In the end, Angie recovered from the rape sooner than Rollie did. She went into therapy for several months, spent a lot of the time on the phone talking to Lucinda in LA, and eventually started dating a nice, utterly non-threatening bloke she met on the internet, though they had yet to get to the stage where they met in non-public places.

Rollie, on the other hand, refused therapy, spent a lot of time drinking next to Leo's grave, and woke up every night from nightmares where he held Angie down and hurt her till she bled, screaming the entire time. Mira tried to get him to talk, Francis tried to get him to talk. Hell, Lucinda called him from LA and tried to get him to talk, but Rollie just wasn't ready to let it go. The guilt, the fear, the anger. It was all bottled up inside of him, threatening to tear him up if he ever let it all out.

"You know, you didn't do anything wrong," Angie told him again and again and intellectually Rollie knew she was right, knew that he was locked in a room on the other side of town while that bastard seduced her and then hit her, all while wearing a mask of Rollie's face.

His heart didn't care. His heart knew that Angie had been hurt and that that hurt had been because of him, and it got so bad that her hugs felt like they were burning him and her touches were like acid on his skin.

"Rollie, this has got to stop," Angie sighed, four months after the rape, after Rollie had flinched away from her again when she tried to pat him on the arm.

Rollie flushed. "I know. I'm sorry."

"I don't want you to be sorry," Angie said, her words spiked with frustration. "I want you to realize that there's no reason for you to be sorry. You didn't hurt me! Loubar hurt me, damn it, and he's still hurting me as long as you can't stand to be near me!"

Her voice broke and she turned and ran upstairs, her sobs carving their way into Rollie's heart.

For a long time he sat at his workbench, staring at the experiment in front of him, but not really seeing it. Instead his mind brought forth a series of images: the first time he met Angie, a spunky teenager who promptly developed a crush on her dad's new assistant; holding Angie as she cried after her father died in that explosion; waving goodbye as Angie went off to college to get the computer science degree that would prove so vital to F/X; her staying with him during summer breaks, teaching him everything she'd learned and helping him design and program Blue; her graduation, when she smiled at him and he realized for the first time that she was truly a woman; her face begging him to help her as she was locked away for a crime she didn't commit; her triumphant grin as they shot the last scene for Red Storm; that same lovely face marred by a bruise that he'd given her -- no, that Loubar had given her. Loubar disguised as Rollie. Christ, it might as well have been him.

And that was exactly the kind of thinking that had gotten him so screwed up in the first place. He hadn't done anything wrong here; he hadn't hurt Angie, he'd never hurt Angie. Angie knew this about Rollie -- why couldn't Rollie know this about himself?

Rollie growled and buried his face in his hands. He had to figure this out, damn it. For Angie's sake, if not his own.

After a lot of internal debate, he had an idea. An extremely unorthodox idea, but at this point he was willing to try anything. He'd just have to hope that Angie felt the same way.

Gathering the materials that he'd need, he went upstairs. Angie had her own room in the loft, though until Loubar's attack she'd kept a separate apartment. Since then she'd chosen to stay in the loft, saying that it made her feel safer. Rollie hadn't protested, though these days he personally felt entirely inadequate to protect anyone, much less someone so important to him as Angie.

Now it made things easier, however, for which Rollie was grateful. He knocked gently on her door. After a minute, he knocked again. And then a third time.

Finally, Angie jerked the door open and scowled at him. "What?"

"I have an idea," he said. He held up a pair of leather handcuffs they had used for a post-apocalyptic movie a few years back. "I need you to tie me up and touch me."

Angie raised her eyebrows.

"Seriously, Ange," Rollie said. "I don't trust myself right now, so I need you to be in control."

"While I touch you," she said doubtfully.

"I need to know that I won't hurt you when you touch me."

Angie frowned. "You think you'll hurt me when I touch you."

"Yes. Not with my head, of course, but with my gut. I just know deep down that if you touch me, you'll get hurt somehow."

"Rollie, you really need to talk to someone. If you want, I can give you Lisa's number--"

"I don't need a shrink, Angie!" Rollie snapped. "I need you."

"Oh," Angie said, very quietly. "Okay."

The mood was suddenly solemn as Angie stepped back from the door and Rollie entered the room. "Where do you want to do this?" he asked.

"Hey, it's your game," Angie said.

Rollie managed a small laugh. "That kind of defeats the purpose of you being in control."

"Oh. Well, how about..." she looked at the bed and quickly looked away "...the chair."

"Sounds perfect," Rollie said quietly. He handed her the cuffs and went to sit in the desk chair.

Without waiting to be asked, Angie laced the cuffs into place and then tied them together. When Rollie tested the restraints, he found that she'd connected them behind the support of the chair, making it impossible for him to move his hands more than a few centimeters, much less stand up or move around. At that moment he loved her with his whole body.

"Ready?" she whispered.


"Okay." She considered him for a moment and then reached out with her hand. Rollie tensed, but he couldn't move as her fingers wound their way through his hair. "I love your hair," she said, surprising the hell out of Rollie.


"Yeah, I do. It used to be longer than mine; part of me wishes you hadn't cut it."

"I always thought it was kind of fluffy."

"Well, yeah. That's what makes it so cute."

Rollie groaned, partially from Angie's words and partially because she had just started massaging his scalp. "Angie, no man likes to be called cute."

"Well," Angie said, leaning down so her mouth was right next to Rollie's ear. "It doesn't look like you're in a position to argue."

Rollie laughed. It was the first time he'd laughed since he'd found out what Loubar had done, and it caught him by surprise so he stopped.

Behind him, Angie sighed. "I wish you'd laugh more. You used to laugh and smile all the time."

"I haven't had much to smile about lately."

There was a long silence, so long that Rollie feared that he'd upset Angie. When she spoke, however, her voice merely sounded thoughtful. "Well, I guess we'll just have to work on that."

That was all the warning he got before a pair of hands reached down and started tickling his sides.

Rollie couldn't help but laugh, even as he instinctively tried to get away from the devilish hands. Unfortunately he'd forgotten that he was tied to a chair and he yelped as he inadvertently wrenched his arm.

"Oh shit," Angie said, turning the chair so that Rollie was facing her. "Are you okay? I'm so sorry, I didn't think--"

"I'm fine," Rollie cut in. "Really I am. But maybe we should save that for a time when I'm not tied up."

Angie nodded and twisted the chair around and started kneading Rollie's shoulders. The touch, which would have been unthinkable just a few hours before, was now heavenly and Rollie closed his eyes to savor the sensation.

When Angie spoke again, it was with the deliberately casual tone of voice she'd used when she was a teenager asking questions she knew she wasn't supposed to ask. "So does that mean that we'll be doing this again sometime?"

Lulled by her magical fingers, Rollie answered honestly, "I'd like that."

"Me too," she said. Her hands hesitated for a second, then slid a little inward, until they were touching the bare skin of his neck. Rollie drew in a sharp breath and the hands immediately withdrew. "Too much?"

"No, not at all. Just enough, I'd say." He held his breath to see how Angie would react, and let it back out with a relieved sigh as she eventually moved back to work the muscles of his neck. "God, Ange, I had no idea you were so good at this."

"I practiced a lot on my boyfriends in college," she said, and it sounded like she was smiling.

Rollie frowned. He really didn't want to hear about her college boyfriends right now. Or any boyfriends for that matter. Right now he wanted to think of her as innocent and untouched, free from any tragedy or pain.

Like her father dying, for example. Or her being framed for murder and thrown in jail. Or being raped by that bastard--

"I think you're thinking a bit too much," Angie said and she slid her hands down the front of Rollie's shirt.

As a thought deterrent, that proved to be highly effective. Rollie couldn't think of anything at the moment but the feel of Angie's lightly calloused fingertips tracing gentle paths over his chest and stomach.

"If you tell me to stop, I will," she murmured, her mouth once again right by Rollie's ear.

"Don't stop," he said quickly.

She chuckled, low and throaty, and her hands drifted closer to Rollie's nipples. He moaned softly and closed his eyes. God, he was starting to get hard. For the first time since the rape, Rollie was feeling arousal.

Angie was kissing Rollie's neck now, sucking wetly at the tendon that ran along the top of his shoulder. He would probably have a hickey there tomorrow; the thought made him harden even more.

"I've wanted to do this for so long," Angie whispered against Rollie's skin. "You have no idea how long I've wanted to do this."

"What about--" Rollie frowned and tried to remember the name of Angie's milquetoast accountant boyfriend. "Jim?"

Angie snorted. "George. And he and I only went on one official date. We decided we'd be better friends."

"How's that working out for you?"

"At the moment?" Angie ran a fingernail over Rollie's right nipple and he gasped. "Pretty good."

Rollie couldn't do much but moan some more as Angie's hands wandered down to brush her fingertips under the waistband of his pants, especially as doing so meant her arms were pressed close to his neck and her face was cheek to cheek with his. He felt like he'd somehow fallen into a dream. A wonderful, pornographic dream.

And then it was over. Angie's hands disappeared and her face was no longer next to his. Rollie blinked. "Uh, Angie?"

Angie stepped around the chair to stand in front of him. "That's as far as I go while you're in that chair."


She crossed her arms. "I refuse to have our first time happen with you fully clothed and tied to a desk chair. Also? I want dinner."

Rollie narrowed his eyes. "Angie, that shrink hasn't put you on any medication, has she?"

Angie huffed and moved behind the chair to start untying the leather. As she worked, she talked: "Rollie, you've spent the last six months unable to look me in the eye and until an hour ago, any time I tried to touch you, you'd jump away like you were about to be burned."

His hands free, she turned the chair till he was facing her. "I want my friend back, Rollie," she said softly. "I want you emotionally healthy and stable. Then we can try for something more."

Rollie considered her for a moment, taking in her lovely blue eyes, her dusky skin, and her golden hair. Slowly he smiled. "Angie, would you like to go out to dinner with me tomorrow night?"

She grinned back. "Rollie, I'd love to."