Pairing: Welsey/ Cross (Not Relatives)
Spoilers: For the movie
Warnings: AU, violence, language, h/c, m/m
Summary: No one was untouched by the violence that encompassed the castle that night. And the shadows of the past may pale in comparison as one small group of people will learn that killing one life could destroy thousands.
- This is very violent
- I'm going to toy around with the medical stuff in here because if they can bend bullets and have accelerated healing , then I wanna have fun. =)
Special Thanks: To everyone for their amazing feedback!!!! You guys have been great. This fandom is really, really hard to write for. Extra special thanks to jadedthang for the offer of beta help! You're awesome.
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 Mahatma Ghandi. I know, oh the irony. =)
"I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent."
- Mahatma Ghandi
They wouldn't let me near him.
Logically, I knew this wasn't personal and I was trying to keep it that way. I was struggling to keep my mind focused on the task at hand. To focus. The sharp, fluorescent lights glared brightly off the metallic instruments in the medical lab. The spacious room was in direct contrast to the rest of the castle. The sophisticated technology was rarely used but always on hand in the rare times that something like this might happen. It was far more advanced than could be found in any hospital, designed specifically for us. In case one of us might be attacked and the bathes might not be an option.
But why did it have to be him. Again.
Pekwarsky was shining a penlight in his eyes, testing the response of his pupils. From the expression on his face, he didn't obtain a good result. Tinga was attaching several leads to Wesley's chest, having already cut off his sweater and shirt. Her hands were swift and sure, speaking of her experience. She had been in medical school before she had been recruited into the Fraternity. She turned on the machine and immediately a series of beeps filled the air. It was the speedy and erratic nature of them that made my stomach churn. But I ignored the mild burning.
She also wrapped something around his arm and attached it to another machine. It lit up with an array of numbers, the results completely foreign to me. I took lives. I've never bothered to learn how to save them. Tinga looked up at the screens and, for the first time in about ten minutes, her mask of calm fell.
He looked up at the new machine from where he had been studying the heart rate monitor. He stared at the screen for a moment. "Do exactly as I say. We don't have much time."
I watched him give her orders in a steady tone that was laced with determined urgency. If she hesitated, or even slowed in her pace, he would yell at her. She dropped a tray of instruments once. They gave the illusion of looking like they knew what they were doing and I had to believe that. But I could see the sweat on Pekwarsky's brow and the way that Tinga's hands would shake when she loaded the vials of liquid onto the trays. It looked like ordered chaos.
Mage stood next to me, a silent statue. If I was to look over at her, I knew would find a similar mask of neutrality. We had been taught to block out human emotions when it would become a hinderance. This would qualify. Like me, she stared at the scene before us. We had to concentrate on blocking out what was personal. I couldn't think about what he meant to me, it would not change anything. It would only make things worse, paralyze me in the face of danger and the possibility of loss. If I froze, he would die. If I thought about all that I would lose, it would come to pass. Take in the present to change the future and do not speculate.
He looked like a spectre of the dying. His skin, pale to begin with, was fading even more. There was a blanket thrown over him from the waist down, hiding some of him from view. I wanted to see him, to analyze the full extent of his injuries. But the idea was futile. I was not a doctor, so it was irrelevant. Focus on my task.
"What is his condition?"
My voice was cold, hard; reflecting the barren desert of my mind.
Pekwarsky paused as he pulled the bag from the IV stand and started to squeeze it manually.
"The poison appears to be a neurotoxin, yet more complicated than that. It is attacking all of his body's attempts at maintaing homeostasis. His blood pressure is unstable at best. I'm trying to bring it up with intravenous fluids but its ineffective." He paused to look up at the monitors as the beeping became louder. "Damnit. His heart rate is extremely high but his body can accept that for now because of our physiology. His temperature is another concern. It continues to drop drastically."
Tinga compressed the bag she was holding, her eyes shifting between Wesley's face and the machine read outs. Her softly-accented voice shook slightly as she avoided my eyes. "He can't breathe on his own either. If his body temp. keeps dropping, his heart will stop."
I looked impassively at Pekwarsky for confirmation. He nodded. The machine beeped loudly again, signaling a warning. He cursed and ran a hand over his face.
"We are running out of time. We have ten minutes, at the most, before his core body temperature becomes too low and his heart will stop."
Tinga shook her and looked up and him. "How is that even possible? How can he be severely hypothermic in twenty minutes without being immersed in water?"
"I do not know! I have never heard of this poison and we cannot risk putting him in the bathes. Knowing Sloan, that could be a death sentence. We will have to do this ourselves."
I had never seen such a calm man so completely out of sorts before. Mage and I were immersed in our training but he and Tinga were obsessed with saving Wesley. The Asian beauty was young, the excuse of youth. But Pekwarsky. Perhaps I was not the only one haunted by the guilt of failing Allan Gibson. But the guilt that I had felt seemed like echoes of the past, a distant memory. I felt like I was watching a television show or a play, completely detached from the performance before me but curious of the outcome.
The machines started beeping loudly now, as if they needed desperately to remind the occupants in the room of the dying boy in front of them.
"His temperature. That's what we need to focus on the most. Think, Tinga. Something, anything. We just need to bring it up."
She was shaking her head, breathing hard, no doubt her own heart beat soaring in panic. Then her head snapped up like a rubber band, her pretty eyes practically glowing.
Pekwarsky frowned at her. "What?"
"It'll work. I've read about it in medical school. Someone fell into a pond that was frozen over in a town in Tokyo. They brought the girl back with Cadio-pulomonary bypass. We have the machines that we can hook up."
He looked down at Wesley for a moment. The beeping was ringing loudly now, echoing off the sanitized walls.
Tinga sighed, still panting as she continued to squeeze the bag as she had done for the past half hour, forcing air into Wesley's lungs.. "It's worth a shot, isn't it?"
Another moment's pause, as a series of emotions passed over his face. Then he snapped into action with a speed that should not have been possible for a normal man of his age. He did not look up as he ordered across the room.
"I will need your help, Mage. You need to take over for Tinga while she assists me."
Mage moved quietly away from me without a word or a glance.
I knew Pekwarsky's next words before he would speak them but I allowed the man's statement of power anyway.
"I need you to find out what kind of poison Handler used."
I was out the door before he finished speaking.
I supposed it was fitting to have this interrogation down in the dungeons. In contrast to the warmth in the commonly-traveled corridors of the upper parts of the castle, the dungeons were dark and reeked of mold. Droplets of water continued to fall from the ceiling into puddles that had accumulated onto the dirty stone floor. The electricity that powered the rest of the structure still ran down here but the lights were few and far in-between, casting numerous shadows in the darkness. Unlike most of the castle, it was a straight path from the winding stairs to the main room of the dungeon. One would pass some smaller rooms to the left and right but that was all.
This level was designed for efficiency not fantasy.
Elite, Mariner, and Dax stood in front of the door that would open into the room. Whether they did not want to talk to the traitor to hear his excuses or to avoid torturing him themselves, I could not tell. And I did not care. But all three of them had taken up guard to ensure his captivity and prove their unity to our cause. I could see more than the hurt of betrayal or the flash of fear on their faces. But to acknowledge their concern was to to bring down the walls and sympathize with them about him. And I could not afford that. I had to concentrate on my task with Handler now. If they wished to know about Wesley, they could visit him.
If he survived the next twenty minutes.
But they did not leave as I opened the wooden door, the old, rusty hinges creaking ominously. I left the door open, not caring if they saw. Let them. Elite did follow me inside, though, as skilled in this as I was; perhaps more.
He was sitting quietly in a similar chair to the one that he had been been found lounging in earlier. He had not tried to run, knowing the futility of it. We were in the middle of nowhere. And he didn't know how to pilot the helicopters. He must have known that this would be a one-way mission when Sloan recruited him for it. His hands were locked behind his back with metallic hand-cuffs. He looked up at me with a calm expression. He knew why I was here. My voice was as blank and cold as my voice.
"What is the poison?"
He tilted his head to the side, a wry expression on his face. "Don't you want to know why?"
"No. What is the poison?"
"Really?" He sounded surprised.
"I'm rather curious?"
I turned to look at Elite. I was slightly surprised by the statement but the feeling passed and the emptiness returned.
She shrugged an elegant shoulder, her green eyes glowed like a cat's in the dimness in the room.
"He's had been here for years now. Allan had brought him here six months before he'd died. But how could Sloan have know that Wesley would be brought into this three years later?"
I turned back to him.
Handler shifted. "He didn't. He sent me in as a spy. It had virtually nothing to do with Allan Gibson or his son. Sloan wanted to know everything about all of you. So he sent a wolf into the hen house. It was rather effective. He only recently decided that Wesley was enough of a threat to eliminate my cover."
"To eliminate you." Elite corrected.
He wrinkled his nose but there was no contempt there. "You shouldn't act so self-righeous. You've used and disposed of your own people as well. And for far less productive reasons."
I had neither the anger to vent nor the interest in small talk. "What is the poison?"
Handler looked sad and sighed. "I won't tell you, you know that."
Elite interrupted. "You like Wesley. Why do you want him to die?"
"I don't. Fate does."
She shook her head, sounding tired. "I don't believe in fate. We choose our paths, Handler."
"And you have chosen yours."
The words were barely out of my mouth before I was in front of him, knife in my hand. He looked up at me, his brown eyes showing just the barest hint of fear. He thought I would use intimidation first. Usually that would be the first the move. The fear of being tortured was usually worse than actually being in pain most of the time, the anticipation eating away at people. But we did not have time for that.
With the practiced precision that a man worse than the Butcher had taught me, I started to cut into his flesh. The serrated blade easily tore through thick muscle, tendons, and ligaments, scraping all the way down to the bone. I barely registered the screams, the almost inhuman howls of agony and begging for mercy. He desperately struggled for an escape that was impossible. The blood poured everywhere; over my fingers, down my arms, soaking my clothing and his. The floor was a mess with it.
Elite moved in and tightened a tourniquet with a cold demeanor. She also felt no mercy nor anger.
I straightened up, taking the spare cloth that Elite gave me and dried off the blood that soaked my hands. It was more than my neutral emotions and cold demeanor that caused me not to be fazed by this. I had seen, done, far worse than this. Not to a friend . . . but then again, Handler wasn't that anymore.
"What is the poison?"
He was gasping for breath, but his screaming had stopped. No doubt he was calling on his own training to gain control. When he finally looked up at me, his eyes were full of pain, resignation and fear. He knew this would be fast and agonizing. He would not leave this room alive.
"I won't tell you."
We were running out of time. I twisted the knife in my hand, twirling it around this way and that. A common trick, one that would impress the common man. Handler's eyes followed the movement. I froze it. I grabbed a handful of his hair and pulled it back roughly. He didn't make a noise. Carefully, I dug the knife into his right eye. Again, the screams were a distant, hollow sound. I focused on my task, impassive to the world around me. My hand remained tight in his hair and lose on the knife. One wrong move and the knife would go too deep. Handler would be dead instantly. Twist this way, just a little turn; follow the curve. A lot of blood, but follow the bone. Keep away from the optic nerve. More of my specialized training ran as a litany through my mind.
It landed on the floor with a wet thud. Blood and other fluids poured out of the wounds. Now he continued to howl in pain, twisting and turning in his chair, desperate to grab onto his injury in a primal attempt to cover one's injury. I stared down at him, feeling no satisfaction or sympathy, just the hollow detachment of a torturer looking for answers. Elite walked in and covered his eyes with a dirty cloth. He screamed at the rough contact.
She yanked Handler's head back hard. "You have no idea what's at stake. It will only get worse. What is the poison?"
The atmosphere in the medical lab was tense, more so than before. But it was less ordered chaos than it was helpless frustration. Mage was sitting in a chair by the bed, her arms folded in front of her in an insecure gesture. She remained stoic but there seemed to be a crack in the mask, just a small one. I wondered just what had transpired in the hour I had been absent.
Tinga was fiddling with something off to the side, near Wesley's right arm. It looked like she was stitching up a wound. She looked frazzled and her long, dark hair was tied up behind her. At least her hands had stopped trembling. Perhaps it was the quiet in the room or the chance to focus on a single task.
Pekwarsky was studying the machines that surrounded Wesley now. Five more had been added to the collections, their whiring sounds strangely soft compared to the circus that had been ringing when I had left. The occasional beep from the previous machines were different as well. The man was focused on his task, adjusting dials and buttons as he walked about, a sheen of sweat still on his face. He did look calmer than before.
They still looked afraid, though.
Wesley was deathly pale, a very slight pale blue tinge now. Thick thermal blankets covered him yet no sweat was visible. A breathing tube had been inserted to help him breathe. I walked closer to him, driven by another force I couldn't name. Tinga was the first to acknowledge me.
"He can't. On his own. The machine does it for him. Its just temporary." She looked away from me and went back to her task. I could see a long gash on his arm.
"He went into seizures when you left." Pekwarsky answered as he checked the last machine and stood up to face me. He looked tired, worn beyond his years. "Shattered one of the trays. That's the least of his worries. I set up Cadio-pulomonary bypass. It appears to be working. His body temperature is already rising. But his blood pressure keeps fluctuating and his heart rate . . . What did you find out about the poison?"
I stared at Wesley. "Its rare, created from extracts of a plant found in the rainforest in South America. That's all he knows."
"Is he still alive?"
My eyes never leave the man on the table, my focus shifting, the adrenaline fading as my task was now finished. "For now."
Pekwarsky nodded. "Do I need to check on him?"
"Elite took him to the bathes."
He gestured towards one of the metallic sinks. "Clean yourself up. I'll have someone get you a change of clothes."
No other words were spoken. No more were needed, or wanted. It was a waiting game now. Something that no one in that room was made for. There was no one left to fight. The only battle to be won was to be fought in another arena by another person. And all they could do was sit and watch and wait.
Mage vacated the chair and took up a sentry position on the other side of the room. It wasn't far, maybe six feet, but enough not be intrusive. The room was spacious, made for more patients than were necessary. But she leaned against a sturdy cabinet, unwilling to be far from his side. I could understand the feeling.
Tinga finished the stitching, occasionally glancing from me to Wesley and back again but wisely not speaking a word. It seemed out of place that such a calm soul as her felt jittery and unsure around the very people she had previously felt no need to impress. This all felt surreal. She carefully wrapped his arm with clean white bandages and tucked it under the thick, blue thermal blankets. She paused to stare at his side before moving away from it, disappearing completely from the room.
Pekwarsky, who had continued to adjust the complicated machines finally stopped a few minutes later with a weary sigh. He ran a hand over his face and turned to look over at Wesley.
"We have done all that we can. It is up to him now."
There was a moment's pause as I tried to absorb that. It was another battle that I could not fight for him, save him from. With my need for focus gone, the rest was setting in. The walls were crumbling, leaving a different kind of hollowness behind. Helplessness. I had never liked inaction. Now I could do nothing but sit here and watch him die. Watch him fight or watch him lose. I had been trained to think of the worse outcome and plan to get around it. What is the next step now? Dig a grave?
I reached out and touched his cheek, the chill of his skin sent an unpleasant shock down my arm.
I ran my hand through his hair, trying to ignore the idea that I was doing it to imbed it into my sense memory. The machines continued to beep, a small sign that he continued to live. His chest rose and fell, the loud rasp of the other machine seeming foreign and I tried to ignore it. The thing that helped him to breathe was almost obscene in how big it was, how loud.
I tried to keep the memories out my mind. They would not do me any good now. This time yesterday I had been alone with him, lost to this world. Violence had faded away to passion and connection to the one person in the world that I had trusted enough to let go. For the first time in years, there had been peace. And in an instant, it had been shattered, the pieces falling to the floor without a sound. It was just one life in a planet full of billions. He meant everything to us and nothing to them.
"I keep failing him, Mage."
My eyes never left his face, unable to turn away. She didn't say a word. She didn't need to. Mage must have felt the same way but the guilt was not her burden to bear. Allan had placed me in charge of protecting his son and twice I have failed to save him. And Wesley might die for my failure, my mistake. It wasn't fair that he kept paying the price for things that were beyond his control and beyond his responsibility.
I laid my head down near his shoulder, my hands shaking, and listened to him breathe.