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    “All the animals, the plants, the minerals, even other kinds of men, are being broken and reassembled every day,
    to preserve an elite few, who are the loudest to theorize on freedom, but the least free of all.”
    ~Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow
    “Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts... perhaps the fear of a loss of power.”
    ~John Steinbeck

    #1 DotCom, Jun 14, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 27, 2016
  2. It could never be said that ELITE did not take care of their own. Some might question their methods, argue against their rules and how rigid, and even harsh, said rules could be, but their loyalty was unquestionable. Some said it was because they treated their people like property. It wasn't so much loyalty as it was control. Others were sure that the top-secret organization was everything they claimed to be, and rescuing a captured agent after three years of captivity was nothing short of proof at how much they fought to keep their own looked after.

    After all, three years would have been long enough for any lesser organization to declare their agent MIA. The search would have stopped, they would have given up. But not ELITE and now one of their best was coming back home.


    Agent James Lachlan and Agent Dakota Jimenez, his partner, had been on a two month long mission in Russia when everything had gone wrong. The under cover operation had been blown, as well as the two agents' covers within a matter of hours and everything had gone to hell.

    The report Agent Jimenez gave spared no details as to what had happened, but the general consensus after three years was that the mission had simply gone sour and the result had been Agent Lachlan's capture by the Russian mob. Where he'd gone after that had been a mystery and a search spanning the next forty-eight months without fruition.

    All Units and Teams from the GHOSTs, to the SPECTREs and even the APEXs had been told to keep eyes about and ears to the ground for any news on Agent Lachlan. But there had been nothing. Nothing but the pictures sent every few months, pictures ELITE had kept quiet and out of Agent Jimenez's hands and out of her knowledge.

    The photographs provided little clue about where their Agent was being held, only telling them that he was being treated...poorly.

    And so they continued to search, but after three years, even the best organization had to admit that it might be a lost cause.


    It had been a wonderful shock when the APEX found Agent Lachlan. They'd not expected to, merely raiding a Vampire Nest after a local report that the scum were keeping bloodbanks - captive humans. The last place they'd expected their missing agent to be was a place like this, but there he'd been. After three years and countless searches, they had finally located him and the APEX wasted no time in bringing him stateside again, back to ELITE.

    It was to Headquarters that he went, to the top medical facility in the world, run by ELITE and exclusive to ELITE. He was tended to, examined, studied, tested and the results were fast in coming, but not pretty to look at.

    Severe dehydration. Malnutrition. Semi-starvation. Infection. Multiple fractured fingers. Multiple breaks, including the right shin, left forearm and three ribs. Other breaks were long healed, including the left hip, six more ribs and the collarbone. Old and new whip lashings marked up the agent's back, shoulders, stomach, chest, arms, calves and ankles. There were knife cuts nearly as numerous, too, most deep but healed over and a rather concerning one over the agent's eye that testing revealed had not effected his sight.

    Most disturbing, even to the medical professionals were the multiple bite marks that littered the patient's body, most clustered around the neck, shoulder-neck area, wrists and inner arms, though, other places on the body had been scarred thus, too, in far more distressing places. Such as right under the ribs, the the inner thighs and the back of the right shoulder, directly over the shoulder-blade.

    Sensitivity to light and sound were noted as well, though, the tests revealed Agent Lachlan had not been turned into a vampire himself despite the numerous times it seemed he'd been exposed to the vampire venom and multiple vampires at that seeing as many of the bite marks did not belong to the same person, nor did they exhibit the same feeding patterns. Some bites were deep, savage and others delicate and faint. Agent Lachlan had been passed around, such was easily deduced.

    What was not so easy to understand was his lack of memory. For days the doctors thought it might merely be due to trauma - and they still speculated that it could be the cause - but after further testing and time, they'd concluded that the agent was not merely repressing memories, but in fact had full, onset amnesia.

    Some speculated over whether that was a blessing or a curse every time they saw the red-haired elf in question. He appeared pale and ragged, frail, battered. His hair was long and while clean, it was also unkempt and he would let no one near it. They had to sedate him to do any testing, any procedure at all and while keeping him clean was a must, keeping him tidy was not on their top list of priorities. So he remained nearly as wild-looking now as he had upon arriving here.

    He was able to tell them nothing beyond what he'd known at the hands of the vampires.

    And most agree that while on one hand, it was merciful for him to not have to remember how he used to be compared to what he was now, to not have to compare himself to the standard he'd once set for other agents, to have a clean slate. But on the other hand, he'd been one of their best, an ARCHANGEL and his partner, Agent Jimenez would not be taking the news well.

    It was the last thought that made people nervous. They'd kept James here for nearly two weeks, and his partner, referred to as 'Kodi' by most, was only now being informed. Those wise to her ways would stay OUT of her way the day she came into the medical facility, right under Headquarters.
    #2 Kaisaan, Jun 14, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2015
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  3. In a way, he'd saved her life yet again.

    It had been six months since Jimenez had nearly gotten herself killed after going AWOL on only her sixth official assignment since James had been taken. She'd been stir crazy, desperate and almost bored out of her mind. ELITE had been keeping a close eye on her, calling her a flight risk at best, though the shrinks were using more professional, less friendly terms. She'd heard the words 'liability' and 'suicide watch' so many times in the last three years, they ceased to have any meaning.

    It wasn't that Kodi Jimenez was any less good at her job without her partner. In fact, in the last three years, she'd perfected her skills -- already impressive as the only human currently employed by ELITE -- become even more dangerous. But she was unstable, too, and no one had realized until Lachlan disappeared just how hard lightning had struck when the two had been paired up seven years ago.

    - Madrid, Spain - 2007 -

    She was still in Spain, not two weeks out of official ELITE training, and about to begin field work in Madrid, when Jamie 'claimed' her. He'd seen her before she'd seen him; he would tell her later he'd watched her down a six-month APEX agent after taking what he called 'one hell of a beating'. She didn't remember the beating part, but she did remember feeling proud.

    They'd pulled her out of training a day later, still sore head to toe from complete ELITE training, and, in that particular moment, covered in a sheen of sweat. Her first mission, they'd told her, would be with a couple of Spanish GHOSTs. They'd told her it was because she was fluent and they'd needed a pilot, both byproducts of her mother, but she knew it was her father who'd put her back in Spain at all.

    "Jimenez," came a gruff voice she recognized without turning around. She'd been waiting at parade rest, letting her heart rate come down again after the half-marathon she'd made with an 'injured soldier' on her back. "You've been...requested."

    Kodi hit her salute, but she didn't look horribly impressed. Andrew Gordon, a retired SPECTRE from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was one of three humans on ELITE Command. She'd been one of his charges since she'd started two years ago, just a scrawny kid with a perpetual scowl.

    Kodi rolled her eyes. "Guay!" she muttered sarcastically, reverting to her first language, as she always did when she was anxious or afraid. "¿Hay algo mal con él?"

    Gordon raised an imperious brow, silently tell her to cool it with the attitude. She was here because she'd gotten through training and humanity needed another ELITE on their side. But she could only get so far with insubordination.

    "Nothing is wrong with him," Gordon said tersely. "He's a two-year ARCHANGEL, and he wants you."

    Kodi did her best not to look impressed, but Gordon could tell she was intrigued. "Why?"

    The former SPECTRE smiled. "You'll have to ask him yourself. Jimenez, meet Agent James Lachlan, designation ARCHANGEL."


    The ride down into darkness was tense and quiet. ELITE HQ was located in Washington DC, thirty stories below the White House. The high speed elevator was top of the line, built by engineers who had gotten bored designing ships for NASA. It was a trip Kodi Jimenez had made more times than she could count, and yet for some reason, she was nervous.

    Command had insisted on escorting her down to his cell. Not that they called it a cell, of course, but what else could it be? There was no other explanation for it. They'd told her James had been here for two weeks without even making an attempt at reaching out to her. They blamed exhaustion; she blamed then. She knew James. If he'd finally clawed his way out of whatever hellhole he'd been trapped in for three years, there was nothing -- nothing -- in the universe that could have stopped him from telling her. It wouldn't have taken much. A phone call. A handwritten note, even written by someone else's hand. A single bloody x marked on the corner of a used napkin -- anything. He had been gone three long years, but she was adamant it couldn't have changed him that much. He loved her. He would have known what his absence would do to her.

    He would have called.

    Wouldn't he?

    The elevator pinged to a stop, and Kodi almost jumped. The two suited men behind her waited for her to move, and she lost her patience almost at once.

    "¿Pues? ¿Dónde está?" she demanded. The men behind her said nothing, just pointed down the hall, where a single room waited with it's door open.

    Kodi had to fight not to run.

    And when she saw him there, sitting quiet and still behind a pristine white table, she had to fight not to cry.

    She didn't, of course. Couldn't. Her 'guard' had followed her, and there were another two men behind him, presumably ELITE's best doctors or physical therapists. That he needed them at all made her feel sick, but she didn't let any of this show. She was good at that. Everyone in that room was highly trained by even ELITE standards, but only he could have possibly known how close she was to breaking down.

    "So?" she demanded, her voice sounding quiet in the small room. "Where the hell have you been?"
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  4. They said his name was James Lachlan.

    They told him he was safe now, that he'd been here before, some even claimed to know him, smiling at they walked by, waving. Others questioned, wanted to know if he remembered them, but he could tell them nothing. He didn't know their faces, nor their voices. Nothing they said could elicit even the feeling of a memory and after a time, they stopped coming and he was relieved that they stopped. It was better than facing the disappointment and pity in their eyes.

    Apparently he'd been someone before he was 'Bloodbag', 'Slave' or 'Snack'. Those were the names he knew. The sound of 'James' still did not garner his attention very quickly, but he supposed he'd have to make an effort to get used to it. 'Agent Lachlan' got no response from him whatsoever, but only the men in pristine suites and some kind of stern gray, blue and black uniforms tried to call him that. And they hadn't come back since he'd broken that one man's nose.

    He hadn't meant to, but the man had touched him and he'd...well, he'd not expected it and his body had lashed out.

    James - for he supposed that's who he had to be now - hadn't realized he could do such a thing and had stared in as much surprise as the other men had. He'd backed into a corner then, ignoring his technically broken leg in favor of having something at his back, and had watched them warily as the one with the broken nose cursed profusely and the others took their leave. James had been left to the doctors again and he'd been left alone since then.

    Until today.

    He hadn't questioned when they'd made him wear loose pants and a long-sleeved shirt that hid most of the scarring and injuries, even the cast on his leg and arm, and put him in the wheelchair. They'd taken him back to that white room again then and he still hadn't said anything when they'd cuffed him to the table this time. Silver eyes merely watched them all, noting how nervous they were, how careful they were being. He took it all in without effort, not knowing how he did or where he'd learned. He'd done the same with the vampires and it had always unnerved them, and they'd hurt him for it. He'd expected nothing less from these people, but it seemed they were rather used to being observed, and didn't find his behavior abnormal.

    That alone interested the elf, but he didn't ask why they were that way. No, he was gathering his own conclusions, making his own theories about where he was, who these people were and just what they thought he was...or what he had been. Apparently they thought meeting another person he could not recall might help him understand better just what he'd lost, perhaps make him want to find it again. James didn't have much faith in their methods, but nevertheless, he looked up when the person entered.

    The first things he noted about her was general appearance. She was short, very much so, with dark skin, but not entirely African, though she did have some of that in her heritage. Her skin tone said as much, but her deep, almond-shaped hazel eyes spoke of Spaniard blood as well and her curly brown hair gave testament to the same thing. She was beautiful, there was no denying that, but there was a tension to her that spoke of danger to James, like a cobra not yet raised and ready to strike but fully capable of it. She held herself with a false casualness that he could see past easily without knowing how he could and the elf at once was regretful he'd not protested the cuff around his wrist for he desperately wanted a wall at his back again.

    The people that surrounded him were just as dangerous as the vampires and this woman...she was the most dangerous he'd met yet.

    ---- Madrid, Spain -- 2007 ----

    James wasn't easily impressed, but oh, he'd freely admit that this new recruit was good. Very good.

    He'd come to Spain seeking a partner. After two years of his own training, he'd become a recruit member of designation APEX. Most people like him - with some skill in each category - went into APEX before they became 'seasoned agents'. APEX worked in Teams more often than not, with partners within those Teams. So for two months after his official training, he'd spent his in-the-field training being passed around from Team to Team until eventually he outgrew even APEX and ARCHANGEL put in their request for him. He'd been with them for two years and only now felt ready for a partner. He'd seen what picking one when you were too young, too new, when you were too inexperienced to know what YOU were doing much less what someone else was doing, could get you. Killed if you were lucky. Captured or maimed if you weren't. Sometimes both.

    No, he'd waited.

    And then he'd searched.

    Starting within your own HQ, your own country was always preferred, but after five agents varying between 'further along than he was' to 'at his level' and finally 'nearly seasoned', James hadn't found what he was looking for. Oh, they'd been good, no doubt about that, but they hadn't been what he wanted. He didn't trust them. They weren't able to look at him and he at them and just know what the other was going to do, and that was essential. Some said those things took time, but James didn't agree. When you connected with someone, there was no going back, no mistaking it and these five, they were good, but not good enough.

    They'd been the only ones available, though, and so the ARCHANGEL had transferred him to Spain, one of three countries with people still needing partners. What James had not expected was to find one in a new recruit. But there she'd been. Agent Jimenez, all fire and passion despite how she tried to play it off as being cool and calm.

    No, there was something there and it had instantly intrigued him. He'd requested her immediately, startling the Captain he was with as the shapeshifter had been reading a file on a seasoned agent looking for a partner. The Captain's eyes had been drawn down to the new recruit and James had been inwardly delighted, almost evilly so, to see the shapeshifter nearly recoil at his selection, immediately trying to dissuade the elf.

    But James had gotten his way and now he was standing before said spitfire, only three years younger than him and his silver eyes assessed her without preamble. And when his pale eyes once again met her guarded hazel, James smiled. "Parece que te gusta un desafío. Eso me intriga." he answered back fluently and then crossed his arms, shaggy red hair falling into his eyes as he tilted his head. He didn't seem to care about it, merely watching Jimenez closely, watching how she behaved and what made her tic, looking for interest in her own eyes or any other emotion that could tell him just what she thought of this offer, of him and whether or not it would help or hinder a potential partnership, even just a one-time mission.

    "So tell me, could you be as good out in the field as you are in the sparring ring?"


    Her words, quiet as they were, made him start.

    It wasn't the tone so much as the words themselves. No one had spoken to him like that here and while he was used to far worse, he'd come to expect that no one would in his two weeks here. Obviously he'd been wrong and James found himself both pressing back into the chair as if it could somehow provide an escape or perhaps stability, but also snapping back at the woman who radiated danger to him. He had absolutely no doubt that if she wanted to hurt him, she could and the four other people in the room would not stop her.

    They wouldn't be able to.

    "In a bloodbank, being used as liquid dinner."

    He said the words and then went rigidly silent again, lips pressed firmly together and his jaw locked, meeting hazel eyes he did not know with a defiant gaze, but underneath the table, he was attempting to get the cuff off, wanting nothing more than to get away before his stupid mouth could get him into more trouble and elicit a physical reaction in the woman that stood in the doorway.

    He'd started to break skin, his wrist becoming slippery with blood - he could use that - when one of the doctors behind him took attention to it and approached, doing nothing more than touching his arm. James shrank away from the contact, but went still and the female elf sighed as she crouched, viewing the damage he'd done and her eyes went to the male doctor standing behind the red-haired elf.

    The shapeshifter took his cue, throat clearing as he directed his words to Kodi. "Agent Jimenez, I know you must have questions and I fear you haven't been debriefed properly on James' condition. Might I talk to you somewhere a bit more private?"
    #4 Kaisaan, Jun 15, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2014
  5. "What's wrong with him?"

    She didn't even know at first the words had come from her mouth. She was...stunned. Shocked. It was the only word for it.

    Kodi saw, felt, heard his fear like a punch to the gut, and for a second, just a second, she was fighting to breathe.

    What had happened to him?

    They had told her a little last night, but she'd been so fuzzy, she wasn't paying attention. That was normal, after the last year. Sometimes, she got headaches so bad, she couldn't see straight. She'd been on sick leave at the Tokyo field training station for two days after a migraine had left her a lump of jelly in the sparring ring. She'd been lying somewhere alone, miserable -- it was always worse when she was able to do something -- nursing her headache with the cheapest sake she'd been able to find.

    And she'd gotten the call. It had been Gordon. Of course it had been Gordon. He and her father were the only reason ELITE had kept her on. That, and because if they let her go, they all knew she'd be dead in a matter of weeks.

    She remembered hearing, "Jimenez -- Dakota. They found him. They found him."

    And nothing else. She'd been pulling on wrinkled clothes before they'd even hung up.

    But they'd said more. They must have said more. About where they'd found him maybe, what condition he was in.

    There was a heavy, choking feeling in her chest. Had she heard the words memory loss?

    She couldn't remember.

    The irony made her want to scream.

    Trembling, she turned to the shifter and demanded it again.

    "What's wrong with him?" Her voice was a perfect monotone.

    So was the answer.


    Sixteen-year-old Kodi Jimenez smiled wryly.

    "Claro que si," she said, making no effort to hide a smugness she only sort of felt, all before even turning to face the newcomer.

    When she did, her smile broadened. A sixteen-year-old human girl, she'd left her childhood behind ten years ago. She had no interest in boys or shopping or music, or any of the other things that should have been traversing the mind of a stereotypical human girl. Her father had made sure of that. But she couldn't deny the elf -- and she was surprised, somehow, he was an elf -- was attractive. Not hot, maybe. But cute. Definitely easy on the eyes. Which she almost immediately took to me he was less than no threat to her.

    Dakota Jimenez could never truly be called arrogant. She was too smart for that. But she was extraordinarily self-assured, and even fresh out of ELITE training, she was keenly aware that she was better, or would be better, than most of the agents here.

    Over the next year and a half, of course, James would 'gently' beat that cockiness out of her.

    But she didn't know that then. All she knew was she was getting offered a partner who sized her up and waited for a reaction in a matter of seconds.

    If nothing else, he would be fun.

    Kodi smiled again, as Gordon excused himself to get their first mission dossier. Kodi hardly noticed him leave, her eyes still trained on silver in a wreath of red.

    "Why? You think you could challenge me?"


    "What's wrong with him?"

    She'd asked and they'd answered, but the words had never reached her brain, or if they had, they'd be redirected to a pit of dark, swirling incredulity or madness, maybe never to be seen or heard from ever again.

    "What's wrong with him?"

    The question was a near-feral growl. She made no effort to keep her voice down, still convinced -- no, 'convinced' made it sound like there was something wrong, and she knew this was all a joke, a big misunderstanding. She'd corner him later in the ring, and she'd pin him, or he'd pin her, or they'd just tire each other out, falling back into the sort of pattern that had made command sit up and take notice all those years ago back in Spain. and she'd make him admit he was joking, he was fine. He was fine, because he had to be fine. She needed him to be fine.

    The shifter looked apathetic, but professional as he tried to draw Kodi aside. She yanked away from him, hazel eyes cold as ice, and it was only massive self-restraint that kept her from breaking his arm.

    "¡No me toque!" she growled. "What's wrong with him? He...he's..." She broke off, hardly daring to look at James, knowing she would lose it if she did. But she could still feel the tension rolling off of him, the bone-deep fear that couldn't be an act. She'd seen the way he sized her up, blank incomprehension in his eyes, even as he'd all but torn her to pieces, dissected her every thought like only he could.

    "Agent Jimenez, we ask you try and remain calm, please," the shifter said, sounding almost bored as he coaxed her to sit down again. She didn't know when she'd stood up. "Agent Lachlan has been -- "

    "I said don't touch me!" she snapped, and then she was back at the table, almost on top of it, not missing how James flinched away from her when she approached.

    He couldn't have hurt he more if he'd slipped a blade into her stomach.

    Suddenly, the room was spinning. If the others were still there, she didn't know. It was just her and James, and she was going to make him remember her. He had to remember her.

    If he was gone...she had no one else.

    "Jamie?" she said, her voice perilously close to a whimper. "C'mon, Jamie, fun's over, you got me. Okay? Jamie? Please...please don't do this to me, Jamie. You know me. You know who I am. Right?" She was almost perched on the table, and it was shaking beneath her. It was a long, painful moment before she realized she was the one shaking it.

    "Jamie...Jamie, please. You have to recognize me. We've been together for years." She was going to pass out. She was hyperventilating, maybe on the edge of a panic attack she couldn't stop. Only Jamie had ever been able to stop those. Desperate, dizzy, she searched his eyes, braving the utter lack of recognition in hopes that if she just begged a little more, he would hear her, he would come back. Really, truly come back.

    "It's me. It's Kodi. Dakota. Jimenez. S-spitfire. Remember? You know me. You know who I am. I can help you with everything else, those...those cabrónes who took you, we'll track them down, I'll kill every last one of them, just...Dios mio, Jamie, please say you know who I am. Please...Please..."
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  6. Her question made James still completely, somehow both surprisingly hurt by the demand...and angered by it. He knew it wasn't logical that he should be. There was something wrong with him. He couldn't remember anything but the last three years of his life. That was wrong, but it was the way she said it, as if his very state of being was repulsive, warped, offensive that stirred the irritation, that made his silver eyes flash beneath his tangle red hair, but no on in the room seemed to see it.

    They were speaking about him as if he wasn't even here, but he was used to that.

    It didn't mean he liked it, though, but still, the elf said nothing, instead looking down to the doctor who was assessing the damage to his wrist. She'd yet to take the cuff off, but the moment she did, James' knew he wouldn't be letting her put it back on. He hated restraints and the only reason he'd let it be placed at all was because he'd been distracted, anxious to meet whoever wanted to see him and then leave again.

    That didn't seem likely to happen anytime soon, though, as his keen ears listened to the shifter ramble on about his condition, something James himself could have recited by heart by now.


    She didn't think much of him.

    James had been able to tell that from the very beginning and the fact had amused him to no end, leaving him quietly chuckling to himself even as he continued to study his new test-partner. She was a small thing, but that wasn't necessarily to her disadvantage and from what he'd seen in the sparring ring, she'd more than learned to make up for her statue. She wouldn't have made it this far if something that stupid was going to be a hindrance to her.

    No, this one was smart, mostly-confident in herself, though, James could see she still had that almost child-like desire for praise. He didn't see that as a bad thing, though. If someone was willing to give it to her, then she'd be perfectly fine. He saw no great detriment in it. Her cockiness, however.....yes, he'd be more than happy to knock that down a peg or two.

    Knowing one's strength was good. Having no respect for the unique strengths of everyone around you was not and he'd soon teach the little spitfire the difference. As it was, her words made him grin and outright laugh, his own silver eyes glittering in friendly contest. "Spitfire, I think I could knock you on your ass more times than you know how to count." he told her without insult and he then shrugged.

    "But I also think I'd get as good as a gave from you."

    He was sure of that, but James also knew there was a time and a place, and right now was not it. He let his body relax again, just the mere mention of a spar having made his muscles coil, his senses grow more alert. Now he leaned his lithe frame against the doorway, forgoing any kind of stance or formality now that Gordon was gone.

    "So, tell me, Jimenez, do you think I'd request a new recruit fresh out of training as a partner if I wasn't up to the challenge you could bring?" It was partly a trick question and James smiled charmingly, knowing if she was half as smart as he suspected, she'd know it, too.


    She just kept asking and James flinched each time she did, his teeth grit hard enough his jaw ached, but his silver eyes never leaving the woman. He didn't dare look away from her, scared that if he did, he'd miss some subtle warning that would tell him when she was going to turn on him. He got the sense, felt - knew? - that when she acted, it was with a swiftness that could hardly be stopped and he didn't want to be on the receiving end of it.

    He could hear the desperation, the frantic plea in her voice and see the denial in her eyes clearly. She wasn't accepting this, not at all and it made him want to shrink away, to leave her line of sight because he could readily guess what was going to happen next. He'd been on the other end of one or two people who'd come to see him trying to force him to remember something, but it hadn't worked and had only made him shy from them.

    Like he was doing to the heartbroken woman now.

    And she was heartbroken. He could see it in her eyes, hear it in her voice and the anger he felt toward her faded away in that moment, but not the wariness, not the fear that she'd do something - in her hysterical need for him to be the person she wanted him to be - that she'd regret later.

    Later would be too late for him, though.

    She was speaking, and he couldn't help listening, but James was once again pulling on the cuff that the doctor had left alone in favor of keeping a close eye on this Kodi. He wanted it OFF. He wanted to back away and put some safe distance between himself and everyone else, but even the blood wasn't helping him slip away and while the table trembled under the force of the woman, his body trembled with the force of his fear as James shook his head, his voice hoarse.

    "I don't."

    He knew, somehow he did, that even as he said the words, they were different than how he'd said them to others before her. Somehow, in some way, this time it was far more important, far more devastating. He only had to look at her, to listen to her to know, to understand in a way he didn't understand, that he had meant something to her. The person he'd been before...had meant a great deal to this Kodi and by denying her, he was crushing her.

    He knew this without knowing how and James felt tears gather in his eyes, drip down his face as he shook his head, his silver eyes never leaving her hazel, his own lost, scared, and so very, very sorry. "I don't remember you. I...I'm sorry." he only breathed the words, his own breathing hitched as it felt like his chest was too tight, like he was waking from a nightmare or falling into one, and his attempts to get the cuff off grew more desperate, more fierce.

    "I'm sorry! I don't know....I can't... I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry..."

    He'd finally managed to slip the cuff, his wrist nearly a shredded mess and his hand dripping blood, but the elf hardly seemed to note it as he sprang up, nearly falling again as his broken, casted leg screamed out in protest. James whimpered, but didn't allow the injury to keep him from backing into the wall, into the corner where he shook with adrenaline, fear and an emotion he could not explain, but had been triggered by the pleading expression in the woman's hazel eyes.

    He didn't know her, but for the first time while being here...he wished that he could have said he did.
    #6 Kaisaan, Jun 16, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2014
  7. He was playing games with her, and it frustrated just as much as it amused. She tried not to let either show on her face, though something told her he already knew.

    "No se," she answered honestly, with a coy shrug of her shoulders. "You seem to like a challenge." She grinned, genuinely enjoying this little sparring match of an entirely different type. "That intrigues me."

    She rose with a preternatural grace from the chair, her eyes on the door Gordon had just exited. She stuck her head out into the hall, looking quickly left and right before turning to face the elf again, sizing him up.

    He was more than a foot taller than her, though she wasn't daunted by that. Most of the recruits in her training class had had at least fifty pounds on her, and only twelve of them had made it through to ELITE. Size only meant something if you didn't know how to use it.

    No, where he was going to get her in trouble was his mind...and maybe his tongue. An impressive feat by Kodi's standards.

    She decided to test him again, right here: how would he feel about going against orders, implied or otherwise?

    "C'mon," she taunted. "Where' the challenge? There's a sparring ring just down the hall. If we're quick, we can get a few rounds in before they notice where we've gone."

    Hazel eyes flickered in almost impish delight. Maybe this secondary stage of training wouldn't be so bad.

    "C'mon," she said again. "Mostrame. Show me."


    She'd seen the pain and fear flash across his face when he stood to run from her, and for a moment, her own desperation and panic had flickered and died. there had never been any room for it, not when she knew James was in trouble. In an instant, she was around the table and starting forward, hazel eyes soft with concern, her own fears forgotten...until she realized he was cowering from her.

    Then his words sank in. All of it sank in. His disappearance and captivity. The torture at the hands of the vampires, pendejos malditos. The memory loss. The amnesia. He didn't know her. She was nothing to him. They had never been partners, friends. And while the memory loss appeared to have saved him -- kind of -- from the torture, and from her failure, it did nothing to blunt the pain of the realization.

    She was nothing to him. Nada.

    Kodi didn't know she was falling over until she felt hands at her back. She wanted to jerk away, curse and swear some more, tell them to get their hands off her, but she didn't have the strength. She was vaguely aware people were talking all around her -- she was always aware of everything that happened around her -- in soft voices to James, trying to ease him back into his wheelchair, wind bandages around his bleeding wrist. She couldn't help but think she could have done it better, more gently. But he didn't want her touching him. He didn't know her, didn't trust her, couldn't love her.

    They were talking to her, too, and about her.

    "...please get Agent Jimenez some water...and perhaps a few milligrams of albuterol. She's wheezing."

    Closer to her, another voice, too calm to be gentle.

    "...if you could just take a seat, Jimenez, you're distressing him..."

    She'd have laughed at that if she could, if she felt like she had the energy, the strength to do anything at all. They were putting her back in the chair and putting him back in his chair, and she wanted to tell them to leave him alone, but she wanted him there for some stupid reason. It wasn't like he knew her. He didn't want to be there with her, that much she did know, and it hurt almost worse than the time she'd broken her wrist on their third mission together.

    Not that it mattered.

    And yet when they tried to put the cuff back on him, she acted. Before she knew it, she was on her feet, her thumb pressed against the trachea of the shifter who held the cuff in one hand and James's wrist in the other.

    "Don't," she said coolly, no sign of panic in her voice. "It would be very, very easy for me to break your neck right now."

    For a moment, the shifter didn't move, and Kodi felt her hand tighten almost of it's own accord.

    Please, a voice begged inside her head. Give me an excuse. Let them take me away from here forever. Please.

    She realized the voice was her own.

    The one that sounded behind her was not.

    "Let him go, Agent Jimenez." She stiffened and almost hit attention. She'd been training under that voice since she was a child. It had almost more control over her than she did over herself.

    "Dakota, you are perilously close to insubordination."

    She didn't move. It was a struggle. The shifter was turning purple.

    "Don't let them put the cuff on him," she said finally, her voice shaking. "He doesn't like it."

    "You do not give orders here, Jimenez," said her father.

    There was a long space of silence. The shifter's grip was going limp.

    Finally, Commander Alexis Jimenez, the first human head of ELITE, spoke again. "Do not cuff Agent Lachlan, Feng. he has been through quite enough."

    The shifter dropped the cuff at once; a moment later, Kodi dropped him. Her father's men moved in to take her back to her seat again, but she put up a hand and sat by herself. From behind her, Commander Jimenez strode into her line of sight, his ruddy face nearly purple with rage.

    "I brought you here," he said, "to end your probation, and here I find you starting it again?"

    Kodi said nothing, staring straight ahead.

    "Answer me, Agent Jimenez. That's an order."

    "Sir, yes sir," Kodi said coldly.


    "What do you want me to do, sir?"

    The Commander paused as if considering his options, then decided to take the high road.

    "As you have no doubt been informed, Agent James Lachlan has been found and recommitted after three years MIA. ELITE would like to reinstate him to our service ASAP."

    Kodi snorted. "Would you now? And does he have any choice?"

    "Watch your tongue, Jimenez. Anyone else would have been dishonorably discharged by now."

    She hid a wince at his words, knowing full well what she meant. So did the other men in the room. She could see one of them cross themselves and then touch a fist to her chest in the traditional ELITE respect of those KIA.

    "You and Lachlan," he nodded at the elf whose eyes Kodi was still avoiding, "have achieved one of the highest success rates for all five designations across ELITE. We cannot afford to throw that kind of teamwork away. We have decided to rescind your probation on a conditional basis."

    "Oh?" said Kodi, suddenly tired and unimpressed. "What 'condition' is that?"

    "From here on out, you will serve as Lachlan's reintroduction to ELITE while he recovers physically and mentally. You will act as mentor and guardian. You will be with him virtually every minute of every day. We hope this interaction will serve to jog his memory. Regardless, when he is fully recovered, you will both resubmit to an abridged version of ARCHANGEL training."

    Even Kodi had to look up at that, hazel eyes wide and unbelieving.

    "What? We've already been through training!"

    "You have effectively been on probation for two years," her father snapped. "And Lachlan has been MIA for three, with no memory of his own name, let alone his training. You will resubmit, and should you pass, you will both be reinstated as ELITE, designation ARCHANGEL."

    Kodi sat back for a moment, nearly shaking with anger. This had not been what she'd expected when they told her they'd found James. None of the pain, none of the injury or outrage.

    And, of course, he'd known who she was.

    "And what if he never gets his memory back?" Kodi asked quietly.

    Her father's voice might have softened a bit.

    Just a bit.

    "Let us hope it does not come to that."
    #7 DotCom, Jun 16, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2016
  8. Oh, she was going to give him trouble.

    The thought made James smirk when she peeked her head around the corner and the expression was gone by the time she brought her gaze to him again. The mischief that danced in her eyes spoke to a streak of daredevil in him and the elf laughed before he sighed, shaking his head and then looking down and sidelong at her through red hair that brushed calculating - and yet somehow not cold - silver eyes. A smile danced at his lips and such was merely one of the ways James varied from many agents - while they tried to keep stoic exteriors, blank and hidden as they'd been trained, James was constantly smiling, friendly with nearly everyone, ready to taunt, joke, encourage, banter and merely talk with anyone who would acknowledge him.

    It had confused the hell out of his Trainers for the longest time until they started to realize that even when James was exhausted, in pain, angry beyond belief or grieved, he still smiled. He still acted as if nothing was wrong at all.

    It was his own version of a mask and it took a great deal of time for anyone he'd ever met to see past that shield. Kodi would be the first in his life to blaze past his smiles and charm to the personality beneath as if the mask hadn't been there at all. It would take her all of three days, but he didn't yet know that.

    "If we get in trouble," James was already walking toward the door and he glanced back at the young, small woman with a clearly challenging look in his silver eyes as they nearly glittered in a strange type of warning. "Usted está tomando la culpa." And with that, he exited the room and started down the hall, expecting her to follow.

    She'd asked for the potential trouble. Now James wanted to know if she'd follow through. He rather hoped she did because he KNEW he'd seen something in her, something that spoke to him, that made the fire within him lick at the edges of his mind in keen interest. She intrigued him, just as he'd said and the elf was looking forward to putting her through her paces.


    They were approaching him, wanting him back in the chair, off his leg, to handle his wrist and James wanted them all to GO AWAY. He didn't care about the pain or the blood. Did they think that would ever bother him again? That was all he knew! He didn't care about it and he didn't want them touching him. He didn't want any of this - this confusing jumble of people and phrases and procedures he didn't know. He just....just....

    He didn't even know what he wanted.

    He didn't know anything at all and in the end, the doctors got their way. He felt the needle that broke his skin and instantly submitted, knowing he didn't have a choice now anyway. He was more than used to the sedative they went to instantly now when he got worked up over anything and James knew, just by how his body relaxed against his will but his mind only grew slightly fuzzy that they'd given him a low dose, about 10mls. He could name each dosage by now and how it would effect him.

    That was bad, right?

    James shook his head, hating the fog that overtook his thoughts, how slow his reactions were as we he was made to sit in the chair again and his uninjured wrist was taken. He tried to jerk away, the smallest sound, the beginning of a protesting whimper in his throat when something MOVED. His eyes could barely follow the momentum of the dark-skinned woman, but he knew that was the drug's doing, too and when he finally focused on her, it was to her face that he looked, paying no heed to the doctor she held by the throat.

    She was defending him, telling them to stop and James blinked at her, trying to comprehend why she would do that after what he'd told her, after how he'd reacted to her - she who seemed to know him in a way others did not if her reaction had been anything to go by. Why was she bothering? He wasn't what she wanted.

    But she was helping.

    And she was angry.

    Her face didn't show it, so calm and smooth and blank, but she was enraged and hurt, so very hurt and James felt the first pangs of guilt he'd experienced in this place, knowing he'd caused it. He hadn't meant to, he truly hadn't and he wanted to say that, but forming words was hard and he didn't think it would make anything better right now anyway because the woman was talking to someone else now, a voice that made James want to curl into himself and yet straighten up all at the same time. So he didn't move, not understanding the dual reactions, finally tearing his eyes away from hazel ones and toward the other human who'd entered.

    The man was saying something...something about him?

    Lachlan. Yes, that was him, wasn't it? MIA. That was...was Missing In Action, right? He thought so, but what was...oh, right, ELITE. That was the place he was in right now, wasn't it? Right, they'd told him about that. Reinstate him? But why? What use could he be to them? Or did they have to? Was he a prisoner here? Was that what he truly was?

    It would seem so.

    No one was asking him what he wanted, almost as if they'd forgotten he was even here and once more, James felt that strange anger within him stir and he brought his fingers up to his temples, feeling a throbbing there. His actions drew the attention of the elven doctor and she reached out, touching his shoulder. The red-haired elf instantly started and it was a warning sound that exited his throat this time, a low growl that had the doctor drawing back, uneasy. James ignored her though, satisfied with the departure of the touch, and he instead raised his head to look to the man who was planning his entire future as if he were some trained dog to enter into whatever show or contest he desired.

    Silver eyes were hard, an edge to them that James could not have known he'd never held before. But the fire that flickered along his cheekbones, whispering back through his hair was not unfamiliar, but nor was it noted by James himself.

    "And if it does come to that?" He spat, nearly hissing the words. "What happens if I am no longer useful to you? Will you hand me back over to the vampires? Or will you just kill me?"

    The last question had come almost as an afterthought, but it stood stark in James' mind, like a bright torch floating up out of the dark and it suddenly made sense to him. He'd been putting it together and now, this was the final piece. ELITE....it was some kind of organization. Secret he'd imagine. And he'd been part of it. This woman, Kodi, had been his partner. He'd cared about her and she for him. This man, he had to be someone in charge. And James, whether he regained his memory or not, already knew too much, perhaps even just knowing names and titles he knew too much.

    If they couldn't use him..well, they couldn't just let him go either now, could they?

    But he wanted to hear the man say it. To look him in the eye and say it.
    #8 Kaisaan, Jun 16, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2014
    • Love Love x 1
  9. She hated him already.

    Dakota Jimenez did not have 'friends'. She didn't have enemies yet -- or not very many, though she had alienated several of the other trainees over the course of two years. Most, she was certain, had just been intimidated. Kodi was five-foot-zero, one hundred pounds on a good day. She was acerbic and callous and selfish and cocky, and she was good at what she did. It bothered people. Especially, she'd found, other humans. There was no part of Kodi that had been built for the team dynamic. She'd learned the cost of love and affection years ago. She'd been raised by a man who stood at the very top of the highest-level classification agency in the world. She was not a 'people-person', and she didn't make friends.

    So, what the hell was this guy trying to do?

    She turned for a second, studying his expression with something between a scowl and a smirk pasted across her own face. He just stood there, smiling at her, and she smiled back, though it came nowhere near touching her eyes.

    "Gladly," she said after a moment, as though she'd expected this all along. Really, though, her mind was whirring. Not with technique for the coming spar -- that, she was almost positive she had in the bag. No, she was just trying to figure him out. Did he really want to train with her? Why her? Just because he'd seen her pin that shifter? He didn't seem that petty. He didn't seem that stupid.

    There was something -- a lot of something -- more to him, and she couldn't put her finger on it.

    It drove her crazy.

    She hated him.

    She led them to the small sparring mat just down the hall, likely left out after some impromptu match, or it wouldn't have been so close to the offices. She slipped in and pulled off her shoes and squared herself at the center of the mat, her smile both curious and challenging.

    "Alright," she said. "Best two out of three?"


    Kodi sat quietly, her hands fisted in her lap, knuckles white. Her breathing was smooth, even, her face expressionless. Even an elf would have had a tough time picking up her accelerated heart rate.

    Well. Most elves. Jamie...James would have. But then he wasn't Jamie anymore. And how cruel it was. To see his face -- beaten and bruised -- for the first time in three years. To want to fall into his arms, knowing he would be the one to catch her, not caring that she was being a completely and total baby, knowing he was the only one who would ever see her that way...and not being able to. Because she looked at him, into those silver eyes that shone like glass...and there was nothing. He didn't know her. He didn't know himself.

    It was James's face...but Jamie, her Jamie, was gone.

    The thought threatened to break her down all over again, but of course, she couldn't do that. Even if she'd wanted to, it was dangerous. She wondered what it had cost them to bring her back after the last stunt she'd pulled trying to get Lachlan back. Without thinking about it, without looking at him, or her father, or anyone, she rubbed the pale pink scar that ran from behind her right ear and down to the hollow of her neck, below her chin.

    She only realized she hadn't really been listening to what happened around her when she heard James say suddenly, as if from nowhere, "kill me!"

    She flinched violently, but she still couldn't look at him. If her father noticed, he said nothing. Or not to her.

    "Agent Lachlan, we understand you've been through hell in service of your nation, your people, your world. But if you are to be reinstated, it is imperative you show some measure of subordination in the presence of ranked superiors."

    Kodi fought the urge to laugh and vomit at the same time. The Jamie she knew would not have just taken that sitting down. But the Jamie she knew was gone. This was an elf with his face and a broken leg.

    "For now, you may be at ease -- Jimenez. You have not been excused."

    Kodi froze, her back to all of them, but she was trembling. She had to get out of her, now, or she was going to break something.

    "Permission," she ground out, her jaw aching from the force of clenching her teeth together, "requested."

    "Permission denied. Sit while I outline the mission parameters."

    "What mission?" Kodi blurted, out of line and out of order and not caring. Everything she'd been working toward for three years had been for nothing. Someone else had rescued...not Jamie, but a robot in his place.

    "He's a freaking vegetable, and I'm on probation," Kodi said, turning now to hurl and accusing finger at the elf called Lachlan, still unable to face him, not caring if he flinched or whimpered. Telling herself she didn't care. Couldn't care. "There are no missions."

    "Wrong. We've already discussed this. You and Lachlan are to become a team again, Agent Jimenez. Beginning with his recuperation and reintroduction to ELITE and all its facets."

    Now heavy brown eyes met silver from across the table, cold and unforgiving. Kodi still hadn't moved. He would deal with her later.

    "And failing that, Agent Lachlan, you will be honorably discharged. ELITE -- "

    Kodi snorted and stalked away, red faced. There was blood on her palm from where her nails had broken flesh. As she disappeared, she tossed over her shoulder, "ELITE only loses its soldiers in the field, Lachlan. You're safe until we screw up again."

    And then she was gone.
  10. James followed the human to the sparring mat and stripped his shoes, socks and then shirt, revealing a toned physique that was nearly unblemished. There were some interesting barbed-wire scars near his hip, a stab wound from a small knife on his abdomen and a bullet scar in the shoulder. All showed he wasn't perfect at his job, but also that he HAD seen some nasty action AND had lived to speak about it afterward.

    The elf moved onto the sparring mat and dipped his head slightly in assent to her words, but he didn't speak. No, his entire demeanor seemed to change from charming, easy-going and devil-may-care to something else entirely. It wasn't an elf that came at Kodi but a whirling, blazing firebrand. The elf believed in initiative and would always strike first, but as he hit the human in a flurry of rapid moves that she blocked completely before he pulled back again, it became very, very clear that James never made even one move without having a purpose behind it.

    He'd often gotten lectured, yelled at, even reprimanded by his Trainers and Instructors for always going into a fight first, for never seeming to assess a situation before he charged in. But over time - and it was a great deal of time - they'd come to understand and see that in some odd, unexplainable way...striking first WAS how James measured his opponent. He never seemed to get in over his head, no matter who he fought and he never lost a fight simply because he'd been too sure of himself or because he'd lashed out too soon.

    It was because his opponents were better, simple as that.

    No, the elf knew his competition by their strikes, by the way they moved. Every contact between him and Kodi seemed to tell him how she thought, how quickly she'd react, how confident she truly was, how she fought and with what kind of purpose and ferocity.

    And what he saw, felt from the young human, brought a grin spreading across his face as they continued to dance, neither gaining the upper hand, not quite yet. They each blocked blows, landed them, but no one conceded and as sweat started to drip and limbs started to tire, they both knew they had an audience, both too trained not to realize it, but neither stopped.

    No, they'd truly found a challenge in each other and their focus was on discovering who was the stronger. And after that...well, the person who won would train harder simply for the fact that they'd almost been bested and the person who lost would train harder to get better. Either way, partners or not, they'd found someone who could drive them to be the best they could possibly be and still further.

    And those watching the spar...knew it, too.


    It would be a week - if everything went smoothly - before James could be discharged. Something about how the vampire venom needed to still be administered lest he go into withdrawals. They were slowly weaning him off of it and the only thing that could be gleaned as 'good' from the toxin secreted by the blood-leaching species was that said venom had healing properties if it didn't outright kill, change or harm the victim. Most of the human, shifter, elven and psychic population would die from vampire bites, few would change - keeping the vampire population in check - and some would have allergic reactions. Only a small, very rare and limited populace would have little or no effect to the venom and those few were blessed with the same kind of healing vampires experienced themselves, only about three times slower given that the amount of venom in their blood was far less than a vampire.

    So within a week, James' leg, arm and open wounds he had were healed over, leaving lovely scars, but no longer dangerous to him.

    After a week, the elf was more than sure of something no one around him seemed to even suspect might come into his head. But James had thought about it, intently, and it was with complete single-minded purpose and calculation that he took his chance when he knew it would come.

    Slipping past his nurses and doctors was ridiculously easy and he didn't know what instinct made him avoid and time the cameras that swept the hall, but he stayed out of sight of those, too. There seemed to be something entirely unexpected and yet eerily familiar that directed the way his body moved, all lithe, catlike grace, his steps lighter then a feather on snow, leaving no sound in his wake. He found himself taking note of shadows that moved, signalling an approaching person, noises like that of a door squeaking just before it was sent ajar, the subtle whirring of a camera when it was ready to move and his eyes took in every sign with rapid speed, taking him farther and farther away from the ward he'd been in and into territory he did not know.

    And still James didn't stop.

    He didn't want to be here. He didn't want to be at the whim of these people. They didn't even ASK him what he wanted. They spoke as if he was a child who couldn't make up his mind about the simplest of choices. He didn't want to have his future decided for him. He didn't appreciate being treated like he was nothing because he couldn't remember being this Agent Lachlan. Or like he didn't hold any thoughts or have a will of his own simply because he couldn't remember this person he'd been before. He didn't want to be around people who looked at him with pity or worse, like he was some alien who'd taken over their friend's body.

    Like Kodi had done.

    He couldn't get her out of his head. He was dreaming about her, waking only half able to remember her face but knowing that somehow, for some reason, he had to see her or talk to her or...remember her. He had to. James found it to be the most frustrating, infuriating feeling in the world, to want something so badly and not know why.

    And he didn't want it. He didn't want any of it! It was confusing and terrifying, and he felt like nothing less than a prisoner, just as he'd been with the vampires. Oh, here he was treated better, but it was still a cage. This time his captors weren't keeping him in chains in a freezer, though. No, they kept his room cold enough that everyone wore coats when they came in and still they were cold, employing the same kind of techniques the vampires had, only less severe. The cold kept this heat within him dampened, but not damaged, not like it had been in the last three years and even now it was boiling beneath his skin, feeding off the anger he felt.

    He wasn't staying here to let his fate be decided by people who wouldn't even give him the consideration of asking him what it was HE wanted. He wasn't staying here to see that look in Kodi's eyes again as she was forced to babysit him.



    "Oh, s**t."

    The doctor swore to himself, more curses following that first as he looked at the empty bed, at the IV dripping to the floor and the plastic wrist bands thrown on the floor. Evidence of the patient's escape.

    The shifter moved quickly to the phone, not wanting to make this call. REALLY not wanting to make this call, but he did and when the Commander answered the phone, the doctor winced at the power behind the human's voice, but spoke as calmly as he could. "Agent Lachlan has discharged himself without doctor's consent or knowledge."

    Yes, that was the polite, medical way of putting it. Now for the less professional bit.

    "We can't find him."
    #10 Kaisaan, Jun 17, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2014
  11. Kodi had tried her first hit of sangrito a year to the day after James had gone MIA.

    It'd been just a few short weeks after she'd landed her second partner -- third, if you didn't count Jamie, and back then, she hadn't been, caught somewhere between grief and anger -- in ELITE ICU, critical condition. The shifter had survived, just barely, sans a limb or two, which was apparently kind of critical for a shifter, but whatever.

    Kodi herself had been sick -- very sick -- for a long time after botching that mission. She was on probation again, under close guard, because she was a level six fight risk at the time, and they were still trying to figure out what to do with her. She'd been back in Spain, out for a walk, the tracking device implanted under the skin of her right palm itching to high heaven. She'd been tired, out of it, still limping from the crash, when she sort of wandered into an underground bar on the outskirts of Madrid. She'd never really meant to, but she hadn't meant much in those days. She'd been walking, not looking where she was going, and run into someone. She'd gotten ready for a fight, still hunting for an excuse, any excuse, for them to ground her, leave her be so she could go after James on her own terms.

    But the lurker, a vampire, she realized later, hadn't been angry so much as intrigued, and she'd been too tired to care.

    He'd taken her down to a room that reeked of smoke and sweat and blood, and even in a dazed stupid of anger and devastation, she knew it was an illegal bar. There was a handful of humans, mostly drunken girls in their late teens, and a few male elves trying to pick them up. The rest of the group was vampires, skulking in the moonless darkness as a bar she never got the name of.

    Someone had pushed her a drink, an almost black mixture smoking in a shot glass. She'd stared, dead-eyed.

    "What is it?"

    "Life changing," came the sly answer.

    It was stupid, she knew. That was why she took it and tossed it back. James would have killed her for it, unmarked drinks she hadn't seen poured in an illegal bar. It was a great way for anyone, especially a human, to die.

    And, oh, didn't she know it.

    She didn't die, though. She knew it was blood from the moment her teeth hit the glass. Not the taste -- subtle, sweet, with a tang of citrus and iron -- or the smell -- something like rubbing alcohol and rust -- but the way she felt her tongue swell and her lips go numb almost at once. She dropped the glass, backed away, coughing.

    "Blood?" she sputtered.

    The woman, a vampire likely changed in her mid-twenties, had laughed. "Not enough to kill you," said the bartender, reaching behind her to pour another shot. "The whiskey cuts the venom, renders is inactive. Almost."

    Kodi had frowned, studying the admittedly beautiful woman for a long, calculating moment. In her better years, if she were here with James, she'd have been able to tell how old the woman was, any physical weaknesses, and the fastest way back out of the bar in a matter of seconds. Now, she was just trying to suss out the truth.

    "They've been studying antidotes for years," she said drily, vaguely aware that she was slurring her words. Kodi was small. She didn't drink much, but her height and weight meant anything she did drink went straight to her head. She knew it and avoided liquor. But this...this was something...different. "Why's no one heard about this?"

    The woman's eyes flashed black for just a moment, then she was smiling again. "It's not poison, sweetheart. It's just a drink. Take it or leave it."

    "I'm allergic," Kodi said flatly. But there must have been some truth to what the woman had said. She could feel her chest tighten, but it didn't feel scary. It felt...exciting. Like standing at the edge of a cliffside, ready to jump.

    The vampire's smile broaden and she handed Kodi another shot. "Good," she said. "It won't kill you."

    Kodi took it, studied the glass, and drank deep.

    "Too bad," she muttered under her breath. Then, aloud, "Two more."


    He exhausted her in a matter of minutes, and that alone was enough to inform Kodi he was good. Fast. Very fast. Maybe faster than her.

    He was also as notably tall as Kodi was short, and like her, he had learned to use his size to his advantage, learning quickly to use his long reach against her, seeming to understand almost instinctively that Kodi closed fast and feigned like a boxer. He won the first match, and she the second, and while they stood there, squaring off, both panting, sweating, but ready for the third, Kodi realized she was almost smiling. She wasn't happy -- not in the slightest. She wasn't so arrogant as to think she could best everyone she faced, especially not an ARCHANGEL. She'd almost anticipated losing the match, and while that was irksome, she'd be able to move on.

    No, what bothered her was that he seemed to know her so well. It was like he was in her head, reading her every last move, forcing her to block when she wanted to attack, rolling low to his left when she aimed a perfectly executed upper jab to his right cheek. it frustrated her, and beyond that, it unnerved her, making her feel as though she were on display under a very large microscope.

    What she didn't know, and wouldn't for some time, was that she was indeed being watched. Not just by the small crowd of assorted spectators -- elves, shifters, even two of the six vampires currently employed by ELITE -- but by ELITE Command itself. It was, like every room in the small command center, watched day and night by a near invisible pinhole camera in the low ceiling. Dozens of eyes, mostly psychics, watched those screens all day every day. And right now, those eyes were trained on Agent Lachlan and his newest recruit.

    "Incredible," said a voice in the darkness several miles away.

    "It's as if they've trained together before," said another.

    "Negative," said a third. "We had Gordan rigged for the meeting. Measured heart rates of both agents. No recognition noted. This is their first time, Sir."

    There was a long silence before a fourth voice said, "Very well. Send Gordon back in with the recon mission. We'll send them on a trial run before anything else happens."

    Back in the ring, Kodi had the elf cornered against the edge of the ring, ready to knock him back if he so much as moved. To all appearances, it would seem the two had come to a standstill, either too tired or too evenly matched to continue. But Kodi knew that was not the case. It wasn't for her, and it wouldn't be, she knew, for this Agent Lachlan. They would be locked in battle until --

    "Agent Lachlan. Agent Jimenez. This is your idea of staying put?"

    Every agent in the room, even those not named, turned and gave an automatic salute to Captain Gordon, who had just returned, dossier under an arm. His expression was equal parts irritated and amused, but Kodi only smiled.

    "Training, sir. Or didn't you say it begins now."

    "Jimenez," Gordon said drily, "you have no idea. At ease. You two, follow me."


    Kodi didn't sleep anymore.

    Not really, anyway. Not intentionally. She was -- or had been -- an ELITE agent, designation ARCHANGEL. She was trained to survive one week without water, almost a month without food. Hell, she could even get pretty far without sleeping at all, but at some point, the body -- the human body, at least -- just gave in.

    Besides, if she didn't sleep, there'd be no way to explain the nightmares.

    So, Kodi slept. Just not very often. And never very well. It was, more often than not, a result of the smuggled sangrito stashed under her mattress. Three shots, she'd discovered, was just enough to start her wheezing without inducing bronchial spasms. It was, however, enough to cause mild hypoxia. She'd get dizzy and fall into a usually dreamless sleep. Usually. Sometimes, she'd wake up in the morning with blue lips, but usually, it was just a headache and another long day.

    Command hadn't found out yet, and that was just fine with her.

    And yet as she eased into a blissful, mildly drunken high, she heard a knock at the door and sat up, stashing the dark glass bottle in the crevice between her cot and the wall. Only Command actively lived at HQ, but they wanted her close to the medical facilities so she could watch Lachlan (it still felt strange referring to him as that, but 'elf' was too vague, and Jamie...he wasn't Jamie anymore), so they'd set her up in an outpatient room on the third floor, just down the hall from him.

    For a moment, Kodi wondered almost blissfully if she'd been caught. There was, after all, very little ELITE didn't know...though it had taken them three years to bring back her partner, and they'd still failed at that. She wondered what would happen if they had burst in to find her drinking, or even if she just didn't go to the door. Would they ground her again? Discharge her? No, they wouldn't risk that. They'd take her off Jam--Lachlan's case, though. And as much as she wished she could leave him, she knew some small, stupid part of her still thought he was in there.

    She was cursing that part as a voice shouted through the door.

    "Agent Jimenez -- orders from the top. Be dressed and in the Silver Office in five minutes."

    Kodi scowled, but she was curious...and, for some reason, terrified.

    "What happened?"

    There was a moment's hesitation, and then, "Agent Lachlan's gone missing."
    #11 DotCom, Jun 17, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2014
    • Like Like x 1
  12. The alarms that started blaring throughout the medical facility made James go rigid and he nearly bolted, but a searing thought erupted in his head, clear and foreign - but USEFUL - that made him stop himself. They wanted him to bolt, to run, to make a mistake. IF he made a mistake, they could find him. He couldn't do that. He couldn't be caught again.

    But the alarms terrified him. They hurt his ears and yet created an agony far worse in his head, and he didn't know WHY. No, no he did. They were familiar, but he didn't know how they were or when he'd heard them. He just sensed that something bad had happened the last time he had. He knew what they meant.

    When the elf moved again, it was with more urgency, quicker, a bit more daring in his actions as he sought escape, but he wasn't careless. He still stayed hidden, still kept ahead of the cameras and the people now looking for him, but it was close calls one after the other. James didn't care, though, as he finally found an elevator. Hesitation flickered across his face as the elf looked back behind him, hearing the sound of approaching footsteps, but somehow knowing that if he went in the elevator, they'd know where he was.

    But he if stayed...

    James darted into the elevator and his silver eyes immediately found the two cameras, hidden as they were, in the enclosure. He gave a clearly defiant, nearly loathing look to both, anger in his gaze before he felt the elevator jolt to a stop. For a moment, the elf looked clearly panicked, eyes dilating and a hand had found the wall, nails curled into the wood as if he was in danger of clawing to get out, but then something else kicked in and his eyes flickered up.

    To the ceiling.

    It took him all of thirty seconds to have the panel leading out off and another thirty to haul his body up and out. His limbs shook and he was short of breath - three years unable to keep his body in shape would do that - but determination won out over anything else, even the ache in his arm and leg, protesting the abuse he was dealing out so soon after they'd healed. James ignored them, pushing himself further as he started to climb the metal workings of the elevator shaft. He continued thus until he found a ventilation shaft and quickly climbed inside, breathing hard, but gritting his teeth as he kept moving.

    ---- Rio de Janeiro, Brasil -- 2008 ----

    He woke in a sweat from the nightmare, silent as all Agents were trained to be, no matter what their state of mind, but James knew he was breathing harder than he should have been, that his heart rate was higher than was healthy and he slowly made himself breathe, brought his pulse back down to a more acceptable level. He didn't lay back down like he knew he should have, though, sitting up in the darkness of the room he and Kodi shared and staring at the far wall where her bunk lay for a long minute before he moved from the bed.

    The sheets were damp with perspiration and the elf knew he wouldn't be able to sleep anyway. It had been three days since their last mission and James knew he wasn't handling it well. He'd be required to give a report of his state of mind, see a mind-reading psychic at the end of the week and the red-haired elf knew he wasn't going to pass his first evaluation, not at this rate.

    And then Kodi would be furious with him.

    More worried furious than angry furious, but there would be some of that, too. She hated being still, not being able to move on to the next mission and the next new place, loving to travel just as much as she loved to be in the action. She'd be upset that her father would have to overview their case and then she'd be even more upset that this delay meant there was something wrong with James himself.

    He could just see her angry, concerned, determined hazel eyes glaring at him now.

    It made the elf smile as he glanced toward their door as he headed down the hallway, but despite knowing he should, he didn't wake her. She'd....seemed to take this mission just fine, and he didn't know everything about Kodi, but he knew her reactions. She'd been relatively unaffected by this one. But then..she'd been in a different location in the building than he had. She hadn't seen what he had or had to do what he did. And he was glad of that.

    But James knew he wasn't coping with it well. He couldn't help it, though.

    This had been a simple mission yes; subdue and clear up the damage a group of feral shifters had been causing. They'd been given permission to use lethal force as everyone knew that once a shifter had gone feral, there was no bringing them back, and that hadn't phased James.

    Having to shoot a six year old feral girl had.

    Even the thought threatened to make his stomach rebel and he was rather surprised by that reaction, carefully breathing and stilling for a moment in the kitchen until the feeling passed. But the jittery feeling, the strange coldness that wasn't common to Light Elves, and the feeling that he was being smothered didn't leave and James wasn't entirely aware of when he'd crossed to the door, but he knew as soon as he entered the hallway of the Brazilian HQ that he needed to get outside. Now.

    So in nothing but sleep pants, not even wearing a shirt or shoes, James headed toward the exit, knowing he'd slip past the guards with ease.


    The further he went, the harder it got to breathe and the harder it got for him to think, the fear that made him shake overwhelming. The walls were closing in and he could feel the panic building within him just as a scream built in his chest. He wasn't sure how he was still moving when all he wanted to do was curl into a ball and convince himself that this wasn't happening, that he wasn't here. But he DID keep moving and soon he was to a grate and James didn't care who might be on the other side, he pushed against it with a suppressed sob, growing desperate when it didn't come off immediately. He hit it harder, uncaring of the pain that radiated up his arm, only feeling a profound relief as it came off and he was able to crawl and slither out, taking great gulps of air before the same instinct that had gotten him this far told him to look around.

    The elf did and met the eyes of a startled guard who was already talking into his talkie, coming toward James with his hand on his gun.

    And for a moment the elf, now standing, almost attacked the man, everything in him screaming that he do so....well, not everything. The fear of not knowing WHY he wanted to do such a thing or even that he could, coupled with three years of torture and the desire not to be caught again all won out. It caused James to turn tail and run, narrowly rounding a corner before the shots went off, hitting the wall where he'd been. It elicited a blind panic in James that the alarms had not been able to elicit, but this...this was too much and he gave up the stealth, simply bolting, frantic for any place to hide.

    But where in the world was he going to hide in the White House?
    #12 Kaisaan, Jun 17, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2014
  13. She knew he was gone the instant he awoke.

    It wasn't the uncanny senses her father had instilled in her at the age of six. It wasn't that he'd left the door open or his bed unkempt. It wasn't that she couldn't hear him breathing, though all of those things presented themselves to her almost immediately.

    No, it was something deeper, something almost innate that told Kodi her partner of eighteen months was gone.

    It hadn't yet been two years between the two, and yet she already loved him immensely. Oh, there were times -- lots and lots and lots of times -- she wanted to punch him, and even more times she actually had. They dogged each other constantly, their teasing and banter more common than small talk, but she loved him more than she'd thought it was possible to love anyone ever again. She loved that she knew him, could tell how he was feeling in the morning from how he greeted her, whether he was cold or hungry or pissed based just on how he moved. And she loved that he knew her, even without either of them having ever gone all that deeply into their pasts. They could reach each other like a book and moved like two halves of a whole, as if they shared the same brain, amazing even Command -- maybe even her father -- in the field.

    It was how she knew he would run. She didn't know what had happened at the end of their mission three days ago, only that when she'd found him again he'd been pale and jittery. Still smiling, of course. He was always smiling. But he was quiet, too, and Kodi knew something was wrong.

    She'd been stupid then. She'd waited for him to tell her, thinking he might be okay if she gave him space. But he wasn't. That much was clear now as she sat up in her bed, bare foot and in an over long t-shirt, just staring at the empty bunk across from her.

    She was tired, and she'd promised to do a stealth training session with some of the greener recruits early in the morning.

    But her partner was missing, and hurting, and maybe worse, and she refused to go back to sleep without him.

    Without a second thought, she tip-toed to his bed and grabbed his blanket from the floor before creeping out the same door he had just moments -- hopefully moments -- before.


    "What the hell do you mean he's missing?"

    "Agent Jimenez, stand down," came the sharp reprimand. Her father again. Of course.

    Kodi felt her body snap into a straighter salute, but hazel eyes still burned with fury and fear. "Negative, sir," she said, tight-lipped. "I may be out of line, but you wouldn't have woken me at two in the damn morning if you didn't want my help, so I will continue to speak freely." There was a long silence after she spoke, and she waited with a half a tremor of fear before continuing.

    "Where did we last see him?"

    Commander Jimenez nodded at one of his Lieutenants before running a hand over his face. The LT, a dark-skinned Psychic with a thick Texan drawl, said, "We lost sight of him just before the elevator," she said. "But...we received a call from White House security five minutes ago."

    Kodi said nothing for a moment. Anyone looking closely enough might have seen a flicker of a grimace flash across her otherwise stoic face.

    "He's in the White House?" she repeated after a moment, her tone colorless.

    "He was five minutes ago," said the Commander. "We need to handle this with a measure of...decorum," he said. "The last thing we need is White House press picking up on an unsanctioned intruder. ELITE can't afford a cover-up this big."

    "So, you're asking me to go after him?" Kodi said flatly. It wasn't really a question.

    The Commander's face tightened. "I'm asking you, Agent Jimenez, to do your damned job. If you had done so in the first place, we wouldn't be in this mess. You have, at most, twenty minutes to retrieve the patient -- "

    "He's not a patient and I won't 'retrieve' him," Kodi blurted, knowing she would pay for her outburst later. "He's a person," she continued a bit more slowly. "And I'll find him." She was surprised she'd even spoken. But time was of the essence and the Commander only scowled at her.

    "Nineteen minutes, Agent Jimenez. Do not disappoint me."
  14. Brasil HQ was somewhere on the cusp of the city and backing into the jungle. It was to the back of the building that James headed, seeking the nature of the trees and plants around them. The jungle called to him, just as it would to any elf and the red-head needed it, needed to hear the trees whisper through his mind and feel the leaves as they'd brush against him, welcoming. He needed to be away from cold metal and rules, from the reminder of what he'd done.

    He needed the escape and so escape he did, finding it extremely easy to slip past the guards, just as he'd known it would be. He and Kodi were not ARCHANGELS for nothing and they weren't the best team ELITE Command had seen in nearly fifteen years for nothing either. As a team, they were unstoppable, flawless in their execution, no matter how bad the mission got and they always returned with a hundred percent success rate, something that had gotten Command's attention indeed over the last eighteen months. But alone, as individuals, they were nothing short of deadly even still.

    They needed each other, but they could function in the most basic standard of the word without one another.

    As he headed into the jungle, letting the greetings of the trees wash over him, James couldn't help but reflect on that thought with a genuinely amused smile.

    When he'd picked Kodi all those months ago, he'd not really known why he'd done so. Something about her had just intrigued him, had interested the power within him - no small thing - and so he'd chosen her. What he could not have expected was how seamlessly they fit together, like two pieces of a puzzle that had merely waited and searched this long to finally be brought together. He never thought he'd teavad süda with another person, but there she'd been, Kodi with all her cockiness and passion, her sharp tongue and even sharper mind, her determination to be the best and her desperate need for some gentle guidance. She'd called to the patience, level-headedness, sarcasm, intelligence and drive within him. She'd called to the part of him that needed someone to look after and rely on all at once.

    And they'd just clicked.

    The very thought brought the softest chuckle from the red-haired elf as he remembered those first few months, how many fights they'd gotten into, both on and off the field. Few had bet on them even making it back from their first mission, but they had, with flying colors and far better in their budding relationships for it. And then people had started watching more closely.

    James and Kodi hadn't cared, though. They'd had each other and that was all they'd cared about.

    It still was.

    Damn, he should have just talked to her. The thought made James wince as he finally stopped beside a great tree, resting his hand on the trunk with some reverence for the tree's age and wisdom. "She's not going to be happy with me." he whispered and the jungle almost seemed to laugh, seeing deeper into him than even he could see into himself. They saw the pain and the happiness, the guilt and the joy. He could hide nothing from the trees, from the plants and when the tree started to move, the roots pulling up with a groan, creating a kind seat for him, the red-haired elf laughed gently, but sat, grateful for the peace that stole over him as he rested his head against the main trunk and just let the nature around him lap over his mind, soothing the aching, painful memories from three days ago.


    Little Flame, here.

    The voice startled the elf completely as he hid behind the door, trembling violently in a mixture of fear and anger both, unknowing which would suit him better right now and so choosing neither. And pain. There might have been some pain, too. Right, the bullet that had left a groove in his side. That was why he was applying pressure. To keep the bleeding to a minimum and to try and not leave a blood trail. Right. He didn't know how he'd known to do that, but it hardly mattered now. He knew he was moments away from being caught.

    Safety, Little Flame.

    Here, here!

    And again that voice, no two of them. James finally looked around at the room he was in and for some reason he could not explain, his breath froze in his throat, in his lungs at the sight of the indoor garden around him. Silver eyes flickered toward the growing apple tree in the center of the foliage and then all the vines, plants and ferns around it, looking for the source of the voice even as he instinctively moved closer to the greenery, leaving the hiding spot of the door behind.


    Keep safe, no find.

    Here, Little Flame.

    Three voices, all whispered and soft within his head, but not painful and James found himself smiling just a little for the first time in three years, understanding washing over him like a warm wave of water, lapping at the rawness of his mind and the frayed nerves in his body. It was the plants that were speaking to him and he knew they meant him no harm.

    To know that after three years of torture....was overwhelming and he was grateful when the vines and leaves, when the ferns began to move, to wrap gently around his fingers and push at his back, pulling him deeper into the garden, to the tree that was slowly lifting its own roots from the ground with a groaning sound that was achingly familiar and comforting to the elf. The plants led him to the hollow created and the red-haired male slipped in without hesitation, without fear of the small space created because the voices were still in his head, soothing, whispering.

    Poor, Little Flame. Scared, angry.

    Hush, Little Flame.

    Yes, hush. another plant chimed in, a sweet morning glory whose vine-like leaves brushed against his face, a caressing touch like a sister to a younger brother. Keep you safe.

    It was his first truly comforting touch and words in three years and they had come from a plant. That realization alone was enough to start the tears flowing and once they did, James didn't know how to stop them as he stayed curled in the shelter the garden had provided, trusting that it would keep him safe. Trusting the soft words of the foliage around him far more than he felt he would ever trust those of the humans who were supposedly taking care of him.

    Their care was demanding and painful, confusing and while they might have healed his injuries, not one had attempted to reach him beyond that. They hadn't even TRIED. No, they treated him like an invalid, talked about him as if he couldn't hear, locked him in rooms, strapped him down, they didn't explain anything they did to him and finally when he did start to get some answers it was in the form of commands that he was given no choice in following or questioning.

    Their care was the last thing he wanted.

    Being involved with any of these people from ELITE was the last thing he wanted. They didn't care about HIM. They wanted AGENT LACHLAN back. They didn't care what they had to do to get this part of him back, either, or how they might hurt him to do so. Well, they could all go screw themselves as far as James was concerned.

    He wasn't going to cooperate with anyone who treated him like he was little better than a trained dog that needed to relearn his tricks or someone who looked at him and couldn't see past what he had been. That kind of person was not going to be able to help him now.

    And James knew he desperately needed help. He just didn't know where to find it.
  15. She was less aware of tracking him -- and she was tracking him -- than she was of anxiously ruminating on the mission, on all the things that could have happened to her partner in the minutes since he'd run, of where she would go if she were him.

    Where would she go? If a mission had gotten to her? If she couldn't sleep because nightmare images flashed through her head like a strobe?

    But it didn't work. She couldn't make her mind wrap around herself, let alone his. Eighteen months with him, the hardest and best in her life, all culminating in the knowledge that she didn't really know him at all.

    And without him, she didn't know herself, either.


    Kodi wasted two long, precious minutes peering out from the darkness under the eaves of the West Wing, scanning the lawn, knowing Lachlan wouldn't be there. It was too easy. It was too little. But she couldn't move, because if she did, she would start screaming, and then she would start crying, and she wouldn't be able to stop.

    Gone. Again. Three years she'd waited for someone else to drag him from the depths of his own person hell, and again, she'd let him slip away. She hadn't been enough to protect him. Not then. Not now.

    She was only able to make herself move when she realized she was going to collapse if she didn't. Her legs felt like jelly beneath her, and her shoulders trembled violently. She could feel panic starting in her chest, constricting painfully around her lungs and windpipe. The panic attacks had gotten worse in the years since Lachlan -- no, James. Jamie. He had still been her Jamie when she'd failed him that first time -- had disappeared. They had almost kept her from being fully initiated into ELITE at all, but Jamie had kept her secret, even when it had nearly cost him his own life. He'd been the only one ever able to talk her through them, and without him...

    No. She couldn't lose him again. Jamie was gone, but she would not betray the agent who had taken his case. Wheezing, she pushed back against the black at the edges of her vision and closed her eyes, praying to God her father wasn't still watching. There were some things even he didn't know.

    The last thing she felt was a whimper bubble up from her throat as her body went rigid and began to tremble violently...


    In the end, she found him by accident. She'd been desperate, worried, circling the innocuous exterior of Brazil HQ, when a rumbling from the forest drew her attention. At once, she crouched to the ground, immediately hidden in shadow, edging her way toward the source of the noise, not knowing and not caring what she was going to find. Either it would be James's attacker, and she would dismantle it/them and get her partner to safety...or it would be a distraction, and she'd move on, perhaps accepting she hadn't been enough for him.

    Instead, she found James himself, pale, apparently unharmed, but entirely too still, she thought, curled against the base of a tree.

    "James?" she asked as she started forward carefully before abandoning caution and decorum to run to his side. "Jamie? What happened? Are you alright? Can you move?"

    All ELITE agents had some measure of first aid training, and Kodi found she was running her hands over his body before he even responded, checking for bone breaks, head injuries, contusions, elevated heart rates, anything that would keep him from coming to find her if he was in danger.

    In the end, she found nothing, and it only worried her more.

    "What?" she demanded, her body tense as she waited for the probable attack from above, behind, or to either side. She was ready. She had failed once. She would not fail again. She would protect from whatever it was he had fled in the middle of the night, at whatever cost it demanded.

    "What? What's wrong? What do you need?"


    She tracked him following his blood. He hadn't left much of a trail, but to her newly sensitive nose, it had shone like a beacon in the darkness. As she resumed her her footing once more, she felt the now familiar nausea turn her stomach, threatening to void itself on the thick carpet of the East Wing, a hallway that ended, Kodi knew, with the First Lady's private conservatory.

    It made sense now that she thought about it -- and she tried not to. Her head ached. She could feel the beginnings of a nose bleed she didn't want to discuss with anyone, let alone Lachlan. She had found him among nature the first time, too, the the First Lady was a lauded gardener. Her conservatory would soothe like a cooling balm to Lachlan. Some part of her felt some perverted hope.

    The rest of her knew better.

    Exhausted, defeated, she pushed open the door to see him there, curled between the greenery, crying. Bleeding. She felt her heart cry out, and had to dig her nails into the doorframe to keep from rushing to his side.

    He didn't want her there. This knew agent might have Jamie's face, and even his love for nature. But he wasn't Jamie. He wasn't.

    "You're bleeding," she said dully after a moment. "I have to take you back."
  16. Her presence shouldn't have startled him, but it did and James knew by that admission alone that he wasn't in a very good way right now. He should have heard her, seen, sensed her long before she got this close, long before her voice jolted him out of his half-dazed state. He'd relied on the jungle around him to alert him to danger, but if the jungle didn't view something as a danger.... He'd been stupid to let his guard down and this time he could thank his lucky stars it was his partner who found him.

    Kodi's abrupt presence had him blinking and the elf opened his mouth to answer and then blinked in surprise as she started to search him. He kept still, head tilting slightly as amusement played over his lips, but the expression was gone as soon as she focused again, looking up. He knew that Kodi would not appreciate mirth on his part when she was obviously so worried.

    And for that he DID feel guilty. Concerning her had not been his intention.

    Still, better to stop feeling guilty because she was most-likely going to give him a tongue lashing that would more than make up for his stupidity. He supposed he deserved it this time. She DID have training in the morning with the greenhorns. She was going to be exhausted tomorrow.

    "Kodi, I'm-" And she was still speaking.

    Silver eyes narrowed slightly and his slender hands came up, finding either side of her head and stilling the dark-skinned woman until she was truly focused on him. And then James smiled, just like he always did, voice quiet in the tranquility of the jungle at night. "I'm not injured, all right? I can move, I can think, I'm not hurt. Now calm yourself, Spitfire."

    James let her go then, taking her wrist instead and pulling his partner down to the 'seat' with him, noting that the tree moved just subtly to create room. He touched the bark just as subtly in thanks before looking back to Kodi, trying not to smile his nervous grin, the one she would immediately identify as guilt on his face.

    "I just had some nightmares, Kodi. I needed some air." It was entirely truthful and he wasn't avoiding anything. He was simply giving her the opportunity to calm down so her mind would kick in and he could discuss what was going on when she was a bit more rational and less inclined to shoot the first thing that made the bushes around them rustle.

    A trigger-happy Kodi, whether she be angry, scared or just plain lethal, was never a good person to talk about emotional things with. It just made her want to kill something.


    The plants didn't alert him, the trees didn't speak and for a long moment, James felt betrayed by their lack of warning to him. Couldn't they see that it was people like HER that he needed to be kept safe from? She didn't want him, she looked at him with accusing, angry, hurting eyes as if he'd done this on purpose. As if he wanted to be the way he was now. It was wrong. She was wrong.

    She is right, not wrong. Right.

    Right for you.

    She is safe.

    Safe for you.

    Will help you. You must trust.

    The vines and leaves around him were gently touching his body, trying to encourage, but the red-haired elf only curled tighter in on himself, refusing to move. His silver eyes flashed like daggers to the human in the doorway, though. "Blood doesn't bother me. Neither does pain. I'm fine." he spat, pressing his hand harder into his side, feeling the liquid that seeped between his fingers, that the ground was slowly soaking in. And he felt the tree shudder above him, roots groaning slightly at the very thought.

    Plants were reaching toward Kodi now, not quite able to touch her, but wordlessly imploring even as some began to pull insistently, but gently on James, trying to get him to move, to uncurl and come out from the safe confines of the tree. But James was having none of it, finally looking up to the plants around him and giving a hiss from the throat, a very vampiric sound that had the greenery stilling slightly, confused at first and then just saddened, patient as it seemed to sigh and stop its actions, waiting.

    James had looked back at Kodi by that point, looking equal parts terrified and furious, letting the anger win over the fear because it didn't make him feel so helpless. Even as he knew he was. They'd have people in here soon enough to drag him back and this time it would not be in a hospital bed that they'd keep him. Speaking his mind now wasn't going to make anything worse and certainly nothing was going to get better.

    It almost made him miss the familiarity of his cage and the feedings. At least he knew what to expect then.

    "What makes you think I'm going to let you take me back? Back to what?! People who look at me like I'm some kind of parasite who's taken over their friend? People who look at me like I'm nothing because I can't remember being him?" He shook his head, not entirely realizing that he was standing from his shelter, trembling so badly his words shook, but speak them he did.

    "What, you think I'm willingly going to go back to people who don't even ASK me what I want? People who don't even care that they may have lost an agent or a friend, but I've lost EVERYTHING! I don't even know who I am! I don't know who to trust or where I belong! I don't know how I can do half the things I do or why I feel the things that I feel! I am not nothing just because I can't remember who I was! But none of you care about that, do you?"

    Fingers curled into palms, fisting and the blood from James' side ran freely, staining his light blue smock a dark red. He didn't seem to care or notice, a hard light to his eyes and flickers of red fire dancing through his equally as red hair as he seemed to growl. "You tärkeilevä lapsele, I'm not going with you into another cage unless you drag me there. And I'll fight you the whole way."
    #16 Kaisaan, Jun 20, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2014
  17. She wanted to be mad. She tried to be mad. Hell, she was pretty sure she really was mad for a few seconds.

    And then he was holding her, touching her bringing her heart rate back down to something manageable. She could feel the tension in her chest ease, the weight going from planet to boulder to pebble to speck. Almost without realizing it she took one deep, if shaky breath and let it out.

    Then she scowled again and punched him (gently...ish) in the arm. "¡Ay, tonto!" she spat, equal parts relief and irritation. "Me asustaste, Dios mio..."

    Exhaling again, she settled in beside him in their weird tree-chair, hazel eyes scanning the surrounding forest instinctively, though most of her focus was still on James beside her. She was pressed close, her bare arm touching his, checking for fever, listening for an elevated heart rate...but he'd been honest with her. Just nightmares.

    "Just" nightmares.

    She glanced to her right, studying him again in the faint silver moonlight poking through the trees. Her face still held a scowl, but her eyes were softer, concerned and understanding.

    "There's air in the apartment," she said after a moment, turning away again, though still listening closely. "You could have woken me. You should have woken me. I thought..." She felt her chest tighten again and shook her head. "I'm glad you're okay, tonto. Would have hated to have to drag your ass back upstairs at -- " she squinted at the blue LED numbers on her watch and swore again under her breath. "Four AM?" She rolled her eyes then snorted. "I will not be making friends with any of those new recruits tomorrow, I can tell you that much."

    They sat in contented silence for a moment longer before she spoke again, still not looking at him.

    "You ready to talk about it yet?"


    She stood there, impassive, as he spoke, and when the plants reached for her, she stepped away.

    There was just one thought going through her mind:

    Of all the things her father had ever done, this was far and away the cruelest kind of torture her could ever hope to inflict upon her.

    Did he know that? Did he understand what he had done when he'd assigned her to Agent James Lachlan, former ELITE, designation ARCHANGEL? Did he know what it was -- like inhaling fire, like swallowing glass -- every time she saw his face, to remember she hadn't been able to rescue him in time? At all? Did he know it was like being slapped every time her turned those silver eyes on her...and there was no recognition, no gentle, teasing smile, no word of encouragement? Just resentment? Loathing? Even pity? Was he aware what it cost her to see her old partner hurting, aching, and know there was nothing she could do for him? Did her father understand, could he, or anyone, understand what it felt like to wake up every morning to Jamie's face, and then remember it was nothing more than a mask? Jamie was dead and gone. The only person who'd ever really known her, or loved her, who'd been gentle despite how hard she'd tried to push him away, keep him at arms length, keep him from being another Lonny?

    And still. That's all he was. A painful memory. Another failure. More blood on her hands.

    Kodi stayed perfectly still as he spoke, trying to let his words wash over her like ice water, instead feeling every word, every syllable, like a knife in the belly.

    God, she wanted to scream. She wanted to cry. She wanted to collapse right there and let her lungs freeze long enough for the oxygen to stop flowing to her brain. Maybe there was some kindness, some mercy left in the world. Maybe she would pass out. Maybe she would die.

    But she didn't.

    No, she just stood there, perfectly still, her face blank, her hands free from so much as a tremor. Even Lachlan would be hard pressed to see behind the forced apathy. But Jamie would know.

    Would have known.

    To his credit, it was an impressive rant. Kodi might have laughed at that old spark of James -- not the one most people knew, but the one she knew. Her James, her Jamie -- if she'd had any assurance at all that she could stop once she started. She stood and watched and focused on keep her breathing even, and when he paused to breathe, she made herself stay where she was, wanting to help him, knowing it would only hurt both of them in the long run. She would break if he flinched away from her again. She would break, and no one would be able to fix her again.

    Even so, she was taken aback at the calmness, the coldness, of her voice when at least she spoke.

    "¿Terminaste?" she asked, then waited a beat before nodding. "Bueno. Escuchame, pendejo. You are ELITE. Whether you like it or not, whether you remember or not, it's true. James Lachlan signed up nine years ago, and I don't care and they don't care if you don't know yourself from a hole in the ground. They need a soldier, and that's what you are. Is it fair? It is nice? F*** no, but that's ELITE. Hell, I don't know, maybe that place you were before was a walk in the park, but this? This is ELITE, and you are an ARCHANGEL. It doesn't matter how you feel, or what you've lost. You think you're the only one who's lost something? Look around, bruto, ELITE was built on the backs of the dead. So you can lay down, or you can shut up."

    She didn't realize she was hyperventilating, nearly shouting, until she finished, and then she quickly shut up, because hell if this punk with Jamie's face was going to see her break down.

    She turned away from him and tried to calm her breathing, his words still echoing in her mind.

    Blood doesn't bother me. Neither does pain...none of you care, do you?

    Her own thoughts kept time with her erratic heartbeat: I do. I care. I do. I care. I care. I care. I care.

    Her ears buzzing, she almost didn't hear him start to speak again. She felt it spark anger just as much as a crushing exhaustion, and she was about to simply knock him out and drag him with her -- his trust be damned, that was gone anyway -- when he said it.

    Her body stiffened as if he'd run an electric current through her. She had to grab the doorframe to keep from falling over. She felt her chest spasm and tighten painfully. She was going to pass out. She was certain she was going to pass out.

    Instead, she turned to him.

    "Fight if you want." She pointed at the blood on the floor. "You won't make it far. I'm still ELITE. I'm still everything they want me to be, everything they need me to be." Her voice was even, but her thoughts were anything but.

    She knew those words. She knew them. And in twenty-two years, no one had ever said them to her but Jamie. Not Agent Lachlan. Not James. Jamie.

    Jamie. Her Jamie. Was it possible he was still in there? Somewhere deep, deep down? She was afraid, terrified to hope. Now she shook, trembled almost violently, but when she spoke again, there was an edge to her voice. Something no one but Jamie would recognize.

    A challenge.


    "If you don't think I'll drag you out of this room kicking and screaming and bleeding, you're wrong. Please. Make my day, cabrón."
  18. How Jamie had landed Kodi for a partner, he'd never know. How she'd not been picked up immediately by someone older, more experienced, wiser than him, he could not guess at. How people could look at her and not see what he did left him flabbergasted. How they couldn't see what kind of talent and brilliance lay beneath this hard exterior, he could never figure out. How she fit so well into his life, both on a mission and off, was something he could only be grateful for.

    A chuckle escaped at her mention of the recruits and Jamie grinned up at the trees overhead, letting his mind wander to nothing in particular, simply enjoying the peace and sense of safety being near Kodi brought. Normally such things were background emotions, senses when he was with her because often they were sparring or on a mission, speaking, eating, distracted. There were other emotions to focus on, other feelings to fall into. Like the sense of constantly being challenged, but no longer in a hostile way. Or the sense that she could read every thought that passed through his eyes. Knowing that every emotion he felt, she would know how to handle. Things like that usually drowned out, but did not obliterate, the undertone of peace and safety that just being around his partner gave him.

    Now, though, when his mind was so jittery and his nerves overwrought, when everything around them was quiet and all he'd been seeking was the aforementioned things....feeling them now with Kodi so near was the only thing his senses could focus on. It was nice, welcome, needed and when her question was finally asked, Jamie smiled, unable to help it.

    So blunt this one. Always had been if the stories were to be believed and he didn't even need those, he'd seen what she was like to even her own father in the last eighteen months.

    "Talking about it isn't the problem, tärkeilevä lapsele. Dealing with it is. I can do the former, but I'm not entirely sure what can be done about the latter." he admitted freely, Kodi being the one person he WOULD be that honest with and that blunt. Jamie, for the most part, wasn't blunt. Oh, when he got MAD he was blunt as all hell and told it exactly how it was with no beating around the bush at all. But that was a different sort of mad, too. That was...an injustice kind of angry, an angry so deep and heartfelt that he couldn't begin to think of a way tot make it clever.

    No, when Jamie got upset, irritated, he spoke in tongue-twisting ways, cleverly making the person he was angry with just as frustrated with him as a smug kind of revenge. Once, and only once, had he managed to do it with Command Jimenez.

    Jamie had thought Kodi was going to kiss the ground he walked on that day. That had been six months ago and ever after, she'd seemed to open up just a bit more, trust him just a little further and now....now, Jamie knew he could never have another partner. Kodi was it for him. Always had been even if he'd not known it until now.

    He could trust her. Did trust her....even when she was a perra. But she gave him reason to know there was a softer side to her. Even when she didn't mean to, she did. Kodi had shown him, even from that first day, that there was something underneath that barbed and razor-sharp shield she wore. It was the only reason he'd taken a chance on her in the first place.

    The elf was glad he had.

    "I..." He sighed, hand running back through his hair before he spoke again, looking down at his hands. "I killed a girl, Kodi." Jamie was grateful his voice didn't shake. "A feral girl, maybe about six. It happened so fast. She...she jumped out at me and I just shot." The elf groaned, placing his head in his fingers, letting the exhaustion he felt ripple over his body, finally releasing the facade that all was well. He didn't need it with Kodi.

    "I can't get her face out of my head."


    Pendejo. Bruto. Cabrón.

    He knew what they meant, somehow he knew and James flinched back at each one...even as he felt almost desperate as he listened to the language that spilled from her lips. He understood it. He didn't know where or when or how he'd learned it - obviously he knew long before he could remember knowing - but that wasn't the point.

    He was listening for something. The elf could not have said what it was or how he would know it when it was spoken, but he knew that he listened.

    And he knew the word, the phrase, whatever it was...it never came. Just the harsh, piercing words that left him feeling cold, knifed, empty. They were words he'd been called before, but somehow, he'd not truly expected them to come from the human before him. Why? He could not have said. He couldn't explain the majority of the thoughts that went on his head or the instincts he felt, but he knew things in a way that made him not question and James knew this; what he'd wanted to hear from this Kodi had not passed her lips.

    And it hurt.

    The fact that he wanted anything at all from her startled him, but not as much as she appeared to be startled. With that hurt now deep within him, understanding came too. No one cared. She'd said it herself. All that he'd feared was true and there was no escape. They might say they were better than the vampires, but they weren't and he'd been foolish to hope otherwise. That was fine, though. He'd survived not being cared for, he could do it again. He could withstand the pain and the fear, the despair once more. With that understanding came quiet within his mind, clearer thinking as his emotions started to shut down and James began to see what he'd missed before.

    Like how badly the agent before him trembled. She was speaking fierce and her eyes promised war should he resist her, but her body spoke a different message and had been the entire time she was here. She was scared. And hurt. And desperate. Confused. She was fighting with herself. She was everything he was, but somehow that didn't loosen the tight knot within him. Something within wanted it to loosen, was circling, poking, prodding, demanding that this pain and distrust unravel for this one person, but James couldn't do it.

    She'd done nothing to show he could trust her. Nothing to show him that letting himself feel anything for her was a good idea. Her body might say that she was different from the others, felt differently than they did, but her actions spoke louder still and they showed him nothing but the same treatment he'd gotten since arriving here.

    Cold. Ruthless. Uncaring.

    The elf smirked to her challenge, a glitter in his silver eyes as his body instinctively moved into a combat position. He couldn't beat her, he knew her couldn't. He was weak from three years malnutrition and he didn't know what the hell he was doing, but he'd make her work to cage him again, just like he'd promised.

    "You can try." he bit back....and then instantly dropped to the ground, eyes fluttering closed as darkness swept over him. He never saw the morning glory that came up behind his back and simply pressed on a pressure point at the base of his ear, a spot all elves possessed and guarded jealously when fighting. James could not have anticipated the plants around him taking matters into their own hands, though. The vine seemed to look down at the red-haired male for a moment in sadness, leaves drooping, before it struck like lightning toward a different target.

    A thin portion of the vine snapped across Kodi's cheek hard enough to leave a thin, red welt that would stay for an hour or two, faster than even the ELITE-trained human could react. It was a reprimand and if a plant could look disapproving and furious, this morning glory did as its leaves flared and it curled unhappily before moving back to where it belonged, leaving both elf and human be.

    The tree itself was far calmer, using both roots and branches to move the elf out of its sheltering embrace and nearly to Kodi's feet. It's leaves tenderly brushed against the human's head for a moment, convey comfort instead of wrath before it too departed, giving up the elf it had been protecting into her care.

    That alone spoke volumes about what nature thought James needed.

    #18 Kaisaan, Jun 22, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2014
  19. Kodi's expression remained neutral as she listened to James finally reveal what had been hounding him for days, but she could feel her gut twist inside her, equal parts gentle understanding and revulsion. Because as he spoke, the first words that came to her mind were not hers, but her father's. If Commander Jimenez had been here, she knew exactly what he'd have said.

    "You did your job, soldier. No shame in that." There would be no kindness, no warmth, only fact plain and simple. And then it would have bitten harder. "If we can't trust you to do your job, Lachlan, then why the hell are you here? You're ELITE. You're an ARCHANGEL. That means no pity, no regret. You do what you have to because I tell you to, end of story. You say the girl was feral, she was feral. She had to be put down. And if I tell you to put down a hundred more like her, you'll do it. Those are orders."

    At first, Kodi couldn't speak, afraid she'd open her mouth and talk with her father's voice, no comfort, no softness, just cold rationale. It was how she'd been raised, everything she'd been taught since one life ended and another began over a decade ago. It was ingrained so deeply within her, she almost didn't understand, not even Jamie, who'd been the only person on the planet to see her cry since Lonny had died.

    But this was Jamie. He was and had always been better than her. A better agent, a better person. Anyone else, she would have scoffed at the very least, but Jamie...his voice, his body, his face radiated pain, and in his eyes, she could see the face of that little girl. She focused on that, on him -- not her father's voice, berating her in the back of her mind -- as she spoke.

    "Did you ever do those capture the flag segments during training?" she asked. Her eyes still scanned the darkness, but her entire body was attuned to Jamie and only Jamie. "You know, they break you off into teams of three or four, send you out into the brush, and the first team to get back gets a decent dinner?

    "So, our first month, they're building our team, and I get paired with two vamps and a shifter. They're all grumbling about getting stuck with the fourteen-year-old human girl, so...y'know....I had to show 'em up. They give us the starting pistol for the games, and I take off. I was just...gone in a matter of minutes and I got the flag first. But they disqualified us because I wasn't working with my team. I swear, I thought the vamps were gonna off me then and there, but the shifter, this scrawny kid, he got in the way, defended me. Granted, he told them I didn't know any better because I was human...but..." She trailed off, a faint smile on her lips.

    "We won the next three times. Six months later, the shifter went feral. They made us kill him, and I...I couldn't do it. I let the vamps do it, and they were..."

    She shook herself, realizing she was getting off topic and turned to look back at her partner.

    "My point is...it's better this way. I know it's hard to see it that way, but you have to believe me. That little girl wasn't going to come back, and if she did, it would only be to find that she'd mutilated all her family and friends. No kid should have to deal with that. You didn't kill her, tonto. You saved her life. It could have been a lot worse if you hadn't had the balls to step up, y'know? It would have been a lot worse."

    She squared her shoulders, and got up on her knees so they were closer to eye level, even just sitting and kneeling. Hazel eyes were firm, serious, but gentle, too. He needed to hear this.

    "You see her face again, you don't let go of it, okay? You don't see some feral shifter. You see a little girl whose life you saved. You see the good we do, if we do any at all. This...it's only gonna get worse, I can feel it, Jamie. And I can't do it without you, alright? So, when you see her again, you hang on, and you remember we are not the bad guys. We are ARCHANGEL. We're saving lives. It's bloody work, yeah, and it sucks, like, all the time. But there is a greater good out there. And that's that little girl. That's who you're fighting for, tonto. Not ELITE. Not me. Just that little girl, Jamie. She deserves it."


    She lurched forward before she could stop herself as Agent Lachlan slumped to the floor, unconscious.

    "Jamie?" she blurted, before the plant leapt out and whipped her across the face. She felt her temper flare and stopped herself from swearing only when she remembered she'd be yelling at a flower -- Lachlan was already out, now cradled in the branches of a tree who moved to her next. She tensed, wondering how to fight back against a plant, but it only brushed by her, conveying a strange, almost comforting touch.

    This time, she did flinch.

    She stared at Lachlan's body, curled at her feet, the both of them unable to move. Her throat felt tight, and her eyes burned, and she realized she was about to cry or scream or maybe just implode.

    None occurred as she felt footsteps approaching behind her. She was not surprised to hear her father's voice.

    "Agent Jimenez," he said coolly. "Time's up."

    She didn't turn around as two paramedics stepped around her to begin patching wounds. A third stood behind her with a stretcher and restraints. She knew she would kill if any of them tried to cuff Jamie again.

    "I found him," she retorted, voice thick with rage and a resentment she couldn't understand. She didn't want to be here, sandwiched between her bleeding, unconscious former partner, and her smug father.

    "You were to return him to -- "

    "And what if he doesn't want to be returned? Did you ever think about that?"

    Now she did turn and close on Commander Jimenez so quickly that his second Lieutenant, a beefy shifter named Bullock, actually stepped forward. The Commander simply held up a hand to stop Bullock, but his brown eyes were dark and cold on his daughter, the faintest hint of a smirk playing across his lips.

    "Agent Jimenez. You have something to say?"

    Kodi tried to let his cool, calm tone slide over her, but she was shaking, trembling head to foot, so angry she could hardly breathe.

    "What if this doesn't work, Dad?" she spat the word like a curse. "Huh? What then? You can't make him remember who he was. We can't go back to working like we did before. We're not...we're not those people anymore."

    "We don't need you to be those people, Jimenez. We need you to be our Agents. It's clear Lachlan still has some memory of his capabilities, or he would not have been able to make it this far. We believe a simple retraining --

    " -- is all you need to get your guard dogs back?" Kodi growled. "Forget it. I'm out. I quit."

    Her father's eyes darkened dangerously, and she knew the slap was coming long before it did. Even so, she felt her eyes smart and burn with tears of anger and surprise as she rocked back on her heels. But she didn't flinch. She knew better than that. And she held his gaze as he secured her aching jaw between a meaty thumb and forefinger. All around them, paramedics and Lieutenants looked away. This was not ELITE business. This was a moment between father and daughter.

    "No one quits ELITE," he growled. "You should know that better than most, Dakota." He glanced behind her, to Lachlan's body, she knew, and for a moment, she stiffened, afraid. Just a moment.

    "You have lost a close friend, but you have your partner back," Commander Jimenez went on, eyes almost black in his own rage. "This family does not quit. What do we do when we lose?"

    Kodi felt tears burning in her throat. She wanted to disappear. "Get off me," she snarled. In an instant, he had her shoved against a wall, blinking stars from her vision.

    "What," he started again, his voice dangerous, "do we do when we lose?"

    Kodi was shaking beneath him. "We grow stronger," she ceded after a moment. "We fight back. We take twice as much from them."

    "Do we quit?"


    "'No', what?"

    "No, sir."

    They stood there for a moment longer, her left cheek throbbing, her eyes sharp enough to cut. And then he released her and stepped back, once more cool and confident Commander Jimenez. The paramedics were lifting Lachlan onto the stretcher, no restraints.

    "Take him back to his room," the Commander said evenly, as if nothing in the world was wrong. "Redouble his watch. I don't want him to escape again." They started to wheel him down the hall when the Commander spoke again.

    "Wait," he said. They waited.

    "Agent Jimenez." Kodi had been standing against the wall, trying to regulate her breathing. Her eyes flicked toward his.

    "Please restrain Agent Lachlan. He'll be freed of the cuffs when we can trust him as an Agent."

    And Kodi, to her own disgust, obeyed.


    They called her in the next morning after Lachlan refused to eat. There were dark circles under her eyes that could have just as easily been exhaustion as they were a result of, say, spending a night sobbing in her bunk. There was a bruise forming on her left check that made it hurt to smile, but she wasn't doing much of that, anyway.

    It was Captain Gordon who briefed her, his face blank in a way she'd come to understand as meaning he was trying to keep something from her. For the first time since she'd met him, she didn't try to suss it out. She didn't care. She was tired and cranky and whatever they were assigning to her -- more order, likely, to babysit the elf in recovery -- she wanted to get it over with. The sooner they were back out in the field, the better.

    Instead, Gordon dropped her outside one of the psych labs where Lachlan waited inside, sullen and pale.

    "You need to talk to him."

    Kodi snorted. "Haven't we already tried this?"

    "Well, try again. His nurses say he's stopped eating."

    Kodi rolled her eyes. "So? I stopped eating when we got back from Russia. They waited until I collapsed and put me on a drip until I 'agreed to cooperate' again. He's throwing a fit. Elves can go longer without food than humans can, anyway. Even the crippled ones."

    The words made her feel sick. She said them anyway. She didn't want to be here, or anywhere near the agent with Jamie's face.

    "We don't have the luxury of time, Jimenez. We need you two out in the field again stat."

    "So, what do you want me to do? He doesn't trust me."

    "He used to."

    She fought not to flinch at the words.
    "And what if I say no?"

    "Go 'head," Gordon said tersely. "I've gotten it straight from HQ -- you don't eat until he does."
    #19 DotCom, Jun 22, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2014
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  20. They'd strapped him down again. He'd known they would. And the room was cold, too cold so that he shivered when they left him, refusing to do so when they were in the room, but unable to help the reaction forever. He could feel the heat within him sputter, flare and die down again, struggling. He knew it now to be fire. Fire that could erupt from his hands and scorch the bedding, that could burn anyone who got too close to him with a needle.

    That was why it was so cold now.

    He hated it. Just as he hated their voices, telling him that everything was all right, that he needed to eat, that he just needed to calm down. No. No, he wasn't going to calm and he wasn't going to comply. This Commander thought his will was greater, that he could break James, but James knew better. Even lacking the knowledge of this Commander, he knew that there was someone in the world who could break him and this person was not it.

    They couldn't make him fight for them. They couldn't make him cooperate. They couldn't even make him live. And he wasn't sure he wanted to because James knew that if they couldn't use him, that this Commander would just keep him, determined to break him just to prove he could. He wouldn't give the human the satisfaction.

    "Lachlan? Lachlan, you need to eat."

    He ignored the words as if they hadn't been said at all, turning his head away and the nurse sighed.

    "We should put him on TPN." a male voice said softly, but not quietly enough that James didn't hear the words and the female nurse rolled her eyes, looking at the male as if were an idiot. "He's an elf. We can hääbuma, fade away, any time we wish, remember? It doesn't matter if we're force-fed, medicated or cared for. It's our choice." Said nurse was an elf and the human male flushed in embarrassment and then looked at the red-haired elf restrained to the bed in some worry. And, admittedly, some curiosity.

    "Is that what he's doing?"

    "I don't know. Come on, we need to leave." The female elf had looked out the window and seen Kodi, and she now dragged the male nurse out, neither of them speaking to the ex-ARCHANGEL as they went past. Chances were she'd already been briefed and if she needed them, she'd call. Right now they didn't want to be anywhere near this 'reunion'. Rumors were already spreading about what was going on with the two legendary agents and people were waiting with nearly baited breath to see if they'd pull through once more, against all odds just like they'd done in the past. Others were just sad for them, knowing how close they'd been and what this had to be doing to both.

    And yet unable to imagine that kind of damage at the same time. All the same, whether they were betting for them or against them, people knew to stay out of their way.

    Well, most people.

    Lisa Vortay wasn't one of those 'most people'. No, she was a highly trained Psychic, the best in the ELITE world and she'd been both Kodi and James' 'therapist' for years now. When the Failed Mission - as everyone called it under their breath - happened, she was pulled off their case by Commander Jimenez, much to Lisa's protests as she'd felt that more than ever Kodi needed someone to talk to, especially when she saw the paths the agent was going down, but the senior Jimenez had closed her down and she'd been forced to keep her distance.

    Now she was here not on Commander Jimenez' orders, but Commander Laura Williams'. Only two years a Commander after being voted in by the Captains, Williams didn't often go against Jimenez, knowing of his reputation, but she was slowly coming into her own and this case, well, it was too big for one Commander to handle alone. Especially one so close to the situation, having his own daughter involved. No, this case required some clear thinking unclouded by past experiences.

    So it was that Lisa had found herself reassigned to Agent Lachlan for now. Williams had gone through James' records, learning all she could about both agents and had seen that most reports were done by Vortay. She'd called Lisa in without hesitation and now the Psychic found herself approaching where Kodi stood at the one-way glass.

    Lisa looked the other woman over, wanting nothing more than to hug her and tell her it was all going to be all right, but Kodi had never liked that kind of thing, even when she'd been far more stable. Vortay knew she was anything but right now. Still, they had been on good terms in the past, friendly, trusting each other - though, Kodi would never trust her like she had James - and Lisa hated seeing what her agents - as she'd affectionately called the pair - had become.

    She had all the more reason to loathe Commander Jimenez's decision now more than ever.

    Lisa smiled gently at the young human. "Hello, Kodi. It's been a long time." she said softly, not daring to ask how the agent was. She already knew and also knew Kodi wouldn't tell her. No, the person she would have told was lying in a hospital bed, unable to remember his own name.

    Fate truly was cruel.
    #20 Kaisaan, Jun 22, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2014
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