TITLE: "Virtue"

SERIES: Sixth story in the Divide Series. Sequel to "Rabbits" by Guess, with their permission

RATING: PG-13, oblique reference to sexuality

GENRE: Slash. Slashity slash slash. Did I mention it's slash?

PAIRING/S: Bob/Megabyte

WORD COUNT: 500

SUMMARY: Bob reflects on the nature of truth. Set between "Restore" and "Nightmare", while he's still seeing Megabyte on the sly. You can find the ÒDivideÓ series, including ÒRabbitsÓ, on my Freewebs site; the link is in my profile.

They say "the truth will set you free", don't they?

Oh brother, is that a lie.

Let me tell you about the truth. Sometimes it's peace and freedom; sometimes it's the hard-earned reward and the happily-ever-afters. And sometimes it's a spiked chain that wraps itself around your heart and won't let go. Sometimes it's a poison that winds itself into your flesh and can't be extracted. Sometimes it's a secret that eats away at your soul and makes you feel more alive than you've ever been, all at the same time.

The truth overthrows everything I've built my existence around, and in his cruel eyes and the curve of his mouth I see the ultimate destruction of my hopes, my dreams, and the purpose I was programmed to fulfill.

I lie in my bed at night, alone, and sometimes I shake, because the whole world is one long scream of withdrawal without him. When I finally break and go to him his venom is a hot rush that leaves me opened beneath him, as devastated as a conquered city. He laughs softly, green lips and silver teeth against my throat, and I think that if I could just erase that memory, if every line of my code didn't have the strength of his spine and the resonance of his voice and the texture of his hidden skin burned into it like a brand, I would really be all right. I would be the person everyone else thinks I am. Who can you trust if you can't trust a Guardian, and what Guardian would be this close to a virus except in a fight to deletion? Then why am I here with the back of my head cradled in his iron hand and my fingers tracing forbidden patterns on his body and his breath mingling with mine? Why do we tear each other apart and put ourselves back together again and again?

Before morning I'm on my way back to the place where I'm supposed to be, the hero's refuge and the virtuous bed, already shutting my heart up in the unspoken words that hide half of my life from the people who are supposed to be my friends. The same people who would disown me if they ever found out that their champion is literally sleeping with the enemy. If they don't ask, I don't have to tell them, right? Do I even know what 'right' is anymore? Everything he touches gets twisted, and he's touched me in so many ways that I'd never even dreamed were possible.

The only consolation is that it goes both ways. He saved my life when the Codex would have deleted me; he told me with a sprite's mouth I'd created that he wanted me to belong to him, now and forever. If I've been corrupted then so has he, and if we're damned, we're damned together. The truth is a secret that imprisons us both.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

THE END