This is it. The long awaited finale. I mostly pleased with the way it turned out. I hope you are too.

The sequel is in its early stages. I can't give a time for its posting though. I write awfully slow don't I?

Go ahead and read. You deserve to.

Disclaimer: I do what I like with them except own.

He noted Snake's subdued look. Alex was staring at Wolf and then back at Fox with a curious expression.

Fox answered his unasked question. "The man lied. Wolf isn't dead yet."

Alex nodded sadly and then looked to Eagle. Fox explained his situation as well.

Alex's eyes widen but he said nothing. Then he succumbed to a sudden coughing fit. He seemed to cough forever before weakly slumping forward and nearly onto the floor if not for Snake's strong arms holding him up. Alex gasped trying to drawn in a breath which sounded raspy and labored.

"What happened Cub?" Snake inquired

Alex gestured to his stripped throat.

"I should have anticipated this." Fox announced angrily

"What is it?"

"He's damaged his throat. All the screaming, his vocal chords are swelling."

"There's nothing we can do about it right?" Snake asked dejectedly


"Then stop beating up yourself, you're doing what you can."

Fox looked at him a little longer than was necessary then suddenly clenched his jaw. His face became a stony mask.

"No I'm not."

He strode over to Eagle purposefully and beckoned Snake to follow. "Help me move him. I need the bench."

Snake looked at him quizzically.

"We need to defend ourselves."

Alex sleepily watched from a corner, leaning on the wall for support while he cradled his sore arm.

The two men gently lifted their comrade from the hard board and laid him down on the crowded floor.

He did not stir as they did so.

Fox then took the bench over to the door with a mean, closed off expression on his face.

Pressing it against the door at chest level he forced the legs of it apart breaking them off leaving jagged edges. Then he took one of the resulting pieces in his hand, again surprising Alex with his strength as he split the thick piece in two again.

Snake took one of the pieces. He looked down at Alex and explained.

"I can kill him with this if I aim for the neck." Alex noted that he sounded perfectly prepared to do such a thing if need be and he was not surprised that he had no compunction about doing this himself either.

Snake continued "I'm not afraid to die right now Alex, it's inevitable anyway." He fingered the splintered wooden dagger almost fondly "But I'm sure as hell taking somebody with me if I do."

Alex startled suddenly when Fox took the remaining piece of the bench and broke it on the door. He tossed the other half to Snake who seemed glad to have it.

"Aim true because you've only got one shot with something like that." Fox commanded.

"I always do." Snake was the best marksman in the team with uncanny precision and little to no patience; he didn't need encouragement.

Fox just nodded curtly in acknowledgment. A moment later the door slowly swung open.

Alex involuntarily began to shake. His heart, weakened by the fear and physical stress of his treatment, beat erratically and loudly. He looked frantically to Snake for safety, knowing it was futile, yet craving it none the less. Snake came to him, incredibly moved by the sight of the previously strong willed, almost fearless, if somewhat hot-headed individual, reduced to a quivering shell of a person. So frightened by the prospect of more pain and suffering. Snake knelt beside him and pulled him close while Fox stood over Eagle, guarding him actually, with the make- shift club in his hands.

Isn't this sweet-" the man who entered began to sneer. But Fox lifted his weapon yelling "Shut the fuck up and back off!"

The man stepped back just before Fox was able to break his jaw with his savage swing and was silent for a moment, not truly expecting them to still fight back.

"The boss doesn't need him anymore." The man finally barked referring to Alex. "And you're next." He added maliciously

Fox looked ready to attack again but the man pulled out his gun and aimed at Eagle's head.

"Don't even think about it." He growled quietly "Else I'll put a bullet in his fucking head."

Fox froze.

"Why kill us separately?" Snake ventured daringly even as the sound of the gun being cocked echoed through the room along with their ragged breathing. "Wherever this child goes I'm going." He paused "Or else go ahead." He made solid eye contact with the man and glared wickedly.

"Fine, I'll just kill all of you then." He turned the gun on Snake who did not flinch as he held Alex's shoulders protectively.

The battle of wills lasted approximately half a minute before the henchman gave in.

"We'll see where the hell all this bravado is going to take you when you're fucking dead." He ground out backing down. He pointed the gun at Alex escorting them out of the room.

They didn't even bother to put up a fight as he led them to a room they hadn't seen before. The hardest thing now was steeling themselves for the pain before the death. Snake knew they weren't going to make it swift. He was terrified for Alex. How much was the child going to have to endure?

The courage and defiance he liked to show when they were back in the cell was not going to do Alex any good where they were going, but Snake was hard pressed to find out what would.

Alex for the most part seemed numb and unresponsive. Withdrawn into some recess of his psyche to comfort himself in oblivion. Snake hoped that Alex might be able to find solace there before he actually died.

Neither of them could have been prepared for what was actually in store for them.

Alex stopped short at the entrance to the room whose walls and floor were stained a telltale burgundy. The stench greeting them was a surprising mixture of sweat, blood and fur.

He grabbed a hold of Snake, pulling on him, backing away with a look of terror that echoed the feeling in Snake's heart.

But the man behind them viciously pushed them further into the room and towards the deep rectangular pit in the floor that was the source of their terror. Alex, who still could not or would not speak, turned to Snake with wide, pleading eyes.

Snake looked up, scanning their surroundings, searching for a way out that he knew did not exist. Anything to not have to look into Alex's hurt filled eyes.

He entertained the thought of sneaking up on the bastard who had led them in, now that his back was turned to prepare some other hellish piece of equipment, but he knew that would never work either. He was startled from his futile attempt at rebellion by Alex who had taken both of Snake's hands in his own and had very deliberately wrapped them around his neck. His meaning was clear and the look on his face had Snake struggling to silence the inner turmoil that Alex's suggested had raised.

How could he kill him? How could he allow the memory of Alex's very last breath to rest solely on his shoulder, he thought. Yet truly the question was how could he not. How could he deprive him of this last chance of a reprieve from the pain. If death was inevitable, he only deserved for it to be as rapid and as painlessly so as possible?

Snake blinked away tears he had tried so hard to hold back all this time. He glanced down at the sleeping monstrosity that they were about to have to face and steeled his resolve. He pulled Alex into a fierce hug, kissing the top of his head before taking a firm grip of his chin. "I'm sorry Cub." he whispered, tensing his muscles for the lightning fast movement that would painlessly break his neck. As Alex nodded his complete consent hugging back, Snake felt his arm explode with pain just before he was able to execute the maneuver.

Three shots of pain , that coincided with the explosive force of the gun that their captor had deployed in an attempt to stop Snake saving Alex from undue pain; quite unintentionally saving the child's life in the process.

The third shot caused Snake to stumble pushing Alex into the pit by accident and nearly falling in himself. In a testament to just how terrified Snake was for the pain Alex would feel in a few seconds, his right arm shot out, despite his mutilated shoulder, to grab Alex's outstretched arm in midair and he begun painstakingly pulling him back up again even as the animal awoke with a roar and charged at them.

Alex fell anyway when the man furiously kicked Snake in the side, flipping him over and breaking two ribs. Snake quickly rolled over, seeming not to even feel the pain, trying to find out Alex's fate. Staring down into the pit he couldn't see him anywhere. The horrible animal, which seemed to look like a grizzly bear but somehow not completely so, was standing on all fours actively examining what ever was beneath it. Snake screamed in frustration and grief thinking Alex had been decimated.

But the beast jumped up, excited by the sound, revealing Alex, who had apparently been knocked unconscious by the fall, lying perfectly still as though he were dead but miraculously untouched .

Snake studied him for one precious second searching for the telltale sign of a breath and laughed outright in elation when he noticed it, garnering new strength from the sudden revelation that Alex would remain unharmed by the animal as long as it continued to assumed that he was dead.

His nemesis next to him roared in anger noticing the fortunate turn of events as well. With new hope Snake attacked him in his moment of anger driven distraction and wrestled the gun away from him, throwing it into the pit, initiating what Snake would remember as the fight of his life.

Fox stood stock still as the heavy door shut in front of him. Yet even as he stood like a statue his body was quaking uncontrollably. His palms were bleeding from the half crescents he had pressed into them from his tightly clenched fist. The rushing sound pounded in his ears in sync with the hammering in his head and his utter inadequacy nearly brought him to his knees.

He slowly unfurled his hands with difficulty. He studied them, perhaps hoping to find an answer to this long-suffering problem in them, but instead took comfort in the blood he saw pooling around the self inflicted marks.

He wondered if this was how Snake felt when he lost his temper. When he described the sensation of aching to hurt something. Fox couldn't quite describe the feeling he had right now, maybe it wasn't the same, but he knew that if he was able to kill something, this heaving hole in his gut would be partially filled.

Still, thinking of Snake and his frequent descents into the unruly darkness, let Fox see something he hadn't cared to notice before. He thought of Snake's frequent outburst of righteous indignation, the times when he and Wolf saw eye to eye and collaborated on a decidedly violent course of action; to save something dear. Even as he considered how they acted and how much he always opposed it, he let himself fall to his knees; satisfied with the sickening crack that jolted up and down his legs and knew more or less that that was why they did it.

Fox was well aware of his own indignation at the treatment of his unit. So much more so because of the fact that he had been quite useless at the moment when they faced imminent death. He fell on his hands, loathing himself so much for the opportunity he failed to take to save those closest to him at the moment when it came.

If he every saw the son of a bitch again he'd rip his head off no doubt; But right now, Fox was more readily available.

The desire to punish was still ripping strong through his system and he needed punishment; since he had failed to punish the real culprits; he was guilty. That was his crime and it was no less heinous in his eyes.

He hauled himself to a standing position and silently begged Alex and Sky to forgive him for his hand in their deaths, then he launched himself at the door thunderously with the single-minded intent to tear down the thing or die trying which lent unprecedented strength to his endeavor. But almost instantly he was startled by Snake's scream when Alex fell into the pit.

He froze, listening in as hard as he could. He was so desperate to know what had happened, what was happening, that he heard things. Things that couldn't be there. The sweat dripping into his eyes went unnoticed as he listened even more desperately to what sounded like-

As soon as his opponent found himself disarmed, he wasted no time in retaliating. The two men wrestled dangerously close to the edge of the pit where the animal, excited by the scent of fresh blood on Snake's shoulder, was trying tenaciously to swipe one of the seemingly unsuspecting men into his deadly grasp. Alex, laying not far from where he had fallen, was completely forgotten.

Snake was extremely disadvantaged by the near immobility of his right arm, but he made up for it in the sheer ferocity of his onslaught. Still it was a lost battle. Under the shower of punches he was enduring, Snake suddenly decided to try pitching his opponent into the animal's reach in a bid to gain the upper hand.

If it weren't for the commotion in the hallway that slightly distracted his opponent Snake wouldn't have been able to pull it off. But just as the man faltered uncomfortably, Snake landed a fierce left hook to his lower jaw dazing him. He quickly rolled over. Now he was on top and he poured all he had into it. He could barely see for all the blood in his eyes and one of them was swollen shut but he really didn't care.

The man managed to get his hands around Snake's neck and the lack of oxygen was making his vision close off. But determination could go a long way. Snake stood up suddenly and instantly regretted it for the wave of dizziness that caused him to stumble.

The two men wrestled desperately. Truly, despite the fearless front he like to keep up around his friends, Snake was afraid to die right now. He was terrified to fall into that hole and be torn to pieces. He still want ever so badly to live. That fear made him fight like hell was at his ass.

With a mighty swing he knocked the other man off balance nearly falling himself. The man flailed around, backpedaling to save himself but the animal was upon him in an instant to pull him within reach. To Snake, although the scream was gut-wrenching, it was also satisfying. He turned away before he could witness the carnage but not before noting Alex's location so he could rescue him.

Except he quite suddenly found himself face to face with his real nemesis, the leader of the whole operation. He had a gun pointed in his face and the hate he had for Snake so distorted his already damaged face, that he looked like a bull dog.

"You think your so fucking powerful," he snarled "Well survive this."

A company of soldiers burst into the room and shot him down before he had the chance to carry out his threat.

Snake looked up in disbelief at the sudden turn of events. The relief he felt when he finally comprehended that they were saved was unimaginable. He felt so free of the burden he had been carrying that the mighty adrenaline rush that had kept him going for so long fled and he fainted.

Just as the SAS rescue teams emerged with the last of the prisoners along with his own men, the leader of a uncharted rescue team raised his hand in a signal. A minute later the ground shook with an underground explosion that obliterated the torture facility where Fox and his comrades had just spent 14 days that they would each remember for the rest of their lives. Other men had been found in the facility. Some already dead, others on the brink of death like these here. None of them unscarred.

The head of the British rescue team that had been sitting in the area for about ten days now with out a clue as to the atrocities happening beneath them, marched over to K-unit's true savior; Hesam bin Tariq Al-Fulan but he wasn't thanking him.

"Why the hell did you do that?" He nearly spat in the man's stoic face. "We needed that evidence!"

Hesam did not answer "We have no idea who these people were, much less what they wanted. You had no right "

Until now, Hesam had not acknowledged the man's presence, but his eyes flashed now with anger and pity for the poor souls who had nearly died because of this fool's incompetence.

"No, you didn't, did you? You don't anything, that's why these men suffered, is it not? It is beyond your meager understanding to comprehend these sort of things Captain. But I do."

He turned to the side feeling bile rise in his throat and spat into the hot sand at his feet.

"Learn to do your own job before you dare to tell me how to do mine." he concluded looking the man straight in the face."None of my men died because I acted for them and they knew I would. Yours? Not so lucky." His expression registered pure disgust. Then he motioned for his men to gather up their injured to go home; their mission was complete. As he turned to give his assistance to a struggling comrade, he caught the eye of one of the British soldiers who had been rescued alive. He was being hustled into a waiting chopper but he turned back and made eye contact with Hesam.

His dark brown eyes seemed almost black against the gaunt paleness of his skin and a film of lifelong memories of terror was visible in his gaze. His frame was slight and fragile looking and his brown, dirty hair stuck in clumps to his sweaty, bruised face, but he lifted his hand to salute Hesam, holding the pose for a moment and then nodded a sincere thank you.

Hesam felt the immense gratitude emanating from the man's heart and saluted back with a nod and a smile.

And there you have it. Finit. Completed.

Please tell me how it was. My intention was for this final chapter to come across as spellbinding and conclusive. This had been my original idea for the ending all along and I think it mostly came out well. Comments are most most graciously welcome.

Thanks to Dreaming Of Fraud and her lovely review and its perfect timing, I decided to post this even though the sequel isn't ready for posting yet as originally planned. But its started. I also have an all new one shot related to For Better Or For Worse, written and beta-ed but I have to finish the former before I can post it. It's called The Nightmare.

Any way looking forward to reviews and good night.