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Story Notes:

My muse was melancholy and quiet tonight. She sipped scotch and listened to soft, barely-there background music. And she was inspired so I was inspired.

He sat back in his tall, wing-backed chair and took a sip of scotch, swallowing before gently rotating his hand, sending the amber liquid swirling in the glass. Lamplight reflected and broke through the cut edges, brilliant rainbow flashes playing upon the walls. He watched in contemplative silence.

If only Renfro could see me now...

She would call for him soon. He was expected to perform; the Third had to be conceived. He was nothing more than a stud. It was a duty he loathed, but one he'd brought on himself.

I could have prevented this.

It was something he would never forget. If he were completely honest, and stopped flagellating himself, he would admit that even had he listened, he might not have been able to prevent things. But he might have found another way; a way to save the ones he loved, all the ones he loved.

The room was cloaked in shadow with the barest illumination from a shaded, quarter-moon. The December chill made him shiver, and he brought the edges of his dressing gown tighter across his chest and snuggled back deeper into his seat.

He sighed. Memories were heavy this night; like the densely veiled, winter sky. The air smelt of impending snow and expelled breaths formed shimmering crystals, fleeting and then gone. The quiet had an almost eerie quality to it and the large library seemed to shrink and close in around him, stifling him with it's oppressiveness.

The city had grown mute, a slow, gradual process that took years. He allowed it to happen. He had effectively silenced the populace with intimidation and violence. He had strangled society, the entire human race, and weeded them out one by one.

All because he hadn't believed in her.

The war between the Familiars and Transgenics had come to a temporary halt. Times were tense, nerves frayed and tensions ran high. Terminal City was in lock-down; no one went in and no one got out. He'd made the rule, but it was damn well hard to keep to. Casualties of the war, the number of females in TC was at an all time low, and he was desperate. He was male, after all, and given the amount of sexual activity he was accustomed to, the near-celibacy thing wasn't working out for him.

He'd cut out in the middle of the night, leaving at the changing of the guard where he had thirty seconds to slip through the perimeter. Funny, how he'd never thought of it at the time - alerting security to the unauthorized exit and the ease with which it could be accomplished. Rather, he'd seen it as his secret escape route, and none had been the wiser for his desertion.

They met at a club. He'd seen the raven haired woman with the sparkling silver eyes from across the room and his senses flared to life. There was an immediate jolt of awareness when their eyes connected for the first time. Shortly thereafter he realized his predicament: he was smitten. But he kept her in the dark, as he did everyone. Hiding for fear of being discovered and losing her.

One night she met him at their special spot, a small boathouse out by the harbor. She'd been quiet and he'd sensed her apprehension. She raised her head almost defiantly and held his gaze.

"You're 494. The leader of the freaks. You're the guy my father wants dead."

He swallowed hard. He was sure he'd lost her then. And then there was panic. He could still remember the pounding in his chest, wondering if she'd brought back-up, if it was a trap, if this were the end.

"But that doesn't matter to me. Make love to me, Alec. Show me it doesn't matter to you, either."

Their affair lasted months; starting during the lull in fighting and continuing after the cease-fire had ended and the battles resumed, soothing his suffering soul and aching body with her touch, erasing the hurt and keeping him sane despite the demoralization that resulted from war.

He kept mum about his secret lover. None of his friends would have trusted him. Their distrust would have been valid.

But not for the reasons I thought.

She'd come to him with foreknowledge of an attack on Seattle, targeting both humans and Transgenics alike. She offered to help and he'd suffered a momentary lapse of trust. Logically, he knew he that he could believe her. He trusted her to an extent; with his body and his life, certainly. After all, he was at his most vulnerable when alone with her. But he wasn't sure he was ready to trust her with everything and everyone else. Perhaps he should really blame Logan for that, as the man had trusted and loved Max until the day they died, even if he'd never trusted any other Transgenic.

He finally accepted the facts. His dreams of a family with the woman he loved were just that, dreams. It would never work. She'd been right. He hadn't trusted her enough and that love had faltered. He'd doubted, and with that doubt he betrayed her trust. So he'd lied to her. Said she meant nothing, that they were nothing. Just a good time.

"I thought you loved me?" she questioned with obvious hurt.

"Love? A useless emotion. You let yourself get attached, you lose focus. Lose focus and you die. I'm more interested in self-preservation, babe, sorry if you got the wrong idea."

The words were piercing her, he could see it; the pain in her eyes was gutting him but still he spoke, distancing himself. A relationship between Transgenic and Familiar would never be accepted. He was second in command of terminal city and she was the daughter of an elite ranking member of the Conclave. He couldn't be seen with the enemy, intimate with the enemy...bound to the enemy. His people would never accept her word as honourable, they would never accept him with her.

There is a fine line between love and hate. He knew he'd crossed it the moment he uttered those fateful words and she stiffened. Where once had been a fiery passion and the warmth of love, her eyes now glittered like diamonds and he felt the cold fury radiating from her.

And she'd unleashed her rage, slapping him sharply across the cheekbone and spat at him venomously, "Transgenic scum! I can't believe I let you touch me! You'll regret the way you treated me, Alec."

Not a day later, Terminal City fell. And without the aid of the Transgenics bred to protect them, the Ordinaries folded like a house of cards. The process of selection eliminated the weakest first, the old and young, the handicapped and impaired. They kept a score of people for each skill they could utilize and slaughtered the rest without care or regret.

And now, five years later, he sat in his library, once Logan's and before that, Joshua's, and remembered. Remembered a life of laughter and love, of friends and relative simplicity. He was one of the select few that was allowed the 'gift' of life; everyone else was gone. His was an abysmal existence bestowed upon him by his former lover, now Mistress. His body tightened with anger and arousal just thinking about his situation, and he seethed at his lack of control.

He heard her melodious laughter trailing from a remote room of the house. Her voice, calling him to her. He pictured her smile, the one of old, when she radiated love and affection. Before he betrayed her. And then he recalled the smile that had replaced it, and he shivered. The cold, hard look in her eyes when she ordered him around, the intense hatred and desire for revenge.

Suddenly, he longed for a friendly face. And long suppressed memories rose to the surface. He closed his eyes tightly to try and block them. The shame that coursed through his body as he reacted to his Mistress' mating call, all the while seeing the faces of the dead but not forgotten friends of his youth sneering at him, their eyes accusing and betrayed.

At least it can't get any worse than this. Self-preservation. You can do this.

His life now was his penance; he would live with the guilt and pray that he one day would be worthy of forgiveness.

Alec rose slowly and grudgingly to his feet and went in search of his Mistress. He reached the parlor and faced Miilaina, who was flanked by a hooded stranger.

"Pet, show my mother proper respect."

He dropped to his knee and bowed his head. A slim finger lifted his chin. The hood of the stranger's cloak fell, revealing a head of spiky, bleached blonde hair. Alec stared up into familiar, cold eyes and gasped.

Death was suddenly looking better, self-preservation be damned.

Be careful what you wish for.

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