I hate it when I forget my story
disks and wind up with not enough work to do...particularly since I was so busy
last week that I barely had time to breathe. Sigh. So, which fandom should I write
for? I have lots of TS and DS and crossovers to work on...at home... so, what
should I do here? Who should be the focus of my endeavor? Good question...hmmmm.
I'll blame this one on Lila, who asked for more Gary Seven fic... probably
going to be rated R, though, as there are 'overtones'...
She quit. Just up and quit one day, saying that she needed more in her life
than work. At one time, he'd had hopes for them as a couple, but she let him know
that his interest was unwelcome, so he had backed off. They'd worked together
well for a decade, then she quit. She said it was time for her to move on, and
he'd said he understood, even though he didn't, not really.
He missed her.
Missed her lousy coffee, her constant chatter, missed her presence. He'd interviewed
dozens of possible replacements, only to find them all lacking. Mostly, they lacked
imagination and initiative. He hadn't found a single one he'd dare trust with
his secrets. So, he'd learned to work alone. Isis was less than helpful, claiming
that she was not the secretarial type.
He missed her, on all levels.
He missed her as an employee, as a friend, as a companion, as the lover he
was never permitted to have. He recognized that he was simply lonely. He and Isis,
in her humanoid form, had tried to be more and, although he did love her, she
was far too abusive for him to handle. He had the scars to prove it. After the
last time she'd come to him and nearly disemboweled him, he'd forbidden her entry
to his bedroom and kept his door locked at night. Of course she apologized, again
and again, but he couldn't bring himself to trust her any longer, and his request
that she be replaced had been ignored.
Still, he was only human, with the same
needs as any man. Not being able to let anyone get too close, he'd done what many
men had done; he found a reliable 'service' to provide his occasional needs. He
was always circumspect and low-key, never asking for anything unusual, just a
bit of companionship for an evening. He always met them at a hotel, and never
stayed the night. Not even when he desperately wanted to. He wasn't a fool and
was always careful to avoid compromising his mission. There was never much conversation,
just dinner, some leisurely sex, and then he would leave.
Some nights, though,
he would have loved to spend the night, holding and being held, but he always
denied himself that bit of comfort, as though he felt he didn't deserve it. Isis
made her displeasure at his actions known, loudly, every time he went out. He
ignored her, still somewhat fearful of her claws, his scars itching every time
she raised her voice in displeasure.
His superiors were not unaware, but were
uncertain as to what course to follow. He was too excellent an operative to remove,
he oversaw the entire planet's operations for them, and he did an outstanding
job, frequently 'nipping it in the bud', before the problems got out of hand.
He was respected and well liked as a supervisor, as well. That was hard to find.
Isis' actions, however, had gone unreported. Had they known, she'd have been replaced.
Loyalty can be a real bitch, sometimes.
He'd gotten home after his latest liaison, only to find Isis waiting for him.
She was furious. She screamed and ranted at him for an hour, before he could finally
make his way to the safety of his bedroom and lock the door securely behind him.
When she was in these moods, he was grateful that his bedroom had its own bathroom.
She continued clawing at the door and screeching at him, to the point that trying
to sleep was impossible. He was, after all, only human and a man can only take
so much. He got back up and dressed to go out. He blew by her and made his escape
before she realized what was happening.
In his rush to escape, he forgot his
overcoat. Luckily, he didn't forget his wallet.
It was autumn, and the nights
were quite cool, even cold. There was a cold front moving through and it wasn't
long before he was soaked to the skin and shivering; still, he didn't head for
cover. He was too miserable inside to realize what the weather was like, outside.
He found himself by Central Park before he realized he was cold. Looking around,
he sought shelter; he didn't really want to go inside, yet. Finding a nice big
tree overhanging the fence surrounding the park, he paused to decide what to do.
The cold was really affecting him, now that he'd noticed it. He stood shivering
in the dark, watching the oddly deserted streets through the rain. He heard a
sound, like voices, and turned to seek the source. The voices were coming from
inside the park, about a hundred feet away, apparently from the other side of
some shrubbery. He began to turn away, when he heard the woman scream. Instead
of running for the nearest entrance, he grabbed the fence railing and leaped the
spike-railed fence and headed at a dead run for the sounds. He went through the
bushes, rather than around. The three men were surprised by his sudden appearance
and froze for an instant.
One instant was all he needed to see that the woman,
more a girl, really, had had her clothes ripped from her body and one man was
already prepared to rape her, while his friends held her down for him. In a move
none of the would-be rapists had ever imagined, he launched himself into the air,
spinning and hitting the first rapist in the mouth, shattering teeth and laying
him out; still airborne, he continued in his spin, moving parallel to the ground,
kicking the second man in the chest and punching the third man in the face, before
landing heavily on his side, just past them. Using the momentum from his landing,
he rolled to his feet, prepared to fight.
The first man was out for the count
while the second one was regaining his feet, a knife appearing in his right hand.
The third man was struggling to get up, still in shock from the attack. The one
with the knife lunged, and he dodged back, just out of reach, then leapt again
into the air and applied a Sabot kick to the man's head. The man moved, just enough
that instead of taking the blow to the side of his head, he took it in the throat,
crushing his larynx. The third man, having regained his feet and pulling his own
knife, attacked from behind, slashing the Good Samaritan from shoulder to buttock.
The shock of the pain set him off. He'd been in need of a good physical fight
for years. Unrealizing, he toyed with the third man, like a cat with its prey.
Finally, the girl's whimper of fear brought him back, and he realized he was holding
the third attacker, unconscious and barely breathing. He dropped his assailant
and looked around. He didn't even notice his own wounds as he knelt beside the
girl. Pulling off his slashed coat, he helped her sit up and placed it around
her shoulders. He frowned and blinked several times as the realization of his
own injuries registered. He handed her his cell phone and collapsed to the ground
The first officers on the
scene were shocked by the carnage. When the girl explained what had happened,
and that her rescuer lay unconscious and bleeding beside her, they moved quickly.
The first ambulance carried the unconscious man and the victim to the hospital,
despite the girl's assertion that she was unharmed. One of the suspects was dead,
the other two seriously injured. Despite the girl's statement, they found it hard
to believe that one unarmed man had been able to do the kind of damage they were
looking at. However, since they found only the knives of the suspects, they had
to accept that the guy had done just as the girl described.
The forensics team
arrived, but found little to go on. There were signs of a struggle, which they
attributed to the initial attack. There was very little sign of the man who had
come to the rescue, save for where he had stood to fight the last assailant. They'd
have to hope the guy didn't bleed to death, and that he could give a coherent
That beeping sound was terribly
annoying. So was the pain in his back. He lay on his right side, his left arm
pinned to his chest. He took stock, trying to remember what had happened. Finally,
he opened his eyes to see... a wall, painted white, with a door in it. Turning
his head, albeit with some pain, he looked around and realized he was in a hospital.
The memories abruptly came back and he wondered if the girl was all right. The
annoying beeping noise was the heart monitor. He looked up and noticed a plastic
bag, filled with what appeared to be blood, slowly dripping through the tubing
and into his arm, via the IV needle he saw. He wondered if that was why his arm
was restrained. Shifting, trying to find a more comfortable position, he winced.
His entire left side felt like it had been scraped raw and salt rubbed in. His
movement caused his heart to increase in speed, which made the infernal monitor
beep more frequently. Fortunately, it also drew the attention of a nurse, who
came in to check on him.
The nurse came into the room to check on her patient.
He'd been unconscious for an awful long time, far more than had been expected.
The man had more than a hundred stitches, most of them in his back, but quite
a few as well in his left arm, where the doctors had done their best to put him
back together. His pale blue eyes met hers as she entered and she smiled.
back. How are you feeling?" She knew it was an inane question. The guy was probably
hurting like hell, but the doctor wouldn't authorize any painkillers until after
he'd seen the patient.
"Like my cat shredded me, again." He wanted to shift
position, but the pain warned him that it wasn't a very good idea.
winced in sympathy. "Cat, huh? What kind? Tiger?" She was pleased when he returned
her jest with a wan smile.
"I sometimes think so. Just a cat. Black, slender,
"Do you remember what happened?"
"I interrupted an attempted
rape. Three men, one little girl."
"The cops are all talking, wondering how
you managed to take out all three of them without a weapon."
"How's the girl?"
The nurse was surprised. Most people would have been asking how badly they
were hurt and when could they go home, rather than ask about someone else. "She's
shaken up, mostly. A few bruises and a broken arm from when they grabbed her,
but she'll be just fine. She wants to see you, to thank you, by the way."
shrugged, wincing at the pain. "Sure." He looked uncomfortable at the idea. He'd
never even really gotten a look at the victim; he had a vague, uncertain impression
of ragged brown hair and bare skin. He'd been more concerned with getting her
covered decently than he had in ogling her nudity. He remembered the impression
of youth, however.
"You, on the other hand, kept our best seamstress busy for
a couple of hours."
He frowned, "How long have I been here?"
hours, now. It's almost one in the afternoon. You reacted rather oddly to the
anesthetic, are you allergic, by any chance?" She picked up his chart to make
"Not to my knowledge, but I've never been anesthetized before,
She stared at him in surprise. "Never? Not even to have your tonsils
"Never had them removed," he grinned at her consternation.
her head in amazement, "Lucky you, I guess. Well, I'll go let the doctor know
you're awake. After he's through with you, the police are going to want to ask
you some questions." Seeing him grimace in dismay, she smiled in commiseration.
"Hey, that's what happens to Good Samaritans, they get questioned to death."
He took the few minutes he was alone to regroup.
When the door opened again, he was composed and prepared. The doctor looked distracted,
checking the chart. Looking up and meeting the clear, blue eyes of his patient,
he cleared his throat. "Good afternoon, Mr. Seven, I'm Doctor Rosenfeld. You gave
us quite a scare." He checked the slow drip of blood transfusing his patient.
"Why am I still getting blood? Shouldn't that have been finished several hours
"Normally, yes, but it took us a long time to get you stitched up, and
until we did, you continued to lose blood. We didn't dare give you coagulating
compounds, as they might have caused internal clots. This is the last unit; it
took four, altogether, one before surgery, one during and two after. We had a
bit of trouble getting a vein to cooperate, which is why you're still receiving
blood." He bent down to check his patient's eyes and pulled back the covers to
examine his back and arm more closely. He nodded as he straightened up.
looking good. I do have a few questions about the scars on your back, chest, and
stomach, however. It almost looks like you were mauled by a mountain lion?"
jaws spasmed for a moment. "Lynx, I believe. Several years ago, when I used to
hunt. Nailed me pretty good."
The doctor nodded. "The ones on your back almost
look like a lover's marks, except that they were obviously deep and jagged. You
probably should have had stitches, it would have lessened the scarring."
it took me nearly a week to get out of the wilderness and by then they'd healed
too much to bother."
"Well, you were lucky. Was that why you quit hunting?"
"One of the reasons."
The doctor wasn't really interested. Making a few
more notes on the chart, he smiled and turned to go. "The police still have a
couple of officers waiting to talk to you. If you want to postpone the inevitable,
I can tell them that you're still in no condition to be questioned, if you like?"
"No. That's all right. I'll talk to them. Might as well get it over with."
Rosenfeld nodded. "I'll prescribe something for the pain, to be given after
they're finished; although, if they get too rough, just page the nurse and she'll
chase them off."
"Thank you, Doctor."
There was really only one question that the police wanted answered. Their two
surviving suspects had already admitted to their part in the attempted rape. Naturally,
they blamed their deceased colleague for everything; until it was pointed out
that the dead man had still had his pants on, unlike one of the survivors. The
one who'd been helping to hold the girl (and the one who had broken her arm) quickly
ratted on his remaining companion, who then told the officers how the girl's arm
had been broken.
The fact that they knew that the girl's arm was broken and
had continued only made the cops angrier. Several of them would have like to pin
a medal on the rescuer, but also wondered why he'd been out in that area so late
at night, himself. His blood-alcohol had been non-existent, so what had him out
so late, in the rain, in nothing but a suit?
He looked up at
the new arrivals. There were two of them. One man, one woman. The woman was the
one doing the talking.
"Yes, Officer?" They didn't have to be in uniform to
recognize what they were.
"I'm detective Metz, and this is my partner, Detective
Mayer. We need to ask you some questions about what happened."
He tried not to squirm. He was uncomfortable, but knew that any movement could
pull the stitches. "Why don't you pull up a chair, so I don't have to strain anything?"
Metz smiled at him and dragged a chair over. Mayer simply stood in the background,
observing. "Thanks." She looked him over. He was obviously naked beneath the covers,
and they were still pulled down to his waist from the doctor's exam. He wasn't
extremely muscled, not like her partner, the body builder. Nor was he soft looking.
He looked fit, trim, and of 'normal' musculature for someone who worked. "May
I ask what you do for a living, Mr. Seven?"
He nearly smiled; thinking that
'saving mankind from self-annihilation' probably would raise more questions than
it would answer. "I'm self-employed. I've got some investments that pretty much
provide me with a living."
They'd already run a check on him. He was the owner
of several older buildings; buildings which in anyone else's hands would have
been called slums, but every one of his buildings was not only livable, but in
good repair, with regular visits by exterminators to try and keep the vermin down.
Even the walk-ups had hot and cold running water and up-to-code heating and air
conditioning. His tenants loved him, in fact.
"Yes, sir. Why were you out so
late, and in that area? You were a good twenty blocks from your residence and
you didn't even have a coat, just your suit-jacket. What brought you out on such
He strived to be as truthful as possible whenever he could. "I felt
the need to get out and walk, so I did."
"Fight with the girl friend?" Mayer
asked, shifting a bit closer. Metz shot him a glower, but he ignored her.
grinned, "Only if you consider Isis my girlfriend."
"Isis?" Mayer jumped on
"My cat. About twelve pounds, black..." He shifted his eyes to Metz
as she tried to keep from laughing at her partner.
"In heat, is she?" Metz
"I don't think so. It's not very likely." She certainly wasn't spayed,
but then, neither was she really a cat.
"Right," Metz grinned. "So, you went
for a walk in a rainstorm with no coat. Why was that?"
He shook his head. "Stress.
I got home and headed for bed, but I couldn't sleep and Isis kept yowling, so
I got up, got dressed and headed out. I didn't even notice it was raining until
I was almost at the park. I like the park, it's an oasis of nature in the middle
of the city, you know?"
She smiled at him. "Yeah, I do. So, what happened?"
"Well, I realized that it was raining and that I was cold, so I took shelter
under a tree, trying to decide what to do. There was no traffic on the street,
whatsoever. I guess that's why I heard them. At first it was just voices, low,
indistinct. Then the girl screamed and I headed to see what was wrong."
you inside the park already?"
"No, I was at the fence, where that big old elm
hangs over." Seeing what the next question had to be, he continued, "I jumped
the fence." He grinned at the startled look on Mayer's face. "What, you think
I'm too old to go over a six foot fence?"
Metz looked at the skeptical expression
on her partner's face, knowing that he had, despite all his beautiful weightlifting
muscles, difficulty getting over fences and walls. Turning back to Seven, she
asked, "Those spikes are pretty sharp, how'd you do it?"
"Like swinging up
on a horse, grab two rails, swing up and get a knee between two spikes, then stand
up and jump down."
He made it sound so simple, but she knew it would take someone
with some pretty good acrobatic skills to pull it off. Her partner voiced his
own curiosity, albeit with malice.
"I'd like to see that."
after I've healed, I'll demonstrate it for you."
Metz tossed a glare at her
partner, warning him to back off. This guy wasn't a suspect; he was the hero,
after all. "So, Mr. Seven, you jumped the fence, then what happened?"
towards them, going through the bushes, rather than around. I came out into the
clearing and saw three men, two holding the girl down, she was nearly naked, they'd
ripped all her clothes off of her, and one man about to rape her." He paused to
let Mayer catch up on his attempt to take down his statement. When the pencil
stopped scratching, he continued. "They had just looked up when I attacked. I
used a Sabot move and took out the first one, then continued on, kicking the second
one in the chest and hitting the third one with my fist. The first one, I broke
his teeth and knocked him out, the second one got up and I used another Sabot
move; unfortunately, he moved and instead of catching him in the jaw, I connected
with his throat, crushing his larynx. By then, the third man had recovered and
he came at me with a knife." All the talking had worn him out and dried his throat.
Metz, seeing him glance at the bedside table, offered him a glass of water, which
he gratefully accepted. She had to hold it for him, however.
"Thank you. Anyway,
I'm not positive what happened, except that we were fighting. I think I may have
blacked out, because when I was next aware, I was holding him up by the throat
with my right hand and he was unconscious. I dropped him and realized that I was
hurt and went to the girl, taking off my jacket and wrapping it around her. Then
I handed her my cell phone and passed out. Next thing I knew, I woke up here,
a little while ago."
His statement exactly matched the girl's. She hadn't known
Sabot, but said he jumped up in the air and knocked all three of her attackers
away from her. She was extremely grateful, as the three had told her what they
had planned for her.
The police knew, too. This was the last in a long string
of gang rapes in the area. The police had tried decoys, extra patrols, everything
they could, but to no avail. All it took was one man in the right place at the
right time, willing to take the chance to help someone in need, and one of their
major headaches was gone.
Metz smiled, "Thank you. That girl was really lucky
you came along; most of those guys' victims haven't survived."
"Are you sure
they were the men you were looking for?"
"Not positive, yet, but we'll have
the DNA tests back in a week, then we'll know for sure. The M.O. certainly fits.
Grab a woman off the street, take her to the park, to some secluded little area
and beat, rape and oftentimes, kill them. I sure hope these are the ones. I'd
hate to have copycats out there."
"I can imagine."
Metz looked at her partner,
who still looked skeptical, and she wondered if the man had ever even heard of
Sabot. Standing up and putting her chair back in its place by the wall, she smiled
at Seven. "Thank you. I'll get this typed up for you to sign, later, if that's
all right with you?"
"Fine with me. I rather doubt I'll be going anywhere in
the very near future."
"Do you have someone who can take care of your cat?"
Mayer asked suddenly.
"She's got plenty of food down, as well as water. She
should be fine for at least a week. It isn't the first time I've had to suddenly
leave her for a few days."
Satisfied, the two detectives left. The nurse came
in just a few minutes later and added something to his IV, promising him that
it would help the pain. A few minutes later, he was feeling woozy and disorientated,
just before falling into a drug-induced stupor.
When he next regained consciousness, he was aware that it was night, late at
night, based on the fact that the lights were turned off. He glanced up and noted
that the IV bottle had changed to something clear, most likely some kind of glucose
solution. Whatever they had given him earlier had left him feeling somewhat disoriented
and nauseas, but the feeling was rapidly clearing. He desperately wanted some
water, however, but was unable to reach it without causing himself pain, and he
was far from a masochist when it came to that. He managed to find the nurse's
call button and pressed it.
But no one came. After half an hour, he pressed
the button again, when he also realized that he needed to use the bathroom. Still,
no one came. After an hour, he tried one more time, and when his call still went
unanswered, he forced himself up and out of bed.
That was a mistake.
managed to make it to the bathroom, but once there, didn't have the strength to
get back to bed. He ended up naked and shivering on the floor of the bathroom
when someone finally came and found him lying there, unconscious.
staff caught hell for their negligence, but instead of simply healing from his
injuries, he also contracted pneumonia, which seriously laid him low for several
weeks. For the first week, he was usually unconscious and occasionally delirious.
After a week, his fever finally broke and he awoke coherent. His first question
was where his pen was. The nurses and doctor thought he was still delirious, but
he seemed lucid enough. Once he had his 'pen', he seemed content.
He thought they'd never leave. Finally alone, he pressed several spots on his
'pen' and spoke into it. There were clicks and whirrs and eventually, a worried
voice responded, asking where in hell he was. He frowned in consternation.
voice was neither his computer, nor Isis.
It was a male voice, a very worried
"Who is this?"
"832. I've been searching for you for a week!
Where are you?"
"In the hospital. Belleview, I believe. No, not in the psych
ward, before you ask. I got involved in rescuing a young woman and got knifed
for my trouble. What's today's date, anyway?"
When he heard the date, he understood
832's concern. He'd been 'missing' for three weeks. And Isis had not called
for assistance. He was curious as to what they'd do, now that he'd been able to
check in. 832 asked for directions and received them from the computer. Seven
was told to sit tight (as though he had any choice) and someone would be with
Turning off the device, he set it on the small table beside the
bed. One good thing, his wounds had healed while he was ill. He still tired easily,
but now that he was awake, he hoped to soon be back on his feet and home.
that it really was 'home'.
out to be a nondescript young man who came accompanied by his partner, an equally
nondescript young woman. The two looked enough alike to be siblings. They entered
the hospital room silently, only to find their missing agent sleeping, deep lines
of exhaustion and illness marring his features.
The woman used her own pen-like
device to check him out. The information left her shaking her head in dismay.
Just three months earlier, he'd had his annual physical, and he'd been in perfect
health. Now, he'd lost a good thirty pounds from his already lean frame, weight
he could not afford to lose. He might have to be recalled for rehabilitation,
if he didn't perk up soon. Reading his chart gave them hope, however, as it was
obvious that his first action upon awakening was to contact them. The woman pointed
out the questions on the chart relating to some old scars, and they gently drew
back the covers to see for themselves.
They exchanged shocked expressions.
They knew exactly how he'd come by those scars. Both wondered why he hadn't said
anything about it.
He awoke feeling
cold. His eyes snapped open and he saw two strangers staring at his chest and
stomach. One, the woman, lightly touched his shoulder, asking him silently to
roll forward so she could see his back. He did so, unthinkingly, and then stiffened.
"Yes. William Thomas. This is Alana Hendricks. We've been very worried
about you. You haven't called in for twenty-five days. Isis has been making the
regular check-ins, but something brought suspicion, and we were sent to check
on you. What happened?"
"I went for a walk, one night. Ended up by the park.
It had started raining and I took shelter under a tree by the fence. I heard a
woman scream and I went to help her. There were three men trying to rape her.
I took out two of them, but the third one managed to knife me in the back. It
took me a bit more time to subdue him, getting my arm cut up in the process."
"But that was three weeks ago," Alana spoke for the first time.
it was my second night here. I woke up and needed to use the bathroom. I hit the
call button, but no one ever came, so I got up and took myself. Unfortunately,
I ended up passed out on the floor and by the time they found me, I'd already
gotten pneumonia." He was embarrassed.
"You're lucky to have survived." William
observed. "How soon do you think they'll release you?"
"Several days, I suspect.
They want to be sure I don't have a relapse. What have I missed?" That was the
big thing. How had his dereliction of duty affected the mission?
seems to be going fairly well, considering. No doubt there will be another war,
soon. But that's normal for Earth, isn't it?"
Seven smiled. "Very true."
didn't you report Isis?" Alana asked, not looking at him.
"Report her for what?"
He couldn't hide his physical reaction, stiffening at the words.
hurt you. That you are afraid of her?"
"What makes you think I'm afraid of
"The deadbolt on your bedroom door?" William replied. "Those scars on
your stomach and back. It's pretty obvious, you know."
He closed his eyes and
sighed, too embarrassed to look at them and see the expected disgust in their
"You're hardly the first, you know," William said softly. "At least you
stopped her from hurting you further. But why didn't you report her?"
looked at her partner in surprise. "Loyalty, William. Misplaced, perhaps, but
Seven looked up in surprise. He'd heard no condescension or reproach
in her voice, only concern.
William was nodding. "Unlike most people, you didn't
allow it to continue. How long ago did it happen? Her marking you, that is?"
"And you can still work with her?"
"Yes. She still gets pissed off
when I go out and won't let her into my room, but we manage."
"Is that why
you were out that night? Escaping her?" Alana seemed to understand far too well.
Seven looked at her, a question in his eyes.
"I've had to do a few interventions,
not here, but with others. Isis' kind seems incapable of not harming their bond-mates.
Their ability to shape-shift is proving of far less value than at first hoped,
I'm afraid. How long have the two of you worked together, now?"
years." A lifetime. Forever. He couldn't honestly remember a single night's sleep
he hadn't been afraid that she'd get to him again, rip him open to bleed to death
in his bed...it was a recurring nightmare that he desperately wished to end. Unfortunately,
he also still loved her. He wondered about that. His willingness to remain in
a frightening, dangerous position, knowing that he could be badly hurt or even
killed by Isis. Right now, though, he was simply tired. Tired of the fear, the
pain... the loneliness.
William and Alana, now satisfied that he'd be all right
and able to make their report, left him to recover.
They kept him another week to be sure he didn't have a relapse. He was still
weak when he caught a cab from the hospital to his office/apartment. Entering
via the office, he was surprised to find it deserted. There was no sign of Isis,
no waiting messages, nothing. Firing up the computer, he began by doing his job,
catching up on all that had happened in the previous month. Once he was up to
date, he contacted his superiors and asked what had become of Isis. He was only
slightly surprised to learn that she'd been recalled. He wondered why now? After
all, he'd requested her replacement years before.
He was now more alone than
ever, which threw him into a deep emotional depression. His work didn't suffer,
however, so his superiors did nothing.
Something had to give.
He watched in horror as the buildings fell. He'd had no warning from his superiors,
not an inkling. He was unable to turn away, even when the computer chirped, indicating
an incoming message. He couldn't pull himself from the window and the scene of
man's insanity, and wondered what his purpose was, if this couldn't have been
prevented. Sometimes, he wished that that ship from the future would return and
tell him something, anything that showed that he might make a difference.
He turned, surprised by the voice. "Yes?"
"You didn't respond."
back to the window. "I'm busy."
"Watching the world come to
"What makes you think that?"
"Do you have any idea how many people
have just died?"
"Three thousand and more."
He shuddered, but still didn't
look away. "I'm tired."
The agent frowned and regarded him. He thought of the
files on this man and marveled. "Would you like to go home for a while?"
Where is that? What is it?" His voice was tinged with depression, bitterness,
There was no answer and when he eventually looked away from
the destruction outside, he found himself alone.
He sighed and, feeling the
need of some kind of human contact, left.
The city was filled with the dust
and debris from the devastating blow. He'd been in countries torn by war and the
same feeling was now here. The people he saw all had expressions of shock and
dismay, and he knew he looked the same.
Why hadn't they been warned? Why hadn't
he been warned?
He went into a bar and there learned of the other devastation
and lost lives. With the other silent men, he drank, and when he could drink no
more, he left, hailed a cab, and went back to his office. It was empty, as it
always was. He sighed and went on through to his apartment, beyond. He wondered
why he'd agreed to stay, all those years ago. He knew why, of course, the girl,
Roberta. He sighed. That had been a mistake of the first magnitude. But then,
so had his relationship with Isis. Numb now from the scotch he'd drunk as well
as the shocking events of the day, he stripped down and fell into bed, too heartsick
and soul-weary to do else.
He was unaware
when the transporter activated and a figure entered his domain. He was oblivious
as the figure entered his bedroom and watched him sleep.
She frowned at the
man in the bed. He was curled into a fetal position, at the moment. She watched
for a while, trying to read him. He shifted, straightening out and turning onto
his stomach. His movements were jerky and agitated.
She continued to watch
as he thrashed in his sleep. To do what she came here for, he'd need to be still
long enough for her to gain physical contact while he was still unconscious. She
waited patiently, controlling her own agitation as his nightmares kept him moving.
Finally, he stilled. Taking a chance, she carefully stretched out behind him,
easing into physical contact with him.
She stiffened as though she'd grabbed
a high-tension electrical wire as his emotions battered through her protective
walls. His emotions were very strong, and his depression and emotional pain was
almost more than she could absorb, but absorb it she did. Her purpose as an empath
was to absorb the emotional distress of operatives such as 194. When she'd received
her instructions, she'd been surprised to discover he had never had any contact
with one of her kind. True, when he'd been sent here thirty-three years earlier,
those with her abilities weren't used for this purpose, but they'd discovered
that humans required far more emotional support than they'd at first imagined.
Despite their strong sense of self and determination, even the strongest of them
needed help, sometimes. Even though he'd feared Isis, she'd at least provided
someone he could talk to, although he hadn't trusted her enough after she'd almost
disemboweled him nearly two decades earlier. His emotions battered her with hurricane
strength and she was in physical pain from it, but she held on, absorbing as much
of his pain as she could; easing his distress until he was able to fall into a
dreamless, truly restful sleep. Finally, he was calm and relaxed for what was
probably the first time since he'd been permanently assigned here.
exhausted, physically as well as emotionally. She needed to get home and download
before he awoke and found her there. She'd have to come back to finish the job,
maybe more than once. She slid from his bed and staggered into the other room
and to the transporter. She was shaking and barely coherent enough to manage to
activate the device; she stumbled into the transporter beam.
When he awoke, he was at first confused, but a quick glance around informed
him that he was in his own bed. He shook his head, wondering what was different.
He looked around and listened, but it was as silent as it usually was, just the
sounds of traffic from outside. Shaking his head, he arose to face the day. The
moment he turned on the television to see the news, he remembered. Sighing, he
hung his head in defeat, but then pulled himself together to perform his morning
routine before making his reports.
Dressed for the day and drinking his first
cup of coffee, he settled into his desk chair and turned on the computer. He pinched
the bridge of his nose, hard; his eyes closing in pain, then sighed.
take a report," he began. Then followed four hours of all the details of the previous
day's happenings, including his questions as to why he hadn't been informed so
he could have stopped them. By the time he was finished, he was exhausted. Too
depressed to bother with anything to eat, he poured himself a tumbler of scotch
and sat down in front of the television to watch the continuing drama, sipping
at his drink and bitterly wondering what his purpose was, here, if he couldn't
have prevented the previous day's happenings.
The phone rang, but he ignored
it. He didn't want to talk to anyone. Later, the computer indicated he had a call
"I have no home." And he took another sip of his drink.
the computer announced the arrival of an investigating team. They found him sitting
in front of the television, where they were showing the destruction, yet again.
He didn't reply or even acknowledge their presence, merely sipped
his drink and kept his focus on the television.
but still didn't respond.
The visitors looked at one another in consternation.
The man and woman turned to look at the third member of the group.
to wait another day before coming back. She wasn't ready to take on his pain again
so soon, but they'd insisted. With a sigh, she approached him.
didn't move, except to take another sip of his drink. Taking that as agreement,
she sat beside him on the sofa, not quite touching him. She just wasn't ready
for his pain and anger, and now that he was conscious, the anger would no doubt
They watched quietly as the news covered the previous day's occurrences
yet again. She could understand his dismay and even without touching him, she
was picking up his emotional distress.
The other two finally looked at one
another and, with a shrug, sat as well. Their focus was on their agent, watching
him and waiting patiently for him to acknowledge them.
He wasn't going to.
They could all go to hell, as far as he was concerned. He knew if he spoke to
them, he'd have to ask why he hadn't been warned, why they hadn't done something
to prevent it or at least informed him as to why they were going to allow it to
happen. He lifted his drink to his lips, but his hand was shaking too much, so
he lowered it.
This was her chance; she saw his shaking hand and quietly reached
over and touched him, taking the glass from his trembling fingers and grasping
his hand in hers. She again stiffened in pain as his emotions practically overwhelmed
her and she whimpered.
The woman's whimper got his attention and he turned
his head to look at her. He could see the pain etching into her features and wondered
what was causing it. He looked down at their hands, but he wasn't holding her
that tightly. Still, she was in pain, so he tried to pull his hand back from her.
To his surprise, she tightened her grip on him and finally he realized what she
was. Furious with them for sending her and putting her in this position, he lurched
to his feet and pulled away from her. He turned to the man and woman who accompanied
"Get out. Go home. How dare you?" His voice was as cold and hard as frozen
mercury. It was bad enough he had to suffer through this - but he had a stake
in what happened on this planet, they weren't personally involved, like he was,
and to send an empath and force her to absorb his misery? That was unconscionable.
He turned to the woman and saw her looking up at him in consternation. He wanted
to touch her, but didn't dare. He knew his emotions were too volatile to allow
her too close; he had no desire to cause her to feel the same agony he was going
"Go on. You don't want to do this," he gently told her.
her head to one side, puzzled. She wasn't used to anyone being concerned with
her feelings. She was an empath, one who absorbed others' pain and emotions. No
one had ever considered how it made her feel, or cared that it caused her pain,
"It is what I do," she explained.
"Not to me." He turned to the
other two. "Where were you when it might have done some good? You're far too late
to change anything now. Why don't you just take your empath and leave?"
two scowled. "194, you're damaged. You need...."
"What I needed was you to
listen to me when I first requested Isis be replaced. I needed you to read my
reports and understand what I was going through. I needed someone, anyone
to talk to - that I could speak freely to when things were difficult. You've waited
too long. I can't let you kill her with my pain. If you want to replace me, fine,
but you can't let my damage destroy anyone else."
She stared up at him and
realized he didn't understand her abilities. "I can help you."
He turned to
her. "At what cost? What will it do to you?"
She frowned. "I will feel and
share your pain, I will understand what you cannot say...."
"And I can't allow
you to do that. It's too much."
She nodded. "Yes. You cannot bear it alone.
I will share."
He stared at her in consternation. "Why would you want to?"
She looked surprised. "It is what I am. It matters not that there is pain.
Pain shared is halved."
He scowled. "And joy shared is doubled. I have no joy
to share, only pain, and that's not fair to you."
She glanced at the silent
couple, who gave her no clue as to what to do, so she simply allowed herself to
speak what she truly felt. "But unlike you, I can dismiss others' pain. Yes, it
hurts when I take it on, but then I am able to dismiss it as not my own, but understand
it, and can help you to cope with it."
He shook his head. "Why would you want
to?" he said very softly, plaintively.
"Because it is what I am. Will you not
even let me try?" She realized that to mention that she'd already been here and
taken some of his pain would only anger him, but she understood him, and marveled
at his strength in not wishing his pain on anyone else. It was a consideration
she'd never encountered before. Usually, people were more than pleased to give
her their pain and anguish - and some even went so far as to physically abuse
her, as well - and that was something that frightened her every time she was sent
out; yet, here he was trying to send her back without taking the relief she offered,
and it intrigued her.
"I wouldn't wish what I know on anyone, least of all
a...." He stopped and shook his head and looked at the two handlers. "I've sent
my reports. I'll continue to do my job to the best of my ability, but to force
another to take on what I'm going through is cruel. We are not cruel, are we?
Have we become like them? Forsaken our upbringing and training to serve? To help
"No. She is merely a tool to help you," the woman began.
another human being!" He froze when she touched him again. He turned his considerable
glare on her and saw her flinch. "Don't. Please. Just...don't." he whispered,
knowing what she was doing and hating himself for the pain he saw in her eyes.
She smiled. "It will be all right. I will stay," she softly whispered. He shook
his head, not wanting her to cause herself harm in trying to help him. She came
closer to him, sliding her hand up his arm to his face. "You will not harm me.
I am willing," she insisted. She looked over at the other two and told them, "Go.
It will be all right. I will stay."
The man scowled and then shook his head.
He motioned his companion that they would go, and they did.
When they were
gone, she gently pulled him back down onto the sofa beside her.
"I don't want
you to do this."
"It will be well. I am willing."
"I don't want to hurt
you." He was trying to be reasonable, but even as he argued, he felt her easing
his pain, taking in his emotions and giving back comfort.
"You are not harming
me." And with that, she gently leaned against him, her head resting against his
shoulder as she continued to hold his hand.
He closed his eyes and gave in.
He was not like anyone else she'd helped,
before. His pain was strong, and he tried so very hard to keep it inside, but
she simply retained physical contact, and like the tides, eventually she took
on his pain and washed it away. Oddly enough, it was as tiring for him, fighting
her, as it was for her to absorb it.
Exhausted, they slept.
When he awoke, much later, he was at first confused. There was a woman, and
they were on the couch in his apartment. Then the memories returned and he anxiously
turned to the young empath, worried about her and what his raging emotions might
have done to her.
He saw her face in the never-truly-dark and gasped. She was
smiling! Hesitantly, he touched her cheek, wondering how it could be that she
no longer felt his pain? He knew she'd taken much of his agony, but what did she
do with it, and how did she cope? And could she truly help him? Then he shook
his head and eased away from her. No, she was just here under orders and once
he was suitably 'repaired', she'd be gone again. With a sigh, he left her to sleep
and prepared to meet the day. Alone, as always.
When she awoke, it was to the
scent of coffee and the sight of her patient watching her with trepidation. She
sat up and stretched, easing the muscles that were complaining of the uncomfortable
position she'd slept in. She smiled uncertainly at him. Tilting her head to one
side, she softly asked, "You are refreshed?"
Refreshed. Interesting term, he
thought. "I suppose so. Are you all right?"
She rolled her head, a slight expression
of discomfort on her features. "A little stiff, but all right." She watched him.
She'd remained awake long after he'd slept, waiting for him to awaken and, like
so many before him, hurt her. But he'd slept, and she'd remained in physical contact
with him, so that she'd shared his dreams as well as his emotional agonies. She
couldn't help wondering how he'd survived for so long with no one to help him,
but he had. She stood up and approached him, taking his cup from his hand, she
sipped the contents as he watched her in surprise.
Handing him back the cup,
she smiled. "What is that?"
"Coffee. You're welcome to a cup of your own."
Her smile widened and she nodded. He stood up and went into the small kitchen
and poured her a cup. He paused for a moment, and then added cream and sugar to
her mug. He felt her eyes on him and as he turned, he met her gaze with uncertainty.
He was totally at a loss as to how to act. He knew that she was considered a 'tool',
but she was human, as well and despite his desire to have her ease his pain, he
truly did not want to hurt her. He handed her the cup and their fingers touched
for a moment before he let go and turned away.
She watched him, aware of his
disquiet and wondering why? She sipped at the contents of her cup and blinked
in surprise. Though she'd liked how he drank his own coffee, she preferred this,
and wondered how he'd known?
He sat again and took a sip of his coffee, then
turned to the newspaper he'd been perusing when she awoke. He felt tense in her
presence, knowing that she'd gotten too close and he was embarrassed that she
should have come to experience his deepest hurts, yet he also felt better, as
had been their intent in sending her. Still, he wondered how she could possibly
cope with it. He'd only managed by forcing his feelings deep down inside him,
but every now and again, they'd bubble up to the surface and swamp him for a time.
At those times, he'd generally drink himself into oblivion and a day or two later
be able to again take up his tasks and continue on.
He didn't look up when
she stood and approached him. He lowered the paper as she sat on the arm of his
chair and lightly touched his face.
She tilted her head
and frowned. "Why not? Do you not like to be touched?" She knew from their previous
contact that he had, despite the circumstances, enjoyed it.
"I like it too
much, I think." Her fingers ran through his hair and he closed his eyes at the
sensation. "You should go home. You've helped me, so your work here is done."
Because she was in physical contact with him, she knew perfectly well that
he lied. He wanted her touch, but he wanted more, as well, and that frightened
her - and intrigued her, as well. Others had forced themselves on her, leaving
her always afraid of each new assignment, wondering if they would abuse her. But
he didn't want to hurt her; he wanted something much more.
"If I... If I agree
to stay with you, will you be kind?"
He looked at her in surprise. "What?"
She ran her hand down his chest and felt his body's response to her touch.
"If I agree to remain with you, will you be kind?" Her hand drifted lower, stopping
just above the waistband of his trousers. To her surprise, he dropped his paper
and caught her hand.
"No." He forced her hand away from him and stood up, shaking.
He started to speak, then changed his mind and began to pace. He glanced at her
again and shook his head. "You should go back."
There was something so very
different about him and it intrigued her. She wanted to remain with him. Yes,
his emotions were among the strongest she'd ever experienced. This was a passionate
man, one who felt for...oh. She felt a thrill of discovery and she stared at him
in amazement. He was like her! She smiled, understanding. She rose and approached
him, knowing what he needed.
He stiffened when she embraced him, but involuntarily,
his arms came up to hold her and his face lowered to rest his cheek on the top
of her head. He could feel her inside his head, but at the same time, felt her
own misgivings and fear. Frowning, he lifted his head and softly asked, "Why are
you here if you're so afraid of me?"
Her heart fluttered at this indication
that she was right about him. She'd never connected to another empath, before.
They were carefully kept away from one another to prevent their bonding to anyone.
But he'd asked a direct question, and she was unable to evade the memories of
others who had misused and abused her. He stiffened in her grasp, but she tightened
her hold on him and pressed her cheek against his chest. After a few moments,
as his understanding grew, he relaxed and held her closer.
She was in at least
as much pain as he had been. Surrounded by people and their emotions, her loneliness
was far greater than his own. Understanding what she'd been through, he sighed
and held her. To his amazement, that cold, hard knot of loneliness began to ease.
With a sigh, he drew her with him back to the couch, where they sank down and
simply held one another.
It may have been hours, or even days later when they
stirred. They hadn't slept, but simply felt, communicating on some deep, elemental
level; they had bonded.
When her keepers returned, they were not going to be
"Can you stay?" he asked softly.
She sighed. "I do not know. They will not be pleased with me."
softly, the caution of the alpha wolf prepared to defend his mate, though they'd
not been physically intimate. "Well, I'm not very pleased with them. How many
times were you hurt by those you intended to help?"
She burrowed closer to
him. "Too many." Yet, here she was, clinging to him like a limpet. He smiled and
held her close.
"I'd like it if you wish to stay," he gently offered.
stomach fluttered with excitement. She could sense his resolve and strength. Her
superiors would be furious, but it was their own fault for not recognizing this
man as an empath. "I wish to remain with you." He had, untrained and unaware of
his abilities, absorbed her fear and pain and banished them. It was going to be
interesting when they returned for her and he refused to give her up. Even more
interesting would be to see their reaction to the discovery that he was an empath.
Unrecognized, but still, he was like her. Perhaps when he was tested, they made
a mistake. Perhaps not. All she knew for certain was that she felt safe in his
arms and content to be near him. It was a very different feeling than any she'd
felt before, and it was inordinately comforting.
Each one comforted by the
presence of the other, they slept, limbs entwined, temples touching, minds and
souls communing even as they slumbered.
"317, it's time to go."
"She's staying with me." He had placed himself between
her and her handlers. To take her, they'd have to get through him, first, and
even though there were two of them, he felt confident in his ability to repulse
"317," the tall blond woman said insistently, "Come!"
at 194, the empath then lowered her head submissively and moved over by her handlers.
She kept her gaze on the floor, not meeting anyone's eyes.
He watched in dismayed
surprise as she prepared to leave. Even though they'd only been together less
than twenty-four hours, he felt his insides churn with the agony of grief. Clenching
his jaw, he forced himself to remain still. If she didn't want to stay, he wouldn't
force her. But he'd been so certain that she had.
The tall blond woman shoved
the empath, "Let's go, 317."
He scowled as 317 stumbled and for just a moment,
he saw her face, and there were tears in her eyes. His breath caught as he realized
that 317 did want to stay with him. "Please," he whispered. She cast a
quick, furtive glance his way, but then turned away.
"Althea, stay, please."
She froze for a moment, and then turned to stare at him, her eyes wide with
surprise and hope.
"Althea Sulis, will you stay with me?"
brightened like the sun breaking through heavy cloud cover. Her posture straightened
and she dodged the blonde's reaching hand and ran back to him and into the protective
circle of his arms. She clung tightly to him as he raised his voice. "She's staying
here, with me," he announced. There was a challenge in his eyes and posture and
for a moment, he thought that the blond woman was going to challenge him. Her
companion, however, drew her away.
"We'll be back," the tall blond announced.
"With an Overseer." With that threat, she and the man who'd accompanied her when
they brought 317 turned and entered the transporter, leaving them alone.
shivered. He'd never had an Overseer come check on him, before. Not in all his
years. Still, she had stayed with him. He held her close and lowered his head
so that their temples were touching, and they just felt one another. And he knew
that she was where she wanted to be.
was only a few hours later that the transporter again activated, depositing the
tall blond woman and what looked like an elderly man...the Overseer.
she is, Overseer. She refused to return with me." Her tone was imperious, with
just a slight underlying of anger at having been disobeyed.
"Yes, 709, I see."
He approached the couple, watching the empath for a few moments. She was withdrawn,
but not in fear. She'd withdrawn into the embrace of 194. "317?" He softly asked.
The only reaction from the empath was to press more tightly to her protector.
The Overseer frowned slightly and turned to 709. "You said he called her and she
went to him?"
"What did he call her?"
709 looked confused.
"I'm not certain, Overseer. I couldn't quite make out the words." When the Overseer
turned back to the couple on the sofa, she sneered at them with a vindictive little
smirk on her face.
"Child, come and speak to me." He said it with command in
194 sighed and released her. He rubbed his cheek against hers, resting
their temples together for a moment and then gently urged her to go to the Overseer.
Her eyes met his and she smiled.
He felt his heart break. All his life he'd
been taught that to have an Overseer come to check on you meant that you were
in the very worst kind of trouble. But he wasn't willing to give her up without
a fight. If only she were capable of helping him stand firm.
The Overseer looked
down at the frightened empath. He dimly heard 709's snide comment about the empath
being typical of the breed and telling 194 that empaths weren't intelligent and
were unable to function on their own. His attention wavered from the girl when
he heard 194's reply.
"It's called Autism, and it has nothing to do with intelligence."
The Overseer looked at him for a brief moment, noting the anger and the defensive
posture. So, he understood, then. Much better than 709 did. He turned back to
317. "Child, may I communicate with you?"
Her gut was churning with fear. She
was positive that she would not be allowed to stay with 194. But he'd called her
by name! And she'd not told it to him! When the Overseer's hand gently slid across
her cheek and his fingers cradled the side of her head that was the first thought
she sent him.
The Overseer's breath caught. He gently probed the empath's mind
and realized the truth. He smiled at her and reassured her that it was all right.
She gazed up into his eyes, surprised, but then moved quickly back to 194 and
into his arms.
The Overseer turned to 709. He was frowning. "They have bonded,
The statuesque blond frowned and shook her head. "That's not possible,"
she said, insistently. "They can't have bonded. There wasn't time, and she's not
smart enough to form a bond with anyone."
The Overseer raised an eyebrow at
her. "They are bonded. There is nothing more to be done." He turned from 709 to
194 and 317. "Is this what you wish, 194?"
"For her to stay? Yes, Overseer."
"There wasn't enough time for them to have bonded, Overseer!" 709 interjected,
angrily. "Besides, he didn't touch her!"
The Overseer turned to 709 and smiled.
"Of course they've touched. Perhaps not in the sexual sense, but they have
touched. Hearts and souls, 709. They are bonded. He knows her name."
709 hissed. "She knows the punishment for telling. Even I don't know her name."
"194, what is her name?"
"Althea Sulis, Overseer."
"And how did you come
to know it?"
"I... I'm not sure, Overseer. Only that she was willing to remain
with me, and that I wanted her to stay. But when 709 told her she had to leave,
she was going, and I knew that there was no way to keep her here. I could tell
that she wanted to stay, but she couldn't. Her training wouldn't allow it. Then
I simply asked her to stay. I don't know how I knew to call her by a name, rather
than her designator, but I did. And I don't know how I knew what name to use."
The Overseer smiled. "You are bond-mates, 194. We will not force you apart."
"She should be punished for telling him her name!" 709 snarled. She didn't
realize that the Overseer was becoming annoyed with her. After all, she'd called
him in to back her up on this. It hadn't occurred to her that she might be found
"709, tell me," the Overseer softly asked. "How many times was 317
abused by those whom you sent her to help?"
"How many times was
she physically abused? Surely you know how many times, don't you? How could you
not know?" He turned to 194. "Gary Seven, how many times was she abused?"
He held her close, comforting her with his proximity and touch. His calm demeanor
eased her fear and soothed her hurts. Even his anger at 709 didn't affect her,
as she knew his anger was not directed at her. For her, he had only gentle thoughts
The Overseer nodded and turned back to 709. "Eight times you
have allowed your charge to be physically abused by those she was sent to help.
Did you take pleasure in her pain, 709?" Unbeknownst to anyone else in the room,
he'd done his homework. He'd ingested all the files and reports on each of them.
He was dismayed at the misuse of 194, how his subtle cries for help had gone unnoticed
and unheeded. But what had been done to 317 - that had been deliberate on 709's
part. Now, he wanted to know details that had never been in any reports. He watched
709 very closely. She scowled sneeringly at 317.
"She's hardly even aware of
anything. She can't even talk properly."
"709, that is hardly an excuse for
abusing a fellow human being."
709 laughed rather nastily. "She's hardly more
than an animal that can almost speak. She's a tool, nothing more."
you take pleasure in her pain?" The Overseer's voice had gone very soft. 194 looked
up, recognizing it as a danger signal. Seeing that the elderly man's attention
was directed elsewhere, he relaxed, but kept vigilant, his focus divided between
317 and 709. His primary concern was protecting his empath. Her mind touched his
and he smiled. She was amused by his possessiveness, but then admitted that she
was feeling rather possessive of him, as well. His arms tightened around her for
a moment, and then relaxed as he watched the drama unfolding before them.
knew of her Autism. He'd met children who were Autistic, and it had broken his
heart to see how hard it was for them to try and function in the real world. He'd
recognized the symptoms, but when she'd touched him, he'd become far more aware
of her than he was of 'normal' people. She needed him, or someone like him, to
act as a buffer between her and 'out there'. She was fully aware of everything
going on, but from his point of view. And she could understand it. If he could
filter the rest of the world for her, he was more than willing. Just as long as
she stayed with him. He'd become closer to her than he'd ever been to anyone else
in his entire life, in the past two days. What had begun with her empathic ability
to soothe and heal his raging emotions and aching heart, had formed into a connection
that he would die rather than allow anyone to sever. And she agreed with him.
"709, answer me." There was imperious command in the Overseer's voice, and
709 suddenly realized her danger.
"If she's not smart enough to protect herself
from her clients, then she should get used to it."
"And where were you when
it was going on?"
"On duty, Overseer."
"On duty. So, you were present when
she was abused?"
709 didn't answer, but her eyes no longer met the Overseer's
"You did nothing to protect her? You not only allowed her to be abused,
but you stood by and watched?"
709 began to fidget.
The Overseer's expression
was stormy. "Yet you had the audacity to come running for help when she bonded
with someone while you weren't looking." He trembled slightly from trying to control
his rage. He turned from 709 to look at the pair that had brought him here. "194,
are you able to help her?"
"I don't know, Overseer."
"Have you been intimate?"
"We've slept together and formed a," he hesitated a moment, searching for the
right word, "we've communicated. Both emotionally and mentally." The bond they'd
formed didn't include physical intimacy, but being inside someone else's mind
was perhaps an even more intimate connection than anything that was merely physical.
"He slept with her," 709 sneered. "He's distracted her from her duties,
not that she's all that aware, so you have to punish her," 709 insisted.
tightened her grip on him. "Gary?" she softly asked, distracting him for a moment.
He took a deep, shaking breath and held it for several long moments, trying
to control himself. Her body pressed against his, her hands on his shoulders and
the touch of her mind in his helped him calm down. "Althea, she allowed you to
be hurt and took pleasure in seeing you suffer."
She cocked her head at him
and smiled. "I know. But you've... repaired me." She closed her eyes and leaned
against him, and he couldn't help but lower his head and press his temple to hers.
Neither of them was aware that the Overseer recognized this physical gesture as
one between bonded empaths.
"709, we will return, now. 317 and 194 have need
of completing the bonding process."
"But she can't bond with him!"
Overseer laughed. "She's already bonded. Were you not aware that 194 has empathic
abilities, as well?" Seeing the surprise on 709's face, he shook his head. "Foolish
child. Every individual chosen and trained to be a supervisor has at least some
empathic abilities. How else could they possibly deal well with others? 194 has
worked for three decades without ever having an Overseer called on him." He scowled
at her. "His superiors have ignored his pleas for help, for understanding, for
compassion, and companionship. The fact that not one Overseer has been called
before indicates just how excellent a man he truly is. You, however, thought to
use the Overseers as a weapon against him. He requires a confidant, a helpmeet,
and a friend. Should they become more - that is permitted. Haven't you ever noticed
that except for supervisors all other functions go as pairs? A male with a female,
for the most part? You were sent with this empath in hopes that you might learn
from her. Instead, you have misused your authority and caused her damage." He
shook his head. "All you've done by calling me in is to get yourself caught."
709 stared at them all in shock. She'd called in the Overseer to try and regain
control of her empath, but instead, her own crimes had been discovered and she
would now be punished. She dumbly followed the Overseer like one of the animals
she'd accused 317 of being.
"194," the Overseer softly spoke.
His eyes were hooded, still mistrustful.
"Take care of one another. Complete
"How? I...I can't touch her, physically. I might hurt her."
The Overseer smiled softly. "Be gentle, connect mentally and emotionally, and
the physical will take care of itself. Evil times are coming, 194, and you will
be needed. Prepare now and we will triumph. It is well that you've found one another
at this time."
"You're not sending us back?" 194 asked in surprise.
Overseer shook his head. "You've been mismanaged, but that's hardly your fault.
If you would prefer to return, however, that would be permissible."
his head. "I've been here more than half my life. I have nothing there that would
even be familiar, now." He glanced down at Althea and smiled. "There's a saying,
here. 'Home is where the heart is.' If it's true, then I'm home." He looked up
at the Overseer and smiled. "Will you tell me why we were given no warning?"
what I can discern, it was decided to allow it to happen. It will draw most people
together against the threat of madness. There will be other tests to come. But
eventually, humankind will come to understand cooperation. Perhaps even in your
own lifetime, 194."
"Gary Seven. My name is Gary Seven, and this is Althea
Sulis." There was a challenge in his eyes, his voice, and his physical stance.
The Overseer smiled.
"And you have finally learned who and what you are. You
are a man, Gary Seven. A good man who has slaved over his tasks for far too long
without proper compensation or even concern. You will not be overlooked again,
"I don't care about recognition, Overseer. Only a little support,
now and then."
"And a companion. One with whom you may share your most intimate
thoughts and feelings. It was the very least you deserved. She will provide for
your emotional needs, and perhaps, one day, your physical needs as well. Be patient,
Gary Seven, and your needs will be provided for."
Gary lowered his head, nodding
his understanding. "Yes, Overseer. I can be patient a little longer." At least,
he could be patient now that he had someone to be patient with.
watched as Seven dropped his head to again touch temples with his bondmate - Althea.
Turning to 709, he frowned. "Come, 709. It is time to go." With a final glare
of hatred at the couple staying behind, she followed the Overseer.
Time. Yes, it would take time; time for the world to come to its senses, time
for the fear and anger to subside, and time for their bonding to solidify and
become complete. He took Althea to a specialist, who said that she was a very
high-functioning Autistic, capable of almost normal interaction with others. Gary
smiled, knowing that by using him as a buffer, she could function fully as well
as any normal human. He protected her from the myriad input of the world around
them, and she gave him an emotional foundation and support that provided him with
all the things he'd needed for so very long and had not been allowed to have.
Together, they could take on just about anything.
Even each other.
From the beginning, they'd slept together. The
physical contact had enabled her to do her job as an empath; but his own nascent
empathic abilities had created a fertile ground for more. The initial bond had
been dependant on his part, his need for emotional release and solace. It had
quickly changed directions as his empathic sense turned to trying to meet her
needs and heal her wounds. Understanding the nature of her abuse at the hands
of others she'd been sent to help, he was more than patient. He subordinated his
physical desires in exchange for the comfort and safety of just the emotional.
But he still had those same physical needs. The major difference between Althea
and Isis, was that she didn't become angry - and he didn't go out. He simply controlled
his desires, but never lost them. In fact, his desire for her grew daily, with
every mental, emotional, or physical touch.
She knew about his desire and felt
his want. And after a time - after experiencing his dreams about her, one night,
she initiated physical contact. He was dreaming about her, again. He'd been having
dreams of them almost nightly, and as he pressed against her, she gently touched
him. His body responded to her touch, and she closed her eyes to better feel what
he felt. Gently and with great trepidation, she explored his body. His dream became
more lucid, and she felt the heat radiating from him. Even in his dreams of her,
though, he was gentle. There would never be any force involved, she realized,
and then knew that she wanted his conscious participation.
For the very first
time, she kissed him.
He dreamed of
her every night. Imagining how it would feel to be able to touch her, and what
it would be like if she were to touch him in intimacy. This dream was a little
different, in that he was imagining what it would be like to kiss her.
that his imagination was getting a bit more graphic, the longer they were together.
Until he realized that it wasn't a dream, and that her lips really were pressed
to his. He brought up a hand to run through her soft, heavy hair and shifted just
enough that he was now kissing her back. He allowed his kisses to drift down her
jaw to her throat, and then up to her ear, where he gently suckled on the lobe.
He felt her shiver, but they were also connected mentally and emotionally. He
felt not only her fear, but also her curiosity and desire. He carefully put into
practice those things he'd dreamt about and knew that she was curious enough to
want to feel them for herself. His hands were gentle as they held her and his
lips were soft and warm as he taught her some of the finer points of kissing.
After a very long time, when her breath came in soft pants and her body reacted
to his lightest touch, he permitted one hand to drift down and lightly caress
her breast. Her breath caught and she pressed into his hand, encouraging him to
do more. With their mental connection providing encouragement, he did.
hands were gentle as they stroked and fondled her body, eliciting gasps and soft
vocalizations of pleasure. She'd shared his dreams and become curious, but his
dreams had given her absolutely no clue as to what the reality might be. His lips,
soft and warm, trailed kisses down her throat and across her shoulder, slowly
working their way down to her breast, where he very gently suckled, causing her
to gasp and arch into him at the sensation.
Her breath caught for a moment
and then started again, with quick, sharp pants of desire as his hand drifted
down her abdomen and between her legs. Her heart was pounding as his fingers did
things that brought her feelings she'd never imagined, before. She shuddered and
softly cried out as her body spasmed in ecstasy. As he slowly drew her legs apart
and shifted over her, her mind suddenly flashed back to those who had hurt her
in the past and she stiffened in terror.
He was enjoying himself, exploring
her body and teaching her the pleasures two people could provide one another.
He took his time, until he could feel her desire radiating in heated waves from
her body. Careful, still, he slid his hand down to her knee and gently parted
her legs. Shifting over her, he was about to join their bodies, when he felt her
fear. He immediately reacted by pulling away from her and rolling onto his back,
not touching her at all. He trembled with need and want, but forced himself up
and away. Wordlessly, he stumbled into the bathroom and turned on the shower.
He stepped under the warm spray and after a few frustrating moments, turned the
hot water off and nearly cried out at the shock of the icy cold water. There was
truth in the old adage about the effects of cold water on one's ardor. Turning
the water back to a warm spray, he stood beneath it, the warm water mixing with
and hiding his tears.
She lay there, gasping in a combination of want and fear.
He'd brought her such pleasure as she'd never known before, but his body above
her had sent her into panic. Still, she could sense him and knew that he wasn't
angry, only hurt. Hurting for her, and himself. She rolled onto her stomach, grasped
her pillow and sobbed out her frustration.
When he returned to bed, she'd cried
herself to sleep. He eased into the bed beside her, carefully taking her into
his arms. He felt her disquiet and gently soothed her. Emotionally exhausted,
he pressed his temple to hers and, cradling her body next to his, went to sleep.
Awaking in the morning, she felt his warm,
loving arms around her. There had been no recriminations, no anger from him, only
his anguish at her fear. She tried to work her way through her feelings, but was
unable to. He had never once given her any reason to fear him. His touch was always
gentle, always kind, always loving. She was angry with herself for her reaction,
particularly knowing the pain she'd given him for his tenderness. But she couldn't
find a way past the many times she'd been abused. True, none of them had given
her any consideration, but it was the looming presence of a man, any man, poised
above her that sent her instantly into a panic. She sighed in frustration, not
knowing what to do.
"Don't worry about it. It's all right, Althea," he softly
murmured. "It'll be all right."
"When?" she asked plaintively. "I do not wish
to hurt you, but I have. I want you, so much, but...."
"Shhhh, I know. Some
day, I hope, it'll get better. It's all right, Althea."
And, somehow, it was.
Her reaction had been unexpected. He realized
that although he knew what had been done to her by others she'd been assigned
to 'help', she was still terrified. Even of him. But she remained in his arms
and his bed; and their bond continued to grow.
He wanted her so badly that
it was an almost constant ache.
And he didn't have any idea what to do to alleviate
They went back to their normal lives together. He fulfilled his missions,
oversaw the other teams on the planet, and she provided him comfort, solace, emotional
support and stability, and love in every manner but the physical.
But he wanted
It never occurred to him to seek
physical release with anyone else. He loved her too much, and even the idea of
looking at another woman was anathema to him. He tried to be satisfied with everything
she could provide, but his need and desire for her only grew, instead of diminishing.
But instead of withdrawing from her, he held her closer, needing her more, instead
She tried to entice him into simply taking her, despite her fear,
but he wouldn't. He loved her far too much to ever willingly hurt her. She, too,
became frustrated. She'd thoroughly enjoyed his ministrations that night, and
was furious with herself for the fear that had blindsided her and ended it. He
would still touch her, but she felt it was unfair to take pleasure from him when
she couldn't reciprocate. But he loved her, and he enjoyed giving her pleasure,
even though it left him in pain and frustrated.
"Is there not some other way?"
she asked softly, one night. "Is there not some way I can give you pleasure as
you give me?"
He looked at her and softly smiled. "I'm all right." He didn't
explain that there were other ways to give pleasure. He wanted her, completely.
Anything less was simply that. Less.
She wanted physical intimacy, as well
as all the other ways in which they were intimate. They no longer needed to be
in physical contact in order to communicate, for example. They could converse
across miles, not just a room. In every way but one they had bonded, and she wanted
that bond, as well.
And he knew it.
And there was no one he could trust
to ask what to do.
They continued as they
were for a long time. Every now and again, they'd try, but always her fear would
manifest and he'd back away again. He tried to analyze the situation.
up with a plan.
She awoke to his caresses and smiled. He always surprised her
with his gentle, arousing touch. She made a soft sound and shifted into his touch.
He was, as always, gentle and concise in his movements and touches. She felt her
body react to his touch and wanted him so much, but even now, the flutter of fear
was raising its ugly head.
"Come with me," he murmured, turning away from her
and rising. She looked up in surprise. He wanted to stop now? Her body was on
the brink of that most wondrous place and he wanted her to get up and go into
the other room? She stared at him, confused.
"Please?" he softly added, knowing
her annoyed frustration.
Confused, she rose and took his hand. He led her from
their bedroom into the living room. He had grabbed their pillows and now set them
on the sofa, which had a sheet and towels spread on it. She allowed him to guide
her to a position sitting on the edge of the sofa, the pillows behind her for
support. It was a bit awkward feeling, but not uncomfortable. She watched him
in the dimness as he placed a pillow on the floor and knelt before her. His hands
again began to touch her, intimately. She smiled and gave herself into his care.
When he shifted between her knees, rising, she didn't react. When she stopped
shuddering, she felt his breathing change and opened her eyes to watch him. He
was on his knees, between her legs, leaning close to hold her, and she felt...oh!
It was such a simple solution. He'd never been particularly inventive. Isis
had liked sex on her terms, and the women he'd hired had been simple receptacles
for his need. But for Althea, he'd needed to find a solution that would prevent
her reliving her abuse at the hands of others. It finally came to him one evening
as they'd bathed together. She'd been sitting on the edge of the tub, while he
washed her hair. He'd glanced down and realized her position was accessible, but
he'd not be above her. He started considering the best location to try it, and
opted for the living room. The bedroom had too many memories of their failures.
He'd awakened her with his hands gently caressing her body to arousal. He thoroughly
enjoyed pleasuring her, even though it left him aching even more with his own
desire. When she was nearly at climax, he withdrew and stood up. Her incredulous
expression almost made him smile. She was uncertain, but followed him. She didn't
understand, but was willing to follow him. He got her positioned on the sofa and
himself on his knees before her. He'd been wise enough to kneel on a pillow to
cushion his knees from the hard floor. Even with carpet, it would have been too
uncomfortable before very long. He began touching her again, his mouth suckling
at her breasts, his hands rubbing her body, and eventually, one hand between her
legs. Because of the way they were situated, her legs naturally fell open, giving
him access to that most intimate part of her. Even as she shuddered in climax,
he gently shifted, rising up and very slowly joining himself with her.
she realized what he was doing, she was at first shocked, but only for a moment.
There was no fear, because he wasn't crushing her beneath him. Had she wanted
to, she could have escaped him. But she didn't want to escape. She wanted him,
completely, totally...and as he entered her, their mental and emotional bond exploded.
They'd been close for months, knew one another's most intimate thoughts and
experiences. They shared literally every thought, memory, and emotion. But now,
with their physical joining, their bond became all-encompassing. They didn't know
where one left off and the other began. They had no specific memory of their coupling,
only the total joy of completeness and the ultimate satisfaction of finally being
Afterwards, they returned to bed, to sleep, and to remember, and
their bond solidified and strengthened.
And in the early hours of the morning,
Althea awoke, and gently aroused him. He awoke and responded. When she took the
initiative, and the superior position, he smiled. Apparently, his inventiveness
was contagious. And the way she was moving... she was far more inventive than
he, much to their mutual delight.
never considered the idea of their having children, but of course, they hadn't
taken any precautions. He made his report, and waited. He was well aware that
his child might be taken from him, to be raised as he had been, in a group 'home',
where it would be trained, as he had been, tested, pigeonholed, and taught to
serve his world.
The very thought tore him apart. Having discovered love and
the strong bond he and Althea had formed, there was plenty of room in both of
their hearts for a child, or even two, or more. But loyalty had been ingrained
in him from his earliest memories, so he followed the rules and made his report.
To his surprise, there was no response. No censure, no one came to investigate,
and most importantly, no one came to take their daughter.
Joy. It was a descriptive
name that suited how their daughter felt to them both. Even before her birth,
they were both well aware of her and her needs. It was an odd feeling, to be in
communication with an unborn and developing fetus, but it was wondrous and wonderful,
as well. When the time came for her birth, the doctors were amazed by the seemingly
instantaneous bond formed between the parents and their new child.
been home with their daughter for a few days when the Overseer came.
know what he'd do if they wanted their daughter. He stood protectively in front
of his family when the Overseer arrived.
The elderly Overseer smiled. "There
is no need for concern, Gary Seven. I am here only to see that you and your family
are doing well?"
Gary sighed with relief and relaxed his aggressive stance.
Smiling, he nodded. "We're doing very well."
"Your child is well?"
is," Gary stepped aside and allowed the Overseer to view his wife and child. He
relaxed when their visitor showed no interest in actually touching the infant.
The Overseer nodded. "It is well. She already recognizes you both?"
Overseer," Althea replied. "And she speaks to us. Not in words, of course, but
she tells us her needs."
Gary grinned, his pride in his child apparent. "The
doctors were concerned that she doesn't cry enough."
The Overseer raised an
eyebrow in question.
Gary shrugged. "She doesn't need to cry, as she can tell
us her needs." Seeing the Overseer's concern, he continued. "She's trying to talk,
already. But it's not crying. She laughs a lot, and she talks to herself. The
doctors were surprised and said she must be highly intelligent to be trying to
vocalize so soon. She's only three months old, after all."
The Overseer smiled.
"She will do well, then. There have been no problems?"
"Only the usual ones,
Overseer." Gary shook his head and sighed. "The never-ending problem we humans
have with one another."
"Yes, you are, of course, quite right. Will you have
Gary blushed. "I don't know. Is it permitted?" As much as he
loved his family and would like to expand it, he didn't want to run afoul of any
rules. It had never been a concern, before. But now, he couldn't help wondering
if his work would suffer from the distraction of home.
The Overseer smiled.
"It is permitted. If you wish to cease working, that, too, would be permitted."
He watched closely as he saw the sudden hope flash in Gary Seven's eyes, but then
it dimmed as he shook his head.
"No, Overseer. As much as I'd like that, I
know where my duty lies."
"Will you take on an assistant, then?"
in confusion. "An assistant?"
"One for you to train to replace you when it
is time. Your record is the best in our history of our involvement with your world.
We would like you to train your own successor, and, if you are willing, to remain
available should the need arise for your assistance and experience."
at Althea and the Overseer could see that they were discussing it, telepathically.
They'd tried, over the ages, to encourage such talents, but it had been a rare
occasion when a human was any good at it. Yet here they were, readily communicating
without words. It was an enormous leap forward. It was also apparent that they
were already communicating with their daughter. It was tempting to try and take
over, but he realized that to do so would negate any progress they'd made. Perhaps,
when they were old enough, the children would agree to become a part of the plan
to keep humankind from destroying themselves? It would be very interesting to
watch them and see how they dealt with the problems of raising truly telepathic
children - he couldn't see them settling for just the one when they'd been given
permission to have more. From the expression on Gary's face, it was only obvious
that he adored his family; yes, it would be best to let them go, now, to bring
up what might, perhaps, be the next step in the evolutionary process for mankind.
Freedom. Freedom from the responsibility of seeing
to it that his kind didn't destroy themselves and their world. Freedom to care
for and concentrate on his growing family. Freedom to love and be loved.
smiled at his wife and children. Due to his genetic advantages, his age was not
a factor in their decision to have more children. He was as healthy and strong
as he'd been when he first arrived on the planet. Their eldest children were in
school and doing well. The teachers had been a bit concerned that Joy was so reserved,
but once they'd explained that not everyone could talk mind-to-mind like they
could, she became a vivacious, outgoing child, well liked among her peers, yet
respectful and obedient to her elders. Her younger brother was an active boy,
rather advanced for his years. They had decided to teach him at home, as they
had their eldest, until she reached an age where social interaction seemed advisable.
The Overseer came to visit every now and again, and the children thought of him
as they might have thought of a grandfather, much to the adults' amusement.
had been no instance of his wife's disability, although all their children were
empathic, though not to the degree of their mother, more on a par with their father.
That innate ability prevented any of them from becoming bullies. They all preferred
to protect those weaker than themselves, and as a group, even those older, bigger,
and stronger would back down. As they grew, their circle of protection was growing,
Perhaps this was what the Overseers had had in mind all along. Humans
working in cooperation with one another, protecting those weaker than themselves,
and defeating evil, one at a time.
It was an interesting thought.
looked over his family while they played in the park, he rested his temple against
Althea's. She rubbed her cheek against his and smiled. They no longer had to consciously
work on their communication, it was automatic and instantaneous. Gary tenderly
kissed her and smiled.
Life was good.
Very good, indeed.
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