|All I Wanted
Author: RezBratOnna PM
Involuntarily assisting teenage criminals, learning that his best friend's secrets could kill, Adam struggles to prove to his boyfriend that he does care - he just can't leave the closet to do so. mxm, sci-fi, angst STORY Being Reworked At Last ChapterRated: Fiction M - English - Drama/Angst - Chapters: 20 - Words: 262,511 - Reviews: 24 - Favs: 8 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 04-25-11 - Published: 01-20-10 - Status: Complete - id: 2766196
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Laster Chapter! Yeah, I said 'laster'. It's really long and maybe confusing, but I think I ended it with the ends tied up…sorta. I hope. Next is the epilogue! Thanks for sticking this story all the way to its gory, boring ending. Please leave a comment – like it or hate it, think that the guys aren't girly enough to be romantical or too embarrassingly girly, a point out in mistakes, etc., etc…
…I Knew You'd Love Me For As Long You Wanted, And Then Someday You'd Leave Me For Somebody New…
Ken rose when called upon, the MPs taking hold of his arms to make sure he was able to stand. He yanked his arms away from them to walk on his own, elbows out to clear some space around him. As he was finally led into the conference room where Wintour and the other officers stood, previous information still displayed in brilliant clarity around him, Ken knew something significant had just happened.
It seemed out of place that Center was strumming with such anxiety. For the amount of time he'd been sitting in his cell, he could hear the urgency in the soldiers' voices, in the MPs reluctance to stay posted at their duties. The workers that flitted from room to room spoke urgently and quietly, word spreading with such maddening power that Ken finally spoke up, demanding to know what was going on.
One of the MPs told him that Samsara had returned to the city, and all Ken could do was picture Felicia Passage as she vomited heavy liquor into the laps of teens and kids alike sitting outside the podium at the Teens' Choice Awards over a year ago. Quite aware that her presence back in New Park was going to be big news, Ken just wasn't sure why it had to be. So another Superhuman with an identity was exposed – he didn't think that she deserved such attention.
So he figured something bigger had happened.
As he focused on Wintour, despite the maddening urge to look into Andy's clear features as they were displayed above her, he felt that life had taken another turn. His throat became dry, and his tongue heavy. He wished for the comfort of Paul's presence, but stood tall, facing the older woman as she watched him. No doubt she was looking for answers, but since he'd already given his statement, he didn't feel as if anything else he said could sway any action or opinion.
She then nodded at a telecommunications officer that Ken finally noticed, who was standing nearby. With a nod, he hurried forward, allowing the holographic call to illuminate the room. Vegas appeared, looking exhausted, dirty and cranky. He'd obviously skimmed death to appear as he did, bandaged and rumpled, so Ken figured he'd been part of the mess that had occurred downtown. His face was pinched, comically masked by dirt and blood. Ken stared at him, aware of the Alien's rank in the Underworld and what he was known for, and looked at Wintour for some sort of guidance.
The Alien focused in on him, giving him a onceover and a slight toss of his hair to get it out of his only working eye. Ken didn't like the look, already feeling as if the Alien put himself above Ken just because of their difference. Before he could ask what this was about, bewildered as to why he was facing the Alien as he was, Wintour said, "This is Ken Powers. His history with Murphy is valuable, considering the situation we are now in. He's identified Aaron Murphy as…being this dupe."
"He wasn't a dupe, as I've already told you," Vegas argued, before anybody could say anything. "Take responsibility for your own screw-ups. We footed the bill, yes, but because this man was, unfortunately, caught up in a situation he shouldn't have been. This is a mandatory policy, to take care of civilians caught in our…situations."
"I'm well aware of your policies," Wintour returned crisply. "But we are where we are because of them."
Vegas rolled his eye, looked at Ken again, and then stepped away. The words he spoke were muffled, and Ken looked at Wintour with such confusion and irritation that the woman gave him a chastising one instead. Ken refocused once more on the column of illuminated light, and felt everything react once Andy reluctantly appeared, replacing the spot Vegas had stood. He was as rumpled and dirty as Vegas was, standing very stiffly in place, as if everything hurt.
Ken stared at him, knowing that this man with fresh bandages over the left side of his face was Andy. He knew immediately that it was him, despite the shorter hair cut, the obvious loss of weight and the alcohol swollen features. Wintour said something, but Ken didn't catch it. He was stunned by Andy's sudden appearance, and by the cold, accusing stare Andy fixed him with.
It should have been the other way around – Ken felt that indigence rise up from within him, irritated that Andy looked at him that way when it was Andy that 'dumped' him for Adam.
Wintour barked out his name, forcing Ken to snap to attention, focusing on her with a sidelong look. "Is this Andrew Murphy standing before you?"
"Y-Yeah," Ken stammered, because he'd returned his attention back to the hologram and was caught up in that sullen glare. It was startling how much time had passed since Ken last saw him, how differently he looked. It was almost looking at a stranger, maybe at a relative of Andy's. But it was him, and there was nothing more Ken wanted to do than to reach out to punch or kick him, and administer a mouthy put-down for the Hell Andy put him through since the last time Ken saw him. If just to touch him again, to make Andy know just what Ken felt. "I mean, yes, ma'am, that him."
"Are you sure?" Wintour pressed, stepping forward to stand near him, and Ken realized just how much his insides were twisting. How hard it was to suppress all his feelings and thoughts for the other man while struggling for familiar anger and irritation to drown them out.
"Positive," Ken mumbled, unable to look away while Andy continued to glare at him. As if silently accusing him of so many things, the same things Ken was feeling.
Wintour furrowed her brow, looked from him to Andy, then turned away from Ken. "Please remove your bandages, so we can be sure, so he can make a much more positive identification," she commanded.
Andy turned his angry gaze from Ken to Wintour, and his expression took on that of contempt. Ken was startled at the venom there, unfamiliar with it. He'd seen many expressions on Andy's face, but never one of such quality. It made him want to recant his identification, but he just couldn't – every part of him knew that it was Andy standing before him.
Even more unfamiliar was the cutting snarl that emerged from swollen, bruised lips. "He told you the fuckin' truth! I have no obligation to obey you anymore."
Wintour looked startled, Ken's eyes widening slightly as he continued to stare. Andy looked annoyed as Vegas said something muffled and sharp, but something that made Andy obey him rather than Wintour. He reached up to remove the bandages, and revealed broken skin, stitches and features that were forever marred by scraping impact on immovable surface. What had been soft and tired was now destined to be disfiguring, causing an eyelid to droop slightly, for half an eyebrow to remain. His hair was missing in patches where his hairline had been. His ear was red and angry with deep scratches and marred flesh, and from his jaw down was a similar story that disappeared into a loose fitting shirt.
When Andy re-focused on him, that expression of contempt returned, and once friendly and tired blue eyes darkened with biting hostility. It was startling for Ken to be regarded by Andy like this, drawing his mind into a blank, clogging his throat with rapidly building questions and protests. He saw Wintour look at him questioningly, until he realized he'd asked aloud, "Why are you blaming me?"
"Why do you say that?" she asked him, Ken blinking hastily as he sought to regain control. "Powers?"
"Yeah, that's – Yes, that's him, I'm sure of it," Ken mumbled in response, knowing it was of poor action, but he couldn't gather himself in time to answer correctly.
"Why should he blame you?" she asked again. At that moment, he knew that she was probing his thoughts, and couldn't stop himself from thinking of their parting, of that phone call. Her face fell with such force and action that her teeth clamped together noisily. She looked back at Andy, then at Ken, trying to regain her own sense of thoughts, jumbled by Ken's confusion and startled feelings.
She swallowed hard, winced, and then cleared her throat as Ken stared down at the floor and realized he couldn't face the other man in this way, freely exposed and vulnerable over this unexpected reunion.
"Are you happy?" Andy asked her.
"Are you safe?" she returned, projecting concern into her tone and watching him glare.
"'Am I safe'? Is that what you just said? 'Am I safe'? Have I ever been safe?" he repeated, voice rising with clear emotional disbelief. "For you to ask that of me right now is fucking ridiculous."
"I apologize for this. For everything we failed to do," she started, looking slightly bothered as she did so while Ken swallowed hard and cleared his throat, wanting to speak but finding himself unable to every time this stranger continued to speak so fiercely.
"I don't accept that. I don't accept anything you say. All of you left me," Andy said, voice shaking with emotion. He glanced at Ken, then away, taking in the sight of his feet. Ken noticed that he was missing a shoe. "For right now, they're the only ones I've got."
"That's untrue," Wintour countered softly. "You know how they work, what they do. You are expendable to them."
Before Andy could say anything more, Vegas cut in, appearing in the picture with a frown. He elbowed Andy off to the side, where he was heard muttering fiercely as he stomped off. Vegas only lifted an eyebrow as a door slammed on his end, and he looked at Wintour.
"However the situation may seem, he is here of his own free will," he stated calmly. He held his fingers up, making air quotes as he spoke. "He had many chances to leave, to alert you of…his apparent danger, and he chose to stay. Like I stated before, we take care of what mistakes were made, and we willingly, without prejudice, take care of this one. In all regards, ma'am, ya'll failed. You issued this restraining order on a man who will die if a mind diver even touches him to get close to those that are employed by your, uh, situation, and in the process you failed to allow those that were closest to him identify him. As a result, he's the mess you see here. Seeing as your past actions have provided him with no confidence in your extended safety measures, he refuses to have nothing more to do with you. Now, as you all know, we've had a very long, depressing morning, and we're going to take our time recovering before taking another Vivienne Westwood outing."
It took a few moments for Wintour to recover her voice, but once she did, she said evenly, "I understand. Thank you."
Vegas disappeared without another word, and those standing nearby shuffled their feet. Ken stared down at the floor, heavy in both thoughts and throat.
Wintour looked at him, then gestured at him to be released. As an MP stepped forward from the shadows of the doorway, Ken holding his hands up to allow him to remove the handcuffs, Wintour studied him.
"I understand," she said gently. "I understand where you've gone because of this. But know this – he made his choice, not because of…apparent failures, not because of your actions, or those made out of our control – but only because they got there first. Sometimes…sometimes the bad guys win."
Ken frowned at her, the telecommunications officer reporting that he had the recording and was going to forward it to General West's office. He added that the press conference was going to be taking place in fifteen minutes, so Wintour sighed heavily, head hanging.
"You're free to go. I apologize for all the bother," she said, gesturing at the MPs. With that she left with the others, all of them murmuring between each other.
Ken stared after her, the MPs gesturing at him to follow them so they could end their day early in order to catch the press conference over the morning's incident.
Adam watched Ian as the press conference continued, General West's face passive as he announced the return of Samsara. As footage continued to repeat over this morning's street battle, the group silently absorbed the immensity of the situation. Adam couldn't help but feel that Ian was rejoicing over the teenager's return.
As one repeated feed fed the viewers of her newly revealed features, he saw that Ian absorbed every inch of it - as if checking for new injuries, learning forgotten ones. Indeed, it was startling to see the teen as her real self – grotesquely scarred, darker than her Felicia Passage persona, muscular and still annoying as hell with her smirking features – but there was something within him that burned fiercely with heavy displeasure and growing loathing.
Sam shifted uncomfortably at the edge of their group, while Jensen slurped at his protein shake, their living room discomforting with its size and their combined proximity with each other. While General West firmly voiced his displeasure with the groups' battle over 'shoes', he added that any civilian caught rooting for violence between the groups were to be fined and questioned.
Watching the footage, Adam thought it was strange that Dallas and Vegas had been so adamant in sticking so close to their ruined vehicle – previous knowledge of the pair told him that there was more to the news than what they were being fed.
Larson voiced this theory loudly, frowning as Ian shushed him. With a roll of his eyes, he looked at Adam for confirmation, Adam giving a shared nod of his head.
"Probably one of their officers," Jensen supplied with a frown. "Stupid how this entire situation was caused over…shoes."
"One of the guys on scene said it was pretty bad. I mean, two of our guys were hurt by those kids," Larson complained. "Fucking shocking as hell that they came back like this, I mean, where were they all this time? Were they still out there, in those mountains we were picked up from?"
"Yeah, I wondered about that," Sam murmured. "About this, I mean. Seems weird that they stayed there for so long. They were protecting it, but…almost carelessly. Maybe there was something else in there."
"Like what?" Ian finally asked in exasperation. "If it were an officer of theirs, someone important, they would have not stayed down there like that, allowing themselves to be targets. That's what happened, they were deliberate targets. They probably did that to distract from the total picture."
"I'm just saying," Sam said sullenly, glaring at him.
"Saying what, they were dumbasses for protecting something? Maybe Dallas left his damn purse in there," Ian snapped. "Fuckin' homo, anyway."
"Shut up," Adam snapped back. "Fuckin' attitude changed once your future mattress came back to town."
Ian gave him a startled look, opening his mouth to reply when Larson cut in. "Look, Jefferies was in that thing, let me call him up. He couldn't talk long the first time, maybe he has time, now."
"She's fuckin' sixteen, seventeen years old!" Ian continued over Larson's ending suggestion. "How can you say – you've always been jealous, or something, every time I bring her up, or if you catch me saying something about her! Now you gotta say something stupid like that right now, because you're in a mood over something."
"It's not fuckin' jealousy, it's fucking disgust," Adam snapped, the other three shifting uncomfortably as tension started to fill the air. "Every time this stupid criminal pops up, there's an excuse or two coming from you on her behavior."
"I don't say shit about her behavior, but it's true, I do say stuff, but it's not what you fucking say!"
"Guys, c'mon," Larson pleaded, tentatively coming between them, looking at Jensen for help. Reluctantly, Jensen joined him, Sam stepping away with his arms crossed over his chest as he willed for something to happen.
"Oh, none of it's excuses?" Adam asked over Larson, dropping his arms and feeling his hands balling into fists. "None of it is excuses? Meeting her and those Aliens to flirt around with her, to text and call her at all hours of the night, during the day – that ain't sayin' anything?"
"So what? I have contacts all throughout the city for my secret purposes, for all my inside shit, and nobody complains about the knowledge I get where I get it from," Ian argued, shoulders stiffening before he lifted a hand over Larson's head, jabbing it in Adam's direction. "You're fuckin' jealous, you always were. You never saw past that point."
"You keep fucking saying shit like that, I'm going to have a problem with it," Adam threatened, swatting Ian's hand out of the air and causing both Larson and Jensen to push them away from each other.
"You already have a problem with it!"
Sam turned away from Adam's next angry accusation, feeling heavily uncomfortable with the subject because of his knowledge of the situation. He knew Adam had distinctly close feelings for Ian, based upon Andy's suspicions, so he felt that Ian was right in accusing Adam of being jealous. At the same time, he just wished they'd beat the snot out of each other, because the tension was unbearable. He decided to leave then, not wanting to hear or absorb any more of the confrontation taking place, and made for the front door.
He barely missed being hit by it as it swung open, Paul striding in like he owned the home and startling everyone into silence. He still reeked of alcohol and a busy club, still dressed as he been when Sam saw him last night. The moment his eyes fell on him, Sam knew something significant happened, and before he could even say anything, Paul advanced on him with his features screwing into something furious.
"What'd you say to him?" Paul demanded, shoving him into the shoe rack. Sam fell clumsily, caught off-guard and hearing the others rushing forward to get between them. Jensen helped him up while Sam looked at him in disbelief, Paul shoving both Larson and Ian away with a furious snarl. "What'd you say to him?"
"What are you talkin' about, Powers?" Adam snapped, coming between him and Sam, Sam sheepishly shifting behind him because he knew he couldn't handle Paul's temper or quick physical actions.
"He came and spoke to Ken last night," Paul snarled, shoving Ian away once the man reached out for him again. "He spoke somethin' to Ken, and Ken did somethin' – somethin' real stupid to havin' base come at him. So I wanna know – nobody's sayin' shit to me, to his kin, so I'm comin' after him to see what the fuck?"
"Sam?" Ian questioned, having a hard time understanding what Paul was saying, his accent too thick with his anger.
"I just…" Reluctant to talk about his purpose, Sam licked his lips, drawing backward and feeling trapped with all eyes on him. Especially Adam's. "I just…wanted…to talk. To Ken. About…about Andy."
"Why -?" Ian started to demand when Paul cut him off with a demand of his own.
"What about him?" Paul's hands flew upward, displaying his every thought on the man, mirroring Ian's own mystification on the subject. "Fuck, I ain't even had time to recover from my night out, been spending all this fuckin' time trying to find out why my brother was snatched outta my home last night, this morning, for something YOU said!"
"The protection order renewal's coming up," Sam said, glancing at the others and seeing the minute expression of annoyance. Because of this, Sam was reluctant to continue, swallowing hard and looking at the floor.
"So?" Ian prompted, gesturing at him to continue.
Sam fidgeted nervously, but felt that dangerous burn of indigence arise, already feeling defensive for even feeling the way he did. "I don't think I need to have a conference with everybody on everything I do, or think."
Larson adjusted his glasses, attempted for humor. "Ooh, small fry's backbone's showing."
"Shut up, Lars. Fuck."
"He's right, he doesn't need to tell everybody everything, so get off his back about it," Adam suddenly cut in, Sam confused by the move. Adam was looking at Ian, who was looking back at him, insulted and growing furious about it.
"Why are you directing that at me, when inbred here barged into our home to start shit?" Ian protested, Paul reacting to the name with a thrown shoe from the spilled rack. As he started hurling shoewear at the man, the others ducked, racing for safety.
"The fuck!" Ian exclaimed, a shoe bouncing off his upraised arms.
But Adam didn't wait to hear anything more, he just reached out to shove Paul back, Paul pushing back on him.
"Don't come into my house and start demanding shit like that," he ordered, Paul immediately moving to engage into physical combat once he felt threatened by Adam's action. Adam moved to retaliate, Larson giving a comical scream of horror as he was caught in the middle, stumbling away from the action.
"Jesus," Sam muttered, turning to escape as Paul and Adam started to shout, shoves becoming punches. Jensen turned to help Larson to his feet, Ian muttering under his breath as he started forward to assist Adam. Sam edged around the pair, managing to make it to the front door. As he scrambled outside, he heard Paul shouting about how Ken had gotten into some sort of trouble for being caught in the rehab center.
He turned to catch more, but had to shuffle forward to avoid being caught by swinging fists. He had the pleasure of seeing one of Paul's fists connecting with Ian's jaw, but the resulting fury Ian had in retaliation ruined the effect. He hopped down the front stairs, their neighbors looking over with interest and spying the fight. With whoops and hollers, they ran over to see what was happening, so Sam took that moment to walk off.
Hours later, he gave Levi two hundred dollar bills, the t.o. grinning goofily at the visual promise of cash. He reached out and gave Sam a friendly punch to the arm, saying, "You're learning bad habits, man. That Peters giving you bad advice on shit."
"Just tell me what you know," Sam said on a sigh, watching the last of his pay disappear into Levi's shirt pocket. "I don't have all night, I know either Powers' is going to find me, or fuckin' Peters, so I wanna know before them."
"K.P. confirmed that it was Murphy with Vegas," Levi said, eyebrows furrowing. "It was weird. I mean…Vegas told Wintour they weren't trickin' anybody, it was all Center's fault for being dumb with the TPO, but…dang, Murphy just seemed brain-washed to me. He was all angry at K.P. and at Wintour. Spoke back to her a few times – but to K.P., he was just, like, Die, asshole, die! Y'know, he had that expression. I don't know the guy, I don't know your brother, but K.P. just looked, like, he had this expression of being shocked. And K.P., he's this guy that don't get shocked, y'know? Might need therapy for this one, ha, ha."
Sam absorbed Levi's fast moving words. The telecommunications officer dug out his cellphone and began texting, but as he did so, he said, "Wintour let K.P. go, and that was that. Told him the bad guys win, sometimes, so I think Murphy's a done deal. Lawrence was one of the guys hurt bad in that fight – said Murphy was defending those two, anyway. Defected, man. He's one of them, man. Y'might wanna think twice before you try and find him."
"Yeah, thanks," Sam said quietly, having already made up his mind.
Levi drummed a fist atop of the table before standing. "Pleasure getting paid extra. Don't tell anybody I told you shit, either, Hill! I'll blackmail you totally if you do!"
"I know," Sam assured him, giving him a wave as the t.o. left, hollering a hail to whomever it was that was on the phone. Scanning the base bar, Sam spotted many familiar faces, his mind running with thoughts. Larson had tried calling and texting him throughout the day, with details over the fight – which Adam won because Paul ended up tripping over Ian, and some killjoy had called the base cops to break it up – but Sam wasn't ready to talk to them yet.
He stared at the soda he'd ordered while waiting for Levi to show up, feeling uncertain as to what he was going to do next. He was utterly confused as to why Ken had gotten himself into trouble as he had, after having the conversation with him that other night. Ken had seemed so uncaring, so blasé about Andy, that to hear he'd done something differently confused Sam. He clutched the cold glass to him and wondered what it was that was there that he was missing. He wished he had someone to bounce ideas off of, someone to give him feedback, but he lacked confidence and trust in the other guys at this point.
"Hey, little dickhead, where's your dickhead friends?"
He looked up as Bridgette slid into the booth next to him, clutching a drink of her own. She was dressed in sweats and a tank, both uncomfortably female with her breasts spilling over their carrier and sisterly with her closeness and affection. Because he was still a male amazed at the sight of boobs, he found it discomforting to look in her direction.
"Hanging out at Lars'," he answered, watching everybody else laugh and talk around them, the barkeeps busy with their watered down drinks. Though the temptation was strong in looking over to see Bridgette's boobs, he struggled with the choice, not wanting to be mortified by her catching him or physically attacked and wounded.
"You grew a pair of your own? Wandered out without them?" she asked, brow furrowing.
"Yeah. They were getting annoying," he said lightly, shrugging. He focused hard on his soda. "You're by yourself?"
"Out here with Peggy," she said, gesturing in a vague direction, naming her roommate. "So, what's going on? What'd they tell you in counseling, today?"
"They're positive I should be able to rejoin the workforce soon. Lars, Jensen, too. Peters is still out, he won't tell us what's happening with him."
"Such a fuckin' hypocrite. He demands to know our business, but he won't tell us his," she said in annoyance.
"I know, right? Edwards said that he and Peters found Byrons wandering the East Side downtown distract, like, minutes before that shit happened," Sam explained, figuring that Adam was still looking for Andy. He wondered if the man would ever find him. He didn't feel it was important to reveal what he now knew to the older man – he still felt a sense of betrayal with him. "They didn't say anything else about it, though, and Byrons, you know how he is. Don't want to talk about anything."
"He looks like shit," Bridgette said frankly. "I heard Peters complaining to…to somebody the other day that Byrons refuses to, like, move on."
"I still feel like…like he was responsible for…y'know, Andy," Sam confessed quietly.
Bridgette spun her straw idly, mixing her drink with a vague expression. "I'm still pissed because I know they're hiding something. So, like, I guess I'm in the same boat. I mean, really, I don't like your brother? But…I feel the same way you do."
Sam knew Bridgette's feelings on Andy, and knew she'd never change them. But she was the only one that didn't speak out loud like the others did, despite her frankness. He shrugged, sipped at his drink.
Bridgette studied him, then indicated her drink. "Let me buy you a beer."
"So? Like they're going to check on it now, in here. I'll be right back."
Because Sam couldn't say no to her, he shrugged again and tried to figure out ways to avoid drinking the content upon her return. He thought of the many times he'd happened upon Andy in the midst of finishing off a fresh pack of beer, of the times Andy drunkenly confessed to something silly, such as eating cake batter out of its box or randomly calling older women to search for a mother figure. The ache in missing him was fierce, sharply cutting through him – reminding him that he was alone in the midst of so many people. Before he could wonder if this was how Andy had felt before meeting him, Bridgette had returned with two cups of beer. As she waited for him to take a sip, she chugged down a good portion of hers. He took a sip but spit it back into the cup as she lowered hers, the taste making him grimace.
"Pussy," she chided, rolling her eyes. Lowering her mug and licking her lips, she leaned forward, giving those an eyeful as they passed by. "I don't hate you, Hill. Nor do I feel anything ill towards you. I'm just mad at the other guys…Byrons and Peters mostly. I feel like they fucked all of us over."
Sam nodded, repeating the action with his beer and feeling his eyes water. Bridgette wasn't paying attention, though, staring off into the crowd with a wistful expression. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and wondered why Andy kept drinking the stuff to 'develop a taste of it' when it tasted so awful.
"I'm not looking forward to working with them again," she confessed slowly. "I don't know how to…work things out when I don't even know what happened. I think this counseling thing is bullshit. It's not working."
Sam nodded again in response, staring at the full cup of beer between both hands.
Bridgette propped an elbow upon the table, chin in palm, and stared once more into the crowd. At the distraction, Sam lowered his mug below the table and poured some of it onto the floor. He resumed his previous position once satisfied with the level, Bridgette looking over with an annoyed expression.
"You're so dumb. I felt it splash on my fuckin' foot," she said, Sam turning red from the neck up. She stared at him for a couple of moments, then chuckled, shrugging her strong shoulders. She finished off her own beer and took the rest of his. Embarrassed with being caught with his earlier tactic, Sam couldn't bear to tell her how he'd taken his first sip.
The first month of her return was chaotic. If she hadn't been infamous before, her status was more broadcast than ever. After Merrick's initial excuses and diversion tactics had failed, his admittance in knowledge in her status became another big thing. As a result of the chaos, Andy had been separated from the others and ferried away to a cushy mansion deep within Marysville, surrounded by a few familiar faces of men in white. He lacked neighbors for miles, surrounded by vegetation and wildlife that still happened to surprise him with their presence, bewilder him with their genetic makeup. The house gave him unparallel views of New Park City and those of the stars that had been invisible then. He was surrounded by silence and safety, his days shaping into one forgetful moment after another.
Vegas and Dallas grew busy with other things, with public appearances here and there, and Andy had come to realize how much he'd missed them. This isolation allowed him to realize just how dependent he was on other people, and it made him want to stop it. He knew that his time was now limited with the girls' return, and waiting for them to end it was growing maddening. The men in white that occupied the mansion said nothing to him, delivering news and necessities with casual remarks here and there, but none of them stretched out for a friendly chat or company. They were always at the edge of his vision, always there to make sure he wasn't trying to 'off himself', like Vegas suggested months back, or trying to get into contact with the others.
Not that Andy wanted to – he felt as if he'd moved on from them. They'd allowed him to feel expendable, used, worthless, and he now viewed his memories of them badly. Searching for clues and indications of their intentions long before the trip to the Sierra Nevada, he had come to decide that Sam wanted to know him to get to know the other side of his family; Adam used him for sex and satisfaction in same-sex relations; and Ken needed him because Ken needed a verbal and physical punching bag when he couldn't land hits on his brother. The feelings Andy now felt for all of them burned hotly, turning him bitter and angry at the very thought of them.
He had too much time to think about things, and the things he thought weren't helpful. He couldn't remember the kindness of their actions, couldn't remember feeling what he had with the relationships he'd had with them. He felt as if he'd never known them, and what he now knew were those in his life now. He'd lost contact with his mother, but he acknowledged never having it to begin with.
It was a weekend, and he sat at the kitchen counter, staring at a pot that refused to boil. The summery weather prompted him outside to enjoy it, but he didn't want to abandon the change to make ramen with water that didn't boil. A man in white lingered in a hall nearby, nearly asleep on his feet while Andy stared down at the stove. His clothes felt loose in ways he hadn't felt before, but he didn't feel mindful of his looks. Since the street battle, his injuries had healed into scars that would never lessen their severity, and though it startled him every time he looked into a mirror, he didn't feel as if he should care about it. He was starting to accept that being alone was his future, now, that no one would find him acceptable for their needs. And if they did, it was for all the wrong reasons.
Most of his hair had grown out, but his left eyelid still drooped, and his mouth had taken on a stiffness to that side that was most painful when he smiled. His jaw and neck felt tight, but lotion soothed it when he remembered to apply it. He felt as if the ugliness he felt inside had taken place on the outside - convinced himself that nobody wanted him because he was this ugly person; having no one else tell him otherwise anchored this belief.
The water started to boil, and he muttered "Finally" before reaching for the ramen. He opened the seasoned packet before he realized that the pot was burning, water disappearing as steam rose in the air. Staring down at the sight with confusion, he tried lowering the flame. Smoke rose, and he quickly removed the scorched pot, wondering where the water went. He upended the pot, wondering if there was a hole in it, and looked into the drip pan.
"You know what they say about watched pots, Murphy!" Yoshida sang, lighting a cigarette and stumbling after the man in white that tried to leave. He looked back at her, startled at her presence.
"Are you trying to cook again? I told the guys to buy you stuff before you attempted to," Vegas complained as he walked in, scanning the kitchen for anything out of place while Dallas clomped in after him with his prized Vivienne Westwood platforms and an overlarge tote boasting the Victoria's Secret brand, Samsara trailing after him with a gallon of water swinging in one hand.
A relief like none other rose in Andy's chest at the sight of his 'guests', and he struggled to squelch it, recognizing it only as a surge of dependence and need. After all, these people would kill him someday, the teen especially threatening with her secret. He watched her cautiously as she dropped her water onto the counter, looking eerily normal as a teenager in small shorts and a sullen expression. But her eyes were heavily shadowed, her skin sallow – he thought it was only the illness of having to get back into shape so soon, instinct alerting him into the wrongness of her appearance.
"I don't like it up here," she complained, drawing long hair into a messy bun atop of her head, Dallas frowning at her as he sat down in one of the stools outside the kitchen island. "Too many bugs. Plus, people look at you funny when you're driving up. Backward hicks."
"Because you're known for killing people, dear," Dallas said, Vegas examining the oven suspiciously. Dallas beamed at Andy, who was still wrestling with his feelings of comfort with people that wanted to be around him. "How've you been doing, doll? Face looks a lot better. I have stuff I wanted to try out, what say you later on to something spa-ful, just us girls?"
"Me too?" Samsara asked hopefully, examining what looked to be a fresh burn atop one of her arms.
"I said 'girls'," Dallas said snottily.
"Murphy, where's your utensils?" Vegas asked, looking through all the drawers. "Don't tell me you're using these chopsticks, this plastic takeout bullshit. What do the guys eat with?"
"God, you're like a bossy old woman, V," Samsara complained, resting her arms atop of the table and dropping her head into them. "Get out of the kitchen before you hurt yourself."
"Under the sink," Andy answered Vegas. "And I've never seen them eat."
"Because you're always brooding off in some dark corner of the house," he heard Vegas mutter, walking off while calling out names. Andy resisted the urge to follow, simply because he'd gotten used to it while he'd lived in the city.
Dallas and Samsara watched him, and Andy realized that they couldn't read his mind, but they could read his expressions. Something he still had problems with, feeling the ruined side of his face tighten as he struggled for a smile. Dallas smiled back, but Samsara just looked sad. She dropped her head back into her arms, but Andy saw her peeking at him from time to time from between them.
"I've got gossip," Dallas said low, watching the direction Vegas took. Quickly, Dallas then bent over, rummaging through his tote bag and withdrawing a handful of magazines. All of them celebrity themed, something Andy looked forward to as he took a seat next to him, automatically batting away Dallas' arm as Dallas move to hug him.
As Dallas whispered the latest escapades of their 'expendables', Samsara listening with vague interest, Yoshida returned with a dazed expression. She teetered over on obscenely high heels and sat comfortably in Dallas' lap, reeking of marijuana and thumbing through the holographic pictures of the magazine. It was when Dallas finished the story of catching a couple of their security personnel circle jerking in the garage of the main building when Vegas returned. Dallas and Yoshida stared at him with frozen expressions while Samsara looked at him with amusement, Andy waiting for something grave to follow from the other's orange mouth.
Vegas gave them an annoyed look. "What?"
"You look like ya got somethin' ta say," Yoshida said, blue eyes wide. "Did you find something?"
"Walk into something naughty?" Dallas asked hopefully. As they tried to guess the reasoning behind his serious expression, Andy recognized the feeling of belonging. It had been awhile since he'd felt this, trying to suppress the urge to allow it to relax within him, to allow him to think that things were okay.
"Fuck, no. Can't I just walk around with a normal expression?" Vegas asked, frowning at the three of them before waving at Andy to follow him. "Y'know what, fuck you guys. Let's go, Murphy. Let's get this over with."
Andy hesitated, watching Yoshida and Dallas look at him from the corner of his ruined eye. Samsara slipped off the stool, stretching her arms over her head, Vegas following her with his hands clasped behind his back.
Despite his weeks of waiting for the inevitable end, Andy still felt heavy and scared at the same time. He slowly slid off his stool, Dallas reaching out to capture his shoulder with a firm grasp.
"It's not what you think," he said lightly, smiling. "You know what an old man he is, Murphy."
"Yeah, it's 'k," Yoshida agreed on a whisper, nodding. "We'll make ya some ramen when you come back. And Dallas brought stuff for Long Island Iced Teas!"
"OH yeah! Yay, I'd totally forgotten, being stressed out by Vegas' bossy demands all the way up here!" Dallas cried out, pushing her off his lap to reach for his tote. Upon hearing the familiar clink of bottles containing alcohol, Andy felt himself relax slightly, uplifted by their words as he followed after Vegas and Samsara.
Even as the temperature had been a constant ninety and above for the past two weeks, Andy felt an unnaturally cool breeze hit him as he joined Vegas and the teenager on the second story balcony, which overlooked the hills of Marysville. Samsara propped herself up to sit on the railing, while Vegas chose to stand nearby, uncomfortably covered in a long sleeved shirt and slacks, a set of Oxfords on his feet.
"Quit with the long expression," Vegas chided him, frowning as his hands slid into his slacks pockets. "It's not that serious. I just had to get you away from those two dopes. Look, it's been awhile since we'd come up here, I thought it'd be okay if we stayed for the weekend."
"It's fine," Andy said tightly, looking at Samsara with discomfort, the teen looking out over the hills instead.
"The city's…a little out of control, lately," Vegas said. "Getting hectic. Dangerous."
"It's a little my fault," Samsara cut in.
"Some, but not most," Vegas agreed. He looked back at Andy. "I didn't want you to have access to television, mostly because it's so…I mean, it kills brain cells. Yours are still missing after all that drinking."
"I'm fine without it, the holoset, I mean," Andy admitted. "I missed it, but…obviously I lived."
"The internet, phone – look, at the very start, I understood that…your relationships with other people were pretty…unstable, so you needed this time to yourself to sort yourself out," Vegas said carefully, watching as Andy turned away to look out at the men in white that were strolling the grounds. They were new faces, so he assumed that Vegas had brought up a new set. "But there's stuff going on out there that is…I mean, soldiers and civilians are being killed, every day. The streets are getting rough out there, the city's falling apart. With so many psychic attacks happening, there's no possible way you could return to the city without dropping dead by some asshole with a headache."
Andy couldn't help but think of those that he knew, reaching for the feelings he once had for them and feeling that now familiar emptiness with that action.
"Also…" Vegas stopped himself, looking frustrated. "Your mom has been asking around for you. I…didn't tell you last time, because it didn't seem as if you got along with her."
"I don't." Andy was almost bewildered that his mother took that step when she hadn't before.
"I didn't think so. I told her you moved on, and if you wanted to connect with people, you were a free man to do so." Vegas studied him for a few moments. Made a face at Andy's sloppy appearance – Andy hadn't bothered combing his hair for the past three days, and all but lived in a pair of soft cargo shorts and a t-shirt he barely remembered to change, but always ended up changing back into because of its worn quality. "But she alerted Duncan Jones that we had a hand in this disappearance of yours. So I was wondering if you'd like to make an appearance to quell her stupidity."
Because they'd helped him in so many ways, Andy only wanted to make things right with the things that troubled them, things that he knew he could help with. This was one of them, getting his mother to back off. "I could visit her."
"That would be helpful."
"It's fuckin' retarded that this broad started shit because there's attention to it," Samsara added, lip curled. In the bright sunlight, seeing her scars only made him more conscious of his own. Her face was too ruined to be considered pretty, but she wore hers proudly. Each one a badge of honor, of memory for her. He wondered where her baby was, and couldn't bring himself to ask. "Some guy started callin' her, wondering where you were. That's when she remembered she was supposed ta care."
Andy wondered if it were Sam – though his affections for the younger man was now faded, he knew that if he saw him again, he'd feel something raw within him.
"Said his name's Miguel."
Andy remembered his coworker, the man's friendly personality and smile. Thought of Andrea, and how protective and friendly she had been with him. He couldn't help but think of them with affection.
"You should call them, let them know you're all right," Vegas said. "Maybe it'll make your mother back off."
Andy murmured an answer. "I thought people would've forgotten me by now."
"Well, do something to make her stop. Her fuckin' husband's with the press, and Merrick hates the press. I hate the press. I hate answering stupid questions and stupid people, so do something about it," Vegas ordered. "I'll go find you a phone. Dallas' doing somethin' in the kitchen and ain't answering me."
He strode off to do so, leaving Andy alone with Samsara. She watched Vegas shut the sliding door behind him, then looked at Andy. It was startling that she still seemed so young, despite the things that had happened.
Before he could ask her about the baby, she said quickly, "Sorry 'bout your face. I feel bad about it."
Andy touched the ruined skin, now familiar with the texture. "It's not like you had a hand in it. Personally."
'I did, though. Drew you into the mess in the first place." Andy watched her feet cross, one atop of the other. The action looked so lost and vulnerable. He was reminded of everything Adam had told him about her and Peters, about her role in George Potterson's twisted paradise. "It's cuz of me that…y'know…you're here, now. Not with them."
"I don't care," Andy confessed. "I'm used to it, now. I don't feel as lonely as I used to. With them, I felt lonely all the time."
"It's not a good thing," she said, glancing at him. "To feel okay, being alone. Sometimes you need people."
"You do," she insisted, and he remembered their conversation underground. How mothers were supposed to be there for their children. "I thought that, too, but…I need people. I need 'Shida, I need Vegas. I need Dallas, I need Boston. Sometimes Peters, too. So I go to them."
"You still talk to Peters?" Andy found the idea revolting, feeling that familiar burn of hate for the other man.
She nodded, shrugged. "Yeah. He can't avoid me, and I can't shake him. Once he knows I'm around, it's only a matter of time before he pops up."
Andy took in the sight of the hills. Felt his stomach clench with refusal to accept the situation.
She bowed her head. "I know you know stuff. The thing that makes me feel better 'bout it is that…no one else will know."
Andy felt his jaw set stubbornly. "Don't discount me for that. I'll blab for the right amount of money."
She snorted. "You won't say anything, because you know what it's like to keep a secret. I can tell you hate them both, but you've said nothing about them to expose them."
Andy knew who she meant, feeling that familiar pain in his lip tightening in reaction as it had before the street battle. Because the action couldn't complete itself as it used to, he dropped it.
"Why give them that attention?" he murmured.
She made a conferring noise, holding onto the railing with both hands before leaning back to stare up at the sky. Andy watched her, noticing just how raw the skin looked across her neck, how her own collection of road rash bunched her muscles in such odd ways.
"Sometimes, I get so tired of it all, Murphy," she said, speaking to the sky. "Sometimes I look back at everything I've done, everything that was denied to me, an' get all…all murderous. It's unfair."
She straightened, turning her face to the side so that he couldn't see her expression. "I get so emotional sometimes, so fuckin' tired of it all. I feel really tired, really sad. I feel really shitty, like…it wasn't fair. Why'd he live? Why didn't I just…do it, get it over with, like I did with Max?"
Andy stared at her for a few moments, and felt uncomfortable. He wasn't sure what she meant by killing 'Max', until he remembered hearing Ian complaining about solving that mystery.
"I don't feel connected to things anymore," she confessed quietly. "I say things like that, like I wanna be around people, but people don't get it. And I can't talk about it. I can't say anything. I feel like I'm alone, and I don't wanna be – I feel like I wanna be with him, but I know that I can't, cuz I ain't right."
The silence between them was heavy, dark. He was aware that this teenager was displaying traits she wasn't even aware of, and it was something easily fixed, remedied. Hundreds of women suffered from post-partum depression, needed only a few days of recovering while taking prescribed medicine, but this teenager couldn't reveal to others what was precious to her.
He had the realization that the baby was alive somewhere – but obviously nowhere in her hands.
At that moment, he knew her secret was his to take – because there was a child somewhere that was getting more than what they were given. And it was because of that that Andy was willing to be silent about it.
"At least he's safe…and loved," he murmured, surprised at how easily those words left him.
Her shoulders hunched, and she gave a small sound, head drooping. He realized that she was starting to cry, flabbergasted at how easily the action was for her. Before he could express to her what she was suffering from, the sliding door opened. She slid off the railing, dropping to the ground below before anybody could see her in this state of vulnerability.
Vegas walked over, shaking his head. "That girl's weirding me out. She comes and goes without saying anything. I think there's something wrong with her."
Andy agreed with a nod, something that Vegas couldn't see. Vegas looked at him, then gestured at the inside. "Let's go have something to drink. Maybe I'll finally get buzzed."
"You even have a liver?" Andy asked curiously, following him inside, both of them forgetting about the girl that stalked off to continue crying in privacy.
Sam watched his hands move, only vaguely aware that they were doing things his mind was telling them to do as chaos continued all around them. The street was devastated as Superhumans and Aliens demolished it with their maniacal intentions, as civilians were caught in the middle. Gunfire exploded everywhere, and he knew if he lifted his head to examine the situation, his hands would continue to do as they were supposed to.
The civilian he was assisting was going to die, and Sam accepted that the moment he started administering care. Rather than abandon the man to a violent and lonely death, he lingered, using bandages and wipes instead of the more valuable supplies that he had in comfortable quantity. All around him soldiers raced about, trying to restore order, trying to keep their numbers from falling, and civilians cried out from everywhere, too many to stop and count. It had been a busy farmer's market that had fallen prey to the ongoing Underworld battles, and mixed black and white suited minions mingled amongst those already lying on the streets.
Next to him, Adam fired off single shots with his assault rifle, taking down anything that wore the stark colors, regardless of their threats. In battles like these, it was shoot anything wearing symbolizing color, no matter retreat or severity of injuries, and his participation in such orders was soothing. Ganglish screamed as they mowed through broken bodies, tossing vehicles and stands as if they were nothing. Buildings exploded under power, water spilling down onto the pavement as lines were severed. Air support receded, and GAR-DS worked defensively to keep the battle contained to these few streets as to keep the death toll within the perimeters.
Sam finally noticed that the victim under his hands kept twisting his head, panicked eyes searching the bodies closest to him. "Who you looking for?" he asked, raising his voice to heard as Adam's rifle blasted.
"M-M-my friend," the man sputtered, twisting to look in the other direction and promptly choking on the dark gush of blood that exploded from his lips. Sam helped him roll to the side, to continue vomiting blood that he couldn't stop. At this moment, the man continued to search, until his eyes fell onto a body that was half covered by another. His arm stretched out, as if reaching for it, Adam shifting aside with annoyance as he was forced to pause in mid-shot. He looked over at Sam, who shrugged limply, mopping blood from the man's ear.
"What are you doing?" Adam asked in irritation, watching the man's fingers stretch outward. He looked down, saw who he was reaching for, and easily shoved a dead woman off a larger man. "This one? He's dead, gunshot wound to the head."
The victim sputtered again, but instead of completing his earlier task, rolled onto his back. He promptly choked, sputtered, staring up at the clouded skies while Sam tried to figure out his intentions. "He your family?" he asked, thrusting away the ruined supplies of wipes he'd used.
The man shook his head, and promptly died without revealing anything more. Sam pushed away from him, looking down at the other man with a decisive frown. Adam rose as well, shaking out the pressure in his knees and switching from single shot to multi.
"Lovers, probably," he muttered, tone heavy with disgust. Sam looked at him, searching for something that would tell him otherwise, and felt nothing as Adam turned away to mow down a couple of South Siders that were trying to escape into the sewers. "Quit wasting your time on shit like this."
"He held on until he knew for sure his partner was gone," Sam said.
Sam's jaw tightened, feeling that hot ball of anger burn within his chest. Still feeling resentful and betrayed by the bigger man, no matter the situation.
"Hey, if you're done discussing Romeo and Juliet, come over here and help us," Larson complained through their earpieces. "I sat in Ganglish shit, and I'm stuck. Neilson's wimpy arms can't pull me out."
"Who said I was trying to?" came her retort.
Sam followed after Adam as he turned in that direction, Ganglish spying them. Instead of engaging into action with it, Sam hurried his step, Adam following Larson's distress signal until they were nearly parallel with the docks. The smell of ocean spray was nearly overcome with the stench of death and gunpowder, and Sam couldn't help but sneeze as they finally came across the pair, who was joined by a Recon officer that was laughing at Larson's dilemma.
Because he hadn't been approved for battle yet, Ian wasn't present on the battlefield, and with such a large stretch of devastation, teams had been broken up, various soldiers pushed into mingling groups and sent into other areas of the market. Jensen had taken off with a Recon crew, voluntarily open to the harder assignment of taking out the Superhumans that commanded over the minions. Bridgette and Larson were supposed to be assisting with loading the wounded onto air carriers, but upon approach, Sam realized that they'd been left behind because of Larson's predicament.
"Real funny, I'm a sitting duck here," Larson snapped.
"More like a shittin' duck."
"Har, har, Byrons, get me the fuck up," Larson ordered, stretching a hand out towards him. Adam made a face, taking in the sight of the large, dark green puddle mixed with chunks of black. The smell made his eyes water, Sam coughing as he moved away.
"How the fuck did you miss that when you sat down?" Adam asked curiously, Bridgette adjusting her own assault rifle over her shoulder as she made her way to Sam, greeting him cheerfully.
"I didn't - ! I didn't sit down, I was fuckin' knocked down! Get me up, c'mon, don't just leave me here!"
"Wait, wait, wait," the Recon soldier said, withdrawing a camera from his utility belt. "Hold up, Byrons, let me get a picture of this."
"Send me a copy, too," Adam ordered as Larson tried to cover his face with both arms, complaining loudly. "A little higher, Lars, we can still see your chin and know its you."
Larson did so, but exposed his nametag to the camera, something he realized moments later after it was taken. "Fuck you, Byrons, asshole!"
The Recon soldier laughed again, examining the contents of his camera, then showed Adam. He then hurried off, signing back into the action with a command and a flash of light, teleporting closer to the scene he was called to. Adam finally helped Larson up, having to brace himself and struggle to do so. By the time Larson was standing, dripping with muck, the firefight had moved down towards the water, and more soldiers were pouring into the area. Some of them were fresh faced and eager, while the others looked annoyed at the devastation that came into view.
Larson punched Adam's chest, huffing furiously. "Fuckin' asshole. Wait 'til Cooney hears about this, this injustified mocking of my unfortunate situation!"
"I heard it, I just asked Michels for a copy of that picture," their lead drawled from their earpieces, gunshots exploding on that end. "When you're done fuckin' around, ladies and gent, why don't ya'll rejoin with the group in knockin' down this group of white down here at the wharf?"
"Yup, yup, I heard that b.s., Cooney, you old wise ass," Bridgette complained. "Referring to me as a 'gent'. Fuck you."
"I said 'ladies', right? Meaning, there's more of YOU, while, at the same time, I acknowledge the fact that you are female. Probably. Hurry the fuck up."
"Well, what am I?" Sam asked. "You said 'ladies and gent.' Who's the gent?"
"Me, of course," Adam answered.
"I leave it all for debate. Get down here NOW."
Bridgette looked down at herself, grumpily noted that she did gain a pound, then slapped Sam upside the head for even paying attention to her during her moment of silence. Grumbling, Larson followed after them, shaking out his legs in a way to dislodge the muck without touching it with his hands.
"You're going to give us away, smelling like that," Bridgette complained. "Maybe you should just stay here."
"Don't you love me, anymore?"
"You want a wipe?" Sam asked him, holding out a disposable between two fingers, Larson snatching at it and finding that it was useless. Sam laughed as he ducked the flying piece of white, Larson huffing.
Once they neared the section Cooney directed them to, the group knew it was time to stop joking between each other and time to focus on the situation. They could see other soldiers posted defensively outside a seasonal building, which was displayed with summer goodies and boasting of a grill and bar that was popular with tourists. Joining the group, someone complaining about the sudden smell Larson brought with him and earning some disgust, the four of them was informed by another lead that the group of East Siders had chosen to play out their last stand from within this building. There were a couple of soldiers being attended to nearby, Sam venturing over to see if he could help. Adam followed, hearing the others discussing plans on plowing their way in versus blowing up the building entirely.
"Where's their gear? I can help transport them out," Sam said, seeing that the men were patched and ready for emergency transport away from the scene.
"That's the thing, their gear was missing when we caught up to them," one of the medics said with a frown. "This guy ain't gonna make it, his head injury's already bleeding out. Help me with this one, he's gotta chance if you got any – "
"Like someone stole it?" Adam asked, as Sam rummaged through his med-bag for supplies the medic was asking for. "Someone stripped them of their gear to get a better chance of killing them, or -?"
"I don't know, like someone just stole their gear. Helmet, suit, yeah. Just left what they got on," the medic explained impatiently, taking the wrapped syringe Sam held out, and withdrawing a vial from his own supply. Sam reached out to gently pry back a bandage from the wounded soldier's neckline when someone screamed out, "Sniper!"
The whoosh of air near his ear had Sam dropping protectively over the wounded soldier, the other medic following suit while Adam whirled and joined the others in firing in the direction the shot had come from. Sam rose, jerking his shoulders up and pushing the other medic away, looking down to see that the wounded soldier's face now resembled a mangled pulp. He looked down at his uniform and saw that parts of the man's face hung there, the other medic looking disgusted before shoving away from the body with a curse.
Adam looked over at Sam, then at the dead soldier. Seeing as everybody else had the scene covered, decision made to storm the building, he reached out to grasp Sam's shoulder to gain his attention.
"You okay?" he asked, Sam giving a dazed nod.
"You hit anywhere?"
"C'mon, get up, let's go," Adam said, helping him to his feet, Sam brushing off his uniform and then looking at the blood that covered his gloves. Adam slapped his hand down, gestured at his weapon, so Sam followed the silent orders sluggishly, Bridgette moving over to check on him.
He jerked out of his dazed state when she pinched his ass, making him yelp. "Concentrate, I don't wanna get shot by some moron," she said.
As Sam fell in line with the others, Larson leaned over, whispering, "She's grooming you, dude. Better watch out."
"I heard that shit, shut the fuck up, Edwards!" Bridgette exclaimed, her cheeks turning red.
"Grooming me for what?" Sam asked, confused as he continued to rub the area she'd pinched.
"Shut up, you fuckers – oh, hey Neilson," one of the other soldiers greeted, and Bridgette greeted him amicably. As Adam waited impatiently for the front doors to be smashed in, wanting to get involved in the action, he noticed that it was Jefferson that had recognized Bridgette. Then performed a double take as Jefferson greeted the others with the same tone.
Looking at the others, Adam spotted Paul up front, mouthing off to the lead that was preparing to kick the doors open. It didn't make any sense that he was alone, automatically looking for Ken among those ready to move. His thoughts immediately started to shift, started to focus on Andy, so Adam grit his teeth and held his gun tightly, determined to keep himself focused on the here and now.
Thinking of the other man did nothing for him, having stuck with his decision to move on without ever knowing what happened to him. Guilt, shame and regret started to fill him, making everything hurt until the doors finally smashed open, and the soldiers began spilling into the building. He charged forward, leaving the others behind, just needing to do something to escape the feelings that constantly cut him.
Gunshots erupted immediately, screams and shouts filling the air. Orders filtered in from various leads, Cooney's catching his attention and directing him left of the chaos taking place in the front lobby. Men in white were falling everywhere, engaged in mortal combat with the soldiers that sought to take them down in order to maintain the chaos.
He followed a couple of others through a long hallway that reeked of fish, and felt anxious because he was leaving the action. The two that were racing down the hall said nothing, slamming through a pair of metal doors and spilling out into what looked to be a byway that led towards the shoreline. But he caught sight of the group that were already booking it towards waiting boats, a couple of them turning around to face them.
One of the soldiers picked himself up from the floor, caught sight of the group, but suddenly turned and started racing down the other end of the byway, startling Adam as he performed a double take. His first thought was that the man was abandoning the action, seeing as they were outnumbered, but then he realized that the soldier was chasing after another set of men in white, both of whom were disappearing around the corner of the seasonal building.
The other soldier began firing, Adam moving to assist when other soldiers surprised the group with a flanking move, screaming orders and firing when fired upon. Seeing that they were handled, Adam turned and raced after the man that had just disappeared around the corner of the byway. Flashes of light, caused by the activity occurring in the building behind him illuminated his way, allowing him to maneuver deftly through the cluttered piled within the byway. As he rounded the corner, he saw that one man in white had already fallen, lying dead in the center of the alleyway – as Adam passed him, he performed a double take, faltering in step.
He found it odd that the man in white was shot from the front, and not from the back. He continued through the alleyway, hearing Cooney guide him steadily, assuring him that he wasn't leaving the action. He heard the sounds of men engaged in battle, trashcans hurtling through the air, and fists landing upon flesh. He rounded the alley and saw the soldier fighting the lone man in white, both of them equally fast and powerful.
"Got your back!" he said as way of announcing his presence, lifting his rifle and looking around them, searching for any ambush points. Just as he turned his back to them, searching the windows of the building next to him, he was hit with a hard force, slamming into the hard pavement with the soldier rolling off him.
He grimaced, and then glared at the other soldier, the other mirroring the move and looking equally as surprised because it was Paul Adam was facing. Before Adam could say anything, hearing the approach of the victor, he shifted with the rifle, only to have it caught by Paul.
"What's goin' on, shoot the fucker," Cooney complained from Adam's earpiece, as Adam looked at Paul with irritation. Paul wasn't looking at him, but looking away, something resembling frustration on his sunburnt features.
Adam turned to gauge the minion's distance, prepared to kill when he stilled, feeling stunned from the inside out. It was Ken they were facing, Adam's confusion building as he saw stolen military gear wrapped around a dirty white shirt and faded blue jeans. Ken was removing the white linen blazer he'd been wearing, looking anxious and irritated as he recognized Adam upon approach. He had other pieces of military armor on him, things he jerked on until he resembled them without their gear. The helmet was strapped on last, Ken looking at them with something of a grin as he made it fit over his messy blond curls.
Adam felt the jerk of his communication collar yanked from him, looking over to seeing Paul remove it, removing his own moments later as he rose to a stand. He recognized that Paul was hiding the inevitable conversation that was going to take place .
"Ain't no secret now, ain't it?" Paul asked, spitting the words bitterly as he gestured at Adam. "Made a fool of yourself, front o'everybody."
"Nobody else knows it, right?" Ken returned, his voice low and sullen, his eyes taking in one man and the other.
Adam could only stare, confusion building within him, swirling his own hyped emotions and thoughts.
"Nobody knows that much else, guess you ain't exactly bragging 'bout shit," Ken continued, tossing the ruined blazer away from him.
"Fuckin' defected, an' cuz of what? You gonna get killed for nothing," Paul stated, his tone surprisingly shaky as he faced his younger brother. To Adam, it seemed an old argument – looked at Paul in stunned silence and wondered how this had been missed in base gossip. "You're expendable to them, nothin' but a pawn, a minion!"
"I got this far, so far," Ken returned. "Just needed a lil' boost."
"Killing your own guys?"
"Ain't my crowd anymore, anyway. Betcha people on base got all happy I weren't there no more, and without me, you're not that much hassle to anybody. So…y'know, everyone benefits." Ken shrugged off his former career with careless action, Adam's mind racing at that point, trying to remember if anybody had mentioned Ken's disappearance.
Because he'd tried so hard to forget Andy, to keep himself away from people and points that reminded him of him, he'd basically shut out the twins as well. He recognized that once he heard the names he'd either tune out the conversation or walk away, the diversion tactic allowing him to stay within his own cell of isolation. This situation before him was so significant, each twin displaying their own display of emotion so openly that Adam couldn't help but feel it wasn't a trick. Paul looked completely betrayed, staring at his twin as if viewing something heartbreaking.
There was a shout down the other end of the alley, the approach of other soldiers – Adam glanced over his shoulder, to judge the time of their arrival, and looked back just in time to watch Ken use the opposite building wall to leap to an open window, Paul chasing after him just as quickly. They disappeared, no doubt to carry on a battle they had to finish, and Adam stood there in silence, unable to speak or think.
Because nothing appropriate came to mind to explain what had just happened, knowing that explaining the situation was his to do, Adam then lowered himself to the ground, so that he could stare up at the sky visible between the two buildings. He was going to pretend that this hadn't happened, that, somehow, he'd been knocked down. His head swarmed with so much confusion and emotion, feeling as if it were he that were betrayed. It didn't make any sense to feel this much when he was trying so hard to forget.
Hours later, in the locker room, Adam stared blankly at the lockers ahead of him. The others had already changed and left, every one of them exhausted physically and mentally. The battle had finally been cleaned away, the civilian and military death count abnormally high, and Adam was still torn over what had occurred.
He didn't repeat what had happened to the others, unsure of how to take the situation – feeling a pressing sensation of jealousy and admiration in Ken's actions. Felt admiration because Ken could drop everything to no doubt pursue and stay close to Andy – there just was no other explanation for it. Felt jealousy for the exact same reasons.
He bent at the waist, the long bench creaking with his movements as he gripped his sweat matted hair with both hands. This was punishment and freedom at the same time, he decided, the warring feelings inside of him making him ill.
Apology after apology filled him, and that need, that urge to find Andy returned – but Adam knew that, after all this time, after everything that had happened, no apology would ever be good enough. He gripped his hair tightly, hurting his scalp, feeling absolutely heavy and wretched – he took a deep, shaky breath, figuring that Andy had to be alive somewhere, or Ken would have said something. Ken must have found him already, to have made the decision that he did, because Adam couldn't picture the man doing anything else.
Ken's loyalty and devotion to the other man made Adam wonder if he'd even had that in the first place. If he was even capable of such things.
"Nobody knows about it," came the low, creaky voice above him, startling him. He hadn't even heard Paul approach, the other soldier looking as exhausted and crushed as Adam felt. He straightened, struggling to recast his expression of stone in place of the vulnerable one he felt that was there. Paul ruffled his short curls, his helmet having made an impression atop of them. "Yeah, like he said, people were fuckin' happy 'bout it, once they realized he wasn't here anymore. People tried to ask me, but I didn't know what to say. What the fuck can I say?"
Adam watched him go, searching out his own locker while the robotic attendants trailed after him to retrieve his weapons and armor. Because he hadn't yet shed his, the sensors caught his signature as he finally rose from the bench, and he took the time to change into his street clothes while Paul busied himself at his locket just rows away. Minutes passed, Adam taking his time while he sought for the right thing to ask, something to say. There was plenty, but none of it 'straight'.
He heard fists slam upon metal, the obvious indication of a man outraged with too much running through him. Paul met him as Adam went to investigate, his face and neck nearly purpled with rage.
"Why didn't you stay with him?" Paul screamed at him, his voice ringing so loudly that the clerks nearby grew startled from their duties of taking weapon inventory. "If you stayed with him, he wouldn't've have done it!"
"It's not my fault," Adam said mechanically, shaking his head and finding it impossible to face the other man.
"It is too!" Paul insisted, shoving him. "Fuck you, it's all your fault. It's all your fuckin' fault. If Murphy stayed with you, none of this would have happened. He wouldn't have defected the way he did! He did cuz Murphy's out there with them, I got wind of that shit!"
"We don't know that for sure," Adam said low, hearing the voices of the women as they strained to look beyond the open window in their direction.
Paul hit the nearest lockers, and then shoved over the robot that had been transporting his weaponry back to the weapons station. It hit the ground with a metallic clang, the hovering cart jerking to the side and hitting another set of lockers as the robot clung to the steering bar. The noise alerted the MPs lingering outside, and Adam turned away from Paul as he attacked the robot, taking his anger out on the defenseless piece of metal. The MPs rushed to contain the situation, Adam stalking away and avoiding the curious looks of the clerks nearby.
He made the two hour walk back to the house he shared with the others, Larson paying for pizza outside and looking at him in surprise. Before he could ask why Adam took so long, Adam pushed past him and stalked up to his room, Ian staring at him in bewilderment. Shutting his bedroom door behind him, Adam stared down at the orderly presentation before him – his neatly made bed, his clean dresser top, the closet color-coded and arranged by regular use. The windows were covered by the same blinds he'd had since he'd moved in years ago, and a pair of shoes peered out from underneath his bed, a brand that he enjoyed because of the styles it boasted.
He shifted away from the door after locking it, feeling overwhelmed with building thought and emotion. Every movement was heavy, deliberate, his jaw set as he slowly sat down at the edge of his bed and heard it shift with his weight. He stared down at the worn carpet, at the shoes he'd forgotten to take off when he entered the house. He heard Ian and Larson questioning each other over his behavior, the effects of some game they were watching on the holoset – his throat clogged with his voice, and he bent over again, clutching his hair with both hands in an effort to somehow contain it or block it out by making himself as small as possible with this position.
Breathing evenly and slowly, Adam closed his eyes and felt those lingering traces of jealousy and admiration over Ken's actions. He felt horrendous, ripped in half because he couldn't make that choice, because he chose this life over love. His breathing increased, and he couldn't control or contain it anymore – a gurgling sound left him, and suddenly he was filled with rage.
He rose and began to demolish anything and everything that wasn't too heavy to lift or screwed into the wall. Shelves were ripped down, books and various items spilling onto the floor, toiletries spilt and crushed under foot, clothes torn and hurled, the bed and dresser hauled up and thrown from one side of the room to the other. He couldn't seemed to breathe, and couldn't breathe enough – everything about his life had to be destroyed, and yet he couldn't destroy it all. He had to make a choice, and he chose one that he knew would never satisfy him nor lessen the pain. He felt like a monster and a coward at the same time – felt like a failure as a human being and then too human all at once.
Panting tightly, Adam finishing taking out his rage on his room, standing stiffly atop of the dresser he'd just ripped apart. His room looked as if a tornado had gone through it, debris and clothes mixed together in garish fashion. Slowly, he lowered himself to his knees, struggling to rein in the urge to scream and holler at the mess he'd made, to release more of the emotion that ate at him constantly from the inside. His face was hot and sweaty – he wiped it and realized it wasn't sweat that made his face wet, and felt shame, felt less of a man for crying as he did.
It was nearly two-thirty a.m., and Andy sat up because he knew he wasn't going to sleep. He had been lying there for the last seven hours, staring at the ceiling and sipping clumsily at the gigantic jug of Long Island Iced Tea Dallas had made for him. His bed sheets and pillows were soaked with various types of alcohol, but it wasn't as if he were going to sleep anyway. He kicked the blankets away, carrying the jug with him clumsily. Looking out one of the windows, he saw a man in white stroll lazily, a cigarette in one hand. They were like ghosts around him, moving out of the corner of his eye and just as silent unless addressing him.
He heard Dallas laugh wildly down the hall, and figured they were still awake and doing something crazy with the new batch of workers Vegas had brought in a few hours earlier– Vegas had notified him that these workers were fresh out of hasty training, and were probably overeager for action. It sounded as if Dallas was already making 'action' a possibility, and Andy didn't want to be a part of it, not wanting any comments on his current state, and not wanting to deal with the noise. He opened the door to his bedroom, startled at the sight of Yoshida passed out in a fetal position just before it. She snored loudly, drool dribbling down her jawline, legs twitching in sleep. He stepped over her carefully, looking up the hall in time to see a man in white drift out of sight.
After using the bathroom, Andy walked away from the source of the noise and headed for the balcony he'd been on earlier, drinking with Vegas and hearing his stories of properly fitting clothes and tailors that were efficient with several types of Alien material. A boring subject, but Andy found himself attached to the fact that Vegas chose his company to begin with. This attachment to others because of their attention made Andy aware just how dependent he was to them, no matter the situation.
The night was cool, a breeze rustling through the trees around them – coyotes yelped in the distance, and the noise scared him, their eerie screams and howls something right out of a horror movie. But he felt better once he saw a man in white patrolling the grounds, quite possibly the same one he'd seen smoking earlier. He took a seat in one of the overstuffed patio chairs that they'd been sitting on, and propped his feet on the railing, staring up at the night sky.
He continued to sip at his drink, swirling it every once in a while to keep the liquids mixed. The stars twinkled faintly, still affected by the light pollution spilling out from New Park's skyline. The silence was interrupted by someone emitting a loud fart, male laughter and jokes ringing out in response. Andy inched over in his chair to look through the bars of the railing to see the previous guard joining up with a few others that stood near the front porch, the culprit unknown. The group was part of the new batch, already asking the guard how much action happened up this way. Andy tuned out the rest, hearing disappointment ring out upon the answer given.
Leaning back in his chair, he touched his face, reacquainting himself with the textures there. He wasn't sure how much time had passed when he heard Vegas directing the guards into at least weeding the perimeters of the gardens, the newest ones whining about how it interfered with their duties. Andy could hear his voice directing them into the virtues of presentation, shaking his head slightly as he tried to picture the guys pulling at weeds every time they passed a flower box. He leaned his head back to count the stars, lips moving sluggishly.
He heard the whisper the sliding door made, pausing in forming numbers, alert to another's presence. Figuring it was one of the new workers, uncomfortable with getting to know them as people as they were expendable, Andy curled his fingers over his stomach and closed his eyes, to appear asleep and to make them go away. He heard them approach, knowing that the darkness would obscure the obvious way his lashes fluttered as he kept them closed, and breathed evenly. It was uncomfortable knowing he was being looked down upon at that moment, feeling eyes on him, and had the distinct hope in that this worker was at least good looking enough to catch his attention later on.
"I know you're awake, you faker."
Andy's eyes shot open upon hearing the overly familiar Texan drawl, and he felt as if his heart slammed to stop as he looked up at Ken giving him a disgusted frown. He felt instantly sober at that point, hugely bewildered at seeing the other man, dressed as the other guards were in white. He whirled in the chair to get a better look, but was pinned in place as Ken reached out and jerked him back.
"Don't you dare try to run from me, now," Ken then snarled, Andy knowing for sure that it was him after seeing the rising temper show, smelling the familiar scent of his chew with his threat.
"What are you doing here -?" he eked out, unable to talk properly after being overwhelmed with the surprise. Possibilities raced through him, one of them being that Ken had somehow slipped through Vegas' careful screening, or that he'd somehow snuck onto the grounds, impersonating a guard – something among those effects.
"I finally got transferred. Don't you worry 'bout that now, I'm pissed about that stink-eye you were givin' me that time," Ken said, keeping his voice low as he checked on the others standing away from them.
Reminded of his feelings of abandonment, Andy grew angry just as quickly, jerking forward to get out of Ken's hold and failing because he lacked the strength he used to have. So he kicked out with his feet, gripped with railing with them, and used leg strength along with his pull. Ken jerked back on him and the chair, forcing him to release the railing. The loud noise alerted the others into silence, and moments later one of the guards called up, "Charlie?"
"It's Ken. Just gettin' this drunk ass back to bed," Ken said, and Andy growled, trying to knock his head back against his and missing as Ken pulled him.
"He allowed to talk like that?" Andy heard someone asked the first with uncertainty.
"Vegas said they got stuff to work out. I dunno."
That traitor said nothing about him! Andy realized, stunned to hear it.
He caught himself from hitting the floor when Ken yanked him out of the chair, pulling him towards the door. Knocking over the jug of alcohol, which Ken promptly kicked over the railing, Andy climbed to his feet and shoved him as he was in the midst of that action. Ken stumbled, then lurched after him as Andy made for the doors, intending to shut him out. They both slammed against it, glass shuddering noisily before Ken picked himself up and yanked Andy inside, Andy cursing his own alcohol-clumsy limbs that prevented him from reacting properly.
"I can't believe you have, all the nerve, to stand there an' give me the fuckin' blame for shit, when you, put this all on yourself," Ken said as his efforts in dragging him towards the bedroom Andy used were hampered by Andy struggling to right himself and pull away. By the time they reached it, Andy felt like puking, stomach upset by the movement and the amount of alcohol he'd consumed. So when Ken dropped his hold, Andy took in a deep breath and vomited hard over Ken's legs, Ken stilling and watching as this happened.
He kicked out as Andy caught himself, still heaving over the carpet, Ken flailing his limbs as his clothes stuck to him. "Fuckin' A!" he screamed in disgust, one hard kick sending his shoe flying across the room. "Murphy, fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!"
"That's what she said," Andy mumbled against the carpet, wiping his wet mouth with a shaky hand. He thought he was pretty clever with that comment, chuckling to himself, having heard Yoshida mention it a few times as Vegas tried lecturing her about her clothing choices.
Ken stalked over, pushed his face into the wet carpet as way of retaliation, and then stalked over to where Andy kept his clothes. Andy sputtered, feeling utterly low, his face wet with his own vomit and his head spinning with Ken's presence. He looked over his shoulder to watch as Ken tore through what clothes he had, pulling out athletic pants and socks. Once he began changing, Andy slowly pushed himself up to his knees, feeling disgusted over how much vomit he'd just released. But he felt better, rising to his feet and staggering over to the bathroom.
Before he could reach it to clean up, Ken grabbed him by the arm and shoved him hard onto the floor, Andy smacking against the nightstand and feeling a painful jolt race up his side. He reacted with an 'ouch', sitting clumsily and feeling all fight leave him. He was already defeated at that point, covered with vomit and admitting that he hadn't the strength or stamina to fight back physically. He looked up at Ken, who was angrily loosening the tie to his sweats so that he could fit them.
Ken looked him over, then shook his head in disgust. "You are still a pathetic drunk."
"I'm only drunk when I drink," Andy muttered in response, rubbing his hip and looking down at his own feet.
Instead of responding to that, Ken shifted forward, to capture his attention with a firm grip on Andy's chin and making him look up. Once he had Andy's attention, he said low, "Even after all this time, I get tired of the way you treat me. When ya should be bein' nice to me."
"Then why are you here?" Andy asked, not wanting to admit that he missed Ken's touch, that it burned where Ken was touching him now.
Ken studied him for a few moments, then pushed away with a grunt. Without saying anything more, he stalked away from Andy, finding his shoe and then leaving the room. After the door slammed behind him, Andy stared at it in confusion. He looked down at his trembling hands, at the alcohol-thick moisture on his arms. Quite aware of his looks at that moment, Andy felt his face burn with mortification, reaching up to wipe away his own vomit from his face. Slowly, he rose from the floor and limped towards the bathroom to clean up.