“I love you, Book.” He touches my back, his fingers lingering, too long. I look at the dried blood drops on the floor. How old are they? A day, two? I get up slowly and move away, keeping the chair between us.

“I love you too, dad.” I look him in the eyes. The ruin of his face. The God’less had finally made it to his eyes in ways I had never seen before, but I had never left him alone before either. He’d always had a reason to come home, a reason to care.

“You better go, Book. Hurry. I don’t…”

I can feel the suit integrating, fusing to my spine, a slow arc of pain like stretching to far along an axis. In time it would help me heal, to move again with the fluid motion I had been used to before I was hurt. But for now I was stiffer than I had been.

I pick up his kit, groaning as I sling it over my shoulder. The emotional ping I’ve been getting – its God talking to me – is ringing in my ears, too loud. The resonance feeling as if the whole universe is filling me up. But I already know what it means, what God is trying to tell me. My dad…we’ve danced together, playing our needs back and forth. Him staving off the God’less and me learning to defend myself from it. My hand goes to the doorknob, my head rests against the doorjamb for a moment, and I feel tears flow over my cheeks. “Goodbye dad. I love you. I always will.” I close the door behind me, with the same reverence as I had said goodbye. I hear his footsteps, a hollow echo against the floor. The latch clicks shut. And I wait.

It doesn’t take long, though I didn’t hear the final click of the safety disengaging. Didn’t need that warning sound considering what I did hear. A loud crack. The soft thud of his body hitting the floor.

Both those sounds echoed for a long, long time.