The sun streamed through a slit in the drapes, casting the room in a soft orange glow and warming Ghost's bare back. She sighed, as long, calloused fingers gently trailed up and down her spine. Such a gentle touch from hands that have done terrible things. She never dwelled on that fact. Hell, her own hands have done some terrible things. It was the nature of the game. That's how she always thought of it. A game. An adventure. She tried to convince herself that the Fraternity did not control her; that she was the driver of her fate-train; but deep down, she knew that wasn't the case.

She shuddered with delight as his fingers found a particularly sensitive spot. "Do you ever think about leaving?" she asked, her fingers tracing lightly through the spattering of hair that covered the chest on which her head was currently pillowed.

"Leave what? The Fraternity?" he asked, his voice husky from sleep.

"Mmm," she murmured, her fingers moving to the various scars on his shoulder.

She felt the slight shake of his head. "Nobody leaves, Ghost, you know that," he replied, his fingers never stopping their ministrations. She said nothing, simply continuing her exploration of the scars she knew so well. "Why?" he asked. She shrugged, but still said nothing. His big hand moved up her back, wound through her hair, and pulled gently, forcing her to look at him. "What's goin' on in that head of yours?"

She held his gaze, his striking blue eyes searching her troubled brown. "If my name came up, would you give me a head start?" she asked, and saw the fleeting hesitation in his eyes. She somehow knew that if her name did come up, they would send him. It would be the only practical thing to do. He was one of only two men that would be able to out-skill her, and now that Cross had deserted, well ….

"Yes," he answered. He was telling the truth, she could tell, and it frustrated him. As much as he loved her- and he did, in his own warped way- he was a professional, one of the best in the world, and the fact that he would give her even that small allowance felt like failure to him.

She nodded, the weight of his concession sitting heavily on her. She wouldn't be so kind. She wouldn't have that luxury. She would need any surprise she could gain and would use his feelings for her, ruthlessly. She knew it. She hated it, but she knew it. And she suspected that he did too.

They lay there for a while, each lost in their own thoughts. The room was so silent that she actually jumped at the sound of the alarm on his phone.

"I have to go," he murmured.

She nodded and turned her face towards him. Their parting kisses were always the same. Long and lingering, and with an almost undiscernible hint of fear. Fear of losing the other. She watched him as gathered his clothes from around the room, his naked body an amalgamation of scars. He was practically a patchwork quilt and the thought made her smile. He turned and raised his eyebrows in question, then shook his head. He leaned down to kiss her goodbye once more, then was gone. So silent, so mysterious. "He is… Batman", she mused and laughed out loud.

She stretched and groaned at the ache in her muscles. She needed a workout, she decided, and within the hour she was pulling her sleek black Audi into the Textile Factory.

Sloan passed her as she made her way down the stairs towards the sparring room. "Ghost," he smiled and dipped his head in greeting.

She returned his smile. "Sir". She liked the man.

"Take it easy on him," he grinned, and left her confused on the stairs.

Entering the room, Sloan's cryptic sentence now made sense. In the far left side of the room, the Repairman was shadowboxing. He caught sight of her and gave, what can only be described as, an evil grin. He was her favourite sparring partner. They loved to hate each other and their sessions were absolutely no holds barred. She lost count of how many of her bones he had broken. But rest assured, she gave better than she received.

He watched as she crossed the room to her locker and stowed her jacket. "Morning, Ghost," he greeted her.

"Simon," she replied, and smiled as annoyance crossed his pretty face. That she knew everyone's real names was a serious bone of contention with the members of the Fraternity. But how could she help it, when her ability to obtain the un-gettable information was one of her biggest assets?

Turning back towards the Repairman after she finished the last of her stretches, her temple caught the full brunt of his fist. She moved gracefully with the force of the impact, putting herself a safe distance from his following kick. She grinned as she felt the blood slide over her cheekbone, and then with a laugh, she pounced.

**8..8**

A few hours later, Ghost groaned as she lay in the recovery room. Her broken fingers had been re-set and the pain from the pretty-boy's blows had diminished. She took solace in the fact that the Repairman had not yet regained consciousness.

With one last mouthful of the vodka the Exterminator had left for her, she pulled herself from the water and made her way to the shower.

She sighed with relish as the scalding water flowed over her body. The sound of boots interrupted the quiet and she fixed her gaze to the door a second before Fox filled it. "Sloan wants to see everyone now," she said before turning away at Ghost's nod.

She dressed quickly. It was never a smart idea to leave the boss-man waiting long. She was the last to arrive- with the exception of the Repairman- so she leaned against the doorframe of the large room.

"Goddamn it!" Sloan thundered, slamming his fist against the heavy wooden table. Ghost raised her eyebrows in surprise. She had never seen him so agitated before. "Cross," he growled, and began pacing. "Why can't anyone kill that sonofabitch?"

"What's going on?" Fox asked from the sofa.

Sloan stopped pacing and glanced at her, this face furious. "Mr. X is dead," he replied. "He was meeting with a ballistics expert this afternoon and was ambushed. Goddamn Cross!" he roared.

Her outward appearance gave nothing away, but Ghost felt as though someone had plunged a red hot poker through her chest. 'Oh, Daniel,' she thought, and felt her heart crumble. She always knew that this day might come, but she certainly hadn't prepared herself for this feeling. It was as though her soul was screaming. If anyone bothered to look her way, they would have seen the anguish in her eyes.

"So it's time," Sloan continued, some moments later. "We engage Wesley. I feel this is out best option." The occupants of the room, still focused on him, nodded their agreement. "Ok, Ghost, you'll make the initial contact and…." He trailed off as he looked towards the door. There was a shuffle of movement as the others turned as well. The doorway was empty and she was nowhere to be seen.

Sloan glowered. "Fuck."

**8..8**

A sleek black Audi flew through the dark streets, it's driver intent on putting as many miles as possible between herself and the Textile Factory. It had only taken her a minute to make her decision, and with Daniel no longer holding her here, she could finally escape. It had been on her mind for quite some time, and thankfully, she had prepared for such a situation. A black suitcase in the boot contained several changes of clothes, toiletries, cash and four full sets of fake identification, all of which would withstand intense scrutiny. An off-shore account held more than enough to sustain her early retirement comfortably. Soon, she would dump her car and steal another, giving her anonymity until she could secure a new vehicle.

She could feel the tension leave her, the further she drove. Where would she go? Mexico? Europe? Maybe she could loose herself in the bustling city of Tokyo. Who knows?

No doubt they would come for her, eventually.

But then again, maybe they wouldn't…

She was, after all, the Ghost.