God had been a joke to Allison Doren; in the face of resurrection and death, Sark isn't sure he agrees. This is an act of faith, an offering to the shades of the departed. A gift, he is forced to admit, he isn't entirely sure she wanted, or doesn't wish to believe she wanted.
In a perfect world, he would be able to take his time on the project. He would send his quarry running only to hunt him down and face him at the end, except that at the moment Sark's life is one great mass of unfinished business and he has fifty-six hours before his business partners come looking for him. He grudges the flight to Wisconsin and back, the need to acquire a gun, to set up the kill: there's no room for self-indulgence, not on this schedule.
He's anonymous in coach in a college sweatshirt and an American accent. When he buys the weapon he lets the seller guess that it's a disguise, and when he searches out the information that he needs he lets his accent do the work for him. It's a useful accident.
It remains likely that the target will alter his routine, but there's no getting around the need to walk in the front door of his apartment. The gun and all the caution in the world can't save him: Sark sits waiting, his mind clear and nothing in his eyes but the door itself. Time has passed, light into darkness, uncounted hours.
The key turns. The lock clicks. The door opens, and swings shut. This is Sark's moment, the slap of the door closing and the muffled shot blurring together just as the target turns and reaches for the gun he no doubt carries. He hits the ground with a distinct thud before he can complete the motion. Sark considers a second shot, but the gray matter splashed against the door and the spreading pool of blood suggest that it isn't necessary. The bathtub, then: symmetry, but practicality as well. He cleans the floor, and checks his own appearance.
There should have been last words, but words for them were only deception. He doesn't know what might sway Allison's spirit, if such a thing exists. The act itself will have to do: Tippen's body cooling in the tub, his face reduced to shards of bloodstained bone.
She might understand. He hopes she will.
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