There was a quiet thud, followed by something that sounded suspiciously like a stifled giggle.
Stephen opened one eye blearily, decided he had dreamed it, and was just falling back to sleep again when the noises were repeated.
Another thud. Another giggle.
“Ryan! Ryan, wake up! Someone’s here!”
“Wake up!” Stephen repeated in an insistent whisper. “There’s someone else here.”
“It’s probably just Connor,” Ryan mumbled, still more than half asleep. “Or maybe Cutter. Could even be Ditzy – he enjoyed himself last time a lot more than he wanted to admit.”
“Since when does Cutter giggle? Or Ditzy? Or Conn…” Stephen paused. “Okay, so maybe Connor giggles sometimes,” he allowed. “But this definitely sounded like a girly giggle.”
“So maybe it’s Abby. Or, heaven forbid, Claudia Brown.” Ryan was properly awake now, and thoroughly unhappy about it.
“I don’t think so. We need to check it out.”
Ryan pouted. “I’ve got no chance of getting any more sleep tonight until I do this, have I?” he asked exasperatedly.
Everything was quiet as the two of them slid silently out of bed, and Stephen really hoped he hadn’t dreamed the whole thing up. Ryan would never let him hear the end of it if he had.
They cracked the door open slightly and peered out.
“Who the hell is that?”
* * * * *
Up in the office, the two Duty Managers stared in horror. They had just been in the process of changing shifts when they’d noticed the unwelcome presence.
“Who the hell is that?” asked one, unknowingly echoing her precious charges.
“I have no idea,” said the other.
“Well, how the hell did she get in here?”
“I don’t know that either.”
“And what the hell does she want?” The first Duty Manager realised she was saying ‘hell’ a lot. She felt it was called for, given the circumstances.
“It would seem to be pretty obvious what she wants,” said the other Duty Manager. “After all, why was Sanctuary created in the first place?”
“So we could watch hot men having…oh my god, I know what she is!” The first Duty Manager paused for dramatic effect. “She’s a Mary Sue!”
“Crap, you’re right!” The second Duty Manager (who will from this point on be known as DM2) looked around frantically. “Where are Ryan and Stephen?”
“In the bedroom,” replied DM1 (do you see how this works?). “They were sleeping…for once.”
“We need to warn them!”
* * * * *
The voice was quiet, but welcome.
“Management, what the hell is going on here?” Stephen hissed. “Who is that?”
“Don’t worry,” DM2 said soothingly. “We’ll sort it out. But in the meantime, might I recommend that you stay where you are? She could be dangerous.”
“But she’s just a girl,” said Ryan. “What harm could she possibly do us?”
“Trust me, you don’t want to know,” responded DM2 firmly. “Just sit tight, and if she shows any signs of coming your way, hide in the wardrobe.”
“I am not hiding in a wardrobe!” Ryan protested.
“Fine, hide under the bed instead, then,” DM2 said. “I’m telling you, you really don’t want to get involved with this girl.”
“But why is she so…”
“Sorry, I’ve got to go,” DM2 interrupted. “Just stay where you are, and I’ll be right back.”
* * * * *
“What is it?” asked DM2, massaging her arm where DM1 had poked her a little too enthusiastically.
“I know how she got in.”
DM1 pointed to something hanging round the girl’s neck. “She’s got a visitor pass. She’s legit.”
“What? But I thought we only gave those out to members of the group!”
“We do.” DM1 swallowed nervously. “She must be one of us.”
“Oh my god.”
Senior Management were going to blow their tops over this. Although the Duty Managers couldn’t be blamed this time. If the Mary Sue really was one of them, then she had slipped in under everyone’s radar. Including Senior Management’s.
“But that still doesn’t explain how she got here,” DM2 said, puzzled. “None of the members have gone missing lately, have they?”
“Who can tell?” replied DM1. “People pop in and out all the time. Although…”
“Do you remember that member the other night? The one who claimed to have died after seeing those pictures of Ryan all decked out in his combat gear? *is ded* is the phrase she used, I believe.”
“Well, what if she wasn’t speaking quite so figuratively as we all thought? What if…”
“You’re kidding me.”
“I wish I were.”
“But people say that all the time. And they don’t all pop up here.”
“That’s because most of the members wouldn’t abuse the system in that way. They respect Sanctuary.”
DM2 sighed. “But there are always some crazies out there.”
“Yep. And now one of them’s in here.”
“So what are we going to do about it?”
* * * * *
“This is ridiculous,” Ryan complained, still peering out of the slightly ajar bedroom door. “I feel like a total wuss stuck in here.”
“We don’t know what she’s capable of,” Stephen pointed out.
“Oh, don’t be pathetic. She’s just a girl. She can’t be more than eighteen. What harm could she possibly do us?” Ryan straightened up suddenly. “I’m going out there. I’ll ask her who she is and what she wants, and then I’ll tell her she has to leave. Simple.”
“I don’t know,” said Stephen worriedly. “Management were very specific about us staying put.”
“Well, Management haven’t exactly been in control lately, have they?” responded Ryan snidely. “First the vampire thing, then the babies – and I stress the plurality of that word – and now this. They’re losing their grip.”
He pulled open the door before Stephen could stop him, and walked out into the living area. Stephen sighed and hurried after him, a few steps behind.
The girl turned when she saw them. The look that came over her face was quite frightening. It was a sort of single-minded ecstatic determination.
“Captain Ryan!” she squealed.
She launched herself at Ryan who, despite his military training, couldn’t get out of the way fast enough, and therefore suddenly found himself flat on his back on the floor, his arms full of very enthusiastic fangirl.
Stephen jumped back from the flailing arms. Something about this girl was worrying him quite a lot, and from the look on Ryan’s face, that worry was starting to dawn on him too. The girl was giggling rather manically, and although Ryan appeared to be exerting quite a lot of effort, he couldn’t seem to get her off him.
Stephen did the only thing he could under the circumstances.
* * * * *
“Like what? She’s a Mary Sue. They can give themselves any characteristics they like. This one seems to have made herself freakishly strong.”
The Duty Managers watched in despair as Ryan struggled with the Mary Sue. Stephen made a move towards them. DM2 hit the communication button.
“Stephen! Stay where you are. You won’t help him by getting yourself ensnared too.”
“You don’t expect me to just stand here, do you?” Stephen yelled. “He needs help! Do something!”
The Mary Sue was doing some very strange things to Ryan, and Stephen’s expression was becoming more and more horrified as he watched.
“We have to stop her!” hissed DM2. “Can’t you just put a block on her pass or something?”
“Not if it’s a legitimate pass,” said DM1. “The system doesn’t work like that.”
“Well, we need to get her out of here before something awful happens. Most people are never the same again after they’ve been molested by a Mary Sue. Ryan might be…” DM2 shuddered, “…permanently damaged.”
“Wait!” DM1 looked suddenly hopeful. “I’ve got an idea. We can’t force her out, but maybe we can trick her out.” She leaned close to the microphone. “Mary Sue? Mary Sue, can you hear me?”
The Mary Sue looked up. “Management? Is that really you? Oh, this is so exciting!”
Ryan tried to surreptitiously slide out from under her, but without even looking she clamped a hand to his shoulder, holding him in place.
“Mary Sue, we have to tell you something.”
“My name’s not Mary Sue, it’s…”
“We have important news,” interrupted DM1. “There’s been a development outside Sanctuary. Ryan and Stephen are being revived. Resurrected, if you will. They’re not going to be here much longer. And if you don’t leave now you’ll miss all the fun. The party’s already in full swing.”
“Oh my god!” The Mary Sue jumped up swiftly, leaving a very battered Ryan sprawled on the floor. “Got to go, boys. Thank you so much for…entertaining me.” She blew a kiss at Ryan, who cringed, before dashing off.
“What are we going to do when she finds out you lied?” asked DM2. “She’ll just come right back.”
“No, she won’t,” replied DM1. “I’ve put her face on the facial recognition software’s blacklist. She won’t get past the holding area.”
“But what if there’s another one like her?”
“We’re just going to have to be more vigilant in future, that’s all.”
“Er…Management?” Stephen was helping Ryan up from the floor. The soldier was looking somewhat the worse for wear, but appeared to be rallying.
“Are you alright, Ryan?”
“Think so,” Ryan muttered. He shuddered. “That was awful.”
“We’re so sorry,” chorused the Duty Managers. “It won’t happen again.”
“Management?” Stephen looked a bit nervous. “Is what you said true? Are we being resurrected?”
The Duty Managers looked at each other. They hadn’t anticipated this. “No,” said DM1 quietly. “Sorry.”
A look of relief passed across Stephen and Ryan’s faces. “Thank god for that,” said Ryan fervently. “If she was anything to go by, the outside world’s got a lot scarier since we were last in it.”
Stephen put an arm around him. “Don’t worry, I’ll protect you. My poor ‘ickle soldier.” He ducked as Ryan swiped at him. “Would a blow-job make you feel better?”
“It might,” Ryan allowed. “In fact, I would say it’s a definite possibility!”
As Stephen led Ryan back to the bedroom, the two Duty Managers sighed in heartfelt relief. Another disaster had been averted.