Michael stared across the table and almost snarled out his, "No."
The government had provided most of his funding into telepathy but that did not mean they owned him. His research was important and, once more he had to make a judgment call on whether he should give them what they wanted. This time, however, the government, and the military in particular, wasn't asking for help in reading the mind of a dying man. This time there was no national crisis dependent on a resolution from Freya or one of the other weaker telepaths. This time they were looking to make a killer squad, and Michael knew he couldn't compromise his ethics or his friendships by handing over David Kellum.
"Dr. Wells, you don't seem to understand how important--"
"I understand all too well, and the answer is still no. David Kellum has agreed to work with me at the institute, to assist in my research into psychic abilities. He hasn't agreed to be turned over to the military to be used as a means of making a Scanner army.
"Our enemies are already working towards that target, doctor, and if we don't use every resource available to keep up, then this country will be left open for attack."
"And yet the answer is still no." Michael stared hard at each of the five military advisers seated across from him before fixing his most implacable stare straight at Colonel Tenning.
He watched as they shook their heads in anger before picking up their papers and briefcases, and striding out of the room. The first one startled on the threshold, going tense before carrying on out of the building towards the two dark sedan's parked in the main courtyard. His shoulder's squared as if he felt he had a target painted on his back. Even before a head poked round the door frame, Michael knew that it would be David. Tenning would have recognized him, and every one of them knew exactly what David was capable of doing. They were probably now wondering if he had heard every single word, perhaps had even been sitting in one of their heads just below recognition level, and taking note of every word spoken, and every nuance. Certainly Michael would not have blamed David if that had been the case. Strangely, he would have offered his own mind, trusting David implicitly not to harm him but he'd felt no intrusion against his shields.
David smiled softly. "Thank you."
Michael waved a hand in a dismissive gesture. "I'm more scared of Julie, Brendan and Freya than of them," he stated blandly. "Especially Brendan."
David grinned, his often downturned mouth lifting at both corners, eyes sparkling because they both knew that Brendan would leave no stone unturned if anything should ever happen to David, and his photographic memory would make him a formidable enemy. It was hard to believe that David had walked back into Michael's life - and hence into Brendan's - only a scant few months earlier. The attraction between the two had been instantaneous, and Michael guessed it was a lot easier to make those early moves when you could read your intended partner's mind and know he was equally attracted to you. Yet, Michael knew David would never misuse his Scanner abilities, especially with those he cared deeply about.
Like his sister, Julie, he had inherited his parents' gentleness, and his upbringing with the Kellums had nurtured a caring individual, one that had been working towards becoming a veterinarian before events had derailed his career choice. Michael often wondered if that innate gentleness was a key part of becoming a stable Scanner, overcoming the urge to use those mind abilities for personal power and gain.
He leaned back in his chair as David took the seat across from him, waiting for David to state what was on his mind.
"One of them had this idea of just kidnapping me if I wouldn't go willingly."
Michael nodded because it wasn't unexpected, but whether it was just a fanciful idea on the part of a frustrated man, or a real intention remained to be seen.
"You're already doing so much here to help us understand how Scanners and telepaths work." Michael sighed. "And if someone was stupid enough to make that move, my contacts stretch right up into the Pentagon and the White House. You add your sister, Freya and Brendan to the team and I don't think the military will know what hit them, and they definitely wouldn't like the consequences."
David relaxed visibly, and changed the subject. "That mare's about to foal. I checked her out and everything's going fine."
More small talk followed until both of them realized they were simply passing time while they waited for Brendan and Freya to negotiate the heavy Friday evening traffic and reach the institute. Unless a national emergency came up, then they had a full weekend to spend with their lovers.
Brendan eased onto the track leading up to the main building, instantly taking note of the odd sight of two dark sedans passing in the opposite direction. All the little details, from the vehicles' identification plates to the tense faces of the military men within became imprinted in his memory automatically.
He swept a glance towards Freya, not needing even silently spoken words to ask what she'd sensed from the individuals in those two cars. She was pulling an odd looking face, lips tilting down on one side and forehead creasing, reminding him a little of David's crooked mouth, and he was not surprised by her next words.
"David was uppermost in their thoughts."
He glanced in the rear view mirror as the cars turned onto the highway far behind them. "Any reason why?"
She shook her head and he guessed the fleeting contact had not given her much else. "They were directing a lot of anger towards Michael so Michael knows what this was all about...though I could guess."
Brendan nodded because it wasn't hard to imagine what the military might want with a Scanner of David's ability and control.
Moments later, Brendan parked in his favorite shady spot and grinned when he saw David and Michael coming out to greet them. His stomach flipped when he saw the familiar crooked smile curving upwards; the ache in his chest easing now he could see and touch his lover once more. His thoughts heated rapidly, most likely from bouncing backward and forwards between the two of them as they hugged and kissed... until Brendan felt a sharp jab in his side from Freya's bony elbow.
"Save it for the bedroom, Scooby."
Brendan glared at her for the nickname he'd gained in those early days of being Freya's partner, while Michael laughed softly and David bit into his lower lip to stop himself from laughing too. Problem was, it was so easy to lose control when he had David in his arms, tuning out the rest of the world and losing himself in his lover. At least they had managed to dispense with the social niceties for the Friday evenings, with Freya more than happy to spend her time alone with Michael. Brendan felt no embarrassment at following David back to one of the small houses set apart in the grounds around the institute, given to David so he could have some breathing space from the thoughts of others impacting on his shields.
They barely managed to shove the door closed behind them before they were kissing again, this time without any restraint, and without anyone to protest. Hands grabbed at clothing, eager to touch bare skin, and Brendan found his mind opening fully to his lover. He dropped to the bed naked, body arching as invisible hands stroked him, raising goosebumps in their path as his skin tingled from the phantom caresses. David hadn't moved, standing a few feet away; Early evening sunlight glinted off the sparse, light brown chest hairs and Brendan couldn't resist letting his eyes move down the strong torso to the hard cock standing proud from a thatch of light brown curls. The tip was already glistening with precome, eager and wanting.
Staring deep into David's desire-darkened eyes, Brendan touched himself, following the trail of ghostly fingers from his chest to his thigh before encircling his hard cock. He groaned low in the back of throat as those ghost fingers became a part of his own hand, his cock thrusting within the tightness of a phantom fist, head falling back as David brought him to completion without a physical touch.
After Brendan had regained his senses, he grinned as real hands smoothed over his still sensitive skin, knowing David had come too just from watching him. "Not that I'm complaining but...why?"
David ducked his head in embarrassment. "Maybe I just like to watch you," he murmured.
Brendan pulled his lover in close by his side and kissed him softly, finally relaxing back with David curled up in his arms, head pillowed on his chest. With his mind no longer overwhelmed with desire, his thoughts returned to the two sedans and the uniformed men within.
"I take it the military are trying to get you to be their latest lab experiment, or turn you into some secret agent...assassin."
David gave a bitter laugh, most likely recalling Forrester, who had used David as a weapon in his bid for political power. "I'm just surprised it took them this long to find me." His voice softened, the bitterness receding. "Michael has some good people working for him...loyal."
"Michael's not going let them force you to do anything, especially for the military."
"I know." He felt the curve of David's smile against his shoulder, knowing they both trusted in Michael to use his influence to protect him. "Believe me, I know."
A familiar warmth trickling through his mind convinced Brendan that David had no worries on that score, and with a soft laugh, Brendan kissed the fine hair and closed his eyes. Driving up from the city was always a nightmare of heavy traffic on a Friday evening, but lying here with David safe, happy and sated in his arms, and with a whole weekend to look forward to, made it worth it every time.
His only fear was that, one day, David wouldn't be here waiting for him, but he knew that would never be by David's choice.