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Virtual Encounters

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"She's quite remarkable" – Oliver, in Escape


After the last several days, Sydney had expected to crash. She needed to crash. The problem was she was too tired to sleep. She was too tired to do anything but stare at a half-dozen computer screens and think.

Oh, not because she wanted to think. Shit no. She was simply too tired to chase the thoughts away, no matter how little she wanted them.

She refused to think about her father or her sister, but that just meant that more recent deaths crowded in that much harder. Less painful, perhaps, but sharper. Her experiences in VR.5 had brought some clarity to Daddy and Samantha's deaths, but they were still old aches. Not like the losses she had sustained this week. Dr. Hunnicutt. Boothe. And God, every time she closed her eyes there was Morgan again. Always Morgan.

No. Not always Morgan. The Committee. Always, always, always the Committee.

They'd taken care of Cooper for her. At the time she'd been grateful, but now that she'd seen the Committee in action, she really doubted that that freak was serving jail time. Boothe murdered Morgan and Hunnicutt. Her Committee-appointed protector killed Boothe. Just how much blood did they have on their hands? How much did she have on hers?

Sydney put her head down on her arms, wishing she could sleep at her desk so she wouldn't have to go to her bed. The moment her eyelids came down, however, there was Morgan, dying right in front of her, giving her an unsolvable puzzle with his final breath. It's not what you think.

She forced that image away, and Boothe promptly took his place. She could still feel him collapsing on top of her, crushing her with his weight and the guilt of his blood. She'd held Morgan as he died, but knife wounds didn't bleed nearly as much as gunshot wounds. Not that it mattered how much either man bled when they both wound up dead in the end, but somehow she couldn't seem to stop herself from comparing the two deaths, from trying to quantify them both.

Morgan and Boothe weren't completely dissimilar, of course. Both men knew so much more than she did, and both were so eager to give her a critical piece of the puzzle during his final moment. Boothe's voice blew through her head, the words as ephemeral as his meaning. I'll tell you everything. The Committee…

"The Committee… The Committee what?" Sydney mused aloud. "The Committee told you to kill Morgan? They tried to stop you? I can trust them? They're going to kill me? They're going to steal my work? What about the fucking Committee?!?" Her questions poured out of her, sharp and angry, until she was almost howling. They echoed around her cavernous apartment, Committee, Committee, Committee.

"Fuck this," Sydney said to herself angrily. Maybe she couldn't figure out what Boothe meant, but she knew who could. The Committee might be hidden in the shadows, but it also had a human face. With a phone number.

She set up her machines quickly, determined to act before the logical part of her brain could talk some sense into her. This could be a colossal mistake and she knew it. Oliver Sampson was a cipher to her, but somehow she knew instinctively that he wasn't the sort of person that would take kindly to having his brain invaded. If the Englishman ever discovered that she took him into VR.5 without his consent, there would be hell to pay.

So where to take him? After a moment's hesitation she reluctantly decided to leave it up to him. It was always dangerous to allow the other person's subconscious to determine the setting, but it was also the best way to learn the subtler details about that person. So all she needed to do now was put on her goggles and gloves and dial.

He picked up on the third ring, his voice as chilly and emotionless over the phone as it was in person. "Sampson," he clipped out. Heart slamming into her chest, Sydney crashed the handset down and then leapt into the screaming colors that marked her passage into VR.5.

When the stream stopped, Sydney found herself in a white room. No colors, no lines, no shapes broke the whiteness. She was there in a surprisingly slutty black leather dress, Sampson was there, dressed in a perfectly tailored blue suit, and that was it. "Jesus," she breathed. "You don't give anything away, do you?"

"Is there any reason I should?" he asked with cool curiosity.

"Everyone else has something here. A photograph, or a knick-knack, or a religious symbol, or something with an emotional significance. But you…"

"I am someone who can't afford emotional connections," he said harshly. "Given my line of work, they will only get me killed." An odd look crossed his face, and he added softly, "Or get someone else killed." A framed photograph of a woman appeared in his hands and then disappeared just as quickly. "This is VR.5, isn't it?"

"Yeah," Sydney acknowledged. "If you're going to be my new contact with the Committee, I figured it might be a good idea for me to get to know you better."

"You couldn't have asked me out to lunch?"

"Would you have come?"

"No," he admitted. "But that isn't why you've done this. You want to ask me something but you don't want me to remember the question."

Sydney blinked, surprised by his perceptiveness. "You're right. Okay. Did the Committee kill Morgan?"

"I already told you that we didn't," he said mildly.

"Yeah, but I wanted to ask you in here. It's impossible to lie in here."

"Is it indeed?" Sampson studied her with impersonal interest. "That's good to know."

"Thinking of ways to use me?"

"I'm thinking of many uses for you," he told her suggestively. Sydney blushed, causing Sampson to shrug. "In the interests of truth-telling, of course."

Sydney's cheeks had taken on a neon glow that was only possible within the confines of VR.5. Still, she pressed on doggedly. "You haven't answered the question. Do you know of any Committee involvement with Morgan's death?"


"How about Hunnicutt?" she persisted. "Did the Committee tell Boothe to kill Hunnicutt?"

"Not to my knowledge," he told her. "No."

"Then how did you know to look for me there?" she asked.

Sampson sighed. "I'm your protector, Sydney. It is my business to know where you are."

"My protector, huh?" she breathed. "Would you protect me from the Committee if they decided they wanted me dead?"

Sampson smiled cruelly. "And that's what this is about, isn't it?"

"Me wanting to know whether or not you're planning to slip a knife in my back? Well, yeah. That thought had crossed my mind."

He glided up to her, suddenly invading her personal space. "And what else do you think about when you wonder about your safety, Sydney? Can you speak those thoughts aloud?"

She wanted to pull away from him, but it was impossible. His green eyes pinned her in place and forced their way into her soul. She tried to bluff out her discomfort, but her voice sounded weak even to her as she said, "I have no idea what you're talking about."

"Don't you, Sydney? You forget, I went over your files very carefully before I ever met you. I know exactly why you're here, now, with a man whom you know to be a killer."

"But you're not—" Sydney gulped, suddenly afraid. "You just said—"

"That I had nothing to do with Morgan's murder?" He gave her a tight condescending smile. "That's true. But you watched me shoot Jackson Boothe just a few hours ago, didn't you? You know that I'm capable of killing; you've seen me do it. And yet here you are."

"And you know why that is," she challenged.

"Indeed. According to your file, you haven't had a romantic relationship for almost three years. Given your habit of renting pornography on a regular basis, frigidity seems unlikely." Sydney reddened again and started to object, but he didn't give her the chance to speak. "All the evidence suggests that your friend Duncan is in love with you, but you never considered him or anyone else as a possible sexual partner. Scott Cooper was the first man you attempted to date since you were in college, and he turned out to be a serial killer."

"Yes, but—"

"Not long after your narrow escape from Cooper, Dr. Morgan asked you to go into VR.5 after Stuart Fisher. You were reluctant to go in until after Fisher tried to kill you; after that, you went to extraordinary lengths to help him."

"I didn't understand him at first," Sydney said earnestly. "He was just a kid and—"

"And then there was your relationship with Jackson Boothe. According to Dr. Morgan's reports, you called him far more often than you needed to." She nodded confirmation. "Why was that?"

Before she could formulate an answer, the white expanse of the room was suddenly broken by an old-fashion projection movie. To her shame, Sydney watched splotchy visions of Boothe holding her, grinding against her, trailing kisses down her neck. Movie Sydney clearly loved the attention and the real one was getting turned on watching herself.

Sampson moved closer, subtly copying Boothe's movements as he leaned into her ear. "Tell me, Sydney. Was this before or after you learned that Boothe was an assassin? Before or after he murdered Morgan?"

"I don't—"

"I know," Sampson asserted. "It was after, wasn't it? You knew what Boothe was, and yet you still wanted him. That's why you wanted him. You're attracted to killers, aren't you Sydney?"

"No," Sydney yelled. Or tried to yell. She wished she knew whether she was trying to convince Sampson or herself.

"And now that you know that I'm a killer, here you are. Ostensibly searching for answers, but actually on a virtual 'booty call'." Sampson spoke the last two words in an outrageously awful imitation of an American accent, but Sydney had never felt less like laughing in her life. When he went back to his usual clipped tones, Sydney knew that she was in trouble. "What do you think, Sydney? Am I dangerous enough for you?"

"You're wrong," she whispered weakly. "I like men with principles. With consciences."

"I have both," he assured her. "My work for the Committee negates neither. That's why I work for them, in fact. And that's why you're trembling for my touch."

Sydney wanted to deny it—would have given anything to deny it, in fact—but she couldn't. Partly because it was damn difficult to be dishonest here, but mostly because her desperation for his touch was overriding her innate shame and modesty. "Please," she begged weakly. "Please—"

She got no further before Sampson crushed his mouth down onto hers. He dug one hand into her hair and used the other to tug at the dress-length zipper on the back of her dress. Faster than she would have thought possible, her dress was off. Curious to see what sort of underwear her subconscious might have conjured for herself, Sydney broke the kiss and looked down. She was both scandalized and titillated to realize that she wasn't wearing any at all.

When she brought her eyes back up, she found Sampson looking down at her with cynical amusement. "It may have been a while since you've seen it, but you have a beautiful body buried beneath those hideous lumberjack shirts you normally wear."

"So what do you have hiding behind your perfect designer suits?" she asked breathlessly.

He buried his face in her neck and began leaving a trail of kisses downwards. "Why don't you find out for yourself?" he whispered silkily between kisses.

She froze for a moment, but when Sampson brought his mouth to her breast, her instincts took over. "Get up here, Sampson," she growled at him.

"Oliver," he gasped. Sydney was pleased to learn that she wasn't the only one made breathless by this encounter. "Call me Oliv—"

She cut him off with a searing kiss. Her hands began clawing at his jacket and shirt, and they both disappeared as if by magic. She wanted to draw back to look at him, but she wasn't ready to take her mouth away from his. Besides, he still wore his perfectly creased pants and that wouldn't do.

She brought her hands down to his crotch and was gratified to feel the highly ample evidence of his arousal. He broke off their kiss with a gasp and immediately attacked her neck again. She trailed her hands upwards until she found his belt. Slowly, oh so slowly, she brought her hands together until she found his belt buckle. She felt the cold metal of the buckle and…

And she was suddenly overcome by streaming lights and howling colors. She was back in her own body.

Oliver's metal belt buckle had been the escape key, the always unpredictable object that would throw her out of VR the moment she touched it.

"SHIT!" she screamed in frustration. She was more hot and bothered than she had ever been in her entire life, and there was no one to give her any relief. Normally she would just take of herself, but looking at her old ratty jeans, oversized flannel shirt and huge hiking boots wasn't doing too much for her confidence in her own sexuality.

She didn't want her own hand in any case. She wanted a man. She wanted Sampson. Oliver.

She grabbed the phone in order to call him back immediately, but then thought better of it. "Let's set up things better this time," she said aloud.

She rolled her chair towards the keyboard and began furiously plugging in variables. She brought up the program for her loft and began modifying it, scattering roses, candles and champagne glasses throughout the apartment. It looked like a brothel, much to Sydney's satisfaction.

She didn't program in clothes for herself, deciding to trust her subconscious in that area, but she did input data with regard to Oliver's clothes. She programmed in a navy blue silk gown for him, careful to ensure that he wore nothing that might be interpreted as an escape key should she touch it.

When she was certain that everything was set up properly, she dialed Oliver again. He picked up on the first ring. As soon as he said, "Hello," she slammed the phone down and underwent the familiar transition to VR.5.

When the colors and lights ended, the first thing Sydney noticed was the music. There was a low, pulsing beat that she could feel in her bones, evidence of a sound system that she had never been able to afford. The music alone had her heart pounding even before she located Oliver, smirking at her over a glass of champagne. He was sitting at a table that she hadn't programmed in, but fit in perfectly with the seductive environment.

"Care to join me for a drink, Sydney?"

"Sounds good to me," she purred at him. "But I don't need a glass." Showing a wantonness that she never could have summoned in real life, Sydney squirmed into his lap and brought her mouth down upon his. As she suspected, the sharp tang of champagne flooded her senses as soon as began exploring his mouth with her tongue.

Oliver pushed back from the table and stood up with Sydney still in his arms. Careful to maintain their kiss, he carried her over to the sofa.

Even before he put her down, Sydney was pushing at Oliver's robe. As soon as she had the robe pushed past his shoulders, she broke off the kiss to look at him. He had a broad, muscular chest, liberally sprinkled with chest hair. A shameless glance southwards brought a grin to her face. "Do you always wear silk boxers, Oliver, or did your subconscious put them there?"

"Maybe these are a reflection of your subconscious," Oliver smirked. "They match your outfit better than mine."

Startled, Sydney switched her attention from Oliver to herself. She was wearing a sheer silk dress, perfectly molded to her figure. Like Oliver's boxers, it was blood red. She knew this color. She had a shirt this color in the dumpster outside, too deeply stained with Boothe's life's blood to ever come out. She brought her hands up and wasn't surprised to see them covered in a liquid that matched her dress and Oliver's underwear. "Does this mean we're both killers?" she asked.

"You're in the game and you're alive," he told her. "As long as those two facts remain true, your hands will never be completely clean." He held his own hands up, and Sydney could see that they were red too, but no longer wet. "But the blood dries and your life goes on."

"Show me," she pleaded. Taking her at her word, Oliver wordlessly reached for her. He dug one hand into her hair, pulling her in for a kiss, and placed the other on her lower leg. As his tongue plundered her mouth, his left hand slowly traversed her leg, crawling under her dress and working its way up her thigh. He kept going until he reached her core and Sydney wasn't surprised to discover that once again her subconscious had neglected to include panties in her ensemble. "God, Oliver," she moaned into his mouth. "I want more."

"Do you?" he asked smugly. "If you want me to touch you, you'll have to stand up."

Sydney scrambled off the couch and stood up. Oliver lounged back, sprawling into the sofa exactly the way he had when she met him. His gaze was a tangible thing, stronger and heavier than his hands had been, and it made Sydney nervous. "Well," she demanded.

He lifted a lazy arm and pointed at her. "Take off your dress."

"But I thought… Weren't you going to—"

"Take off your dress," he repeated. He thought for a moment and then added, "Please."

Oliver's firm command sent a jolt of fear through Sydney's system, but to her surprise, she liked it. That pleasurable panic, combined with the sensuality of the moment effortlessly overcame Sydney's natural shyness. She reached down to grab the hem of her dress and the music pounding out of her non-existent stereo system suddenly changed. An unusually heavy beat hung in the air and raced through her veins. She swayed to the music while slowly lifting her dress up beat by beat and millimeter by millimeter. She had never stripped for a man like this before and she couldn't believe how erotic it was.

Oliver sat there the entire time, watching her. His silent demand that she put on a show for him drove her performance and drove her wild. When she stood naked before him he lifted his hand and twirled a finger, clearly commanding her to spin around for him. She obeyed and he smiled dangerously at her. "Very nice, Sydney. Very nice indeed."

"So, do I get a reward then?" she asked coquettishly.

He gave her a wolf's grin. "What do you want, Sydney?"

"You," she breathed. "I want you."

"Do you?" he asked. Before she could say anything in response, he moved with the fluid grace of an assassin. And he was fast. Shit, but he was fast. One moment he was lounging on her sofa, and the next he was grabbing her wrists in a viselike hold and shoving her against the stairs. "Be very sure, Sydney."

"Oh yeah, I'm real sure," she promised him. She could feel the bulge of his erection as he pushed against her, and Sydney realized that she had never been surer of anything in her life. "Let me go so I can touch you."

"Oh, I think not." He smiled at the look on her face and added, "Or rather, not yet."

Oliver lifted her hands above her head, grasping her wrists with a force that would have bruised her in real life. When he had her where he wanted her, he crashed his mouth down on hers. He thrust his tongue into her mouth aggressively, causing Sydney to groan loudly. With a wicked chuckle, Oliver pushed her wrists together so that he could hold both of them with one hand while freeing up the other.

Oliver began exploring her body with his free hand, ruthlessly discovering every sensitive spot. He fondled her breasts, tweaked her nipples, and caressed the small of her back. When he brought his hand down towards her dripping core, she let out another loud moan. "Like that, do you?"

"Shit yeah," she breathed. The attention that Oliver was lavishing upon her felt fantastic, but it wasn't enough. Not nearly enough. She could feel his cock through his boxers, hot and thick and large, and she was wanted him inside her more than she had ever wanted anything in her entire life. "Let me touch you, Oliver. Please."

"Well, if you insist," he said graciously. He finally let go of her wrists and transferred both hands to her ass, hoisting her up until she was flush with his erection.

He brought his mouth to her neck and she almost lost it right then, but it still wasn't enough. Desperate now, she brought her hands down to the offending blood red garment and—

Lights. Colors. Screams and streams of virtuality colliding with reality.

"FUCK!" she screamed. "Fuck, fuck, fuck!"

Sydney threw her VR goggles across the room and ripped off the gloves as if they had acid on them. She had been so close!

"You're not getting away with that, Sampson," she growled to herself. Her fingers danced over the keyboard, almost too fast to be seen, as she programmed in the meeting that she wanted. That she needed.

Moments later, Sydney was dialing Oliver again. She didn't wait for him to speak this time before she slammed the phone down and sent herself hurling through the in-between that exists between the real world and VR.5.

When she came through the other side, the first thing she noticed was Oliver, gloriously naked on the honeymoon bed she had programmed in. The heat of his gaze upon her confirmed that she was just as nude as he, just as she had programmed. The air was smoky and lit with an odd reddish light, and Sydney felt light-headed from the lack of oxygen. Or perhaps it was just the vision of Oliver lounging on the bed.

There was music in the air, loud and sensual. The beat buffeted Sydney like a doll, moving her inexorably towards the bed, rolling her shoulders and swaying her hips. The noise wasn't just rhythmical, it was sentient and it controlled Sydney like a mannequin. She loved it.

As Sydney danced towards the bed, Oliver crawled towards the edge. He should have looked ridiculous on his hand and knees, but he didn't. He looked predatory, dangerous. Lethal. Desirable as hell. A panther in man's clothing.

They came together in a searing kiss. Tongues and teeth and desperation collided together, turning Sydney inside out.

She almost mewled in frustration when Oliver broke the kiss with a gasp. "Get over here," he growled at her.

"No more talking," she snarled back at him. Still, she complied with his demand, eagerly climbing onto the bed and sliding in beneath his crouching form. "We're done talking now."

"Are we?" he asked with a cool curiosity that was at odds with the fire in his eyes. "What are we doing then?"

Sydney lunged upwards and answered him with another fierce kiss. He made an inarticulate noise that could have signified assent or comprehension or perhaps just animal pleasure. Sydney ignored it; as long as Oliver was thinking about sex (as his body clearly indicated he was), she was uninterested in whatever else might go through his mind.

Oliver slowly straightened his legs, transferring his weight from his knees to Sydney's outstretched body. Satisfied that he wasn't crushing her, he seized control of the kiss. His tongue thrust between her lips, a delicious promise of what he would eventually do with another part of his body.

Sydney was wet and ready for him; she didn't need or want any more foreplay. Oliver, however, had other ideas. When she grabbed his hard cock and started to guide him into her, he responded by breaking the kiss and trailing open-mouthed kisses downwards.

As Sydney lay there gasping with desire, Oliver guided his tongue down her neck, her clavicle and her breasts. When he reached her nipples, he began alternating between hard sucks and gentle nips. His hands trailed her body, roaming everywhere, but coming back again and again to her swollen clitoris.

The attention was too much for Sydney and she began thrashing under Oliver's relentless onslaught. She was so close to coming; all she needed was a bit more friction. She closed her eyes and concentrated on rubbing against Oliver in just the right way.

"Ah, ah, ah, Sydney." Startled, she looked up to see Oliver smirking at her. "You wouldn't be trying to come without me, now would you?"

"I wouldn't have to if you would just get on with it," she snarled in frustration.

He smiled condescendingly at her. "When you work for the Committee, one's life is often lived on the run. The fact that I must rush so many things in my life gives me a certain… appreciation for a job well done."

"Well I'd appreciate it if you'd stop teasing and fuck me already," Sydney said.

"If you insist." Oliver matched deed to word and entered her, but slowly. Sydney wanted him to impale her, to take her fast and hard, but Oliver clearly had other plans. As he sunk his cock into her millimeter by torturous millimeter, she had to fight off a scream of frustration. To make matters worse, he had chosen a shallow angle that allowed him to brush her clitoris but prevented him from the deep penetration that Sydney craved.

"I told you to stop teasing," she growled at him.

"No," Oliver disagreed. "You told me to 'fuck you already.' That's what I'm doing."

"Deeper," she grunted. "I want it deeper. And harder. And much, much faster."

"Eventually," he assured her. "For now, we do it my way."

"Do you want me to beg for you?"

"Oh, you will," he told her airily. "Eventually."

Frustrated with Oliver's games, Sydney decided to take control away from that smug bastard. If she could just get some leverage, she should be able to thrust her torso up and force him deeper into her womb. To this end, Sydney brought both hands up over her head, hoping to gain purchase on the bars at the head of the bed.

She fumbled about for a moment before feeling the shock of cold metal beneath her hands. She had the barest moment to cry out, "Oh! Not a—"

Howls of colors surrounded her. Screams blinded her. Immobility thrust her back into the real world of squeaky computer chairs and oversized shirts.

"—gain! No way! No fucking way!" She watched images chase each other across her computer screens, but she didn't really see them. Sydney was incapable of processing anything while every inch of her body was wailing in sexual frustration.

"This time, Oliver. This time for sure." She didn't bother taking off her glasses or gloves to program in any new variables. She simply picked up the phone with a trembling hand and hit redial.

He picked up on the first ring, his voice sounding as ragged as Sydney felt. "Yeah? Samp-- uh, Sampson here."

Sydney set the phone down carefully; the last thing she wanted was to miss the modem and have him hang up before she could take him in. Half a heartbeat later, she was hurtling through the barrier separating her reality from Oliver's subconscious.

The room was the same as it had been a moment before, but it felt different. The air felt thicker, heavier. The reddish lights were not welcoming but rather ominous and threatening. The music that had propelled her towards Oliver before now blocked her, the cumbersome beat making each step towards the bed painful and grueling.

The small part of Sydney's brain that never let go of logic was fascinated by the changes. Perhaps they had occurred because she'd been so horny when she called. Perhaps she had tapped directly into Oliver's libido instead of his subconscious. Or perhaps this was what her sexual drive looked/sounded/felt like.

Whatever it was, she liked it. A lot. As Sydney struggled through to the bed, her desire reached a fever-pitch. There was an air of forbidden pleasure in this room and a whisper of menace that had her hotter than she ever had been before in her life.

When she broke through to the bed, she found Oliver watching her with a hooded gaze. She crawled up next to him, but he still didn't touch her or speak. He stared at her intently and waited for her to say something.

"No talking this time."

"No," he agreed.

"No unnecessary foreplay."


"No games of any kind," she added warningly.

"Fuck no," he growled. With no more warning than that, he launched himself at her. Digging a hand into her hair, he brought her into a brutal kiss. His other hand gripped her ass, pulling her up until she was level with his rock hard erection.

Sydney hadn't had much of an opportunity to explore Oliver's body before, and she wanted to make up for that now. She slithered her hands down to his erection and began to stroke it. Oliver was larger than the other partners in her admittedly limited sexual experience had been, a bit thicker in girth and much, much longer. He was also uncircumcised, which she had never encountered before. Everything about him felt new and strange to her and she loved it.

Oliver loved it too, or at least he loved the attention. In their previous encounters Oliver had maintained strict control over the situation, setting the pace and not permitting her to touch him until he was ready for her. Now he welcomed her touch with soft grunts of pleasure or long groans of delight. Both noises touched something primal inside of Sydney, some base instinct that had nothing to do with logic and everything to do with pure animal sex.

It helped that Oliver was far from a passive participant. Whether he was an exceptionally talented lover or whether VR.5 was giving him insights to her sexual preferences that other partners hadn't been privy to, Sydney didn't know or care. What she did know was no matter where she needed to be touched at any particular moment, Oliver found that spot and gave her just what she needed.

Every spot, of course, except the one that was aching for his attention.

"Oliver. Please… I want… Oh! Please…"

"I know," he said hoarsely, rolling himself on top of her. "I know."

Oliver entered her suddenly, one hard thrust that took him all the way in. With one convulsive moment, he found that spot, oh God, that exact spot on her womb, the one guaranteed to drive her crazy.

Sydney had always found it difficult to let go during sex and she seldom came before her partner did. Often, she didn't come at all. But sex with Oliver was different. Perhaps it was because she had been crawling out of her skin with desire before he ever touched her, or perhaps the difference was simply Oliver.

His initial thrust had been enough to set her teetering on the edge of an orgasm, and the fierce rhythm he set with his body never gave her the chance to catch her breath. Each succeeding slam brought her closer and closer to that edge of something big and dark and powerful and glorious.

Suddenly the bed was gone, and they were rutting on the side of a cliff. Sydney turned her head and saw that the chasm was deep and darkly amber. It was littered with razor sharp rocks that kept turning into knives and then back into rocks. It terrified her and she wanted it utterly. She craved the sensation of free-falling down the abyss but something kept her hovering on the brink, tethered to the ground.

Oliver whispered in her ear, "Let go, Sydney. It's alright."

And she did. His gentle whisper, contrasted with the relentless driving force of his body into hers, triggered her release. He controlled her in the same way he controlled his gun, the slightest pressure causing the destruction he desired. Only this time it wasn't Boothe that he obliterated, but rather inhibitions that she hadn't even realized she possessed.

As her orgasm ripped through her, Sydney arched her back and the cliff crumbled beneath them. Sydney grabbed Oliver, dragging him along with her. Her vaginal walls fluttered madly as they fell and Oliver shot stream after stream of semen deep within her.

They both cried out as they came/fell, but the wails were carried away by the rush of gravity. Sydney was glad that the cries were incomprehensible because she honestly didn't know whose name she had screamed. The power of the moment would be ruined if she were forced to explain to Oliver why she had called out for Cooper or Boothe or Morgan. It would be even be worse if she'd cried out, "Oliver."

Waves of pleasure continued to radiate out from her core and buffet her body, but they were winding down now. As the last one faded, Sydney realized that she was dangerously close to shattering on the rocks below. She felt the cold metal tip of a knife/rock/knife pressed against her back and—

She was back in her own body.

Sydney started to stand, but realized that her legs were too wobbly to hold her. Her heart was hammering and the strong smell of sex lingered in the air. She brought her hand down to her crotch briefly and confirmed that she was soaking wet.

She let out a shaky laugh. "Well, clearly, that much is real in VR.5."

Sydney supposed that she should write up this experience and document it, but she knew she never would. It was too powerful to share and too private to grasp hold of. And she doubted that Oliver would appreciate it.


She sighed and tried to figure out what had she learned about him in VR. Well, he was dangerous and liked to be in control of situations, but she'd already known that. He was one helluva lover. He knew which buttons to push to make her lose control of herself. He liked to play with others, but was not someone that she could safely play with herself.

All in all, she had to conclude that she could easily get addicted to having sex with him in virtual reality. For her own sanity, she wouldn't do it again.

None of those factors, however, ruled out deepening her relationship with Oliver Sampson in real life. Perhaps she should consider putting herself back on the Pill. Just in case.


Oliver stared at the phone in his hand, troubled by the fact that he couldn't remember with whom he'd been speaking. Perhaps he'd been asleep, though it was unlike him to pass out on the couch like that. On the other hand, he'd had nothing but catnaps ever since the Committee commended Sydney Bloom to his care, so perhaps an unplanned nap wasn't that surprising after all.

Oliver stretched luxuriously and stood up. He was wet and sticky, giving evidence of an intensely erotic dream. He couldn't remember it at all, but assumed that it must have been about Alex. No one else had ever been able to make him lose control like that, or at least no one had since he was fifteen. But from the moment he met her until years after her death, Alex had always been able to make him lose control, waking or dreaming.

The Englishman wondered why he would be dreaming about his fiancée again after all this time, but it was easy enough to figure out once he stopped to think about it. It was Sydney Bloom's fault, of course. Sydney was strong, willful, courageous, and, yes, incredibly beautiful. She was so like his Alex that it hurt, right down to the fact that she too was assigned to his care. Why hadn't he seen the similarities between them before?

It wasn't just their personalities that were similar: they were both far more mortal than they believed. Despite whatever the bastard told her before he died, Boothe had come damn close to killing Sydney tonight. Oliver had come so fucking close to failing that it was only logical that his subconscious should torment him with visions of another woman, the one that he had failed.

Failure. Like so many things associated with the Committee, it was such a clean, sterile word. As if it didn't disguise the fact that "failure" in his line of work meant the bloody deaths of young, intelligent, beautiful women because he was unable to protect them. It didn't obliterate the fact that others would die and he would live with the consequences of his failures.

"No," he growled to himself. "Not this time."

He would set up a training session for Sydney. Make sure she was prepared, or at least knew how to handle a gun. He was sure there must be a safehouse that the two of them could commandeer for a few days; he'd organize it first thing in the morning. He would remain her protector, but that didn't preclude him from giving her the skills she needed to defend herself as well.

Decision made, Oliver set about getting ready for bed. As he started to drift off to sleep, he wondered whether he should examine why the idea of going off with Sydney for a weekend sounded so damn appealing.