The building was mostly dark with only a small handful of windows lit up. It was one of those places that had once been a factory and, during the booming nineties, was converted in luxury apartments. Once the Pulse happened the luxury and tenants disappeared and it was now a crumbling haven for squatters. Alec wasn't too surprised that this was what Paul called home. After three years of being in prison, the pickings were rather slim when it came to finding a place to live. No money, no decent abode.

When Alec had found out that Paul was responsible for Asha's bruised face, he began formulating ways to kill the man. For Asha's sake, he would refrain from killing the bastard, but that didn't mean he wouldn't teach a Paul a lesson he wouldn't soon forget.

oooooOOOOooooo

Paul lay on his ratty old mattress, finally falling asleep after spending the night listening to his neighbors have a major row. Just when he thought they had stopped and he could get some sleep, the shouting would start up again. He needed to get some sleep so his mind would be fresh and he could start planning a way to get back at Asha and S1W. He vowed that they would regret kicking him out. He had just started drifting off when the sound of someone banging rather loudly on the door pull him back to being awake. Mumbling a sting of curses that would make a sailor blush, he shuffled out of the bedroom and headed for the door. Opening it up, Paul found a rather irate looking man standing there. He looked vaguely familiar to Paul. Was he a sector cop?

"What do you want?" Please don't let him be a sector cop, prayed Paul. Having already made his weekly payment to the police, so that they would turn a blind eye to his squatting, he didn't have any extra money laying around.

"Are you Paul?" Alec wanted to make sure he had the right guy. Didn't want to hurt an innocent man by mistake.

Paul nodded. "Look buddy, I already gave money to Officer Jones yesterday. You're not supposed to come around til next week."

Alec gave a small laugh at the thought of being mistaken for a cop. "Don't worry, I'm not from the sector police."

Paul breathed a sigh of relief. "Then who are you and what do you want?" Could it be that S1W was sending someone over to beg for his return? After being gone for three years, he didn't know all of the current members. Maybe they realized they made a huge mistake and someone over to beg his forgiveness and ask him to return.

Deciding he didn't want any neighbors getting nosy, Alec pushed his way into the apartment and shut the door. He had to fight hard to control his temper as he wanted nothing more than to pound Paul's face until it was unrecognizable. But he had things that he needed to say first.

"Well, aren't you rude for someone who's come to apologize," said Paul.

"What?"

"Aren't you here on behalf of S1W?" asked Paul. "Cause you guys realized you made a mistake."

"Wrong again. Way wrong, as kicking you out was the best thing S1W has ever done and I'm sure they don't want you back. The reason I'm here is we need to have a chat," Alec used the word chat rather loosely "about you thinking it's okay to raise a hand to my girlfriend."

"Buddy, I don't know your girlfriend and I think you need to leave." It didn't even occur to Paul that Alec was talking about Asha.

"My girlfriend, Asha, has a huge bruise on her cheek from you slapping her."

"Asha's your g-g-girlfriend," sputtered Paul.

"Yes, she is and I don't take too kindly to people putting their hands on her," growled Alec.

Paul regained his composure. "She didn't tell me she was seeing anyone."

"That's because it's none of your business."

"So what, you've come to warn me to stay away from her?" asked Paul. "I should be the one warning you."

"What?"

"About Asha. That girl is nothing, but trouble."

"I'd shut my mouth, if I were you," growled Alec.

Angry over being kick out of the group he founded in such a humiliating way, right or wrong, Paul placed the blame all on Asha. She ruined my life, this is my chance to return the favor by letting her boyfriend know what she's really like, thought Paul. "I wasted two years of my life on that bitch and you know what it got me? It got me crap. I sent her on a mission any rookie could handle and she screwed it up. All she had to do was get a little bit of information from this guy Jasper and she couldn't even do that right."

Jasper? As in the Jasper who raped Asha, wondered Alec.

"Her job was to find out about some technology Jasper had. Technology that people would pay big money for. If she had just given him what he wanted, she would have been able to get it out of him. I had a source who told me that Jasper could be very chatty after sex and that with a few questions, Asha would have gotten everything we needed out of him. It was so simple. I had gotten us jobs in the club he frequented. A couple of words about what Asha was like in bed and Jasper was jumping to ask her out. But she couldn't follow through. Then, you know what, I call her on her incompetence and she gets mad and dumps me. She can't do her job right and then has the nerve to dump me for pointing that out."

Alec stood there, in shock, as he listened to what Paul had to say about Asha. Paul had just admitted to serving up Asha to the man who brutally raped her. That man nearly destroyed Asha's life and it all started with Paul. With that realization, Alec's restraint flew right out the window.

"Buddy, you should get out before she brings you down too. She's nothing, but ..." Before Paul had a chance to finish his sentence, a swift uppercut shut him up.

"You son of a bitch!" growled Alec. "How could you do that to her?"

Fueled by raw anger, Alec made swift work of Paul. A series of hard blows bloodied Paul's face and several well placed kicks cracked more than a few ribs. Every fiber of Alec's being wanted to kill Paul for what he did to Asha, but he stopped himself. He was no longer a part of Manticore and murder had no place in his life.

By this point, Paul was nothing more than a moaning lump on the floor. Every word out of his mouth, a plea for Alec to stop. Pleas similar to the ones Asha made when she was being raped. Paul was sure that he going to die that night and he begged Alec not to kill hm.

"Don't worry, I'm not gonna kill you. I want to, but I won't because I know Asha wouldn't want me to. She's a good person. Better than your sorry ass could ever hope to be and for her sake, I'll spare you."

Crouching down in front of Paul, Alec lifted the man's head up so he could look in his eyes. "So help me, if you ever bother Asha or anyone else in S1W, I won't hesitate to snap your neck, you understand me?"

Still reeling from the pain he was in, Paul didn't answer Alec.

"Do you understand me?" growled Alec.

Paul gave a weak nod which was all that his body would allow.

"Good." Letting go of Paul, Alec stood up. He walked out of the apartment, not once bothering to look back ad the pathetic excuse for a human being lying on the floor.

Pain radiating from every inch of his body, Paul lay on the floor rethinking his decision to turn down his grandmother's offer to stay with her in New Mexico. As soon as he could move without pain, he was heading for Santa Fe.

oooooOOOOooooo

Once outside in the fresh air, Alec looked at his watch. He'd better hurry if he didn't want to be late for his date with Asha. She had invited him over for a home cooked meal. He felt dirty, just from being in Paul's apartment, and wanted to get cleaned up and put on some clean clothes. He made a decision not to tell Asha what Paul had told him. He knew being raped was one of the most painful moments of her life. She didn't need to know that Paul, a man she once trusted and loved, was responsible for it. It wasn't because he thought Asha still cared for Paul because he knew she didn't. It's just that Alec knew that it would be an extremely painful revelation for her. It would her hurt to know what Paul had done and Alec vowed not to let her get hurt again. Not if he could help it.

More to Come

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