|Primary Characters:||Ed, Sloan, Tom|
|Warning:||non-consenting f/m sex, violence|
|Description:||Ed is abducted by Tom’s mother and realizes that he’s only got minutes to live. He finds a way of staying alive until helps arrives. But can he handle the pressure?|
Ed couldn’t breathe. His arms and legs were securely tied up, and he couldn’t move an inch. For a second he was close to panic, then his scientific mind began to function. It wasn’t easy, but he forced down the panic, and tried to make his mind work. What had happened? His head felt heavy, and his thought processes sluggish. Had he been knocked out? Drugged? If only he could remember.
Before any solution presented itself, the door swung open. At first the light blinded him, after so many hours in the darkness. He couldn’t see who it was that was standing over him. There was a scent he couldn’t quite place, and he could hear someone breathing. Then he felt two strong arms lifting him up to a sitting position. The ties that bound his ankles were removed, and the ones tying his hands together were loosened a fraction.
As his eyes began to adapt to the unfamiliar light, he could see that his captor was a woman. Or wasn’t she? Something about her seemed to remind him of Tom. Was she a dominant? That could explain that superhuman strength, and whatever it was that was emanating from her. Whatever it was, it sapped Ed’s strength, and he felt as weak as he had on the first day of school, when the bigger kids had threatened to beat him up, if he didn’t surrender his ball.
Still, the woman didn’t say anything. She just went about her business in the bare room, as if Ed was of no great importance. What was she doing? It seemed she was setting up a video camera. The objective was aimed straight at the floor where Ed was cowering.
Normally, nothing much frightened him. Those long ago days in school were all but forgotten. Science didn’t have a place for unfounded fears. Now the woman appeared to be satisfied. She moved back to Ed and bent over to remove his gag. His jaws had been held apart for so long, it was a while before he was able to shut his mouth. It seemed to be such a long time since he last spoke and when he tried, his voice wouldn’t quite obey him.
This was just like school all over again. Ed could still remember the humiliation he had felt during those mortifying months while his voice broke. He never knew when it was going to be high and thin, rather like a girl’s, or deep and husky like a man’s. Finally, he thought he would be able to speak a few words. But he still hesitated. Maybe it didn’t really matter, but he didn’t want his voice to crack, and waver. But if this woman really was a dominant, she would already know exactly how terrified he was anyway.
“Who are you? Why have you taken me? What are you planning to do with me?”
Damn. All those questions. It wouldn’t take a dominant to know he was badly shaken. Think, Ed, think. You’re not an idiot. But apparently an M D was no guarantee you could face your executioner smiling. Where did that dumb idea come from? “Executioner”? But the last couple of months had taught Ed that his worst nightmares didn’t even come close to the reality of things.
“That was rather a lot all at once, don’t you think? Alright, I suppose it won’t hurt to have the truth out in the open. Maybe it will even be better this way. You don’t know me, but you know someone who was once close to me. Tom. As to why I have taken you, and what I’m going to do to you,they are one and the same. The answer is simple: Revenge. You and that female took my son from me, and I realize now there is no getting him back. So I thought, why not make them feel the same pain of loss?”
So, to answer your question Ed, I’m going to kill you. Slowly, painfully. And I’m going to film it all, and send the tape to Tom and Sloan. I thought about maiming you, disfiguring you maybe, or even removing a limb or two. Leave you in agony. That’s rather an appealing idea. Perhaps I should change my mind again? No. Even in agony, they would still have you. And I can’t get Tom back, so neither shall they have you back.”
This couldn’t be happening. He had to be dreaming. Since discovering the new species, Ed had found himself haunted by bad nightmares. This could be another one of those. Merely a bit more vivid. But it was no use deluding himself. He never had any trouble separating reality from nightmare. If there even was a difference these days.
He couldn’t think of a single thing to say. This woman wouldn’t change her mind. She wouldn’t show mercy. Not for any reason. How could she have gotten this close? Since Sloan and Tom had become lovers, Ed had decided to subdue his feelings of jealousy towards the dominant, and they were now sharing Sloan’s apartment. And it turned out he had had no reason for his jealousy. Sloan had no intention of foregoing his love either.
So for a while now they had been involved in the strangest kind of threesome. Not Tom and Ed, obviously, despite the incident that had occurred a few weeks back. They had by accident been swept up by a drugged passion they didn’t understand. But in real life, with their minds clear there was no attraction between the two men. No attraction, but some sort of awkward, clumsy affection between friends.
How could this woman, Tom’s mother, have managed to get so close? Tom was usually able to sense the proximity of any other dominant and protect his human friends from them. Not this time. Why? If only Ed could remember. The only thing that came to mind was stalling her. He didn’t hold out much hope that Tom would be able to get here in time, but at least he could try.
“I see. Could you at least let me use the bathroom?”
The woman had a cold and condescending look on her face. She seemed to be thinking this was a particularly feeble attempt at escape. But she appeared to reconsider and pulled Ed to his feet. Dragging him along effortlessly, as if Ed was no heavier than a five-year-old, she took him through the door and out into a corridor. They didn’t have far to go. She opened the door to the left and pulled Ed inside with her.
“Could you untie my hands, please? I won’t try anything.”
“Then how am I going to be able to use the toilet?”
“I suppose I shall have to help you, human.”
Ed thought she was joking, to humiliate him further. It didn’t take him long to realize that she was deadly serious. Now he could feel her hands on his fly, unbuttoning his jeans, groping inside his shorts. He tensed up. For some stupid reason this was worse even than facing his own death.
But no matter how he tried to twist away from her, she was too strong. She held him in a vice, and he had no choice but to do as he was expected to. When he was done, he thought she would let him go, but she didn’t. His back was to her, so he couldn’t see her face, but it didn’t take a genius to realize what she was trying to do. Trying, but failing. Ed was far too scared to react in any way to her touch.
The sound of her laughter took him aback. It was low and chilling. No warmth, no humor. At least not one that would make sense to a mere human.
“I suppose I’m not your type. Is red hair more to your taste? Or is it boys you like?”
“No. I’m not into boys.”
“No, you’re not. I know all about you and Sloan. Have you ever wondered what it would be like with one of us?”
Forcing down the image of himself and Tom on the floor, Ed shook his head. His voice wouldn’t obey him right now.
There was a challenge in her voice.
“Am I or am I not your type?”
What could he tell her? Ed had a shrewd suspicion that whatever he said he was doomed. Then it occurred to him that this was his chance. Stalling her for a while until help came. Or was it too late for him?
Sloan and Tom had to be alive, or this woman wouldn’t have been planning on taping his torture and death. So they had to be somewhere, and Ed knew them well enough to know that they would be searching for him, trying to rescue him.
What if he could somehow force down his fear and revulsion and play this woman’s kinky game? That seemed to be what she was in the mood for.
But he shuddered at what sex might be like with someone like this creature. Tom had no fond memories of her and he was one of them. When he and Tom had ended up together there had at least been affection on the dominant’s part. This one would have no reason to hold back, no reason not to hurt him as much as she fancied.
“That’s more like it. Go on, you were saying -?”
“You’re a very hot looking woman.”
“Sexier than that human female?”
Ed sighed inwardly. She would be a fool to believe him, but maybe she didn’t really care if he was telling the truth. So he forced himself to go on, feeling like the worst kind of fool. And the apparent betrayal of Sloan hurt, but this was his only chance, so he had to take it.
“Yes. Much sexier. Sloan, she’s kind of cute in a funny sort of way. You are perfect.”
“Good answer. How come I don’t believe you? Oh, maybe because some parts of the human body don’t lie. You’ll have to do better than that.”
“Then untie me. Let me show you.”
There was an oppressing silence. Ed was hoping she would agree, hoping she wouldn’t. He didn’t know what he wanted anymore. Just a few more minutes of life. Anything to stop her from ending the game. Again that chilling laughter.
“Why not? It’s not as if you’re going anywhere. Let’s do this properly. I have a bed. We’ll use that for a change. Like you humans do it, right, Ed?”
He felt lightheaded with fear and hope against all hope. She might kill him in there, but there would be no camera to catch his final moments. So maybe she really wanted to play some more before ending it. But he had no idea how he was going to be able to perform to her satisfaction. Even Tom would be far preferable, under the circumstances.
Sloan was devastated. Until now she had never stopped to consider how much Ed meant to her, in his quiet unassuming way. Her affection for him wasn’t like the senseless passion she felt for Tom, but it was no less important to her. And how could this have happened? With Tom by their side, surely something like this shouldn’t have been possible. And in her distress, Sloan couldn’t help screaming out her fear and frustration.
“How could you let something like this happen? You said you would keep us safe. Keep him safe.”
Tom’s face was more expressive now than it had been at the beginning of their acquaintance. And this time, it was more eloquent than usual. His eyes held such a depth of despair, it almost seemed he loved Ed as much as she did. She knew it wasn’t fair, blaming him like this, making him feel guilty.
There had been four of them. Three young men, and a shadowy person in the background. That person was the one who gave the orders, Sloan felt sure of that, though what had given her that impression she wasn’t sure. Tom had fought back, tried to protect them. She knew that. And he was injured. No matter how concerned she was for Ed’s welfare she had to see to his injury before they could do anything else.
“I’m sorry, Sloan. I let you down. Both of you. But I’ll find him and get him back, I swear.”
“No. Don’t go. I have to take a look at that injury.”
Tom seemed to have been knocked unconscious by one of those men, judging by the lump the size of a plum, on the side of his head. A thin trickle of blood was drying on his cheek, and he seemed to be slightly short of breath. A cracked rib? One of those men had kicked him viciously, while he was on the floor. For one dreadful second, Sloan had thought they would kill him.
But the expected attack didn’t come, and now she realized that they had been in a hurry. Only now did it dawn her that they might have come to kill her, but as it was, they hadn’t even laid one hand on her. That was odd. A direct attack on this scale, but no killing. She would have to discuss that more closely with Tom later. Now she needed to deal with his injuries.
“Sloan, it was her. I have to find him before it’s too late.”
She got the impression that Tom was hesitant to even name the person responsible for the attack. Before her eyes he was transformed into a scared little boy. And when he finally managed to draw breath to continue, his voice was thin, brittle, as if he had to fight to force himself to go on.
Sloan had no idea what it would feel like to be raised by a parent who could inspire such fear. She walked over to Tom and pulled him into quick reassuring embrace. He hardly winced at her touch, but she still got the impression he was holding back his natural reaction. That had to mean he was in serious pain.
“Yes. We’ll go after them soon. But first I need to check on those injuries.”
“It’s nothing major. I can manage.”
“Just let me check anyway, ok?”
For a second he almost but not quite smiled at her. Sloan knew he loved those little proofs of affection. He must have been starving for them during his strange and lonely childhood. She wasted no time examining him and putting a plaster on his head injury.
He was right, it was minor. The rib caused him pain and a shortness of breath, but she judged it safe to let him carry on. But she insisted on wrapping him in a tightly wound bandage first. That seemed to help a little. When she offered him painkillers he turned her down. With an embarrassed smile, he explained.
“They wouldn’t do any good anyway. I have something I can use later. But for now, I have to get going.”
“Ok, let’s go.”
“No, Sloan. Please. Let me deal with this. I have to go alone. If anything happened to you -“
“There’s no way I can let you do this on your own. I’m coming with you, that’s all there is to it.”
“I don’t have time to argue. You know that you won’t be any match for them. If I’m going to get Ed back, I’ll have to do it alone. I can mask my emotions, remember? They won’t know I’m coming. That could give me the only advantage possible.”
“Then let me call for backup. If the place was surrounded -“
“You know Ray doesn’t have that kind of authority anymore. Sloan, I promise you, I’ll get Ed back safely. But you have to trust me.”
With a quick kiss, Tom was gone, before Sloan could think of any more arguments to sway him. But he didn’t know her very well if he thought she was going to be sitting around passively, while the two people she loved the most in the entire world, were in danger. She lifted the receiver only to find that they had cut the phone lines. So they didn’t intend to risk any interference.
Why had the dominants launched this unexpected attack? None of their sources of information had told them anything big was going down. And yet, out of the blue this assault on their home turf. There had to be something behind this, something more than met the eye. Sloan intended to find out.
She grabbed her jacket and rushed outside. Too late she remembered to check for any enemy activity, but all appeared to be calm. No one was moving in the vicinity of her apartment, and she couldn’t detect any activities nearby either.
Driving recklessly, with a total disregard for traffic ordinances, she was able to reach Ray Peterson, the former police officer’s house within half an hour, but even this slight delay grated on her nerves. What could be happening to Ed while she was wasting time in traffic jams? Mrs Peterson opened the door, and seeing Sloan her face fell, but she covered her reaction well, and forced herself to smile and ask Sloan in.
“My husband is out back, with our son. I’ll let him know you’re here.”
“Thank you. I’m sorry to call on you like this. But it’s an emergency.”
Two minutes later, Sloan was sitting face to face with the ex cop. Like his wife, he couldn’t be exactly thrilled to see her, but he knew the stakes as well as she did, and wasted no time complaining. In few short sentences, Sloan filled him in on the situation, and waited expectantly for his reaction.
“Ed. Why would anyone take him? Were you near some kind of breakthrough in your work?”
“No. Not anything in particular. You know as much as we do.”
“Hm. I wonder if it could be something personal. You said Tom told you it was his mother?”
“Yes. Charming woman. As if she would need an excuse to cause havoc in people’s lives.”
Sloan had no intention of telling Ray what she and Ed had found about the nature of Tom’s relationship with his mother. Or rather her relationship to him. She would save Tom the humiliation of having his secret shame widely known. It was quite enough he had had to tell her and Ed.
“You turned Tom away from them, from their cause. Isn’t that reason enough for revenge?”
“Then why didn’t she come for me? Killing me would be just her idea of fun, I can imagine.”
“Yes. But they aren’t just violent, they’re very clever too. Maybe she has some kind of plan. And Ed is very dear to you, isn’t he?”
Sloan was startled out of her gloomy thoughts by that statement. Was she that obvious? She knew Ray had to suspect her feelings for Tom, but did he also know about her and Ed? How embarrassing.
The former police officer was exactly the way you’d expect. A devoted family man and regular churchgoer. He could hardly be expected to understand alternative ways of co-habiting. She almost smiled at that euphemism.
The truth was that she was in love with both men, and frankly, sexually involved with both of them. But she wasn’t ready for that fact to be known. Having her personal life perused like this was unsettling, but she forced herself to ignore the unpleasantness. Her own feelings would have to be put on hold. Now Ed was all that mattered.
“Of course. We go way back, Ed and I.”
“Then if she knew that, she would try to hurt you through someone that dear to you, wouldn’t she?”
“Yes. You have a point there. Do you have access to weapons?”
That question seemed to have startled him. He took a closer look at the petite redhead sitting in a chair opposite his desk. Granted, Sloan was a scientist, and from what he had seen of her in the course of their fight against the dominant species, she could keep a cool head in any situation. She was strong, intelligent and very well balanced. But this was a new aspect of her he had never suspected existed.
“Yes. I might.”
“Then give me a gun.”
Cautiously, he tried to stall a little, though he knew as well as she did, the need for speed in this kind of situation.
“Do you know how to shoot?”
“Please. I grew up in Colorado. Sure I know how to shoot.”
In reality, Sloan had never touched a gun until she went to college. A bet with another student had led her to take up target shooting as a means of winning that wager, and later as a new and interesting hobby. But she was fully capable of handling a light hand gun. So Ray had no reason to look at her like that.
But he didn’t sound at all enthusiastic, and for the first time since she had made her request it occurred to her that the delicate matter of a license might be contributing to his unease. She couldn’t let that stop her though.
He rummaged through a desk drawer, and frowning slightly, finally managed to produce a revolver. Handing it over, he went back to searching the drawer and eventually was able to produce a box of ammunition. Sloan’s expert way of loading the gun reassured him marginally. Then he appeared to relax a little, and found his own gun.
“Just a second. I need to talk to my wife.”
“Ok. I’ll wait in the car. Oh, I don’t suppose you could get some backup for us? There were three men involved and who knows how many more where they’re holding Ed?”
“I might be able to call in a few favors. But we’ll have to get by on our own for now.”
Ed had had no idea that it could be like this with a woman. Though he corrected himself, this was a dominant. But knowing Tom’s gentle spirit, he thought maybe this female was more vicious than most. The knowledge of what she was capable of, and what she intended to to him made it all but impossible to react the way she expected him to.
And she tried in so many ways. If the circumstances had been different, Ed would have been amazed. Being a doctor, he didn’t think he should have been so stunned. After all, there were only a few ways this could be done.
But he had been wrong. Apparently the female dominants were aggressive and persistant in their mating behavior. Falling back on his scientific method helped him hold panic at bay, but it did nothing to facilitate the act he had undertaken to perform.
Pain wasn’t Ed’s idea of a sexy encounter, but he soon learned that it was an integral part of the act for the dominants, or at least this particular female. If he hadn’t known his life depended on his reaction, Ed would have told her to leave him alone. By now he was way past worrying about what sort of man that made him look like. But no matter what she did to him, he had to put on a brave face and struggle to keep up.
It wasn’t long before he was bleeding all over. He was getting intimately familiar with both her fingernails and her teeth. But it didn’t stop there. Now she was bringing out a scarf. It was made of silk, and seemed to be expensive. Though Ed didn’t really have any opinions about women’s fashion. For a moment he thought she was going to blindfold him, then when he realized what it really was she was doing, he wished that had been her intention.
“Wait. Give me a second. I’ll -“
“Yes, I ‘m sure you will. Eventually. In the meantime, let’s do something for me.”
And without any concern for his feelings, she calmly and indifferently went about arranging the scarf around his neck, pulling harder and harder, until he nearly blacked out. He had seconds in which to wonder how he was supposed to satisfy her, when he was unconscious, then the scarf was removed and mercifully he could feel air filtering through to his tortured lungs. In his terror he hadn’t even felt the pain of the silk eating into his neck, but now he realized that he would carry her mark for weeks, if he lived that long.
She gave him what felt like seconds but later he thought it might have been almost two minutes. After that time, he was expected to be sufficiently recovered to turn his attention back to her. He tried to. Impatiently she pushed him off and decided to deal with it in a more decisive way.
Ed had to force himself not to flinch at her touch. She didn’t have much more luck with that, though she was as expert as Ed had ever experienced. Unfortunately it was all wasted on him. Straddling him, she tried again to achieve the effect she had been after, but again he disappointed her, after only a few seconds.
“I’m beginning to think you’re only trying to buy time. You’re not nearly as crazy about me as you led me to believe. How about I just kill you right now? At least that would give me some satisfaction.”
“No. Wait. I can do this.”
In his desperation he finally thought of something that might prove appealing enough to stay the execution a while longer. But he shuddered at the thought of performing this intimate act with anyone other than Sloan. At last he seemed to have found the right thing to do. No enthusiasm was required on his part, so all he needed was his resolve.
Grimly he set to work, and the scientist in him was amazed at the strong reaction it caused. As she was writhing in the aftermath of her climax, Ed heard the door creak. So did she apparently, and her reaction was lightning quick. She whirled about, and was out of bed within seconds, still naked, but totally unconcerned with that minor detail.
“Tom? How nice of you to join us. Want to play?”
“Are you ok, Ed?”
Tom’s question was unnecessary, or so Ed felt. What did he think? Would he be lying like this, with no clothes on, covered with his own blood, if he was ok? But he knew Tom meant something more than the obvious.
“If you let Ed go, I’ll leave you alone.”
“Is that any way to talk to your mother?”
“It’s too late for that sort of thing, mother. Just let Ed go -“
“No. Now you listen to me, Tom. I have no intention of letting your little playmate go. His death will serve as a message for your female friend. She took you from me, now I will take him from her.”
While she was speaking, she was moving towards the door. Ed still had presence of mind enough to drag himself off the bed. His head was swimming, and his legs were unsteady, but he made sure he got as far away from the dominant female as possible.
There was only one door, and he knew that he wouldn’t be able to get past her, but he had to try to put as much distance as possible between him that lethal threat. The window was too small for him to get through, even if he had time to try.
Tom had a gun in his hand, and the look on his face was so filled with sadness it was almost tangible. But there was also a grim resolve there, that told Ed that Tom hadn’t come here to be intimidated by his mother once again.
“You won’t. I’ll shoot you first.”
“Please. Don’t make me laugh. We both know how much you enjoy killing, don’t we? My darling -“
“Don’t call me that. You never loved me, and I learned to stop loving you a long time ago. I just killed all three of your lovers a minute ago. So don’t think I won’t.”
“How very inconvenient of you. Oh, well. There are always more where they came from. But I still say you won’t pull the trigger. I’m your mother. Look at me, Tom. You always used to like me in the past.”
“Like? I was too scared to disappoint you.”
“Not too scared to perform, if you remember, darling.”
“But I was. Remember all the times you punished me for not living up to your expectations? Of course I learned to force myself to do it. Do you really think I dared defy you like that?”
“Tom, I’m going to take Ed and go into the other room, and you won’t do anything to stop me. We are the same kind you and I. Of the same blood. You won’t kill me.”
All Ed’s attention had been on the dominant female and Tom, following their argument. He didn’t think Tom could have noticed anything anyway, and the female was obviously taken by surprise. Suddenly there was the sound of glass breaking and all eyes turned towards the window.
“Tom might not be able to. But I sure can.”
And not waiting for a reply, Sloan pulled the trigger. She went on firing at the dominant woman, emptying out the barrel. For once the dominant’s superior senses failed her. As the bullets disappeared into her flesh there was a look of startled amazement on her face. For a second nothing more happened, then she folded up and hit the floor, silently.
“Ed? What did she do to you?”
Sloan’s voice trailed off uncertainly as she took in the disheveled appearance of the bed, and Ed’s and the dominant woman’s nakedness. There didn’t seem to be any doubts as to what had happened. But that didn’t explain Ed’s condition, did it? Or maybe it did. Though she felt shaken to the core of her being by what she had done, Sloan found that she didn’t regret a thing.
She was glad that the dominant woman who had caused Tom so much pain, and now Ed too, was dead and gone. At least she assumed the dominant was dead. Now Tom bent down to make sure, and as he got up again, he nodded almost unperceptibly.
She couldn’t read his face. His face was the expressionless mask it had been at the beginning of their acquaintance. Sloan hoped that he wasn’t experiencing too much pain at the loss of his mother. It was hard to believe that he could.
“I’ll be right there.”
Sloan ran along the side of the low building. Whatever had happened, Ed was still alive. He would be ok. He just had to. She would make sure of that. Tom seemed to have sustained a few more injuries, but he too appeared to be more or less ok. Ed was frantically trying to find his clothes. Facing Sloan like this was intolerable. Tom was still standing over by the door.
Surely he wasn’t grieving his mother? If Ed hadn’t been too distressed on his own account he would have wanted to reach out and comfort his friend. But he was driven by a desperation that he knew was misguided. There was no way that Sloan couldn’t know what had happened. When Sloan entered the room, Ed was fully dressed, but Tom was still standing motionless by the door, not looking at anything.
“Tom? I’m sorry I had to -“
Sloan couldn’t bring herself to finish the sentence. She wasn’t really sorry, except on Tom’s account, and he had to know that. At first her words didn’t seem to register. As she was about to repeat her statement he finally seemed to focus on her.
“Don’t be. You had to do it. Thank you. Despite everything I’m glad I didn’t have to -“
“No, thank you. You were able to find Ed in time. If it hadn’t been for you, we would have been here too late.”
“Ray’s here too. He’s securing the perimeter.”
Turning to Ed, Sloan wanted to ask him if he was ok, how badly he was hurt, so many questions. But she realized that right now the last thing Ed needed was being reminded of his recent ordeal. So she forced down her worries and walked over to Ed to at least check him over visually. She winced at the way his face looked.
What had that monstrous female done to him? From the look of things, she had bitten him all over, scratched him too, and what was that nasty mark on his neck? Sloan had to force down the bitter bile that filled her throat at the thought of what had been going on just moments before her arrival.
“Sloan, I – Forgive me. I -“
“Oh, no. You don’t have to apologize to me. Please. Let’s just get you to a doctor -“
“No. No doctor. I’ll be ok.”
The note of hysteria in his voice wasn’t lost on Sloan, so she gave up the idea of calling for medical assistance. For the time being at least. That strangulation mark scared her, but she forced down her concern and concentrated on getting Ed away from this place that could only remind him of what he had had to endure.
“Ok. No doctor. We’ll just go home. Tom?”
“Yes. We can go now. The others are all dead.”
The sound of defeat in his voice was heartbreaking. Sloan knew that he had promised himself never to kill again. She had no doubts that he was the one responsible for the deaths of the three young men involved in the abduction of Ed. If she hadn’t been so worried about Ed, she would have wanted to offer Tom all the comfort she could, but right now Ed seemed to need her more.
In the car, Ray didn’t make any comments about Ed’s appearance, a fact for which Sloan was immensely grateful. She was hoping that Ray wouldn’t make the connection, but she feared he would read the marks on Ed’s face far too well. Even if he missed the sexual connotation, things were alarming enough as it was.
Ray dropped them off at Sloan’s place and drove off home. He mentioned something about calling off the backup he had ordered and promised to keep in touch.
Sloan and the guys hardly noticed his absence. Upstairs in the apartment the silence was getting oppressive. Finally, Ed cleared his throat.
“I just need to -“
He indicated the shower. The way he refused to meet Sloan’s eyes was only too obvious. She wanted to reach out and hold him, to obliterate any memories he had of the dominant woman, but she knew that there was nothing she could do for him right now.
“Please, let me check those bite marks and the rest of it when you’re done.”
For a second she thought he was going to ignore her, but with a defeated shrug he acknowledged that he had heard her. She decided to take that as acquiescence and left it at that. While Ed was in the bathroom for what felt like hours, she turned to Tom.
He didn’t look all that much better than Ed, and that chilled her. Normally, the dominant was so stable, even if he always seemed to be sad. Now he was as shaken as any human. Sloan felt a pang of guilt. After all, she was the one who had killed his mother.
And at the thought of what she had done, some sort of reaction set in. She had taken another life. Even at university she had been reluctant to use lab animals, and this was something far more sentient, if also a lot more dangerous, not so say evil. Ray had taken his gun back, with a look of relief. Sloan was sure he had been afraid of the consequences if she had been caught holding a gun she didn’t have a license for.
That was the last thing on her mind. Now she relived the moment of impact. When the bullets had cut into the dominant female. She hadn’t known what hit her. It seemed that death was instantaneous.
Perhaps that was for the best, but while it was happening, Sloan had been hoping for a more painful death. That creature had taken her lover and – Yes, what exactly had she done to Ed? With a barely repressed shudder Sloan decided to leave that question for later.
“I’m afraid I don’t know what to tell you. But you know you did what you had to do. Try not to dwell on it. I try not to think about the things I have done in the past. You shouldn’t either. There’s nothing to be done about it now anyway.”
Now Sloan couldn’t bear it anymore. She reached for Tom and he held out his arms to her. That was better. Much better. Burying her face against Tom’s chest, Sloan allowed herself to relax.
He was right. She had done what she had to do. If that dominant had left them alone, she would still be alive. But if she had been, what damage would she have caused then? How many lives had Sloan saved by pulling that trigger? The thought didn’t bring her any consolation.
“Tom, about Ed -“
“I don’t know – He isn’t badly injured is he? That strangulation mark -“
“He won’t be too badly injured. She wouldn’t like to end the game too soon. If he had been really hurt, he wouldn’t have been able to -“
Tom’s voice faltered and he left the sentence unfinished. Of course. This must be bringing back other, painful memories for him. Sloan cursed her own insensitivity. She would have to deal with Ed some other way. Tom could be of no help to them now. Sloan forced herself to remain calm.
“Look, why don’t you try to get some sleep? I’ll talk to Ed, and I’ll make sure he’s ok.”
“Sleep? No. I just need to -“
“Ok. We’ll just sit down.”
She went on holding him for her own sake, as well as his. They would find a way of getting through this together. As long as they had each other they would get past this. But after a while she was becoming aware of a fact that had been nagging at the back of her mind for some time.
The sound of the shower and running water had stopped. All had been quiet for a while. Suddenly she was filled with a sense of foreboding. Ed. She had to know he was alright. Pounding on the door, she kept calling his name. There was an edge of hysteria in her voice that she could hear, but was helpless to suppress.
After what seemed like hours, but in reality couldn’t have been more than minutes, Ed opened the door. He was pale and there were still traces of the bites on his face, but he was looking a little better than before. Except for his eyes. The expression in them chilled Sloan.
Now she knew what she had to do. Why hadn’t she thought of that before? She knew where Ed kept his medical supplies. He always had a small stash of those in the apartment for all eventualities. After a few moments of searching, she found what she was looking for. For a second she thought that Ed would refuse to let her inject him. But he merely slumped down against her, on the sofa, submitting without word of protest.
He seemed a little more relaxed and Sloan took advantage of the temporary relief by leading him towards the bed. Still no resistance. Pulling the covers over her lover, Sloan sat down beside the bed, preparing herself for a long vigil. Tom didn’t seem about to go to sleep either.
He sat by the window, ostensibly staring outside, but in reality Sloan suspected that he wasn’t seeing anything. If she knew how, she would have found a way of offering him some sort of comfort, but right now it was all she could do to hold herself together.
Towards morning she must have dozed off. Her neck and back felt stiff and she stretched painfully. Tom appeared to have retired into the other room. She fervently hoped that he was getting some rest too. Looking down at Ed she was startled to notice that he was awake and looking at her.
“Are you feeling a little better?”
“I guess so.”
Ed didn’t sound enthusiastic, but Sloan was anxious for any signs of improvement, and thought he looked a little less strained than last night.
They spoke at once, and broke off uncertainly. But Ed felt he had to try and explain himself. What he had done was weighing on his mind. He knew there hadn’t been any choice, but he still felt he had betrayed Sloan, and somehow he had to make it up to her.
“Sloan, I’m sorry. I just -“
“No, no. You have nothing to apologize for. She abducted you, and forced you to -“
“Forced me? No, Sloan, she didn’t. I -“
“She was going to kill you, wasn’t she?”
There was a barely perceptible pause before he replied. That was still too recent for him to dwell on.
“Yes. But -“
“You had to have sex with her to stop her from killing you, that makes it rape in my book.”
“I don’t think so. Or maybe you’re right. Anyway, I couldn’t -“
“Sh. It’s ok. You don’t have to tell me anything if you don’t want to. It’s over. I got you back. That’s all that matters to me. Somehow we’ll get through this. You and me. And Tom.”
“Yeah, well, I guess I know exactly what he’s been through in the past. And I suppose I shouldn’t complain. At least she wasn’t my mother.”
“Poor Tom. And tonight he had to kill again.”
“My fault. I’m really sorry about that.”
“Stop it, Ed. None of this was your fault. If anything, it was mine. I’m the one who discovered their existence, and turned Tom away from her. Not that I’m sorry about that. But that’s why she hated me so much she wanted to take you from me. Whatever else they are, they aren’t stupid. She knew exactly how much you mean to me. At least we put a stop to her, and to those other three.”
“I love you so much. Without you, I don’t know how I -“
“I know. I feel the same way about you. You have to know that.”
With a hand that she could just stop from shaking, Sloan reached out and traced a line from Ed’s temple to his chin. At first he tensed up, but after a while he accepted her touch. If she didn’t know how unwelcome it would be right now, she would have got into bed with him, to hold him, to try and make him feel safe. But instead she just remained sitting besied the bed, holding his hand, until he fell asleep again, this time resting more comfortably. Or maybe that was just wishful thinking on her part.
All she knew was that she would get Ed through this, and Tom too. They belonged to her, and no one would hurt them as long as she was alive. No matter how long it took, she would find a way to make them feel good about sex again. And while the struggle against the dominant species had to be their first priority, she would do anything in her power to teach Tom about love and affection.
All they needed was each other. Nothing would stop them. Nothing. Not even the dominants. At the thought of them, she heard a sound from the other room, and when she looked up, Tom was standing over them. The look on his face was so filled with love, she held her breath for a few seconds.
Without a word, Tom came over to her side of the bed and sat down. Something about the way he looked told her he was making the same desperate vows to himself. To keep her and Ed safe, and maybe to help Ed get over his encounter with the dominant female. After all, who would know better than poor Tom how to deal with those kinds of memories? Tom sat down beside her, and she held out her free arm and pulled him close. He hunched down and put his head on her shoulder.
Sitting like that, with the two men she loved the most in the entire world, Sloan felt as if nothing could stop her. Like she had stopped the dominant woman, she would stop the rest of them. They would have no idea what hit them. The female of the species really was deadlier than the male. The female of any species apparently. Perhaps the dominants didn’t yet know that. But they would. They would regret the day they ever began their war against humans. Sloan and her team would see to that.