Here's the next chapter...personally, I think I f-ed it up. Anyway, thanks to all who reviewed, ya guys like cliffhangers, huh ;)? Please take your time with this chapter, there's a lot going on... and I tried to make Salazar's dialog as realistic as possible.


His blue eyes were half open, but he saw nothing. Blood matted his blond hair and ran in rivulets down the side of his face. His hands lay at his side, trembling, and his breath rattled in his throat. He was broken in every sense of the word, consciousness slowly being shredded away with his sanity.

Salazar jumped as the door flew open with a flourish, clanging loudly as it hit the wall. He hissed in terror and rage at the figure, who was standing quite still and in complete shock.

"Saddler." The word carried reluctant hatred and slight guilt. The priest ignored the Castallan, and hurried to the table where Leon lay, a painful and shocked look on his face. He cupped the cop's face in his hands, leaning in close, searching for any sign of recognition.

"Leon...look at me, please..." Those blue eyes remained empty, the only sign of life- labored breathing. Saddler's eyes traveled to the ruined chest, to the exposed Plaga. He hastily opened his hand over the parasite, and whispered: "Heal-"

"NO!" A furious shriek echoed around the room. Salazar had apparently snapped out of his shock at being discovered and had a breathless pink flush to his cheeks. He stayed where he was however, gripping the bloodied metal instrument, a maddening gleam in his eyes. "Leave it Saddler, it is mine!"

Saddler looked at him in amazement, the hurt of another betrayal creeping into his face. "Ramon?" he stammered, struggling to understand. Salazar gestured to Mendez' ruined body on the table beside him, tears of rage forming. "You didn't even care! You just said- you said it was a shame! You acted like he was expandable! He was my lover- you knew this!" Salazar paused for a moment to catch his breath. His cheeks were even more ruddy now, and a tear actually slipped down one. "And now he's dead because of- of him!" He pointed an accusing finger at Leon, who still lay limp and shivering. "Then you...and touched that filthy rat! You have betrayed us, Osmund, and forsaken your own religion! You don't deserve to be part of the Los Illuminados." Salazar finished with a whisper, tears falling freely onto the cold stone floor.

There was silence, broken only by Leon's wheezing breaths. The priest turned his attention back to the cop, who was blinking slowly and seemed to be trying to swallow. Salazar screeched, a sound that could have shattered glass, and yelled: "The gift should be Bitores'! YOU HEAR ME?" With no response from Saddler, Salazar was on the verge of launching himself at the older man when another figure in the doorway caught his eye.

Luis Sera held Ada's handgun aimed at Saddler, his face twisted in shock when he saw Leon. Saddler looked up and growled, just as Luis fired the first shot. The bullets hit their intended target; Saddler's eyes ending up deep inside his shattered skull. He writhed in agony, clutching at his face, before calling up his Plaga's mutation skills. His first leg mutated, the large yellow eye on it tightly closed., and then opened his mouth, the single eye widening as the next thing he saw was a needle descending through the air. Luis stabbed it into the eye, and squeezed the plunger before leaping nimbly away and watched the serum do its work.

Saddler seemed frozen for a brief moment, the eye on his leg swiveling round in panic, regular human eyes rapidly healing. He then slumped to the ground, mutated leg dissolving back and the eyeball in his mouth turning to dust. His hands twitched and body shook, the serum doing its job of killing the Plaga inside. Luis was at Leon's side in an instant, unconcerned about the twitching priest. He raised a new syringe, prepared to inject it straight into the Plaga covering Leon's heart.

"I'll save you amor," he murmured gently, the tip of the needle almost touching the quivering parasite. The next instant, something barreled straight into his legs, knocking him off his feet. Salazar picked himself up, slightly disorientated from the collision with Luis' shins, and strode to grab the gun that had slipped out of the researcher's grip.


He looked down at the thing that had just smashed beneath his foot, and grinned. The syringe.

He retrieved the handgun from the floor and pointed it at Luis. Truth be told, he had no idea how to use it, and would be at a complete loss if the other Spaniard tried to attack him. Luis remained on the floor, watching Salazar fearfully, his eyes wide. Behind him, Saddler's Plaga was crying out ultrasonically. Salazar could hear the screams of pain in his head and was torn by his Plaga's insistent mental nudges to go and help the writhing priest. However, he gritted his teeth in determination and, still aiming the gun at Luis, returned to his task of removing Leon's Plaga. This time, he was more forceful, dipping his hand into the American's chest and grabbing the parasite, wincing as small spines dug into his skin. Luis watched in helpless panic, actually willing Saddler to get up and help. The cult leader continued to lie on the floor though. No matter how fast the serum was, apparently it was going to take a little while for the shock of becoming human again to pass.

The Plaga squirmed under Salazar's fingers, its protective spikes doing little to deter the Castallan. The constant tugging was gradually dislodging the tightened tentacles, and, with a final pull, the Plaga's hold was relinquished. Leon groaned as the squeezing pressure stopped, shallowly panting in relief. Salazar, with the gun still trained on Luis, sauntered over to Mendez' body, the Plaga wriggling furiously in his grip. The two halves of his lover were hurriedly pushed together and the Plaga unceremoniously shoved into the bloody gap. It burrowed downwards, into the torn flesh, and out of sight. Nothing happened for a few moments; everything seemed to be frozen in motion, Salazar pointing the gun at a panting Luis, Saddler twitching on the floor, Leon still lying limp on the table.


The Dark.

It fogged his mind, numbing every sensation, every thought. Nothing to feel, nothing to touch, nothing to look at apart from incomprehensible bleakness.

There was nothing. For the longest time, there was nothing.

And then...

A flicker of light in the Dark. Some small spark of energy bobbed around ecstatically, more following its movements. He watched them almost giddily, self-awareness creeping slowly back in. Flesh healed itself, all the blood, burns and bruises fading into nothing.

Suddenly, like a lightning bolt striking the earth, his mind snapped into focus. The Dark was gone, replaced by blurred images that quickly cleared to give him a nice view of some sort of stone wall, high above him.

A ceiling then. He was lying down?

It didn't matter; all that was important was that now, he, Bitores Mendez, was alive.



The deep voice held a hint of confusion, the owner sitting slowly up and gazing around. Salazar was at his side in an instant, burying his face gleefully into the healed body. Mendez instinctively looped an arm around him, eyebrows knotted in bewilderment. He looked down at the smaller man, affection overriding his initial confusion. A pained groan came from behind and Mendez slowly turned, aware of his body's temporarily fragile condition, to see Saddler now lying still on the floor and moaning as though his whole world had fallen apart. His once-yellow eyes were now a stony gray, and they switched between Mendez and Salazar, and Leon. He struggled to stand, Mendez watching in horror as the powerful priest was reduced to leaning against the wall for support. Saddler then struggled, as well as he was able, to Leon, clumsily trying to press the snapped ribs together.

"Ramon...what have you done?" Mendez asked quietly, trying to steady his shaking voice. Salazar nuzzled closer into his body, eyes falling upon the panicking Saddler. He smirked.

"It doesn't matter. Everything will be alright now."

Thanks for reading...uh...