Author's Note - This is my first ever Dark Angel fanfic … what do you think? Should I write more fics in this fandom?


The transgenic who called himself Alec had been built for speed, strength, and endurance. But this? Was a little ridiculous.

Ames stood behind the one-way mirror looking in at the two men inside the dingy cell. Hudgins, the agency's number one information extractor (aka torturer) was beside himself. In fact, he looked almost as strung out as his victim.

494 sat slumped in a chair, hands bound behind his back, head nodding in exhaustion and pain. Dried blood caked the corner of his lips; sweat matted his hair into clumps and stained the underarms of his gray, blood-flecked t-shirt. His skin was bleached of color and so very thin – when he let his head fall back, exposing the long line of his throat, Ames saw how sunken his eyes were.

Four days without water will do that to a person. Four days without water, thirteen without food, fifteen without sleep, seventeen without safety, kindness, or friendship of any kind.

Most people would be dead already.

Most people weren't transgenics.

But even among transgenics, Alec was exceptional. It had never taken Hudgins more than twelve days to break someone, to get them to the point where they were begging to turn traitor on anyone and everyone. But it had been seventeen days since his capture, and Alec hadn't broken yet.

Ames was starting to think that he just …. wouldn't.

--

For the first few days, 494 had been the same smart ass Ames remembered from their first interaction all those months ago, when his men had tasered the young man and confined him in a cage. Back then, 494 had thought as quickly as he talked, managing to talk his way out of captivity. If Ames had known that the smarmy piece of trash would end up as 452's second in command … well, let's just say that what was left of him would have dribbled out of the cage.

It had taken a few days, but finally it dawned on 494 that Hudgins wasn't going to stop demanding the locations of Ray and 452. Every time Alec protested his ignorance, Hudgins tried a new technique—starvation, beating, burning—one after another after another. Soon, 494's cocky grin faded, and something like grim determination settled on his handsome face. Ames knew that look. The transgenic was digging in for the long haul.

Ames had to leave the viewing room then, had to march up and down the hall until the urge to enter the room and tear the genetic abomination limb from limb faded. It took a long time.

--

Hour by hour, Ames watched as Hudgins visited carefully calculated tortures on the young transgenic: blunt trauma, crushing three fingers, whipping, yanking out a tooth, and burning the backs of his knees with a curling iron. He would cry out, and did, especially when Hudgins used the cattle prod on him for nearly an hour straight, but he would not give up the information Ames so desperately wanted. For the most part, the transgenic bore each injustice with an almost robotlike stoicism. Hudgins' frustration was showing, though – his red face, shaking hands, increasing use of force …

Now that he'd moved past his utter and complete disgust at Hudgins' failure to a sort of resignation, Ames almost felt sorry for the guy. Ames's first reaction when thwarted was always anger, followed quickly by cruelty. They had served him well over the years. Snap a neck, strangle a wife, pull a trigger six or eight times—problem solved. But this neverending brutality … well, he was ashamed to say that not only was it sickening him, but worse, it was ineffective.

On the evening of the seventeenth day, Ames had had enough.

--

The sound of the door opening made Hudgins look up in surprise. The portly middle-aged man in a rumpled suit looked like he had been put through the grinder himself – face haggard and dripping with sweat.

"Sir?" He asked. His voice echoed off the empty concrete walls of the cell.

"Go home," Ames said. "Your assignment is finished."

Hudgins glanced down at 494 uncertainly. The transgenic hadn't stirred upon Ames arrival – his head hung listlessly, revealing the knobs of his spine. A glistening line of blood trailing from the corner of his mouth to his thigh, making an ever widening stain on the dirty fabric. His arms were drawn backward and his hands joined with handcuffs.

"Give me your keys," Ames said, holding out his hand.

Hudgins fished the key ring out of his pocket and dropped it in Ames's palm. Then he turned and walked out of the room.

Ames located the handcuff key and deftly unlocked the rings around 494's swollen wrists. The prisoner gave an involuntary gasp of pain as his stiff limbs flopped free.

Ames left him there and crossed the room to the restroom door. Inside, he wet a washcloth, wrung it out, and then filled a plastic disposable cup with tap water.

494 lay on the floor next to the chair, sprawled there in a daze as though he'd toppled off of it. He probably had.

Ames slipped an arm behind 494's head, supporting him, as he brought the water to the transgenic's parched lips. Alec's half-slitted eyes opened all the way as he gulped the water, spilling a little down his chin in his haste.

"Easy," Ames found himself murmuring. "Not too fast."

Ames got up and refilled the cup, then brought it back to 494. As he drank it down, 494's skin seemed to inflate before Ames's eyes, filling like an empty water bladder. The transgenic had no sooner finished the second cup when his face twisted in pain and he doubled up, arms clutching his middle as spasms shook him. His head lay on Ames's thigh and Ames felt an unfamiliar surge of emotion – protectiveness? – squeeze his stomach. Looking down at the young man's profile, senseless in pain, wrung out from days of torment, Ames was suddenly reminded of Ray for some bizarre reason. Maybe it was 494's smooth skin, or complete helplessness. Whatever it was, he found himself rubbing 494's back, and telling him, "Shhhhh."

It took a while, but finally 494's tremors eased, and he lay panting moist breaths into Ames's thigh. He blinked slowly, seeming to come back to himself, but too weak to lift his head. Ames watched his throat work as he gave what look to be a painful swallow, then rasped, "What are you doing?"

Trying another tactic, Ames thought. He wiped Alec's face gently with the washcloth, just like he had done so many times for his son. Ray, sweet innocent Ray, who could be dead or alive even now …

"Stop it," 494 said weakly.

The words hit Ames with a jolt. 494 had never pleaded with Hudgins to stop. Not once. He had simply endured. Grunted with pain. Cried out involuntarily. Screamed sometimes. But never asked for mercy. So, that meant that Ames was getting to him. Ames continued his ministrations, murmuring. "It's all right. No one will hurt you any more."

494's clear green eyes sought out Ames, wide and surprised, and he choked out, "I--" He lips began trembling then, and the trembling seemed to spread downward through his entire body. He ducked his head, shoulders shaking, the days finally taking their toll on him.

Ames marveled at the sight. He reached out and threaded his fingers through the transgenic's unwashed hair, allowing his palm to cradle Alec's skull tenderly.

"Please," he said, surprised to hear the catch in his own voice. Surprised to hear how genuine he sounded. "He's my son. My only son. I miss him so much. Tell me where he is."

Alec made a sound somewhere between an intake of breath and a sob, and turned his face enough to look Ames in the eye again. Tears tracked down 494's face in little oily tracks.

"I'm sorry," 494 said. "I don't know. I would tell you if I did. I wasn't involved in his capture.."

He was telling the truth. Ames was sure of it. But it didn't stop the terrible twisting disappointment in his gut.

Alec grasped his hand, warm press of skin on skin, and said, "He's alive. He's safe. I do know that much."

The relief Ames felt was like an ocean wave dumping gallons and gallons of icy water over his helplessly tossing form. He found himself curling into Alec, his lips brushing Alec's damp cheek, breathing, "Thank you, thank you, thank you," into the young man's skin.

Alec squeezed his hand in unspoken support. Ames felt his own eyes misting over. He detached himself from the prisoner, stood on suddenly wobbly legs.

"Rest," he heard himself say, and then he moved out the door, let it slip shut behind him, heard the click of the lock.

He left the building in a daze, the misting rain fall on his bare head, went to the nearest bar and had two shots of Jack Daniels before his hands stopped shaking.

Ray was alive. Safe, somewhere.

Alive.

--

Later, he returned to the cell, expecting to find 494 resting--willing and pliable and ready to tell him what he wanted to know about 452.

The cell door was unlocked; the cell within, empty.

He had locked the door when he left. He knows he did. He wouldn't have let slip an important detail like that. He wouldn't.

Would he?

He thinks about a cover story to explain the X-5's escape as he slips his key in the cell lock. And, he wonders, in the end, who had managed to break who.