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So Gullible

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Apparently Kit curled up a bit while he slept. Like a dog.

A loyal, foolish thing in need of a master.

Drew Lansing didn't begrudge him that trait, though. He liked to think that he'd qualify as a competent master, if Life would only let him send in his application. Xaviax had apparently found and accepted his, though, so that was all right.

For now.

In the meantime, he'd closed the web. Activated the snare. Caught the canary. Kit Taylor had been successfully separated from Len, and was now licking the honey out of his hand (ooooh, mental image). The kid was Drew's now—and, by extension, Xaviax's.

My plan did actually work, so he has to get off my back.

It was now time to shift gears, move into Phase Two: Eliminate Wing Knight.

Kit mumbled in his sleep. For being seemingly abandoned by his dad, the kid sure did sleep-talk with him often. He seemed to think his dad had something to do with his having the Dragon Deck, which was... an interesting theory. Drew doubted it, though.

He rummaged through Kit's fridge (...Kid needs to buy some more food) and eventually found sandwich ingredients. Minutes later he was munching away, no guilty conscience at all (he invited me to stay here, after all) when the toaster's reflective surface suddenly shimmered and Xaviax came into view, in his human guise this time.

"Torque, report."

Drew almost spat his sandwich bite out—as it was, he only just thought to chew and swallow before indignantly asking, "What, no Mr. Lansing this time? And what the hell—what if the kid had been awake? You would have blown the story I worked hard to sell him!"

"Enough," Xaviax said almost lazily, waving one suit-swathed arm. "Your work was commendable, above and beyond, I'm so proud, blah blah blah. I've been watching. I knew he was asleep. Now report."

Even Drew knew better to antagonize him when his voice slipped into that tone, the one that said I am the alien enslaving your race and one more human slave is always welcome. "What else is there to say? I did what you wanted me to do—I separated the dream team. Kit's with me now." He wished his voice didn't sound so possessive when he said that. "Len won't get him back—he's eating out of the palm of my hand." He hissed the last part, hoping Kit wouldn't stir. He didn't. Sap.

"Then for now Kit Taylor is truly not a threat," Xaviax mused, one hand rubbing his chin. He locked eyes with Drew. "Keep it that way. And remember my rule."

"Yeah, yeah. Hands off Dragon Knight. Don't let anybody else get him. Got it. Don't worry, General..." He flashed his scamming smile. "I'm jealous when it comes to my new toys. I'll make sure Wing Knight doesn't ever get his partner back."

"No," the general said so forcefully that Drew was taken aback. Then he shifted his expression to a placating smile. "You've done so well already, Mr. Lansing—wouldn't want to overstep your limits. I've already got plans for Wing Knight," he said as he moved his darkening gaze to Kit, who still slept on the couch. "You just focus on Dragon Knight. Keep him loyal. Keep him quiet."

"But General, why can't I...?"

"No," Xaviax repeated. "Handle Taylor. Nothing else. Stay in touch." And his image vanished, to be replaced by Drew's own reflection.

"Hey Kit, it's me—Maya. I just saw Len coming out of a you-know-what, and he looked pretty mad. I asked him where you were and he just gave me one of those troubled looks of his... Is something wrong between you two? Call me back."

Drew hovered near the machine and considered hitting 'erase', letting Kit deal with the fallout. Xaviax might not think so, but it was best if the kid was cut off from as many of his 'friends' as possible. It would make his ties to Drew and his boss that much stronger. But after a moment he shrugged and slipped out of Kit's apartment, the machine forgotten, heading down the stairs to serve as their lookout. No point in messing up what the kid could mess up on his own. Besides, Xaviax hasn't even mentioned this Maya girl, which means she's even less than a blip on his radar. She's no threat to me.

On the other hand—

He remembered what he'd so confidently told Xaviax earlier: Len won't get him back. It had been so easy to say that then...

Now, sitting tense on the stairs with a chilly wind picking up, he started to feel the traces of fear that had infiltrated his mind back when he'd first started spinning his web around Kit. Over and over the same thoughts entered his mind, solely because he kept desperately repeating them: I'll get him. He'll come back here to talk to the kid and I'll take him by surprise and Vent him. I will.

Won't I?

Drew's doubts increased in intensity. He himself was no pushover, but Len was from another world, and had years of discipline and training on him. He himself just happened to have a natural affinity for the guns that came with his other persona. Torque. Synonymous with power in his mind. Even so, Torque vs. Wing Knight wasn't a fight he was raring to be in.

What you want doesn't matter anymore. You took the forbidden fruit. You were the serpent who lured Kit away—and Len is NOT going to be happy about that no matter how long you wait or where you try to hide. He's not going to cool off or want to talk this out. He's not going to fall for your tricks. He's a threat, and you need to face him now, get him out of the way so he can't reclaim Kit.

But Len's dark eyes and intense expression lingered in his mind, along with the footage Xaviax had shown him of the man effortlessly taking down some of the alien's lesser minions, and Drew's resolve wavered.

All right all right all right, he finally told himself. Man up, Drew. You're going to have to fight Wing Knight at some point. Get over it. But for now, just... just stay out of his way. Keep to the dark corners. Don't cause a bunch of trouble. And try not to gloat. No shame in that.

Len's face swam in front of Drew's eyes again as he thought about the tired, stupid kid upstairs in his apartment, and he winced.

...Yeah, never mind. Who am I kidding? I am so screwed.