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Lies and Half-Truths, (5/?)

Title: Lies and Half-Truths (5/?)
Fandom: Wanted
Pairing: Welsey/ Cross (Not Relatives)
Author: Slayerknight2@aol.com
Rating: NC-17
Spoilers: For the movie
Warnings: AU, violence, language, h/c, m/m
Summary: While Wesley tries to come to terms with the new realities of his life, Mage tells the horrific secret of her past.

-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. So I decided to share the hurt a little, this time its Mage that tells the tale of woe. This is a little change in the format, cause I got a little bored with the old one so it jumps around a little. There will be sex in it. But its at the end with a cliff hanger. Just bear with me. It does work.

-Some of you guys asked what Mage looks like. She looks like Susan Sarandon, circa now. Think of her personality in movies like Thelma and Louise and The Client.

-I used // to indicate flashbacks.

-small mention of implicit child death.

Extra Extra Notes: Hey Paula, providing with excellent feedback for my muse again. Thank you!

Disclaimers: Not mine! The characters and the movie belong to the studios and producers.

Further Disclaimers: The first quote is by Dorothy Allison, and belongs to her and not by me. It is a beautiful one and very true. The one at the end of the fic installment is by Aldus Huxley, another incredible quote and perfect for this fic and installment and fits the ending of the chapter A very haunting one if you think about it.



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"Suffering does not ennoble. It destroys. To resist destruction, self-hatred, or lifelong hopelessness, we have to throw off the conditioning of being despised, the fear of becoming the they that is talked about so dismissively, to refuse lying myths and easy moralities, to see ourselves as human, flawed, and extraordinary. All of us—extraordinary.”
-Dorothy Allison

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Wesley






"Motherfucker!"

I slammed the door behind me with enough force to rattle the glass on the windows across the room. I stalked around the medium-sized room, struggling to find an outlet for the pure rage that surged through my veins. I hadn't felt this kind of fury for - well, I don't think I ever have. A wooden table stood off to the corner of the room, small and plain looking with a lone book and and a glass of water on it. There was also a ceramic vase with an assortment of flowers on it. Perfect.

The vase shattered against the wall with a satisfying clang accompanied soon by the glass and book. Well, the book wasn't as good, just kinda thumped and fell to the ground. But, still, it was the chance to throw something. Feeling marginally better, I turned when the door opened, knowing exactly who I'd find. Only one person would have cared enough to follow me up here when I was in that bad of a mood.

She did a quick glance around the room, a rueful look on her face. "You know, I liked that vase. Bought it in Mexico when I killed an hombre who was terrorizing a local village."

I snorted and stalked over to the windows, almost breaking the glass as I flung them open. The cold breeze helped the burning in my face but not the searing rage in my body. How the hell could he just leave? Just go? By himself. What the hell was he thinking? Especially after last night . . .

Mage didn't follow me to the other side of the room and I was grateful for that. I didn't want a hug or a " it'll be alright." I wanted to hit something or shoot something but neither was an option. Handler and a few of the guys were in the practice areas shooting and the floor mats were all occupied. The mornings were the busiest around here. I wasn't a morning person so that usually wasn't a problem. Now it was a fucking thorn in my side.

"Wanna wrestle?"

I ignored her.

Realizing humor wouldn't work, she tried another tactic. "We could try target practice. Waiting in line isn't fun, kiddo, but its not like Disney. It doesn't take that long to get your turn."

Again, I didn't answer her; like I was some petulant child. I just wanted her to go away. I really didn't want company right now.

She sighed. "I get why you're angry, hon, but this isn't the way we do things around here. He won't get hurt."

He left. That's all that I could think about and I really didn't feel like sharing my neurotic feelings with her right now. I wanted him; here with me. It was a childish and insecure thought but it was mine.

"You catch a cold over there and he'll have my hide, you know that right?"

I also knew that the baths can get rid of those, too. It just takes a few days instead of hours. Again, I didn't care. I couldn't care about anything else. I just. . .

She walked over and I tensed immediately feeling as if it was an intrusion into my personal space. She sighed and touched my shoulder. I flinched at the unwelcome contact and shrugged it away, resisting the urge to slug her. It was an awful, hideous thought and that was the only thing that stopped me. The woman had been nothing but kind to me in a time when I had needed it the most. God, I was really was a fucked up person.

Mage backed away from me, as if she sensed my thoughts. I glanced at her in worry, but I didn't see fear, only sadness. Understanding. How the hell could she understand this? I couldn't get it?

She turned to the fire that was lit in the corner. Every room in the castle seemed to have a fireplace that was always lit. I wasn't sure why. Maybe it was convenience, maybe it was welcoming. I haven't figured it out yet. But these people sure do love their fires. Then again, maybe its the warmth and the light that never seems to burn out, constantly chasing away the darkness.

Mage sat down on one of the couches in front of the fire. I watched her movements, something about her mood signaling that there was a change. Silence. That wasn't good. From the short time I'd known her, Mage had seemed to enjoy silence as much I did. If she was allowing it to fill the room, something wasn't right. I walked over to her and gingerly sat down on the opposite side of the couch, unsure that I would be welcome. When she smiled gently at me, I relaxed, but still didn't speak.

At least she wasn't mad at me.

But I was still mad at Cross.

I waited, knowing that Mage would eventually tell me why she made me sit here. So, I looked down at the couch and fiddled with grey strands. The worn material spoke of its frequent usage. I wondered how long they've used this place as a temporary sanctuary. Cross had said that this place was one of many half-way points that they used around the world and that their main base was in Japan. But I hadn't had the chance to ask him much. And the bitterness just kept on coming.

Soon enough she spoke up. "You can't spend your life worrying about what you might lose, Wesley. I know that's hard, especially now that you've got someone that's really worth something to you."

Her voice wasn't quiet or soft, just matter-of-fact, like when she talked to me about training.

But I just really shocked her and didn't say anything or even look up.

I knew she wouldn't take offense and she didn't. But she did sigh and was quiet for a minute.

"I kept staring at that damn stick for almost five minutes."

I frowned at looked up at her. Where the hell had that come from?

But she was staring into the fire, an amused expression on her face, clearly lost in a memory.

"I remember thinking that I couldn't be just turning 18 and be pregnant all at the same time. I hadn't had any big plans, but a kid hadn't been in the cards that early either. I just stared at that fucking stick for five goddamn minutes like I could turn it back from the pink strip to plain white again. But, nothing. It remained fucking pink."

Mage leaned back in the couch, the old furniture creaking. But she kept her eyes focused on the fire a few feet feet in front of us. I couldn't help but think she didn't see anything here at all, lost in the memories of her past. "Four days later, Sloan paid me a visit. He was young then, handsome thing. And just as suave. He said, very charmingly, that my boyfriend would never care for the child and that I should leave this life and join his Fraternity. He said that the baby could be ''taken care of' immediately and then I could join in a few days. I told him I needed some time to think. Now, I was all sorts of confused and panicked, hon. I was just a kid."

I debated actually saying something to her. I didn't judge her; I would never judge her. I wouldn't have cared about what choice she had made. But I knew I should be quiet. This was hard for her to tell and she deserved my silence.

"But then I told my boyfriend and he was a good man. He started crying and got down on his knees right then and there and proposed. Nine months later, I had a baby boy and a husband who loved me. I told Sloan I'd reconsider his offer later, when my boy was older, that I wanted to be with my family right now. I never thought I'd be the type of gal that would be a family woman but I was. My husband made me laugh and my kid drew me great pictures that I hung on my fridge. "

She paused and my heart sank. In the back of my mind, I'd known that this story hadn't had a happy ending. I hadn't seen any kids around here or heard any stories from her. But it was hard to here the actual details. It must be even harder to have experienced them. She swallowed and spoke in an even tone; not overly emotional, but tired, almost ironic. It reminded me a lot of Fox's.

"Two days after my son's third birthday, I was working the evening shift at the diner when the police showed up. Funny thing. The moment they walked through the doors, I knew. I knew. Home invasion, they said. Been various break-ins along the city lines in the past few months. I went to the morgue, just to be sure, you know. Two bullets to the head; quick. "

There was another pause. This time, I turned to stare into the fire as well seeking some comfort in the ancient source of warmth as the chill of human cruelty filled the room.

"I never got to say good-bye and I never went back into our home again. The police continued ask, confused about why I wouldn't at least get some of our things from the building. They just couldn't understand. But why would I want physical objects to remind me of everything that I've lost? I have my memories and they are all I need. And all that I can handle. I just wanted to start over. So I retreated to the Fraternity, morphing my anger and helplessness into force and power. "

A wry smile graced her pretty features that was totally out of place with her next words which shocked the hell outta me.

"Leave it to your father to be the one to find out that it was Sloan, himself, who murdered them on the Fraternity leader's orders."

I stared at her, completely horrified for the third time in less then two weeks.

She looked over at me finally. "Oh, c'mon. You can't really be that surprised. I wasn't when Allan finally told me. I guess I never really wanted to believe it but when he finally said it, I knew the truth. He never had to show me the records, but he did."

Okay, I should be sensitive. "How can you be so - "

Mage shrugged. "Its been over 30 years, kiddo. I'm no Dalai Lama, but it was long time ago. You can't keep something like that festering for so long. It'll eat you alive. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about them but their deaths are not my life. Your father, Cross, all the kids downstairs, even Pekwarsky and especially you; I fight for all of ya."

After a confession like that, I knew I owed her something in return. I couldn't tell her everything; my mind had been spinning for weeks now, ever since Fox's car had sped down the freeway. But Mage had told me the most personal secret she had, a ghost that haunted her spirit. No it didn't haunt her, she didn't didn't let it. She had accepted what the 'Fates' had dealt her and had defied them. She didn't suffer at their whim. She lived in peace from the darkness of her past.

I wished I could be that strong.

"I can't lose him, Mage. I just found him."

She offered me a sad smile before the commotion outside caught our attention. Both our hands went to our guns, clipped to our belts. It was slightly paranoid to carry a gun around in such an isolated complex but experience had taught many here to err on the side of caution. There were also loaded shotguns under each table in the warmly lit rooms. Very cozy in our side of The Prairie. I went to the side of the window, pressing my back to the wall. Mage took up the other side, gun drawn up to her face. I turned just slightly to glance out the window, my body tensed to jump back into the relative safety of the room if gunfire sprayed up.

Handler stepped into view of the cramped alleyway below us. He grinned up at us, his dark eyes full of amusement. "Unclench, guys. No Frat brats or aliens from outer space or cannibals."

Cannibals? Wouldn't that just make my year.

"You're such an ass." Mage leaned out the window beside me, nodding at the Indian man below us.

He shrugged. "Sorry, Wesley. Keep forgetting you're new around here. Gotta get used to me real quick, kid."

I really wished they'd stop calling me that. Handler couldn't be more than 30. Maybe it had more to do with my inexperience with this world than actual age.

Tinga bounced gracefully two stories down from the ledge below us onto the stone alleyway. She landed with a soft grunt and the same difficulty as an Olympic gymnast who just nailed a landing. I stared in amazement but the others looked nonplussed. Her dark hair shined in the sunlight as she turned to look up at me. "The scouts are back."

The adrenaline I had felt just moments before at the thought of an attack propelled me from the window and I ran down the steps, barely registering the directions that I was going. The twists and turns flowed together. Later, I wouldn't be able to explain to Cross and Mage how I had found my way to the front of the castle, but I had. Cross had said that the extra adrenaline released from our hearts sped up our minds, increasing our memories when the need arose. Well, the need had arisen.

Finally, I reached the end of the hallway and the sunlight nearly blinded me. The sudden heat of the of the mid-day sun was in pleasant contrast to the cold air and chilling breeze that swept through the medieval courtyard. I stopped short a few steps into it, suddenly unsure of what to do next. There was a small crowd near the front entrance. The doors were shut but the voices were loud, echoing off the ancient stone structures that had endured many battles and were sure to withstand many more to come.

I raised a hand above my face to block out the sun and to see better. Cross was there, with Pekwarsky and everyone else in the compound. There were so many voices speaking over each other, it was hard to make out what they were talking about. But they hadn't seen me yet. I was kinda grateful for that. It looked a little chaotic over there.

"You know, you could hear a lot better if you moved a little bit closer."

Mage had materialized at my side, as if from nowhere. She was looking over at them with trepidation as well. She had known these guys for a long time and she could read their moods. If she was hesitant to hear what they had to say, it couldn't be good. But she changed the subject.

"Also, if you want to yell at him you're going to have to get a hell of a lot closer, 'cause I don't think he can hear you from here, hon."

I bit my lower lip in an effort to distract myself from my frayed nerves. All I'd wanted all morning was to be near him. Now that he was a few yards away, my heart rate was notching up into the 400-rate. And not in the fun way. Mage leaned towards me.

"You ever think that maybe he needs rescuing this time."

The small mob scene did look intensive. I took a deep breath and let it out, and tried to steel my nerves. No such luck. I clenched my fists in an effort to stop them from shaking and walked slowly towards the crowd. No one really paid any attention to me the entire time, but him. Pekwarsky looked over a few times but that was it. Everyone else was caught up in the news and heated debates. He noticed, though.

Cross looked up almost immediately when I started to walk over. His expression was blank, the same neutral one he'd worn on that nightmare of a day when Pekwarsky had told me the truth about my father. It was a practiced mask, one that he would probably never unlearn. It only increased my frustration and nervousness. What the hell had he been thinking? What the hell was he thinking?

I stopped about a foot in front of him. Cross returned my accusatory glare evenly, neither accepting nor reflecting it. Kinda impressive. I knew I looked pissed off and nervous and probably a million other things. I would never be able to learn how to hide my feelings, my thoughts. I wasn't sure I would ever want to. The training I'd had to endure to be able to take a human life was intense. What had these people gone through to be able to hide everything at a moment's notice? What had they had to sacrifice to learn that skill? I wasn't sure I was ready for that.

I had been so angry for hours at him for just taking off. I'd woken up to find him gone. He wasn't in the bed and he wasn't in the compound. I had gone down to the cafeteria to find that he had left before dawn to carry out a mission for Pekwarsky. When would he be back? Where did he go? Why did he go by himself? What if he gets hurt? No one gave me any answers. And it had ate away at me worse than the toxin had.

Along with the anger, the memories of the fear that had also plagued me this morning came rushing back to me. What if he had be hurt? And he had been alone. My rage flowed out of me like the sand in an hour glass, replacing itself with relief. I closed the distance between us, wrapping my arms around his neck, pulling him close to me. I buried my face into his shoulder, breathing in the smell of worn leather, clean soap and the various smells of the city.

His hands moved over my back, soothing the tense muscles and holding me close. One of his hands came up to comb up through my hair as he rested his cheek on my head. I could feel him relax against me. My hands tightened on his neck. I wanted to know what had happened.

Damnit. Stay with me this time.

Now that my racing pulse was finally beginning to slow down, the voices around me were finally going from Charlie Brown's teacher to actual human speech. But we still didn't move.

Handler's voice was the first I made out, a crisp accent. ""That was quick."

"We just went into the city." I think that was Elite, a blonde city native from Amsterdam. She was the only person who went out into the city, other than Cross. She looked to be in her mid-forties.

"You didn't tell anyone you were going on a scouting mission." Handler sounded as offended as I felt.

"Your presence was not required on the missions, neither was your permission."

I turned my head to look over at Pekwarsky, finally looking over at the group. There was more than the usual bite in the older man's words. There was also a tension that ran through this group right now that felt as strong as the fall breeze that continued to flow through the spacious courtyard. It was a stressed but unfocused atmosphere. Weird.

"How'd it go, Cross?" Mage was looking over us with a soft look.

His fingers were still casually combing through my hair as he spoke but I didn't miss the hesitation in his voice. "My target was eliminated. He was harder to isolate from his associates than we had anticipated. But, its done."

A man, uh, I couldn't remember his name, took the bags at Cross and Elite's feet. Tinga spoke up, gracefully side-stepping the man who easily carried the luggage that was probably weighed down with a variety of lethal weaponry. "What about you, Elite?"

"My target wasn't so bad. I didn't have to kill him; just watch. The man was boring as all fuck. Oh, no. He did get interesting when he decided to pick up a hooker for a morning orgasm before work. The Red Light district does have good food, though."

Tinga snorted. "I still don't get why we spy on these guys in Europe. If they have connections to the Fraternity, why don't we just eliminate them. Why do we kill some and watch others amuse themselves?"

"This weather is beginning to get tiresome. Why don't we continue this conversation inside?"

Pekwarsky interruption sounded more irritated than logical. It was a diversion tactic and we all knew it. But if the old guy wasn't going to spill it, we weren't going to get anything. I'd learned that this morning after lots of yelling and throwing things. The dull ache in my hand reminded me of the deep gash still there. Cross's arms tightened around me briefly before he released me and we followed the small group into the relative warmth of the castle.

I knew we wouldn't stay in this place for much longer but I was really starting to like it here. Even though, with every day that passes, the weather got colder outside, to the point where your hands would freeze at night if you were outside for more than a few minutes, the constant flow of heating vents and fireplaces kept the inside comfortably warm and it was almost always a symbiotic balance. The old-time atmosphere was what truly got to me about it. The castle was so old, I could let my childhood fantasies about medeviel dragons and warriors and kings run amok in my mind when I wandered around the grounds. When I stepped out onto the grass I could think of the farmers all those years ago who had stepped in that very same spot. What had they looked like? What had they been doing? Had their king been a good man? Was there a war going on?

It was nice to be lost in a make-believe world, if only for a little while.

Once inside, the others filed off in miscellaneous directions. Pekwarsky started up the separate staircase that would lead up to his study. He stopped when he realized that Cross had not followed him up. He looked down at the group that remained at the bottom. Mage, Cross, and I all stood uncomfortably at the junction, no one stating the obvious. Mage seemed to stay out of some sense of loyalty to us. Pekwarsky let out a sigh, making him seem older than he was, as he if was used to the pettiness of those younger than him.

"Ten minutes."

It was more his tone than his answer that made me smile. I noticed a similar reaction in Mage but none from Cross. Yeah, probably the smartest move. Cross and I made our way to my room - always my room, I wasn't sure why - and I closed the door behind me. It shut with a resounding click and the ever-present silence once again took its comfortable seat in the room. You know, I had been surrounded by assholes my whole life who never shut-up. Now that I was around people I actually wanted to talk to, good people, there was this awkwardness and silence all the time. I hated it.

Cross stood in the middle of the room and met my gaze evenly. Okay, so he probably didn't know what to expect from me now. I'd pulled one hell of a 180 out there and I wasn't sure what to do now. I leaned back against the doorframe, gaining some comfort from the solid structure.

"I'm sorry."

I shrugged at the simple statement from him. I felt stupid now for acting like such a girl about it. He wasn't my boyfriend and we didn't live normal lives. Shit happens. This kinda shit will happen. I was just gonna have to deal with it. If Mage could deal with the shit that happened to her, I could live with this. I was gonna have to.

"I was acting like a child. Its just taking me a while to get used to this life. The rules keep changing."

He nodded at me. It seemed like he understood. He definitely did last night. . . .

I glanced down at the floor. "Will this get easier?"

He didn't answer me.

A minute went by before he spoke again. "Let me see your hand."

I looked up at him in surprise. He simply gestured towards the bed and I complied. I sat down as he went into the bathroom to get a first aide kit. As he bandaged my hand, I finally asked him the question that had first occurred to me last night

"How did you know?"

He looked up at me for a moment before continuing his task. "About what?"

"About everything. How did you know my hand was hurt? I wrapped it up with tissues so it wasn't bleeding everywhere. How did you know I didn't like silence? How did you about me last night? How did you know about all of it?"



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Cross






The wound in his hand wasn't deep. It would not take long for the baths to heal it but that could wait until later. I doubted I would be able to convince to go now. I wanted to stay with him; there's a tenseness in his body and nervousness in his eyes. He knew what we all knew now. That something was wrong around here. Pekwarsky had sent Elite and I on the missions this morning in hopes to prevent the others from finding out. We had wanted to prevent this kind of paranoia. There was already enough evidence for that. Now, everyone was on edge. We couldn't leave the castle yet but we were going to run out of time. Today had confirmed that.

It was a fine line we were toeing and we were beginning to fall.

I wanted to stay with him, to just be close to him; a calming presence for my own nerves, but my skin was itching to get back to Pekwarsky. We needed to figure this out. This was soaring out of control and everyone in this place could die if we didn't plan this just right and yet we were no closer to a solution. And having Wesley here only increased the danger.

I tried to think about all of this but he fell silent after his words. He really did want an answer. Memories of last night finally played before me . . . .

///////////

We collapsed onto the bed, his body surging up into mine, seeking greater contact. His hands were pulling frantically at my jacket, dragging my shirt; seeking skin and touch and connection. He pulled at my belt and I knew this wouldn't be one of those extremely pleasant, leisurely love-making sessions where you spent time learning the other's body, the way the muscles moved, the sensitive spots. No, this was desperate and fast and rough. But it was needed. For both of us. I struggled to tug his sweater off, the white shirt underneath coming off a little easier.

His mouth never left mine, a constant source of passion and connection. I groaned again when his tongue pressed against mine and I tasted him more. Damnit, I wanted this to last longer. I've watched him for years, never imagining I'd ever have him, that he would ever know me. Now that he was here, he was still a stranger. But I could feel from the way that he was straining against me, the frantic way his hands were running over my body, the way he clung to my back. He ground his hips into mine and I groaned as our erections pressed together.

He moaned loudly into my shoulder and I leaned over to the nightstand and opened the drawer to grab the vaseline. The brief break allowed me to recollect my thoughts, or rather to get control of them. I leaned over onto the side of Wesley. He gave me a slightly panicked look but I kissed him. I just wanted to slow things down a bit. At least this part. This part had to be slow. It would be.

I pulled back a little, still close to him. He shifted his legs and I opened the container. I touched him and he tensed at the contact.

"How long has it been?"

"What?" His voice was hoarse, but I could feel him relaxing.

"Since you've been with a man. How long has it been?"

He stiffened in surprise and looked up at me, his blue eyes dark in in the dimly lit room. "How did you know I've been with guys before?"

I caressed his forehead with my free hand and he relaxed again, remembering. "The way you move, the way you react."

He leaned up a little and kissed me. Even though the kiss was as rough as before, Wesley relaxed. His hand came up and combed through my hair, holding me close. This connection was something he needed, I'd learned that last time. He needed this as a source of something I wasn't quite sure of. But if he hungered for this link, some interconnection, he could have it.

In a few minutes, he was ready or as as long as he was willing to wait. He was shorter than me so it would make the angle easier. He went to turn over but I wanted to watch him. He also moved back to put his legs over my shoulders but I stopped him. He gave me an annoyed look. I kissed him, trying to soothe his nerves and calm the raging darkness that seemed to be surrounding him tonight. I'd been thinking about it for the past few minutes. He might not be ready for it but it might be what he needed.

But I started off in a familiar position, pushing his legs up high up along my sides and pressed in slowly, carefully. He gritted his teeth, and grabbed at my shoulders. He was so hot and tight and I had to close my eyes just to center myself. But he didn't even want time to adjust. He grunted into my ear, licking it, trying to get me to move. I complied, moving back and forward. He panted and clung to me tighter, struggling to push back. We moved that way for a few minutes before I stopped.

He looked up at me, his eyes wide, his breathing ragged. I shifted my knees under him and sat up. He clung to me, yelping in surprise at the sudden maneuver. I leaned back slightly, more than I would if he was a woman. It wasn't uncomfortable; his smaller stature and height made it made easier, he weighed even less than he looked. He was lean muscle, strong but sleek, not bulky.

I wasn't sure how he would adjust to this. Not physically. It felt great physically. It was the emotion. I had only tried this once and hadn't enjoyed it much. It had felt empty but that had been because of the person I had been with. Wesley was different, in an infinite amount of ways. This was different.

It was a strong sense of intimacy. There were no sheets to cling to or pillows to hide in. There was no mattress to rest against. It was just me and him. If we wanted to do this, we'd have to stay connected; he would have to hold onto me, trust me. And I would have to do the same.

My hands moved to rub his back, seeking to soothe the vague tremors that radiated through him. Wesley pulled back from where he had been panting into my neck. He looked down at me as his breathing slowed. His fingertips moved over my face with featherlight touches. I watched him; his expression had softened, his eyes held an almost child-like curiosity, like he didn't believe I was really there with him.

I thrusted up a little once and he gasped, closing his eyes shut tightly. I knew it wasn't from pain. I kept holding him close, rubbing his back, avoiding touching his cock, which was still hard against my stomach. I had to wait just a moment more. He had to move with me. I thrusted up again and his hands gripped my shoulders. I stopped as he took calming breaths. After a moment, he opened his eyes and looked down at me. It was strange. He was a good five inches shorter than me, but this angle had him a few inches above me. This time he moved first.

He let out a shaky breath and I grasped his cock. He jerked and moaned, a harsh noise in the room, that was joining others. We started to move together, both using our strength. I hardly noticed past the acute pleasure that was filling every nerve in my body. His hands were touching my face again, and he was kissing me. It was different than before. The desperation had been tempered somewhat, calmed. I could still taste the echo of its bittersweetness in the kiss but it wasn't the dominant taste. Its was exploration, seeking. It was open and trusting.

And it was ending too soon.

He broke the kiss and cried out when he came, his hands gripping my shoulders for more than support. That tore my own orgasm from me by surprise and I shouted, the noises muffled as I buried my face in his neck. The intensity of it all left us both exhausted and I gently eased us back down onto the bed. I used a wet towel by the bed - probably from his shower this morning - and dried us off. He helped a little and then reached for me. I hesitated.

Looking around, I located our t- shirts and boxers. He didn't question me but put them on, following my lead. I finally moved onto the bed next to him and he curled up next to me. I wrapped my arms around him, feeling that knot inside of me unfurl again. There was something about this man that soothed me. I had never thought that I needed solace until I had been around him, until I had held him. Now that I knew what's it was like, it was impossible to forget that comfort.

My hands were running random patterns over his back. The muscles glided under my touch as my fingers moved over the soft cotton fabric. I turned my head slightly to breathe in the crisp, clean smell of the shampoo from his morning shower.

"Are you alright?"

It was the first time we'd spoken in almost an hour and the atmosphere had changed drastically to something much more pleasant.

He nodded and moved closer to me. I was worried he was trying to get warmer, concerned that perhaps the sweat was now drying in the cold air. I tried to reach the covers but he beat me to it. The thick, heavy material felt comforting and I pulled him close. It felt like a cocoon of warmth and shelter. His hands were caressing my right arm. I knew what he was looking at, what he was touching. But he didn't ask about the faded scar.

Instead, his fingers continued to my throat and caressed the skin there, tracing patterns in the skin.

"Are you all right?"

I frowned and he must have sensed it.

"Your hands were shaking earlier."

I spared a quick look and did notice a slight tremble still there in the aftershock. I'd never had sex like that before. There was a a vague, dull ache in my body from the strain but it was laced with the numbing pleasure. I ran my hand through his hair, feeling the damp, silky strands glide through my fingers. Soothing.

The exhaustion of the past few weeks weighed heavily on us both. Now, everything was good. Wesley was safe, here with me. We could sleep, now and rest, just for a little while. He fell asleep minutes later, clinging to me.

Everything felt quiet up here. Even the drapes billowed softly in the light breeze, the moonlight the only glow into darkened room. I couldn't even hear the music from the party up here. It had been a long time since I had actually slept with someone in my bed. He felt warm and solid against me. His breathing was deep and hypnotic, his heart beat slow and even. I listened to both, marveling at the mechanics of a human body.

I hadn't realized I'd fallen asleep until Pekwarsky touched my shoulder.

I jerked awake but he gestured for silence.

"No. There is other troubles. Come."

He was out of the room before I could respond. I looked down at Wesley, who was still asleep in my arms. I couldn't wake him. He would ask questions that I couldn't give answers to. So, I had to leave. And hope he would forgive me.

///////////////////////////////


I pressed the alcohol swab onto the wound and he didn't even flinch, the relatively minor pain to him agonizing to a normal person. I forgot that he was one of us sometimes.

"A requirement of being a Fraternity member is learning the skill of being able to read people. You must know how to read people to predict human behavior. Every movement, every expression, every tone. Clothing, postures, and choices food all define the very individual they are. It was one of my favorite things that I ever learned in that place."

He was quiet for a moment.

"Do you profile people all the time?"

I'd heard the term before and it wasn't exactly what we did, but I let the comment go. I knew what he was implying.

"No. Its more like a sonar system. I'm not actively analyzing you, Wesley. But I can pick up on certain things if they become obvious, like if you become uncomfortable or afraid."

There was a momentary pause before he spoke again. "I wasn't either last night."

I sighed. Clever. I tried to stall as I carefully bandaged his hand with some gauze. "You were upset and I did not know how else to help you. I am . . . not good with people."

"You were good with me." He must have sensed my apprehension.

I looked up at him and saw the soft smile on his face. He was rapidly becoming an exception in my life. At times I was grateful for that. At others . . . no one liked change. Humans took comfort in what was familiar. Wesley hasn't had that for a while and that was why he was vulnerable. In more ways than one. That was also one of the reasons why Pekwarsky was hesitant to move us to the Sanctuary just yet. We may all be trained killers but we had fought to regain our humanity and, therefore, regained some weakness; ties to emotional connections, to trivial things like places and personal items. It made us more powerful and more vulnerable.

"I have to go."

Wesley met my gaze evenly, cobalt eyes staring into mine, and nodded. He really did understand. If I lingered a little longer than I should have when I kissed him, neither of us mentioned it. I released his hand and stood up, leaving him on the bed.

And I walked out of the room, wanting to say a million things he wasn't ready to hear.



---------------------------------------------------------------------


Wesley





This was starting to get fucking ridiculous.

How much longer were they going to be in that fucking meeting?

I loaded another clip into my father's gun, the glint of the artificial lights playing off the metal. Normally the loud bangs would be cathartic. Now, it just felt like like I was wasting bullets. With a frustrated grunt, I aimed at the cylinder and fired another nine rounds. They soared easily around the barrier and landed on point. Maybe it was the lack of a challenge. Maybe it was because I didn't have anyone to talk to. Maybe it was because I'd been left out of an important meeting for the last eight hours.

"Nice shot."

I jumped and whirled around, pointing my gun on reflex.

Handler grinned at me but didn't look offended or frightened. "Or shots, I guess."

Blushing, I lowered the gun. "Sorry."

He shrugged. "'S'okay. Place can get kinda creepy at night."

I noticed the whiskey bottle in his hand but didn't mention it as he hovered in the doorway. He didn't sound drunk, so he must be looking for a drinking buddy. Not really in the mood for company, I turned back around and fired a few more shots.

Handler's voice rang out behind me, loud even over the sound of the bullets discharging.

"You more pissed off because you're bored or because they didn't include you in the meeting?"

I twisted around, throughly pissed off and having found a real living, breathing and very perceptive target.

This time he did put his hands up in a defensive gesture. "Hey, man, take it easy. They didn't include me, either."

Realizing the statement for what it was, my anger disappeared to bitter irony. "You know why?"

Handler shrugged, his crisp British accent in complete contrast to his hippie clothing and laid-back attitude. He'd told me a bit about growing up in his home in India, after moving from England when he was a young kid. It sounded really nice. Aside from Mage, I'd come to enjoy his company. And I was pretty sure he might have a crush on Tinga. The slight possibility of having some sort normalcy around me was nice.

"Far as I know, Pekwarsky only has Cross, Elite and Mage up there. I wouldn't get that insulted. There's only a dozen of us here."

That made sense. Still.

"I don't like not having all the information."

To my surprise, he nodded. "I get that."

It occurred to me, then, that everyone here probably knew everything that had happened with Cross, Sloan, and the Fraternity. Wonderful. So I was weak, easily manipulated, and popular around here. But no one seemed to judge me yet, which was good.

Handler finally held up the whiskey bottle. "Drown your sorrows?"

I laughed. Why not? It worked so well last night. With a sigh, I put my gun down on the table and walked out.

He led the way out of the room and up a flight of stairs. He turned to go in one direction and I paused.

"Hey, wait."

Handler stopped. "What?"

"I'm shit with directions and we're both going to be trashed. Let's set up in the cafeteria, so I can find my way back to my room when we're done."

He paused, titling his head to the side considering. A strange look passed over his face. Just when I thought he'd say no. He said, "Mage'll shoot us if she finds us drunk in there. Well, she'll shoot me."

I shrugged. "I'll defend you."

He rolled his eyes, looking even more juvenile then his 30 years. "You left your gun in the galley."

This was getting tiresome and I wanted to drink. "Then you're on your own. Are we going to do this or what?"

Handler nodded, looking put upon and walked in the direction of the cafeteria. We walked into the abandoned room. It was roughly 10pm and the others had gone off to do various other chores or hobbies. I grabbed two of the porcelain coffee mugs from the rack and brought them over to the table. Handler sat down across from me and poured filled them to the brim. And the ever-welcomed silence came again and sat itself right down next to us. I didn't understand why the cheery mood he'd been in had suddenly disappeared. I downed half the glass in an attempt to gain some liquid courage. That seemed to make him more uncomfortable.

"So, um. What made you finally leave the Fraternity?"

I was taking a hell of a risk. With Mage, I'd known that she was cool and wouldn't mind the question. I didn't know how Handler would react. But he shrugged and stared down into the mug.

"That's complicated."

I took another drink of the whiskey. It was pretty good and burned pleasantly on its way down.

"My father, right? He said something? Helped you?"

Handler brought it to his lips and took a sip. "Yeah. He brought about a lot of changes."

Okay, he really didn't want to talk about this. I decided to change the subject. Downing the rest of the glass, I poured myself another, spilling a bit over the rim.

"This is pretty good."

He stared at me for a minute before looking away and taking another sip. "You might want to slow down there."

Maybe he was right, I was feeling kinda tipsy already. But I was always a lightweight. Like a true drinker, I took another drink anyway.

"What did my father say to make you leave?"

Handler stared at me with this strange expression. "What do you mean?"

For a moment, I thought I'd done 'drunk-speak' but I wasn't drunk just dizzy. "Well, he must have said or done something to make you question the code. You know. The 'kill one to save a thousand.' What was it?"

Handler was still staring at me, a myriad of emotions playing over his face. He snorted and looked down at his mug. " 'Kill one to save a thousand.' Fox always knew how the world worked. She should know; she learned it at such a young age. 'Kill one to save a thousand.'"

A sudden wave of vertigo hit me and took in a deep breath to steady myself. Wow, this shit was strong. I strained my eyes to focus on him He looked so sad. His dark brown eyes were watching my every move, taking in my struggle. No.

Shit. Shit.

"You should look at it that way, Wesley."

I stumbled to my feet, my hand knocking the mug off the table. It shattered on the stone floor, a ominous, echoing sound. The chair landed behind me and I struggled to stay on my feet. Handler remained at the table, neither helping nor hindering my escape. As I stumbled towards the door, I finally noticed what could be my possibly fatal mistake; Handler had not drank any of the the liquid in his mug. It had been a subtle deception.

Get help. Get help. Get help. Get to him.

My heart pounded faster and faster in my chest, thundering loudly in my ears and pounding painfully against my ribcage. I knew that that would just make it worse, bring the poison, or whatever it was, quicker to my heart and to my death, but I couldn't help it. My head was really spinning now, the walls seeming to move up and down like cylinders in a machine. I was crawling on my hands and feet by now, the only way to keep my balance as I tried to make my way up the stairs. My fingers dug into the stone steps, the dirt getting under my fingernails and the coarse stone stinging my skin. I felt like the Mad Hatter was gonna pop out at any moment.

No. I was supposed to be safe here.

It seemed like forever before I got there. I slammed into the door, my body feeling like lead. I couldn't catch my breath and my chest was starting to hurt from how fast my heart was pounding. Someone opened the door, through my blurry vision I could see it wasn't Cross, and I pushed past them. I saw him a few feet away and stumbled towards him. I tripped and he caught me. He lowered me to the ground and I heard shouting.

I was clawing at him. This wasn't like anything before. I knew who was behind this and Sloan wouldn't have done this half-assed. This felt final. I could feel myself starting to die. He was holding me close and talking to me and there were all these frantic voices around me but I couldn't make out what they were saying over the pounding of my heart in my ears. I grabbed a handful of his jacket and pulled him close to make sure I had his attention.

"H - Handler."

Darkness finally clouded over my eyes. My last rational thought was that I hoped it wouldn't be the last thing I would see.

TBC . . . .

"At this very moment,... the most frightful horrors are taking place in every corner of the world. People are being crushed, slashed, disembowelled, mangled; their dead bodies rot and their eyes decay with the rest. Screams of pain and fear go pulsing through the air at the rate of eleven hundred feet per second. After travelling for three seconds they are perfectly inaudible. These are distressing facts; but do we enjoy life any the less because of them? Most certainly we do not.”
- Aldous Huxley

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