Author's Note: Thanks to everyone who reviewed. I owe it to you guys! Again, crackish. You guys are probably sick of all the guns and wounds, so here is an introspective shot, courtesy of Cross's mind. (Yes, there still are guns in here. I'm sorry. Wanted is just too… 'gunnish' to not have guns in this story. Sorry.) Of course, I don't know what he's really like, so I'm making up everyone's personality.
I promise that there will be a sort of plot planned into all of Crosswise. There will be different arcs: this is the Fraternity arc, where Allyse originates from here. But then I realized Sloan would probably have mentioned his mother to Wesley in the movie, so that idea didn't make sense. This arc will be over in ten chapters or so, and then the Normal arc will begin.
On another note, yes! They're making the sequel! Angelina Jolie dropped out, but I wondered how they were going to resurrect her anyways.
Disclaimer: I don't own Wanted.
Chapter Four: Acting
He didn't need emotions.
Yet another thing smashed into him by the Repairman—his ribs twinged unnecessarily with a reflexive memory brought up by the train of thought.
The rafters of the old loom factory seemed to sigh from within its ancient framework, the swirls of lines in the wood forming a face that glared disapprovingly at him. He could feel the hum from the shuddering looms below him travel from his body all the way to his head, leaving him with a lightheaded feeling. The sawdust and hundreds of years' worth of dust bunnies, not to mention the other things Fraternity members who managed to find their way in had left (not very many, he observed.)
As he rolled a stray marble with a single strand of dull gray running through its glassy innards into the corner shadows, he smelled musty air rise up from that single movement. He suppressed a sudden urge to cough and started to get up.
Wooden floorboards groaned alarmingly and he felt cobwebs drape themselves across his whole body. Wonderful.
He sat back down and the wood visibly relaxed from the absent strain of his weight centered on one area. He didn't even know how he had gotten in here, just kind of wandered up the stairs, found a hidden catch and entered. Nothing had seemed out of place, until he wanted to leave.
There was ten minutes until he had to get back to his post.
He busied himself with brushing out the webs and dust off his clothes as best as he could to make sure he didn't look like he recently went poking around the Academy; he didn't want to let people think him approachable. He could already hear the following conversation:
Sloan: "Where were you?"
Cross: "I went exploring."
Sloan: "Ah. And?"
Cross: "I got stuck."
Sloan: "I… see."
He could see where that was going. More dust floated to the floor. Directly below him was the workers' loom placements. If he pried up a few boards and climbed down, he should be fine. But it was dangerous, and nevermind not being seen: the workers were even more attentive some of the Fraternity, and he'd never live it down.
He gingerly edged along the corner supports, taking a few more steps, the wood creaking ominously. He was so close he could nearly touch the trapdoor, only if he reached a few more inches—
Someone rather unnecessarily closed their hand a bit too tightly around his upper arm and he jerked around in surprise, reaching for his gun. His knee bent reflexively to dodge a non-existent bullet, tensing for another attack. He precariously regained his balance, whipping around, and already had his gun pressed into the offender's throat.
A loud click sounded from above his head and he felt cold metal pressed to his forehead.
"Touché," an unsmiling man said. The gun didn't move.
In response, he deepened his electric blue glare and prepared himself for one of the hundred possible ways this could turn out. Neither was going to back down any day, so he settled for observing his adversary.
From the way he didn't even flinch as they held the guns to each others' heads, this guy was just as skilled as he was. He hadn't seen him around before, not very recently anyways. He held an engraved Imanishi 17, a very rare firearm. He vaguely wondered where he'd found it.
He was deadly. He was hiding a lot more from Cross, and he moved on from his attributes to his appearance.
Fine, dark hair not very neatly cut into a ragged line, carefully combed out of his eyes. A set of fathomless black eyes set above a sharp nose and narrow mouth. Not the handsomest guy around, but he could pass as any normal rich business college graduate who had all he wanted. And he knew it.
"I'm waiting," he began at last. "You or me first."
Instead of withdrawing the gun or anything similar to relenting first, the intruder slowly backed into the more stable parts of the attic. Cross was literally forced to inch across the now-silent wood literally straining with the stress of supporting two people.
And then he flicked his gun hand, flipping Cross's to the opposite platform, and threw his across as well. He dusted off his crisp white shirt; slim black pants barely touched by any of the dirt, and held out his hand. "I'm Mr. X."
Cross stared at him and didn't take it. "Where did you enter?"
A tiny flicker of a smile appeared, and then it disappeared into an emotionless mask again. "It's an honor to finally be able to hear your voice without having you listen to you snarl angrily. You see, there's a rumor going around that you're a mute—ah, there's that famous glare."
He refused to have his ire provoked further and settled for crossing his arms. Mr. X's smile widened and he returned his hand to his side. "That's a kind way for you to thank the person who saved you."
"I didn't need your help." Cross was already turning past Mr. X, throwing open the hidden door behind him.
That night, when he finally returned to his room, he found his USP compact lying on his table, cleaned and reassembled.
He picked it up, weighed it in his hands, and set it down again. "This is probably when you plan for us to become inseparable friends, isn't it?"
Over in the corner, Mr. X swung around in his chair, smiling faintly. "How'd you know?"
He treated to him another glare and crossed the floor to sit on the bed, USP in hand. "Shock value. Just the kind of thing your kind goes for."
He shrugged, a helpless smirk on his face. "No wonder Sloan prizes you so much. Snarky and a good liar. We're of the same kind, Cross. We're the best in the Fraternity." Mr. X leaned forward, his brown eyes alight with a gleam. "Maybe even better than Sloan."
"What's in it for me?" asked Cross. "Nothing good will come out of any of us attempting to take over the Fraternity."
"You're the one who said it, Cross. Not me." He ran a finger along the Imanishi. "I was just saying—'perfection out of chaos.' The insanity speech Sloan makes every time to every promising prospect—that bit caught my attention. If there's perfection out of chaos, then we've got to change things up a bit now, don't we?"
"I have no interest in running the Fraternity."
"Help me, Cross. With Sloan in charge, we'll always remain his puppets. You want that?"
"With you in charge? I think I'd rather leave."
At that Mr. X laughed delightedly and watched Cross hold open the door. "Get out." He strode out without further comment. When the door closed with a bang behind him, he smirked and spun the Imanishi in his hands. "I win, Cross."