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Four Little Words Challenge

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"You need to go," Erik throws a bag in Raoul's lap. He's wearing his mask again for the first time in—a while. Raoul can't recall the last time he'd seen the white porcelain.
The words don't make any sense.
"Go where?" He asks wondering if he's misheard.
"Wherever you came from viscount, as long as you are out of my sight!" The phantom sneers, eyes wild, chest heaving reminding Raoul of their first encounter. The meaning of the words seeps into Raoul's brain slowly, comprehension bringing unexpected agony that has Raoul surging upright, "What? Why?" He demands, "you said I would be staying here—"
"Until I grow tired of you, and I have!" The phantom interrupts, stepping back when Raoul reaches for him, "go!" The word is growled, yet Erik won't meet Raoul's eyes demanding that Raoul get the hell out; up into the world of pretty girls and sunlight, the world that Raoul had once thought he could never live without.
"I don't want to!" He blurts desperately, catching the phantom's arm and the world stops.

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“This was never right,” Gabriel mutters to himself, hands tightening uselessly around Dracula's throat, memories unfurling in his head like poisonous flowers. He looks into the evil creature's eyes and sees himself reflected in terrifying detail. 

Suddenly, he remembers what Vladislaus' skin felt like was warm and alive, how the cruel lips tasted—"No!" Gabriel howls, pushing the vampire away, "no! You lie!" He would never have done that, could never have sinned—except that he had sinned, sinned heinously enough for God to take his memories in punishment, "you have done something to my mind!" He accuses stumbling back. 

"Am I?" Dracula asks curiously not bothering to follow, "what are you thinking of, Gabriel?" He licks his lips, and Gabriel remembers bare bodies twined together and how wrong and right it felt. They had to hide, and the fear of discovery had only inflamed their lust, at first. "Do you remember why you did it?" Dracula demands, finally following as Gabriel turns away looking for a way out of the room, "do you remember why you killed me?" 

He remembers the lead ball of fear in his gut, how it started to squeeze the air out of his lungs and the creeping despair that came along with it. Gabriel remembers spending nights on his belly in front of the cross praying for salvation from the temptation that was Vladislaus. 

He'd come to the Valerius hold to serve the church, trained for that purpose from the moment he'd been old enough to hold a sword. "Do you remember, Gabriel?" Dracula whispers from right behind him, breath cool on Gabriel's cheek, hands sliding around his waist coaching him to turn. 

"Yes!" Gabriel moans, and Dracula laughs as their lips meet. 

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“I don’t want you,” Raoul moans into the pillow, his body heavy and languid from the phantom's perverse attentions, his mind already fighting the memory of pleasure. It's only his body that reacts to the monster's touch, his mind, his heart belong to Christina—she is everything he's ever wanted—and yet the memory of her fades more and more, every time the monster reaches for him. 

Raoul isn't sure how long he's been in this underground world, Persephone kept prisoner by Hades, forced to suffer his touch and company, except that unlike Persephone he's offered himself up willingly to save his lover the horror of spending the rest of her days in darkness. 

"I don't want you," Raoul tells the universe, as the monster curls against his back, pressing his deformed cheek against the back of Raoul's neck. The monster's velvet cloak drapes over them both warm and shimmering in the candle light like the midnight sky. 

"I don't want you," Raoul whispers, finding the monster's hand by feel, and grasping it tightly.

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“Are you fucking insane!?” Marcus yells they are lucky to be in no-man/machine-land because otherwise, they would have a terminator or ten on their asses in seconds. John doesn't even flinch, he leans back against the rock wall like he's in a lay-z-boy or something."No one has asked me that for a long time," John finally offers after the silence threatens to run too long, "I am the savior of humanity after all." 

"No one has asked me that for a long time," John finally offers after the silence threatens to run too long, "I am the savior of humanity after all." How Marcus ended up the guard dog of the Messiah, especially after dying twice, he'll never know. Kate won't tell, and he's grown tired of asking, and trying to off himself. "Yeah, says a lot about humanity doesn't it?"  

"Fuck you!" John answers mildly. 

"And I repeat: are you fucking insane?" Maybe it's the twenty or so years Marcus had been dead in the first place, a lot of things could have changed in twenty years, maybe it was just the apocalypse, "aren't you married?" He tries a different track. 

"Yeah, I am," John nods, still smiling like Marcus is some kind of idiot, "you know, I don't think I've had any say in what I was supposed to be doing with my life or how I wanted to lead it—until the world actually ended."  

"What?" Marcus wonders if he shouldn't be calling Kate, or someone, anyone to help with John's crazy before he decided to do something crazier than trying to fuck Marcus. 

John grins at him a little too manically for Marcus' taste, "not like I can get a shiny new mid-life crisis car these days, have to settle for a shiny—" 

This is when Marcus punches him.

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Dust dances in the light of the setting sun, behind the glass the pool sparkles. 

The specks are gold like the dunes surrounding the compound on all sides, the vastness of the desert stretching beyond what a man can walk. Turning away from the window, James buries his face in the crook of Ernst's neck ignoring the fond chuckle and warm huff of breath ruffling his hair. 

"I had hoped you would sleep a little longer," Ernst sounds concerned and James feels a twinge of something that might just be guilt. He doesn't sleep well under the best circumstances, ghosts of people he's never known and places he's never been haunt his dreams, leaving him restless and wide awake in the middle of the night wondering what kind of bastard he is for doubting his brother's sincerity. "I would hate to sedate you," but Ernst would still do it, as James has learned after a previous bout of insomnia. 

"You think you’re funny?" He huffs, throwing an arm across Ernst's chest and gets clawed. Ernst laughs as the vicious mop of fur on his other side bares its teeth and hisses ready to strike again. 

"Do forgive Gretchen, she's never had to share my affections before." he doesn't sound very apologetic, James blinks slowly at the evil mop without any discernible results. 

"Gretchen?" He asks, the creature doesn't look like a 'Gretchen', and Ernst doesn't seem the type for—Not that James can form any proper opinion on the subject. Even after weeks of Ernst's company, James still can't get a handle on his brother. 

"You aren't jealous are you, my dear?" Ernst asks, hooking his fingers under James' jaw, raising his face for a light kiss. "Gretchen kept me warm when I could not have you," the next kiss is more aggressive, it puts James on his back while the cat leaves the bed in a huff ignored by both its master and annoyance. "I suppose I have to thank the demonic creature," James muses, the weight of Ernst grounding him.  

"Later," Ernst commands, and James obeys eager to be distracted from the haze that clouds most of his thought by something tangible, someone—who cares about him. 

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“You don’t want me,” Sean says. 
"You’d think my dick would be evidence to the contrary," Mike points out sweetly, arching his back and spreading his legs to give Sean a better view of said hard dick. He's taking up all of the couch, looking disconcertingly like he belongs there, dishelmed and entitled. 

"Thank you for sharing, not put it away. I don't sleep with criminals," Mike frowns up at him, pretty brown eyes wide, and Sean feels like he's just kicked an overly affectionate puppy. The hard-on gently swaying between them should make him feeling like that impossible, "or assets!" He adds before Mike can start down that road. 

"I notice you still haven't told me to get out," Mike reaches down, takes himself in hand stroking slowly, all the while undressing Sean with his eyes. 

"Stop that!" He barks annoyed, with himself more that Mike, because he isn't that easy. 

"Make me!" Mike's grin is razor sharp, eyes soft with uncertainty. 

"Should have shot you in the face," Sean laments, dropping onto the couch to drag the annoying thief into his lap.

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“I’m not doing this!" John stammers holding Jurgen's wrist tight enough to bruise. Amazingly, the other man doesn't struggle, in fact, he doesn't move at all waiting patiently for John's reasons and objections. John's first instinct is to keep fighting, only there is nothing to attack, not really. 

Jurgen would have made a good Cleric, one of the best probably if he hadn't chosen to feel. "All you had to do is say so," he says calmly turning his hand once John loosens his grip a little, and slotting their fingers together. Their hands are rough: from handling guns and tools, speaking of their respective pasts to everyone who cares to take a second look. 

These days, John often thinks his hands should be dripping red, hot blood, all the blood he'd spilled before waking up. Jurgen doesn't agree, he doesn't blame John for killing his friends—and John can't take it. Breaking Father's hold on their people was one step towards redemption, but it isn't enough, nothing can ever be enough. 

"I can't—," John tries to explain dragging Jurgen closer while desperately wishing to push him away in case bad karma transfers, "you shouldn't want—," he bows his head, burying his face in Jurgen's throat breathing his comforting scent and fighting tears. 

"Still the Cleric, I see," Jurgen says, amusement in his tone. John jerks away, aghast at the accusation. He doesn't expect Jurgen to follow, doesn't expect a warm hand on his cheek drawing him back, "you can't dictate what I feel, John," Jurgen tells him, brushing their lips together.

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Natasha catches him looking while she's zipping up. The dress was selected by wardrobe to make her as distracting as possible, and it seems to be working already, on a surprising mark. Sometimes it annoys her that no matter her skills, far too often she's still used as decoration for someone who's deemed more capable simply because they are male. 

Opening the box of jewelry she takes a moment to admire the stones: sparkling and cold and sharp. They are beautiful, and for an instant, Natasha wonders what it would be like to own such jewelry for real, before smothering the though. She's still fingering the clasp when she feels Nick at her back.  

"Let me," He asks out of the blue. She stiffens, every instinct she has telling her to step away, turn and face—she'd thought that she knew him, had thought him to be different, at the very least uninterested, but suddenly Natasha doesn't know what he might want. He reaches past her, plucks the necklace for the box and opens the clasp. The middle of her back itches with the knowledge that someone is behind her, close enough to stick a knife between her ribs, and Natasha has to allow it because Nick's her boss. 

"You can trust me," he says, the stones cold against her throat, the tips of his fingers brushing against her neck hot, the contrast leaving her breathless with nerves for an instant but then his hands are gone and she can breathe again. He doesn't move away or speak, she half expects his hands to return, to be pulled back against him and ordered—.  

There is a bracelet in the box, Natasha realizes, so she raises her wrist offering it to him instead of stepping away curious to see what he will do if he is making empty promises like all the other superiors she's had. 

Nick reaches around her to fasten the clasp instead of stepping to the side and she gets ready for him to disappoint her—but Nick only fastens the bracelet, and steps away, returning to his own preparations without a word. Natasha's hands don't shake while she checks her knives and the small gun she'll be hiding in her purse, but it's a close thing.  

The shadow of his touch lingers on her skin, itches as she gets in the proper mood to play a trophy on a man's arm, for listening while looking like she isn't, paying attention while bored out of her mind—sometimes even wet work looks tempting in comparison with these kinds of bodyguard assignments. Nick opens the door for her like a real gentleman and guides her towards the elevator with his hand proprietarily on her back somehow keeping to the small part of it that's covered with fabric.  

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“You’re a terrible cook,” Sean sneers, confiscating the pan of pasta Mike had been working on, and dumping it in the garbage.  

"Like you can do better!" The thief scoffs because he still hasn't realized operatives mostly do paperwork and boring-ass surveillance, mostly on a budget. Sean had learned to cook a long time ago, in self-defense because he refused to be killed by a fellow agent's culinary FUBARs.   

"Get the hell out of my kitchen, Mason!" He orders, and of course Mike doesn't do as told, dropping into a chair instead. Sean is tempted to kick the legs out from under it when Mike rocks back balancing against the wall on the back legs, Sean retreats to the fridge instead.  

"I can't believe you cook, man!" Sean snorts at the amazement in the words, refraining from commenting that most adults do. Hunting down ingredients and starting the prep work, he listens to Mike fidgeting behind his back, probably offended to be called a child.  

"What to help?" He finally offers, unsurprised to have a thief plastered against his side looking up at him attentively even before he finishes speaking.  

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“Alright, I love you,” John intones flatly, eager to get past words and on to touch. He has always—appreciated, liked, loved touch even when he hadn't realized was feeling too—Jurgen, on the other hand, likes words. 

It's not like they have a lot of time for this: between John's kids, the dog, and Libria—still burning in places, but slowly finding another equilibrium demanding their time. 

"No you don't, you don't know what you're feeling," Jurgen likes to explain things, likes to explain feelings and why John isn't feeling what he thinks he is all the time, much to John's frustration. By now John knows enough to know that sometimes he really hates the other man—but would hate to lose him even more like he would hate to lose his kids, like he doesn't feel about the dog. 

"So, explain it again, or better: show me," he demands slyly, dropping onto the bed, the new deep purple blanket scratchy against his bare back. 

Jurgen turns away from the window, coming to sit at John's hip looking—sad.

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“Everyone thinks I’m your boy toy?!” Newt yells sitting up sharply from where he's been sprawling on Chow's couch most of the afternoon going over the reports the minions had written about their latest efforts to clone at least some of the remaining Kaiju parts.

He can sort of see how others might have gotten that idea, really, he has been spending a lot of time with Hannibal after all… 

"Don't be fucking rude," Hannibal’s fingers settle warm and heavy on the back of Newt's neck after rapping sharply on the top of his head. And yeah, it's not like Newt hasn't thought about it: sure Hannibal is—old...er, but aside from the occasional need for glasses and a fondness for Sudoku it’s easy to forget that he has at least 20 years on Newt, maybe, probably more. Not that he's completely geriatric, and as Newt has already discovered he certainly doesn’t have the body of a senior citizen. Newt leans in until they are nose to nose trying to read Hannibal’s facial expression in search of sincerity.   

“And you don’t mind?” What he really wants to ask is: ‘Are you gay?’ and ‘Do you actually want to have sex?’ and ‘Really? With me?’. Hannibal huffs dropping onto the couch at Newts side and dragging him into his lap possibly so Newt can feel exactly how much Hannibal doesn’t mind the idea of fucking him because the thing now poking him in the ass is really, really impressive.  

“Does it feel like I mind, you moron?” Okay, so where social interaction is concerned Newt is pretty much a moron, always has been. That sort of thing happens when you spend almost ten years mostly locked in a lab with a mathematician and loads of Kaiju guts. Rock star or not, Newt wasn't getting out much before the final battle, and after, he hadn't had to work for it because the people he’d been sleeping with hadn’t cared about him as much as about being seen with one of the heroes of the monster war.  

“You could have said—," he pouts regretting all the sex he could have been having for MONTHS. 

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“Please talk to me,” Natalya begs, but back in London, not fighting for his life, no longer on the job, James finds himself without anything to say. On home soil, he doesn't have to protect her any longer, doesn't need her any longer either. 

He's been using Natalya as a buffer, he's already realized, a distraction he'd desperately needed since coming too tied up in the damn helicopter. James leaves her in a luxurious hotel suite to wait for new papers and takes to the streets despite her invitation to stay. Out in the cold night air James allows himself to think about Alec. 

He should be thankful for Alec's assumptions, James thinks, they saved him from actually making a decision. 

"I did think about asking you to join my little scheme but somehow I knew, 007's loyalty was always to the mission, never to his friend," Alec had mocked, and James had been sedated before he'd gotten a word in edgewise. 

It was for the best really, after all, what would the world have come to if Alec had asked him after all?

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"I would like nothing better than to kill you, remove you from the world like the perversion of order that you are," Zod muses, petting Clark's hair like someone would pet a cat or dog, “I need you, though,” the general grimaces, his hands tightening and making Clark wince. Zod's hands wander down along Clark's temple, along his throat down to his chest. His hand splays across the symbol that's supposed to be Clark's family's shield, the symbol that stands for hope—Restraints and death threats aside, once upon a time Clark would have given everything to meet someone like him, who actually knew where he'd come from. 

"I won't give up fighting as long as you're threatening Earth," Clark tries for casual like he still has everything under control despite being tied down and helpless for the first time in his life. 

Zod, ignores the threat as if Clark has never spoken, "I wonder if this was your father's way to ensure you would be kept alive as long as possible?" He traces the symbol on Clark's chest over and over, "your father was a great man—I would have preferred to have him at my side." There is something like regret in Zod's tone, sadness in his face that looks sincere, that makes Clark wonder how well Zod had known his birth parents, and what happened, why Clark's parents had decided to shoot him into outer space. 

"My father died to save me!" Clark snaps, guilt twisting in his gut at the memory of watching his father sacrificing himself to keep Clark safe, by comparison, his biological parents haven't done that much, just shoved him in a pod and pulled a trigger. 

"Unfortunately, he betrayed his people," Zod scowls, "but we survived, and shall thrive again." He stands, "if you are very lucky—perhaps there will be enough of you left after we extract the Cortex to see Krypton rise again." He waves his hand, and the ceiling comes to life above Clark's head mechanical arms descending towards him. He wants to stay silent, not give Zod the satisfaction, but unlike anything made on Earth, Kryptonian knives and needles can hurt him, and soon enough Clark is screaming.

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When Jean had still been alive, Scott, on rare occasions, when he was sure everything was running smoothly. Indulged in giving up. Jean had a way of making him relax, to give up and let things happen, he couldn't argue with. 

He'd been going without said indulgence until Logan returned—Scott isn't completely sure how sniping and recriminations became biting kisses and bruises on Scott's hips and back from getting fucked into the wall. The one good thing that's come from their encounters is Scott gets a decent night of sleep every time Logan drags him off to be used like a cheap whore.   

"You'll strain something with all that thinking," Logan tells him appearing from nowhere.   

"Shouldn't you be teaching a class?" He snaps relieved for already having put his visor on. Not that he could do a lot of damage to a man who can regenerate from pretty much anything, but Scott hates how easy it is for him to injure the people surrounding him just by being sloppy.   

"I'm getting to it, not like the kids are going anywhere," he pushes into the shower stall ignoring Scott's protest and stealing his soap. Through the red tinted lens, the suds sliding down Logan's chest and catching in his body hair look like blood.  

"Don't be an ass," He snaps trying to get past the other man and out of the shower. Logan deliberately gets in his way and after a couple of failed attempts, Scott leans back against the wall deciding that waiting it out is easier than picking a fight. Unfortunately, that isn't what Logan has in mind either, he grabs Scott's hand guides it to his body and before he knows it Scott is chasing suds across hard planes prodding to get Logan to turn around so Scott can do his back.   

Once Logan has turned away from him, Scott is tempted to just walk past him and escape...but his hands seem to be glued to Logan's skin tracing the muscles as they move under his hands. The savage man groans and arches into Scott's hands, demanding more contact without saying a word.  

"We're both going to be late," Scott warns stepping closer until he can drape himself across the man's back. Logan growls his appreciation of Scott's touch ignoring his words as he usually does. His dick slots between the cheeks of Logan's ass and Scott gives up. He leans down to mouth at the back of Logan's neck keeping the touches too light for Logan's liking until annoyed, the man spins shaking him off and pinning Scott to the wall. 

"For someone in a hurry, you're damn slow, Slim," Scott bites back a grin and arches his neck in invitation.  

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“Maybe I’m just crazy,” Ichabod sighs looking down at his hands. Masbeth grimaces not venturing an opinion. In twenty years in service, Masbeth had always preferred not to think on the subject. Ichabod might not have been the easiest of masters, but Masbeth had gotten used to him, and to Miss Katarina.  

"I couldn't say, sir," he ventures eventually looking out of the window at the misty woods and trying not to remember the ghost. Ichabod is still looking down at his hands, Masbeth remembers there being scars on Ichabod's palms a long time ago, now they are smooth with age. 

"If not you? Who?" Ichabod snaps, pulling his coat tighter. Masbeth has to concede that there isn't anyone else left. Ichabod looks up all of a sudden, eyes clear for the first time since Miss Katarina drew her last breath. "Stop! Stop the coach!" He yelled grabbing for his cane and banging on the carriage roof. Masbeth fears his master jumping out while the carriage is still moving, "stop now!" 

Ichabod practically falls out of the carriage, his cane barely keeping him upright as he stumbles towards the edge of the woods at full speed. Masbeth lags behind ensuring the driver doesn't leave them behind and abscond with the bags, but he manages to catch up catching a glimpse of Ichabod's back between the trees. How the old man manages to make his way through the underbrush, Masbeth doesn't know, he has to actively fight his way through. 

Somehow a clearing appearing once they are out of sight of the carriage isn't a surprise, neither is the Horseman waiting calmly in front of a familiar tree. Masbeth watches Ichabod approach as if he's pulled towards the ghost waiting for him. The Horseman seems more real that the man in a way, and for a moment Masbeth isn't sure which of the two is real. Then Ichabod almost crashes into the demon horse, and the Horseman dismounts to steady the old man. 

Masbeth wants to run forward, to get between his master and the demonic creature, but some power makes his legs heavy. Not that Ichabod looks in need of protection. Unlike decades ago, he doesn't show any fear at all. In fact, Masbeth could swear his master and the creature are—talking. Frozen, he watches as the ghost straightens opening his heavy cloak and draping it around Ichabod's stooped shoulders drawing the old man in. 

In later years, Masbeth will never be sure what happened after. 

In his nightmares he sometimes sees the ghost drawing his sword and sometimes he imagines his former master trying to get away, and sometimes he remembers him stepping into the blade. What is always clear in his mind are the two figures on horseback holding on tight as the demonic horse rears before galloping off into the dark woods.

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“I can’t do this,” were the first words out of Marcus' mouth when he opens his eyes and—he never expected heaven, in fact, would have laughed his ass off if he'd seen the pearly gates or some shit like that. Hell—would have been less of a surprise, though demons with pitchforks and lakes of fire always seemed a bit overdramatic to him. On death row, Marcus had kind of hoped for a big, fat nothing. 

Kate frowns down at him, and Marcus wonders if he sounds weird or something. He wonders why John is missing—, "you can't do what?" She snaps, sharper than he remembers her being. 

"Why the fuck am I alive again?" He growls back, because this is twice he's been resurrected now, and the first time had been more than enough for him. 

"John, John is the reason you're alive again, and we found a power source that fit," she tells him returning to the messiah's wife, saint Kate the long-suffering performance he'd gotten used to seeing from her. 

Marcus hates that he's still jealous of her, that he's been programmed to be jealous. 

"Then why the fuck isn't he here?" If Marcus has to be alive, he wants—he needs John to be there. 

"He's gone, we—I'm not sure what happened, he stopped talking to me a long time ago. All of a sudden he'd just up and left didn't even leave a message for Sarah." It takes Marcus a moment to remember that Kate had been pregnant when he'd last been alive, fucking demented Connors—spinning around in circles, and he'd always thought John only had daddy issues, or maybe it was Kate who thought naming their kid after saint Sarah was a bright idea. 

"You want me to find him," he concludes tiredly and Kate nods in reply, "yeah, okay, sure why the fuck not, not like I have anything better to do," and when he does—Marcus is going to kick Conner's ass, and maybe after he's going to see if he can fuck it too. If he has to be alive, figures he's entitled, and John owes him anyway. 

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"Please, come with me," Forrest mumbles, his hand warm and solid on her wrist light as a feather. She considers the request while topping up his coffee. It's early still, and the middle of the week so the station is quiet, they have some time before the regulars start rolling in looking for a drink. "Are we going to get back before lunch?" She tries to read him, but Forrest refuses to meet her eyes, hiding behind his mug, the only sign of his agitation a muscle twitching in his jaw, "I'll get my hat," she finally sighs setting down the coffee carafe.  

They don't get out much, don't need to with supplies getting delivered and everyone passing through the station sooner or later anyway, don't want to usually truth be told, but the drive is nice. Maggie can sit back, enjoy a cigarette and Forrest's solid presence beside her. It's a nice day, warm and not too cloudy, she wants to scoot over and lean against Forrest's side, lay her head on his shoulder. 

They stop in front of the city hall, Forrest squinting ahead, knuckles turning white from the force with which he grips the wheel. 

"Got the certificate," he sounds the word out, practically letter by letter, patting the pocket that presumably holds the paper, "figured—hmm," it takes Maggie a moment to figure out what he's trying to say. Usually, she's better at it, but this...what they had was enough, and yet something inside her warms.  

She nods, they get out walking up to city hall side by side, on the steps Forrest's hand bumps her own, and for a moment their fingers tangle.  

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“Honestly, just stop it," James sighs sipping his martini. Alec grins or just bares his teeth in challenge. He hadn't planned on spending the evening drinking with the other double-0, and yet there he was. 
"Stop what?" Alec finally asks, sitting back in an obnoxious sprawl. 

"I'm not a bloody mark, Alec!" He snaps, fatigue he'd carried home from his mission having killed his appetite for games. Alec, on the other hand, had been stuck doing situational analyses for weeks and it shows. 

"Aren't you?" Alec downs his own shot, "isn't everyone?" 

James would like to object, but there really isn't any point: sooner or later they are all marks to someone. What they shouldn't be is marks to each other, not when they are expected to watch each other's backs in the field. He leans back closing his eyes, counting seconds in his head, when he reaches 60 he opens them again, and there Alec is kneeling in front of him. 

Alec's hand is warm on his thigh, hooded eyes still predatory. 

James lets his hand fall over Alec's. 

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“You always this quiet?” Mike asks, aggressively awake while Sean is trying to catch a couple of winks. The damn thief rolls over, plastering himself against Sean's side. Paris in the summer is clammy and suffocatingly hot, the last thing Sean wants is another body glued to his skin. 

"Are you always this annoying?" He growls into the pillow, elbowing the kid in the ribs, Mike retaliates by digging his nails in Sean's flank and not budging. It's not even that he objects to a bit of a cuddle, it's just the middle of summer and, "fuck off, Mason!" Sean hasn't caught more than five hours a night for three weeks straight now...

"Fine," the kid answers, curiously short all of a sudden. He pulls away, rolling off the bed, "I'm out of here."  

And that wasn't what he wants either. By the time Sean manages to get himself up, Mike has already marched out into the living room with his clothing under his arm. Sean catches him jumping around wiggling into his ridiculously tight pants while trying to get his shirt on at the same time. It's easy to grab the kid by the scruff and topple Mike onto the couch. 

"What the hell!" Mike growls, trying to kick at Sean, anger turning to shock when he drops in the kid's lap. 

"Where the fuck do you think you're going?" He demands, grabbing Mike's chin when the kid tries to look away.  

"Let go of me!" The kid growls, but he isn't putting any force behind the hits he manages to land and avoids sensitive areas which Sean told him to aim for, "I was doing what you wanted!" There is hurt behind the anger in the pretty blue eyes, that almost has Sean feel guilty.  

"Idiot," he sighs, wondering how he managed to find himself a 'sensitive' type, "I don't want you to leave."  

"Not the impression I got," Mike frowns at him. 

"It's fucking hot, and I'm sleep deprived!" Sean enunciates right in Mike's face, "that means I do not want to talk and do not want your furry ass glued to me while I try to redress one of the two issues. If I ever want you to get the fuck out, you will know." 

The kid keeps frowning, but his hands stop pushing, sliding around Sean's waist instead. "And you couldn't just say that before?" He sulks. 

"I was trying to sleep before, but since that's obviously off the table—," Mike gropes his ass hard, watching him with suspicion. Sean lets it happen, gets himself comfortable in the kid's too narrow lap. The bed would better, but for once he's willing to compromise, he might not even mind the sticking together, after.   

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“Is that my shirt?” Logan sniffs, ignoring the way Scott's ears go red. 

"Is it?" The kid mumbles, "I can't exactly see—," he trails off significantly, Logan snorts. 

"Try that on someone who doesn't know better," Logan isn't sure why he allows the baiting. The kid is too young, and there are still memories from a different timeline in his head, of dark times he'll be damned if he shares with anyone else. 

"So, you want it back?" Scott asks grudgingly, Logan doesn't get paid enough for this. He swears he's going to march over to Xavier's office, and quit—he swears it every day, but somehow never makes it there. 

"Wash it first," he growls turning away, waving at Scott that he's dismissed. The kid runs off, filling up the shirt nicely. With a shock, Logan realizes that he's been stuck in the past for three years now and the chance of getting back to where he's supposed to be has passed. Wandering out of the mansion, he lights a cigar and tells himself he isn't following his nose closer to the new dormitories, where the window to Scott's room is open, and Logan can smell the kid jerking off still wrapped up in Logan's shirt. 

Scott isn't quiet about it, in a house of extraordinary beings, that's practically an invitation. Hell, Logan knows it's an invitation, one he can't accept even now the kid's no longer underage, not with the things inside his head, with history all twisted up and crooked, not when the kid is meant for better things.

Chapter Text

“You love me, right?” John asks ducking rapid fire. Marcus doesn't even bother glaring, he's gotten used to John getting maudlin on occasion, it's just that it usually doesn't happen in the middle of a firefight. Come to think of it, love doesn't get mentioned either. 

"Is this going to be one of those stupid ass heroics suggestions?" He takes a chance popping up to throw a grenade at the approaching terminator. Perfect aim, now that he's conscious of it, comes in pretty handy on occasion. He wonders how the machines figured giving him that was a good idea, somewhere in his head there might be an answer, except Marcus doesn't want to dig for it. The grenade lodges under the terminator's clavicle taking off its head when it blows giving them a breather. Taking one out doesn't mean more aren't on their way after all, not in the badlands. 

"No—no heroics, well—," John doesn't ever hesitate. Marcus hasn't seen him look this indecisive—hasn't seen him look so pained since waking up, "we—found the time machine." He finishes in a rough whisper. 

Marcus stays silent listening for incoming threats, even if they weren't in a firefight, he wouldn't know what to say. He thinks about the kid—who isn't actually a kid any longer, hasn't been for a while now—"Marcus, I want you to go with him," John breaks into his thoughts, "I want you to protect him!"  

"Yeah, okay, sure," he sighs, because John is right: Marcus loves him, loves him enough to deal with going back to the nineteen eighties. 

Chapter Text

“I’m out of here,” Mike is pretty when he's angry, blue eyes shooting icy sparks, posture tense. His backpack is already on his shoulder, Sean notes, as the former thief fumbles with a key ring. When did the kid get a key to the apartment, anyway? Sean wonders, then he remembers getting fed up with Mike sneaking in, compromising security several times a week and throwing the key at him in annoyance some time ago.  

"Okay," he says stupefied by the sudden turn of events, it never occurred to him that he'd ever be in this situation. 

Mike isn't supposed to get fed up with him and leave. Sean doesn't want him to leave, but the words to stop the kid stick in his throat. Sean wants to grab Mike by the scruff, and shake him until—until what exactly? 

Sean thinks, Mike is too much of a security risk to make an agent out of him, he's too shady to get any decent job on his own. All Mike is good for, is the occasional backup and keeping Sean's apartment moderately clean when Sean is buried in work. 

Not that Sean would have had him underfoot for much longer anyway, he'd been planning on sending the kid away somewhere he'd be much safer than at Sean's side. Now, it's Mike sending himself away, no difference at all. 

They stand there, waiting for the other to make the next move. 

Mike is the one to break, to bite his lip, give Sean a sharp nod and heads out. 

He doesn't slam the door, the kid isn't the type, and the apartment turns damn quiet.

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“I can’t do this!” Curtis groans, hiding his face in his hands. He doesn't expect Gilliam to chuckle at his distress, to see amusement at a situation that's ripping him apart from the inside. 

"You have to realize it's—only natural," the old man shrugs, "if somewhat, eh, misguided, perhaps." 

'Misguided' isn't the word Curtis would use, 'fucked up', 'obscene' and 'perverse' don't even cut it. Somehow, with everything that happened, he'd never thought about— 

"Talk to the kid! Tell him, tell him it's wrong, tell him something!" He snaps, hating Gilliam for being amused, hating himself for not being able to tell Edgar why he can't, why they can't, what Curtis had done. 

"Is it really so bad?" Gilliam wonders, "to have someone warm to curl up with? Give the boy something, and he will grow out of it eventually." 

"You know what I see when I look at him!" He snarls kicking viciously at the unyielding wall of the train. 

"I know what I see when you look at him."

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“I’m sorry, but no,” Jurgen whispers against the sweaty back of John's neck. The full weight of him on John's sore back. He strains weakly against the bonds holding him restrained: soft leather and sturdy chain. 

A Cleric should never allow himself to be bound thusly: bindings mean death, he'd been taught as long as he can remember. He doesn't even remember why Jurgen's offer had sounded like a good idea—why he'd said 'yes' to being stripped, restrained and beaten. 

He wonders if technicians employed the same tactics with sense offenders over the years? 

His eyes water as he breathes through the pain of the belt connecting with his back. It's John's own belt, the one that belonged to his uniform, Jurgen had him watch as he oiled the leather to a beautiful sheen before he'd been tied down. 

"Please," John tries again, wondering if maybe he heard wrong. 

"No," Jurgen repeats, far calmer than John would be if their positions were reversed, but then Jurgen has had far more practice with keeping himself under control. 

The belt connects again, and John groans, unable to swallow the sound of pain any longer. His back is on fire, his nerves—, Jurgen's weight returns. Jurgen's arms circle him, hold John up when he sags in his bonds counting on Jurgen to hold him up, tears rolling faster and faster down his cheeks until he's sobbing hysterically confused by the conflicting sensations running through his body. 

"It's alright, John," Jurgen whispers, his hands petting up John's arms, supporting him against Jurgen's chest, "you're alright, just feel." 

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“Let me help you, you daft bastard!” Alec snaps, knocking James' hands away from the clasps of his tactical vest. They've made it to the safe house and now—James can finally admit that he's in pain. 

It's only a graze, but it's been bleeding steadily and his arm is getting stiff. He's damn cold too, almost cold enough to shake. Embarrassment churns in his gut as he watches Alec rummage around the dingy kitchen. 

"I'm fine—," the very first time James is allowed out into the field properly, and he gets himself shot. 

"Sure you are, that's why you're using one hand to take off your tac vest," along with the first aid kit a bottle of anonymous liquid appears, James can smell the alcohol from across the table, "now be a good boy and thank your predecessors for having an abysmal taste in drink." Alec smirks, laying the sterile packets of needles and thread out on the table between them, "can't use anesthesia, see since we might have to move fast."  

"Fuck," James huffs and reaches for the bottle.  

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“You look really tired, sir,” Rico says setting the food tray on Carl's desk. Carl doesn't quite remember when the last time was he'd actually looked at himself in the mirror. How he looks, is generally irrelevant when he isn't doing PR, and he's had a lot of other things to do lately. 

"Just what I need to hear," he sneers but doesn't order Rico to take the damn tray off of the paperwork. If he's reading Rico right, it's far later than he thought it to be, and if he doesn't eat for much longer, Carl knows he's, going to get a headache and work will become that much harder. "Sit down, lieutenant," he orders inspecting the offering. He's too valuable to cut his rations, but decent food is getting more scares, far too many farmers having been recruited to the military, and the supply lines from other planets interrupted far too often. Johnny looks thin too since he isn't an active combatant any longer. 

Carl watches his childhood friend while chewing, Johnny sits not moving an inch, waiting for his next order. Sometimes, Rico exhibits unexpected initiative, but only in action, never in conversation, his eyes clear and expression impassive. Somewhere deep in Johnny Rico's mind, there is the man himself trapped and screaming. Sometimes Carl wishes he could talk to that man again, but the experiment must continue. Thanks to Carl's work with Johnny the recruiting office is already screening for those candidates who respond best to mental command. Thanks to Carl's work with Johnny, the Federation is going to have their perfect army sooner than later.

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“I believe in you, Lincoln,” Dr. Merrick says, his fingers trailing down Lincoln's spine. The deliberate touch makes him feel funny, no one is supposed to touch after all. In the reflective surface of the office door Lincoln can see Dr. Merrick's face, and the way he looks—it's weird. Lincoln has only ever seen that look directed at food people can't have, but Dr. Merrick wouldn't want to eat him would he?  

"Thank you, sir, I'll try harder," he says with as much sincerity as he can manage, which gets more difficult every time he gets ordered to the doctor's office after sneaking off into contaminated areas.  

"I'm sure you will," Merrick agrees stepping closer, his shirt rough against Lincoln's back, breath ruffling the hair on the back of his neck, the weight of him doing strange things to Lincoln's body. He wonders if this is why proximity isn't allowed? Because if all of them were feeling like this all the time? Nothing would get done, "after all compliance is its own reward, isn't it."  

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“I can’t trust you,” Anna tells him, "after everything you've done—everything you are! How can you even trust yourself?" Of course, Anna isn't there, no one is there, no one who could possibly be relevant. There are rules, after all, rules for everything rules telling them exactly how to live—except that those rules had not been made to live anywhere except under the iron fist of communism. No home, no woman, no family, no properly owned, or honest labor performed. 

Yet there Nicolai sits: partial owner of a restaurant that does decent business, looking after the family his former boss wasn't supposed to have had, and dreaming of a woman he will never be able to touch, but at least business is going well. He should be happy, he tells himself, all that is standing between him and absolute power is Kirill and it's only a question of time before he drinks or snorts himself into an early grave before he pisses someone off who won't be as easily killed or appeased as Soyka's brothers. 

All Nicolai has to do is wait, and dream.

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“I need to go," Frances whispers to herself surprised she doesn't want to cry.

She can't even bring herself to be sad about it, not really.

Once upon a time, she would have been, leaving Johnny would have felt like ripping out her heart. He'd followed her up to Mount Holyoke College and that had meant something then, but classes had happened and new friends, and a lot of the time they couldn't see each other with Johnny scrounging for work near and far. 

After the second year, it had seemed so sensible to meet up during the holidays, when neither was too busy with something—and then it was six months of brief phone calls and broken promises, she still remembers the rush of feeling his eyes and knowing that he saw her. 

It had never been anything serious, Frances tells herself looking down at the man sleeping soundly in the uncomfortable motel room bed. Whatever it was they had, it couldn't stand a chance, he couldn't very well enlist in the Peace Core with her, or wait for her to return if she ever does and she shudders at the thought of staying. 

He'd been so happy to see her, that she hates doing this to him, but it needs to be done.

Honesty being the best policy and all.

There is a picture she'd kept all these years, Penny had given it to her right before leaving the resort of her and Johnny dancing, looking happy, looking in love. Frances has carried that picture around with the whole time, but enough is enough. 

She puts it down on the pillow where he's bound to notice and grabs her bag.

Chapter Text

“I’m not wearing that!” John had always planned on taking his old uniforms outside to burn them, but there had been more important things to do, so he'd never gotten around to it. They remained hanging neatly on his side of the closet like specters of the past. It's been a year, and he still hadn't gotten around to it, and Jurgen wants him to wear one of them again? 

"People need closure," Jurgen's hands are heavy on John's shoulders, the weight of them solid against John's back, grounding him. Jurgen had been at John's back through the elation of victory and the troubles that followed, the months after when everyone went a little crazy, "people need to see—a Clerk, a point of familiarity." He'd rarely asked anything in return for the support, a rock for John to cling to in the middle of the night when his emotions raged. 

"Don't you have anyone else?" The clerks had adjusted best, after the offenders, some had collapsed under the guilt of their previous actions once the last of the Prozium wore off, some had shown no remorse, but they had known emotions, had understood them already to a certain extent.  

John understands why Jurgen and whoever is behind him, want to show him off, but that doesn't mean he has to like it. He had never considered that the resistance would want a figurehead, not that there had been time to consider anything then. 

"What's in it for me?" He finally sighs, leaning back against the taller man. 

"I will make you feel, very, very good," he can feel Jurgen's smile against his temple.

Chapter Text

“You’re always number one, that's what instinct tell you from the moment you are born. You know this without being taught, only a rational, reasonable adults realize that, in fact, they are not, that they are part of a bigger whole and it is their duty to put it first." Rasczak drones probably on autopilot, aware that they are barely paying attention.  

Mandatory not graded classes will do that to people. 

Rico would probably assign everyone some kind of reading in Rasczak's place and loaf, except none of the History and Moral Philosophy teachers do that. At least Rasczak lets them debate stuff that might be considered subversive, maybe to keep their attention maybe—probably to keep their attention.  

Funny how instead of enjoying their pension, or starting a business of their own a lot of veterans take menial jobs as teachers. Rico wouldn't, not that he can see himself as a veteran—a Citizen. Sometimes it seems like his dad is almost proud of not having done service, of continuing the family tradition of being civilians and expecting Rico to do the same.  

Only Harvard sounds boring compared to doing service or playing jumpball professionally like Dizzy is planning to do, and he doesn't actually have a head for figures, not really, no matter how many tutors his dad buys for him. 

Service, Rico imagines, service is probably fun, there are a lot of career options and he's bound to see at least the solar system. Besides, Carmen will be there as well, and Carl has been talking about it more and more lately in between gushing about the federal study thing he's doing.  

It's only two years, how bad can it be?

Chapter Text

"All of this," Alec muses making himself comfortable against the wall, "and for what?" How he manages to lounge against bare concrete, James had no idea.  

"Still, for England?" When Alec is leaning back, and not moving much, the fact that the back of his head is shattered is barely noticeable. 

James doesn't even care any longer, as long as Alec keeps mocking him, just having him around is—comforting. If Alec is there, it means the torture for the day is over, it means he's back in the cold, dark cell for whatever period they've decided to let him recover. "You're a stubborn son of a bitch," Alec sighs with one of his evil little grins which James has missed, sometimes desperately despite everything over the years. 

He wants to reach out and touch that evil little grin, wants to curl himself around the man until his body remembers what it feels like to be warm again. Only reaching out, would shatter the illusion and James really doesn't want to be alone.  

"Yes, well, not for much longer," he isn't sure how long they've been holding him by now, but every day he comes closer and closer to breaking. James hates admitting even to himself that sooner or later he will break body and mind betraying everyone and all. 

"That's the spirit," Alec cheers, "and who knows you might manage to piss them off enough that they'll shoot you prematurely."  

That, at least, is something James can look forward to if he can manage to find the energy to mouth off at them. 

“Just, stay with me,” he demands, "I can take it if you stay." 

"Always, James, you know that."

Chapter Text

“Will you help me?” Bernard muses, looking down on the freshly birthed clone squirming on the slab. He's getting tired of watching himself die over and over again. With the thing fully formed, it's hard to think of it as just a collection of cells. Making sure no one is close enough to see, he traces the nose with a finger, wonders if this is how he looks sleeping? The thing whines and tries to push into the touch, instinct taking over, instinct that cannot be stopped, cannot be smothered without damaging, the organs they need.

Chapter Text

“You’re such a bitch!” Cally screams at her as soon as Eden opens the heavy door, then she tries to kick Eden in the face, "how could you give me to them?"  

To Eden, she doesn't look so bad, there is a bit of a junky vibe around the bare arms where they must have taken blood over and over again, but otherwise—"At least they didn't dissect you," she shrugs, "so, do you want to go on screaming, or go home?" 

"I'm not going anywhere with you!" Cally protests, throwing a paper cup at Eden's head, it's—cute. 

"Come on, I promise not to give you to anyone else, ever again," she wheedles, ducking a pillow and a shoe, "I'll even let you drive?" 

Cally hesitates, she's a smart girl, a survivor and Eden likes that about her a lot, other things, they may come in time. 

"I don't know how to drive!" Cally snaps, but since she starts throwing things on a blanket and making a bundle, Eden considers it progress. 

"Don't worry, I'll teach you." 

Chapter Text

“Sorry, were you sleeping?” Raymond teases, looking up from slowly driving Will crazy. Sylvia doesn't know any better than taking her time, expecting her partners to give her pleasure the time it deserves, Raymond—may not have indulged that often, but had been familiar, and comfortable with the concept. Will, Will was still getting used to the idea of taking things slow, the one to forget that if they want it, they have all the time in the world. 

"You could have been quieter," she smiles perching on the armrest of the couch for a better view. Will looks wrecked: Raymond has him on his back, hands cuffed behind him, glassy-eyed and sweaty cursing Raymond to get on with it already, "but then I'd have missed all the fun."  

She runs her fingers over Will's lips, slips them into his mouth to silence his cursing, slipping her other hand between her legs. Raymond grins leaning forward, pushing deeper into Will, until his and Sylvia's mouths can meet over Will's body, letting Will watch as Silvia fucks Raymond's mouth with her tongue, ignoring his pleading whimpers and needy wiggling.

Chapter Text

“I don’t love you,” Marcus hopes bluntness will get through John's thick head since subtle didn't work, "I don't have the—whatever you call it anymore, instinct—," 

"Hormones," John offers blandly, "Kate told me."  

Apparently, that hadn't discouraged him in any way, shape, or form. Marcus wonders what Kate thinks about all of this, she can't be okay with her husband wanting... 

"Except you're programmed for me," he says and Marcus realizes that lack of hormones or not, he's still capable of feeling fear.

Chapter Text

“Will you marry me?” Demidov asks. When she was little she'd always imagined being deliriously happy, long before reality taught her that sort of thing doesn't happen. She wants to jerk her hand out of his grip, to jump up and back away screaming at him for daring to ask this of her. 

Instead, she looks into his strangely ernes face, cups his cheek in her free hand and forces her lips into a smile. 

"Yes, yes, of course, I will," she tells him and wonders why he doesn't realize she's lying.

Chapter Text

“I don’t want this to be more difficult that it has to be," Alec says faking sincerity, "he's always had the tendency to complicate things, have you noticed that already, my dear?" Natalya doesn't respond, but tries to kick him, getting slapped for the effort, "you always did like them feisty, James." 

"Let her go, she is harmless and no one would believe her anyway!" And if Alec does kill her, it will be because he thinks she might mean something to James. 

"Except that she's proven very resourceful and I can't have that," he grabs Natalya by the hair, shaking her like a rag doll, "of course, Xenia might want a new toy?" He grins manically at the crazy woman who's been standing silently at James' back during the whole conversation. 

"I'll even share!" She purrs over James' shoulder, and if it wasn't for the guns trained on him, he'd try to strangle her with his bare hands. 

"Tempting," Alec nods staring down at Natalya's chest obnoxiously, "what do you think, James? Will I like fucking her?"

Chapter Text

“Who were you with? Are you with?" Will slurs, vaguely aware he's probably too drunk for the company he's keeping, "came along with?" He tries to qualify, waving vaguely towards the back table where the RED agents are huddled deep in animated conversation. 

Will doesn't want to think what they could possibly have to discuss, but considering what happened last time it can't be anything good—, "Victoria," Han! The guy was introduced as Han, answers grudgingly, waving at the bartender for another vodka. 

"Huh," Will considers, Victoria comes with a complimentary Ivan these days and thus direct lines to at least two of what passes for 'superpowers', "you got the sane ones." He concludes somewhat resentfully. Will, on the other hand, got Frank Moses appearing randomly in his office asking weird, intrusive questions about Will's personal life and dragging him out to shoot people.  

The sore spot is, that the new director is willing to let it happen as long as Will writes a report after with any useful info he happens to pick up along the way. 

Will did not sign on for this, not even close.

Chapter Text

His hands tighten around the steering wheel, and it's like 20 years haven't happened. 

"Just do it, man!" Vaughan's voice is suddenly in his ear. Truth be told, James hadn't made a conscious effort to remember it, but it's like the man is there again sitting next to him. 

"I can do this!" He agrees, the headlights lights getting brighter and brighter by the minute, a tsunami of memories rising. Catherine would have laughed at him, at what had become of him: a creature of everything they'd been, of all that they'd had. She'd been the lucky one: flaming out just in time, James had lingered, he'd been left to fade. 

"Look at that! You're already there!" Vaughan says, delighted and James marvels that he's hard. He hasn't felt this good in a while, hasn't been able to get this hard in a while and there it is all of a sudden—the headlight flame, blinding bright, James makes the car jump forward eager for the pain, pressure and release the crash will bring. 

Chapter Text

“I’m not even sorry,” Jim says one day, staring out of the window. He spends a lot of time there, looking out over the sea. Somewhere behind the waves and clouds, there is the English coast, there are monsters tearing what's left of the country apart and desperate people—or another type of monsters maybe, fighting for survival. 

Jim spends a lot of time washing his hands, and looking after the animals along with Hannah. Sometimes Selena wants to ask, except that would mean talking about all the shit she'd done to survive, sometimes she envies their ability to cope, "—I killed, you know I don't even remember how many I killed, and I'm not sorry." He finishes dully, leaning against the cool glass. 

Selena wants to argue, what Jim means when he says 'killing' is 'murder', and there are a million reasons why it really wasn't. Her mouth is already open to tell Jim so, when Hannah comes running in, eyes wild. 

"Turn on the radio!" She yells, terrified, gasping for air, her hands shaking as she points at the cheap plastic gadget. 

Chapter Text

"You know, you could just tell him," Gretel tells Ben, leaning heavily onto his shoulder and using her stein to gesture in what probably meant to be Hansel's direction, "I really want you—," she lowers her voice and flutters her lashes and Ben realizes that he's getting laughed at, again.They do that a lot: the laughing, but they do it to each other as well, so Ben always figures it to be a sign of some kind of twisted affection. After all, they haven't left him behind yet! 

They do that a lot: the laughing, but they do it to each other as well, so Ben always figures it to be a sign of some kind of twisted affection. After all, they haven't left him behind yet. 

"You just want to watch him coldcock me, don't you?" He asks bitterly, showing her away. 

"I think, I liked you better when you still wanted to fuck me," Gretel muses mournfully, and kicks the stool from under Ben's ass, "go ask him already! Just remember that if you hurt him, I'll skin you—slowly." She smiles toothily. 

Ben gulps turning towards Hansel who is already watching them with amusement, making Ben wonder if the siblings can read each other's minds and just haven't bothered to mention it.  

He rubs his rump, sighs, and heads over.

Chapter Text

“I really need you," Sarah whispers, to Eric and Shelly's headstones, "I, I know I shouldn't ask but—," she doesn't come here too often anymore. There is never enough time really, not with school work, and finding a place to sleep every night. 

When Albrecht was still alive, she could crash at the sergeant's house now and then certain that she would be safe, but Albrecht got shot, and Darla overdosed. 

It's convenient really, she can visit all of them at once easy-peasy just stroll from one plot to another. 

Chapter Text

“I won’t let you do it!" James hisses, grabbing Alec by his shirt in an attempt to hold him back, "they will throw you out!" And then where will Alec be? Where will James be? After getting thrown out as well because he's not going to let Alec go alone. 

"And were dear old England be then?" Alec laments mockingly, always mockingly. Sometimes James wonders why Alec even enlisted with that kind of attitude. 

"Yes, you're staying in after curfew for England, Alec!" He tugs harder, and Alec finally turns with a put-upon sigh. 

"For England, James!" He answers, dropping onto the bunk and half in James' lap, the mocking smile smothered against James' mouth. 

If they do get thrown out, if might as well be for something more worth their while than breaking out for a pint in the middle of special forces training. He claws at Alec's undershirt until his hand meets skin, the knobs of Alec's spine like braille under his fingers. 

Alec's  face is unreadable in the dark, but he isn't doing anything rash and that's what matters.

Chapter Text

“Wanna go out sometime?” Kyle asks, not even surprised to receive a contemptuous glare, he's come to expect it. He shrugs in response, because, really it's the best he's got. If she expects—he's not even sure what she expects or thinks for that matter. Now that they have time to catch a breath, he has to wonder what the hell John had been thinking, if John had been thinking even, because he'd conned Kyle into falling in love with the idea of Sarah Conner, never the real flesh and blood woman had been mentioned. 

"Go out? Like on a date?" Sarah asks a shark's grin twisting her mouth. 

"I guess," he shrugs, now that there is an actual world they can live in, go out to watch a movie, or eat ice-cream or something—he isn't completely sure what people do on dates. 

"Fine," Sarah relents, graceless, awkward, but not—unwilling apparently, maybe even enthusiastic in her own special way that Kyle is slowly getting used to. 

Seated in the back, Pops looks up giving Kyle a thumbs up and one of his terrifying grins.  

Chapter Text

“So, it was you!”  Esca growls slamming into Marcus' bedroom like he owns the place, "you were spying on me in the bathhouse!" His voice thunders through the house, and Marcus prays to any god willing to listen that his uncle is visiting the village or he'll never hear the end of it. 

"I don't know what you speak of!" That he is in only his tunic means nothing, and who is Esca anyway to—except, Esca has every right to question, Marcus gave him the right. 

"I saw you watching, Roman!" Esca only calls him 'Roman' when particularly angry these days. 

Marcus hadn't meant to, but hadn't been able to look away either; Esca is beautiful. 

They had spent months together traveling north in search of the Eagle, he's seen Esca bare-chested many times before, but that had been different. His focus had been on the mission, on surviving and restoring his honor, only now that they are back in Calleva—does Marcus have time to think of evil things. 

"Well," Esca growls right in his face, damp and sweet smelling, "are you going to admit fault?" 

Like this, Esca is so close—and Rome is so far away. 

Marcus cups Esca's face and tastes his mouth, bracing for the sensation of Esca's father's blade sliding between his ribs. Marcus wouldn't blame him, after all—neither he nor Esca are youth any longer, both should be thinking of marriage not—this. He remembers Esca telling him that he hates everything Marcus stands for, and that was before Marcus decided to show him just how perverted he really is. 

Instead, he feels Esca's hand on his ass.

Chapter Text

“Can you shut up!?” John, because he's John now, he's allowed to be John once again, snaps at his personal devil, god—lord and puppet master. 

"No?" Simon answers or asks, the rude little bastard. John wants to breathe through the aggravation, Kable wants to slap the kid around some, just a little payback for—everything, for almost dying a million times over. "Maybe if you actually, you know, answer a couple of times like a normal human being!"  

The 'normal' makes John laugh, he isn't even sure he remembers what 'normal' is supposed to be. 'Normal' would be being with Angie and their daughter, except all he sees when he looks at them, is the blood on his hands, and the dirt he would leave on them with every touch. 

He'd made sure they were taken care of, then made sure they would never see him again. Simon is a different story. Nothing John could ever do could dirty up the soul of a kid who paid to play with human lives. 

"That isn't how it works," he grates, "you can't know by asking, you can only know by doing." Society and Slayers may be no more, but the tech is out there, some people still want it. The vial and injection gun are burning in John's pocket, his hands itching to pin the kid down and inject him, to make feel the way John had felt for months. 

"Then—show me!" Simon demands, marching over to a hidden drawer extracting a box. Frozen in place, like he's just been activated, Kable waits for the kid to open it, already knowing what he is going to see.

Chapter Text

“Hey, I said stop!” She screams after him, damn the neighbors, "Stop it, Brad! Where do you think you are going to go anyway?" He can't very well live out of the motel on the other side of town for long, not without losing his job, Mr. Bridges only employs decent people after all, and—it's not like Brad can go where he really wants to. He may act like he's the one getting the raw deal, but for Janet, it hasn't exactly been a picnic either, something Brad keeps forgetting. 

"I don't know, Janet!" Brad spins, only a step away from the sidewalk, still in their little white picket fence garden and still a step away from making rumors fly across their nice little town, "somewhere, anywhere but here!" His eyes are wild, knuckles white around the handle of his suitcase. Used to be, it was enough for them to remember that fateful night in their bedroom, behind closed curtains and locked doors, whispering their memories to each other, but little by little it stopped being enough. 

"I can't do this anymore, Janet!" He whispers, lost and desperate, looking like a little boy with his nose pressed against the candy shop window. 

'Neither can I' she wants to scream, but what would that accomplish? They can't go back, and Frank is dead anyway, even if Brad walks out, he'll be back in time for dinner like last time. All that Janet can do, is try salvaging their good standing in the community. 

Brad has always been the impulsive one, that's what she used to like about him once upon a time. Now, she just wants him to act normal.