A/N: Sorry if this took a while, I've been working on a few other projects lately so….

Chapter Seven: Nightmares

Ariana felt content when she awoke the next morning. The night had not been plagued with nightmares; in fact, she'd had the nicest dream. With a happy sigh she blinked open her eyes, instantly turning a deep shade of red as she realized the position she was in. The small girl was curled next to a sleeping, and very shirtless, Agent Washington. The blush deepened as she recalled the events of the night before.

God dammit. I must have rolled over in my sleep. She thought ruefully. Ariana attempted to move away before he could wake up, but her plan was quickly foiled, as Washington had his large muscular arms locked tightly around her. She tried to squirm out of his grasp for several more minutes, before giving up and sinking back into the mattress.

Ariana let out a frustrated sigh as she silently glared at the completely unaware face of her "captor". Much to her chagrin though, she felt herself unable to resist smiling. She was strangely at peace next to him. Her mind, normally so cluttered with ideas, was quieted as she listened to the familiar pattern of his breathing. Her vision swam with memories of sweet good morning kisses and greetings.

With a slight smile she carefully reached up to smooth out his messy dark hair, her slim fingers trailing across a thin scar on his cheek. At her touch, Washington let out a cross between a moan and a whimper and pulled her nearer. Ariana stifled a gasp. She was so close to him, so why did he still feel so distant?

He looked different without a scowl or condescending smirk. Ariana wished he would smile more often. Not just a small half smile when he proved himself right, a full out grin accompanied by his carefree laughter that she missed so much. A smile that made his eyes light up and took her breath away. Now the dear face she once knew was riddled with the scars of a warrior and the sleep deprived lines of a haunted man.

Maybe Wash was right. Maybe he had changed. Maybe they had both changed too much and it was just too difficult. But why? Why did it have to be that way? She missed him. She loved him. Why didn't he believe her?

Ariana leaned forward and pressed her lips against his. I'm still here, Wash. She wanted to tell him. I'm okay with picking up the broken pieces. Let me in. But she stayed silent as she rested back against his arms. So much had happened. They hadn't seen each other in so long; she even thought he was dead a just few months ago.

Now they were sleeping together once again, though not in the same way. She wasn't waking up to sweet kisses and shy smiles anymore, just empty hopes and remnants of forgotten dreams. "Why are we even here?" She wondered aloud.

"Because we're insane and we don't realize when something is bad for us." Washington's rough voice answered simply. Ariana jumped, well, as much as she could as she was being restrained, then rolled her eyes with a slight smile. "About time you woke up." She complained halfheartedly.

"Well, good morning to you too." Washington countered, glancing out the window. "I guess you should probably leave now, right?" he started to sit up, but Ariana clung to him desperately, burying her face into his chest. He heaved a sigh, shaking his head. "Ariana, I can't-" "Shut up. You're warm." She protested as she curled closer.

Washington chuckled softly, not moving closer but not moving away either. One arm was still draped over her and she welcomed the comfort. Can I just stay here? She asked herself. Can we just forget everything and stay like this always?

"Wash! Wash help!" Tucker screamed from the hall. I guess not. Washington groaned and rolled away from her, tugging a shirt over his head as he went. He looked over his shoulder at Ariana's hopeful face and frowned. "Just remember, this doesn't change anything." He insisted as he left.

Ariana sighed and leaned back. Why doesn't he understand? She was about to call after him, but he had already gone and something at the corner of the bed had caught her eye. She reached over to pick it up, cradling it in her hands.

"What's this doing here?" she mumbled, turning over her stuffed panda toy she'd had since she was a child. She didn't understand how it could have gotten to Washington's room when she had accidently left it behind while running from-

Suddenly the room felt very cold and Ariana started shaking and somehow, somehow, she just knew there was a monster in the closet.

Washington strode briskly into the kitchen and stopped in his tracks. "Tucker, what did you do?" he asked calmly. The dark skinned man was kneeled next to an unconscious Caboose, who had a huge red mark on his head and- why was there orange juice everywhere? "I just found him here!" Tucker insisted. "He was attacked or something and- dude. Why do you smell like strawberries?"

Wash ignored the question as their situation dawned on him. Someone had gotten into their base, attacked one of their soldiers, and could still possibly be inside. "Okay, I think he's just unconscious, he should be fine after the head ache goes away, just clean him up." Wash commanded, backing up as Tucker attempted to pull the large man out of the puddle orange juice that had been spilled.

That's when they heard Ariana scream.

Washington immediately raced toward the sound, Tucker dragging Caboose not far behind. His heart was beating out of his chest and his breath was uneven. It felt like forever before he entered his room, where he realized that the terror he had faced just seconds ago was nothing compared to what seized him next.

Ariana was being held down by a tall man whose face was concealed by shadows.

"McAlister, get the hell away from her." Washington growled, reaching for his gun on his side before realizing that it wasn't there. The man smiled up at him innocently. "And so good to see you too Agent Washington." The assassin greeted, "I assume that you and my little pet here have gotten very well reacquainted lately."

A long sharp knife traced around Ariana's neck, not pressed down deep enough to draw blood, but enough to get the message across. He was in charge. McAlister pulled the shaking girl to her feet by her hair, causing her to let out a small whimper of pain. Washington flinched, seeing the panic in her shining eyes.

"You already know what I want, don't you Agent Washington?" McAlister smiled, twirling the knife in his hands. "What makes you think I'll let you have her?" Wash asked testily. "Because if I can't have her, you can't either." He clarified, tugging Ariana's head back so that she had to stand on her toes to keep from cutting herself on the knife.

"Now, I suggest you get out of the way before my hand slips. Wouldn't want to get any blood on the floor, would we?" Washington reluctantly stepped out of the way, letting them pass. What could he do? He had no weapons, no way to stop them, and McAlister would kill the girl if he took a wrong step.

McAlister never turned his back on the agent, keeping a tight grip on his captive. Ariana writhed as he dragged her further from safety, calling out desperately. "David! Don't-don't let him-" But when Washington tried to approach her McAlister shook his head and lifted the knife to cut across her cheek. Wash was forced to back down, everything in him screaming at him to launch himself at McAlister and rescue the small girl, but knowing that he couldn't and it tore him apart.

"It's been fun, but I have some catching up to do with my little pet here." McAlister smiled and began backing away. Then a gallon of orange juice descended on his head, causing him to loosen his grip on the girl. Ariana scrambled just out of his reach as Caboose yelled, "Bad man! You made me spill my orange juice!"

That's when all hell broke loose.

McAlister made a desperate attempt to recapture his prize, grazing her arm as she dodged out of the way. Tucker tossed Washington his pistol and without missing a beat he began firing. McAlister rolled out of the way and ran toward an exit that led him to the top of the base, Washington and the blues not far behind him.

Wash aimed a couple of shots at the assassin as Ariana dived into her room, searching for weapons. They cornered him at the top of the base and McAlister lashed out, knocking the gun from Washington's grip and swinging his knife to cut across his neck. Wash pushed him off before the knife could come in contact with his throat, causing him to stumble back into Tucker.

McAlister whipped around and round-house kicked the teal soldier, sending him face first into the ground. Caboose ran to help Tucker and yelled at the assassin "Stop! You are a mean man! You are worse than Church's lady friend!" The larger man picked up McAlister by his coat, but he slammed his fist against Caboose's jaw. Caboose dropped him and shrunk back whimpering "Owie…"

Once again, McAlister ran at Washington in a rage, lifting his knife. By this time Wash had recovered and was prepared for the attack, deflecting it easily. McAlister's eyes burned with vengeance as he mercilessly attacked the freelancer again and again. He tried to block it every time, but he was overpowered and fell to the ground. The assassin used his foot to flip the agent's discarded weapon into his own hands and smiled maliciously.

"I'm afraid your time is up phsyco. Don't worry; I'll take good care of Ariana, just as I always have." He taunted, aiming the gun at his head. "Good bye, Agent Wa-"

McAlister's words were cut off as a small blonde girl launched herself at him, knocking the weapons from his hands and backing him toward a wall. Ariana stared up at the man who had tortured her for so many years. McAlister just smiled as she poised her knife underneath his chin.

"So, after all I've done for you, this is how you repay me?" he chided. Ariana scowled at him, fury burning in her eyes. "I owe you nothing. Our deal is over." She hissed.

"Oh yes, our little deal." He ridiculed. "Where you sold yourself to me in order to keep your little Freelancer friend here safe." He glanced over at Agent Washington, who was now struggling to get up. "Even after he almost killed you and left you all alone." Ariana's grip on her knife tightened until her knuckles turned white. "You can imagine how disappointed I am seeing you two together now. I thought you knew better."

"Shut up. You'll be dead in seconds anyways." She snapped. McAlister kept that calm smile plastered on his face, raising his hands in mock surrender. "What, do you honestly think it's going to be okay now? Do you think he still loves you?" He sneered as doubt flashed briefly in her eyes, his tone growing softer. "Listen sweetheart, he'll only hurt you again, just like he always has. You'll never be able to change that."

"Shut up!" Ariana screeched, diving toward him wrathfully. McAlister grinned and then…

Disappeared.

Ariana's knife scraped against metal merely a second after the assassin activated his teleporting device that likely lead back to his transport.

Washington saw her knees weakening and dashed over to catch her before she could crumble in on herself. She stared up at him with scared, pleading eyes as her shaking hands clutched his shirt. "Get them out of here Wash." She whispered as he wrapped his arms tightly around her waist to secure her. "I-I don't want them to see."

He knew that look, though he'd only seen it a few times before. The verge of breaking.

Wash turned toward the blues. "Tucker, radio the Reds. We need to warn them." He vanished into the base for a moment while Wash pulled up the small girl to lead her back to his room, before reappearing a moment later looking disgruntled.

"He cut the wires, man. No luck."

"Then walk over to tell them." The agent ordered. "And take Caboose with you."

"Shouldn't someone stay behind and guard or something?"

"No. Just leave. Now." With a sideways glance at Ariana, he could tell she was barely holding herself together.

Not checking to make sure they had obeyed him, Washington eased her into his room and slammed the door behind him.

He only hoped that they were gone before the screaming started.

After fifteen minutes of standing in the corner while Ariana took out her frustrations on the unfortunate appliances in his room, Wash tried to bring her back. "Just calm down for a minute." He appeased as he stepped over the over-turned chair, scattered pens, and shattered lamp to reach her. "Let's just try to figure something out."

Ariana ignored him, now resorted to only emitting furious shrieks when tossing another device.

There went his clock.

Wash sighed, placing a hand on her shoulder. "Ariana, please. Stop and talk to me." She turned away from him, walking half way to the door before she started trembling.

"Why did you leave?" she whispered.

Well, that wasn't what he expected. Wash tried to form a response, but remained silent, only able to stare at her. He wordlessly begged for her to say something else, ask him anything instead of that.

"Why did you leave?" Ariana yelled once again, spinning toward him in a burst of fury. Angry tears burned in her eyes. "I was counting on you! I tried to find you, but you always turned me away! Even when I was in the hospital, you didn't visit! I kept waiting for you to walk in, talk to me, tell me it was okay, just give me one goddamn explanation, but you never came! Why did you leave me?"

"Because you deserve better than some phsyco." Washington's voice was raw, his sad eyes cast down. "You deserve better than me."

Ariana sighed and her shoulders dropped, she looked up at him through her lashes pleadingly. "I didn't want better. Just you." She confessed softly as she took a step toward him. "I need you, Wash. Right now, I need you more than anything." Tentatively, she reached up to wrap her arms around his middle. "Please."

Washington moved one hand to her back, drawing her closer. "I'm sorry." It was all he could say, "I'm so sorry." He held her tightly, placing a brief kiss to her cheek.

"I'm scared." Ariana confessed to the creases in his T-shirt. "Goddammit, I've never been so scared." Wash could feel her shaking, and a wave of white hot fury passed through him. "What did he do to you?" he implored, his face buried in her hair.

"W-we had a deal." She spoke quietly, as if afraid that her words would summon the assassin. "He was going to kill you, Wash. I-I had to. I had to do what he said." Her face was flushed and she had to take large gulps of air to keep calm. "Whether that meant killing or… other things." Washington's grip tightened around her shoulders, the words setting in. When he spoke, his voice was a low growl, fueled by horror and wrath.

"Ariana, did he-" "No." she assured him, already guessing what he had. "No, it never got that far. But…" She paused for a moment, a few tears sliding down her cheeks. "He tried once. I think- I think I was drunk. I don't remember much."

Ariana clung to him, sobs shaking her tiny frame. "I don't want to go back." She pleaded. "I don't want to let him hurt me again." Washington wrapped his arms around the girl protectively.

"It's okay." He whispered as he traced calming patterns into her back. "I'll take care of you. I promise." Ariana shook her head against his chest, her eyes gazing up at him despondently.

"Don't make me promises, David. You've never been good at keeping them."

It's done! I did it! I'm not happy with it, but I'm done!

So… it was going to be longer, but I switched some stuff up, got a major case of writers block, and decided to save that scene for the next chapter.

Less than five chapters until the end, guys!

Anyways… sorry. I know that was a bad place to leave you hanging. Stuff came up.

In other news, if anyone actually cares, I'm going to a recording studio tomorrow! Let's hope I don't fuck it up!

Reviews would be nice, if you could! Thankies until next time!