It should go without saying, I hope, that the following contains SPOILERS.
While the current ending is the one I'd initially intended, when I realized it meant Daly had actually failed at most of the things he tried to do (arrange the meeting, rescue Travers) I tried writing a new ending where he actually succeeded.
It's slightly hampered by my not really wanting to answer some of the mysteries (is Travers an angel; what does he know; what's in the Book) since I feel the story works better without them, and answering them raises a number of other questions. This ending also drags a bit, evaporating the tension without offering any real payoff at the end (nothing I can come up with that works, anyway). So the existing ending is a lot tighter, and feels right to me.
It picks up near the end of the final chapter, but is very rough, having had only the initial draft.
There's a ray of hope there, and the gun starts to drop, but I'm still a few paces away, edging closer, when Fabrini pipes up.
"No, she serves Lucifer, I can't let you..."
"Stop!" Travers' call halts the gun as it starts to shoot up, and I turn to see him standing in front of Fabrini. "Please, there's no need for any more violence."
The gun hesitates, hovering halfway up, but at least it isn't pointing at anyone. That doesn't mean ricochets won't be a danger though, so I keep advancing on her at a calm pace.
"It's done," says Travers, his voice calming. "I'll leave with you."
I hear Fabrini start to say something, and see Diana tense, but Travers is still between them, and speaks before Fabrini has the chance.
"I wish to leave," he says. "Do you intend to restrain me?"
Coming alongside Diana, I reach slowly for the gun, and ease it from her unresisting grasp.
"No," says Fabrini, and I look back to see his conflicted gaze falling on Diana. Then he looks at Travers, wanting to say something, but unable to find the words.
"Thank you," Travers says to him, then walks away, joining us as we leave the building.
My pain seems to have subsided, now only a dull ache. The bleeding seemed to stop in the elevator, and if I was inclined to believe Travers was an angel, I might attribute it to him. But I'm not, despite everything. It's not something I can seem to believe.
Not that it would have changed anything I did, anyway. Getting him free was my responsibility. So now I lean against my car, a block from the building where we left Fabrini. I'd rather put more distance between us, in case he gets reinforcements. I'm not sure whether he'd still come after Travers, but I'd rather play it safe.
The other two didn't want to delay their meeting though, so they're sat on a bench a short way away, out of earshot. She's the one who wants to hear what he has to say. Not that I'm not curious about the truth, but I've yet to be convinced what he has to say would be the truth. Also, I wasn't invited to join them.
I hear the ambulance drive away from Fabrini's building, sirens blaring. I haven't heard police sirens, or seen anything, the front of the building not visible from our position. Doesn't mean I'm no ton edge expecting them to appear around the corner any moment, though.
I focus on the practicalities of what we'll need to do next. Get clear, get to a doctor. We'll need to explain the body that fell from her window, and why we fled the scene. I can be her bodyguard, and given my wounds and not knowing if the guy was alone, I got her to safety. Not sure how Fabrini'll handle the stuff here, but I can't imagine he'll want the truth becoming public.
Hearing footsteps, I turn to see Travers approach, Diana still sat on the bench, staring at the ground. He stops by my side, meeting my gaze. There's sadness in his eyes, and weariness.
"All done?" I ask.
He nods. "I told her what she wished to know."
A glance at her doesn't really tell me how she's taken it.
"Knowledge isn't contentment," says Travers. "What she sought may not have been what she wanted."
I meet his gaze. Reaching behind me, I lift the book and hold it out to him.
He stares at it a moment, before reluctantly taking it. His shoulders seem to slump under the weight, or rather the burden.
"You intending to destroy it?" I ask.
He gives a slow shake of the head. "I'll dream. But I fear I could no more destroy it than could you."
Meeting my gaze again, he gives a slow nod of the head, then turns and walks away.
Shrugging myself up from the car, I walk over to join Diana. She doesn't look up at my approach.
"We should probably go," I say.
It's a few second before she glances up at me, her eyes shaken and staring at me through a glaze of shock. I'm not sure she's taking it in, but while her gaze drifts away she does rise, unsteadily to her feet, and lets me guide her to the car.
I consider asking her about what she's learned, but even if I could get anything out of her at the moment, I don't know I want to. It doesn't seem to have done her much good.
Besides, I think I've actually found some peace. I don't feel as confused as I did. I did things wrong, and there were consequences I'll deal with, but my doubts are gone. Not just because the choices are gone. I feel calmer than I have in a while. Of course, I'm probably in shock.
So I do the only thing I can. Drive her out of here.