The mercenaries headed out on their mission, swiftly and quietly. Calob led them easily over the top of a wall, lush growth and trees covering them. They weren't spotted, no one even suspected their presence.

Once they were out of ear shot, two hands curled over the ledge of the wall…a pair of lapis eyes peered over carefully, judging it safe to continue.

Ted had followed the mercenaries step-by-step, not once letting them out of his sight. He made sure to stay low and quiet, managing to out-stalk them with every ounce of his training. He raised his head up, shadows playing on his figure as his dark-adjusted eyes watched the last of them go further into the compound. Scanning the area carefully, making sure he wouldn't be spotted, the blonde braced his hands on the ledge.

With all the grace of a jungle cat, Ted leapt over the ledge and landed in a low crouch. His trained eyes followed the movements of the mercenaries, his ears capturing every sound. He stayed low, sticking to the shadows as best he could.

The mercenaries stopped at the corner of a building, staying together even as their leader told them to halt. Calob took up his semi-automatic, putting it to his shoulder and lining up his shot. The target was up on one of the roofs, right in the light and out in the open. He scowled, lowering it for a moment to fill the chamber with a new set of rounds. Taking a deep breath, his comrades eyes on him, Calob raised it back to his shoulder and relined his barrel to get the shot.

A branch snapped, footsteps ringing in their ears.


With that one uttered word, eight mercenaries turned their guns on the one American.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa" Ted held up his hands in surrender, eyes wide.

Calob recognized him instantly, quickly gesturing for his team to stand down. Ted approached slowly, looking to every face before easing up behind Calob. He studied the shot the man was trying to make, and he knew that he could do it easily. The thought occurred to him that this was his in, and he wasn't about to blow it. "Let me take him" Ted rasped, eyes on the prize. Calob looked over his shoulder, surprised by the American's bold request. There was a moment between them, wordless communication, a sense of understanding in their eyes. With an ounce of hesitancy, Calob flipped his gun and handed it off to the marine. Ted studied the weapon quickly, letting his hands curl around the cool metal.

Ted took Calob's position, his sniper skills taking over his movements as he leant against the pillar. He raised the gun to his shoulder, aiming the barrel up properly. His ritual came back to him, allowing his mind to focus on what needed to be done. With his slow breaths, he briefly removed his hand from the trigger to rub his thumb over his fingertips. Sweat and grime made them slick, he knew that would have no effect on his shot. He took a moment to close his eyes, Cody's face swimming along the inside of his lids. Cerulean eyes, the warmth of his skin, the taste of him on his tongue…

Ted's eyes opened wide, only flinching slightly as he took his shot.

In a slight crimson mist, the guard went down.

Ted lowered the gun, a cool confidence about him as he casually turned his head to look at the mercenaries. They all seemed surprised, but Calob looked subtly pleased. The blonde handed over the rifle, getting a handgun in return for his efforts. Calob turned to his comrades, ready to give their orders.

"Blondie - Team Two" Calob gestured sharply for them to take one path, the long-haired man nodded and led his section out along the indicated trail. Ted watched them go, though he turned back to the leader to find dark eyes locked on him.

"You come with me" Calob informed him lowly "Team One."

Ted nodded, falling in line with the others as they followed Calob out of there.


Inside the resort…

Something was happening.

Cody watched carefully as the terrorists started to scramble just outside his line of sight, their shadows dancing upon the walls with the awkward lighting. One of the guards stationed to watch them had a radio in his hand, staring forward stoically as a voice barked on the other end. Obviously the orders weren't meant for him, but they were being distributed nonetheless. It was in their native tongue, he couldn't make out a word of it.

Cody turned to Cynthia, hoping she could help, "Can you tell me what they're saying?"

Cynthia looked off to the right, as most people did when they were trying to think and listen. She chewed her lower lip, concentrating on the garbled words. He waited patiently, trying to pull up his ivory shirt from where a few of the buttons had been torn. The rough manhandling from the guards had ruined it, and collar was gaping obscenely to reveal his white wife beater.

"I don't know" she stated softly, her eyes going back to Rhodes " 'The intruders will be dead'?"

Darren heard this, nose scrunching up, "Your marine, right?"

"Fuck, I hope so" Cody raised his eyes to the guards, following their movements "He'll get us out of here. No one's better trained than the Marines."

Darren scoffed, the word 'bullshit' on the tip of his tongue. He choked on his words when he saw the younger man's fierce glare, deciding it wasn't worth it.

Conner chose his words carefully, "You have a lot of faith in your bed buddy, don't you?"

"I do" Cody replied with conviction, daring him to fight it "He won't let me die here. If it's up to him, he won't let anyone here die."

Darren ran a hand over his eyes, hoping the boy was right.

Cody knew he spoke the truth, he just knew his lover was alive. His heart burned with the knowledge, with Ted's very presence. He would get out of here, mostly unscathed and sane. Ted would see to it, Ted always came to his rescue when it mattered most.

So he would wait for now…and Ted would come for him.


Water crept into every crevice of his body, but Ted put it out of his mind. They had slipped into the pool, making their way across the compound in the dark. Their movements sounded like nothing more than the ripple of water, not uncommon in the night. Guards passed by unaware, they all but kept their chins to the water and their guns dry just above the reflective surface. They kept to basic formation, making it easier to cut through the water.

"Team Two - copy" Calob spoke in a hushed whisper into his headset, pausing for a response. Seconds ticked by, nothing came over the line. The leader's brow creased, he spoke an octave louder.

"Team Two - Blondie?"

Ted came his pistol lined up, nervous eyes dancing around the compound for the chance they'd been spotted. He was ready to shoot at a moments notice, they all were.

"Team Two?" Calob's voice held a note of panic, not a sound came over his line. The group anxiously awaited orders, the American hoped nothing had happened. Three silenced gunshots cut through the night, soft to anyone not listening but blaring to their restless ears.

"Something's wrong" Calob growled "Move. Quick."

They started through the water at a faster past, the blonde noting that other debris floating in the water hid them better than the shadows. A chair there, broken glass, overturned tables, things of that sort.

Ted was the first to hit the edge and put his gun safely in the grass, lifting himself up out of the water gracefully and going into a crouch. He snatched up his weapon, dripping wet he turned into a military offense position. The others followed in suit, guns ready. On quick foot, they hurried across the open area to the nearest building, lining up along the side.

Ted stayed close behind Calob, backing up the man as they headed into the trees. They found Team Two in the brush, at least…their lifeless corpses. Once Calob was sure the coast was clear, he knelt down and laid his gun on the grass. He flipped the first body over, a bullet wound in the back of his head and his spirit gone.

Ted looked over his shoulder, wincing.

Calob was pissed, "Damn."

The leader went over to the next body, the American tending to the third one. They examined their wounds and rolled them over, both were dead as well.

"Shot in the back" Ted stated the obvious, letting the conclusion come to him "All of 'em. And the last one's missing. Blondie. If they had a traitor, maybe we have one too."

The thicker of the mercenaries in their team looked over his shoulder, giving himself away. Ted spotted him first, standing and shooting before he could over think it. He fired two rounds, Calob one, the man went down in a scarlet mist.

Calob looked around wildly, "It's a trap."

No sooner did the words escape his mouth did a spotlight come on, highlighting their position. Another one lit up, this one followed by gunfire. The entirety of Team One fired back as best they could, half blinded. One thought kept going through Ted's mind the entire time, squeezing the trigger and taking out two targets.

//I have to get back, I have to live.//

They were losing fast, and Calob only panicked when every member of his team fell except for the American.

"Take cover!" the man barked, the blonde obeyed. They scrambled over brush to a small hill, ducking behind it and taking the cover as best they could. It was all on pure energy, reloading and firing as best they could from their disadvantageous position. Calob set his gun on automatic, letting loose a rain of bullets to counter the storm unleashed on them. Dirt was kicked up above their heads, showing how close their deaths were. They tried to stay ducked, but there were just too many of the other side. Their position had been blown, and they would be shown no mercy.

Someone threw a hand grenade, taking a huge chunk of land up with it. Ted could hear terrified screams, but he didn't dare raise his head. His ears strained to pick up his lover's voice, but he couldn't decipher it. The screams weren't that far off, showing the hostages were all holed up together somewhere within a half-mile.

Ted raised his handgun and shot at the spotlight, trying to take it out. He was floating notions of just going for it when a bullet scathed his wrist, burning his flesh. He swallowed his yelp, pulling his hand back only to have his watch fall off. In that moment, he knew it wasn't the right time to play hero. Right now, it was time to play 'Retreat', and he hoped he was better at it than the other side.

Calob cried out, a warm mist brushing Ted's legs. The marine turned, finding his comrade had been shot nearly dead-on in the knee.

"Aah! I'm hit" Calob groaned, rolling onto his back as the pain seared his body.

A grenade struck the ground not five feet from them, blowing the blonde backward and onto his back. He just started to sit up when another clattered across the ground, rolling right at him. Without a drop of trepidation, Ted picked up the grenade and chucked it as hard as he could. It flew true, landing on one of the balconies and taking out at least three men.

It was only when they started throwing grenades like confetti that Ted realized it was time to get the hell out of there.

"Come on!" Ted knelt, hauling Calob's arm over his shoulder and getting him to stand "Move!"

They grenades went off around them in fiery bursts, stirring dirt up into the air and licking at their skin rather painfully. The American managed not to get them blown up, though they had a few close calls. Sparks constantly rained down upon them, the proximity of the blasts enough to keep the adrenaline pumping fast. They kept their heads ducked, though the mercenary shot back whenever he could.

Ted did his fair share as well.

The enemy was getting bold, charging closer to them with every step they took to get away. It was enough to make anyone give up, but these two were stubborn as hell and weren't about to give up. Calob kept up with the American, even with a hole blown open in his leg. Ted shouted at him to hurry, and by God - the man obeyed flawlessly.

Their pace only quickened when Ted caught sight of a jeep, making a b-line toward them. They had to get across a pool, and they were halfway across the bridge when a man jumped out in front of the vehicle. Ted rolled his eyes as the man just then pulled out his gun, the blonde shot him on sight easily. The man went down hard, bouncing off the jeep.

"Get in. Come on!" Ted all but shoved his comrade into the jeep, giving one last glance to the fallen man "Fuckin' mercenaries."

Ted knew there was a reason he never liked them, but he himself wasn't above stealing the fallen man's gun. He hoped into the driver's side, revving on the ignition and high-tailing it as fast as he could. Bullets and people bounced off it's thick surface, but he kept his eyes on the path ahead. A plan formed in his mind, a crazy one, one that Cody would probably try to pull if he were in this situation.

Forgetting his military training, Ted let one thought rule him, //Think like Cody.//

Ted skidded over onto one of the main pathways, keeping his shoulders hunched and his head down as best he could. Calob shot back with damn good accuracy, the enemy seemed to be going for quantity instead of quality in this situation. He turned a sharp corner, finding what he had hoped for.

"What the fuck?!" he heard Calob yell, but it was quickly drowned out by several grenades going off around them. Pushing the accelerator down flat, Ted braced himself for impact.

The jeep smashed into one of the resort wall's, the front end bashing open the stone and plaster. The force had knocked a nice size hole into it. Unfortunately, a grenade went off about the same moment and rained fire down onto them. Quickly patting the flames out of their hair and clothes, the two scrambled out of the jeep. Calob squeezed between the vehicle and the side of the wall, managing to get onto the other side. His American counterpart followed quickly enough.

The two made a run for it, disappearing into the trees to get back to camp.


In the resort…

Several of the hostages jumped when one of the doors burst open, nearly knocked off it's hinges as it slammed against the glass wall. Shoal, Damo's hothead younger brother, was the one who'd done it. He stormed inside, a wild look in his dark eyes. His shaggy raven hair fell over his face, only a bit of beard to make his baby face look older.

Cody would've considered Shoal rather handsome under any other circumstances.

Shoal gave a yell, stomping his foot down onto one of the chairs and shattering it. The harsh movement startled some of the women, gasps echoing from the group.

"Somebody's gonna die" Shoal growled, coming after the nearest hostage (a middle age man in a suit) "You!"

"No, no!" the man pleaded for his life.

A woman, his girlfriend it seemed, reached for him, "Please don't! Please!"

"Please!" the man echoed, holding his hands up in defense as the Kusang pulled out a knife. He brandished it dangerously, ready to plunge it down into the man's head, when Damo shoved open the door.

"No!" Damo barked. He walked with quick steps toward the younger man, seizing his arm and pulling him off the hostage. Shoal protested, but the older man's grip was firm.

"Calm down, little brother" Damo commanded, catching his brother's eyes and forcing him to put away his knife. Once he was sure Shoal wasn't going to lunge at the hostage, the leader dragged his brother away to the kitchen. The middle aged man scrambled back to his girlfriend, they clung to one another.

Cody watched the exchanged, something nipping at his heart. They could hear the clatter form within the kitchen as Shoal threw a childish fit.

"Kill them all!" Shoal screamed in rage.

Pots and kitchen utensils clanged violently, letting them know he was throwing a huge fit. A thud of fists on a steel table, food smacking into the floor, all to show his temper.

"Calm down, calm down. Calm down!" Damo ordered, trying to pacify his brother "Just tell me what happened. Calm down."

"Blondie said there was an American marine with them!"

Cody's heart jumped into his throat, //Oh Teddy…I knew it, I knew you'd come for-//

"Is he still alive?" Damo inquired.

"No, he's dead! But he killed our men! Our men!"

Cody's heart shattered into a million pieces, the invisible shards cutting into his insides. He put his hands to his mouth, cerulean eyes filling with tears. He breath sputtered, lungs cramping painfully.

"We must make an example! We must make a statement! Kill them all now!"

"Not yet. Not yet."

Darren crawled over, putting a hand on the younger man's shoulder, "Cody…I really…I am really very sorry."

"We have to wait for the tribute. Now, stay focused."

"Oh my God" he rasped, trembling delicately as he let himself believe the words "No, he…they couldn't have…" he raised his bound hands, lowering his head and clenching his fingers in his own hair "You stupid son of a bitch! You stupid…stupid, man! You fuckin' hero!"

"They must pay for this, brother."

"Yes, they will. They will. They will. Just be patient. Be patient!"

"…a small example, brother."

He felt Cynthia's hands try to rest on his shoulders, but he jerked away.

"I wasn't worth it!" Cody sobbed, clenching his eyes shut and letting his tears fall.

"Cody, please-"

"I wasn't!" he cried, scrubbing his palms over his eyes "Ted was everything! H-He was so g-good to me…and I just…I'm not a hero. My life's not worth his, n-not even close…I never got to say…I never said good-bye, or told him that I-I love him…"

Both Darren and Cynthia had gone quiet, he could sense their fear. He sniffled pathetically, roughly scrubbing away his tears before blinking the rest out of his eyes. The brothers had come back in from the kitchen, they had heard every word he'd spoken. A few minutes ago, he would've cowered back into the group. But now? With Ted's death weighing heavily on his mind…Cody met their gazes with a cold one of his own.

"You!" Shoal hissed, a fire in his dark eyes as he stalked closer to the group "Recon told me the marine was seen on the beach with another American. It was you, wasn't it?!"

Cody kept his lips clamped shut, glaring up at the bastard as he got closer.

"We slaughter women like you!" Shoal grabbed a handful of the boy's silk shirt, yanking him to his feet and getting in his face "Military whores! You little American boys think you can get can get on your knees for a big, bad solider and he will protect you!"

"Bastard!" Cody spat, getting a firm backhand. He jerked in the man's grip, spitting out a bit of his blood. The shing of a knife being unsheathed rang in the boy's ears, he was turned around and in the next moment he felt the weapon against his lower back. Cody cried out, trying to struggle against the hand that clamped along the back of his neck but failing miserably. The silk all but dissolved under the sharp edge of the blade, the crudeness of the act not lost upon the hostages. They cowered away, watching in shock as the ruined material was yanked off him.

Several dark love bites were visible along his neck and shoulders, faint scratches evident on his bare arms from where Ted had gripped him tightly as he rode them both to completion. Cody felt his cheeks burn as the man kept a tight hold on the nape of his neck, yanking him back toward his clothed chest as he examined some of the marks.

"Pathetic boy" Shoal scoffed, hissing in his ear now "Where's your marine now?"

"You're the pathetic one!" Cody fought back, getting dragged to face the man for his efforts "Ted was a great man! You bastards probably shot him in the back! Cowards, all of you. You could never take him face to face."

Shoal cried out as he was kneed in the balls, letting the American go to stumble back and cup himself.

"You had no right to take his life!" Cody wiped at his mouth with his bound hands, eyes ablaze.

"On the contrary, boy" Damo lashed out, catching him around the neck. Cody gasped sharply, clawing at the man's hand with his blunt nails.


"Blood for blood" Damo stated "You take my people, I take yours. Use this one, and that girl."

The leader tossed the boy into the other guards, though Cody struggled he found his arms quickly seized at the elbows. Cynthia pulled to her feet as well, whimpering.

"You already took those men you killed out there. You got your blood!" Cody kicked at the man, rubbing at his reddened neck as best he could "Now you're just a hypocrite. Everyone thinks you are."

Damo stepped out of the way of the strike, slightly amused. He flicked his fingers, his men obeying by starting to drag the two out of the building.

"No, please!" Cynthia pleaded tearfully.

Cody stayed silent, eyes wet but expression stony.

"Stop!" Darren barked, standing up boldly "Just stop right there."

The terrorists paused, Conner walked straight up to Damo and got in his face.

"You'll only get your tribute If you can prove I'm alive and well" Darren threatened, schooling his expression coldly as well "I'll make you kill me if I have to."

Damo smirked, calling his bluff. Connor pursed his lips, then gave a war-like cry as he hook his arms around one of the men holding Cody. He got the terrorist by the neck, dragging him back and away by strangling him mercilessly. While Cynthia buried herself in Cody's arms, Darren got the bastard to the floor and started jerking his head with sharp jolts. One of the other terrorists started jamming the butt of his gun into the older man's back, but he held tight.

It was a dangerous game.

Damo knelt down, putting his gun in the American's face.

"You made your point" he seethed, a dark gleam in his eyes "Enjoy the moment. Burn it into your brain."

Darren let the guard go, terrified now that his heroic act was over.

"There'll come a time when you're more useful to us dead than alive" Damo stated, slowly getting to his feet. He walked away, one of his guys coming up and delivering a swift kick to his gut. The millionaire cried out, curling in on himself protectively.

Damo passed by Cody, pausing and turning his head to catch the boy's eyes. The young thing didn't look away, instead meeting the glare head on. Damo's eyes danced up and down his form, then continued on.

The excess of guards followed their leader, Shoal was the last out. His gaze was much more heated, and the malice etched into his eyes too deeply to ever be washed away. Cody couldn't care, his heart was heavy was grief.

He would never care about anything ever again.