.

There was no answer.

He knocked again, more loudly this time, tapping his foot impatiently.

After another minute's wait, there was still no answer.

He had a key to the place; she had given it to him awhile ago, but he was reluctant to use it without her permission. This time, though, concern won out over good manners, and he quickly used it to open the door and slip inside before anyone saw him. "Kestrel?" he called. "Are you in here?"

No answer.

Ocelot drew his monowhip and kept it gripped loosely in his hand as he hurriedly but thoroughly searched the house. It wasn't a large place: two bedrooms, living room, kitchen, bathroom, garage. As he made his way through, he didn't see anything that looked out of the ordinary. Everything was as he remembered it: neat in most places except the bedroom, where clothes were strewn around on the floor just like they always were. It was hard to tell if the bed had been slept in, since she hardly ever made it. He checked her walk-in closet, the shower stall, and the closet in the other bedroom (which she used as an office), and found nothing. In the garage, her green Westwind was parked in its usual spot, next to her rarely-used Suzuki Aurora; the hood on the Westwind was cool, as was the Aurora's engine. There was no sign of the white van she had been driving last night.

Ocelot stood in the garage doorway, considering his next option. She wasn't answering her phone, and she didn't appear to be home. Where would she be likely to be if she wasn't home? One of her hangouts, maybe, or—

Gabriel. He'd know where she was. This time, Ocelot didn't chide himself for the thought, because it didn't have anything to do with romantic rivalry. It was simple fact: she worked with the guy. If anybody knew where she was, he would.

He shoved up his sleeve to call, then realized that he didn't know Gabriel's number. He considered calling Harry, but then another thought came to him and he spun around, closing the door to the garage and taking the stairs three at a time up to Kestrel's office room.

There was a desktop comm unit on the big, cluttered desk. Ocelot sat down in the chair and looked it over, immediately spotting what he was hoping for: a series of speed-dial buttons, labeled in Kestrel's haphazard hand. Only three were labeled: "O," "R," and "G."

Ocelot punched the button marked "G," flipped on the vid, and sat back to wait.

It was picked up after the second ring. The vid from the other end came on as well, revealing the handsome young fixer. He looked puzzled for only a brief second, then smiled as recognition dawned. "Hello. Ocelot, isn't it? What can I do for you?"

"I'm looking for Kestrel," Ocelot said bluntly. He was in no mood for pleasantries right now.

"You're calling from her office," the young man said mildly, showing no indication that he was bothered by Ocelot's lack of manners. "I would think that would mean that she's with you."

"Look, kid," Ocelot said, trying hard to control his anger and frustration. "I don't know where she is. If I did, I wouldn't be calling you. Now, if you know where she might be, please tell me."

Gabriel's expression grew more serious. "I haven't heard from her since yesterday," he said. "She told me she was going to spend the evening with you, so she would appreciate it if I didn't call her last night."

Ocelot leaned forward. "So you didn't call her to meet with your team at Petrucci's Playhouse?"

"No, of course not."

"And she didn't talk to you about any of this?"

Gabriel's violet gaze fixed itself on the video pickup. "No. Perhaps you should give me more information."

Out of video range, Ocelot's fists clenched. "Look," he said. "I want to talk to you. In person. I'm gettin' tired of gettin' screwed around by people on the phone. You meet me at the Glass Spider in half an hour. The back room. I want to get this straightened out."

Gabriel considered that for a moment, then nodded once. "All right. I'll be there."

"Good." Ocelot stabbed the connection button and stood up too fast, almost knocking the chair over behind him. He righted it and hurried out of the house, locking the door behind him.

He had picked the Glass Spider because it wasn't far from Kestrel's place, allowing him to get there early and be waiting when Gabriel arrived. He spent the intervening time pacing around the back room, trying not to consider all the dire fates that might have befallen Kestrel, or those that might befall Gabriel if he had anything to do with her disappearance. Ocelot's tether was not all that well strung under normal circumstances, and events over the past couple of weeks had unraveled it almost to the breaking point. He was not about to accept any fancy talk from some pretty boy kid, connections or no connections.

The door to the back room opened a couple of minutes early, and Gabriel entered. Dressed in a dove-gray suit of fine silk, dark blue tie, and charcoal gray wool overcoat, he looked more like a young fashion model than a man who was on his way to becoming one of the top movers and shakers in Seattle. "Sit down," Ocelot said without greeting.

Gabriel, no trace of annoyance on his smooth features, shrugged out of his coat and laid it over a chair, then sat down in another one. He looked up at Ocelot, waiting for him to speak.

"I want to know where Kestrel is," Ocelot said. He did not sit down, but remained standing over Gabriel, about a meter away.

"I don't know," Gabriel said. "I told you, I haven't seen her since yesterday."

"Yeah, I know you said that. But when I saw her last night, she said she was gonna go talk to you about some things."

"What things?" He leaned forward a bit, watching Ocelot. His expression was unreadable.

Ocelot put his foot up on a chair and propped his elbow on his knee. "She didn't tell you about any of this."

Gabriel shook his head. "No. She told me nothing, other than that she was going out to dinner and the trideos with you last night. If there's more, I'd appreciate it if you would fill me in."

"Where does she hang out when she's not working?" Ocelot demanded, ignoring Gabriel's question.

"I don't know," he said again. "From what I understood, she spends a great deal of her time with you. Other than that—" he shrugged minimally. His eyes narrowed just a bit. "Please tell me what you know. If Kestrel is missing, it concerns me as well."

Ocelot glared at him, trying to gauge whether he should reveal the information he had. On the one hand, Gabriel had the connections to help him find her quickly, but on the other, he might have been responsible for her disappearance.

The fixer remained calmly seated, watching him and waiting patiently for his reply. Finally, what decided the matter for Ocelot was the fact that Kestrel trusted him. Whether that trust was misguided was another question, but for now, he had to go with something. He dropped into a chair with a loud sigh and ran his hands through his hair. "Did she tell you about the weird hallucinations we all had awhile ago, right after your party?"

"She mentioned them," he said. "I did a bit of checking at the time, but wasn't able to determine the cause. She didn't say anything about their recurring, so I assumed that the matter had been taken care of."

"Yeah, that's what we thought too. We were wrong. Did she tell you that she had one too?"

His gaze sharpened as his expression grew concerned. "No. She didn't tell me about that. When?"

"A few days ago. She was driving her car and ended up at the Purple Haze without knowing how she got there." Ocelot watched Gabriel's face carefully for any sign of recognition.

"The place she used to frequent with her team," he said quietly.

Ocelot nodded. "Yeah. And she saw them there. They were sitting there waiting for her. She said they spoke to her, but then when she turned away they disappeared. It spooked her out pretty bad."

"I wonder why she didn't mention it to me?" Gabriel said as if to himself. He continued to watch Ocelot with the same calm, concerned gaze.

"She said she didn't want to," Ocelot told him. "She said that you were busy with your team, and that she was startin' to feel dependent on you."

Gabriel closed his eyes briefly, sighed. "Yes, how very like her. She's quite an independent woman, and I can see that she still sometimes longs to be back with her team instead of what she's doing now." He paused. "Were you or your friends able to find any source for the hallucinations at that point?"

"No. Right after that some other stuff happened that started us believin' that the whole thing was because of a run we'd done a little bit before all this started happenin'. It was all a little weird, but we were okay with that as long as nobody was playin' with our heads." Ocelot blew out a long breath and leaned back in his chair, balancing it on two legs. "Then last night happened."

Gabriel's attention was fully riveted on Ocelot now. "Tell me about it. Please don't leave out any details."

Ocelot regarded the fixer with mild suspicion, but found himself wanting to trust him. The kid was either a hell of an actor or else he was genuinely concerned about Kestrel; his voice was soft but insistent, gently persuasive. "Okay," Ocelot finally said. Let's go for the whole thing if we're gonna do it..."It started when I got a call from Kestrel a little before I was gettin' ready to head out for the restaurant..." Forcing himself to slow down and remember the details, he continued telling Gabriel the story, including the mysterious phone calls, the slamming doors and the lights going out, and the frightening illusions. Just thinking about the bugs made his breath come faster. By the time he had finished, his heart was racing.

Gabriel listened, his eyes never leaving Ocelot's face as he spoke. When Ocelot stopped speaking, he said, concerned, "Are you all right?"

Ocelot waved him off. "Yeah, I'll be fine. It was just so damned vivid. All of us kind of have a problem with bugs. Don't know if Kestrel does..."

"She's fought them before," Gabriel said. "I think they would disturb anyone who has." He paused. "So then, the last you saw of her, she had left you in the van and had plans to discuss this with me. That would have been—?"

"Around 21:30 or so last night."

Gabriel nodded. "So it's conceivable that she went home and planned to discuss the situation with me today."

"Yeah, that makes sense." Ocelot got up and began pacing again. Gabriel's soothing voice and his aura of knowing what was going on was calming him somewhat; even if it was all bullshit, at least it was good bullshit. Then a sudden thought struck him. "You don't think she's taken off, do you?"

Gabriel raised an eyebrow questioningly. "Do you know of any reason why she might?"

"No..." He shook his head. "I'm just tryin' to come up with an explanation that doesn't mean somebody's grabbed her." His voice took on the faint traces of desperation.

The fixer stood, his movements as graceful as a dancer's. "Ocelot, please. We have no evidence that that has occurred. I'll investigate this immediately, and contact you as soon as I find out anything. I'm confident that we'll find her before the day is done."

Ocelot wheeled on him. "Why do you say that?" he demanded. "It almost sounds like you know where she is."

Gabriel shook his head, unruffled by Ocelot's accusation. "No. I don't know where she is, and that disturbs me as much as it disturbs you. I merely meant that I will set my network of contacts on the problem."

Not completely mollified, Ocelot sighed again. "Okay. But I hope you don't mind if I bring some other people into this too."

"Not at all. The more people who are searching for her, the sooner we will find her." Gabriel smiled, but under the smile there was still an undercurrent of concern. "Please don't be worried yet. We'll probably locate her somewhere that she intended to be, and she'll be angry with us for disturbing her."

"I hope you're right," Ocelot said. His anger had all but dissipated, leaving in its place only worry and hopelessness. "You keep me posted, okay?"

"Of course." Gabriel picked up his coat and draped it over his arm. "I'd better get started, then." Nodding a farewell, he left the room, already pulling a portable phone from the inner pocket of his jacket.

Kestrel did not call back or otherwise contact Ocelot that day. He spent the rest of it making calls to everyone he could think of who might be able to help with the search: Harry (to whom he offered whatever price he asked to put aside all his other business and devote all his energies to finding Kestrel), Joe and `Wraith, T. C., and most of the other people with whom he had had contact recently. He checked the Purple Haze to see if she had been in again; she hadn't. He questioned people who lived in the houses near hers. He went back to her house with `Wraith and together they did a thorough search, looking for anything that might indicate why she had left, who she had left with, and/or where she had gone.

He wasn't sure exactly why he waited until later that evening to call Winterhawk. He knew that, of all his teammates, `Hawk probably had the best chance of finding her. Since he had assensed her aura previously, and since they had access to her personal items at her house, Ocelot knew that the mage had a good chance of being able to locate her. He didn't want to admit that the reason why he waited was that he was afraid of what `Hawk might find, but that was it.

Finally, though, he could wait no longer. All of his feelers had come up empty: Harry and T. C. hadn't turned up anything, nor had Joe and `Wraith, although all of them promised to keep looking. Gabriel hadn't called back yet, but Ocelot was giving him until the end of the day.

When he asked Winterhawk to help, the mage had agreed readily, admonishing Ocelot for not getting him involved sooner. He had immediately gone out and purchased the materials necessary to perform a ritual, then returned to his apartment with Ocelot and set about constructing the hermetic circle. "There's a possibility that this might be dangerous," he told Ocelot, "depending on where she is. P'raps you might call the others and ask them to come over here before I start."

Joe and `Wraith arrived to find Winterhawk's apartment somewhat resembling `Wraith's own in bareness, except that in `Hawk's case, the furniture was merely shoved up against the walls to create a huge empty space for the circle. They watched curiously as he completed the circle and stepped inside, instructing them to stay well away from it as the ritual progressed, and not to break it unless something nasty appeared inside that he didn't seem able to deal with. "That last part's important," he said. "If I'm handling it, then breaking the circle could cause unexpected things to occur. Not that I expect anything like that—this is a simple detection spell, after all." He spoke with the confidence of someone who had found a number of people by magical means, and who fully expected to add another to that total tonight. Arranging the personal item of Kestrel's—a sweatshirt that Ocelot had found on the floor next to her bed—in front of him, he began.

The ritual took about three hours from beginning to end. Ocelot, Joe, and `Wraith killed time by taking turns keeping an eye on Winterhawk as he worked inside the circle while the other two watched the trid, paced around looking out the windows, and raided the refrigerator. During the three hours no one called, which made Ocelot nervous. Gabriel had sounded so confident that his people would be able to find Kestrel; Ocelot began to wonder if the young fixer had not been lying to him. His old suspicions about Gabriel's being behind all this began to rise to the surface again, but he kept them under control for the moment.

He watched Winterhawk in the circle. He knew that these kinds of rituals were hard on the mage; he had only seen him perform one other, but the effort of it had exhausted him for quite some time after the ritual had been completed. That time he had been successful; Ocelot hoped that he would be this time as well. `Hawk's face was drawn, his hair plastered to his head as the sweat trickled down his neck and raised damp spots on his starched white shirt. His eyes were closed, his jaw set in concentration as he wove the magical energies together that would go out into astral space and locate the aura he was seeking.

The detection ritual ended abruptly two hours and fifty minutes in, startling the three other runners from their watchful but bored reveries. With a loud phhhhhhttttt! sound, the sweatshirt was consumed in a flash of blue flame, and Winterhawk collapsed to his knees, his breath coming in fast, harsh gasps.

Ocelot hurried over to the edge of the circle. "`Hawk?"

The others joined him, but none dared breach the scrawled chalk lines and burned-out crystal obelisks that defined the hermetic circle. They watched as Winterhawk knelt there, gasping, for several seconds without speaking. When he finally did, his exhausted, whispered words chilled Ocelot's blood: "Can't—find her."

Throwing caution aside, Ocelot crossed into the circle and grabbed Winterhawk, gently pulling him to his feet. The mage was drenched with sweat, his complexion almost as white as his soaked shirt. Ocelot half-supported, half-carried him over to the sofa, where he slumped back, his energies totally depleted. `Wraith and Joe resumed their seats, watching Winterhawk until he could speak again.

Ocelot couldn't wait. He gripped Winterhawk's shoulder. "Did you say you couldn't find her?"

Wearily, eyes closed, `Hawk nodded. "Nothing—there."

"What does that mean?" Ocelot demanded. "What do you mean nothing there?"

"Hey, back off a minute, Ocelot," Joe said. "Let him rest."

Ocelot ignored him. "`Hawk—"

"Couldn't—find—aura..." Winterhawk pushed the words out between breaths, his chest rising and falling rapidly as he fought to get himself under control. He looked like a man who had just run a marathon.

"What does that mean?" Ocelot asked again, louder. "Does it mean she's—" He couldn't say it. He let the sentence trail off. Was the thing he had feared most coming true? Was Kestrel dead?

The mage's breathing began to slow a bit, and he opened his eyes. Trying to manage a comforting look, he shook his head. "Not—necessarily. Could mean—she's behind wards. Magical—protection of some sort."

Ocelot's eyes widened as he dared to let hope creep in again. "You mean somebody might have her in some kind of magical fortress thing?"

"Crude—but accurate."

Ocelot settled back to consider that as Joe went out to the kitchen to get a glass of water, which he gave Winterhawk. The mage accepted it gratefully, polishing it off in one long drink. Slowly, his unhealthy pallor was fading to his normal, still rather pale, complexion, and strength was returning to his body. He sat up a bit more, running a hand through his damp hair to get it out of his face.

"Next step?" `Wraith asked.

"Soon as `Hawk's recovered, I'm goin' back out," Ocelot said. "I can't just sit around and wait for things to happen."

Winterhawk started to protest, then thought better of it. "I'll be fine," he said, his voice getting stronger. "Just need a hot shower and a few hours' sleep, that's all."

`Wraith and Joe rose. "Will keep searching," `Wraith said.

"Me too," Joe added. "I still have a few more people I can talk to."

"Forgive me for not seeing you out," Winterhawk said from the sofa. "I'll call you tomorrow."

After they had gone, Ocelot regarded his old friend. "Is there anything else, `Hawk?"

Winterhawk looked at him strangely. "Such as?"

"I don't know. I just thought maybe you might have seen something else."

"I wish I could say I did," the mage said ruefully. "But I've told you everything I know. Perhaps a more powerful ritual—"

"Not for awhile," Ocelot said. "You nearly wiped yourself out with this one. Maybe Harry's come up with something by now. Or Gabriel—"

"How did your meeting with him go?" Winterhawk asked. "I was meaning to ask you about that before."

Ocelot shrugged. "All right, I guess. There's something about him that I don't get, but he seemed concerned when I told him she was missing. I still think there might be something goin' on between those two—I'm just not sure what yet."

"Well," Winterhawk said, "if it will spur him to find her faster, then that's all that matters, isn't it?"

"Yeah," he said, and was a bit surprised to realize that he meant it. Getting Kestrel back meant everything to him, even if he had to lose her to Gabriel to do it. He wondered if that was what love was, and then quickly squelched the thought. He couldn't indulge thoughts like that right now. They played hell with your edge, and he needed all the edge he could get if he was going to find her. He'd worry about the rest of it once he had her back.

"All right, then," Winterhawk said. "You'd best be on your way. Call me tomorrow, if there's anything else I can do."

"You sure you're all right?"

He nodded. "Quite. I know how this works. I'll be right as rain in the morning. Now go. Find her, and bring her by tomorrow."

Ocelot smiled faintly. "Okay, you got a deal. See you then."

Once outside, Ocelot considered his next option. He realized that going out beating the bushes for Kestrel wasn't going to work; if she was being held somewhere by mundanes, Winterhawk's ritual would have found her right away. Ditto if she was just off at a bar or had gone back to the nature preserve to be alone. Besides, she wouldn't have done any of those things without at least calling him. If she had disappeared and not called, that meant something unexpected had happened to her. He wondered if whoever was responsible for the hallucinations had her; whoever it was, they were certainly capable of constructing a ward that would keep Winterhawk from finding her. But if that was true, what did they want?

Ocelot went wearily downstairs and retrieved his bike, deciding that he'd ride home and see if anyone had left a message on his machine there. It was a useless endeavor since he had set the home phone to forward to his wristphone, but he didn't know what else to do. He had already called everyone he knew who might be able to help, and they were all doing the best they could. Like it or not, he was just going to have to wait.

He was halfway home when he felt the familiar buzz of his wristphone. Pulling off the road in what was probably a highly unsafe maneuver, he stabbed the button without getting off the bike. "Yeah?" he said quickly.

Gabriel's face appeared on the screen. He looked troubled. "Ocelot. Forgive me for not contacting you sooner, but I've been devoting all my attention to finding Kestrel."

"Did you find her?"

He shook his head. "Not yet. I'd like to discuss this with you further. Can you suggest a place to meet?"

Ocelot considered. "How about the Spider again?"

He nodded. "Half an hour?"

"I'll be there." Ocelot broke the connection, unwilling to show Gabriel his bitter disappointment. He didn't want to admit it to anyone, not even himself, but the young fixer had been his best hope. He seemed to be able to do anything—in some cases even more than Harry could do. And he cared about Kestrel, maybe as much as he himself did. Unconsciously, his mental defenses began building the faint beginnings of the wall that would help him deal with finding out that she was dead.

Gabriel beat him to the Glass Spider this time, and was waiting in the back room. He didn't look quite as perfect as he normally did, with his tie slightly undone and a strand of inky hair hanging down over his forehead. He looked like a man who had been working hard on a problem, but his expression showed that he had not yet found a solution.

Ocelot came in and closed the door a little too hard behind him. "You didn't find her yet."

Gabriel shook his head. "Not yet, and that troubles me greatly."

"What have you done so far?" Ocelot straddled a chair, then realized that he couldn't sit still, so he got up and began pacing, moving around the room like a caged cat.

"I've sent word to my contacts, both in and out of the area, to let me know if anyone sees someone answering her description. I've checked out all the places I've known her to frequent, although you probably know those better than I do."

"Have you got any magic stuff involved? Winterhawk did a detection ritual, and he said he couldn't find her. He said that means she's either behind some kind of magical protection, or else—"

Gabriel held up a hand. "We won't speak of `or else'," he said, a strange faraway look in his eyes.

Ocelot was fine with that. "Do you have any mages on it?"

"Of course. I know some of—not inconsiderable talent. So far they have come up with nothing as well."

"So what are you gonna do next?"

The young man shrugged. "Continue with the search. Bring in more resources. I'll continue this until I find her." The resolve in his soft voice was clear.

"Yeah..." Ocelot found it comforting that there was apparently someone else who cared as much as he did about finding Kestrel, but his thin grip on rationality was fading fast. He hated not knowing what to do, not knowing where to go next. He was a man of action. He wanted to do something, and there was nothing he could do. Feeling his anger and frustration rising, he threw himself into a chair and lashed out at Gabriel, his voice more desperate than threatening. "You're supposed to be the wonder boy! You're the one everybody's talkin' about! They say there's nothin' you can't do. You've got all these fantastic connections, that you can use to find out things about us that nobody's supposed to know! Why can't you use those fantastic connections to find Kestrel?"


Ocelot looked up, a quick glare. "What?" he snapped out.

Gabriel was regarding him with an expression of oddly comforting calm. "We will find her. I give you my word. I won't stop until I do."

Ocelot nodded, propping his elbows on the table and burying his fingers in the sides of his hair. "Yeah. Yeah, I know we will." His eyes came up to meet Gabriel's, though his head did not move. "You love her, don't you?"

"Yes," he said simply. After a pause, he added, "But not in the way that you think."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

Gabriel rose. "Another time. For now, I think it best that we return to the search. May I suggest that you get some rest? You look quite tired, and you'll be no help for her if you exhaust yourself."

Ocelot started to protest, then realized that the young fixer was right. There were scores of people out looking for Kestrel now, so the search would not stop just because he caught a few hours' sleep. Or at least tried to. "Yeah," he rasped. "You'll call me, no matter when it is, if you find something?"

"Of course," Gabriel said. "And I trust you will do the same?"

"Yeah. I will." Ocelot pushed himself off the chair and trudged out of the room. Despite Gabriel's assurances, he was unable to shake the feeling that he would never see Kestrel again.

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