Ashley woke from a forced sleep to the sound of Leon's voice, but he wasn't talking to her. She struggled to make out what he was saying, or to whom he was talking. Eventually she heard Luis' voice, asking about spray, or something. A priest had given her a drink of water, maybe six hours ago, and apparently it had contained some kind of sedative.

". . .ask around when we get back." Ashley picked up her head, but did not hear anything except what appeared to be a murmur from Luis for a minute or two. She thought they had left, but a series of noises that sounded suspiciously like two individuals kissing ensued, along with the occasional muted moan of pleasure.

Ashley's heart sunk. She'd known about their relationship, of course. She could even recall exactly how she found out, exactly when things really started developing.

The villagers had retreated, but Ashley held off leaving the closet. That had been her worst experience so far; one of the infected had even banged on the thin wooden doors. Once she was entirely certain that the way was clear, Ashley stepped out. She could hear Leon and Luis talking about something, and crept up to the edge of the balcony to hear better. From where she was, Ashley was only able to see the back of Leon down to his waist.

"Luis. . . we don't have any way of knowing what could come from this . . ."

"Why do we have to know? We just mowed down at least fifty people, kind of; we could have died, but this scares you?" Luis' hand appeared on Leon's side, and Ashley assumed they were pretty close.

"I'm not scared Luis, that's just my point; we could have just died. Being here is dangerous."

Luis' hand found its way to the nape of Leon's neck, slowly lacing through the dark blond strands. "We're not going to die. I know you have to protect Ashley, but I'll watch out for you."

Luis had left shortly after that, and neither of the two males had known that Ashley had seen them. But this, right now . . . Leon and Luis being that close to each other, without even the slightest idea that Ashley wasn't too far away. The young woman had been infatuated with Leon ever since he had rescued her, which wasn't making this any easier. Bound to the wall as she was, though, Ashley could only pretend not to hear the last strains of a small conversation and hope that Leon walked over this way.

Her wish was granted. Ashley glanced up just as Leon realized she was down there.

"Ashley! Are you alright?" Leon hurried to the end of the stone peninsula, looking embarrassed and worried at the same time.

"A little groggy, but yes, I'm fine." She managed a smile. "I don't know how you're going to get me out of here . . ."

Leon glanced at the bars that held Ashley to the wall. He unhooked the semi-automatic rifle from his belt and turned towards his charge. "Ashley . . . you trust me right?" Leon raised his rifle. The girl squirmed a bit but nodded, knowing in her mind that Leon's aim was impeccable, but still unable to slow down her heartbeat. Ashley closed her eyes as tight as she could possibly get them and waited. Ping, crash . . . Ping, crash . . . Ping . . . crash . . . and she could move again. Ashley tried on a smile and stepped forward, hands on her hips. "Huh. Talk about near-death experience."

Leon smirked, and opened his mouth to say something.


The American agent glanced to his left, swore, and looked back at the girl. "Ashley, you need to get out of there!"

Leon rapidly reloaded hid rifle and shot the two zealots closest to Ashley. She squealed and ducked, giving Leon a little more room to work with. He made short work of the rest of them, although it took a few extra shots to kill the "leader". Ashley retrieved the key and went to the door, shaking.

"Ashley, be careful, alright?" Leon smiled at the girl, and she waved, disappearing behind the half rotted wood.

Luis strode up to Leon, face caught between a smirk and a frown. "So, how long do you think she'll take?"

The blond man permitted a shallow gasp as Luis wrapped his arms around Leon's waist and pressed against him.

"Luis, don't, she could be up here in five minutes or an hour, for all we know, I'd rather not chance it..."


Ehm, just a teaser until I finish this chapter, to hold everyone over -