Summary: Okay, this is something very different for me. Be warned it is dark. Major Character Deaths implied…. Ambiguous POV in the first chapter. Let me know who you think it is… UUD

Chicago, IL 1999

He sat at the table reading over his list. He really had no need, as he had memorized every name on it several years ago. But it was more of a habit by now than anything… sort of a ritual. He sighed as he leaned back and ran his hands through his hair. He grimaced as he noticed they were shaking slightly. Adrenaline let-down, maybe? He picked up the pen and crossed another name off the list. Twelve more. Twelve more and his team could rest in peace.

Late that night, he lay on the bed in his safehouse, far away from where they would find the body. They always did. And they were always mystified as to how the victim ended up dead… sometimes throat slit, sometimes with a bullet between the eyes, sometimes neck snapped... lying in a densely populated area, with absolutely no clues left behind as to the killer. He was sure he would eventually be caught. He had no problem with that. He just wanted to finish crossing off all the names on his list first. He figured he needed two more years. If he had not been caught by then, well, one never knew… did they?

He reflected, as he sometimes did, on all that had happened over the past five years, how it had all gone so horribly wrong, and on the last time they had all been together. On how his best friend had eventually died in his arms…

He had not chosen this life. There's a line. They had crossed it. They had chosen this. And he would not rest until every one of the people responsible for the deaths of his team were wiped off the face of this earth.

Los Angeles, CA, 1994

It would have been easier to bear, perhaps, if the night before the mission hadn't been his birthday. They got together at a local tavern and knocked a couple back, although none of them drank very much, as they did not want to be nursing hangovers during a mission. But they had a good time tossing some darts and just enjoying each other's company. They stayed fairly late, and it was the most relaxed he could remember ever seeing the others. It was a memory he would always treasure, even though at the same time, it tore him up inside every time he thought about it. He missed them so damned much!

The trap had caught them all by surprise. He never really knew the details of the massive plot, or exactly how they caught the others, or why he had avoided it. Fate, apparently. His best friend was gravely wounded and not exactly coherent. He wasn't even sure how he managed to escape his captors. But he got away, and that was the important part. He identified every last one of those involved in the plot… because he was smart, you see-much smarter than most people gave him credit for. He was grief-stricken, because the other two were already dead… had been killed trying to help him escape. But he had made it… and brought the intel to his best friend… and so they hadn't died in vain.

He did everything he could to keep his best friend alive, but they both knew it just wasn't going to be enough. They'd both seen it before-there would have been no point in calling a doctor. And so, in the end, it was the way it had always been with them. They held onto each other, and he swore to his dying brother that he would get them all. He would get revenge for the team. And even though his brother said he shouldn't, he knew he'd do the very same thing. And so they held each other through the long, cold night… and by dawn, he was gone.

For two years after their deaths he had gone to ground. Let them relax. Lulled them into a false security. And then his hunt had begun. Six per year. Exactly six-no more, no less. It was important they realize they were being hunted. That they know fear… that they never know when the next one of them would fall. And fall they did… six per year, at random intervals. And though they sent assassins to try to take him out, it was like hunting a ghost.

New York City, 2001

He smiled grimly. One more name. Just one. He stared at the list. This one was going to be trickier. The guy had made quite a name for himself as a hot shot stockbroker, and worked his way to the top of the food chain. His intel said he almost never left his office way up in the building he worked in. That was okay. Stealth was easy. He just had to be careful… get in and get out. He spent the long elevator ride thinking about what to do after he crossed this guy's name off his list. And suddenly, he was terribly lonely. His purpose in life had become avenging his brothers. After today… what would he have? He shook the dark thoughts away and concentrated on his mission.

The elevator opened onto his floor… and he headed silently towards the office in the far north corner. Suddenly there was a deafening, thundering cacophony of sound and all hell broke loose. There was chaos and screaming and smoke and flames. He had no idea how hell had just opened up to swallow them whole. As he fell, and then staggered to his feet, he realized that somehow… he was pretty sure his mission had succeeded.