Disclaimer: You all know the drill by now. Say it with me, "It's someone else's sandbox . . ."

Author's Note: Because when I'm good, I'm very very good . . . but when I'm bad, I'm better.

- + - + - + - + - + -

He let Adam drive, or made Adam drive or maybe Adam just took the keys from him and insisted on driving. Billy wasn't entirely sure how he got into the passenger seat of Tommy's jeep or exactly how long he'd been there. His thoughts had splintered, leaving fragments of himself scattered with the others, so that little of him actually remained here.

He was with Rocky, standing amidst the wreckage of their one-time safe-haven, eyes darting from wound to wound, drowning under the sheer volume of things he couldn't do.

He sat with Tanya and Jason, ghosting his hands over Emily's injuries, monitoring her as best he could, trying to piece her back together through sheer force of will.

He even stood with Tommy, in whatever darkness held him, picking up the shards of the enemy they'd been allowed to see, fitting and re-fitting them together in the vain hope they'd show something other than their own reflections.

But mostly he was with Kat, guiding her hands through the systems, keeping the silence and self doubt at bay by chattering on innocuously about something completely meaningless as the readouts continued to spit back useless information. It hurt him to think of her alone in that cavernous expanse, where everything echoed too loudly, including your own thoughts.

But she's been there alone. You left her there.

The thought was like biting into ice, it made his skull crack with such pain. He'd left Kat alone in the Zord bay for months, abandoned her to same maddening exile from which she'd rescued him. He knew she hadn't stopped. He'd imprinted duty on her too deeply, tattooed it on the core of her. The audacity of it startled him now, the idea that he'd been so demanding as to force himself into her psyche in that way, long before he could bring himself to even stand at the door of her heart and beg.

He turned in his seat, half-intending to demand that the car be turned around this instant, that they go back because he'd left Kat for too long, and he shouldn't leave her again, should chain himself to her side, until she made the choice to walk away.

The grim set of Adam's jaw bitch-slapped him back into reality, reminding the half-crazy, unfocused Billy he'd become that there were others with people on the line and, if he didn't remember that, having left Kat would be the least of his transgressions. He almost offered up an apology for his thoughts, but the meaninglessness of it already tasted of ash. So instead he looked down at plastic bag in his hands, at the thin, flexible pieces of terror inside, and tried to reel all of himself in. Gathering up the fragments, he left each teammate to their struggle, all except Kat.

A sliver of his thoughts stayed with Kat because they couldn't not, but the rest he turned the mystery he held in his hands. Holding onto the plastic at the corners, he laid the bag out flat on his lap so that the two discs caught the sunlight, glinting back up at him like cold, electronic eyes.

Frowning, he rested a finger to the side of the blood stained one, the one he'd come to think of as dead. He moved the finger to the one meant for Jason. Clean and sparkling, it lay there like a taunt, not quite alive, but . . . ready, primed. Picking it up gingerly by its edges, he held it between thumb and forefinger.

There was something . . . familiar about the patterns, something that tugged at his memory.

"What?" Adam asked, obviously having followed Billy's movements though his gaze hadn't left the road.

Billy frowned, as the thought flitted away, dancing just out of reach of his attempt to put it into words. He shook his head. "Nothing. It's nothing."

But there had been something . . .

- + - + - + - + - + -

Kat let out a sigh that was equal parts frustration and relief as the final scan told her what she already knew. The Zords were fine.

They were really more than fine. They were dandy, peachy-keen, and any other number of ridiculous expressions she could hurl their way. As best she could tell, there had been no Trojan horses left, no sabotaged systems that would short out at just the right moment. They'd been left to hum along, as perfect as she'd been able to make them in Billy's absence. In short, the Zords were doing a damn sight better than anything else around here, including her.

Now what?

At that thought, she sank down in the pilot's chair and looked out at her friends, willing them to give her some other answer than the one she had. Because the appropriate response to that question was, 'Now you go try to repair everything else,' complete with all the double-meanings attached.

In truth she'd been a little bit grateful that Tommy had seen to fit to dictate his will like some discontent potentate because it absolved her, just a little, made it okay that she was hiding out here, shielding herself among these great sentinels, trusting that Billy's handiwork would protect her. But now her reprieve was over. Time to be a grownup.

If Billy were here, it would be different. She'd go to him, help him, knowing that it was the best possible place for her in every respect, and if they had to be up in the darkness of the Power-Chamber, where they seemed to lose their footing with every step, at least they'd still be there to shield the other.

She ran her hand along the controls, and it occurred to her that she could call him. From here, she could reach him, listen to his voice. But even as she rested her hand on the com-switch, she knew she wouldn't. Not from here, not from Edward. There was something too blasphemous about that, even for her.

Still it didn't stop her from wishing that she could, and he could lend her a little of his strength, not much, just enough to shore her up, jury-rig her into working order.

Jury-rig . . .

Kat shot bolt upright at a thought so deliciously crazy, it just might work in this fucked up, brave-new world.

- + - + - + - + - + -

Beltane smiled inwardly as she extended her hand out to the black knight sitting across from her. Already she fairly hummed in anticipation of the power that would run through her at his touch.

These human greeting rituals were very convenient . . .

Touching a stranger . . . really it was almost like peeling off your own armor for the enemy, it left one so very vulnerable. Dulcea would never have stood for that sort of thing on Phaedos. Touch skin to skin and any reasonably gifted warrior mage could have you on your knees licking their boots like they were lasyal and corid before you had time to blink.

She couldn't of course, at least not then. Then she hadn't been reasonably gifted or really gifted in any particular way. Empyat, hollow, they'd called her, a vessel holding nothing. And so she left Phaedos, because her sister tried it once as a lesson about why Beltane above all people shouldn't touch, and Beltane found she didn't really care for either lasyal or corid.

And she did not intend to kneel, ever again.

But Dulcea's little lesson had taught her something . . . an empty vessel can be filled.

So she waited patiently, hand extended, a nice non-threatening middle-aged women sitting across from a well brought up young man. It almost took the fun out of things. Beltane thought of those lovely dark pits of self-loathing he called eyes. Well, some of the fun.

As expected he lent forward and took her hand.

She was vaguely aware of him saying something, probably his name and other meaningless words of acquaintance. She'd ceased to listen the moment his flesh met hers. This had to be fast because without her tools, without the reinforcement of the circuits she'd so carefully constructed, she couldn't hold him for long. But it's okay. She'd cracked him open wide enough that this would be a cakewalk.

Extending two fingers out just a little further so they brushed the inside of his wrist, she met his gaze, held it, then locking her will around it, she let the glamour drop from her eyes. She made quick work of the few mental defenses he had left, slipping past the rubble so easily he probably never felt it. And then she was in, tunneling through the terribly uninteresting human parts to the core, to the wellspring that held what was beyond human, what he disgraced by ever having carried it. Plunging herself into the depths she braced for the shock.


It had to be here! He was the black! She had seen it. Not just in the costuming or symbols, but how he handled the group, turning them, shifting their course. He was power and change. Beltane moved deeper, faster, pushing herself further without care for any damage that might be done to herself or him.

It had to be here!

But it wasn't. There was nothing in him. Nothing but human parts, and the sparkle of his pitiful fairy dust magic. Annoyed, petulant, she melded her will into sieve, methodically separating out the flecks of gold from his life-stream. They almost weren't worth the trouble, but she was loathe to come back from a job empty handed. Collect enough and she could have them forged into something marketable.

"Jason? I got you a soda."

She'd let herself go so deeply she almost missed the voice. Quickly, she moved out of him, ignoring the wake she created with her speed. He'd mend, and if he didn't . . . she'd be gone before they figured that out.

Releasing him the moment she surfaced, Beltane gave his hand a sharp jerk, and when he tumbled forward, her little scream of alarm sounded almost as real as the girl's.

- + - + - + - + - + -

Slouching in his chair, Adam leaned his head back and stared up at the water stained ceiling, trying to ignore the sickening smell of the batch of LB media somebody had made up recently. They'd been lab-hopping for the past few hours, criss-crossing campus as Billy went from one piece of equipment to the next. So far he liked the engineering lab the best. All wire and electrodes and special-built clean rooms, it felt modern and cutting-edge, like it should hold the answers. But since it hadn't, they'd moved on, to physics and then a chem lab where Billy had done nothing more than pick up a few supplies.

There seemed to be no building to which Billy's student id wouldn't grant him access, and Adam had a sneaking suspicion Billy had hacked more than a few of the university's systems to make sure of that.

Now they sat in the Macater lab, in the biology building. This lab was dingy—all living organisms and machines kept past their prime. There had to be better places to do this, but Adam knew enough about how grant money worked to know that the more money a lab had the more likely it was some post-doctoral slave would still be around, trying to keep his or her head above water and out of the feeding frenzy.

Turning in his chair because one of those water stains had started to look a little too much like Scorpina in monster form, he looked over at the projection screen of the high-powered microscope they'd usurped. He had no idea what good a microscope was going to do them, but nothing else had worked.

"Anything?" Adam asked barely bothering to keep the lack of hope out of his voice.

When his question was met not with a sigh but silence, he sat up straighter.

"You've got something." It wasn't a question this time.

"Maybe." Leaning forward, Billy directed Adam's attention to one of the pathways that lined the circuitry. "What does that look like to you?"

Coming around to sit the chair, Billy vacated so that he could get a closer look, Adam peered at the area Billy had pointed out. At first he couldn't see what had Billy so interested, it looked just like any other run of circuitry, not particularly interesting unless you knew what programs it carried bound up in its electrical impulses. Bound up . . . there was something bound up in the circuits, something that shouldn't have been there . . . "No way . . ."

"Tell me what you're thinking, just so I know I'm not crazy."

"I'm thinking that pathway right there is hybrid. There's organics bound up in the circuitry, but that's . . ."

"Not impossible." Billy cut him off, as though he knew exactly where Adam's thoughts had been heading. "Hang on, I need to get into my computer."

They sat in nearly absolute silence as Billy ran through the dial up protocol, both so on edge, it was amazing they didn't jump at every tick of the second hand. After what seemed like an excruciatingly long time, the computers connected and he pulled up a series of files, one right after the other, dismissing each so quickly, Adam had nothing more than a vague impression of technical documents.

Then he stopped and stared at the screen, absolutely transfixed. Coming around behind him, Adam looked at what had so captured Billy's attention. "Holy shit."

There staring at them from the screen of the computer was a schematic for the exact same pathway they'd just been studying.

"You have no idea," Billy murmured as he zoomed out to show exactly what this was a schematic for.

The only response Adam was able to manage was a rather graceless thunk as he collapsed in the seat next to him.

"Well? What do you think?" Billy prompted.

Oh, there was supposed to be thinking now, was there? That struck Adam as too damn funny, the idea that he'd be able to put words together at this moment. Still he found his mouth giving it a go, his tongue shaping the words with careful precision because they had to be carved fresh.

"I think we're out of our league."

The grim smile that flickered across Billy's face conveyed how completely they were in agreement on that point.

Adam swung back and forth in his chair looking from one screen to the other and then back, trying to work out why on earth the control pathway for their old morphers was now staring at them from the face of that thing. No answer was coming.

"Okay, here's what I don't get. They do different things. I mean we're pretty sure we know what that," he gestured to the projection screen, "little piece of nasty does, and we know what a morpher does . . . they're not remotely the same."

"They've got to be. We're just not seeing how," Billy murmured. The words were equal parts conviction and prayer.

Adam stood up and began to pace. He needed to talk this out, and until Billy told him to sit down and shut up he'd assume the other man needed to as well. "Okay, so we think you put this on a person and it somehow gives you control of them."

"That's about as far as I've gotten."

"But our morpher didn't control us, it gave us our power."

"Mm," Billy shook his head, "the coins gave us the power. The morphers just let us access that power."

With his back turned he missed the rather expressive eye-roll Adam gave him, though he did stop short of sticking out his tongue. Maturity on three hours sleep, points for him. "Fine so the morpher let us access the power in the coins. Let's us . . ." As he found himself reaching for the next logical word, it was as though someone had taken a yellow highlighter to the whole thing. He turned to stare at Billy. "Let's us control the power in our coins."

"Sonofabitch," Billy breathed as he stood up and walked back over to the projection microscope, "they reversed the pathway. It's not a replica, it's a mirror!"

He traced his finger along the feed line. "I just automatically assumed this ran the same way. Subject to power. But if you reverse it," he moved his finger in the opposite direction. "If you run it power to subject, then it's the power that's in control and whoever holds the reigns to that power, holds the reigns to you." He frowned in puzzlement. "So where's the power source?

"Wait a minute. Are you telling me that I've been willing giving myself over to something that has the ability to turn me into a puppet?" Adam was aware that his voice had risen so that he was on the verge of yelling, but if he didn't sound pleased, well he wasn't. In fact after what had happened with Emily, he felt decidedly queasy.

Billy gave a little shrug that clearly said 'You knew there were risks', and then obviously having thought better of leaving it at that, shook his head. "No one with access to the strings."

Well that made him feel marginally better . . . marginally.

But Billy kept going, spinning this thread of thought out to its logical conclusion. "Though in a way, I suppose that's what Rita did with Tommy, invested the green power coin with power she had access to, power she could still tap, control."

Adam suppressed a shudder . . . and they were back to queasy.

"Yeah, but . . . that was magic." He tried the words out as a dismissal, an effort to make himself feel better.

The look Billy turned on him made him feel a lot of things, better was not one of them. "We've been fighting the Machine Empire too long."


Billy cursed. "We've been going at this all wrong. I need to see the other one."

At that thought, they were a flurry of movement—Billy zooming out to see more of the . . . whatever it was, Adam didn't know what to call it any more; Adam grabbing for the blood-stained one that had been Emily's and carefully shaking it out beside the clean one that had been meant for Jason.

"What if there's nothing to see?"

"Then we're back at square one, but I'm not leaving until I know that. Look for anything, any kind of difference, a burnt out circuit, something added or removed, anything that will give us at least some kind of clue as to where the power source is."

"There's just so much blood." Adam whispered, as the grotesque mix of red and metal came into view, leering up at him like some fucked-up piece of modern art.

"I know. There's even some on this one." He pointed to the edge that had a thin rim of blood dulling the metal.

Adam frowned. "Was her hand cut?"

"I don't think-" Billy closed his eyes, and then snapped them open again, "No. No it wasn't. But her fingernails, she'd torn off two fingernails on that hand, index and middle finger."

Briefly, Adam wondered if he could call up every single injury at will, wondered what kind of full-color surround sound nightmares that memory of his made for.

"So maybe . . ." Adam looked down at his hands, contorting them in an effort to imagine blood from her fingers just skimming the edge of the metal, like a kiss. If she held her hand up it might run down her palms, catch in the lines . . . Bending her fingers in, running one pulpy stub of flesh against the rim, that would do it, and she probably wouldn't have even registered the new pain. Still it didn't feel right.

"It's bothering you, isn't it?"

"Yeah, it is, a little." He admitted, half-expecting Billy to tell him not to be silly. There really had been so much blood. It could have come from anywhere.

Except it was too specific, too precise, and apparently Billy thought the same thing, because he moved the view on the microscope to the same spot on Emily's disc. There, decorating the edge, almost invisible among the camouflage of Emily's blood, was an thread thin line of blood.

"Good instincts," Billy breathed. "Look at how the rest of the blood runs this way," he wiggled his fingers in downward strokes, like someone imitating rain, "but this . . . this runs in the opposite direction." He gestured in sharp diagonal strokes, stopping only when Adam grabbed his wrist.

"So what does it mean?"

"I think it means we might have just found our power source."

- + - + - + - + - + -

"You want to do what?!?" The words came out in strange, strangled laugh that Tommy hadn't meant at all, he'd meant to roar, meant to scare her back into her cage, just so she wouldn't have the audacity to think that she could do what she just did ever again. Because stalking onto the roof and coming to sit next to him, to look at him, and talk to him without even so much as a hesitation or flicker of guilt, like she had every right to still do that, was really beyond the pale, even for her. But her words were so ludicrous, that it came out as a laugh, and he found he was pleased to see her flinch just a little.

Still she didn't back down and strangely he found himself just as pleased by that because really he didn't want to turn into this monster, so maybe it was good he hadn't progressed to scary.

"I want to use the Zords to power the complex, or at least this part of the complex." She gestured down to the where the Power Chamber lay beneath.

"You know that's stupid, right?" He said the words before he had time to figure out how to phrase them correctly. He didn't want to fight with her, just wanted her gone, away, out of this night he'd claimed as his, but all he seemed to know how to do with Kat was love her or hurt her, and she'd already closed off one option.

"It's not," she responded, wearily.

"It is." He asserted, but the words had the same tired, chewed-over quality as hers. They were just going through the motions of this fight like they couldn't muster up the energy to really go at it, but they couldn't quite figure out how to communicate any other way. "I'm not going have us strip the only defenses we have left, just so we can have a little light."

"We need power."

"And I'm sure that Billy will provide it, eventually." His phrased the words intentionally. If Kat wanted to think of the ex-Ranger as perfect, then he could damn well shoulder all the responsibility that went with it.

"No. He won't."

Losing faith so soon. But he'd misread her again. He was always misreading her.

"He'll waste a lot of time trying to do it the way you want it, but he'll come to the same conclusion. We need power and we can't really fix anything to get power without power."

"Catch-22." He didn't look over at her exactly, but he found his eyes slanting in that direction, just in time to catch the ghost of a smile before she had a chance to tamp it down.

"Catch-22," she repeated.

And the little moment of understanding was such a painful reminder of all the things he wanted and couldn't have that it undid him, so before he could think it through, he'd turned and kissed her.

For second there was nothing but his lips against hers, the quick intake of surprised breath, her hands on his shoulders, and it was so sweet . . .

"Tommy! No!" Kat's hands scrabbled at his shoulders, pushing him away with such force that he had to throw his left hand behind him for balance. Touching a hand to her passion-bruised lips, she looked over at him in the horror he'd been trying for earlier.

He felt like the worst kind of heel.

"I'm sorry."

It took him a minute to realize that she'd said the words and not him. He didn't ask what she was sorry for, right now he needed to believe it was everything. Dropping his head to his hands, he just shook it back and forth, praying that she wouldn't be stupid enough to try to comfort him.

She didn't.

They sat there on the roof in silence, with no more than a foot of space between them, but it might as well have been the Gobi desert for all that it could be crossed now.

"So," he tried again, a vain attempt to reset, "you want to strip the Zords?"

"Not the Zords, just one Zord."

He shrugged, "What's the difference? Lose one and you might as well lose them all. You need all the Zords to make the Megazord."

"No you don't. You don't need Edward."

Thrown by her use of a name, he looked over at her in puzzlement.

"Your battlezord," she clarified, her mouth twisting in an ironic smile that told him she was aware of exactly how it sounded.

He pictured it for a second—Kat and Billy cannibalizing his Zord, ripping out entire sections to bend to their whims. The whole concept was a little metaphorical for his taste.

As though she'd read where his thoughts had headed, Kat began to tick off the talking points on her fingers. "It's too easily damaged, takes too long to repair, we can still make the Megazord without it, and I think if we jury-rig everything within an inch of its life we could get at least communications and enough power to start figuring out what the hell has gone wrong."

The laundry list of faults wasn't helping. He raised a hand to forestall any further persuading. "Let me think about it."


- + - + - + - + - + -

"Jason!" Tanya rushed forward as the Gold Ranger crumbled into the lap of the alarmed woman who sat across from him, but as she moved closer to him she found herself stopped by a great wall of vertigo. The entire room rocked and swayed, and she had to grab hold of a chair to keep her balance.

"Oh!" The woman yelped, and grabbed at Jason's shoulders just in time to prevent his head from connecting with the arm of her chair. Still struggling to hold onto to him, she turned and yelled, "Nurse?! Can we get a nurse?"

Before Tanya could do anything, a swarm of medical personnel had descended, extracting Jason from the woman's failing grip, and shifting him to a cart, whisking him away so fast, that Tanya was left with nothing to do, but stare.

She couldn't have moved anyway. Wave after wave of vertigo was crashing over her, spiraling her downward, forcing her under again and again until she couldn't breath.

"I don't know what happened." The woman was chattering on, apologizing for something that wasn't her fault. "He was sitting there. We were having this nice conversation . . ." She trailed off, "Oh sweetie, are you okay?"

Tanya shook her head, which only made things worse. "I t-think I need to sit down."

"I think that's a good idea." The woman's hands closed over her shoulders.

Suddenly Tanya was cold.

Shivering and nauseous and still fighting the vertigo that just wouldn't quit, she let the woman guide her to a chair. She couldn't think, couldn't do anything other hurt. Something had just happened, something important, but the pain was pressing at her memory, blocking it off. Gentle hands stroked her hair, and Tanya remembered the woman.

She lifted her head to say thank you, but the words died on her tongue.

"So you can see me." The woman looked at her with colorless eyes and raised the backs of her moonlight-pale fingers to her too-thin lips in a gesture that was almost contemplative, and Tanya saw a ripple pulse through the black veins that decorated the inside of her wrist. "Well, aren't you interesting?"

Beltane smiled against her fingers, enjoying the way the fear made the girl's posture go rigid. In truth, she really was almost as shocked as—What was her name again? Ah yes—as Tanya seemed to be.

Unable to help herself, she reached out brushed the hair out of Tanya's eyes, tucking it behind her ear. The girl flinched, but that was to be expected. "There. That's better."

The girl shot out of her chair. Oh really, this was immensely tiresome. Grabbing a bit of the yellow t-shirt, Beltane yanked her back into it. She wasn't going anywhere, not like that at least, not absorbing absolutely everything around her. Well, maybe absorbing wasn't the right word, but she was definitely aware.

Fascinated by this new development, she dropped her hand to girl's wrist, testing the waters casually. She was so open! It took no power to move through her. Like a raw, unbandanged wound, she'd take in everything strong enough to get to her, every poison, every toxin, even . . . Beltane cocked her head at that . . . yes, even future possibilities.

Even as she felt giddy at the discovery, she couldn't ignore the fact that once again the color was wrong. The yellow had no defenses to speak of. What was going on?

Reluctantly, she let go of the girl's wrist and sat back. Tanya spluttered and took great gulping breaths of air, as though she'd been the one plunged beneath the surface. Beltane watched impassively and tried to work through the riddle these two obviously presented.

She wasn't playing with all the information that much was clear, and it annoyed her. Everything so carefully planned out and the old man had pulled one over on her again. She needed to know more, needed the missing pieces.

This girl could get them for her, if she didn't have them already, wandering about like that, skimming off everyone's surface. And really the energy cost wouldn't so great, no walls to batter through, she wouldn't need to shackle her will in place with the control. After all it wasn't as though she'd be imposing herself on anyone, just taking up a little space, and the girl had already made so much room for the pieces she'd barely notice a few more. Beltane made a quick calculation. Yes, she could afford it, just barely.

It really was time she opened negotiations anyway.

- + - + - + - + - + -

Rocky came up so quickly after Kat left, that Tommy didn't doubt he'd followed her up to the Command Center. Briefly he wondered whether the impulse had been for Kat's good or his. Maybe it was both.

"I suppose you heard that." He murmured as Rocky pulled himself through the trapdoor, and sat on the ledge, his feet still resting on the ladder.

"Surprisingly, nope. Expected to, but really didn't."

"She wants to cannibalize my battlezord for parts and power." His voice gave the idea the dripping irony that was its due.

Rocky was silent at that, just sat there, contemplating. After what had stretched into an almost peaceful silence, he spoke, "It's not exactly a bad idea, you know."

Tommy laughed at that. "It's a brilliant idea is what it is."

"So you gonna let her do it?"

"I don't want to."

"Wasn't the question." There was an edge of warning to Rocky's voice. Don't be stupid about this.

Tommy looked over at him and saw the Blue Ranger preparing himself for disappointment. They'd all looked like that at some point today, he realized, had all given him that I don't have to like this look. He gritted his teeth.

"How did I become the villain of this piece?"

Rocky just shrugged.

"No, I'm serious! Billy waltzes back in here, like nothing's happened, swipes Kat out from under me, and I'm the one in the wrong? How did that happen?"

He meant the whole thing as some kind of rhetorical tirade, just a way to remind everyone of the facts, but to his surprise Rocky fixed him with a serious look, and asked, "You really want to know?"

"Yeah. Yeah, I really want to know."

"You're the leader, and you're not leading. You're acting out of anger, which is understandable, but not leading. Sucks, but . . ." he shrugged in resignation, "there it is."

Tommy was struck dumb.

Rocky sighed and turned to go, "There's probably something I should be doing. I'll just . . . go figure out what that is."

"Go help Kat."

Rocky's head snapped up.

"Taking apart that Zord is going to be a big job. She'll need all the help she can get."

- + - + - + - + - + -

Jason awoke slowly. First becoming conscious of his position—prone—and then his surroundings—hospital, he groaned.

"Oh good, you're awake." There was the snap of someone closing a book, and Tanya came into his view. Perching next to him on the bed, she smiled.

It was a cold smile, and he recoiled, forgetting he had no where to recoil to.

"That obvious, huh?" The not-Tanya asked, stretching her fingers out before her in examination. "I was really never very good at this part. Wearing someone else's skin . . ." she wriggled a bit, "can't quite get comfortable. Ah, well."

With that she reached down and ripped the IV out of his arm, quieting his scream with an open mouth kiss.

"Don't be such a baby. I didn't hurt you that badly, and this," she held up the IV needle, so that he could see it, "this certainly isn't going to help you recover."

She hopped off the bed. "Now, we really must get moving. Chop-chop." She clapped her hands together in a parody of a school-marm.

"I believe this is the part where you take me to your leader."

- + - + - + - + - + -

Comments and Criticism always appreciated. And in case you're wondering, no I'm not currently receiving professional help for the fact that I'm just this side of twisted.