a/n: sorry it's been so long. my muse completely abandoned me, but it paid me a visit today, and this was the result

summary: Ben as Alec visited Logan atop the Space Needle while the real Alec was at Crash with Max. The transgenic pair decided to enjoy the rest of the evening and get back to the search for Logan and unlocking his computer files the following day. Then Ben got a phone call from Renfro informing him of a change of plans. 452 is his target, and that now takes priority over getting information about Lydecker's whereabouts. Ben goes to Crash, discovers that Alec is back in town. And that brings us here...


Chapter 12

Ben had to use his transgenic vision to get a good view of the shadowed figure visible through the Penthouse window.

He noted the familiar curtain of silken dark hair immediately. "Max," he breathed the name out loud with quiet conviction. Like it was…

A prayer.

Ben reached into his pocket to touch the crinkled photo out of habit. But this time, it wasn't there. Somewhere along the way, he'd lost her, his beautiful blue lady.

A memory flashed into his mind. Four days in isolation after they'd found it. Four days with his tortured mind as his only company.

It had been quite a struggle for him, to face such a challenge without her.

But he'd considered it a test. Once the four days were up, he wasn't looked upon as weak any longer. They finally accepted him for what he really was – a soldier, a hunter.

A killer. His focus returned to the building. He wasn't just wandering around for the view. He had a mission to complete.

452. My target.

He crept closer, trying to figure out some sort of plan to follow in hopes of fulfilling his objectives. But his efforts came to an abrupt halt with a wave of surprise. She wasn't alone; there was another figure in the room.

Ben almost gasped out loud into the night. It was like he was staring into a mirror. 494... Alec. He knew immediately as his eyes rested upon his twin brother for the first time.

The same pair of eyes was shining with the light reflected into his hazel pools. But there was a lighter twinkle in this set of eyes.

Ben's stare then fell onto the smirk spread across his brother's face, the same one that he'd been practicing into perfection and habit to the point where his lips twitched into the cocky grin without thought.

Ben felt his thoughts and breath escape him momentarily as he watched a pair of lips press against his brother's in a passionate kiss. Ben couldn't peel his eyes away from the sight, staring unblinkingly, as though if he stared long enough, he would find the trickery in the sight and prove to himself that it wasn't really happening.

But the longer he stared, the more real it seemed to his eyes and his heart. He absently touched his own lips as he watched an identical pair angle to taste hers as they molded together. Beautiful, soft lips that he knew all too well the satisfaction of tasting. His mouth went dry, and he couldn't tear himself away from the passion igniting in front of his eyes.

The memory of her taste and intoxicating scent surrounding him and lingering in his mind and desires no longer served to satisfy him. He found himself disgusted with the animalistic pleasure and need that she'd unknowingly instilled within him.

It made him weaker. She had a power over him, the ability to make him lose his thoughts and control.

The realization brought a churning to his insides and he found himself wanting to retch in a psychological effort to get it out of him, the helplessness she could instill.

Get it together, soldier!

Another flash of the beautiful woman in blue brought hope to Ben. In feeling her peaceful presence, even if only for a flash, he found the strength to turn away from the quiet rage building within him and the need to claim Max as his own. He leapt away from the building, abandoning his mission for the moment, and left the pair to keep their desires to themselves.

But it seemed he wasn't allowed to find any real peace. Poisonous thoughts kept lighting his mind. Against his will, he was assaulted with the images. Lips crashing into another; her tongue slipping under another as their bodies collided. He was tortured with the knowledge of everything they were doing right then. He knew Max well enough to know her every reaction; what actions would heighten her arousal; what to do to elicit her high and low moaning. And in his twisted assignment, he also knew what his twin would do to bring out her satisfaction and give her pleasure.

Damnit! Ben punched his fist through a wall before blurring along in an effort to escape from his maddening thoughts. He had to get away from it all. He ran absently to get out of sight from everything except the night.

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Max prepared herself as she approached the doorway. Playtime was most definitely over. Part of her actually felt guilty for putting it off even for a day. But then another part of her reminded herself that Logan had led Alec on a wild goose chase anyway, wasting a precious few weeks for nothing.

"So… this is gonna work?" Alec questioned the meeting again.

Max couldn't help rolling her eyes. He never used to ask so many questions. It seemed that wasting his time on a pointless Eyes Only tip had made him less willing to just go with the flow.

"He's really good at this type of thing. Plus, we can trust him," she tried to reassure him once the pair stood right outside the man's door.

"Are you sure?" Alec asked skeptically. For the moment, he didn't even trust Logan, let alone an informant of his. "It's just that he gave us a false warning before, Max. Plus, if he had been more honest with you, we wouldn't need to do this anyway."

Max frowned at him. Backing out wasn't exactly an option for them anymore. At this point in time, it was either go through with the meeting, or nothing. "Aren't you the one that said we need to get serious about this?"

Before Alec could argue or defend himself, the door burst open, bringing their brief argument to an abrupt end.

"Sebastian!" Max greeted more cheerily than she really felt.

The man made a slight nod from his seat, apparently, an indication for the pair to come inside, as Max wandered in after the motion.

"You said this was about Logan," his synthetically created voice greeted her.

Max nodded toward him. "I remember you were never one for small talk," she joked before holding out the hard drive.

"Old Gateway," he noted. "Not worth much these days, but you could get a good meal off of it."

"This is from Logan's computer," Max explained. "And we need to know everything that is on it."

At the word 'we', Alec took the opportunity to follow suit and step inside.

Sebastian eyed the transgenic once over as Alec drew nearer. "Another X-5," he commented knowingly.

Alec turned to Max with widened eyes. He wondered if he ought to care that an informant of Logan's knew their big secret. But the look on Max's face showed him that there was no harm in the man's knowledge.

Max took the moment to also eye Alec once over. Her lips curved upward in a light grin before she turned her attention back to Sebastian. "Yeah, that's right," she admitted to him.

A metallic arm reached out to accept the hard drive from Max. "I will look into this for you."

"Thanks," Max replied warmly.

"Give Logan my regards."

Max nodded, a worry evident in her eyes. "Right." No one knew that the man was missing. Considering that he only kept in touch with Max on a regular basis, the fact that his family had practically shunned him, and that he had no job on paper made it entirely too easy for his absence to go all but unnoticed. The only other person who really knew and was troubled by his disappearance was Asha.

The sudden thought of the blonde made Max wonder how the woman was doing these days. She hadn't seen her recently enough to trust that she was doing all right.

"Let us know when you find anything," Alec told Sebastian, bringing Max's thoughts back to the present.

"Of course," came the synthetic reply.

-------------------------------------------------------------

Ben didn't realize he'd been walking all night long until the glowing beams of the rising sunlight danced into his eyes, bringing his thoughts back to reality.

As he finally looked at the world around him instead of the confusing one in his mind, he noticed a building with colored windows, shining and looking beautiful as the light cascaded and danced from color to color. They were pictures, he realized. Stained glass windows. Of a church.

Whether the knowledge was from a memory, or from training and studying, he didn't know. But regardless of where the recognition came from, he couldn't escape the peace that was almost blinding as it chased through him. Every worry left him as he walked closer to the holy building. His feet that had been dragging, even for a transgenic, felt light as he approached the place, and his heart that had been heavy with all his troubles leapt excitedly as he drew near.

But a part of him couldn't let go of all hesitation. He was a soldier, after all; he had an undeniable sense of self-preservation, and he was embarking into unknown territory. There was no logical reason for the sight of a lone building to elicit such jubilant emotion. His soldier's caution made him wonder if he was walking into some sort of trap that could endanger him.

He allowed the calm feeling coming from the building to draw him inside with guarded steps. As he walked past the pews, he noted the beautiful images surrounding him. The figures in the glass windows looked so happy; they were smiling and glowing radiantly, sending a warmth to his heart. Ben stopped in his tracks to take a moment to lean against the wall so he could deepen the feeling of peace settling over him.

A gasp brought his mind out of his harmonic trance. He turned quickly and cautiously to find himself staring at an elderly woman.

"Oh, I'm sorry!" her quiet voice came to his ears. "You startled me. I didn't know anyone else was here." She smiled warmly at him. "Come to praise the Lord?"

Ben swallowed, unsure of what to say. He didn't understand what she meant. What was he supposed to tell her? A calming light led him to come here? When he really ought to be plotting the death of a woman that he couldn't seem to emotionally detach himself from?

While he was lost in troubled thought, the woman's sparkling blue eyes fell from his confused face down to his fists that were stained in his own dried blood from when he'd taken his frustrations out on a random wall. "Oh, my!" she said with an alarmed gasp. "You've come to the right place. Come on and we'll clean you up."

Ben wasn't quite sure why he followed her. It must have been curiosity. He felt like there was a memory hidden here. Something within him was connected to this place, but the truth was still locked away in a darkened corner of his mind.

As she dabbed a dampened towel over his cuts, she tried to ease his pain, in more ways than one. "I'm a sister here," she told him in between strokes to clean his skin. "You know, if something's weighing on you, we have priests here to help. Father Cady's having a service at 7. It'll give you just enough time to rest up while you wait."

"Service?" Ben asked simply.

"Well, penance, of course. Have you ever been to confession?"

"Confession…" he trailed as his memories took his focus away from the present again.

"In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. And how long has it been since your last confession?"

The calm voice on the other side of the slotted window pressed Ben to answer truthfully. "I've never been to confession," he admitted to the man waiting patiently on the other side.

"I've never been to confession," Ben repeated absently to the woman cleaning his wounds.

"Sometimes it helps just to talk to someone," she continued to try and welcome him to her beliefs.

"You're not a Catholic?" came the somewhat surprised reply from the other side of the window.

"No," Ben continued. "But I do have faith in the Lady."

"Our blessed Lady," the father replied, understanding evident in voice.

"Yes."

"I have faith in the lady," Ben muttered as his memory went on.

"Our blessed Mother," the nun said with a smile. With that, she held out a hand toward him. "Come, I'll show you."

Ben flinched when she touched him, returning once more to reality. But his mind was so conflicted that he was having growing difficulty in deciding which reality he belonged to. The one where he was a trained soldier sent to kill his sister, or the one that he was struggling to remember.

As her gentle fingers latched onto his, the warmth that raced through him told Ben his temporary answer. At least for now, he would accept the elderly woman's generosity and kindness.

------------------------------------------------------------

She led him to the statue of a beautiful woman wearing blue, surrounded by candles, some lit and some not. There were a few scraps of paper with writing scribbled on them as well as some prayer cards, and even a flower laying at her ceramic feet.

"These are for her?" Ben asked, his fingers reaching toward the personal items.

The woman nodded.

As his fingers grazed a scrap of paper, a white light flashed within him and the image of a set of teeth stained with blood burned into his mind.

In an instant, the frightening memory- was it a memory?- was gone.

Her hand rested on his shoulder as she guided him away. "You should rest now. I'll take you somewhere to sleep until dinner."

Ben studied her once more. Why was she doing this? She didn't even know him.

But then he remembered what she'd told him. She's a sister… He felt satisfied with the explanation. It's her faith in the Lady, he decided. The realization gave him the incentive he needed to listen to what she had to say and finally cave in to his human limitations, resting his mind with the peaceful drift of sleep.

"Thank you," Ben whispered as he followed her to find his safe haven.

---------------------------------------------------------------

Ben's body may have been at rest, but his consciousness was tossing and turning throughout the night.

Flashes of his old life flooded his mind as he slept, vulnerable enough to allow his subconscious to take over.

The priest pressed him further. "Well, why don't you tell me your sins, then?"

"I've killed."

FLASH.

'Snap!'

Just like that, the man's life drained out of him; finally his struggle ended and his empty shell slumped lifelessly onto the cold dirt.

He wasn't worthy, after all, the twisted thought justified the soldier's actions.

No!

Ben's eyes shuttered at an uncontrollable speed as he remained trapped in REM sleep.

He heard the vibrations of the machine just as he felt the vibrations of fear from the chosen challenger beneath his art.

"Hold still," he demanded in a voice that was deceptively calm considering the fact that he was creating a permanent scar on the innocent man, etching a bar-code onto the back of his neck.

4.

9.

No!

This time, Ben's body shook violently as the images continued.

His face pressed against the ground. She'd taken him by surprise.

So she found him. It didn't upset him. Not even when she chained him to the concrete, trapping him there.

She had taken herself into his mind and found the answer as to his whereabouts. She understood him.

FLASH.

"Shut up!"

Why was she screaming at him?

FLASH!

His finger reached up to graze his lip as he tasted the metal of his own blood. She'd punched him.

The way she was looking at him… it was like she hated him.

FLASH!

He knew she was right. He allowed her to fix it. She had to fix it now.

But the walls were whispering to him, many voices calling to him at once.

Duty.

Discipline.

His purpose. He was abandoning it.

A cold sweat poured over Ben as he watched the scene unfold. He knew the soldier's thoughts. He knew his reasoning, the justification for his destructive actions.

Ben knew that the soldier couldn't stop. She was distracting him, asking him to abandon his purpose.

He had to stop her.

The dark set of hazel eyes lifted as the plan came to him.

Ben knew what he was going to do.

Because of who the soldier was.

It was…

"NO!"

This time, the protest was strong enough to have a voice as Ben yelled into the night.

He shook as his senses adjusted and he took over his mind again.

His thoughts calmed as his breathing evened out. It was a dream. It had only been a night terror as he slept.

But he couldn't deny how real it had felt.

The vibration as a broken soldier tattooed his own bar-code into his victim's skin… Ben could feel his own hand vibrating along with the soldier. Knew what number would come next in the sequence.

Was it all a lie?

The light snapped on in the small room.

Ben immediately followed the change to its source. She was back. The kind sister again.

As soon as her arm stretched around him, Ben's shaking ceased and he melted into her fragile arms.

"What have I done?" he asked before his eyes misted over, shining with salty doubt and fear that his dream was more solid than he'd like to think.

"Well, looks to me like you've gone and had a bad case of the nightmares," she said kindly as she held onto him.

"It's just as well," she continued. "I need you up! Dinner's ready. Let's fill up that tummy of yours!"

Ben blinked his emotions away and followed her obediently. Anything to escape the helpless feeling that had almost overwhelmed him.


a/n: thank you for reading