Author's note: Last chapter! Cheers! After this, I can finally allow myself to post the long awaited 5th chapter of Tales of a Wanderer. A toast! I couldn't bring myself to find a first name for O'Brien, or at least, not really.

Warnings… twisted slash (O'Brien/Winston), language, and brainwashing.

1985

Ever since he could remember, he has been given clearance to knowledge of the past, to its basic forms. He was privy to true thought and was given the highest clearance to everything in the Party and he doesn't know anyone else who had the same privilege. At times, he wondered whether he was the voice behind the poster of Big Brother.

Comrade J.S. O'Brien, identification number 62372, has reached the pinnacle of his life.

Winston Smith has reached rock bottom.

O'Brien found himself repeatedly turning the idea of the man over in his mind during his work hours as he supervised everything that was going on in London. Winston Smith was an anomaly, a freak of nature, an utterly fascinating representation of a single-man population statistic. Ever since he had met the man at the Chestnut Tree Café, he had been studying him, watching his every stumble through cameras and telescreens, taking notes on how many times he could have been vaporized.

His own actions were soon followed by puzzling and worrisome self-reflection upon his actions- he never thought of himself as one who can fall to obsession, especially to another man, but here he is, finding his time consumed on a common Outer Party member.

At their first meeting, albeit drunk and beautiful, Winston told him, "I could be a figment of your imagination, a persona of an emotion or frustration you're repressing deep inside and all this," his sweeping gesture knocked over more empty glasses, "is your heaven. I think you're certainly enjoying this realm of dreams, comrade. You might be the only one."

Winston was no one special. He's a danger to Big Brother and to society. He was a small parasite which had crept into a human body, which had been thought indestructible, like the Titanic. The small parasite had been looked over one too many times and nobody stopped it when it multiplied and began, slowly, systematically, destroying life from the inside out. But he was too interesting to eliminate, at least to O'Brien.

The man was clear and bright, too strong to allow Victory Gin to cloud his memories and motions, even if he didn't realize it. He is, perhaps, what man had been before the Glorious Revolution, an age that has been fading away like an aged, worn photo, or how a drawing in the dirt can disappear with wind and time.

O'Brien often wondered what was so attractive about the man, certainly not his countenance, which was average seeing as he never smiled. The Outer Party member looked worn and frayed, but still stubborn and holding on to… what… something, holding desperately onto something so that he wouldn't lose himself. His eyes were clearer than any other man or woman O'Brien had met and he spoke with understanding of reactions and instincts. Winston understood what it took to be human; he spoke of ideas long lost by the Party, ideas whose sources stemmed from Antiquity. He talked of perfection in objects, the idea of love, the situations of a wrong government and unjust laws, of trying to view perfection if you couldn't identify with the real world. At that time, he only talked to O'Brien.

"And what if you don't accept the real world?" Winston muttered during their second meeting at the Café. He didn't seem to mind the threat of being hauled off by the Thought Police. "Where would you go? Would you regret the steps you took to achieve enlightenment?"

O'Brien found himself intrigued, even if he was given in return bemusement, curiosity, then later frustration and scorn. Winston was smart in ways that no one could pin down.

That made the Party scared. A month after the second meeting, they sent him down to the Ministry of Love to be Vaporized… Only, he came out of it gaunter and frail, weathered, but still unrelenting, unchanging in what truly mattered.

This never happened before. To anyone. In IngSoc's history.

Clearly beside themselves, the Thought Police wanted to eliminate the man. O'Brien had stopped them and told them that if they did this, it would be an action of desperation. Despite all his obliviousness to his actions, Winston would have realize this and would have taken it to mean that he won in death. You have to leave him alone. The death of this man being felled by the hands of the Thought Police (Winston refused to even identify the group, thinking that a "they," where the listener could feel the italics, would suffice) would ruin the integrity and the stable mindset that the Police held. Any small stumble the fragile structure of the Thought Police makes would magnify to blow to epic proportions. The annihilation of Winston Smith was too risky.

O'Brien suggested taking the man into his own care to study such a unique mind and to keep him out of the public's eye. The motion was promptly rejected. Instead, Winston Smith willingly drank a powerful memory suppressant medicine, knowing the consequences and side-effects. (The man, however, didn't realize that O'Brien could have slipped the drug into gin and not into coffee, a luxury item.) Leaning over the slighter man's unconscious body, he couldn't help but whisper into an ear, "We shall meet in a place where there is no darkness."

Years passed. As he was trying to vaguely reinsert himself into Winston's new life, he appeared on the edges of the Outer Party member's life, at work, in the corridors, never initiating contact, never maintaining prolonged looks. O'Brien spent his nights collecting footages of Winston in different parts of London, in the familiar Café that he frequented, in his new home in the Victory Mansions. He watched as years passed, Winston's past rebellious personality began to rise again in forms of a journal and a young, attractive woman named Julia.

He told himself, repeatedly, day and night, that it didn't matter. Winston had always been a property of O'Brien's but it would take time for that declaration to be acknowledged. Julia wasn't anyone special, not a pretty, special snowflake. Winston was also assessing her, just as he had assessed O'Brien all those years ago between half finished glasses of Victory Gin. Julia was failing in Winston's assessment, more so than O'Brien had, because Julia was only against the Party because of her fanatical need for coitus that had clearly gone past the border between obsession and mental disorder. But Winston did see something in her: youth? Freedom?

Whatever it was, it wasn't strong enough for Winston to get interested in her post-second-Vaporization.

Winston liked to write his thoughts down, happy thoughts, sad thoughts, ponderous thoughts, etc. It was uncertain whether Winston actually knew how closely he was being monitored, but it wasn't until recently, recent as in when Winston was taken into the Ministry of Love for the third time, that O'Brien realized that he had been dropping small sheets of paper all over London in his Pre-first Vaporization and Pre-first Memory Repression days, waiting for unsuspecting hands to pick them up and read. That sort of duplicity was unnerving.

To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone- to a time where truth exists and what is done cannot be undone: From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink- greetings!

Thoughtcrime does not entail death; Thoughtcrime IS death.

Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two makes four. If that is granted, all else follows.

I understand HOW; I do not understand WHY.

If there is hope, it lies in the Proles. Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.

There was no telling how many papers were scattered in IngSoc. They were mere words written by Winston that he later also wrote Pre-second Vaporization, as if he was trying to recall and remember. And yet, this also must be the reason why Winston was so eager to forget and to drink the drugged beverage O'Brien had offered at their last time together at the Café.

During Winston's second Vaporization, O'Brien decided that whatever made Winston conscious in the world, whatever was holding him down to clarity, he was going to obliterate it. When the mob riots began, the type that couldn't be controlled without the missiles, the ones that appeared a year after the second Vaporization, O'Brien dreamed of tearing Winston into pieces, each piece still stuttering for forgiveness. He dreamed of watching the man slowly choke to death by his hands, his lips turning blue, his tongue lolling out the side of his mouth. The papers that Winston had dropped years ago began a spark and fanned flames into those who read them, then whispers spread through the Prole communities like a wildfire. An intangible anger simmered under Big Brother's radar. All it took was a single action, a small bar fight, a kick, and a push, a shove, to initiate the first riot for many riots to come. O'Brien was furious when he learned Winston's role in these disasters.

IngSoc was not permitted to fall on his watch.

It took nine months for Winston to struggle back to his old self, nine months, and then, apparently, a dream which led to him recalling more of his childhood memories. And so began the agonizing process of recalling an album of aged, worn photos.

O'Brien pointed this out to the Thought Police who finally relented.

O'Brien took Winston into his gilded prison and began slowly working on the man. Winston was forced to be fed, to submit to him, it fed a growing craving for a thrill of power. He offered Winston anti-depressants, to make him more compliant. He wanted Winston to only part his lips for him; he wanted Winston to talk only to him. Even then, it wasn't enough, O'Brien wanted to be closer.

He started with accidental brushes, small shakes of the shoulders, though it seemed that Winston responded better with violence… It must have been an induced habit. Winston cringed away from anything else, but O'Brien insisted and eventually the other man got used to it: strokes on the thighs, shoulders, scalp, lips, cupping the face, lining the stomach and chest through the threadbare shirt. O'Brien began to see the signs of Winston beginning to crave his touch.

When they conversed, O'Brien made sure to stay in the dominant position, directing the flow of the topics and showing his displeasure whenever his prisoner ventured onto unmarked territory. Winston learned quickly but bore it like a sulking prole child. O'Brien began to research through forbidden books for the definition of the term 'Stockholm Syndrome.'

Winston had changed, but that was expected after years had passed along with two and a half vaporizations. The man appeared unhinged but still sharp; he was a dichotomy. He was an independent thinker who was dependent on other people's affections and interactions.

Winston was unhinged. Winston liked to talk about "Julia's theories", though he didn't seem to realize that they were his own. He was quite enamored with the girl, not who she was, obese and bearing her third child at the moment, but when she still maintained her lithe body. O'Brien didn't have the heart to tell him that Julia had been shot in the back of the head three days ago, there was no need.

At nights, O'Brien tried to reason out why he was so fascinated with the man. Behind his eyelids, he envisioned the physical aspects: lips, eyes, hair, body… He wasn't alarmed when he caught his right hand creeping closer to his crotch, wanting release. He had long admitted his attraction, years ago.

Outside, the Proles were restless, wanting something so badly that they were willing to die but not knowing what it was. One could imagine how frustrating that feels. There were rumors that they were planning to storm the Ministry of Plenty in the near future. Security has been water-tight these days. The Party members were quite numb on the topic, nobody dared to approach it; the Thought Police wouldn't let them. Of course doublethink was employed graciously in these situations.

But the Proles were another matter; one can't make the Proles forget, not all of them, not at once. The beginning of the end, within a few years, the Party would fall.

Winston knew that this was going to happen.

And so, with the world crumbling at his feet, O'Brien continued his visits with the man who started this all, one whom he should've tortured and killed on principle but couldn't bring himself to. The Thought Police had long forgotten him, or at the very most, assumed that he was dead. Eventually, everybody forgets except for O'Brien, the man behind the curtains, the voice of Big Brother.

This might be Love, an emotion that the Party had been determined to stamp out for the good of IngSoc. O'Brien wasn't sure; this was a first for him. He anticipated the time when he would visit the man, he felt a hot feeling rush down to the lower regions of his stomach when his hand lay on the doorknob, he wanted to own Winston in every way possible, and he wanted Winston to adore him like he was the only man in the world.

This time…

This time he watched intently as Winston's eyes closed and his face relaxed in bliss as he savored a small bit of chocolate. When Winston's eyes reopened, O'Brien traced his thumb over his bottom lips and leaned over. The man tensed when he initiated contact, but soon relented, submitting.

The kiss was tantalizingly slow, so slow that it was almost painful. Winston's lips parted; O'Brien took advantage and forced his tongue into the other's mouth. Slowly, O'Brien became more aggressive and demanding, pushing ahead, closer, hotter. The man whined and squirmed until O'Brien slipped his hand under his thin shirt and slid up his chest. He allowed the hand to rest at Winston's side, still touching skin, drawing small circles. Winston made a low noise at the back of his throat as O'Brien pressed their bodies together…

Then the moment abruptly ended. O'Brien straightened and observed his prisoner's state- half undone and stunned, staring dazedly at the ceiling. Satisfied, O'Brien stood and exited the room. He has enough time to drag out the passion to dizzying heights; he will enjoy this as much as he can… as the world crumbles at his feet.