Author's Notes: This takes place during Bourne Legacy. Please review and tell me what you think everyone.
Special thanks to Spikelissa for her wonderful beta job.
Also a special thanks to Bre for her gorgeous banner. You are awesome hon!
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Buffy was exhausted. She’d been on the road for six hours straight, coming directly from a nest of Lorophage demons in Cleveland. The girls stationed there were having a hell of a time disposing them all. Luckily, Buffy had been available at the time and with an engine full of portal dust and her trusty Scythe, she made the jump from Scotland to Cleveland.
Lorophages were a nasty bunch, and they were at their hungriest when they awoke from hibernation. Not just that, they have these long needle like fingers and a probe like mouth, which they use to shove into their victim’s skull and feed off their brain matter. A toxin on their skin causes their victims to relive their most traumatic experiences as the feeding process takes place, and the victim begins to die. Not a pretty sight to witness, and she was lucky she’d gotten there when she did.
Five of the Slayers had been affected by the thing’s toxin, and one of the girls was seconds away from becoming a brain Slurpee. Buffy saved the girl’s just in the nick of time and got them home. She called ahead, and made sure the onsite medical team at the Cleveland H.Q. was outside and ready to treat the girls. After that she had gone out and hunted down the six remaining demons. Stakes didn’t work on the gray, beady-eyed bastards, but that didn’t matter. Nothing really stood a chance against her Scythe.
She was just getting back to the facility to check on the girls when she’d gotten the phone call from Wes and Fred. Apparently, Fred’s cousin Marta got herself into one hell of a predicament. Fred had been in a panic and speaking so fast that Buffy had barely got half of what she said.
After a good five minutes, Buffy had calmed the girl down enough to explain. It had taken a lot of effort to get Fred to explain without spewing all that science jargon, which just made Buffy’s head hurt. When she’d finally gotten the full dish though, her spider senses went haywire. This was so much on the wrong side of bad she didn’t even know where to begin. Maggie Walsh and the Initiative kept popping into her head, and that was something she would prefer not to relive. A nauseous feeling crawled into her stomach just at the thought, and she really hoped this wasn’t as bad as it sounded.
Marta had been working for a privately outsourced company called Sterisyn Morlanta, which specialized on highly classified defense projects, things that had to do with genetically enhancing soldiers. She was a scientist on the genetics team for this company. Yesterday one of her co-workers went postal, killing all his colleagues, and leaving only Marta alive.
It was all over the news, but Buffy hadn’t paid it any mind until Fred called. She told Buffy that Marta was worried that her co-worker had been exposed to something, and she was afraid something similar might happen to her. Both Buffy and Fred knew differently. This smelled too much like a cover-up. Especially with the whole scandal that had been going on in the news with that Bourne guy and those secret CIA programs.
Furthermore, Wolfram and Hart didn’t want Fred getting involved. That’s why Buffy had been requested to help. Fred was essentially on lockdown because of the conversation her and her cousin shared. Marta spilled the beans, and though no one could tap Fred’s phone line, because of the wards around Wolfram and Hart. It didn’t stop them from hearing Marta’s side of the conversation, and it wouldn’t stop them from coming after Fred if she decided to leave their protection.
Angel was in a complete uproar. He had to deal with the liaison to the Senior Partners because they didn’t want to lose an asset like Fred, and they didn’t want the U.S. government poking their noses into their business. While at the same time, Angel was trying to deal with Fred and her volatile emotions as she panicked over her favorite cousin. Apparently, she told the Senior Partners to shove-it once already, and she threatened to go get Marta herself. Thankfully, Wesley talked her out of it, and that’s when they decided to get hold of Buffy.
Of course, Buffy agreed. Besides the fact that her sixth sense was going wonky, she owed that whole team so much. After the fall of Sunnydale, Buffy had decided to leave. She just wasn’t able to do it anymore. The Slaying, the leading, she was just so exhausted. Not to mention, she’d just lost the one person who stood by her through it all. Her heart ached in grief from the loss of him, especially when she realized she essentially lost her best friend. There’d been just too wide of a rift between her and the Scoobies back then, to even consider them her best friends anymore. She still loved them. She really did, but she needed to get away for a little while and heal.
After her announcement words quickly escalated into a screaming match between her and Giles. The things that were said had taken years for them to repair. The Scoobies on the other hand, didn’t try to stop her. In fact, they didn’t say much of anything. They all just looked at her with a sad sort of understanding in their eyes. It was such a relief not to have to fight them too. It made the whole process of saying goodbye so much easier.
Buffy had then walked up to Faith and handed her the Scythe. She looked the other Slayer right in her eyes and said, “I trust you to lead them…I think you’ll need this more than me.” And then a small smile crept across Buffy’s lips. “But it’s only out on loan. I want it back.”
Faith snorted in response, and did something no one ever expected. She hugged Buffy. What Faith would never admit - though she showed it all the time - was that day had forever changed her opinion of Buffy. Buffy had given her something that no one else had. It was her trust and complete belief that she could do this job, and do it well. It also gained Buffy something she didn’t even know she would need or want. She got Faith’s undying loyalty.
The hardest though had been when Buffy asked Dawn to come with her, and she refused. It would have hurt more, except Dawn pulled her aside and explained her reason for staying with the others. It was the first time Dawn felt like she truly belonged. She had a purpose with the Scoobies, and her ability to pick up dead languages was a talent she wanted to explore further. She also felt that a break from each other was something that they both needed. It ended up being for the best.
Buffy had gone to Los Angeles hoping to stay with Angel and his team for a little bit while she tried to figure out what she wanted to do next. When she arrived at the Hyperion, the place looked deserted, but she’d been too tired to care. She had flopped down on the blue circular couch in the lobby, and her last coherent thought was that she would search for Angel and his team in the morning.
It was Wesley who found her there asleep, and he’d been the one to inform her about their change in employment. To say that Buffy was furious would have been the understatement of the year. She chewed Wes out for at least two hours, and then demanded he take her to Angel. When she walked into his office and seen what he sold his soul for, her temper reached its boiling point.
Angel, of course hadn’t been expecting her, and he shot to his feet in shocked surprise. He didn’t even have time to get her name out before she proceeded to beat the crap out of him. After she finished mopping the floor with his ass, she started in on the lecture. He’d gotten really angry and defensive, and Buffy just became more resolved. He needed her. His whole team needed her, and she was going to help them see the error of their ways, whether they wanted her or not.
The funny thing though; it had very little to do with her feelings for Angel. She hadn’t exactly been happy with him back then. Coming back from the dead will do that to a person. Especially when they find out an entire day was altered and wiped from their memories.
She was confused by the strange memory at first. It came back so slowly. She only saw snippets of it until Angel brought her the amulet that Spike wore. The kiss they shared in the tomb where she had been fighting Caleb brought it all back in vivid Technicolor though.
At first, she hadn’t known how to feel, and a very big part of her tried not to care. Then she arrived in L.A. and saw his stupid face and his fancy office… let’s just say she was a little bitter, and was dying for an excuse to kick his ass.
She never told him she knew about that day, though it had almost slipped out when her memories of Conner returned. She was angry then too, but after a while she understood why Angel did what he did for Conner. It was better for the boy this way. Especially after all he had been through. He was happier, and living the normal life that any parent would want for their child. Conner also knew the truth, and Buffy really couldn’t argue ethics when even Conner was grateful for what Angel did.
It took Angel and her most of that year to finally stop bickering, and for them to have an actual conversation. When they finally did, they both realized it had been what they needed all along. It had become clear that neither one of them harbored the romantic feelings that used to guide them so fiercely, and a lot of things were brought to the table as well. Like the anger Buffy felt towards Angel for leaving her those years before, and the bitterness Angel felt towards her for letting Spike get so close.
He even went as far to admit that he was more jealous of the friendship they shared, than the actual sleeping together part. Angel confessed that she never confided in him the way she did with Spike, and he knew it was because of how closed off he could be. What Angel hadn’t been able to understand was why she was able to be so open with someone who could use anything she said or did against her. He didn’t understand how she had trusted Spike, even with a soul.
Her explanation seemed to satisfy him. It was actually really simple. She didn’t need to pretend to be okay around him. He let her be herself. In fact, he loved her no matter how she acted. Even if she was beating the crap out of him, it didn’t matter. He was always there for her, and it just made talking to him so much easier.
It went a long way to mending old wounds and getting them on the right track. They made a deal then. They were going to work on being friends, and Buffy even promised to try to open up to him more, because she was just as guilty of closing herself off from others. It took several years, but they were finally pretty close. She could honestly say she was happy to have him as a friend.
That same year she also ended up helping them through one of the darkest periods in that company. Together they managed to drive the Blackthorn into hiding, and at least delay whatever plans had been brewing to start the Apocalypse. It had been relatively quiet on that front ever since. Not that the Senior Partners didn’t still dream of world domination, and making their pretty Apocalypse. They just finally met the real Buffy Summers, and found she is much more stubborn and dangerous than even Angel.
It became apparently obvious to them that making allies rather than trying to corrupt was in their best interest, and they had struck a deal with the Watchers Council. They promised to share any and all information they had on prophecies and up-coming Apocalypses, and to implement the same no human death’s policies that the L.A. office enforced, but only if Buffy promised not to attack their staff or clients without just cause. Giles had agreed to their terms, and it also went a long way to getting Buffy’s foot back in the door with the Scoobies.
She hadn’t gone right back after that though, because she made some of the closest friends, she ever had. Fred had become what Willow used to be, and Wes…God…she was so proud of him. He went from the bumbling, know-it-all, coward she remembered despising so much in her youth; to the badass, ruggedly handsome, hottie he is today. Even Buffy had to admit that Fred was one lucky woman.
Lorne had become the lovable uncle she never had, and Gunn…well; he was just one of the best humans she had ever slayed with, and his appreciation for shiny weapons rivaled even her own. She loved them all so very much, and she really hadn’t wanted to leave. She knew it was inevitable though, and she returned to the fold about six months after the agreement was struck with Wolfram and Hart.
It was strained at first. Well…except with Faith. Faith also became one of Buffy’s closest friends, and she’d stood by Buffy even when some of the other girls didn’t want her there, mainly Kennedy and her posse of followers. Thank god Willow had at least broken up with the she-bitch by then or Buffy might have gone insane.
It had taken a long time for Buffy and the Scoobies to feel even remotely comfortable around each other, but slowly things became less awkward. Buffy was even happy to admit that things were finally getting back to normal. Well, as well as normal could be. Xander and Buffy were the first to make their peace with each other, and it had been really nice to joke with him the way they used to. Willow followed after that. Both girls had talked in great lengths about what transpired those last two years in Sunnydale. By the end, they were both in tears, hugging, and telling each other how much they loved the other. Giles though, that had taken a lot longer. They hadn’t started talking the way they used to, until about a year ago. ‘God…had it already been four years since the destruction of Sunnydale?’
It was crazy how quickly time flew by, and for the first time in a long time Buffy was finally starting to feel happy. Well, almost happy. She was actually… really lonely. It was a strange sensation, being surrounded by all these people and feeling loved, while at the same time feeling utterly lost and alone.
She supposed that’s how it always was for her, for any Slayer really, but she missed the type of companionship she’d shared with Spike. She missed having someone at her side, and knowing that the person wouldn’t let her down…and god…she also missed sex. The kind of hot, wild, and uncontrollable feelings he used to invoke. She missed that passion, and that blissful soreness she would experience the next day. More than that though, she really missed having someone to hold her when she needed it. Having someone to listen and understand, or to tell her she’s full of shit when she’s wrong. She missed all of that, and so much more.
But, what could she do? She was convinced that the right man for her just didn’t exist, at least not in reality. The world she lived in, the price she paid daily for her calling was something very few human men could understand. Which left her with only one other option, and vampires were something she refused to do again. Her heart had been shattered far too many times. Angel had devastated her, but losing Spike had almost killed her, and she wasn’t willing to take a risk like that again. The next time she didn’t think she would make it.
Buffy was pulled out of her musing by the GPS in her Audi informing her that her turn was coming up. Her eyes scanned the wooded area around her and narrowed suspiciously on the black SUV she saw parked out of sight, not too far from her turn. She reached over and popped a piece of gum in her mouth before turning her stereo up to an obnoxious level. ‘This just keeps looking better and better.’
If the goon squad was already here, it might be too late for Marta. God, she really hoped not. Fred would be completely devastated, and Buffy would spend the next couple of weeks feeling guilty as hell. She should have just teleported directly here from Cleveland, but she only had enough portal dust left for one more transport. She figured since Maryland was only six hours away, she could drive there and teleport Marta to safety. She really hoped that was still possible.
There was another thing that was bugging her too. She knew she was dealing strictly with humans here, and she really didn’t know how this was going to go. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time she needed to take out a dangerous human, but that didn’t mean she liked doing it. Nowadays, the Watchers Council dealt with several counties, some of which had little to no compassion when it came to their people, and it was even worse if they were at war. She had seen many places since returning to the fold, and her eyes were more than wide open to the reality of what really went on in this world. She found herself disgusted with a majority of humanity.
Being a Slayer made her a neutral player when it came to wars and genocide created by human beings, but there were times when she just couldn’t stand idly by and watch, especially when she or her girls were in danger. It was in these times when her hand was forced, and she acted. It didn’t happen very often, and Slayer’s in these situations are handled very differently than they used to be. For one, it’s required that you fill out a detailed accident report for every civilian casualty you’re responsible for. Then you are forced to see a Watchers Council employed shrink for at least three months. Sometimes even longer if they think you aren’t adjusting well. You are immediately pulled from active duty and sent to the main headquarters in Scotland, where Faith watches you like a hawk. Having been down the psychotic-killer road, she knows all the signs to look for, and she can spot them a mile away. You are also required to take a meditation and self-reflection class with Andrew. All in all, it’s a royal pain in the ass, that amazingly enough…actually helps.
Buffy sighed as she made the turn down the long dirt driveway, keeping her eyes peeled for more suspicious vehicles. She didn’t have to wait long. As she rounded the bend that went down into the front yard of Marta’s property, a man dressed like a federal agent waved her to a stop.
Buffy rolled down her window giving him her brightest smile. She made sure to chew her gum extra loud, and she let the music blare just a little longer than was polite. The guy’s scowl grew more prominent, and Buffy smiled to herself. The dumb-blonde routine hadn’t let her down yet, and right now wasn’t going to be the exception.
Aaron Cross surveyed Dr. Shearing house from the branches of a nearby Oak tree. The situation did not look promising. He’d been watching for about two minutes, and the four agents on the property seemed to be waiting for something. He wondered briefly if he hadn’t fooled them, and they knew he would come here. He brushed the thought off as paranoia though. If that was the case, his picture would have been plastered all over the news, and the cop that pulled him over in Pennsylvania would have reacted a lot differently.
He cupped his ear, trying to make out the low voices of the two agents in the house below. He was worried because he couldn’t hear the tenor of Dr. Shearing’s voice at all. He hoped she was all right. He needed her. She was the only link he knew of to the chems that were going to get him out of this mess alive, or at least the only one he knew who wouldn’t alert everyone that he was still alive.
They were shutting down the program and anyone who knew anything about it was expendable. That included Marta Shearing, and Aaron was pretty sure if he saved her, she would help him. He kept telling himself it had nothing to do with the fact that he found her attractive, and for the most part, that was true. If she hadn’t survived the shooting and somebody else did, he would be outside their house right now. Though, there was a small selfish part of him that did hope this would bring them closer together, or at least make her look at him as more than just some test subject.
It had driven him crazy that she worked for them, that she was his doctor. He wondered, not for the first time, if she knew. If she had any inclination at all of how unethical the whole program was. Innocent lives had been taken by his hands, and she might not have been guilty of the crime itself, but she definitely loaded the gun. Hell, Aaron wasn’t even sure if he was really guilty. They were the ones who created him, honed him, and turned him into what he is today, nothing more than a weapon for them to use and discard at their pleasure.
It made him sick just thinking about it. How they used him, or more importantly how they used Kenneth. Before they had pumped Aaron Cross full of green and blue pills, he had been Kenneth J. Kitsom, a mildly retarded orphan from Reno. He joined the military when he was twenty-two, after his recruiter raised his IQ by twelve points, so he would make the minimum.
The war in Iraq started in March of 2003, and Kenneth was dead on paper by November. His transport had been hit by an IED, and it was just what the DOD needed to get him in their clutches. Kenneth had joined the program, mainly because he wanted to be a part of something; he wanted to serve his country, but also because he wanted to be something other than the slow minded frightened child he was. They told him they could make him smarter and stronger, and Kenneth had always wanted to be those things. So he agreed.
They started feeding him pills after that, and would make him do a lot of tests. It was slow going at first, but after a while Kenneth began to disappear. He could think clearly now, and things didn’t confuse him anymore. He could plan, solve problems and reason. His eye sight improved as well, and his hearing was almost inhuman. He became stronger and faster. His body picked up fighting styles like it was second nature, and learning different languages became a breeze. Imagine that, he could barely remember his own name before, and now he knew Russian. It was one of the most extraordinary feelings he ever felt. It had been his freedom.
That’s when they told him, he wasn’t Kenneth anymore. His name was Aaron now and that was fine by him, because he didn’t feel like Kenneth anymore. It was shortly after that, that they sent him on his first mission, and it was then that he realized his freedom came with a price. He didn’t mind it at first. Killing the bad guys was what he had been trained to do, but then about a year and a half ago he had been told to take out a group of insurgents in Afghanistan. The information had been faulty, and instead of killing the terrorists, he ended up killing an entire innocent family. It was then that he realized he had simply traded one prison for another, because even if he wanted to, he could never leave the program. The irony was that now he had no choice, and he would rather die than revert back to Kenneth.
Aaron shook off his dreary thoughts. It didn’t matter. He wasn’t going to be Kenneth again. He wouldn’t allow that to happen. It didn’t matter what he had to do. He wasn’t going to die, and he wasn’t going to lose his identity.
He was just getting ready to jump down, and get a closer look at the house when he heard it. A car was turning off the main road onto the driveway. He could hear the loud thump of the stereo as the car got closer. He heard the agent’s radio go off, as the team’s lookout informed them that a car was headed their way.
One of the agents got out of the black Chevy Tahoe and began to walk up the driveway, and that’s when Aaron got the strangest sensation. It was like being next to a live wire or high-voltage line, and it made the hairs on the back of his neck stand straight up. As the sound of the engine got closer, the feeling became more prominent. His eye focused on the driveway, and he watched mesmerized as a little black Audi came around the corner.
The driver’s side window rolled down, and Aaron almost laughed at himself. There was no way this girl could be causing the feeling he was having. She must have been all of nineteen, and she spoke with a Californian accent. Her blonde, sun kissed hair and bronze skin also attested to as much. He shook his head at himself, thinking he was once again being paranoid, when it happened.
When the blonde revealed that she was a friend of Dr. Shearing’s cousin, and she was here to pick up the Doc. The agent reached for his piece, except she was faster. Aaron barely saw it happen. One second the agent was reaching into his jacket, and the next his face was being smashed into the roof of her car, and she was the one with the gun. Aaron would have stayed and watched, except he realized this was the perfect opportunity to get into the house. He had a feeling the two agents inside the house were about to be very distracted.
He jumped down from the large tree, and headed straight towards the side of the house. He heard a shot ring out, and as he got closer he saw the mystery girl had the agent from before on the ground. He was putting pressure on a gunshot wound in his thigh, and his nose was bleeding profusely. He heard her yell, “That’s how it feels to get shot!”
In her anger, she didn’t notice the agent behind her taking aim. Aaron didn’t hesitate. He pulled his gun out, aimed, and fired. The agent went down, and the woman spun around in surprise. Their eyes met for the briefest of seconds, and Aaron nodded his head. He quickly turned back around and climbed up the side of Dr. Shearing home. He heard one more shot ring out, but this time he didn’t look back.
Buffy didn’t have time to contemplate her mysterious savior, because she heard a grunt of pain from her original attacker. He had just pulled another gun out that was concealed at his ankle. Buffy, didn’t hesitate either, but she did watch the man’s body fall limp to the ground in slow motion. She stared at the body for what felt like forever, but what must have only really been a second. She cursed loudly at the man’s stupidity, and that’s when all hell broke loose inside the house.
There was a loud crash, as two windows were smashed out, and then bullets were being sprayed all along the drive. Buffy scrambled out of firing range, but a stray bullet lodged itself in her shoulder. She grunted in pain, before quickly ducking behind her car. She could kiss Willow for the wards that were on it as she heard the sound of bullets pinging off metal and falling uselessly on to the ground. The firing suddenly ceased, and Buffy closed her eyes focusing on her surroundings.
She could feel two humans, and something that was…she couldn’t describe it. It wasn’t completely human, but it wasn’t a demon either; or at least not strong enough to register as one. The two humans were on the first floor where the bullets came from, and the mystery…whatever, was slowly making its way down the stairs from the second floor. It was then that Buffy realized it must be the man who saved her. She briefly wondered if Angel sent someone, but then another realization dawned on her. Where was Marta?
Buffy’s heart rate, which hadn’t been at a slow pace before, doubled in worry. She peeked around the corner, bracing herself for more bullets. When none came, she frowned and closed her eyes focusing again. One of the human signatures disappeared, and the mystery man was now slipping up behind the other one. She shot to her feet in horror and bolted for the house. If for whatever reason these goons had taken Marta somewhere, Buffy’s only chance of finding her was about to be put down.
She flew up the porch of the old house and kicked the front door in. The frame around the door cracked as the door became unhinged and went flying into the opposing wall. She rounded the corner into a hallway, heading straight towards the signatures she felt as she drew her gun.
She could make out voices as she drew near. Someone was demanding…‘Did he just say program medication?’
She rounded another corner and stopped dead in her tracks. Her mystery savior had a woman pinned against the wall, his forearm pressed against her windpipe. That wasn’t what made Buffy stop though.
She stared in horror at the gruesome scene laid out before her. She vaguely heard the woman reply to the man’s question. The sound of the sickening crack, as the man broke the woman’s neck when it wasn’t the answer he wanted. Buffy recalled later that she probably could have stopped him, but by then she was far too gone to care.
She couldn’t take her eyes off Marta’s form slumped forward in the kitchen chair. Her brown hair, which looked so much like Fred’s, was matted with blood and gore. A gun hung out of Marta’s right hand, as a sticky trail of blood ran down it pooling on the floor beneath her feet. Up on the cupboard and the wall to the right, and behind Marta’s body was a red and grey spray of what could only be brain matter.
Buffy’s stomach rebelled at the sight, and she almost threw up right there. Her gun went clattering to the floor as she brought her hands up to her mouth. Tears sprang into her eyes as she imagined her best friends devastated face when she told her.
“Oh…Oh god Marta…no!” Buffy shook her head in disbelief. “God…what did you get yourself into?”
She ran over to the woman’s body and fell to her knees, lifting the woman’s chin with her finger and gently moving a bloody strand of hair out of her face. Horrified lifeless eyes stared back, and Buffy cursed in disgust.
“It’s okay.” Buffy whispered to her body. “I’m gonna get you home to Fred.”
Aaron watched the girl in curious wonderment. He hadn’t gotten a good look at her outside, but he had been able to tell she was pretty. Now, he couldn’t seem to tear his eyes away. She was without a doubt one of the most stunning women he had ever seen, but more than that. She had an air about her that rocked his very foundation.
Being in her presence was like being in the middle of a lightning storm, holding a lightning rod, while at the same time knowing you would be perfectly safe. She radiated power and authority, but not in a way where Aaron felt uneasy. It was…comforting actually. Like some sixth sense knew she could protect him. The thought was absolutely absurd, but the feeling was there, nevertheless.
She stood up and turned, their eyes locking for the second time that day. Except this time, a blast of heat seared through his blood, and he almost forgot to breath. Her eyes showed a depth of emotion and strength Aaron had never seen in anyone before. She was a warrior; a real one, and Aaron was completely stunned. ‘How did Dr. Shearing know someone like her?’
His eyes raked over her petite frame and then narrowed at the bullet hole and blood he saw seeping through her jacket.
Buffy’s mind took a vacation when her eyes met the man’s who had saved her. He was absolutely one of the most gorgeous men she had ever seen. Her heart skipped a beat, and for a few seconds she forgot about everything she had just witnessed. The room receded as well as the carnage that was around her, and the only thing she saw in that moment was his eyes. They were blue-green and penetrating, and she couldn’t help the shiver that ran down her spine at the intensity of his stare. He had a strong jawline, and a rugged complexion that would have most girls drooling. His short brown hair looked feather soft, and Buffy was wondering how it would feel between her fingers when he broke the spell by speaking.
“You’re bleeding.” Aaron said quietly.
Buffy blinked a few times, stunned by the voice that had just come out of her rescuer. She thought it would sound gruffer or smokier, but instead it was almost...sweet. She liked it immediately, except…‘Wait…he just said something. What was it? Oh, right…yeah. I’m bleeding. What…I’m bleeding?’
Everything snapped back into focus then, and she chided herself. ‘Really! God Buffy, get a grip! You are here for Fred, remember!’
Her eyes narrowed in anger, as she ground out. “Yeah that’s usually what happens when you get shot!”
Aaron blinked in surprise at her angry tone, and his jaw hardened. ‘What the hell did I do?’
Buffy shook her head and walked over to the sink, stepping over the female agent’s fallen body. She grabbed a discarded dish towel and wet it, before removing her leather jacket, and sighed in disgust at the blood stains and bullet hole. She pressed the rag against her shoulder, and grimaced in pain as she whipped off the blood as best she could. She turned back around and looked intently at her rescuer.
“Not that I’m not grateful for the rescue or anything, but you do know Wolfram and Hart is gonna be super pissed about all this right?” At his confused look, Buffy gestured towards the fallen agent. “They really don’t like their people killing humans anywhere near me.”
Being an operative of Outcome Aaron learned to keep his mouth shut and let people talk when he wanted information. A lot of the time people revealed more when they weren’t bombarded by questions. It had been his job to read between the lines and figure out what they were or weren’t saying, but in this case, he was completely at a loss.
What the hell was she talking about? Wolfram and Hart is a law firm. He knew that, but why would they be involved with Outcome or Dr. Shearing for that matter. Furthermore, her statement about killing humans completely through him for a loop, if he didn’t kill them they would both be dead. So why was that such a bad thing?
Buffy scrutinized the man in front of her. When his confusion only became more apparent, her eyes narrowed even further. “You’re not
from Wolfram and Hart are you?”
Aaron shook his head slowly.
“Then who the hell are you? Why are you here?” Buffy asked, leaning back against the counter.
To a normal person, it looked like she was just relaxing, but if you knew her, knew her stances, you would know she was actually preparing herself for a fight. It was one of the things Spike had taught her. Never ever let the enemy know when you’re going to strike.
Now Aaron learned many things as an operative. To not show emotion in front of anyone, including the men he worked for. Never reveal too much about yourself. Keep yourself distanced from others, and never ever become attached, because it’s a weakness that the enemy can exploit. All these things ran through his head, and yet he couldn’t stop his eyes from traveling over to Dr. Shearing’s still form.
Buffy had caught the look in his eyes as they traveled over to Marta’s body…it was…regret maybe. She couldn’t be sure, but it was obvious what he wasn’t saying. “You came for her…but why? How do you even know her?”
His eyes shot back to hers, and all the frustration he had been holding back since seeing Dr. Shearing body came to the forefront of his mind. God, he was fucked. Dr. Shearing was dead, and any chance he had at getting out of this alive was obliterated by a bullet. What the hell was he supposed to do now? He had maybe a week’s worth of blue pills, thanks to his contact in Alaska, and he was lucky to have found those after the missile hit their cabin.
He didn’t know what pills did what, not really. He suspected the blues helped keep his mind stable, but he couldn’t be sure. And not being sure was not a risk he was willing to take. He hated this feeling, of not knowing his future, of not knowing the outcome of all this. Some part of him screamed that this woman could help him, but he wasn’t sure if he should listen to that instinct.
So instead he said, “She was my doctor.”
Buffy looked at him long and hard for a few seconds, “But…I thought she was a scientist?” It took a second, but then puzzle pieces began to fit into place. The fact that he didn’t feel completely human, his obvious strength, and the way he so callously took out the agents.
Buffy’s eyes widened. “Oh my god…You’re one of them, one of the enhanced soldiers.”
He looked at her surprised then, and it was his turn to narrow his eyes as he trained both his weapons on her. “What do you know about it?” He said harshly, desperately.
Buffy blinked in surprise, and immediately held her hands up. “Whoa there Rambo, calm down. I only know what Fred…Marta’s cousin told me. She was genetically enhancing soldiers for the government. That is seriously all I know. So take a chill pill, okay.”
He cocked both weapons, and his eyes narrowed further. He could read the truth in her eyes, but he didn’t want to believe it. Every inch of him hung on a hope that he could continue to be normal. That he would be able to think like a normal human being. Desperation filled him. He needed those chems. He needed them like he needed to breathe oxygen, and he didn’t care what he had to do to get them.
Buffy saw the desperate look on his face, and took a small step forward, keeping her hands up as she did. “Look, I don’t know what’s got you so wigged, but maybe if you told me what’s going on.” She shrugged. “Maybe I could help.”
A harsh bark of laughter tore from his throat, and he shook his head. “I doubt it, not unless you know the science Dr. Shearing was working on, or you know where they keep our program meds.”
“Meds…” Buffy said in disgust, her opinion of this man dropping. “Seriously? That’s what this is all about? That’s why you’re here?”
She rolled her eyes and threw her hands up, as she marched passed him. She ignored the weapons aimed at her. She honestly didn’t care. She was too disgusted with the situation. 'Is that what they are doing again? Getting their soldiers addicted to drugs?'
She knew firsthand what it was like to watch someone comedown from that crap. She had seen Riley suffer through it, and he had almost died. She wasn’t going to help this guy do the same thing to himself.
“And let me guess, those pills you’re taking make you stronger, right?” She said turning the corner and marching up the flight of stairs. She needed a sheet or a blanket to wrap Marta’s body in, and she was really pissed off right now, so getting away from the guy was probably a good idea. 'What the hell! Hadn’t they learned their lesson with Riley?'
She spotted a canvas drop-cloth and picked it up. Then she went into a bedroom and tore the comforter off the bed. When she stepped out of the room, the soldier was at the top of the staircase, both his guns were tucked away, and he was looking at her oddly.
“How do you know that?” He said, walking up to her and grasping her shoulders. He immediately let go though at the look, she shot him. ‘Jesus, she’s really something!’
Buffy snorted and pushed passed him, ignoring the warmth on her hand and shoulders from his touch, as she headed back down the stairs. “Not the first time I’ve had to deal with the military’s secret projects, and trust me when I say you’re better off without the drugs.”
Aaron followed her back down the stairs, feeling his frustration rising again. He had no idea what to think about her statement. None at all, but he knew it pissed him off. What did she know anyway? She’d probably always been perfect. She definitely looked like the type who had skated through life, and even if her eyes told a different story, he didn’t care. If he didn’t get the chems, he didn’t have his brain, and that was unacceptable.
“I wish it was that simple.” He said lowly.
“It is.” She said snidely. “You don’t take the meds. Ergo you lose your strength. I know the comedowns a bitch, but it’s better than having a heart attack.”
Buffy marched into the kitchen and sighed. This really sucked. She pulled the kitchen table away from Marta’s body, and began to lay the comforter flat on the floor. She figured she had another five to ten minutes before the guy out front decided to do a check in.
She looked up at the man, not surprised to find him glaring at her. She shrugged not feeling sympathetic in the least. Maybe she was being a little hard on him, but the fact that he wanted to keep the strength, just showed how addicted to it he already was. Just like Riley, he probably thought he needed it.
“Sorry if I’m not very sympathetic to your cause, but I’ve dealt with this type of thing before. I almost watched a friend die because of it. So you’ll have to excuse me if I’m a little opinionated about the whole subject…”
“It’s not only strength.” Aaron said behind clenched teeth. He really did not want to tell her this. It was a weakness the military had exploited, and dangled in front of him. They kept him in control and under their thumb, by dangling his intelligence in front of his face. He knew he had to tell her though, because he could already see where she was going with this.
She thought he only wanted the chems to remain strong. That he got off on the strength, that he was addicted to it. The truth was Aaron couldn’t care less about his strength and enhanced senses. It would be difficult adjusting to that type of change, sure, but he could do it. Going back to Kenneth though, he could never do that. He suspected if he ever had to truly endure that kind of loss, especially if he still had some of the memories of what it had felt like to be the way he is now…he would most likely stick the barrel of a gun in his mouth.
Buffy stopped laying the canvas over the comforter at his words, and slowly looked up. “What?”
“The chems don’t just enhance my strength. They enhance my mind too.” He paused, taking a deep breath. “Without them I only have an I.Q. of eighty. I-If I don’t at least get a hold of the ones to enhance my mind…” He shook his head. “I won’t make it.”
There was a long silence, as Buffy stared at him in disbelief. Was he saying what she thought he was saying? She knew what a high I.Q. score was because she happened to know Willow’s, but that was Willow. The girl was a genius. She had no idea what having one of only eighty meant. Well, she suspected what it meant, but she really had to hear it for herself. “Eighty?”
He walked forward and crouched down in front of her, staring intently into her eyes. “It means without them…I’m this close to being mentally retarded.” He said, holding up his pointer finger and thumb and keeping them a centimeter apart.
Buffy’s eyes widened in horror, and she had to swallow down the bile that rose in her throat. She shook her head and looked down for a minute. This was so much worse than anything she thought it might be, and she could feel the slow build of fury growing inside her.
Her eyes shot back up to his, and she whispered. “What’s your name?”
Aaron looked at her strangely for a long second, not sure what to make of her question. He could see a fire starting in her eyes, and every instinct in him told him to back away now. He couldn’t though. He was too mesmerized by the storm brewing in her emerald depths.
“Aaron.” He answered. “Aaron Cross.”
Buffy’s jaw hardened, and she nodded. Her voice dropped low and dangerous as she said, “Aaron, please tell me you are joking.”
End Notes: Please Review and tell me what you think.