Pairing: Welsey/ Cross (Not Relatives)
Spoilers: For the movie
Warnings: AU, violence, language, h/c, m/m
Summary: For his entire life, Welsey has lived in a world of lies and half-truths. Now he must face the truth of it all.
Notes: I didn't really buy the whole 'Cross being Wesley's father' thing. They look nothing a like and it just seemed odd. Nice twist in the movie but I thought he wouldn't kill Welsey for different reasons, like he was a friend of Welsey's dad or something. So, that's what this fic is. Cross is not Welsey's dad, but a friend of his. Welsey's dad was killed by the Fraternity because he founded the other group that opposed them, including recruiting Cross. So, they framed Cross for the murder.
Extra Notes: Takes place right at the end of the train scene. Changing POVs.
-Yes, I know. I seem to make Wesley cry in every chapter so far. I'm a big angst junkie but there is comfort with the hurt. And I swear, it will taper off in later chapters. Besides, Wesley did tear up a few times in the movie.
-Introducing some new characters here to add to the plot.
- Hey Paula, providing with excellent feedback for my muse again. Thank you!
Disclaimers: Not mine! I am also using some dialogue from the movie in the fic. Again, this is not mine, The characters and the movie belong to the studios and producers. Quote is by Dalai Lama not by me.
"Compassion is not religious business, it is human business. It is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability. It is essential for human survival."
"You're pretty fucking good at this, hon."
I tried not to smile at the praise and failed as I reloaded the gun. Mage was a woman in her early fifties, beautiful, with short dark hair and kind eyes. She had a southern accent and was very talkative, much to my relief. I hated silence and no one that I'd met so far in the Fraternity had been much for pleasant conversation, so it was nice to meet someone who liked to just shoot the breeze.
"Thanks. It, uh, took me a while, and a hell of a lot of pressure to get it right."
She laughed, a genuine sound, not the fake constricted shit some women do when they're around guys. "Yeah, I'll bet they promised you cookies and milk if you got it on the first try."
I grinned and aimed my gun at the target again, well, where the target would be. There was a thick, stone pillar in front of us and the paper bulls eye was behind it. I fired off the rounds, watching the bullets bend around with structure with ease and heard them impact the wall. Mage, who was leaning against the wall beside me could see the target, whistled.
"Hard to believe it only took you six weeks."
I put the gun down and leaned against the table in front of me. "How long does it usually take?"
She shrugged, her thick brown coat brushing up against her ears. "About 3-5 months, depending on the skill."
"How long did it take you?" I'd only known her for a few hours but she seemed laid back enough to not take the question personally.
When she grinned I was proven right. "4 and a 1/2. It may have taken me a while to get going but I'm all business now."
"What about my dad?"
"2 months." My surprise must have showed on my face. "Your father was the best, kiddo."
I paused. "What about Cross?"
She smirked at me. "What about him?"
I shifted, feeling myself blush and turned my attention back to my gun. "How, uh, how long did it take him to complete his training?"
"Just a little over two months." There was definite humor in her tone and it made me blush even more. But, thankfully, she changed the subject. "Outside of them two, no one else has ever finished the training in under three months."
I looked up at her in curiosity at the words. "I did."
And I immediately regretted saying those words. A dark expression graced her elegant features and she pushed herself off the stone wall to walk over to me. "They didn't train you, honey. They beat you into submission. Twisted your mind until you adopted their ideals."
Okay. I shrugged, trying to show her that it didn't really bother me. "I don't feel like a victim, Mage."
That seemed to lighten her mood a little. "That's not the popular opinion around here but I get it. From what I hear, you had a pretty lousy life before this. Must be nice to have a purpose now."
What were these people, psychic? "Something like that. I don't blame the Fraternity for what happened. I blame myself for what I did."
"That's another thing that pisses people off around here. It ain't your fault that Yuri died, hon."
She smiled, the wrinkles around her eyes making them look even more kind. "That was the Exterminator's name."
I tried to ignore the bright flash of guilt that shot through me. "Why does the Fraternity give people those code names?"
Mage picked up the gun I'd been firing, my father's gun, and examined it. "To de-humanize them. They see it as mark of passage, of sorts. Once you complete your training, they give you a name to signify that you are separate from the outside world, no longer the person you were born as. Its supposed to make it easier to kill, I suppose."
That made sense. I leaned back against the table, my arms casually crossed in front of me. "What's your name?"
She looked up at me and tilted her head to the side, a mischievous smile on her face. "Emily."
"That's a pretty name. How'd you get Mage from Emily?"
"The names are given to us by the senior member of the Fraternity. Could be based on a variety of things. I was never told why. Doesn't really matter."
Shit. In the space of one day I'd had more answers to my questions than in the entire six weeks I'd been at the Fraternity. And I hadn't been beaten up or sliced open once. All in all, not too bad. "Can I call you Emily?
She handed me my gun, her posture suddenly tense. "I'd rather you not, sugar."
"Oh." I was suddenly uncomfortable and unsure of the reason why.
And Mage saw. They were all very observant. "Don't take it personally, Wesley. Its just . . . I've changed a lot since I joined the Fraternity and there's no going back. I'm not that person; she doesn't exist anymore. Calling me by that name - it would be a lie."
I nodded, suddenly very desperate to change the topic. I liked being able to talk to someone who hadn't seen me have a meltdown. Speaking of which. "What about Cross?"
She raised her eyebrow, a sardonic smile once again returning. "You seem very interested in learning about Cross."
And the blushing returned. "Well, its just. The guy knows so much about me, it would be nice if I knew a bit about him. You know, level the playing field."
"Interesting choice of words."
"I didn't mean it like that. I just . . . would like to know a little more about him." I knew I was beat red, but, damnit, I really did want information.
Mage decided to take pity on me. "Well, you're just going to have to talk to him, sugar."
I sighed, reigned to the fact that I wouldn't get any juicy gossip from the chatty woman. It was still nice to be around her light-hearted mood after what had happened this morning with Cross and Pekwarsky. The former had stood out on the balcony with me for an hour or two, just talking about the countryside. He had told me that we were in an isolated castle outside of a major city and gave me a few details about the land and its history. I still have no fucking idea exactly where I was. I think he still believed I was gonna run.
But I was not going anywhere. I was not sure if its because they're honest with me or that they're warmer towards me or that they genuinely didn't want anything from me, but I felt safer here than I ever did at the Fraternity. I didn't feel like I belonged here yet, but I felt like I could someday. And that was a feeling I hadn't really had before, anywhere.
Mage interrupted my musings. "C'mon, kiddo. Its dinner time. I think its roast beef and veggies."
As we started to walk up the stairs and out of the the courtyard, I tried to act casual as I asked. "So, where are we exactly?"
Mage glanced over at me, smirking. She hadn't been fooled. "We're in a isolated village outside of Amsterdam."
I smiled, my affection for the friendly woman hitching up a notch.
"And if you tell Cross that I told you, I will shoot you and say it was an accident." It was a playful tone but I knew that she was serious.
We walked through a few corridors and I tried to commit the direction to memory but it was difficult. The stone walls were old and chipped, but they all looked identical. Mage must have sensed my confusion - again with the keen observance - and laughed.
"Don't worry, hon. We'll make sure you have a babysitter until you learn your way."
And the humiliations just kept on coming. "Wonderful."
We finally reached the 'cafeteria.' The place reminded me of the lunch hall that had been in the Fraternity, only with stone walls and wooden tables. There was a buffet table set up along the far wall with an assortment of food on it and pitchers of various liquids. A fireplace, set off into the corner, was lit and the room was pleasantly warm. The vaulted ceilings gave the effect of making the room look even bigger and two large windows let in the late evening daylight.
There were eight other people in the room, by my count. I took them in quickly, analyzing them, assessing them. Five men, three women; all were armed and all looked to be of multiple nationalities. They all had curious expressions and two of the men looked wary. They were all staring at me and I hated it. An Asian woman with long dark hair and pretty almond eyes smiled at me. That made me feel minutely better.
A hand on my my arm made me jump. Mage pulled her hand back in a placating gesture. "Sorry. Wanna get some food?"
I nodded, trying to hide my self-conciousness. I grabbed some roast beef and some other food and followed Mage to an empty table. She sat across from me and dug into her own food with surprising enthusiasm. Suddenly reminded of Cathy, I didn't realize I was grinning until she looked up at me.
"I just wish more women were like you."
She snorted. "Slobs?"
"Not dainty, salad eating princesses."
Mage laughed around a mouthful of carrots. "Glad you like it, hon, 'cause you ain't gonna see me eating like the Princess of Wales."
Some murmurs behind me caught my attention and I resisted the urge to turn around. I caught some words and knew that they were about me. They weren't offensive, just personal. I'd never liked being the center of attention and I disliked it even more now. I could feel them all turning around to glance at me and it was making my skin itch. Suddenly, my food didn't seem too appealing. Maybe I should just go up to my room and eat.
I'd been so caught up in my agitation that I hadn't realized that Cross had walked into the room until he sat down next to me. I jumped when his tray settled down next to mine with a subdued clang. I looked over at him, feeling extremely relieved that he was here now. The whispers were still there, albeit slightly more quiet, but they seemed less intimidating now. I couldn't really explain it, even now, but his presence was powerful and strong and I knew that he was on my side, so it definitely helped my nerves.
He smiled at me before moving to eat his own food. Oh, yeah. I'd forgotten about the awkwardness that was still there. Earlier, Cross had carefully hedged my question about killing the Fraternity members and I'm pretty sure I knew why: he still didn't think I was ready yet. It irritated me and he knew it, but the guy wasn't going to tell me.
Mage glanced between the two of us, apparently sensing the tension. "You weren't exaggerating, Cross. The kid's one hell of a shot."
I blushed again at the praise, choosing to focus on my food. I didn't know if I would ever get used to the "'atta boy's " I was getting around here.
"In time, he'll be better than his father."
I looked over at Cross in surprise. The thought hadn't even occurred to me. In truth, I had only ever tried to reach his level, not surpass it. "You think I'm good enough?"
A strange look passed over his face, and out of the corner of my eye I saw Mage start to say something, but Cross said. "We will see."
Okay. Well, strange had taken on a whole new meaning in the past month and a half so this was just another chip to add to the pile. The rest of the lunch was spent in amiable conversation. They told me about the various fighting techniques that my father had taught them, ones that the Fraternity hadn't bothered to try. Most of them were hand-to-hand combat skills; since assassins most likely didn't need to get that close to their targets, the arrogant Fraternity had deemed the practices antiquated. Apparently, that had come back to bite them in the ass on more then one occasion. Among other things.
And as soon as I was strong enough, they were going to teach me.
Damn, these guys sure knew how to party it up.
Guess they lived by the motto "work hard, party harder." Well, one of their mottos anyway. The castle, for being so sparsely populated, seemed alive with noise and laughter. The main hall looked like something out of an Arthurian legend complete with six long tables, various foods, lots of booze, and loud music. Instead of the usual electricity that powered the place, the hall was decorated with so many torches and candles you hardly knew the difference, except for the fact that the lighting was a little softer without the glare.
There was a CD player with one hell of a sophisticated sound system 'cause the speakers were fucking loud without being ultra sonic and uncomfortable. Indian music filled the hall, creating a nice melody that was upbeat, mystical, and beautiful. Handler, a guy from Mumbai, was the designated DJ, and he was pretty nice.
The food was as diverse as the people who lived here were. Maybe it was because we were so near one of the most diverse cities in the world, but there was something for everyone. Well, there was something for me. I had a hamburger and some fries, not really in the adventurous mood. What I did really dig into were the drinks. I had screwdriver, or three, and relaxed enough to just enjoy the surroundings. I couldn't remember the last time I had been to a party and had enjoyed the company and the atmosphere.
Although the music was lively at times, no one danced. They really weren't those kind of people, not anymore I guess. But they did talk and laugh and drink and laugh some more. It was an easy and friendly atmosphere, one born of trust and acceptance. I realized now that this was something I could never find before, either in my old life or at the Fraternity. This was unique to these people. This was father's legacy. This was what he had fought for. This was what he had died for. And you know what, as I looked around the large hall, I realized that they were worth it.
Yeah, maybe I'd had a little too much to drink.
Mage came over to where I was sitting by myself at one of the tables. She had a bottle of whiskey in her hand and she wavered slightly when she stopped in front of me. "Hey, honey. Why you sitting here all by yourself?"
I shrugged. "Just enjoying the show."
She laughed. "You know, you get extra credit for class participation."
It was an odd statement. "Yeah, well, I never was one for socializing."
"Jesus Christ, you'll fit right in with most of these guys." She grabbed at the sleeve of my black sweatshirt. "C'mon. Lets go get some air."
I nodded, thinking that that sounded like a good idea. We walked across the room, past the loud music and even louder voices to the balcony that overlooked the courtyard. It wasn't late, maybe 11, but it looked later out here. With no city lights to brighten the sky, the night looked darker. It also looked more peaceful. I'd spent most of my life in a city, so it was odd not to have the loud sirens and noisy trains outside my house at night. But I was beginning to really like it.
There seemed to be balconies everywhere in this fucking place that was more than one floor up. Guess the original builders liked looking over the land, not that I could blame them. Everywhere you looked outside, you got a great view. The cold breeze that swept up from the grassy plains felt good against my face, the warmth of the fire from inside against my back kept me from being too chilled. It was a nice combination. The moon was half-full outside and its glow was surprisingly bright in the isolated land. Even the thrum of the music and barks of laughter sounded distant now. It felt peaceful out here.
I leaned against the stone ledge, nursing my fourth screwdriver, well on my way to drunk but not incoherent. "Why do I have the feeling that you're the one responsible for all of this?"
Mage chuckled and leaned against the stone herself, albeit less gracefully. And that's saying something. "I claim nothing."
I snorted. "So . . . where's Cross?"
She shrugged. "Not his scene. He's probably upstairs in the library with Pekwarsky, making plans for god knows what."
Hm. I wasn't quite sure why I felt so disappointed. Or maybe I did. "You guys do this a lot?"
"Throw parties? Not very often. Maybe once or twice a month. It helps to keep up morale."
I swallowed half my drink. "The Fraternity doesn't do it."
"We try stay human. Being human means feeling everything; pain, fear, grief, anger. We need an outlet every once and a while. The Fraternity . . . well, you know, honey. You have to shut off the human side of you to function."
It was a vague answer, but we were both drinking and I'd ask her to elaborate later. I'd learned about the differences between these people and the members of the Fraternity even more over the past week and a half that I'd been here. I'd taken those baths and the powdered drinks and within two days I was almost back to my normal strength. I still felt a little sluggish, but Cross said that that it could take weeks for the toxin to fully disappear from my muscular system. But that didn't stop me from practicing. I practiced guns with Mage. Tinga, the Asian woman who had tried to make me feel welcome on the first day, tried to teach me Muay Thai (Thai kickboxing) every day. My reflexes were slower than I'd like, but I was dealing with it.
It was strange not getting pain in return for failure everyday.
The only person I hadn't trained with so far was Cross. Mage had told me that he was the best at some form of martial arts called Aikido, which was an efficient way to stop an attack while preventing injury to the attacker. That explained the holds he got on me while we were on the train and in the room. But I knew he was avoiding training me, I just couldn't figure out why. He wasn't avoiding me, just the training. We ate together - with Mage - and talked about mundane stuff.
"Why won't Cross train me?" I wasn't sure Mage would answer me but she was pretty far gone.
She frowned. "Not sure."
"Do you have an idea?"
She sighed, her jovial mood turning into frustration. "Why don't you just ask him?"
Apparently, frustration was contagious. "What makes you think he'll tell me?"
Mage looked at me, her dark eyes assessing me with a precision I hadn't known she possessed in such a state. "You really don't know, do you?" At my confused silence, she continued. "He'd do anything for you, honey. Cross is in love in with you. Has been for a long time."
Jesus, you never quite knew what was going to come out of these people's mouths around here. I just stared at her, unable to fully comprehend what she'd told me. Cross was in love with me? How? Why? It just didn't make any sense. I wanted to think that it was just a part of a drunk's delusional ranting but I knew it wasn't. Sometimes the truth came out when alcohol was involved and, judging from the horrified look on her face, Mage had just been very truthful.
She opened her mouth a few times, for once at a loss for what to say. Finally, she settled on. "Wesley-"
I didn't want to hear it. "I gotta go."
I downed the rest of the drink and walked quickly away from her and the rest of the party to the safety and isolation of my room.
There was a hesitant knock on the door and I heard Pekwarsky grunt in irritation. I smiled, knowing that it most likely an inebriated colleague coming to chat. It would be worth it to see just how annoyed Pekwarsky would get before he kicked said person out of the room and back into the party. I knew that the old man loathed the noise but understood the necessity. It didn't mean he had to like it. Personally, I didn't have an opinion one way or the other.
I had toyed with the idea of going down to keep Wesley company but had decided against it. The boy should spend some time with the others, learn that he has friends here. Besides, it was getting harder and harder to remain platonic with him. I had carefully kept the conversations neutral, speaking about the history of the lands and the Fraternity. I had also avoided training him, something I wasn't ready to approach with him yet. While the idea of touching him for hours was achingly appealing, it was not a good idea right now. Unfortunately, I believed that he was beginning to notice that.
I called out to the door and the person entered. Mage looked extremely nervous as she hovered in the doorway. I sat up in my chair, the books forgotten as they slid to the ground.
"What is it?"
Pekwarsky tensed next to me as well but Mage shook her vigorously. "No, no. Nothing like that. Every thing's fine. Well, sort of. Its . . . a personal thing. Can I talk to you, Cross?"
The use of my name increased my unease. Mage was known for her affectionate use of pet names. If she was abandoning the practice, it wasn't for a good reason. I stood up and followed Mage outside the room and closed the door. She reeked of alcohol, still clutching a bottle of some dark liquid. She swayed slightly and looked away. My patience was wearing thin. And I had a nagging feeling about whom this about.
She looked up at me. "Uh, Wesley's upset and I thought you should go talk to him."
I frowned at her. She was hiding something. "Why is he upset?"
Mage shrugged. "He wouldn't say. Not to me."
Knowing I would not get anymore information from the woman, I walked away from her, down towards Wesley's room.
I knocked softly on the door, the silence in the hall making the normally quiet noise seem loud. There was no answer and I hadn't expected one. Closing the door behind me, I walked towards the lone figure that stood outside on the balcony. The thick, dark curtains billowed lightly in the night breeze, an effect as ancient as the castle itself. Wesley was in his usual position of leaning forward on the railing, staring out over the landscape as if he couldn't get enough of the tranquility of this place. Perhaps here, he could finally attain the peace that his father had wanted so badly for him to have, however briefly.
He didn't turn around as I moved to stand next to him, although he knew that I was there. But I didn't move any closer to him, sensing the tension rolling off him in waves. Mage had been right; he was upset. He had a glass in his hand, half full of what smelled of orange juice and vodka. How much had he had to drink? But he didn't seem drunk. So I turned to look out over the mountains and waited for him to speak, knowing that it was inevitable. It was longer than I had expected.
"Mage said that you're in love with me. Have been for years." His voice was so quiet, I almost couldn't hear him.
I was shocked into silence, unable to say anything. My most guarded secret had been revealed to the one person I had been determined to keep it from. The logical part of me had known that it would eventually have been revealed to him now that he was living here, but I had thought that I would have more time. Time to prepare, time to deny. I wasn't ready to be blind-sided. I supposed it was only fair. Wesley had been plunged into one secret after another, it was about time he had company in the uncomfortableness.
He didn't look at me but his voice was so soft. "Is it true?"
For the briefest of moments I considered denying it. I could say that it was a lie and that Mage had been mistaken. Then we could forget about it and move on. But I was not altruistic; I needed him to know. The secret had been plaguing me for years now. Wesley had faced so many truths, its about time that I faced mine. And maybe, perhaps, he would find some comfort in the fact that someone had cared about him. That he was worth something to someone; as something other than a pawn.
I didn't expect the shaky breath and choked laughed. I turned to look at him and saw the pained expression on his face as he continued to stare out onto the serene lands
"How?" There was a genuine bitterness in his whisper, a hollow laugh at the end this time. "How can you love me? You don't even know me."
And there was the problem for him. Everyone who had known him, had betrayed him in some way. His mother, who had loved him, but had died screaming obscenities at him. His girlfriend had cheated on him, calling him worthless. His boss had belittled him and his best friend had screwed his girlfriend. The Fraternity . . . He thought that something was wrong with him, that he either attracted the untrustworthy or was genuinely unworthy himself. I didn't know how to do this, how to help. So, I decided to tell the truth.
"I know that you go to the restaurant by your work every Monday and Wednesday and order a hamburger. The waitress seems to bring you cheeseburgers more often than not but you don't say anything, just take the cheese off. You sit by the window so that you can watch the people walk by as they come home from work. You prefer to just walk into work and go up to your desk, but if someone says something to you, you respond with a smile just to be nice. "
I could feel his eyes on me, but couldn't force myself to meet his gaze. I knew that what I was saying was very personal and I wasn't quite sure how he would take the invasion into his privacy. But I had come so far, I couldn't back down now.
"You only visit your mother's grave on her birthday, choosing to celebrate her life rather than her death. You talk to her for about an hour and do not cry. But on the anniversary of her death, you wake up, go into your bathroom, turn on the faucet so that no one will hear you and cry for about half an hour until your girlfriend's alarm goes off."
I didn't have to look at him to know that he was crying now. I could feel it, surrounding him. At least it wasn't the painful confusion of the first night here or the bitter grief of the day he'd learned the truth about his father. And I had finally said what had been plaguing my thoughts about him from the first day that I had moved into the apartment across from his and watched him get ready for bed. Even through the mundane tasks of brushing teeth, locking doors and watching television, all of this had been obvious in his every move. The loneliness and isolation. He didn't belong in their world but he had been forced to exist as an outcast within it. He hadn't truly understood why he felt the way he did, now he knew the truth.
"And even though you know that your friend is sleeping with your girlfriend, you don't confront either of them. Not because you don't care, but because you don't want them to leave. You don't want to be alone."
I did turn to look at him then, I owed him that. The tears are there, but while his blue eyes, bright even in this half light, looked up at me in sadness, it was not despair. I was grateful for that small reprieve for him. And relieved that he did not seem to take my intimate knowledge of his personal life negatively. I had never watched him while he had showered or been with his girlfriend, a line I wouldn't transgress, but the invasion of privacy was still there. I was not sure I would have been so understanding.
Then he kissed me.
It was messy and rushed, full of passion and something akin to desperation. I returned the kiss, the taste of him sparking the memories of wild groping and numbing passion. He pushed me back up against the wall next to the open door, moaning into my mouth as our tongues met. I could taste the salty tears on his lips and it helped bring me back to reality. With a great deal more difficulty than I would have thought, I broke the kiss and gently pushed him back.
He went to kiss me again but I kept him back, even though it was starting to ache to do so. He was panting and looked up at me, his eyes dark with arousal and something else. He twisted around and managed to shove me into the room. The boy was surprisingly strong and skilled and I stumbled a little. I caught my balance just inside the room and he grabbed my shirt, coming up to crush his lips against mine again. Damn. He tasted good and his body felt amazing pressed up into me. But I pressed my hand into his chest again, pushing him back. He may be strong, but I was stronger.
"Please." The despondent tone in his voice made my words die in my throat. He gazed up a me, eyes wide, looking lost. "I just want to feel this."
I kissed him, pulling him close, trying to keep him away from his demons and knowing the futility of the effort. There were some things that they took from him that he'll never get back. I started backing him towards the bed, and he followed me, trusting me completely not to let him trip or fall. As we collapsed onto the soft bed, I knew that the outside could world could wait.