The world is a vampire, sent to drain
Secret destroyers, hold you up to the flames
And what do I get, for my pain?
Betrayed desires, and a piece of the game

Even though I know - I suppose I'll show
All my cool and cold - like old job

Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage
Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage
Then someone will say what is lost can never be saved
Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage

Now I'm naked, nothing but an animal
But can you fake it, for just one more show?
And what do you want?
I want to change
And what have you got, when you feel the same?

Even though I know - I suppose I'll show
All my cool and cold - like old job

Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage
Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage
Then someone will say what is lost can never be saved
Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage

Tell me I'm the only one
Tell me there's no other one
Jesus was the only son, yeah.
Tell me I'm the chosen one
Jesus was the only son for you

Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage
Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage
And someone will say what is lost can never be saved
Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage

Despite all my rage am I still just a rat in a-
Despite all my rage am I still just a rat in a-
Despite all my rage am I still just a rat in a cage

Tell me I'm the only one
Tell me there's no other one
Jesus was the only son for you

And I still believe that I cannot be saved

Smashing Pumpkins- "Bullet with Butterfly Wings"


In a flash Cranky was in the kitchen, all thoughts of Vega pushed aside. Though he knew Kenny was not supposed to be here, old instinct had taken over and he was automatically more afraid for Kenny than ready to kill Vega. Vega most definitely had already retreated. Cranky froze, taking in the scene. The thoughts fired in his head like a checklist. Kenny on the floor; Dorian pulling him to standing; Jane with a gun aimed at Genta. He felt a vein twitch in his forehead in anger over Kenny's presence, but it passed as Jane spoke aggressively.

"That was the only warning shot. Get out."

Genta smiled, keeping his hands raised in the air in mock surrender. Cranky could see Jane's hands shaking in his peripheral vision…or was it his body? The blood loss was getting to his head and all this was happening too fast. Either way, it made him take Genta as more of a threat. To Cranky's left, Kenny became more aware and he began to struggle against Dorian's hold, trying to get to Genta, as he yelled.

"Don't you go anywhere I'm not done beating your ass!"

Genta lowered his arms, preparing to snap back at Kenny's threat. Cranky cut him off, hoping to end this now. He didn't know if he could fight anymore.

"Take the second chance, Genta."

Cranky watched a smile play its way across Genta's face. He would have taken Genta's reactions as a threat if he hadn't felt the presence of Marquez, Guile, Wagner and Ken behind him. Genta wasn't stupid and could clearly see that he was out numbered. He slowly walked backward, towards the exit. Genta spoke timidly, knowing the situation was not in his favor, but still, his words were like an attack. An attack aimed directly at Kenny's temper.

"Okay, okay, okay. I won't ruin the second chance. Come to think of it, it's my third chance, right Crankurt?"

With that, he was gone; satisfied with the brief havoc he had created. Pain started setting in for Cranky, but he was in no way done. As everyone else in the room shared a group sigh of relief, Cranky yelled.

"Just what in the hell are you two doing here?! Do you even know what could have happened?"

Kenny yelled back, already poised for a fight thanks to Genta.

"Don't you fucking throw that in my face! Maybe if you wouldn't have let him go, he wouldn't put me in danger?"

"This isn't about that and you know it. We had a fucking plan Kenny. I trusted you and if you and Dorian are here-"

Dorian jumped into the argument then, defending he and Kenny's actions to Cranky.

"Hey, Genta would've snuck up on you if Kenny and me weren't here to stop him, so stop bitching."

Julian spoke up now, ignoring the fact that they had needed the two boys' help after all.

"And what if Genta would have snuck up on Juli, or Melissa, what then?!"

Both young fighters stared blankly forward as realization hit them. Cranky couldn't help but continue to scold them for their actions.

"You want to be part of the action so bad, that you can't accept that you both were a part of the plan."

As Kenny and Dorian's stances deflated, Cranky's did too. His vision was blurry as he grabbed the side of the counter for support. The tile was loose and slipped causing him to stumble and the world to spin. Someone grabbed his arm; steadying him. He looked and then shook off Marquez's grip. Cranky wasn't mad at Marquez, he was mad at himself. It was just Cranky had been so close to taking Vega out. Of course, it could very well have been him who was taken out. That sobered him some. Even though their battle had ended with no victor tonight, Cranky had learned one thing; Vega was in no way invincible.


A strange combination of yellow and purple resulted in an ugly shade of brown under Vega's left eye. Luckily the swelling had gone down quickly, making him hopeful that the bruise would fade within a few days. His anger would in no way be leaving him as quickly. It wasn't as if he hadn't already wanted Craig Crankurt's head on a platter, but this rage was new and it continued to build as he surveyed his injuries in the mirror. That man had nearly beaten him tonight. They had tricked him. A voice rose behind him.

"Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you. I noticed that the police had actually taken Cammy White away earlier this afternoon. See, they tried to make her look like Jane Guile, but me, I could tell it was Cammy."

Vega turned to see Genta standing behind him in the doorway, he leaned on it casually. Vega's rage built with every word that came out of the youth's mouth. He gripped his hands into fists as Genta continued his confession.

"It was something about a body being discovered in some warehouse by the railroads. Turns out it was Cammy's prints that were the first to come off the gun, I thought they'd be Scott Wagner's. Maybe I shouldn't have tipped off the police after all? My bad."

Genta had tricked him. Vega dashed forward, his hands aimed for Genta's throat. He knew it! He just knew that someone like Crankurt could never get the better of him. Vega had just been set up. Genta side stepped away from Vega's angry grasp as he explained.

"Calm down, we're even now is all. Don't believe for a second I don't know you had something to do with that raid. I'm sure Bison would love to hear you sabotaged a potential chance at getting the stem cells he needs."

"Probably no more than he would like what you did tonight!"

Genta raised his hands in a gesture of surrender. He was trying to play allies now and wasn't very good at it. Vega could see the eat shit grin under his apologetic expression. But he let Genta continue. Vega had learned not to underestimate him tonight. Genta spoke.

"Look, I wanted to get even, but I'm not stupid. One phone call and I can fix this by lunch. We can both have what we want."

"I want Camilla!"

"That's fine. I want my position back. And it's not a request. If you try to take me down again, I'm taking you with me, I swear it."

Vega did not like how this lowly grunt had the audacity to try and level with him, to try and manipulate him. It was a pitiful attempt really. Genta honestly believed he had the upper hand. But Vega would play his game. Then when he had Camilla and he was done with Genta, he would kill him. Vega replied to Genta's blackmail attempt, straitening his hair in a mock signal of composing himself.

"You may have your position back, but you follow my orders until I have her, no questions asked."

Genta nodded in agreement as Vega continued with his stipulations.

"Inform me of where and when I can find Camilla as soon as it is confirmed. We will find a way to isolate her."

"We might have Crankurt to deal with."

"Correct, he most likely will not leave her side, especially since Camilla will not fight, she is afraid."

"Last I saw him he looked like shit."

Vega was glad he had cleaned up from his battle before Genta had sought him out. Crankurt had been a tough opponent, but of course, Vega would have the upper hand this time. He smiled, shaking off his concern.

"I am going to kill him then. He is nothing to worry over."

Even though Vega was playing into Genta's game, he couldn't help but feel giddy with excitement. The thought that in less than 24 hours he was going to get to watch as Craig Crankurt slowly bleeds out in the gutter was almost too much to handle. Then to add to it, Vega imagined the look on Genta's face when he turned his blades on him. Plus he'd have Camilla. It dissolved his rage. Genta had made him feel better after all.


Brrring, brrring. Cammy opened her eyes and slowly focused on the gray cinder brick wall that filled her vision. Brrring, brrring. Again with the phone, Wolfman's voice filled her ears as she turned over.

"Sorry love, I thought I had it set to vibrate."

He fiddled with his cell phone from the other side of the bars of her cell. He sat right in front of the door; body perched on a small metal folding chair. Cammy sat up and scratched her head as Wolfman put his phone back in his pocket and faced her. She spoke, voice groggy but urgent.

"Is-is everyone okay?"

Wolfman nodded before he spoke.

"Yeah. Shadowlaw did attack, but everyone is fine. Guile called me so I headed this way to tell you."

"And Vega?"

Wolfman shook his head.

"No, he got away."

Cammy's voice was solemn.

"Oh. How long have you been here?"

"Couple hours. I didn't have the heart to wake you up."

"Wish you'd been like that on mock missions, always up my ass for sleeping too long. I should have gotten pregnant a long time ago."

He humored her with a short chuckle as she went to trying to smooth her hair down. A quick look at her pillow revealed the half assed dye job they'd attempted was running out of her hair. Brown streaks littered the white pillowcase and probably her face. It would probably wash out. Too bad the cut was slightly more permanent, at least for a while.

Regardless, it felt good to have finally gotten some sleep, but she had to have looked like shit. She stood and stretched her body, popping various joints.

"So Colonel, you think a shower might be arranged?"

He stood and looked at her, face serious before he replied, ignoring her question completely.

"Look Cammy, I'm sorry about keeping Vega being alive from you. I had no right."

She walked to Wolfman as he continued.

"I don't know. I get to thinking that if you'd known, maybe things wouldn't have turned out this way."

"Sir, I'm safe. And I have to admit, life without Vega was…nice."

"I saw you and Crankurt at the tournament and it's like I saw this life for you."

Cammy nodded, knowing where her superior officer was going with his train of thought.

"The life you didn't get to have, sir."

"Cammy, Delta Red and family don't mix. I thought that without Vega to chase, it wouldn't be long before you were finished, and you'd move on from Delta Red."

"I love my job."

Wolfman stepped away from the bars and paced in front of her cell, getting a little angry. He spoke quickly.

"Come on Cammy, you love your revenge, just like all of us. I had my chance at a normal life already and it was….taken away by Shadowlaw."

"Colonel, you don't have to-"

"They were killed because I wanted both. I'm too far gone now, this is it for me. I don't want the same for you. You have to choose."

She nodded, eyes welling up with tears.

"I'm here aren't I?"

He nodded.

"Yes, right choice love. Alright then, now that we've got that in order, let us find you a bath."

Cammy took a deep breath and smiled as Wolfman headed down the hall, looking for an officer to let her shower. She'd done the right thing for once. It felt like every time Shadowlaw was involved, every time Vega was involved, she made the wrong choice. She'd actually taken her family's advice, not just their support. She'd come to Cranky, not trying to be the strong one, and asked for his help. It made her feel human. It was as if Shadowlaw's mere presence put her into that mode, made her into that person…that Doll. Even without mind control, when they were involved, she had no free will of her own. But not this time. For the first time in over a decade, Cammy's life wasn't being controlled by the overwhelming urge to get Shadowlaw back. In fact, she'd let it all go and never think of them again if it meant her child would never have to know the name Shadowlaw. This was the freedom she imagined for her life. Nothing scared her more than something happening to her baby. Despite that fear, despite the fact that she was locked in a cell, it was incredibly freeing.

Cammy's smile faded when the same detective from before approached her cell. He did not look her in the eyes as he unlocked the door silently. He motioned for her to exit. Of all the people to take her to the showers….then it hit her like a slap in the face. She spoke her first words to him.

"What's going on?"

He smiled, looking as if he'd won something before he spoke.

"You knew it was going to come to this, but you still wasted our time. Did you think he was going to skip town, that he'd be long gone before we figured it out? All your little diplomacy stunt did was delay the inevitable."

"What are you talking about?"

She was trying to play it cool but alarms were screaming in her head as he continued.

"Anyway, you're free to go Ms. White."

She was dumbfounded and let it show as Wolfman approached them, his finger held in the air to signal he was here but was needed on the other end of his cellphone too. She didn't like his worried expression; he was always calm about these things. She couldn't wait and questioned the detective as they walked in a group towards the exit of the holding cell block.

"Why is this happening?"

"We have a new suspect. And he's American, so none of this bullshit. But you know that right? After all, he's your brother."

It was bright as they walked down the back steps, but Cammy would have noticed from a mile away. There, across the parking lot she saw two police officers leading Wagner, in cuffs, into the police building. He held his head low and gave no struggle. Her heart sank as her suspicions from before were confirmed. Wagner had killed Conner Brady. This was worse than her not having a place to hide; she had full confidence that's what Wolfman was doing right at that moment. This wasn't Shadowlaw, this was the police. It was her gun, she loaded it, but she hadn't shot it, a simple residue test would prove that much. But Wagner, he'd shot it for damn sure. Images of the gruesome crime scene photos flashed through her mind and the reality of the situation hit her full force. She had to grab the rail of the short cement staircase to keep from falling, but nothing was there to stop the tears. Wagner was about to be charged with murder…and he was guilty.


Cranky avoided the urge to run his fingers along the hallway wall of Wagner's apartment complex. He wasn't sure if all the complexes on the air force base were identical or if the one Wagner lived in had something against people touching the walls. The plaster from the 80's looked like it was once some sort of burlap sack. It covered the long expanses of hallway between each apartment door. Worse off, it had been painted so many times over the years that the texture had become downright dangerous. The sharp edges, currently painted off-white, threatened you as you walked by, just daring you to swipe your arm, or glide your leg across its harsh surface. Cranky didn't need any more wounds to mend, so he navigated the hallway carefully.

The plan to keep Cammy safe had lasted for barely 24 hours. Cranky had known the plan wasn't long term, but he'd expected to have longer than this to figure something else out. The next logical step had been to move everyone to Wagner's apartment, as it was located on the Air Force Base. Being in an area secured by the American military should have given him more confidence than it did. Of course, being able to sneak Dorian onto the secure base in the trunk of the car and Julian's fake documents passing the gate operator's scrutiny had not inspired him to think otherwise. If they'd been able to do it, Shadowlaw would be too. Just staying together and gearing up for a nightly battle wasn't going to work for much longer. And now they were down a fighter.

It had been really hard to just stand there while the cops took Wagner away. But it was what Wagner had asked him to do. The exchange was still fresh on his mind, though the hour of sleep he'd had was not in favor of remembering anything in depth until he got a full 8 hours. He was shaken awake by Wagner, who spoke frantically.

"Take everyone to my place. It will be safer. Watch Juli close. Tell Cammy I'm sorry, but I have to do this."

Cranky didn't have time to question before the police bursts through the doors. There was no polite knock this time, which meant there must have been some kind of concrete evidence against Wagner. The warning call from Wolfman had bought Wagner the few moments he'd used to make sure Cammy would be as safe as possible. It felt so wrong for Wagner of all people to be in this position. Especially given his last action before being taken in was selfless.

In addition, Kenny was in an uproar, blaming the whole thing on Genta. Though Cranky didn't doubt Genta was somehow connected to the police's evidence, he tried to keep his cool. Things were going to be easier to handle. With military precision, Guile and Wolfman had divided them into two groups, one was leaving, and the other was staying. Ken had left for San Francisco with Jane and Melissa. Cranky had tried to get Kenny to go with them, but he'd refused. Juli had also refused to leave town. This gave him no relief from his worry at all. Cranky swore under his breath.

"Dammit"

He'd been lost in his thoughts and scraped his fist along the jagged wall. Luckily the group had arrived at the apartment door. Cammy opened it before he could even reach the knob.

"Cranky!"

Her hair was wet and already had returned to its familiar blonde, though the length was less familiar. She embraced him immediately. Cranky breathed in the smell of her in his arms, pressing his face to the top of her head. He spoke softly, even though his body screamed in pain.

"Hey babe."

Cranky looked closely at Cammy. Her skin was clean and glowed, the bags under her eyes had receded some. The full night's sleep had done her good, but it seemed nothing would take away the worried expression. It appeared permanently engraved on her face. He released his hold on her as Kenny stepped forward and spoke to her.

"Yeah, how about you give me a heads up next time? I can only take so much excitement."

Cammy smiled at him and pulled him into a tight hug as she replied.

"I'm sorry. Everything happened so quickly."

Cranky didn't know if Kenny was talking about their abrupt move to their current location or Cammy's quick move yesterday. Regardless, it brought a smile to his face to see Cammy and Kenny's connection. He had felt like shit all morning and now somehow he could feel his energy coming back. He took Cammy's hand as she led everyone into Wagner's apartment, which at this point had only held her and Colonel Wolfman. It was going to be crowded. Cranky broke his grip on Cammy's hand briefly, to shake Wolfman's.

"Colonel, thanks for everything you've done. It's been a busy 24 hours."

"It wasn't a problem at all. I wish I could have given you more notice about them picking Wagner up."

Cranky shook his head.

"No, it was better than none, Wagner was able to make sure we all ended up here."


Cammy felt the room go somber with Cranky's comment to Wolfman. It put her at equilibrium. She'd only recently stopped crying and she'd puked in the shower. She knew some of it had to do with the pregnancy, but Wagner's possible fate loomed over her head like a dark cloud. Hearing he'd been worried about her, even knowing what was coming his way made her heart ache even more. She was glad Cranky was here now though, it made things bearable.

Upon arriving at the apartment, Cammy had been assaulted with the smell of rotting food. Once fresh vegetables sat on the counter, some chopped, some untouched, all in various states of decomposition. She knew Wagner had not been home for a few days, but had not realized he'd left his apartment in such disarray. She and Wolfman quickly picked up the kitchen before she'd showered. Cammy had wished she had a camera so she could have proof for her Delta Red teammates that Colonel Wolfman had cleaned something up. Aside for that, he'd been connected to his cellphone; she'd mostly sat in silence, trying not to freak out. She'd been feeling alone and now there were six people cramming into Wagner's living room and two more on the way. Everyone talked quickly, catching up on logistics and if everyone was okay. Their words were a soft cadence in Cammy's head, as she silently made her own assumptions.

Cammy noted that somehow Cranky and Julian had made up, and while she was glad for it, it felt awkward. Less awkward was Kenny and Dorian's apparent friendship. It was only natural to become friends when going through situations like this together. Now that she thought about it, it wasn't until things started going badly that she and Wagner had really bonded. While the group appeared to be getting along, their injuries were far more concerning. Kenny's face was bruised and there was dried blood under his nose. Dorian's jaw was swollen. Worst off, Cranky and Julian tried subtly to hide their respective injuries. But she saw them in their tiny movements. Cranky 'casually' leaned on the counter, probably too sore to stand fully upright. Julian kept his hands folded together, not in politeness, but to hide the trembling of his right wrist which should have been in a cast. And here Cammy was, not a scratch on her. It was amazing what her family and friends could do when they put their minds to it.

"That sound good to you, Cammy?"

Cammy snapped to attention at the sound of her commander's question. She flushed immediately as she replied.

"I'm sorry Colonel, I was lost in thought."

Cranky released her hand and put his hands on her shoulders. He smiled at her as he spoke.

"He said we should all take a break and rest up, at least until Guile gets here with Juli."

"Oh. Yeah, that sounds good."

Cranky gave her shoulders a quick squeeze as he spoke.

"I'm going to try and sleep some more."

Cranky walked towards the guest room as she directed Julian.

"There's Wagner's room you could sleep in. I don't know about Kenny and Dorian."

Kenny and Dorian interjected simultaneously.

"We slept."

"We're fine."

Cammy nodded and sunk down onto the couch. Cammy wasn't tired, of course. She'd gotten sleep while everyone else had fought. Even then her worry had not left her. While she was thankful that everyone was okay, it was still difficult seeing their injuries, their pain. All of it because of her. She pulled her legs to her chest. Cammy didn't know if she could see her family hurt anymore. Rationally she knew this was right, but her heart still ached. Kenny plunked down onto the couch beside her, as if he knew she needed him to need her.

"So I need your help."

Cammy smiled and allowed the much needed distraction.

"What?"

Kenny dropped a large book in her lap, eat shit grin in full effect on his face. Cammy recognized it instantly, though she hadn't seen it in years. It was her and Wagner's high school yearbook. She laughed out loud and threw the book back at Kenny as she exclaimed.

"This is not fair!"

Kenny caught the book and started flipping through the index pages. Dorian and even Colonel Wolfman stood around him. Cammy waited, knowing what would happen. Kenny sighed.

"Hey, your name isn't here. Neither is Wagner's."

Their names were not mentioned in the year book. Of course, during high school she and Wagner were in the S.A.F.E. program. It wasn't very helpful if you went broadcasting the name of the people who were supposed to be kept safe. She couldn't help herself and had to satisfy Kenny's curiosity. It was, after all, meant to cheer her up. Cammy grabbed the book from Kenny.

"Here, it's not official or anything, not S.A.F.E. program appropriate, but I know where there's a picture of me and Wagner."

Cammy flipped through the pages from a time she hadn't thought on in years. She recalled joking with Wagner about even buying the yearbook. She'd told him it was stupid to buy a book full of people they didn't really know or care about. He'd dismissed her quickly, pointing to a picture near the back mixed in a collage with a variety of other pictures. It was of them, caught randomly in the busy hallway between classes. She hadn't even known it had been taken. Now she found the picture, thankful that Wagner bought this book, thankful that one of those people she didn't know or care about had snapped the picture. She pointed out the picture in the collage and spoke.

"Here's me and Wagner at his locker. We're both seventeen there."

Kenny laughed.

"Wagner's hair is fantastic, Cammy you look about the same."

"Not exactly."

Cammy herself looked at the picture closely. Her arms were folded across her chest and she smiled at Wagner. His face was bright and his mouth was open, probably telling her some funny story. It was a snap shot of a time when she'd felt like things might be okay. That was the difference. She wasn't afraid then. Of course she had rebelled then, running back into Shadowlaw's open arms blindly. If only she'd have known. Then she….probably would have done the same thing. But still, the S.A.F.E. program had worked.

Kenny and Dorian had since taken the book and proceeded to place her old classmates and their outdated styles on each other's "team" as some sort of playful insult. She would have joined them if the realization hadn't been so sudden. The S.A.F.E. program had worked. The S.A.F.E. program had worked. It ran through her head like a cadence. Cammy knew if she said something, this would be it. She also knew what would require of her and of Cranky. It was the answer they'd been looking for but the ramifications were huge. She turned to Colonel Wolfman who had taken a seat across from her.

"Colonel, did I ever tell you about the S.A.F.E. program?"