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Lies and Half-Truths, (7/?)

Title: Lies and Half-Truths (7/?)
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 recovers, Cross thinks about the past. And time is up for the group at the castle.



- I'm gonna jump around again. This is flashback so // indicates flashback.

-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. =)

Extra Extra Notes: Hey Paula, providing with excellent feedback for my muse again. You are so awesome! Hugs back!!!!

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

Further Disclaimers: The first quote Ronald Anthony

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"When we truly realize that we are alone is when we need others the most."
-Ronald Anthony

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

Wesley



Ow.

Again.

I was starting to get annoyed at waking up being in pain. I thought that was supposed to end with the whole 'magic bath' thing. Guess they had to go old school this time. Again. That couldn't be good. I opened my eyes and got a sharp eyeful of bright light. I groaned and tried to turn away.

Oh! Bad idea!

I cried out in pain and stopped moving because that was probably a better idea. I heard loud voices around me and felt hands trying to hold me down. That really hurt, too. I yelped and tried to get away from them. Another brilliant idea as the movement sent a new shock of agony up my shoulder. What the hell happened to me? Really loud beeping noises echoed around me and that didn't sound so good either. It sounded like medical machines. I could feel my heart racing and my head was spinning, my breathing feeling labored. Someone was trying to talk to me; a calm voice near me. I knew that voice.

I turned my head towards it, but I could barely hear it over the roaring in my ears. A weird sensation in my hair; it felt like someone was stroking it. Okay, that felt good, better. I just needed to calm down. That was a good idea.

Ow. I could feel various other pains as someone else was poking and prodding me. I tried to get closer to the comforting source, keeping my eyes firmly shut. Finally, the pain started to ease off slowly and I could start to hear the frantic and garbled words around me.

"-pulled his I.V. out, idiot. . . needs to calm down." Let me guess.

"He was scared." That was Tinga.

"Good thing we took the breathing tube out or he would have been fighting intubation." That didn't sound like fun.

"He was disoriented. It's normal; look at what he went through. He survived the night. You should happy for that." Never heard her sound like that before.

"I am happy, but he is out of the forest, not the woods, my dear. He needs to remain calm or his symptoms will worsen and we will be right back where we started."

There was silence after that.

Then a quiet voice very close to me spoke. "How are you feeling?"

I risked opening my eyes and winced at the bright light again. He reached over and pushed the overhead lamp out of the way. That was much better.

"Really?"

Cross smiled at that and leaned down to kiss me. It was a light, brief touch but it felt good. He kissed my forehead, too, before pulling back a little but remained close. I was grateful for that. I had felt safe around him since coming here and I had a nagging feeling that something had gone terribly wrong for me to have ended up in what looked like a mini-emergency room. They all looked like they'd been run over a few dozen times with a semi and then some. There was an atmosphere in the room that felt like it was relief mixed with apprehension and exhaustion.

Why did I get the feeling that I was in the best mood right now?

Cross was staring at my head, his fingers still combing through my hair. Don't get me wrong, it felt good but the look on his face worried me. I reached up to get his attention.

"Hey - ah- shit!"

He grabbed my arm with reflexes that weren't normal and eased it back under the covers. "You should keep your left arm down for now."

I frowned at him again and Pekwarsky started to rummage around.

"Okay, guys. What the fuck happened?"

I saw them exchange quick glances before Cross looked down at me. "You do not remember? Handler. The poison in the whiskey."

And the memories came soaring back at the words. Ah, yes. My successful attempt at male bonding. And from the haggard looks on their faces, they hadn't enjoyed the outcome of that little adventure either. I wanted to apologize but I didn't think that would go over well. But I still thought I was partially to blame, allowing my guard to go down so easily. There were plenty of warning signs.

I winced. "What a proud moment that was. Where is he? Half way to Amsterdam for hookers and hash?"

At the silence that greeted my remark I continued. "He's not dead, is he?"

It was a little ridiculous to worry about a guy who had wanted me dead, but all I could do was think about Fox. Handler truly believed in what he did. It wasn't his fault he was brainwashed. He didn't deserve to die for this. I hadn't. Hell, if my father hadn't made Cross my guardian angel with a handgun I'd be in the same boat.

"He's not dead."

Cross's voice was cold and I knew he didn't see things from my point of view and probably never would. He still wouldn't look me in the eye and that worried me, too. He must feel guilty and there's shit I can do about it right now. He probably didn't want to here it anyway.

Pekwarsky approached the bed with a needle and I backed away instinctively. I yelped at the pain and he stopped with an aggravated. sigh. "What is it now?"

"I want to know what you did?"

"We had to put a tube down your throat to help you breathe; that's why your throat is sore. We put an I.V. in your arm - which you pulled out and we will put back in in a moment - to keep your blood pressure up. Those thermal blankets are to keep your body temperature up; which is fluctuating, as is your blood pressure. Both were very bad last night so we had to put you on a Cardio-pulmonary bypass machine."

I was right. None of that sound good at all.

"That machine circulated blood from your body and heated it. Then it returned the blood to your body, thus heating it back up while oxygenating it.. We were successful."

"You fought, too." Tinga added from where she was setting up another I.V. tube.

I smiled at her.

"We had to insert the tubing for the machine very deeply into your shoulder, so you will be sore for a while. Try not to move it. Your body is still recovering and your blood pressure is still unstable. If you feel cold or dizzy, more so than you do now, you must let someone know."

I nodded and allowed him to inject the fluid into my arm. The small burn barely registered but I could feel the dull relief start to take over, soothing the aches. I turned to look at Cross. He looked exhausted; worn and weary. I tugged at his leather jacket with my right arm and he frowned at me. But I kept pulling, trying to get him to understand. The bed was big enough, most likely made for anyone, for any reason.

He gave me an odd look and then stood up. A flash of worry went through me and I though that he was going to leave. But he was taking his jacket and shoes off. Gingerly, I turned onto my side, away from him, grunting how even that small movement caused such sharp pains. But they disappeared when I stopped moving. He felt warm against me, curling up behind me. His arms felt hesitant when they first came around me, like he was afraid that he would hurt me further. But I placed my arms over his and pulled them against my chest, holding them closer.

He nuzzled into the back of my neck and I shivered at the unshaven texture. It felt strange but good. I could feel the drugs really taking over now and his breathing, even the distant beeping of the machines faded into the background.

It was odd. Last time I'd closed my eyes, it had been in terror, now it was in peace. But I knew it wouldn't last.


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

Cross





I could feel his heart beating, feel him breathing.

It was different than watching, like I had last night. This felt real, more solid, as though I could keep him here. He wasn't afraid or traumatized by what had happened. He had just accepted it and moved on. Wesley had had to do that a lot in the past six weeks and it never failed to impress me. He had gone from never-ending normalcy to ever-changing fantasy. It took a great deal of strength to accept it and continue. He did it in stride. And a sarcastic attitude.

But then, he always had been resilient.

Even when he shouldn't have to be.

//


I knocked on the door, my nerves still singing from the work out with Handler. The man could be crazy sometimes when it came to training, very dedicated to his craft. He was still young, still learning but he worked with a passion that few possessed. Allan was right; he would make a great addition to us.

There was no acknowledgement and there never was. Allan Gibson never did that. He always said that someone shouldn't need permission to speak to another person; it created boundaries and distance. 'Always speak your mind when you think it and damn the consequences. But be honest, never be cruel.' It was a fine line and that man walked it with the same exact precision he used to fire a bullet into a target from 250 yards.

I knew something was wrong when I entered the room.

He was sitting in his wicker chair, staring out into the night air. Most people seemed to prefer the fireplaces to meditate on their past but he said he liked to look out into the places the surrounded him. He said that they reminded him of the pasts of others, and of the possible futures. But he wasn't looking into the vast city below them where the crowded city streets teamed with people. He was staring up into the full moon, its pale light casting odd shadows onto the terrace and illuminating his face.

"Almost all ancient civilizations worshipped the full moon. They thought it brought them the power of the gods or some such nonsense."

I moved to stand out onto the spacious terrace a few feet away from where the chair was. Allan was hardly ever melancholic. He constantly talked about future plans. He wasn't a particularly cheerful man, but he had enthusiasm and a thrill for life. He certainly didn't sit in a chair with a bottle of alcohol and wax poetic about the night skies. Something was very wrong.

I turned to lean back against the metal railing, facing him. "I'd heard you had returned a few hours ago from Chicago. Just visiting?"

It was a loaded question and we both knew it. Allan rarely left his son unsupervised, unprotected. I could count the number of times on my hand that the older man had come to the Sanctuary and they all had been dire for us. He gave me a sad smile, no humor in it at all.

"Something like that, Cross."

He never went by the name that the Fraternity gave him or his last name. He made everyone call him by his given name around here. It was disconcerting for the new ones, but they acclimated. It was another sign of equality for him. But he never asked it of anyone else. He had once said that having a son was his only link to his old life; it allowed him a thin tether to who he once was. So that he was able to keep 'Allan.'

His answer was cryptic and it made me nervous. "Why haven't you spoken to anyone since you have arrived? Why did you call for me?"

He took a deep drink of his scotch. He wasn't drunk, though. "I must ask you a favor, Cross. One that I have no right to ask of you."

I frowned. "What are you talking about?"

"He'll be alone, he'll be all alone. And I don't know anyone else who I can trust." He muttered, staring into his bottle.

"Who are you talking about, Allan?"

He finally looked up at me. "Wesley."

I leaned forward a little. Everyone knew of the boy, he was practically a legend, even in the Fraternity. I knew how much Allan loved his son. "What's happened?"

"He needs someone to look after him. Be there to stop them if they get too close. A ghost in the shadows."

I sighed. There was definite pain there, it was one of the reasons I had never had a child. "He has you. Whether he knows it or not, he is not alone."

Allan smiled and this time the sadness was laced with bitterness. "Perhaps."

"Did you come here to confess your sins, Allan? Because I lost that faith a long time ago." There's no bitterness in my words because I did not feel any. I had sacrificed many things when I had joined the Fraternity and I did not regret any of them. Just as I did not regret the sacrifices that brought me here.

He did laugh, a genuine one this time, but it not rid me of my worry. "That would be appropriate, I guess. But I never had any to begin with, if you remember."

Appropriate?

"What's wrong, Allan?"

He took another drink of scotch, his southern accent tinging his words. "I'm dying."

The words made my breath catch in my throat. A thousand ailments flashed through my mind. "Surely there is a treatment of some kind?"

"Yes. To run."

I stared at him, still uncomprehending.

He finally looked up at me, his blue eyes looking directly into mine. His eyes could pierce right through you, leaving no secret, no lie. Yet, no judgement. His eyes were hard, desperate.

"They are on to me. They are getting close to finding me, the apartment across from Wesley's. If I stay there, they will hunt him down and use him against me. Cross, they will kill him simply because he is my son and nothing more."

I was at a loss at what to say, at what to do. I supposed we all knew that this day would come. Allan had toed the line, pressing them ever further into the corner. It had only ever been a matter of time before they would bite back. "What do you need?"

"For you to protect him."

The whispered words were full of pain and desperation. I knew how much it took for him to say them; for him to ask for help. For him to entrust his son to another. A million thoughts flew through my mind. The first, and most persistent, was rejection. I neither wanted nor needed that responsibility. I enjoyed being on the front lines here and helping to train others. I spied and killed along with the rest but this would be different. He would be different. There would be more at stake.

I didn't want this.

But this man needed this.

That was what it came down to. Allan Gibson had given me back my freedom, my free will and strength; sanctuary and humanity. He had saved countless others without a thought as to his own well being. He was only asking for this one favor. His last dying wish. To keep safe the only thing he had valued more than anything in this world and the next; the very symbol that had sustained his humanity, his son.

I could do this for him. I could give him this peace when he was finally laid to rest.

***


I had watched him for over a week now, following his mundane activities. He was an accountant, a steady job with a pretty girlfriend and a lousy best friend who came home to fuck her on his lunch break.

Charming.

I had watched with a sense of detachment as he went from work to his home, stopping to eat at a diner or go to the pharmacy for medication that he did not need. He constantly apologized to people, keeping his head down and avoiding eye contact. He seemed like he just wanted to go about his day without encountering the world at all.

It had been eight days since Allan Gibson was murdered in Brazil. He had been found in his hotel room by a maid. One bullet to the chest, center mass. The killer had been in the room with him. I had been in faded contact with the others, everyone trying to deal with the news in our own ways. So, I merely set about my own task and observed the only other legacy left by the greatest man I had ever known for someone who would never know him.

He made a detour today and it took me by surprise. I almost got off at his regular stop on the train but stayed. He seemed distracted, his bright eyes staring out into the dimming light of the city as the sun began to set. He was a very attractive young man, made even more so by the fact that he did not know that he was. He had his father's dark blue eyes and messy dark brown hair. But he was shorter than Allan and of a slighter build.

I still observed him with a clinical observation. He had become nothing more but a mission to me, even after the time and knowledge of the past week. He was Allan Gibson's son, but he was nothing like the man. The boy was hesitant and quiet, letting people walk all over him. There was no imminent harm to him from the Fraternity so I was somewhat free to relax my guard. Perhaps they were satisfied with the blood they had shed. For now.

I was not stupid enough to believe that it would last for long.

He suddenly stood as the train came to a stop and exited. I followed him down foreign roads but he seemed to know the way, having traveled the paths before many times. He ran into a person and apologized, shifted away from a group of others. I walked behind him in the shadows, a silent follower. No one noticed and no one cared. It was the way of the world.

Finally, he turned into a building and I paused for a moment at the sign on the door before following him inside. Nurses and doctors milled about me and the mixed smells of the sick surrounded me. He moved down the corridors, turning this way, then the other. Finally he came to a room where there was a pretty woman sitting on a bed.

She had soft brown hair that was pulled back and a gentle face. When Wesley walked into the room she smiled at him, and sat up a little straighter. "Well, hello. Aren't you handsome. You know, you remind me a lot of my son."

I could see him offer her a small smile. "Hi, mom."

She frowned at him. "I don't understand?"

He swallowed and moved to sit down. "Its me, mom. Wesley."

The woman reached out and touched his face in an age-old maternal gesture. "It is you, isn't it?"

He seemed to relax a little. "How are you?"

"I'm great." She smiled at him. It was brilliant and cheerful, making her face seem soft in the light. "How are you?"

He shrugged. "Every thing's good, mom."

"Good. Good. Then you can take me home."

Wesley looked down at the floor. "I can't take you home, mom. You need to stay here."

Her demeanor changed in an instant. "But I don't belong here. I'm not supposed to be here!"

"Mom, calm down. Its okay."

"No! No, its not okay. I'm not supposed to be here! Why am I here? I'm not supposed to be here."

He stood up as she started to climb out of the bed. Alarms rang out and people ran into the room. I moved closer to the door to get a better view into the room. Nurses were trying to restrain the woman and a doctor was trying to talk to her.

"Mrs. Gibson-"

"Mom, please-"

"Why are you calling me that? Stop calling me that. You're not my son. Where's my son? Where's my son?"

The orderlies struggled to pull her towards the bed, knocking Wesley roughly into a cabinet in the process. The boy finally stumbled out into the waiting room. He collapsed into one of the chairs and downed a few of his pills. He leaned over, breathing hard but his heart rate was no doubt slowing. I watched from my sentry post by the door. Her shrieking abruptly stopped as she was sedated, her misery much more easily dealt with than that of her child's.

Minutes passed before the doctor came out and sat down in the plastic chair next to Wesley's, heedless of my presence in the corner. I remained quiet in the shadows. The doctor, a middle-aged man, sighed and inter-laced his fingers together.

"Mr. Gibson, are you alright?"

Wesley nodded at the ridiculous question. "Yes, sir. How, how is she?"

He sighed again, the weariness in his voice a sign of his experience in his field where no one ever got better.

"Mr. Gibson, there is a reason I called you in here. Your mother is not doing well. She has a condition called heart failure."

Wesley stared down at the bottle of Atavan in his hands as if the medications could solve his problems as well as his stress.

"I don't know what that means."

The doctor shifted in his seat. "It means that her heart has become so weak that it is failing to produce enough blood to maintain the blood volume in her body. Now, we have options here. In her case we could operate to try to improve the blood supply but her heart is very weak."

There was something in the doctor's voice that sounded odd and Wesley picked up on it as well. The boy finally looked up at him but I couldn't see his eyes.

"What are you saying?"

The doctor looked around quickly to see if anyone was around in the empty hallway before adding in a calm voice. "You need to think about the quality of life, Mr. Gibson. For your mother."

Wesley frowned at him "You mean let her die?"

"She is in pain, although it has been managed. As the illness progresses, she will become more weak and unstable. Alzheimer's is a terrible and unforgiving disease and will leave its mark on her even as she deteriorates."

"But this surgery could help her?" Wesley was looking at the doctor with the eyes of a child, not of a grown man. Not with the mind of one.

And the doctor could see it. The older man ran an aggravated hand through his thinning hair. I could relate. "With surgery, she could last a few years, maybe five. Without, considering the progression of the deterioration, five months at most. "

Wesley turned back to staring at the floor. He suddenly looked tired. The doctor, most likely used to the varied reaction to his words of discomfort and negativity stood up. He paused and waited for the younger man to do the same. When there was no reaction, he spoke softly, his words crisp with professionalism.

"Give it a few days, Mr. Gibson. You are the only living relative and have power of attorney. Let my office know."

I followed him to a diner few blocks down from the rest home. It was quiet with only four other patrons located near the rear of the establishment. He took a window seat near the back of the diner and I took the booth opposite. He wouldn't be able to see me, but I could watch him, see his face. It turned out not to matter. He was a thousand miles away.

A waitress walked over, a dark-haired woman in her forties with short hair. She smiled, surprisingly genuine, asked him what he wanted and he ordered a coffee. The woman poured the black liquid into the ceramic mug with another smile and I couldn't decipher if she thought he was attractive or if she just thought he was a timid customer. Either way, he was polite but quiet. The door opened once and the night air spilled through, its chill seeping into the diner. But he seemed unfazed.

He didn't even touch the coffee. He just stared into the liquid, his arms at his side. There were no tears. Just a quiet sadness. It was unfair that he should have to decide the fate of his own mother but life was hardly ever fair and it even more rarely so to those with whom it should be. He would just have to make the decision and be done with it. What would Allan have chosen? The question sent a sharp spike of grief through me. *There* was actual pain, genuine loss. A life that was taken beyond anyone's control.

He sat there, staring at that one cup of coffee for almost 2 and a half hours. Twice the waitress came over to ask, with a pitying look, if he needed anything. He would jump, startled out of wherever he was, apologize, and refuse any help. The last time she had offered him a slice of cake on the house if he wanted, which he politely refused. At last, the woman told him they were closing. He apologized, paid, and went to leave.

"It'll pass, sweet heart. It always does." She called out after him, the expression on her face proving that she had been in the same place that he had at one time or another.

He nodded and walked out. When he arrived home, his girlfriend complained about being woken up by his late arrival. He said that he was sorry. The next morning he called and scheduled the appointment for the surgery.

****


Of course he had not asked how long the surgery would last, so I would remain in limbo here with him until she arrived in the recovery room. I tried to replace my annoyance towards the boy with the loyalty that I had with his father. I had given my word to Allan that I would watch over Wesley. I just hadn't counted on how different the young man would be from the legend that his father was.

The Fraternity had taught me patience and I focused, taking in my surroundings. There was more than enough chaos. The waiting room was filled with noisy children, anxious adults, and weary elderly people. In one form or another, they were all tense, uncomfortable, and exhausted.

For some strange reason, some odd impulse that I had chosen to follow, I had selected to sit in the chair right next to him. He didn't pay me any attention. He was reading a self-help book but he kept having to re-read the pages, no doubt his mind unfocused. As the hours ticked by, he kept shifting about. He kept glancing over at the glass double-doors that lead into the pre-surgical rooms, looking for any signs that someone would give him news about his mother. But nothing.

Then his hand started tapping nervously against the armrest that separated the chairs. My arm brushed against his and he jumped, apologizing as though he had harmed me in some way. I offered him a small smile. Just calm down a little.

I saw the doctor before he did, my eyesight more honed than his. I sighed.

The doors opened with a soft whir and Wesley stood up as the doctor walked towards him. The older man took off his surgical cap and twisted it in his hands. His face was somber, his tone apologetic. I could see Wesley's face in the mirror across the room even as the doctor spoke to him.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Gibson. There were some complications with your mother's surgery. Her heart was just too weak. She passed away. I'm so sorry."

Some of the noise did stop around him but most of it continued, the people in the large room oblivious to the sudden loss of one man, who had just lost everything. A teenage girl who had been sitting a few chairs down was looking up at them, unable to turn away from the scene, driven by some perverse sense of fascination. But no one helped. No condolences or comforting hands. Just one casualty in a world of many. Unless they felt it themselves, they wouldn't care. They would only feel a passing flash of sympathy before they went back to their reading.

He started breathing harder and I could see the tears starting. The doctor reached out to touch his shoulder.

"Mr. Gibson. Is there anyone we can call?"

"What? Uh, no. No. There's no one."

I frowned and looked away, the words sounding wrong to me. There was someone. There was supposed to be someone. But he was gone. He had left his family behind to survive in this world without him. But he had been here, all this time.

'He will be alone. He'll be all alone.'

I sighed and leaned my head forward into my hands. Allan had known this entire time. This was more than protection. This was more than guardianship against the Fraternity.

Why didn't you tell me?

This was more than I had agreed to. This was more than I wanted. I had never cared for anyone in my life, how was I supposed to care for a stranger I was never supposed to meet. His youth brought him innocence and naivete that I couldn't relate to, couldn't understand. Not seeing his life before, I had come into it mid-focus and was supposed to care for him? It was impossible. And nothing could be gained by caring for someone that would never know me. So there was no point.

Why did you choose me, Allan? You knew this about me.

I was an efficient killer, an executioner bound by no rules. But there was a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that he had chosen me to watch over his son for more reasons than just that one. Once again I wished that I could be in his presence just one last time. There was never enough time in this world. The good fade too quickly while the bad remain in spite of them. One of the many reasons I had lost faith in Fate.

The sound of the door slamming shut startled me. I looked up and saw that he was gone. Cursing, I stood up and headed towards the emergency exit door that lead towards the stairs. I knew no one had taken him, it didn't feel like danger. There was no crackle and hiss of energy in the air, just the percussion of tension and misery.

The heavy door opened and I could hear his foot steps as he went down two flights. Finally, he stopped, realizing that he couldn't run from the truth that his mother was dead. I could hear him breathing in and out in a rapid pace, hyperventilating. The rattle of the pills and the snap of the top. The clang and tiny pelting noises followed as the plastic bottle dropped down the stairs. It still sounded like he had taken a few. But he didn't move to pick up the fallen pieces.

He couldn't see me from where he sat, but I doubt that it would have mattered, he was so lost in his misery. He was sitting at the top of the stairs, his arms folded, his face hidden. He shook slightly, only someone with a trained eye would be able to see. He looked like a lost child. I supposed he was one now.

Whether he was aware of it or not, he had lost both of his parents in one week. Both deaths had been beyond his control, even though he will forever think differently about the one he knows. Just as I share a link to Allan Gibson's death, so did he to his mother's. Both of us were helpless to stop the people we cared about from dying. We simply waited and were forced to accept it, to deal with the aftermath of it all. And to continue after their end without really knowing how or why.

Except I had expected it; he had been blindsided. And I was used to being alone, even though I wasn't.

Allan's words came back to me:

"He needs someone to look after him. Be there to stop them if they get too close. A ghost in the shadows."

"He has you. Whether he knows it or not, he is not alone."

"Perhaps."


So I sat there at the top of the stairs, and watched, listened to him cry. And a connection began to form.


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



It was instinct that made me twist the hand into the defensive grip. I heard Mage yell at me and released her immediately, feeling a fresh wave of guilt. We had all tried very hard to curb our instincts when it came to being on guard around here, a lesson that Allan had tried to instill.

"I'm sorry, Mage."

She rubbed her hand, still a little sore from the recovery room. But there was a wry smile on her face.

"Its okay, hon. We've all been on edge lately. Shouldn't be a shock we've all been fallin' back on old habits."

Wesley stirred next to me and looked over at us, wincing at the movement. "What's going on?"

I ran my hand over his, a flash of my dream- my memory- still fresh in my mind, making me uncomfortable. He sensed it somehow and moved closer to me, then yelped in pain.

"Jesus christ."

"I'll go get Pekwarsky."

Wesley watched her go and looked up at me. "She hasn't said a word to me since it happened. What's going on?"

I kissed his forehead, frowning at the cool skin. "I do not know. Do you feel alright?"

He shrugged and gasped. "Apparently not."

I ran my ran through his hair trying not let my concern show. "Just relax."

Pekwarsky walked into the room with Tinga hot on his heels like an anxious terrier. He checked the various monitors and asked the same question I had. He received a similar noncommittal answer. But was not as gracious about it.

"We cannot help you, Wesley, if you do not tell us what is wrong. So stop acting like an insolent child and tell me what your symptoms are."

Wesley flushed, the light color reassuring considering how cool skin had felt. "Okay, my shoulder hurts. And I feel a little dizzy."

Pekwarsky glanced at one of the monitors. "Are you cold?"

"Yeah. Kinda like I've been standing out on one of the balconies for a while without a jacket. " He frowned. "But its not that bad."

The older man didn't turn around but started to mill around the room, checking various drawers and pulling items out. Tinga checked Wesley's arm, putting on new dressings over the stitches she had done last night. No doubt she was comfortable in the menial task considering her novice status in the medical field. She was much more calm now than she had been last night, having fallen back into her graceful countenance and serene presence.

Pekwarsky brought forward a syringe and Wesley flinched, then gasped at the pain the movement caused.

"No. No, I don't want to sleep anymore. Jesus christ, can't you let me stay up for awhile?"

The old man gave him an annoyed look. "Its a pain killer, not a sedative. It might make you drowsy but if you wish, you can stay awake without much effort."

His words proved to be true and the medication allowed Wesley to sit up without being in too much pain. I went to sit down next to him but Pekwarsky motioned for me. Ignoring him, I pulled the chair close to the bed and rested back into it. He fidgeted with the I.V. for a moment before looking up at the small group that was gathered in the room. I had felt Mage return into the room but had not greeted her. I had an inkling as to why she remained so silent and shut away from everyone and was willing to give her the privacy and space she so obviously needed.

"So, this isn't a cure, is it?"

Tinga's calm face faltered a little and she glanced over at Pekwarsky. The old man spoke for her.

"No. We still have no idea what the poison is. Unlike what you were injected with previously, we have never encountered this before. We have no idea what to expect let alone how to counter its effects. But from the blood tests that I have run, it continues to attack your body. We have been able to manage the symptoms, but the not the poison itself. Think of it as burning your hand on a hot plate, if you don't put it under water immediately, the heat continues to damage the tissue and destroy the cells. That is what the poison is doing. Your hand is off the hot plate, we just haven't been able to find the running water. "

He let out a weary sigh and rubbed the bridge of his nose.

"You are stable now. But eventually, we will not be able to manage your symptoms."

Wesley gave him a wry smile. "So, I'm dying."

Pekwarsky gave him another irritated look, proving how worn out he was, most likely from having been up for days. "I would not put it so dramatically, Wesley. It is not over yet. We have found a way to combat the toxin, we will find a way to fight this."

I was surprised that I didn't feel panic either. This didn't feel final to me, not like last night had been. He was awake now, strong and making jokes. His father had accepted his fate because he'd had no choice. His son's life had been on the line and he had been more than willing to sacrifice his own to save the boy. Wesley did not have that. All he had to do was fight. And he was strong enough. Even if he did not know it.

"How?" Aside from the interrogation, I had felt useless in all of this.

Silence followed my words. Therein laid the problem. With the toxin, we had known the properties. We had been able to track down the manufacturer and disable their compound. Although countless amounts of the toxin had been made, we had been able to decode the contents and make some sort of treatment. No cure, but it had been something. But this thing had been created in the vast jungles of a rain forest. There was no way, and no time, to find it.

"We fight an ancient culture with another ancient culture."

All eyes in the room turned to Tinga. Yet she seemed unfazed by the attention. Her dark eyes were bright with excitement as she stood up from where she had been leaning against a countertop.

"It makes sense. They found the poison in the Brazilian rain forest. That place is huge, they must have been taken there by a guide, a local of sorts. Ancient cultures around the world have been making their own poisons since the beginning of time."

She picked up one of the instruments and twirled it lightly, a technique similar to the one I had done last night. Her slight accent was tinged with enthusiasm as she looked around the room.

"The Fraternity tried to make a biological weapon against us using the future when they created the toxin, but we were able to fight it. Now, they looking into the past."

Tinga placed the instrument down. "There's a man from the village that I grew up in just outside of Shanghai. We were never able to afford Western healthcare and he was able to cure every ailment that ever came up in our town."

Pekwarsky frowned at her. "A medicine man?"

She glared at him. "That's not what we called him, but I suppose that is the equivalent, yes. His family has been using herbal remedies for centuries. He might be able to help you."

Wesley looked at me. Whether he was seeking reassurance, advice or both, I couldn't tell. But I wouldn't make the choice for him.

He looked away and sighed. "Well, Western medicine says I'm gonna die, so lets give it a shot."

"Good, we leave in an hour."

I frowned at Pekwarsky, standing up. Something was wrong. I hadn't noticed it before. His body was tense, like a string on a bow. His eyes were hard and his posture stiff. Mage seemed to notice it a fraction of a second after me. Wesley looked confused and Tinga shook her head. The youngest in our group were oblivious to the warning signs.

"No, he's still too unstable. The high altitudes in the transport planes could drastically alter his blood pressure. He'd be in there for six hours to get to the Sanctuary in Japan. There's no telling what that will do to his body. We should wait at least a day or two."

"We do not have time. I just received word from our contacts. The Fraternity will be here in three hours. They are bringing everyone."

TBC . . . . .

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