Emory rounded the corner of the house, her breath catching in her throat. He had come, she had asked him to, and he had come. Slowly she walked towards him, her heart beating to the point that she thought she might become faint. She stopped just behind him. Close enough that she could feel his heat coming through his shirt . He knew she was there, he turned his head slightly as she approached him. She licked her lips nervously and waited.
Lock sighed , shoving his hands into his pockets. "Why?", he asked .
Emory shifted uncomfortably, it had been a long time since she had spoken with Lock, his way. Ever since she had known him her biggest fear had always been that if he could speak to her inside her own head, maybe there were other things he could do as well, tell how she was feeling, read her thoughts.....she prayed he couldn't do those things right now.
"I had no choice Lock, Ezra and I both were made to leave the farm after that summer. I'm still not clear on the reasons why, I kept meaning to sit Micheal down and talk to him about it but I've just never been able to find a good time, Micheals' always so busy and...."
"So......what your telling me, is that in the 3 years it's been, there has not been 10 minutes you could have taken and even asked Micheal about me?", Lock asked, cutting her off.
Emory swallowed hard, her hands had begun to shake and she felt like she just wanted to run away and cry, she had always felt like that when Lock was upset with her. But she was no longer a 17 year old girl, and she needed closure, this being in limbo was killing her . Being around him these last two weeks had been torture, she had to know. "No Lock, I never did find that time. Some of us was not as fortunate as you to have Micheal run whenever we needed him.But I will tell you this, I've never in 5 years let one day pass when I did not think of you, wonder how you were, what you were doing. In 5 years I've never looked at or wanted anyone else." She had to pause, her voice was quivering slightly . Taking a deep breath to steady her nerves, she continued. " I need you to say it Lock. I need you to either tell me it's over, and that there was never anything between us except for what I imagined and wished for, or I need you to tell me you want me and that there is still an us, either way, I need you to make that call and let me know where I stand."
There was a long silence and when she thought she couldn't bear it any more, Lock turned to face her. Emory was confused. She expected to see anger, maybe even arrogant pride, what she wasn't expecting to see was the deep sadness and hurt that was there.
"Micheals' meeting will be starting soon, we should go inside".
Emory watched as he turned from her and walked towards the house.
"Whats with those two", Sail asked curiously turning to Ezra.
Ezra shrugged his shoulders. "Eh, they used to have a thing a few years back."
"They still have that 'thing'?
"I don't know, I don't pry into Ems' business, if she needs me she knows where I am, otherwise, I keep my nose to myself".
"Some brother you are", Sail joked, punching him in the arm. Ezra smiled, looking over his shoulder at Emory before following Sail into the house.
Michael had explained to them only a couple of weeks before, that Superlabs, a company that was the result of several merges, had recently won a contract from Vanguard, bad news. They were supposed to be exploring 'improved genetics' for more advanced Perfected, what they were doing was combining certain genes, creating fighting machines.
They were creating Deviants from Perfected with no thought or moral inclinations. Saturists had been the Vanguards' first attempt. Although Saturists were virtually invincible, they rarely lived passed a few days, their bodies were ill equipped to store, manage or release the amount of energy they consumed while taking a life. Unable to keep taking large amounts of Perfected for experimentation and remain unnoticed, they turned their attentions to something to that wouldn't be noticed at all, implementing different variations and combinations of genes then making them available in 'packages' unknown to a couple choosing for a child. The mother would serve as an incubator for their weapon, raised by loving parents and when the child reached 18 years of age, they would be drafted into the Vanguard program. Having one of your children chosen
for Vanguard, as a Perfected child or parent, there was no higher honor. There would be no questions asked, no suspicions. No one knew exactly what these made Deviants were capable of or how many there were already. Michaels' worst fear was that Vanguard would create something that even they couldn't control. His goal was to infect viruses into the genes and DNA protocol Superlabs had stored in massive underground bunkers , making them harmless. Once the
virus was injected the embryo would simply be a true Perfected, no damaging or mutating genes.
"They can't possibly think it's one of us can they?", Sinte asked in almost disbelief.
Micheal shook his head. "I don't know what they think at the moment. I worry the longer we wait to act on this, the more time the Vanguard will have to experiment. They may get everything just right, and with a little luck, produce this monster they are trying to create and turn it loose, we just don't have this kind of time to sit around doing nothing".
"Do you think it's one of us Micheal?", Sinte continued.
Micheal shook his head. "No, I know it's not any of you. I would have been able to smell your fear and guilt no matter how little it was."
"We could go rogue", Indie said quietly.
"No Indie, I won't take that risk with any of you. If you get into trouble there's no back up standing by. There would just be us and although I believe in us as a team and our abilities, we can't take on the whole Vanguard".
"Part of going rogue would be you not knowing about it Micheal".
Ezra nodded turning to Indie. "I agree. That way you wouldn't be responsible for anything that went wrong Mike. I'd be willing to take that fall."
Micheal again shook his head. "No, I need you guys to help me track down whoever this is. Saturday night is when we're having the grand opening for this place. They will be here, they won't miss a chance to get any kind of information. They are no doubt getting paid very well for their services, that is until the Vanguard don't need them anymore and disposes of them ". Micheals' phone rang interrupting him. "Look, I have to take this, but I will catch back up with you later, break in the new pool table or something, but keep your noses clean whatever you do, and I want no one leaving these grounds."
"I have a bad feeling about this", Sail commented absently.
"What kind of a bad feeling Sail?" Emory asked half wanting to know and half wishing he was joking.
"I can't explain it really, just something I feel. I think when we find out who this is we may all be shocked and in for a rude awakening. I don't think it's one person alone either. I think it's two possibly three or four people working together and i think Mike knows that. It won't be someone who don't know how to use what they possess either, it will be persons quite in tune with their abilities and very aware of what they can do".
Sinte closed her eyes and thought of Lotus and Cadence. Even thought she knew Lotus was dead and that Cadence was locked up in the Underground, she still had that foreboding sense . Except for when this whole thing came down it would be on a much larger scale, she shuddered at the thought.
Lock began passing out pool sticks and laid fifty on the corner of the table.
"I'm in", Indie smiled, digging in his pockets for money.
"Might as well, not like we can do anything at the moment",Ezra agreed.
Sinte and Emory had taken it upon themselves to fix everyone drinks None complained but they did get a couple of 'I can't believe I'm drinking this crap' looks. Everyone had an opinion on who the leak/leaks were and as a group they began to formulate a plan on how to best bring them out.
4 hours and 32 drinks later.........
At the end of the night Ezra had lost the most, one hundred and thirty bucks.
Lock and Indie both won and lost about enough to be down what they had started out bidding with, fifty.
The big winner of the night had been Emory. It seemed the more she drank the better she played. When it came time to collect, she laughed it off, wouldn't take the money. She had proved her point. As she turned to take some glasses back behind the counter to be washed, she heard, "Well, if you won't take my money, perhaps you would settle for trade...".
Emory smiled, turning to Lock. She pretended to be in deep contemplation over his offer. Nodding her head, she spoke to him his way, "I'll take a make out session and dinner, not necessarily in that order".
Lock smiled, turning to put his stick away.
All were feeling the effects of their mid- day drinking binge and were filing out to go lay down/and or pass out. Emory had drunk the least and volunteered to stay and straighten up. She was pleased everyone seemed relaxed and had had a good time. The past couple of weeks had been hard on them all and now with having a leak among them, they had needed this. She smiled at Sinte as she and Indie walked towards the door. She wasn't sure who was holding who up between them and chuckled to herself as they staggered out . Her thoughts went back to the talk she had with Lock earlier in the morning, the look he had on his face had broken her heart. She loved him still, she always had. Sighing, she turned her attention to the glasses that needed to be cleaned and the liquor that needed to be put up. She was too tired to think about anything right now and not rational enough to make any decisions.
As she dried and put the last of the glasses away, Emory heard a noise coming from in front of the bar. "Is anyone there?", she called. She squinted to see, it was still early evening, around 6pm, and there was plenty of light outside, with the lights off in the club, it was quite dark. Although it was on the same property, the new club had been built quite a ways from the main house. Emory began to get a little nervous. With everything that was going on, she wasn't feeling completely safe at the moment.
"Hello?", she called again, slowly making her way around the corner of the bar.
Suddenly from back wall a dark figure lunged at her, grabbing her from the side, pinning her arms.
She tried screaming but nothing would even come out. She began flailing and kicking but all that got her was into a tighter hold. After a few minutes she began to tire. She reasoned that if this was indeed the leak, or someone associated in some way she would just try to act ignorant. Standing still she noticed something was very familiar.....the smell, the hair, his arms...his arms!
She could feel his chest rising and falling with laughter and she felt her face flush hot. She began to struggle again, hoping she would hurt him!
"You asshole!",she said with clenched jaws. She struggled a while longer, kicking the best she could and trying to hit at him, but they way he had her held she was doing nothing but wearing herself out. She finally stood still, leaning into him and breathing heavily.
"Are you done?"
"That's not a nice thing to say to me, unless we're talking literal".
"I can do that", Lock said before she had a chance to finish her sentence. He maneuvered her so that she was in front of him, her hands pinned against his chest, his arms almost unbearably tight around her. Emory froze, his lips were so close she could feel his breath on her own, the slightest of movements was all it would take.
"Tell me you don't want this, and I will walk away."
"I don't want this!", she almost screamed, tears falling freely down her face.
Lock followed a tear to her jawline with his tongue, lapping it up and planting such a soft kiss at the corner of her mouth, she barely felt it. "I don't believe you".
"Please what? Let you go so You can run again? No."
Emory began to let herself calm in his arms. It had just dawned on her that, even through no fault of her own, her leaving him those years ago had really had an effect on him. She looked into his eyes and seen the storm, unreadable, untouchable. "I hurt you?"
"You devastated me".
Emory opened her mouth to speak but she could find no words. She wanted to take away the hurt she had caused, she didn't like him in pain. She kissed him. He pulled back to look at her. If he was trying to back out or pull away from her, she wasn't going to let him. Standing on her tip toes, she sucked softly on his bottom lip, placing small kisses. She felt his resolve, and he began to meet her kisses. Slowly and passionately. She never wanted out of his arms again, she had forgotten how good it felt being there.
"You said this morning, you needed me to tell you", he began, all the while whispering kisses across her cheeks. "So I'm telling you, I'm not letting go".
Unable to sleep, Micheal walked to the window, looking out over the mountains. This place had always given him peace, something he didn't often get much of any more. He was watching his carefully constructed Haven start to crumble before his very eyes. He chided himself for being so foolish and naive. But he had learned, and was becoming more aware. He was pretty sure he knew who the leak was, calling this person out in a crowd would be a very bad idea, especially if he had his guard dogs on stand by. He would have to be smart about it.
The only question in his mind now was how much rope did he need to give this person to hang themselves.